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Page updated 20.11.2018

Education and its structures must be reformed – new publication tells us how to do it

Working life demands renewal of education. The renewal of education requires a reform of structures, actions and attitudes of educational institutions. The new publication by Turku University of Applied Sciences sheds light on what kind of a cross cutting policy facilitates the change in educational organizations.

Text: Mirva Virtanen

Digitalization and globalization. AI and automatization. Remote work, self-management and the fragmented nature of careers. The 21st century phenomena re-shape working life and the pace is increasing. The current and future working life is missing people with, instead of memorized lists of information in their heads, readiness to adapt to the change, learn the skills required for the job at each time and further develop operations in a sustainable manner. In other words, people are expected to know how to network and work in teams; they must be capable of critical thinking; they should be creative and take initiative. Competence such as these can be called innovation competences.

In an ideal situation, students’ innovation competences develop already during their studies so that transition to working life is smooth and students succeed both at work and in life in general. Turku University of Applied Sciences has developed a learning and teaching approach – innovation pedagogy – that supports exactly these aims.

Innovation pedagogy is also a strategic approach

Innovative pedagogy? No. Innovation pedagogy can be realized through innovative learning and teaching methods that enhance students' skills to innovate. However, innovation pedagogy is a title for a wider, strategic approach that is, at best, executed at every level of an educational organization.

Because the starting point is that the future working life needs require education to be reformed, and the reform of education requires a reform of the structures, actions and attitudes of educational institutions. The change does not take place in the teacher–student interface only.

New publication offers guidelines for a comprehensive change

At TUAS, teaching and learning has taken place according to the principles of innovation pedagogy for over ten years. So far, primarily academic articles and short texts for different purposes have been written about innovation pedagogy. There was clearly a need to gather the knowledge, research and expertise in one book.

Principal Lecturer at TUAS Taru Konst and Executive Lecturer at TUAS Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen have gathered the basics of innovation pedagogy and the reasons why the new approach is needed so badly into a handbook called Innovation Pedagogy – Preparing Higher Education Institutions for Future Challenges (2018). The new handbook also illustrates the applications and benefits of innovation pedagogy not only in teaching and learning but as a strategic, cross cutting choice by an organization. Innovation Pedagogy – Preparing Higher Education Institutions for Future Challenges is targeted especially at teachers, education developers, managers and administrators. It can also be recommended to anyone interested in education and/or the competences required by the future working life.

Innovation Pedagogy – Preparing Higher Education Institutions for Future Challenges (2018)

What kind of processes help learners acquire relevant know-how? The handbook offers education planners and developers support for designing learning processes and developing the practices of assessing learning.

In terms of the management level, the handbook sketches guidelines for renewing structures, actions and attitudes. Innovation pedagogy is most effectively implemented when it is a strategic choice.

However, what if it’s not? Not yet, at least? Circumstances under which major changes in educational structures cannot be made or implementing them takes time are also considered. The handbook offers hands-on suggestions to teachers for supporting students’ innovation competences also under such challenging conditions.

Seasoned experts in education development

Taru Konst (Ph.D. (Soc. Sc.), Lic.Sc. (Econ.& Bus. Adm.)) has contributed to the development of innovation pedagogy from the start and written a number of scientific papers and other publications on the topic.  She works as a senior adviser at TUAS in issues relating to innovation pedagogy and development of learning and as a consult in the field in higher education institutions and other organizations.

“They often say that education can be used for changing the world. However, we strongly believe that people must first change education”, Taru Konst says.

“We hope that this book will give ideas and inspiration to developing education – not only for the needs of the changing world but also to guide the world in the desired direction.

Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen (Dr. Sc. (Econ.& Bus. Adm.)) is one of those who originally started to develop innovation pedagogy. She has almost twenty years of experience of management level roles in education. Themes that are of particular importance, according to her, are multidisciplinary education and motivating students to take more responsibility of their learning and, at the same time, of their entire future. The underlying idea behind innovation pedagogy involves the trust in every individual being capable of making choices concerning their own lives.

“The most important task of teachers and staff at higher education institutions is to act as instructors in learning processes and help all learners discover their own personal strengths”, Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen explains.

At the moment, Kairisto-Mertanen is working as an Executive Lecturer at TUAS and the Project Manager in Innopeda Training Center. This way she also works with education export relating to innovation pedagogy and has appeared in international arenas as well as written scientific papers and conference publications on innovation pedagogy.

Where is the book available?

  • Innovation Pedagogy – Preparing Higher Education Institutions for Future Challenges is available via e-bookstore Ellibs (EUR 15.00).
  • A hard copy can be ordered through TUAS publication store Loki (EUR 28.00 plus postage).
  • For TUAS staff and students, the book is available through TUAS library system both electronically and as a paper book.