Two joint study projects during the academic years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 have been carried out based on the strategic collaboration between Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) and Danish VIA University College. The projects involved students from both universities’ teacher training programme, and teachers from each school who were responsible for the planning and implementation. The working language was English. The basic starting point was to create genuine cooperation between the universities involving both the teaching staff and students.
The first project was to engage the Danish and Finnish teacher education students to collaborate on the questions of learning and evaluation. The framework consisted of STEM pedagogy and the development of teaching mathematics. Many Danish students involved in the project were trained to become teachers of mathematics, while the Finnish students were studying to become vocational teachers in different technological fields. The unifying element of the project was the understanding that mathematics skills are important in today’s society. This issue is continuously emphasised in the world of growing technology and, in particular, when working with different areas of technology.
The second project focused on modern language teaching and the use of digital tools from the viewpoints of higher education and vocational secondary education. The European Commission’s 2018 action plan on Key Competences and digital skills in education was used as a framework in the exploration of how teachers can use digital tools in language teaching. Material and ideas were based on students’ assignments in this project and interviews of professional language teachers working in vocational and higher education. The aim was to identify challenges in language teaching and explore how to tackle these challenges with digital tools. The biggest challenges reported were increased class sizes, diminished amount of compulsory contact teaching and the more diverse body of students. All the interviewed teachers used digital tools in their teaching, but they used more in the classroom, and more at the university level than at the vocational college level. However, all teachers see that digital tools should not be used for their own sake. They must genuinely support teaching and learning the language.
It is important for HAMK School of Professional Teacher Education to continue developing joint study projects with international partners in the future. We will start to design a new international study project during the next academic year.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lic.Sc. /(Econ.), M.A. (Education)
Head of Degree Programme, Professional teacher education
HAMK School of Professional Teacher Education