Developing Innovative & Integrated Approaches in Learning

December 13, 2018

Denise Villikka, Senior Lecturer in Nursing, Arcada University of Applied Sciences,

On 8 November, Arcada University of Applied Sciences hosted an event where approximately 200 individuals from around Finland met for a full day of presentations and discussions relating to the TYÖPEDA research, development and innovation project that is sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The main aim of this four-year collaboration is to develop new ways of working and learning by nurturing creativity and innovation through communication where active listening and sharing of ideas is genuinely welcomed and through streamlined joint activities. Through this drive, new action models will be developed and implemented that will add fluidity and harmony within higher education into working life. There are four development packages that fall under the main theme of: developing pedagogically sound research-based action models relating to working life practice. The first work package focuses on strengthening learner’s competency base in ways that will help to ensure they are ready for their future profession. Work package two relates to support and guidance in working life pedagogy. The third package considers the perspectives of professionals and mentors in the field in order to identify areas that are functioning well while identify any gaps or bottlenecks. The final package focuses on identifying activities that in the future, could be considered a part of the internship experience. (Ministry of Education & Culture 2018; TYÖPEDA 2018)

Arcada UAS participates in work packages two and three. There are nine members of faculty participating in the project including: Birgitta Eriksson, who fulfills the role of Amanuens; Mervi Hernberg, who serves as an Entrepreneurship Coach; Jacob Jungell, who serves as a project manager for Sports and Health Promotion; Aki Virmalainen, who is an Audiovisual Coordinator; Richard Silin, who is a lecturer in Media Studies; Mia Ekström, who serves as study counselor and special education teacher, Mia Ingman, who serves as Chief of External Relations, and Denise Villikka, who is a senior lecturer in the Department of Nursing. The team-leader and primary person responsible for this RD&I initiative at Arcada is Camilla Wikström-Grotell who serves as the Head of the Department of Welfare. (Arcada 2018)

During the day, there were two keynote speeches. Professor and Head of Research within learning, teaching and learning environments from the University of Jyväskylä, Päivi Tynjälä began the day by speaking about the need for connected and integrated pedagogical approaches and models that support competency development in working life that matches the diverse needs and wishes of changing populations. (Nykänen & Tynjälä, 2012, Jääskelä, Nykänen&Tynjälä, 2018) In her speech she expressed how important genuine collaboration is in this process by stating, “we collaborate together so that we can learn from and with one-another. It is important for this project that we have participants from Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences.” Professor Tynjälä used the six dimensions of the connected curriculum framework, by Dilly Fung (2017) to reinforce her message. The shape of the figure below, could suggest interconnectivity and harmony, which could lead to a greater degree of transparency and genuine collaboration if implemented sustainably.

Figure 1. The Connected Framework

Source: Dilly (2017, p. 5)

According to Dilly (2017), the figure above, depicts a way through which we can conceptualize the identification and development of excellence in higher education. The dimensions then facilitate the merging of learning experiences through communication and activities in order to nurture creativity and exploration among learners (Dilly 2017).

The second speech was given by Tommo Koivusalo, who affiliated with the City of Helsinki in the NewCo unit. The title of his topic, “Kaikki töitä koskettaa kansainvälistyminen”, translated to English means, all work is influenced by internationalism. During his thirty-minute presentation, he shared his views on some of the implications of technology and the associated drivers and trends. He hit upon the fact that Finland is a small market and this can be an advantage and/or a disadvantage. He continued by saying that the rhythm of life changes Finland is experiencing are not only linear but also vertical and therefore, it is not possible to coordinate and execute the well-planned strategies of the past. Koivusalo (2018), ended by stating that these turbulent and chaotic times call for changes in the way we not only do things but how we plan. (Koivusalo, Helsinki 2018)

In the afternoon, participants divided into groups according to the four work packages. Participants spent time-sharing with others their individual plans and gathered suggestions and feedback from the others. The day concluded with a summation of the group discussions. There were additional resources shared during his presentation concerning digitalization and Digital Health that are included in the appendices section along with those of the first presenter, Professor Päivi Tynjälä.

Taken as a whole, the main themes during this event seem to focus on developing new ecosystems in society through which healthy life ways flourish as humanity, who are in diverse stages of their life span, engage one another and their environment. It seems the TYÖPEDA initiative hopes to accomplish headway in this area through nurturing a culture of cooperation, so that the workers of tomorrow will obtain the needed competencies today by blurring the boundaries between where, when and how learning happens, thus reshaping what is presently known as, the university experience. In order to accomplish this, participants across disciplines will need to work together in new ways. This will take more than just desire or goodwill from those at the grassroots level but will also require support from organizational and community leaders. With this being the case, the culture of each organization comes into question, as these incubators will either provide an environment conducive to creativity and growth or not. In addition, it will take nurturing of the young ideas when and if they have the audacity to emerge from their shells. If we only concentrate on the moment of inspiration and the creation and neglect what comes next, these tender beginnings could be quickly squashed. This can happen either by those who do not know better or by those who do know better but cannot help themselves because they have lived for decades in an environment where scrutiny and thorough examination, preclude any action. Thus, the words of Tommo Koivusalo during his speech gain relevance when he said, “We need more academics and new skills. We need a culture of work together and a pioneering mindset concerning competence development in the field” (Koivusalo 2018).



Arcada University of Applied Sciences. Directory. URL: Accessed: [Accessed 11.11.2018]

Fung, D. (2017). A Connected Curriculum. UCL Press, London. URL:

Jääskelä, P., Nykänen, S., & Tynjälä, P. (2018). Models for the development of generic skills in Finnish higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 42 (1), 130-142. URL: https://doi:10.1080/0309877X.2016.1206858

Koivusalo T. Työelämän edustajan puheenvuoro. Oral presentation 8.11.2018. Arcada University of Applied Sciences. Helsinki, Finland

Ministry of Education and Culture. (2018). Korkeakoulutuksen kehittäminen.
URL: [Accessed 11.11.2018]

Tynjälä P. Miksi työelämäpedagogiikkaa? Oral presentation 8.11.2018. Arcada University of Applied Sciences. Helsinki, Finland

TYÖPEDA. (2018). Työelämäpedagogiikka korkeakoulutuksessa-hankkeen käynnistysseminaari. URL: [Accessed 11.11.2018]


(In alphabetical order)

Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority:

Ministry of Education and Culture -Development of Higher Education:

Ministry of Education and Culture -Vision of Higher Education and Research 2030:

NewCo Helsinki Webpages:

OULUHEALTH-Innovatiiviset ratkaisut tulevaisuuden terveydenhuoltoon:

Portal for Digitalization in Finland:

Publications from the University of Jyväskylä, Finnish Institute for Ecucational Researcy:

Subsidies of the Ministry of Education and Culture:

The Connected Curriculum Approach To Teaching & Learning:

Työelämän asiantuntijuus ja yliopistopedagogiikka:

TYÖPEDA Webpages:

TYÖPEDA Work Packages: