Finnish education can now be explored through an online course

The University of Helsinki's new online course is meant for all with an interest in Finnish education. The MOOC includes simulations that deepen the knowledge about outdoor learning and development discussion at school.

The University of Helsinki has built an English-language MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) which presents the current situation of the Finnish education system.

The course is designed to be accessible to anyone interested in Finnish education. However, one target group has been the most prominent: university students. The course has been designed based on their needs and interests and developed in collaboration with them. The students have given valuable input on the topics and on the types of content formats such as text, podcasts, videos, and VR resources.  

“We wanted to create a useful and captivating course that would provide an overview of the whole education system. The course can also be used to present the Finnish education system internationally. The course presents how different stakeholders work together and how everything is connected in the Finnish education ecosystem," says Planning Officer Mihaela Nyyssönen from the University of Helsinki's Teaching and Learning Services.

The course covers interesting topics such as underlying values, educational ecosystem, curriculum development, quality enhancement, teacher education, and current challenges.

Out of the door and into nature to learn

Learning in and from nature is important in the Finnish school system, and nature is just around the corner in many Finnish schools.

There are two simulation exercises on the course. One of the simulations shows examples of how teachers can use outdoor spaces and nature to teach different subjects. MOOC students learn about outdoor activities both in the winter and in the summer. For example, they can choose a location close to the school, such as a sports field or a playground. If they want to step further away from the school, they can try out activities on a hill, in a field, or in different forest environments.

The simulation also presents nature activities suitable for pupils of different ages and explains the associated learning objectives.

See how a development discussion at school would work!

In another simulation, the participant will be introduced to a development discussion between a teacher, a pupil, and a pupil's guardian. In Finland, this kind of discussion typically takes place at least once a year. 

During the discussion, the pupil talks about the current situation from their point of view. All three then discuss the pupil's strengths and challenges and plan how to move forward. The simulation guides the MOOC participant towards a student-centred approach, rather than the teacher and carer discussing issues over and above the pupil.

“The simulation is part of the professional development topic of the course. This is connected to methods of evaluation in Finnish basic education. We thought it would be really great if people from all over the world could get in touch with what it is like to be a Finnish teacher."

Teacher expertise is strong

Mihaela Nyyssönen herself has a teaching background. She has worked with Dr Sari Muhonen, a teacher from the Viikki Teacher Training School at the University of Helsinki, to build the development discussion simulation. The company that produced the nature learning simulation also has staff with a teaching background.

"The course has also been tested by for example teachers and students before it was launched. Now that the course is open online, we are collecting feedback from those who have completed the course and will continue to develop the course based on that. I'm excited to see how this moves forward!"

 

The three-credit Uncover Finnish Education I course opened in August 2023. The MOOC is part of the Master's Programme in Changing Education, but the course can be taken without being part of the Master's programme. Participation requires registration only. The course has been developed as part of the university's Global Campus project and the technical implementation of the simulations has been carried out by 3D Bear.