Events and discussions related to, among other topics, wellbeing and inclusivity as well as the future of university education are being planned for the year of teaching.
According to Kai Nordlund, Vice-Rector for academic affairs, teachers have always been valued in the University community, but the trials of recent years have further strengthened this notion. With the thematic celebration, the aim is to make this appreciation visible.
“Teaching is important and meaningful work at the core of our operations. Our teachers are top experts in their fields, and are researchers alongside their teaching efforts. Teaching and research complement each other,” Nordlund emphasises.
A new beginning in the autumn
In many ways, the pandemic has challenged both students and teachers. In the autumn, students and teachers are expected to return to the campuses. According to Susanna Niinistö-Sivuranta, Director of Development from Teaching and Learning Services, staff have been active in attracting students back to the campuses.
“We want students to be part of the community, and we would like them to have a full student experience. New students have not learned to not visit the campuses,” she muses.
Digital solutions will be a prominent element of teaching in the future.
“Teaching reflects societal change and evolves with the times. For teaching to appear interesting and topical to students, it’s important to stay on top of digital developments,” says University Lecturer and Director of Department Tiina Airaksinen, who is also a fellow of the Teachers’ Academy.
At the same time teaching professionals are stressing the importance of on-site teaching in particular.
“The teacher identity includes being there for the student’s learning. And the transfer of tacit knowledge is more effective when teaching on location,” says Airaksinen.
According to Professor Auli Toom, Director of the Centre for University Teaching and Learning, there is no turning back the clock in teaching. In fact, the nature of university education in the future and the ways in which teachers can best help students learn are the burning issues of today.
In the year of teaching, Toom encourages everyone to take part in the discussion and introduce different perspectives. Initiatives are invited from teachers as well as the academic administration and leadership.
“This thematic year will help us promote open discussion and dialogue,” Toom emphasises.
The Teachers’ Academy celebrates its 10th anniversary
The year of teaching also celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Teachers’ Academy, an internationally recognised multidisciplinary network that shares its expertise and actively contributes to the development of learning and teaching at the University.
“The University of Helsinki is a leader in the development of teaching. The Teachers’ Academy has evoked interest and appreciation also among our international colleagues,” says Tiina Airaksinen.
Appointment as a fellow to the Teachers’ Academy is the University’s highest recognition of teaching merits and expertise in the field of teaching. Promoting teaching and improving its standing in the academic community constitute the academy’s primary goals.
“We wish to elevate teaching alongside research, as equal in value. Each academic year, teachers complete hundreds of hours of teaching-related tasks and train students to function in society and as professionals,” Airaksinen notes.
”And let’s not forget the joy of teaching! We hope to see this joy resurface after challenging times.”