Pupils learn to keep an open mind, understand diversity and respect others

The ability to keep an open mind, understand diversity and respect others. These are part of a set of global competences which are becoming increasingly necessary in our contemporary world. The Dlearn.Helsinki team is participating in the Helsinki Challenge science competition, with a project that aims to find out how pupils can be helped to gain global competences as part of their daily schoolwork.

Finland has the best schools in the world, but we have room to improve in terms of engaging and meaningful learning and global competences. It is worrying that particularly young people of immigrant backgrounds are at risk of becoming marginalised and losing their chances to have a good life.

 “During the past decade, we’ve found that we must study and promote these skills in more practical terms,” states team leader, Docent Auli Toom.

The world has changed. So must schools.

Dlearn.Helsinki strives to reform the pedagogic practices in schools through research, to help all young people have a better opportunity to attain a good life. School is the single most important long-term investment society makes in the lives of children and young people, so it is not insignificant how everyday schoolwork is organised.

 “Schools need new pedagogic practices and models to teach the skills young people need in our society,” Toom explains.

A semifinalist in the Helsinki Challenge competition, the team proposes a comprehensive solution which consists of three components. These components have been designed both based on research results and through a workshop organised with teachers.

1) The team will develop an Experience Sampling Application, which will enable pupils themselves to recognise and evaluate how well they are learning global competences. Through the application, the pupils will also be able to give and receive feedback among their peers on their global competences.

2) The team will build a Collective Competence Wall, which will enable the community to evaluate the learning of global competences. The wall will display the collective strengths of the community as well as the areas in which it stands to improve. The Competence Wall supports the collective learning of global competences. Every member of the community is important.

3) Together with teachers, the team will create pedagogical models for the efficient use of digital tools and practices in daily schoolwork. The goal is to integrate global competences into schoolwork.

The team believes in the pedagogic practices developed cooperatively in the study

Dlearn.Helsinki is building a comprehensive solution to support the learning of global competences based on research, together with pupils, teachers and schools. The goal is to develop a genuinely meaningful, customisable pedagogic solution which will respond to the needs of pupils, teachers and schools as well as our changing world.

 “The Dlearn.Helsinki team believes that our comprehensive solution will enable not only young people to learn global competences at school, but also help teachers to better support engaging learning and make schools more enjoyable places,” Toom says.

The Dlearn.Helsinki team includes Docent Auli Toom; Veera Kallunki, DPhil; Docent Minna Lakkala; Research Director Mari Tervaniemi; and Professor Tomi Männistö. Professor Katariina Salmela-Aro represents both the University of Helsinki and the University of Jyväskylä, Pasi Silander is the digitalisation lead at the City of Helsinki, Veli-Matti Harjula is a teacher and represents expertise in daily schoolwork in the project, and Niko Lindholm is the programme director of the XEdu business accelerator, which operates in close cooperation with the University of Helsinki. The team is involved in intense international cooperation with several researchers and groups in its field who are working on multi-method research in similar phenomena.

Helsinki Challenge

Helsinki Challenge is a science-based idea competition and accelerator programme that brings different actors from the scientific community and society together to solve the great problems in the world. This year’s Challenge themes – Sustainable Planet, Urban Future, and People in Change – are linked to the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The idea competition’s prize is 375,000 euros and it is meant for putting the solution into practice. The solution can be an idea, an invention, a concept, a research project, a business idea, an initiative or a new research question.

Dlearn.Helsinki is one of the seven semifinalist teams led from the University of Helsinki. There are 20 semifinalists http://challenge.helsinki.fi/teams-2016-2017 from several Finnish universities in the competition.