Unlocking New Educational Horizons: Insights from the TOTEMK Project Closing Seminar at Strathmore University, May 6-8

The TOTEMK Project's closing seminar at Strathmore University showcased forward-thinking strategies in education. It featured sessions on innovative teaching methods, AI's role in teaching, well-being and inclusion, and implementing Competency-Based Curriculum.


The TOTEMK Project recently concluded, bringing together educators and thought leaders from Kenya and Finland for a three-day event filled with insightful sessions and innovative discussions. 


Closing seminar began with the opening ceremonies, featuring the national anthems of Kenya and Finland. Laurea University of Applied Sciences presented a video highlighting the TOTEMK project, which can be viewed here. Dr. Magdalene Dimba from Strathmore University delivered the opening remarks, setting a positive tone for the workshop. Dr. Seija Karppinen from the University of Helsinki and MSc Tuija Marstio from Laurea University of Applied Sciences provided project highlights and an overview of the TOTEMK project, emphasizing its goals and achievements. After, Professor Ismail Ateya, Director of the Office of Faculty Affairs at Strathmore University, gave a keynote speech on the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), discussing its meaning and implementation at Strathmore University. 


The highlight of the first day was a session called “Reflections on Learning,” in which academic professionals Prof. Violet Opata and Dr. Chepsiror Philomena from Moi University, Dr. Peter Ouma from the University of Eldoret, Prof. Francis C. Indoshi from Maseno University, and Dr. Robert Machyo from Garissa University shared their reflections on the TOTEMK project and its impact on their institutions. This was followed by three hybrid master classes. MSc Tuija Marstio led the master course “Creating an Engaging Online Learning Experience,” which covered the pedagogical principles of building high-quality online courses. Media producer Juha Takanen from Laurea University of Applied Sciences gave a course on the “Impact of Pedagogical Media,” discussing the creation of impactful audiovisual media for MOOCs and emphasizing storytelling and emotional engagement. Lastly, our technological “wizard” Tomi Tolonen from Laurea University of Applied Sciences gave a class on AI in Teaching and Learning, exploring the role of AI in academic settings.


On the second day of the closing seminar, Tuesday, May 7, the day started with the opening session “AI in Teaching,” led by MSc Tuija Marstio and Dr. Ian Wairua from Strathmore University. This was followed by Prof. Marcella Mwaka, Chairperson of the CUE CBE Committee, delivered a keynote speech on the implementation of Competency-Based Education (CBE) in universities, highlighting milestones and future roadmaps. Dr. Alfred Kitawi, Dr. Stephen Macharia, and Dr. Magdalene Dimba from Strathmore University shared their insights on the future of education in the session “Future Perspectives in Education.” Afterwards, we had an inspiring Futures Education Workshop led by Dr. Seija Karppinen and Dr. Veera Kallunki from the University of Helsinki. This workshop explored future perspectives in education. This was followed by a session named “Student Activating Methods,” where Dr. Karppinen and Dr. Kallunki discussed innovative methods to engage students actively and inspired the participants to join the activities. Dr. Celestine Kanjama led the master course on “Fostering Cooperation Between Home and School in a University Context.” Dr. Seija Karppinen concluded the day with a wrap-up session and discussed future plans for the project.


On the third day, Wednesday, May 8, we had some inspiring online masterclasses. The first master class, “Teacher and Student Wellbeing,” was held by Dr. Mikko Häkkinen and MSc Tuija Marstio from Laurea University of Applied Sciences. In the session, they presented the PERMA model, focusing on promoting psychosocial well-being among students and staff. The PERMA model emphasizes Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishments. This followed by the topic “Inclusive Education.” Prof. Jacinta Kwena from Pwani University and KM Heikkinen from the University of Helsinki shared new ideas on inclusion in educational settings. Heikkinen introduced the three-tier support system from Finnish Early Childhood Education and Basic Education.


The TOTEMK Project Workshop provided valuable insights and practical strategies for enhancing education through innovative teaching methods, technology integration, and a focus on well-being. Participants left with a renewed sense of inspiration and practical tools to implement in their institutions.