SCIL enables students to participate in the development of the higher education consortium

Masi Kajander (right), Topias Valkonen and Prince Amwawon Agoalikum developed the new university community’s digital learning environments in the multidisciplinary team of the SCIL project.

Masi Kajander (right), Topias Valkonen and Prince Amwawon Agoalikum developed the new university community’s digital learning environments in the multidisciplinary team of the SCIL project.

SCIL projects bring together a multidisciplinary team of students to solve problems presented by members of the higher education community. Watch a video of students sharing their experiences of SCIL.

How are three higher education institutions integrated into one? Masi Kajander, who studies information technology at the Tampere University of Technology, has a straight answer to this question.

“All universities’ researchers, students and staff members should meet each other more frequently and share their ideas. And a stronger voice should be given to the students”, Kajander states.

Kajander’s wish has already been answered, as he has been taking part in the SCIL project that aims to develop the digital learning environments of the future higher education consortium. SCIL, Smart Campus Innovation Laboratory, is a learning platform piloted in the summer of 2017, and its aim is to enable students to participate in the development of the Tampere3 higher education consortium and its innovation projects during their studies, as well as obtain academic credits and learn working life skills.

“In practice, SCIL means that students participate in projects in which they get a chance to work in cross-sectoral teams and to solve problems that arise from outside the classroom from different actors inside the higher education consortium. As SCIL project crosses the old discipline borders and offers contacts outside the classroom, it is also a tool for the teachers to develop their professional skills. Teachers are able to question their own know-how and to give more responsibility to the students”, says Mika Tukiainen, SCIL project manager.



Employers value project management

So far, three SCIL projects have been implemented. In addition to the development of digital learning environments, the Tampere3 Smart Campus project will be in progress this spring. The goal of the project is to recognise new kinds of interactive ways to communicate between the higher education institutions. Emma Partanen, who studies knowledge management at the Tampere University of Technology, participated last autumn in an SCIL project that examined how the higher education institutions’ student data could be utilised to support learning.

”I decided to participate, because I wanted to develop the problem-solving and project management skills that are needed in working life. I felt that this is one way to stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs”, says Ms Partanen, who is currently working on her master’s thesis.

Jussi Myllärniemi, knowledge management teacher at an higher education institution, leader of the Data and Analytics project, is convinced that meta skills such as public speaking and problem-solving skills will become more and more important in future working life. When speaking of SCIL projects, he is especially delighted that the theoretical know-how can now be utilised in practice.

“I believe that in the future the employers will highly value the master’s programme, single study modules, and the projects the students have participated in during their studies. It is difficult to succeed in a project if there’s not enough background information. For this reason, it’s good that SCIL combines the practical work with the know-how learnt from literature and thorough studying of the background of the phenomena”, Mr Myllärniemi states.

Long-term learning beyond traditional subject boundaries

The SCIL project will continue until the summer of 2019. The students and teachers participating in the project hope that the project will help to create a permanent student-centred operational culture that will support the continuous renewal of the higher education consortium.

The SCIL project was started due to the need for multidisciplinary study paths. Now the aim is that the project will be integrated into the higher educational institution curriculums, and the students will be able to bring out their own views and contribute to the development of the university. “Instead of single courses, we’d have more projects that support long-term learning beyond traditional subject boundaries”, Mika Tukiainen says.

Text and photo: Veera Reko
Video: Saara Lehtonen