The scenery changes as we proceed along our paths

Article first published on SeOppi 2/2018.

Text: on the basis of discussions by the project team Kaisa Honkonen, Association of Finnish eLearning Centre

The Adaptable Learning Paths project is nearing its end. We are collecting lessons learned, thoughts and even misses from our trail. The sense of community, trust and sharing in this inspiring and inspired team have, in many areas, opened the opportunity to reach something that was, initially, totally unexpected.

The objective of the project was to support upper secondary students as they clarified their study paths, progressed in their studies and grew and developed professionally. The project made use of digital footprints, the many opportunities brought by learning analytics and visual, personal study plans as well as methods of peer mentoring and peer coaching. The objective was to help those students who were in the danger of dropping out or had recently dropped out so that they could move forward on their study paths and fluently complete the transition to another school, another level of school or to working life. The project was funded by the European Social Fund.

As we compiled the project’s outcomes and outputs, our discussion brought up how greatly the world around educational institutions has changed. The road from the planning to the final report is a long one. The planning of the Adaptable Learning Paths project started in 2014.

It is impossible to foresee the extents and impacts of all different changes on the original project plan. Science, research, legislation and statutes change and develop. They have done so during the Adaptable Learning Paths project to even a greater extent than before.

Digitalisation and the changes in the world are also seen in the reforms of the educational sector. All curricula have been renewed; the reform of Finland’s vocational upper secondary education with its qualifications reform has proceeded into its implementation phase; funding models have been changed; and the entrance examination changes and student selection criteria reforms for higher education institutions will be implemented phase by phase starting in 2019. The national Study Credit, Degree and Qualification Disclosure Service Koski and the General Data Protection Regulation GDPR ensure plentiful work for IT departments while mould-ridden school buildings and other problems weigh on all involved parties. The educational sector has been busy indeed.

On the other hand, the swift rate of change has caused a backlash. More and more, people want face-to-face meetings – they desire to have a physical community in which they can belong. Focusing on wellbeing and investing in oneself have become acceptable, and the sharing of personal experiences has become more and more common. The Citizens’ Forum sees this, for example, in the filling up of their creative writing courses.

The variety of ongoing changes is so comprehensive that our traditional support networks are no longer able to help visualise upper secondary students’ paths. Versatile support is needed.

The following articles discuss the methods developed under the Adaptable Learning Paths project to clarify students’ personal digital learning paths in today’s environment.

We wish to thank the project’s steering group and all project members as well as all other involved parties for their efforts in this rewarding work. As roads go, this is not the end but the first few metres.

Adaptable Learning Paths

Implemented by:

  • The Association of Finnish eLearning Centre (coordinator)
  • Centre for Open Systems and Solutions COSS
  • Tavastia Education Consortium (upper secondary school and vocational college)
  • HAMK University of Applied Sciences
  • Lapland University of Applied Sciences
  • Otava Folk High School/City of Mikkeli
  • Omnia – the Joint Authority of Education in the Espoo Region
  • Educational Association Citizens’ Forum SKAF

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