Technology Education at University of Turku Proven to Develop Innovation Skills
​Students of the course are presenting their products after final presentations at a poster session in the Nordic centre at Fudan University.

​The study of the University of Turku, Fudan University and Massachusetts Institute of Technologyn (MIT) examined whether there is an identifiable connection between the technology education developed in Turku, and the academic and social innovation discussion. The study is based on the shared double degree programme in graduate engineering education of the University of Turku and Fudan University.

The research material consisted of the learning results of the degree programme's product development course from four different classes.

– The aim of the shared degree programme is to educate international future experts who have the preparedness to work as leading specialists in companies, the public sector or research institutes, or as entrepreneurs in the ICT industry. The skills learned during the programme are believed to correlate with the already identified innovation skills, notes the head of the study Ville Taajamaa from the University of Turku.

The combination of society, industry and university often comes up when talking about innovations. According to Taajamaa, this can be misleading if the role of the university is seen only as the producer of research results.

– In addition to research, universities are also responsible for education. A university often participates in the creation of new openings by producing science as a sort of raw material for innovations, but it can also be part of the innovations by producing education that promotes their creation.

Complicated Technologies Require Experiential Teaching

Technology has a significant role in the globally networked industry and society.  Health care, industry, education, traffic and internet, even social interaction, are examples of the fields and phenomena that are in some way dependent on the functionality of the technology they contain.

– The more complicated and multidimensional the requirements set for the technology become, the more versatile should the education become, notes Taajamaa.

The study showed that teaching methods based on activation and experiential learning reached the set learning outcomes. Students developed their skills in group work, efficient communication, and in problem solving and prototyping. In addition, they learned to better tolerate uncertainty and lead projects.

– The teaching methods used in the double degree programme integrate teaching methods based on human and behavioral sciences to a technical research and development course. The four-week intensive course contains practices from the first teaching session onwards, says Taajamaa.

The recent scientific publication is linked with the process of change in technology education at the University of Turku and the research conducted during it. In addition to Taajamaa, the study involved Professor Ville Leppänen and Doctoral Candidate Anne-Maarit Majanoja from the Department of Future Technologies at the University of Turku, Researcher Aikaterini Bagiati from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and International Coordinator Xing Guo from Fudan University.

Text: Heikki Kettunen
Translation: Saara Yli-Kauhaluoma
Photo: Ville Taajamaa

Published date 11/3/2017 4:20 PM ,  Modified date 11/6/2017 10:23 AM

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