Education is currently being transferred online increasingly fast, propelled by the coronavirus situation. This challenges teachers and instructors around the world to update their skills on online pedagogics. There is now a global demand for the extensive knowledge of the University’s experts in online teaching.
During the autumn, a three-week training was organised for the International Federation of Fertility Society (IFFS). Instructors and experts in the medical field from four different continents participated in the training, all the way from Argentina and India.
There is currently a demand for online pedagogy training and a corresponding course is now also organised for the members of the CONSAMS network. Medical instructors form eight African countries will participate in the training.
The training has been jointly designed and carried out by Senior Advisor, Professor Jussi Mertsola and Head of Development and expert on online pedagogy Satu Hakanurmi (in the main picture) from the University of Turku. The training is part of the global education services of the University of Turku.
Transfer into Online Enables the Reform of Entire Teaching Cultures
Organisations had to move to online pedagogy very quickly when the coronavirus hit in spring 2020.
– If a teacher is new to teaching online, the easiest but at the same time worst “quick fix” is to organise a synchronous lecture online or to record a traditional lesson or lecture and upload it online as such. This phenomenon already has its own term: ”Emergency Remote Teaching”, describes Hakanurmi.
In their training, technical problems, softwares, and platforms are not in focus. According to both Hakanurmi and Mertsola, sharing materials and lectures online has its own challenges but they want to concentrate on the learner centred online pedagogy.
– As online learning is becoming increasingly more common, it gives us a unique opportunity to reform teaching culture – especially in countries and cultures where teaching and learning have traditionally been very teacher centred, says Hakanurmi.
– Teaching online should be approached with the Smart and Simple philosophy, encourages Jussi Mertsola. Teaching has to be broken down into short and clear units. The sectioning and variation of teaching materials and methods is important. To uphold the alertness and interest of the learner, you should use different and engaging assignments, tests, and discussions.
Decades of Experience in Online Pedagogics
Jussi Mertsola has extensive teaching experience as a clinical lecturer and the Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Turku. He was involved in launching the first online courses of the Faculty of Medicine in 2002 and has actively participated in the development of the Faculty’s online teaching. Mertsola is also collaborating with the University of Oxford in online training.
Satu Hakanurmi also has years of experience in online teaching – she participated in the realisation of the first courses carried out with audio-conferences at the Open University in the 1990s. In addition, she has published several books on online pedagogy and been an entrepreneur in online training.
Hakanurmi applauds the boldness that the Faculty of Medicine has showed in taking up new initiatives and methods.
However, Mertsola emphasises that the goal of the online training is not to educate teaching professionals in their own field of expertise but to focus on teaching methods and their development.
– Our training is based more on consulting and guidance. The participants plan their own teaching during the course and we give them concrete feedback and development suggestions.
According to Hakanurmi, her and Mertsola’s expertise compliments each other’s, but she considers his background and competence in the medical field a valuable addition in training healthcare professionals.
– In the IFFS training, Jussi presented medical cases which participants can solve and analyse together as part of medical studies. This is a concrete and engaging way to teach online and the reception from the IFFS participants was great, says Hakanurmi.
Mertsola and Hakanurmi consider the global demand as an opportunity for organising online pedagogy training and believe that the different units of the University of Turku have a great deal to contribute to the development of online teaching, both in Finland and abroad.
– The feedback from the course we organised for the IFFS network has been very encouraging. According to the participants, the course presented entirely new and exciting ways to realise remote teaching. The training helped them to understand what kind of an impact genuinely interesting contents and methods that activate the students can really have, Mertsola sums up.
Text: Kati Kaarlehto
Photos: Hanna Oksanen