The Open University of the University of Jyväskylä is the most popular distance learning university in Finland. The University offers a range of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Amongst these are short courses on the Finnish education system which are free but give learners the option to gain academic credits under the European Credit Transfer Scheme (ECTS) for a fee.
Through the partnership, jointly set up by Leeds Beckett’s Distance Learning Unit and the Carnegie School of Education, Jyväskylä’s MOOCs will be integrated into teaching in the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett, giving students the opportunity to learn about the internationally-renowned Finnish education system.
Nick Mitchell, Principal Consultant in the Carnegie School of Education, explained: “This is a prestigious partnership for the Carnegie School of Education which will help our students gain a broader and deeper understanding of education and encourage them to develop a global outlook. We want our students to look beyond the UK education system and consider the possibilities for their own futures as graduates.
“Innovative curriculum reform has made the Finnish education system very different to the UK and US models. They are increasingly rejecting the division between academic and vocational education and Finnish teachers are moving away from the concept of subjects in favour of a theme-based and experiential approach. Children do not start school until the age of seven; and there is greater reliance on teacher testing rather than school audits, regulation and Ofsted- style inspections. In Finland, students are tested sparingly and late on in their schooling. The education system is teacher-led rather than outcome-driven and standards remain very high against external indicators.”
Through the partnership, Leeds Beckett will also develop their own MOOCs using the University of Jyväskylä’s as a model.
Dr Alison Iredale, Senior Lecturer in Education at Leeds Beckett, said: “The University of Jyväskylä is very interested in Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and inclusive practice, which are strong areas of research and practice here at Leeds Beckett. We aim to open up our masters-level teaching to their distance learning students in the longer term through shared modules.
“We also hope to expand the MOOC model to offer workshops as part of our partnership with social enterprise, Stronger Minds CIC, where we are working with teachers and school leaders in the UK to support mental health in schools.”
Jukka Lerkkanen, Director of Jyväskylä Open University, said: “The first Finnish speaking teacher seminar was established in Jyväskylä in 1863 and it was the foundation for the University of Jyväskylä. The traditions are still following us and Education is still one of key topics in our University. The newest innovation in Education is our MOOC (The Success Factors Behind the Finnish Education). We are really pleased to establish our partnership with the Carnegie School of Education and that they will use our MOOC within their programmes.”
Edmund Hewson, Director of Distance Learning at Leeds Beckett, added: “I am really delighted at this initial collaboration with the Open University of Jyväskylä, which is Finland’s largest online university, focusing on Education. The collaboration began when we met the University while presenting at the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities in October 2015, and developed further when we welcomed them at our Distance Learning Unit’s conference on student engagement last year.”