International visits and visitors 2018

The Open University of the University of Jyväskylä does annually several international visits as a part of our international co-operation. In addition, we are pleased to receive visitors at our headquarters in Jyväskylä, Finland. Here's a short summary of our international visits and visitors in year 2018.

Martha Elford’s visit to Jyväskylä in October 2018

In October 2018, the Open University of the University of Jyväskylä was honored to be a part of hosting the visit of Dr. Martha Elford, Ph.D. in Special Education, from the University of Kansas. During her visit, we explored themes such as teaching special education, training special education teachers, making use of online learning environments and educational research. All of these themes are important for both universities.

Dr. Elford also gave a presentation about the Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is an instructional approach for addressing different learning needs and reducing learning barriers. Providing accessible, flexible and responsive educational opportunities for all learners is important for the Open University. All students can set learning goals. The teachers get to provide multiple means of engagement to keep the students motivated while meeting the diverse learning needs and empowering continued learning.

Visitors from FenUniverität in September 2018

In September 2018, we received international visitors from the FernUniversität in Hagen. During their stay we had many interesting discussions and presentations exploring the themes of teaching, guidance and learning. Among other presentations, we presented our Alternative Path to University (TRY) project. We compared our methods of operation and furthered the collaboration initiated during earlier visits.

We also provided our guests opportunities to explore the city of Jyväskylä, showing them around our beautiful campus area and taking them for a refreshing walk in the woods of the Laajavuori area.

Attending EADTU Conference in October 2018

The EADTU Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference of 2018 was hosted by Aarhus University in Denmark. The conference explored themes of blended and online learning, for example, through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Our teachers Tarja Ladonlahti and Sanna Uotinen attended the conference with Merja Laamanen, our IT specialist. Our presentation was about the Adaptive Trust-based e-assessment System for Learning (TeSLA) project. The aim of TesLA was to diversify the opportunities for studying online and to create and develop a tool to authenticate students and identify the authorship of learning activities. The Open University was one of seven universities involved in the TeSLA pilot testing across Europe.

Our presentation was mainly based on the data collected during the University of Jyväskylä’s TeSLA pilot study and on discussions with other project partners. We introduced the opportunities TeSLA offers for online education, especially for students with special educational needs and disabilities. We also introduced some critical topics and elements that institutions need to take into account when supporting students in online education. The elements were discussed from the perspectives of technicians, teachers and students with special educational needs.

Attending EUCEN in June 2018

The 50th EUCEN conference took place in Bergen, Norway, in June 2018. The conference explored transitions in life and the future role and opportunities of universities in these transitions through themes such as lifelong and flexible learning and adult education pedagogies.

Our Pedagogical Head Anna Kaikkonen, Head of Planning and Development Merja Karjalainen and teachers Tarja Ladonlahti and Sanna Uotinen attended the conference. Kaikkonen and Karjalainen delivered a presentation about strengthening students’ commitment to web-based learning. The key point was that comprehensive guidance, study planning and support can help students set personal goals for their studies, which increases commitment. Adequate instruction and feedback support engagement and the smooth progress of studies.

Tarja Ladonlahti and Sanna Uotinen gave a presentation on enhancing accessibility in higher education studies. The aim of the presentation was to raise the issues and challenges of enabling students with a wide variety of educational backgrounds and special educational needs and disabilities to study successfully online in higher education institutions. We shared successful practices encountered in adult education in our university and shared recommendations for adaptive and accessible approaches for students.

Erasmus+ Exchange in Germany in November 2018

Deputy directors Anna Kaikkonen and Merja Karjalainen and manager Mirva Huovinen participated in an Erasmus+ exchange at FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany, in November 2018. The three-day visit was full of interesting meetings and presentations. We learned about the university’s research programmes and pedagogical models. We were also introduced to the work of the university’s video production studio.