23.01.2018

Open University Teaching - What Is It?

Pedagogic development in focus

In the Open University, we are actively developing pedagogic solutions suitable for adult students. Research and development activities related to university pedagogy and adult education are followed both nationally and internationally. Our personnel includes innovative experimenters and active self-developers. 

Versatile offering of studies available to all

Open University students make up a heterogeneous group in terms of their educational background, field of study, home region and age, since there are no specific admission criteria for these studies. However, two main categories can be distinguished: young students, who are typically still seeking direction for their educational paths; and adults, who may have been in working life for long and want to have further competences or upgrade their professional skills. In addition, many students pursue general educational goals. Some students aim at a degree and apply for actual degree studies later on.

Teaching based on research 

JYU is a multidisciplinary research university. At the Open University, you can pursue only studies that are in compliance with the curricula of JYU. Teaching is based on research and scientific knowledge. 

The students are guided into critical and inquisitive thinking. In addition, they receive guidance in information search and source criticism. This also includes the use of research-based academic sources with appropriate reference practices. 

Guidance-oriented pedagogy

Studying at the Open University is based on students’ autonomous and active role in planning, carrying out and evaluating their learning. Adequate and necessary support for students’ learning includes teaching, guidance, counselling and feedback. Hence, Open University pedagogy has been described as guidance-oriented pedagogy. The potential of online learning is used and tested boldly, yet so that study-related activities would be clear and student-friendly. Teachers are personally present and play an active role also in online environments. Students are offered possibilities for both individual and joint working by versatile use of modern learning environments and learning materials. It is important that students have opportunities for active participation and interaction both with teachers and other students.

Diverse learning methods 

Lectures are provided in real time both face-to-face and online. Students can watch recorded lectures as part of scheduled online courses or according to their own schedules, for example, in connection with learning assignments. Seminars, group meetings and exercises are provided in real time both face-to-face and online. Some study subjects also involve periods of on-the-job learning or practical training.

The design of an online course starts from the objectives and syllabus of the study module. Often they include learning assignments to be accomplished individually or in a group as well as tasks for discussion groups. Online courses may also include real-time group meetings, in which the students can participate over a chat, audio and/or video connection. One form of an online course is a reading group, where a group of students is working mostly individually.

The most common forms of independent learning include working on various learning assignments, essays or online exercises.

There are two types of exams: Traditional exams, arranged on the regular monthly exam days of the Open University, can be taken in Jyväskylä, Helsinki or in a partner school at a given time. Online exams are independent of place, taken at a given time using the student’s own computer. 

Assessment and feedback 

In many subjects, the student receives not only a numeric grade but also verbal feedback.

As a rule, course marks are announced within three weeks from the end of the course. At the end of term, and when made by part-time teachers, the assessment period can be four weeks at maximum. Numeric grades are given on the scale from 0 to 5. Students’ own activity and participation with regard to feedback practices are strengthened by means of peer- and self-assessment.

Study modules and assignments are designed to steer students to challenge their own thinking, deepen their affiliation with the subject matter and personalise the matters learnt. Personal feedback is aimed not only to assess the study performance, but also to guide the students to develop themselves as university students (academic thinking, field-specific academic culture). On the basis of the feedback received, students become aware of the progress of learning and also of potential targets for development. In online courses and seminars, the students are guided into joint working while also supporting their peer learning.

If the student is dissatisfied with a grade or feedback

A student dissatisfied with the evaluation of a study unit or with the recognition of his/her prior studies, may request, orally or in writing, rectification from the teacher in charge of the evaluation. The rectification request must be made within 14 days from the date on which the student has had an opportunity to find out the assessment results and how the assessment criteria were applied in his/her case. A person dissatisfied with a decision made upon the rectification request can request for a further rectification from the Appeal Committee of the University of Jyväskylä within 14 days from the date of receiving the decision.

Accessibility 

Open University studies are available to all. It is important that teachers take related accessibility aspects duly into account. To ensure accessibility, where necessary, a student is entitled to individual arrangements or alternative modes of learning activities.

The University of Jyväskylä is committed to strive for Level AA in the accessibility of online environments (WCAG 2.0).  

Open University regulations for disruptive behaviour

Each student is entitled to a safe learning environment and has the right to be treated in an appropriate and correct manner. Students must be treated on an equal basis. Moreover, each student is responsible, in terms of his/her own action, for the safety and pleasant atmosphere of the study environment. Students are expected to behave correctly both in physical and online learning environments. Other students, teachers or staff must not be disturbed nor treated inappropriately. A student has to comply with the study-related regulations and instructions issued by the Open University, an individual teacher or administrative staff.

Rector’s Decision on 13 June 2013, which supplements the Degree Regulations of the University Of Jyväskylä, section 54, the Code of conduct for preventing and dealing with academic fraud and plagiarism.

Flexible study practices and paths

In Open University studies, students have the main responsibility for progress in studies. They can plan and schedule their studies within the time limits of the study right. Comprehensive guidance and study planning help students to set their personal goals and make choices that best support their learning.

Students can enrol in larger study modules or individual courses. Upon the enrolment, the student receives a personal study right for a fixed period, the length of which is usually 150 days for individual courses, 360 days for basic study modules, and 720 days for intermediate study modules.