We are happy to announce this year's competition's ten finalists! All of them bring something new to the field of higher education and continuous learning, and we can't wait for you to hear all about them.
Contestant 1 - ECIU XR Campus
Challenge to solve: ECIU University is formed by 12 European universities and people who
are known for their entrepreneurial mindset and their willingness to give back to the society. ECIU University brings together learners, alumni, teachers, researchers, enterprises, NGOs, public stakeholders and citizens to solve wicked multi-disciplinary challenges in the spirit of continuous learning. ECIU University is transforming traditional degree-based education into challenge-based, in order to enable people to be involved with meaningful and game-changing themes. Solving challenges together is ultimately about people’s interaction, both digital and physical. COVID-19 challenges the openness of Europe and limits the mobility of people drastically. Alternative online solutions for interaction and collaboration exist, but they do not serve the purpose of ECIU University well enough. They lack the sense of community, creativity and true interactivity. We need to be able to bring our people together in an immersive way also in the digital world.
Solution: ECIU XR Campus is ECIU University in virtual reality. It is an environment which you can access from anywhere and anytime and be fully immersed into interaction and co-creation together with others. ECIU XR Campus provides instant collaboration opportunities for our community throughout Europe. There are challenges to be solved together, as well as individual, agile, flexible opportunities for skills and competence development. People feel psychologically immersed as if they were physically present in the same space. ECIU XR Campus is built as a park. We want to nourish our people to feel good, fresh and excited while innovating, and at the same time we aim to abolish the traditional notion of universities and higher education as concrete buildings and lecture rooms. ECIU XR Campus is built with nothing but people’s needs in mind. In the first stage, ECIU XR Campus is accessible with VR headset or using PC. In the future also access with mobile devices will be possible bringing the aspect of augmented reality into the picture.
More info: https://www.eciu.org/
Contestant 2 - Initiative The Durga Puja Mystery (University of Helsinki)
Challenge to solve: Game-based learning and edutainment have a certain audience, but have not spread into all disciplines, such as Area and Cultural Studies, notably South Asian Studies in this particular case.
Solution: The educational video game Durga Puja Mystery introduces to Indian festival culture, by focusing on the arguably most popular and widespread Hindu festival Durga Puja. The game is a third-person 3D adventure game, filled with mystery and using educational puzzles, riddles and tasks. It takes place inside and around a majestic heritage mansion near Kolkata, India – during the time of Durga Puja, of course! During the game, the player will collect various items, including reference books, texts and images, that can help with the investigation and play a key part in winning the game. Simultaneously and as characteristic for educational games, these items introduce the player to various key themes related to Durga Puja and support the player in their educational and academic quest.
More info: https://blogs.helsinki.fi/durgapuja-the-videogame/
Contestant 3 - Aalto Thesis programme
Challenge to solve: Graduating university students are ought to be experts in their own field, but they sometimes lack other essential modern and future work-life competences, like experience on multidisciplinary collaboration and project management. Also, the very last point of their studies, Master’s thesis, is quite often delayed or left unfinished, which is a challenge both to the student and the university. From the partner’s perspective, company’s problems are too often tackled through a single point of view. Lot of potential is left undiscovered when mindsets are fixed in traditional ways of thinking.
Solution: Aalto Thesis programme offers Master’s students a possibility to execute a collaborative project with work-life organisations whilst writing their Master’s theses. In Aalto Thesis, 2-4 students from different study fields will solve the partner organisation’s multidimensional challenge through their Master’s theses in a 6-month project. The students are given a clear time frame for their work (with a grant), a theme for their thesis, and a real work-life case to apply their academic knowledge into. Also, the students will work together in a multidisciplinary team while gaining important work-life experience. Aalto Thesis team takes care of finding partner organisations, identifying the project’s challenge, and recruiting the most suitable student team through an open application process.
More info: www.aalto.fi/aaltothesis
Contestant 4 - Tutka -model (Laurea University of Applied Sciences)
Challenge to solve: Developing entrepreneurship is essential to creating and sustaining vitality and growth regionally. Universities of applied sciences do not have the resources and companies lack the means to find the expertise needed.
Solution: Tutka- model is based on a partnership between regional development companies and Laurea University of Applied Sciences, as well as Laurea's pedagogical Learning by Development development model. The co-built support package for the development of micro-enterprises includes both the sparring of a business developer and the implementation of Coaching Camps that support business operations. It also includes student led development projects and theses aimed at solving a recognized development need. The model has been developed using co-development methods and taking into account the wishes of corporate customers.
More info: www.tutkahanke.fi
Contestant 5 - Elixar Systems Augmented Reality
Challenge to solve: Students in the present education system can't experience the experimental aspect of science. Moreover the students do not explore the experimental aspect of learning due to no availability of complex hardware setup requirements. Even in the structured practical lab sessions by school and colleges the students hardly experience the logic and importance of observation.
Solution: An Augmented Reality based mobile application, which enables students to have full scientific experiment experience based on correct mathematical coding just anywhere. More than 60 scientific experiments are incorporated in the AR(Augmented Reality) application. This allows students to conduct lab sessions remotely, and gives opportunity for schools with insufficient funding to provide experimental lab work.
More info: https://www.elixarsystems.com/
Contestant 6 - NCC Education
Challenge to solve: NCC Education is a UK Awarding Organisation, which operates globally in over 60 countries and partners with higher education institutions looking to provide UK degrees in students' home countries as well as programmes for University progression. NCC Education works in many fragile markets, and widens participation across nations where UK education may not be within the reach of all. Four cycles are held each year. However, due to the length of time it took to courier papers from centres then courier out to our examiners for marking students could not resit in the next cycle, but had to wait until the following cycle, therefore potentially delaying their progression.
Solution: NCC Education is a digitized moderation process for student work based on Moodle and an open source software package. It automates uploading the students' work and allows moderators to access the work immediately. The moderators complete an online form which alerts NCC Education to any issues, speeding up the processing time and allowing to open all cycles to students.
More info: https://www.nccedu.com/
Contestant 7 - Climate University (University of Helsinki)
Challenge to solve: Climate change and the sustainability crisis are the grand challenges of today and need urgent actions in all sectors of the society. How can competences in society be built quickly and on a large scale to be able to tackle these challenges?
Solution: Climate University is a collaboration network of 11 universities in Finland that aims at tackling the challenges of the climate change and the sustainability crisis by providing open online education. Climate University has co-created new open online courses on climate change, sustainability, systems thinking, leadership, new solutions and communication that are available for all universities in Finland and abroad to utilize, as well as all citizens to study. The new courses as well as a module of 35 credits (ECTS) will be available also via open universities by 2021. In collaboration with the schools and the working life, workshops have been organized all around Finland to co-create new teaching and improve teachers' competencies in taking climate and sustainability aspects into their teaching.
More info: https://blogs.helsinki.fi/climateuniversity/
Contestant 8 - YOOP.fi
Challenge to solve: Entrepreneurship students gain many entrepreneurial competences outside the classroom through experiential learning – in their own companies, in their hobbies, in their jobs. These competences remain too often unrecognized by the students and by their teachers, and the students end up learning the same skills once again in their Higher Education (HE) studies. Potentially, this leads to prolonged study times, frustration and inefficiency in the HE studies, unequal treatment of students based on where their skills are obtained - and even dropouts due to lack of study motivation when work and study cannot be combined in a meaningful way. Recognition of prior learning (RPL, AHOT in Finnish) and studification are ways to match the experiential learning gained outside the official curriculum with the learning goals in the HE studies. The main goal of RPL is to recognize and acknowledge individuals’ competence and knowledge regardless of how and where it has been acquired and integrate it into the degree. Studification, on the other hand, refers to a model, where learning activities that take place outside university are designed to be part of the curriculum in a predetermined manner. RPL and studification practices are promoted, particularly, in the field of entrepreneurship, but their use remains lower than expected. Based on an extensive study across Finnish HE sector, both entrepreneurship students and teachers have difficulties in using RPL and studification as part of the entrepreneurship studies. Main problems lie, for example, in the lack of knowledge of RPL and studification practices as well as in recognizing, articulating and evaluating the entrepreneurial competences. Entrepreneurial competences are particularly difficult to identify and articulate, because they include several interrelated and interconnected competence areas.
Solution: YOOP.fi – Yrittäjyysosaaminen Opintopisteiksi! - is a digital, online tool open to all users through a web browser. It is primarily targeted to entrepreneurship students in HE who have gained or plan to gain experiential knowledge of entrepreneurship through their own business, hobbies or through working in a company and intent to get their skills acknowledged in their HE studies. YOOP.fi provides the students with information and guidance about RPL and studification practices as well as inspiring student testimonials (in the format of videos) of the ways to incorporate experiential knowledge into their HE studies and to get them recognized and validated. More importantly, YOOP.fi allows the students to conduct a self-evaluation of their entrepreneurship competences. The self-evaluation introduces the students with the main dimensions of entrepreneurial competences in a playful manner, and provides them with the vocabulary to describe their own competences and the opportunity to evaluate their current level. The dimensions of entrepreneurial competences are based on EntreComp, a research-based entrepreneurship competence framework issued by the European Commission. YOOP.fi offers also a separate section for entrepreneurship teachers with recommendations for new practices, hints and real-life examples. YOOP.fi is developed by a consortium consisting of nine Finnish HEIs. The consortium is led by the University of Turku. Partners include Åbo Akademi University, Turku University of Applied Sciences, Aalto University, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, LAB University of Applied Sciences, LUT University, University of Oulu and Oulu University of Applied Sciences.
More info: https://yoop.fi/
Contestant 9 - Team Togetherness - community co-creation boosters (Tampere University)
Challenge to solve: Only 13 % of leaders world-wide can deliver both a good workplace atmosphere and good results. Leaders need more tools in their leadership toolbox.
Solution: Community co-creation process created helps any leader to carry out good quality communications and helps making evidence-informed decisions based on the wisdom of the crowds. Any new process/routine needs practising. The service contains using Innoduel digital co-creation tool, stepwise decreasing support for leaders and 4-phase approach to organisational learning. Everything starts from experiment and organisation, including the leaders experiences phases like rehearsal, adoption and mastery. Continuous learning and a lean approach are key elements in this service.
Contestant 10 - Sote-akatemia (University of Turku)
Challenge to solve: In the field of social welfare, health care and education, multiprofessional and multifunctional operations are needed. The integration of services calls for a significant change in our ways of thinking. Sote-akatemia wants to break down barriers in both higher education and working-life and between them, and have started the process by breaking the faculty boundaries in the University of Turku. The silo effect in different professions and sciences as well as services needs to be stopped. That way, the Finnish service system can be made better for the customers and professionals in the future.
Solution: Sote-akatemia is a unique interdisciplinary platform. It operates as an enabler of interdisciplinary education and research. It is a joint platform for all seven faculties of the University of Turku with live and growing partnerships also outside the university. It organizes high-quality education on social welfare, health care and education for degree students and continuing learning purposes. Since courses are available also via the Open University of University of Turku, there are students from all faculties as well as working-life. Sote-akatemia coordinates interdisciplinary researcher forums on social and health services and education. Through these operations, Sote-akatemia supports social welfare and health care reform and takes part in the societal discussion.
More info: https://sites.utu.fi/sote/