Teachers at Hanken develop innovative teaching methods
Jori Grym (in the picture above) chose to combine online studies with classroom teaching on a course in consumer psychology in August.
“It has been asked if classroom teaching is already totally passé, but this kind of talk makes me scared. Human beings are social, and this is something that has evolved over the course of one million years. It is not something that can be replaced with an application."
When Grym asked the students in the summer if they preferred classroom teaching or online learning, 1/3 of those registered on the course wanted to participate in the classroom while 2/3 wanted to complete the course at a distance. The result was a course where teaching in the class was streamed online. Also those who studied at a distance could be active on the course via a chat that Grym followed while he spoke. The course could, furthermore, be completed by watching the lectures afterwards and be active in a discussion forum on the web.
“This can be a more effective way of completing courses for some students because it provides the opportunity to listen afterwards to the lectures at a higher speed. Or why not while one is out jogging.”
Teaching Independently of Time Zones
The course was also attended by exchange students of whom not all had the opportunity to return to Helsinki after going back to their home countries in the spring. It was, therefore, also important that the course could be taken independently of time zones. Anastasiia Strokova, master's student in marketing and one of those who took part in the teaching in the class, thought at first that she would not have the possibility to return to Helsinki from St. Petersburg before the course began – something that she eventually had.
“I chose to do my master's studies at Hanken because the teaching has such a strong connection to practical business activities. I also have learnt a lot through discussions with more experienced classmates during the classes. The combination of live and online discussions on the course was unusual, but it succeeded well thanks to good technique and the teacher's flexibility.”
The course succeeded well also according to Grym. However, is he to teach the class in the same way again, there is one thing that he will do differently.
“I want the lectures to be filmed with two cameras – one directed so that it gives an overview of the class and the other towards the white board that I use centrally in my teaching.
"The same teaching for everyone"
About 40 percent of those who usually have classroom education also have it this autumn.
“It was originally meant to give classroom teaching for first year students a priority, but it has unfortunately proved to be difficult to offer classroom teaching precisely to the first year’s students because it is such a large group. There cannot be more than a hundred at a time in a class and teaching in small groups does not suit all the courses. For exchange students, however, we can in addition to distance also offer quite a lot teaching in classes", education planning officer Susanna Taimitarha says.
While the students on Grym's course in the summer were still cautious about participating in classroom teaching, the situation was different when the language teacher Johanna Tanner at the beginning of the new school year asked the same question to students who would participate in her courses in oral skills in Finnish. Then 80-90 percent wanted to participate in classroom teaching.
“This is students who have started the second year of their studies. I have now had two lessons with them and it was heartbreaking to see how happy the students were to be in the class with others.
Also Tanner combines classroom and online teaching : one lesson in the week is held in Teams, another in the class.
“A central principle for me is that everyone should be able to take part in the same teaching, regardless of whether they choose to participate in classroom teaching or not. The first task during my course was to do a video job interview and this could well be done online. In the classroom teaching, students make presentations. Those who take the course completely online will make their presentations in Teams for me or for the whole group. This is a little extra work for me, but since it is only about a few students per course, I do it willingly."
A major problem with language courses in online oral skills is that it is slow to activate students on the web compared to the class where students can easily be divided into pairs and smaller groups. Mikaela Krohn, who supervises teachers in using new teaching technology at Hanken Teaching Lab reminds that this problem is due to the fact that it is not yet possible to divide students into smaller groups in Teams. This is a feature that is expected to be launched during the autumn.
“I also teach myself, including courses in entrepreneurial leadership, strategy and Nordic business culture. I have divided students into groups and asked them separately to hold group discussions in individual meetings, but this is very slow.
Krohn currently prefers not to teach at all in class.
“This is because I prefer not to use public transport now and because I want to focus on the forum where the course is delivered. All courses must also be completed online, and it's more effort in following several forums simultaneously, such as chat in the Teams and students' questions in class. I want to give the students an equally good experience in both forums. If the discussions are going on in several forums at the same time during a course, I recommend that there are two teachers on the course, especially if it is a bigger course with for example 100 students."
Krohn speaks warmly for using ready-made applications that make online teaching more engaging, such as polls, white boards and word clouds.
“Distance learning easily becomes one-sided for students and it takes a long time to develop own teaching materials that work online. Luckily there are many ready-made applications that teachers can use. We could also become better at using open recourses that support learning and which are available online under the Creative Commons licenses and also share material that we have created ourselves.