Pedaforum June 4–6, 2019: Open learning, developing analytics and evaluation in support of high-quality learning and teaching

The Pedaforum days were held on the University of Helsinki's Kumpula campus on June 4–6, 2019. The objective of the conference is to share information on university-pedagogical research and good practices in order to provide high-quality learning and teaching.

The event brought together over 600 people who were interested in matters of higher education. The participants included experts of teaching, guidance, student administration and student services and student from higher education insitutions, among others, ensuring that the days offered both disciplinary and interdisciplinary encounters and promoted networking among the participants.

CSC was involved in promoting interoperable and high-quality teaching and learning through learning analytics, open learning and digital learning environments.

Topical issues from the government program to learning analytics

During the panel discussion organized by The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers and led by Sanni Lehtinen, Chair of the National Union of University Students in Finland, the panelists (Birgitta Vuorinen, Ministry of Education and Culture, Petri Suomala, Aalto University, Kimmo Mäki, Haaga-Helia, and Tero Karjalainen, The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers) discussed the recently published government program. The demands for internationalization of higher education, changing student base, comprehensive development, objectives of continuous learning and the need to increase collaboration also emerged in the discussion.

Birgitta Vuorinen stressed that future work will not start from scratch, since vision work has already been conducted widely and can be used as a foundation. However, during the early government term, novel ideas and sharing are needed both within and across higher education institutions and fields of education.

In addition to workshops, symposia and keynote speeches, a new teaching method was added to the toolkit for both teachers and teaching developers: The KOPE project, which promotes higher education pedagogical cooperation between universities of applied sciences and universities, introduced the participants to the higher education vision through a fun pedagogical and higher education policy-related escape room experience.

The Promoting Open Educational Resources project ( organized a joint workshop with the Open Learning expert group, which addressed the functionalities of the future open educational resources service and the practical questions of finding learning materials.

The workshop also discussed contractual issues that should be taken into account when publishing open learning materials ranging from student work to materials completed during the teacher's working hours and products co-financed through project funding in various situations. The topic continued the theme of the previous symposium of the Open Learning expert group, which discussed open licenses and the definition of open learning and learning materials.

Electronic evaluation as part of the digitization of teaching and the opportunities it provides for shared use, automation and flexibility of studies are being discussed on the national level and approached from a number of perspectives. The methods and pedagogics of assessment during teaching, the flexibility offered to students with regard to taking exams and assessment in teaching cooperation were discussed in the presentations. 

In addition to assessment during teaching, developing student admissions was also a hot topic. The workshops considered the emphasis on certificate-based admissions, various ways of developing entrance examinations, such as digital entrance exams, and the manner in which the utilization of online courses in universities' student selection impacts teaching. 

The topic of learning analytics emerged in several symposia and workshops. Discussions considered how analytical methods could support not only studies and study path planning but also commitment to studies. The use of analytics as a tool for education management and, on the other hand, the conditions related to the management and regulation of student data were discussed.

The general observation was that even though analytics could help to achieve all kinds of things, the needs are, however, very simple not only for individual learners but also for, for example, the leaders of degree programs – the focus should be kept on continuous learning and particularly on the desired competencies.

In addition, both needs and open questions related to the utilization of analytics are repeated from one project and organization to another, so the operative word for utilizing and developing learning analytics will be cooperation. This need for collaboration will be addressed through the national network of learning analytics.

Picture: University of Helsinki, Pedaforum 2019 -page