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K. Björn

Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
A major change of the Finnish system of Universities of Applied Sciences was introduced as a governmental reform in 2014. Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (HMUAS) introduced changes, especially in all engineering programmes. The rationale of the steering reforms are briefly introduced.

As an institutional response, many UAS’s reacted in their own way and strategy. HMUAS in general, introduced larger units of teaching and learning. A fragmented curriculum including dozens courses, typically 3 ECTS can be challenging. If they run in parallel for the whole of academic semester, the student may have up to 10 courses in parallel. Losing of focus is easy. The general structure of the new curricula is discussed.

The main structural changes were introducing minimal load of a course to 5 ECTS and compressing the length of all courses to half-semester, i.e. 8 weeks. This creates the parallel load on three courses only. Some programmes went even further, especially in the first study year, by integrating these into 15 ECTS integrated theme per each half-semester, now to be called a period. This style of integration into periods was in various forms introduced by many degree programmes, such as in Information and Communications Technology, and Electronics and Automation. Improvements on learning outcomes are discussed using examples, both comparative and longitudinal between the old and reformed curricula.

The implementation shifts activity away from individual lecturing towards various forms of flipped classroom, using lecturing style only to introduce new tasks, leaving more teaching resources to help with the learning tasks. Subject matter integration into larger thematic areas, often in project form, forces to integrated teacher team collaboration at least in weekly basis. A tight coupling of teaching activity and removal of potentially irrelevant or overlapping substance matter enhances more focused student learning experience. All this is more easily said than implemented in large scale.

This paper focuses on this stepwise transformation process as a case study of one 3 ECTS course: Industrial Networking, originally implemented by one lecturer to a 15 ECTS course, implemented by team of four teachers. Four of the course implementations are in various individual forms, followed by the 5th implementation in an attempted integrated form. The three first implementations are analysed based on lecturer’s own reflection on the structure and implementation. The last two are compared using a student feedback, both quantitative and qualitative. In both implementations the content of the subject matter and the learning objective has been relatively unchanged, however the transformation process over the various teaching methods provides an insight of a change process, at least as a case.

Other experiences in HMUAS, especially in ICT major of Health Technology, have shown a way forward to even larger, thematically integrated semesters. but now with highly integrated student learning experience, including an applied project work, mainly done to real clients outside the UAS. This case study is based and supported strongly by the thematic mindset. Industrial Networking being the first implementation of the author in area of Automation technology, some areas of development, both in implementation details and in teacher team co-operation are critically reflected, based on student feedback.