Finnish Professor conducts series of lectures on flexible learning

The Department of Technology Teacher Education (DTTE) of MSU-IIT College of Education (CED) welcomed their visiting professor, Dr. Hanna Teras, a faculty from School of Professional Teacher Education at Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland on January 11, 2021. Dr. Teras is the first visiting professor hosted by DTTE.

As visiting professor, Dr. Teras conducted online lectures on flexible learning modality to faculty members of CED via Google Meet on January 15, 22, February 5, 12 and 19, 2021. 

Three Levels of Thinking and Teaching of Biggs 

In her first lecture, Dr. Teras talked about Keeping the Student Engaged and Motivated in Flexible Learning. She emphasized in her discussion the Three Levels of Thinking and Teaching of Biggs.  According to the Finnish professor, Level 1 thinkers refer to What Students Are. She said that there are two types of students – the good students who are the engaged ones and the poor students who are considered as the less engaged. 

Level 2 thinkers refer to What Teachers Do. She explained that a good teacher is one who is entertaining and uses all kinds of tips and tricks, utilizing various pedagogical teaching tools and methods. However, if students do not learn, the teacher is blamed for his teaching skill deficits.  

The third level of thinking is What Students Do level which she describes as a good learning level. She said that this level is not the result of what the students and teachers are like, but primarily as a result of what the students are doing. 

“Learning takes place through the actions of the students with the help of the teacher taking into consideration the use of appropropriate pedagogical design,” she added. 

Dr. Teras also linked the topic to the results of her study which indicates that to improve student engagement in online learning, there must be a clear learning management system (LMS) design and instructions, accessible materials and activities, as well as having checkpoints such as self-assessment, milestone and feedback. 

Authentic Tasks in Online Learning 

Her second lecture was about Designing Appropriate Authentic Task in Online Learning. Dr. Teras defined authentic learning as a meaningful learning experience that is active, constructive, intentional, and cooperative. 

She said that “authentic tasks involve authentic problems leading students to better understanding and transfer of learning through solving complex problems, creative thinking and collaborative work.” 

Dr. Teras explained that, based on the Authentic Learning Model of Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver (2010), technology enables the creation and sharing of authentic contents and facilitates collaboration in doing authentic tasks. Hence, it is viewed as an effective tool for learning. 

Research-based Teaching

During the fourth session, the Finnish professor presented the topic Research-based Teaching by Conducting Effectiveness Evaluations Through Action Research. She conveyed to the participants that action research is a reflective practice whose results bring a beneficial change to those who are affected by it such as the students, colleagues, department and university in a particular social setting. 

In addition, Dr. Teras said that “it is a form of an experiential cycle of professional development to systematically improve teacher’s practice to benefit our students.”

The last session was devoted to the Consultation and Reflection on Teaching in the InFLex Implementation. The facilitators shared the general reflections of the participants on the training based on the synchronous and asynchronous activities. Dr. Teras provided insights and suggestions on how the training design could be improved. 

Dr. Amelia T. Buan, CED Dean, shared her plans to form a group of peer facilitators in the college to assist and provide stronger support to the faculty in creating a more engaging and flexible learning environment for the students.

Dr. Buan is currently engaged in one of the BUKA Projects which promote equity and access to higher education in Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines through the use of inclusive instructional design (ID) and learning analytics (LA) in online and blended learning, especially in the context of Open and Distance Learning (ODL).

To know more about this activity, you can read the BUKA REACH Project that supports teachers on innovative flexible learning.