Climate University in Hacking Higher Education finals

Climate University was selected as one of the ten finalists in the Hacking Higher Education 2020 competition. We thank for the honour!

The finals were held online on 16 September and the winner of the title Higher Education Developer of the Year was selected by public voting. This time, the 1st prize went to India, Elixar Systems Augmented Reality, with total of 32 000 votes. Congratulations to the winner! And thank you for everyone who voted for us!

Register now: Partnering Science and Law for Effective Climate Action

Welcome to the next Climate University workshop!

Program 

Wed 7.10. Climate Science 

9:00 Opening 

Keynote opening speech, Juhani Damski, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment (former Director of the Finnish Meteorological Institute)  

Changing the world together – welcome to Climate University community, Laura Riuttanen, University of Helsinki, coordinator of CU

9:20 Speed Networking 

9:50 Break  

10:00 Understanding global warming – what is the challenge from climate science to the society? 

What do the climate scientists want you to know about climate science? What are the current topics in climate science that are the most relevant to the society? Keynote speech by Sami Romakkaniemi, Research Professor, Finnish Meteorological Institute. Group work in break-out rooms.  

12:00 Lunch break

13:00  How to strengthen the climate and sustainability competencies of the society? 

Climate University is producing new online courses on sustainability and climate change by the end of year 2020. Welcome to get to know them!

13:30 Introducing the new CU courses 

In parallel break-out rooms:

  1. The Climate university courses: Sustainable.now,  SystemsChange.now and Solutions.now   
  2. Climate.now goes Nordic   
  3. Open discussion on climate science  
  4. Lukiolaisten Ilmasto.nyt 

15:45 Check-out of the day  

  

Thu 8.10. Law 

9:00 Opening 

Opening speech Tapio Määttä, Academic Rector, University of Eastern Finland

9:15 How can law help in the battle against climate change? 

This session will provide an overview of the evolution of climate law, the role of law in the battle against climate change and for climate justice. It will address what is happening with climate law internationally, the EU and in Finland, as well as highlight how UN climate negotiations work (and how experts in non-legal fields can support efforts for strong, science-based policies).

Keynote speeches by Kati Kulovesi, Professor of International Law, Univeristy of Eastern Finland, and Heta Heiskanen, Secretary-General of the Climate Panel

12:00 Lunch break (option to record #ClimateChallenges) 

13:00 Discussions & meetings:

Working in parallel breakout rooms:

  1. Discussion on gaps and challenges in climate science and law 
  2. Climate.now teachers’ meeting 
  3. Circular.now teachers’ meeting  
  4. #ClimateChallenges 

15:45 Check-out of the workshop

 

The workshop will be fully online and hosted by the University of Eastern Finland. Participation links and details will be sent to the registered participants before the workshop.

Register here registration extended until 5 October 12:00 EET!

 

Contact:

Santtu Mikkonen, University of Eastern Finland

Laura Riuttanen, University of Helsinki

Autumn pilots of the new Climate University courses

Tänä syksynä pilotoidaan useita uusia Climate University –kursseja.

 

Ilmastoviestintä.nyt-verkkokurssilla käydään läpi tärkeää, mielenkiintoista ja ajankohtaista teemaa – vaikuttavaa ilmastoviestintää. Aihe on monipuolinen: DigiCampukseen luotu kurssimateriaali sisältää mm. tiedeviestinnän problematiikkaa, ajattelun vinoumien ja denialismin ymmärtämistä sekä psykologisesti viisaan ilmastoviestinnän avaimia. Viestinnällä on valtava rooli siinä, kuinka ilmastonmuutoksen haasteet ratkaistaan (tai ei ratkaista). Kurssi-ilmoittautuminen on auki Oulun yliopiston opiskelijoille (https://opas.peppi.oulu.fi/fi/opintojakso/766382A/11711) sekä Oulun avoimen yliopiston kautta kaikille kiinnostuneille (https://www.oulu.fi/avoinyliopisto/node/204864). Kurssin virtuaalinen aloitussessio on 8.9.2020.

ClimateComms.now will be later available also in English.

 

SystemsChange.now course is currently being piloted as an intensive course in collaboration with the Universities of Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Aalto. The course will be open to students in the spring semester 2021. SystemsChange.now approaches global grand challenges from the perspective of interconnected Earth and human social systems. It provides the students with important systems thinking tools, which assist in making sense of the complex global phenomena like climate change. They also help the students in recognising leverage points for intentional systems change and in reflecting on their own agency within various systems.

 

Statistical tools for climate and atmospheric science is also piloted in the Autumn (periods I-II), with students of the EnCHiL program. The course will be opened for the students of the University of Eastern Finland (course code 3352755), the University of Helsinki (course code ATM308), students of the EnCHiL program and students in open university of the University of Eastern Finland (details given later in Autumn) in January 2021. In the course you learn how to find and use open atmospheric and climate data, how to conduct statistical analyses on the data and how to report your findings.

 

Kestävyys.nyt -kurssia pilotoidaan Oulun yliopistossa loppusyksystä (kurssikoodi 766381A, periodi II). Kestävyys.nyt -kurssilla opit ekologisen, taloudellisen, sosiaalisen ja kulttuurisen kestävyyden perusteet ja pohdit, mitä ne tarkoittavat ilmastonmuutoksen aikakaudella.

Sustainable.now course on will be later available also in English. The course covers the basics of ecological, economical, social and cultural sustainability in the time of climate change.

 

Kiertotalous.nyt –kurssia kiertotalouden perusteista järjestetään LUT-yliopistossa (kurssikoodi BH60A5400) sekä Helsingin yliopistossa (kurssikoodi MAAT-051) ja Helsingin yliopiston avoimessa yliopistossa (https://courses.helsinki.fi/fi/aymaat-051/136339052). Kiertotalous.nyt-materiaalit löydät osoitteesta www.kiertotalousnyt.fi.

Circular.now online course on the basics of circular economy is available in LUT University (course code BH60A5400), University of Helsinki (course code MAAT-051) as well as open university of Helsinki (https://courses.helsinki.fi/en/aymaat-051/136339052). You find the Circular.now materials at www.circularnow.fi.

 

Ilmasto.nyt-kurssille ilmastonmuutoksen perusteista voit tänä syksynä osallistua ainakin Helsingin yliopistossa (kurssikoodi ATM302, periodissa II), Itä-Suomen yliopistossa (kurssikoodi 3352703, periodi II) ja Jyväskylän yliopistossa (kurssikoodi BENA4036). Helsingin yliopiston kurssi on auki myös avoimen yliopiston kautta (https://courses.helsinki.fi/fi/ayatm302, ilmoittautuminen aukeaa 12.9.). Ilmasto.nyt-materiaaliin voit tutustua osoitteessa www.ilmastonyt.fi.

Climate.now course on the basics of climate change you can take this Autumn at least in the Universities of Helsinki (course code ATM302, period II), Eastern Finland (course code 3352703, period II) and Jyväskylä (course code BENA4036). The University of Helsinki course is also open via the open university (https://courses.helsinki.fi/en/ayatm302, registration opens 12.9.). You find the Climate.now learning material from www.climatenow.fi.

 

Lukiolaisen Ilmasto.nyt on tarjolla Oulun yliopiston kurkistuskurssina avoimen yliopiston kautta (kurssikoodi ay766383A, aloituspäivämäärä 1.10.).

 

Kaikkien Climate University –kurssien kurssimateriaalit tulevat olemaan avoimia kaikille kiinnostuneille – niin opettajille kuin opiskelijoillekin. Uudet kurssit tehdään DigiCampus.fi-alustalle, joka mahdollistaa kurssikopioiden ottamisen eri korkeakoulujen käyttöön. Lisenssi CC-BY-SA. Uusista kursseista kuulet lisää seuraavassa Climate University –verkkopajassa 7.-8.10. – ilmoittautuminen aukeaa pian!

All Climate University course materials will be open for everyone – for students as well as teachers. The new courses will be made to the DigiCampus.fi platform that enables course copies for different universities. Licence is CC-BY-SA. Welcome to hear more in the next virtual Climate University workshop 7.-8.10. – registration opens soon!

PS. Read more about the new Climate University courses from this earlier blog post: https://blogs.helsinki.fi/climateuniversity/2020/02/28/climate-university-new-courses-coming-by-2020/ 

New logo

The Autumn semester starts with new fresh visuals. During the summer, Mari Lindgren from Unigrafia has designed a new logo for us. Here you are:

Also the new courses have got their ones:

Many of these new online courses will be piloted during the Autumn, so stay tuned! Preliminary learning outcomes you can read from this previous post. New web pages are also under construction.

The Climate University team wishes you an inspiring and healthy start of the Autumn!

Virtual Climate University: Online Learning & Sustainability Transition in a post-COVID-19 World

We held our first CU webinar a few weeks ago on Tuesday and Wednesday 26.-27.5. It was a success! Here’s a recap of our first Virtual Climate University.

 

The webinar started with a simple instruction. We put a link to our Digicampus platform, where all of the information and content of the webinar was gathered, which lead to a Flinga wall. The instruction was this: “Go the Flinga, create an avatar and type your name, organisation and inner super hero of today.” The Flinga wall was a map of the world so we then instructed everyone to place their avatar wherever they felt like their superhero was from. Here you can see the result. 🙂

After the superheroes we continued to the official opening words of the webinar, which were given by academic Markku Kulmala. Then Laura Riuttanen introduced Climate University and Katja Lauri the ABS network. The warmups were done. It was time to start our first workshop.

 

The first workshop started with our two keynote speakers Outi Haanperä from Sitra and Lassi Linnanen from LUT-university. Outi focused on the economical side of the possible sustainability transition and Lassi on much needed system-level change. After these amazing keynote speeches there was a workshop hosted by Anna Kirveennummi and Morgan Shaw from Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku. The workshop was focused on the question “How can we learn about sustainability from the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?”, and it featured a poll at the start. The results were then discussed at the end.

We then ended the first workshop with a little meditation hosted by our “guru” Laura. 😁

 

During this corona virus episode we have realized that sitting in a Zoom meeting 6-8 hours in a row is surprisingly exhausting. Thus we wanted to assure that the breaks are long enough for both the participants and for us hosts. We had a one hour break after the first workshop and a 45min break between the 2nd and 3rd workshop.

 

The second workshop started with the introduction of our CU courses. Then Liisa Ilomäki and Minna Lakkala from the University of Helsinki shared their views on the pedagogy of online education. Next Sari Puustinen from the University of Turku introduced our new bachelors level course “Sustainable.now”, which covers basics of sustainability .

 

We had the 45 min break and it was time for the last workshop of the day. Santtu Mikkonen from University of Eastern Finland gave an interesting insight to our course about statistical tools titled “Statistical tools for climate and atmospheric science”. Laura wrapped up the formal part of the day with a little poll and reminded everyone of our evening activities, which were soon to begin. But first we headed to a well deserved 2-hour-break.

 

As the clock hit 18:00 we started our evening activities, which were:

The Kitchen: Cooking vegan food together

The Dining Hall: Informal discussions on the workshop topics

The Pub: Tasting some beer and making the world a better place

I was in charge of planning the recipe for the kitchen. I was also actually cooking the asparagus-lemon-risotto (delicious by the way, I’ll add the recipe to the end of this blog post), so kind of I got to live my childhood dream of being a TV chef. 😅

Eventually only one person cooked the food with me, but it was still super nice. The people from the Pub moved to our Kitchen Zoom room after about a half an hour (as everyone knows the best place to hang around in a house party is always the kitchen 😁). We learned interesting details about bout alcoholic and non-alcoholic beers and I got to eat my self-made risotto, which caused some understandable envy among the people, who first watched me cook for 2 hours and at the end I was the only one enjoying the meal. Although we didn’t have too many participants in the evening activities, we all enjoyed the time we spent with each other. At around 21:00 we closed our Zooms, 12 hours after the superhero introductions. It was time to rest.

 

The next morning started with a fascinating workshop about the  pilot of the upper secondary school version of Climate.now. In the beginning I quickly introduced our Climate Challenge campaign. We also showed a never-before-seen challenge video, where the upper secondary school students form Tampere, who had just completed the pilot, challenged every Finnish school to:

  1. Arrange more teaching about climate change, such as the Climate.now course
  2. To invest more into the serving of delicious vegetarian food
  3. To invest to the recycling possibilities in schools

After the challenges we offered the students a chance to ask anything they wanted form climate scientist. We had 4 specialists answering all of the great questions. Before the end of the workshop we heard feedback from the teachers and coordinators of the pilot courses, which were arranged in different upper secondary schools around Finland during this spring.

 

After another refreshing 1-hour-break it was time for workshop number 5. Mira Hulkkonen from the University of Oulu introduced one of our new courses “ClimateComms.now”, which she has created. The course goes into the history and state of climate communications and also gives tools for constructive alternatives. Participants interacted during the workshop via Flinga and Mira told us that she got a lot of useful new opinions about the course. It was also Mira’s birthday so we all signed a virtual birthday card to her. In my opinion this was the best workshop of the entire webinar. Thank you Mira for that!

 

 

The last workshop started in the afternoon after a break. Veera Kallunki gave us a glimpse of the best practices of Moodle and finished the series of six interesting and eye-opening workshops.

Around 16:00 on Wednesday it was time for the final words. We had again a Zoom poll. At this point we, the hosts, were all pretty worn out, but still really happy about the webinar. We thanked everyone who participated and left the Zoom meeting. In total there was over 150 participants from 7 different countries!

I think it’s now officially safe to say that arranging a big webinar won’t be an issue for any of us hosts anymore. It was a challenging task and at certain points nobody was sure what’s going to happen. Thank you everyone who participated either as a listener, as a speaker or as just a regular super hero! We all have learned so much about new ways of working during these corona restrictions, which has been somewhat fascinating. However let’s hope that we can all meet in person at Kuopio and Tampere next autumn. Once again thank you!

One of your hosts,

Mikael Nummi

Civil servant at INAR, University of Helsinki

Ps. Here’s the recipe for the risotto. Enjoy!

ASPARAGUS LEMON RISOTTO

Thesis on the Solutions.now course

My name is Iina and I will soon graduate as a Bachelor of Logistics Business. I did my thesis to the Climate University project in cooperation with Päivi.  Together we worked for four months among an important subject that has also been our interest for a long time. The sustainable development and the responsible entrepreneurship are themes which define the lines of the economic operation to an increasing extent. The companies and organisations must take into consideration the demands of the responsibility in everyday functions and also at the strategy level.

The educational institutions must respond to the know-how needs of the labour to produce skilled enough labour to solve the responsibility challenges in companies and organisations. “By doing” according to an old phrase, one learns and therefore it would be good to be able to try the skills needed in working life already during the studies. Working life-oriented education and project courses are the form of the learning which has become common during the last decade in the second degree education. It is an excellent way to increase cooperation between the universities and the companies; in a realistic context the students are able to practise the necessary skills needed in the working life in the future.

The thesis was implemented as a part of the development of the Solutions.now course which is a part of the Climate University project. The purpose of the thesis was to make a report about the significance of the cooperation between the universities and companies and other organizations. The subject of the study was the direct advantages produced by the course to the principals taken part on the course in the present and demands for the future workers’ know-how. We carried out an interview study and got to interview seven of eight principals.

Sustainability is experienced as extremely important and wide subject in the organizations. To carry out the principles of sustainability in all three sectors the organizations needs the expert skills, global approach and inventiveness. New ideas and thinking outside of the box are expected from the students. When the principals were asked what kind of benefits they had gotten, the answers obtained was for example new useful ideas for solving problems, material suitable for example orientation or training for employees and a boost into lonely working. The time that the students were able to use for the research or such as the principal describes, “rummaging” was valuable. In the middle of the hurry such time would not have been found on the principal’s own staff. Furthermore, it was experienced that the course was also a good learning experience to the principals for the future.

We collected ideas and thoughts which hopefully are useful in the future when a course is arranged again. Loosening the schedule and strictly informing about it and other information in advance is what the principals desired. It is easier to the principals to frame the challenges on a right level and to be more exact when they know for example the students’ skills level and other available resources. In the beginning of the course it is important to make clear the expectations and objectives not only in the project group but also between the group and the principal.

Link to our thesis (in Finnish):
http://www.urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:amk-2020061018165

Päivi Kallio ja Iina Nortunen

Turku University of Applied Sciences

Welcome to the Virtual Climate University workshop 26.-27.5.2020

Welcome to join the online workshop in collaboration with Climate University and the Nordic-Baltic ABS university teacher network:

Virtual Climate University: Online learning and sustainability transition in a post COVID-19 world

Program:

Tue 26.5.

9:00-9:30 Welcome & introductions 

Seminar opening by academician Markku Kulmala, University of Helsinki.

9:30-11:00 WS1: Sustainability transition in the post-COVID world 

What can we learn from the coronavirus pandemic about building sustainable future societies? Discussion facilitated by Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku. Keynotes: professor Lassi Linnanen, LUT University & leading specialist Outi Haanperä, Sitra. 

11:00-12:00 Break 

12:00-13:30 WS2: Pedagogy of online education 

Climate University is building new online courses on climate and sustainability topics. How can online tools benefit learning? How to build sense of community and collaboration, and how to support study skills and knowledge work competence in an online environment? This workshop is for everyone puzzling with online teaching and learning. Workshop is led by the pedagogy experts Minna Lakkala and Liisa Ilomäki, University of Helsinki. 

13:45-14:30 Break 

14:30-16:00 WS3: Statistical tools for climate and atmospheric science  

How it is in practice to teach a course online? Santtu Mikkonen from the University of Eastern Finland is building a new course in collaboration with the Climate University and the Nordic-Baltic ABS teacher network. Welcome to get to know and contribute to the production of this new course. 

16:00-18:00 Break 

18:00 Evening activity 

Wed 27.5.

9:00 Welcome & introduction to the day 

9:15-11:00 WS4: Lukiolaisen Ilmasto.nyt & kooste CUhaasteista (FIN) 

Tervetuloa kuulemaan kokemuksia ensimmäisiltä lukioiden Ilmasto.nyt-pilottikursseilta. Kuulet myös koosteen kevään aikana lähetetyistä Climate University #ClimateChallenges –ilmastohaasteista. 

This workshop is in Finnish. 

11:00-12:00 Break  

12:00-13:30 WS5: ClimateComms.now 

Why is climate communication so important and challenging? How to critically analyse climate change messages and respond to them? Welcome to the workshop on the new Climate University course on climate communications by Mira Hulkkonen, University of Oulu. 

13:30-14:30 Break  

14:30-16:00 WS6: Best practices of moodle   

Learn to use moodle in your teaching in versatile and pedagogical ways. Hands-on workshop by Veera Kallunki, University of Helsinki. 

16:00-16:10 Closing of the seminar  

A detailed program with online links will be sent to the registered participants.

Registration closed. In case of further requests, contact Mikael Nummi (firstname.surname@helsinki.fi). 

Solutions.now: online course for future problem-solvers

We were a bit ahead of our time, when we organized our first completely virtual project course in the beginning of this year. We had no idea that in just one month the whole world would be organizing university courses 100 % online. Our pilot course Solutions.now with 40 students and 8 companies from around Finland proved that it is possible to work together successfully in intensive project teams even virtually. Shared values and mission of a better and more sustainable future certainly played an important role in the success of the course. In this blog post I will share some of our success factors as well as challenges from our pilot course.

Solutions.now is an online project course for solving sustainability challenges. The first pilot course was organized 13.1.-6.3.2020 with Turku University of Applied Sciences, University of Helsinki, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and LAB University of Applied Sciences as part of the Climate University –project. In the pilot course we had 40 students – 13 from universities and 27 from universities of applied sciences. Study fields ranged from geography to business administration, future studies and business administration. The course is still under development and will be ready by the end of this year. In the future, Solutions.now can be taught by any higher education teacher in Finland. The course materials as well as a teacher’s manual will be openly distributed through DigiCampus platform.

The basic idea of the project course is fairly simple. Teacher gathers sustainability challenges from companies or other organizations. Students are then distributed into multi-disciplinary teams that each get their own company challenge. Teams create projects around the given challenges to provide solutions for the companies in the end of the course. Teams are in regular contact with the company representatives during the project.

Only well-defined challenges can be solved

The pilot course had eight different companies and municipalities who shared their sustainability challenges with the student teams – Partioaitta, Neste, ST1, Micropolis, City of Vantaa, UseLess Company, Esri Finland and CGI. In one challenge the students had to find innovative ways for collection of biowaste in sparsely populated areas. Other challenges focused on carbon footprint of digital services, sustainability of forestation projects, services to help people consume less and event concept for promoting more sustainable behaviors of citizens.

Since the teams only had eight weeks to solve the challenges, it was crucial that much effort was put on defining the challenges. We as course leaders met with the companies before the course and discussed the challenges. Some challenges were further defined together with the students to ensure common understanding of the problems. To get good results, the goal of the project needs to be clear and achievable.

Based on some previous (not online) project courses, our expectations were that the quality of project results would vary a lot. When working with students you can never ensure that the client gets top quality results. However, we were surprised of the quality of students’ work during Solutions.now, since it was better than on previous courses where students met face-to-face on campus. Even some students were surprised of the online implementation working well:

“It was easier than I expected. Easier and more beneficial than even some courses I have needed to attend in person”, claims one student in their feedback.

Clear structures help students cope with study stress

I can see both practical factors related to course design and more invisible mental factors that affected the success of the course. Clear structure was mentioned many times when the students described what they liked about the course.

Especially in this kind of project- and teamwork-based course with many moving parts, the course structure becomes extremely important for the sense of understandability and manageability of the students. The whole course was made up of four phases shown in the picture below: orientation, framing, doing and implementation (based on the process model of Problem and Project-Based Learning courses by Brundiers and Wiek 2013).

Each week had clear schedule for tasks and lessons. Overall, the course was made up of the following parts:

  • Three online lessons with everyone online with group discussions
  • Video lectures on specific topics
  • Eight mentoring sessions – teachers with each team for 15 minutes for status check
  • Final presentations online with all teams and companies
  • Feedback session online with all students
  • Individual tasks in the form of a learning diary and log of hours
  • Team tasks related to each project phase e.g. project plan and report

Building trust and low threshold for communication are the key

In an online environment, the course participants rely on online tools to build trust and team spirit. It might also be problematic for the teachers to keep track on the student teams’ current situation and support their learning. Solutions.now had a combination of communication channels (shown in the picture below) to facilitate interaction between teachers and students.

Using video in the virtual meetings helped in building the trust between teachers and students. Video connection in meetings helps convey non-verbal communication between participants, which is not possible in only visual (text) or sound (conference call) based formats of communication. By seeing the teachers talk, students can also read their facial expressions which might help in understanding and internalizing the messages.

“The chosen platforms for communication were helpful and intuitive; it didn’t leave students to rely on email where communication can often be limited. The teachers were more involved than I’ve previously experienced in any online course. The regular mentoring sessions with devoted group time and interaction with the teachers were highly valuable. I appreciated the thought that went into the communications of this program”, says one student in feedback.

As one of the teachers of the pilot course, I see motivation and trust as the key factors for the surprisingly good results of the course. Many of the students mentioned how they are truly motivated to make a positive impact in the society and want to learn new skills for working with sustainability issues. This shared mission probably helped create a sense of community.

In the beginning of the course, the student teams were asked to write down their team’s guiding values and code of conduct. One team for example described their team values as following: “Diversity is an asset; every voice is important. We encourage all to utilize their unique strengths and express their opinions. We are all connected, like in a global village, through sustainability. We are in it together”. It is possible that these team building exercises helped them to work together better.

Shared mission helps to overcome challenges

Online courses with a lot of teamwork have to deal with the challenges that arise due to people having very different timetables and life situations. In our course we had people who were already in working life, stay-at-home parents but also “normal” students with multiple courses going on in their home university. Since we tried to create as diverse teams as possible, it meant that the teams had to try to solve these timetable differences.

“It was challenging in the beginning because everyone kind of pulled in different directions. But in the end, different backgrounds helped us see things from different standpoints and I think we all learned something new. Overall, it was a positive experience”, sums one student.

Even with these evident e-learning challenges, the pilot course was a success with majority of students and companies satisfied with the process. I wonder if the students were ready to cope with the challenges, because they felt internally motivated for the shared sustainability goal.

 -Sara Malve-Ahlroth, Turku University of Applied Sciences 

Climate University goes Aalto: Innovations and Creativity in Climate Education, 2-3 March 2020

The auditorium in Dipoli, the main building of Aalto University in Otaniemi, was fully packed with multidisciplinary knowledge and climate enthusiasm when the participants of the Aalto Climate University seminar gathered together on Monday morning 2nd of March. The seminar attracted a lot of interest with more than 100 participants.

Figure: Welcome to Climate University seminar in Aalto University.

The seminar started with greeting from the vice dean of School of Science, prof. Ari Koskelainen, who emphasized the importance and acuteness of the climate crisis and the role of university education in mitigating it. The seminar theme “Innovations and Creativity” was discussed through various sustainability and climate-related showcases from Aalto University. Prof. Anniina Suominen from Aalto School of Arts presented how they already have incorporated sustainability issues quite thoroughly in arts and design education. Meri Löyttyniemi from Aalto Sustainability Hub introduced Aalto’s latest effort to map for all Aalto courses to which UN Sustainable Development Goals they relate to. The SDG labels are being introduced to Aalto´s upcoming 2020-22 course plan. Based on the labeling, approximately 10 % of the roughly 3000 courses in Aalto include climate-related content, the SDG#13.

Figure: “Social intrapreneurs” for climate education. “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world.” (Margaret Mead)

Entrepreneurship was another focus of Aalto’s seminar. Minna Halme, professor of sustainability management, introduced us the concept of social intrapreneurship – acting entrepreneurially inside a large organization to achieve social or environmental aims. The concept was easily recognized by many participants and found highly empowering. Lauri Järvilehto from Aalto Ventures Program emphasized that there is clear trend going on in start-up world towards more impactful and responsible entrepreneurship, which could have a significant impact in making our societies more sustainable.

Figure: Participants analyzing their own carbon footprint with the 1,5 Degrees Lifestyle Puzzle.

The first seminar day also included several hands-on workshops. Participants got a safe space to discuss their anxieties related to climate change, and they learned how awareness-based approach can help in education to empower students for climate actions and to be more in contact with their inner feelings. One workshop group analyzed the significance of personal climate actions using the 1.5 Degrees Lifestyle Puzzle by D-mat Ltd.

Figure: Participants’ summary of what they will start doing, stop doing, continue doing and change after the seminar.

During the seminar day university researcher Angelina Korsunova challenged us to ponder our personal behaviour and thoughts: what to start on doing, what to stop, what to continue and what to change in order to achieve our individual goals as climate educators and change makers in our home universities organisations.

Figure: The climate challenges were filmed in Dipoli lobby.

The lunch and coffee breaks were utilized for Climate Challenges filming as a continuum to the campaign started at Metropolia workshop last fall. We recorded altogether 13 challenges for various actors including Aalto Student Union AYY, Aalto University and Aalto Campus and Real Estate. The challenges will be published via Climate University Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Figure: Playing sustainability board games by Snowflake Education Ltd.

During the second day participants had the chance to explore climate actions in Otaniemi high school and Aalto Junior, and play sustainability board games (Clime Out and Dilemma) designed for education by Snowflake Education from Sweden. Most of the day was devoted to piloting and developing Climate University course materials in smaller groups. Development concentrated on the following courses:

  • Sustainable.now – a Bachelor-level course on sustainable development and its various aspects
  • Solutions.now – a Master level project course for solving climate and sustainability challenges with companies and organisations
  • SystemsChange.now – a Master-level course on systems thinking and multidisciplinary approaches to climate change
  • Climate.now – basic course on climate change for high schools

Figure: “I love Java sweet and hot” – A surprise performance by Dominante quartet/quintet during the dinner.

The next steps for the Climate University project community include finalizing the course materials, piloting the courses with students, and most importantly promoting active integration of courses to current curricula in universities, including lifelong learning for all stakeholders and executive education as well. We hope this will proceed as smoothly as the Dominante quartet singing at our dinner in Fat Lizard restaurant!

Figure: Enjoying vegan breakfast at Dipoli.

The conference organizing team was proud about serving fully vegan food at the conference. We hope the effort will continue in the following Climate University seminars! Besides, food waste was successfully avoided during the conference by informing Aalto students of leftovers through a student-led telegram group.

Lady Fortuna was on our side, as the seminar was scheduled well before the restrictions of corona pandemic came into force. Hopefully this pandemic – once it is over – will bring forth and amplify our abilities for coordinated collective measures and improve our behavior and actions to fight the climate crisis as efficiently.

Sincere thanks for all seminar participants for making the seminar in Aalto such a great event!

Speeches from Dipoli auditorium and all seminar materials are available at: https://www.aalto.fi/en/events/innovations-and-creativity-in-climate-education

Follow the climate challenge campaign on Twitter and YouTube:

https://twitter.com/uni_climate

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGgU0C70cxVcfdzYnYQHjxg 

 

Text: Emma Sairanen, Sanna-Liisa Sihto-Nissilä & Meri Löyttyniemi

Photos: Cvijeta Miljak 

Tips for digital pedagogy in the time of (climate) crisis

The global COVID-19 pandemic is speeding up the digital leap in the academia. During the last couple of days, many universities have decided to fully transition to digital teaching until the epidemic situation has settled down. All mass events are cancelled and we are advised to avoid contacts and move to the virtual meeting and teaching environments.

After teaching courses online since 2016, Climate.now and Leadership for sustainable change, both having hundreds of students every year, I thought to share some experiences on digital pedagogy. These are my personal experiences as a teacher, no official guidelines. Feel free to criticize and add yours! I have also attended some courses and trainings, and want to thank University of Helsinki digital pedagogy support and pedagogy courses.

My tips for digital pedagogy:

  1. Don’t leave the student alone. Climate change as well as global pandemic are terrifying to a student, who feels uncertainty about their future. Show that you care. Personal contact to the teacher and other students creates feeling of community and belonging and keeps the student motivation high.
  2. Set weekly deadlines. When studying remotely, it is easy to get lost with many tasks (tell me about it, I’m also working from home with my kids around me!). Deadlines are the student’s best friend, that keeps them in the study schedule.
  3. Digital tools are tools, not aims. They are there to help you to deliver the message. Think always about the learning aims first, and then how you can best enable the student to learn them. There is not much difference between digital pedagogy and pedagogy in general. Good teachers are usually good teachers also online.

 

I have tried (at least) the following online ways of teaching:

Lecturing online – streaming lectures online from your laptop gives intimacy to the teaching, even more than a mass lecture in a huge lecture hall (half empty). With virtual conferencing tools, like Zoom, Adobe Connect, Microsoft Teams or Skype, you can enable student comments and questions, and small group discussions in the middle of the lecture.

Recording teaching videos – this takes some time to prepare from beforehand, but is very student-friendly, when the lectures are available online whenever and wherever they are. However, my experiences are that students do not watch long videos. So keep the videos short (max 8 mins) or have activities (like H5P) in the middle.

Online help for students – set an hour of your calendar when you are available for the students via chat and video link, for them to ask any questions related to the course. Like you would have an office hour for the students, but virtual.

Online groups – climate change, for example, is a huge topic to study and students have a lot of questions and concerns related to it. It is important to have people next to you for sharing and peer-support. In courses with hundreds of students, I don’t have the opportunity to discuss with every student individually, so I find it important for them to have groups to work together. In my courses, students do assignments, write learning diaries, or do projects in groups. Most of the online groups work fine, but sometimes it is challenging to get started, especially if the students have very different motivations and challenging schedules. Extra support might be needed.

Online discussion forums – in all my online courses I have also provided the students open discussion forums to share any ideas, thoughts or questions related to the course topics. I have wanted to give them the opportunity to share what they feel they want to share, but I have to say, those have never really worked out in my courses. However, I know other teachers have used online discussion forums successfully in their courses, when students have had clear instructions and participation to the online discussions has been part of the grading.

Peer-review – reviewing other students’ assignments is a learning experience, where the student learns for example critical thinking and different ways to approach the same problem. In mass courses it also makes the teacher work load scalable. Remember that the course grading should never be based on peer-review alone, but the teacher is always responsible of the grading. So you can use the student reviews as a guiding line, but ensure that they are fair for example by checking those where the individual peer reviews differ significantly. For that reason, it is good to ask at least three individual peer-reviews for each assignment, and to have a grading matrix for the students to base their peer-review on.

Online activities – like quizzes and polls, they are nice additions that make the online learning not so boring. Moodle has many options for that and with Flinga you can create different kind of flip charts and mind maps. Don’t take it too seriously and just try – it can be also fun!

In Climate University, we are preparing online courses on climate change and sustainability for any university or other actors to use for free by the end of 2020. By providing online education in these crucial topics we aim at building the society’s capacity to face the global challenges around us.

Laura Riuttanen

University of Helsinki

Figure from pikrepo.com, licensed as Creative Commons Zero – CC0