The end – and just the beginning We are closing in on our Digiloikka, or as we call it, the ROUTE-project (Reshaping Orientation, Unity and Team-work in ECGS Master’s Programme). This has been a journey that began with this project, but has certainly not been a dead-end. Right from the start we acknowledged that the project was not about finalizing one polished product, but about taking a look at the processes of a new multidisciplinary programme that spans multiple faculties and campuses.
What does it mean that we have an intake of 90 students a year, all coming from different backgrounds, each choosing their own path in ECGS? How do we take into account the different backgrounds and histories of our staff? We were both lucky and in for a challenge to be thinking about these questions at a time when multiple new digital platforms were (and still are) created and developed at the university. Parallel projects such as SISU, student instructions, new flamma, E-thesis, HowULearn and many more, meant that the project would not be about creating a platform of its own, but would concentrate on making the most out of the ongoing developments at UH. This meant that we had to navigate in a situation where simultaneously there was a great wave of new things brewing, as well as a strong feeling of how things have been done before (keeping in mind that the faculties involved in the programme have their origins spanning not only decades, but centuries).
Thus,we needed to figure out the balance between the old and the new: whilst in-troducing new common digital thesis platforms and seminars, we decided to use an old-school paper seminar pass as well as leave room for individual scientific disciplines to make their own decisions within a common format. Sometimes the most effective way of working is not diving in from the deep end, but starting by swimming in a new pool.
So how would we sum things up when it comes to the ROUTE-project? From integrative perspective four project outputs were as follow: 1) new ECGS thesis instructions and a newly developed thesis seminar with a seminar pass for smaller seminar groups, 2) E-thesis taken into use in the entire programme, 3) New PSP Moodle page and a new system of group guidance and 4) SISU – the new study planning platform taken into use.
From fostering sense of community seven project output were: 1) launch of the Voices for Sustainability blog – a platform for students and staff members of ECGS to contribute to the discussion on sustainability (first blog post by Rector Jari Niemelä!), 2) a video of and by our ECGS students Voices for Sustainability and a Instagram-account promoting the video and blog. 3) A portfolio approach spanning the entire study path of ECGS students and linking ECGS common courses, supported by an open access ECGS Portfolio Moodle page and self- and peer evaluation matrix, 4) ABC-workshops for ECGS modules, 5) a new ECGSustainability NOW course and event, 6) trainings and ECGS morning coffees and other events for informal and formal information exchange, 7) multiple steering group meetings with lots of laughter and great ideas and much more!
It might be self-evident, but taking on new digital working methods is not just about coding a perfect new system. Big part of it is introducing and testing the system with its users and lending a helping hand when needed. This all boils down to communication. Improving communication has been a theme underlying almost all our ROUTE activities and a topic that ECGS will continue to work on.