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International Week on Laurea Tikkurila campus attracted dozens of participants from around the world

International Weeks at Laurea UAS are yearly traditions. The topic of this spring’s event was Everyday Innovations. This year we had over 50 guests from Laurea’s partner institutions.

International Week at Laurea

Over the week, participants could attend countless seminars, lectures, and workshops by teachers from different countries. The topics included business and circular economy innovations, service design innovations and innovative entrepreneurship. There were sessions on innovative educational and pedagogical approaches, e-learning and Online International Learning (OIL).

Lego - one of the innovative learning solutions

Britt Søndergaard Jølf and Linda Hallengreen from University College Absalon in Denmark organized LEGO workshop. In their work as university teachers, they use Lego bricks as a way to express yourself, to find an alternative language. “Lego allows you to dream, to open your imagination. Instead of using words, you use your fingers. You start with a plain Lego board and a handful of bricks and you can create whatever you can, whatever your imagination allows you to create. It opens your mind to creativity and thinking in different, innovative ways”, said Britt Søndergaard Jølf.

Researchers Monika Prenner and Michael Semeliker from University College of Teacher Education in Austria presented an eye-tracking device. To build good relations with students and to get their attention teachers should keep eye contact as much as possible. Unfortunately, many do not do that and instead, they look at the floor and are focused on themselves. “We invented glasses with a camera which are connected to a computer. When a teacher wears the glasses, we can see and measure his eye contact with students. Therefore we can give feedback, we can encourage the teacher to increase the eye contact”, said Monika Prenner during the poster session.

Coping with challenges as a nurse

We could also learn about innovative solutions in social and health care, and in global health. Lyndsey van Avermaet from Howest University in Belgium had a lecture about moral distress. According to her, this is an important issue in nursing professions, but also in teaching. “Sometimes you can’t act according to your values and you don’t know how to cope with that problem. Therefore, we teach nurses how to act, so they do not suffer burnout. We talk about values, about carrying for people”, said Avermaet.

Nursing student Riina Leppänen transformed one of the classrooms in Laurea into an African style cozy lounge with relaxing music and made a slideshow presentation about her exchange programme in Uganda. She spent there three months working as a nurse in a hospital in a pediatric ward. She talked about all the range of emotions, from sadness to happiness, from frustration to success. “I got to see everything from birth to death. It was an unforgettable journey and I would love to go back one day”, she said.

Learning Finnish culture and networking

Coventry University has been present at Laurea International Weeks for many consecutive years. Its exchange programmes are popular among Laurea students. This year Bernie Davis from Coventry Nursing Department organized together with a group of students from both Coventry and Laurea universities a Cultural Café. They served goodies from both countries. It was a great opportunity for networking, meeting new friends and learning about studying as an exchange student.

Foreign guests had also a possibility to learn more about Finnish culture and language during a workshop by Marja-Leena Piispanen. After busy days of lectures and workshops, participants had a chance to visit Fazer chocolate factory, take a trip to a recreational centre with saunas in Kuusijärvi or visit the innovative flagship library Oodi in the heart of Helsinki.

Overall, the guests were happy and satisfied with their visit and International Week. “Finland is a great country and Laurea is a favorite destination for our students. I came for the International Week because of my interest in innovations and circular economy. I wanted to learn more about the topic and to develop a circular economy course at my home university”, said Jan Kelm from the Business Department at St. Gallen University in Switzerland.