One of Laurea’s top innovations, the Multisensory Space, visited Nazareth College in New York
The Multisensory Space is one of Laurea’s top innovations that has been developed with different Finnish partners for over 10 years. After being benchmarked by several international organizations and co-operation institutions, this method has gained international appreciation, both in Europe and now in the USA.
The Multisensory Space is one of Laurea’s innovations that has been developed with different Finnish NGOs, educational institutions, museums, libraries and other operators for over 10 years, and after being benchmarked by several international organizations and co-operation partners, this method has also gained much international appreciation. Presently, the Multisensory Space is one of the best practices promoted in Erasmus + project called DISC (2019-2021). The partners in DISC include Laurea, Incoma from Spain, Cesie from Italy, UC Leuven-Limburg from Belgium and The University of Maribor from Slovenia.
The aim of the project, Digital Skills for Integration and Active Citizenship, is to promote digital skills and competences of people with immigrant background, to develop higher education institutes and schools as open learning environments to improve digital skills of immigrants, and to facilitate encounters within the local community, thus promoting intercultural dialogue by using digital tools. Also, DISC focuses on developing local learning communities (HEIs, schools, NGOs and public libraries) where people can learn from each other digital skills to promote active citizenship, lifelong learning and competence development and disseminating good educational practices of fostering digital skills of people with immigrant background for inclusive and fair education.
Additionally, the project plans to give teachers and other educational personnel tools to use inclusive learning methods, to develop local, regional and European level networks to spread the good practices of educational integration and to affect positively communities and societies, increasing their cohesion and promoting successful transitions in the labour market. The project has two different viewpoints in terms of fostering and promoting the digital skills of immigrant youth. The first best practice focuses on learning communities and collaborative learning. The role of volunteers, students and other members of local community is to encourage the immigrants to use digital tools. In Finland, the Multisensory Space as an inspiring, open learning environment and tool for digital learning has, during the past ten years, shown its effectiveness as a source of inspiration for inclusive learning. The best practice of Laurea - the concept of using multisensory approach in learning and bringing different actors together in learning process - can be applied in multiple ways. What is essential in this method is, in addition to the digital communication possibilities, the importance of face-to-face communication and peer-to-peer learning as part of inclusive learning and community-building.
The second best practice, SMART PLUS Self-assessment Tool, consists in an online tool for the self-evaluation of digital skills that can help immigrant youth, as the main target group, to identify the level of performance related to these competences and geared towards their integration in working life. This self-assessment tool is complemented by an e-learning solution that provides training in digital skills adapted to the individual needs of the learner. The learning institutions are regarded as part of the community, and they have an important role in promoting cultural inclusion and active citizenship in the local community. The best practices represent also different ways how the educational institutions have a role as a developer of local community. The university can have a role as a creator of a network. Such open learning environment can be understood as a physical environment where people meet face-to-face, but also virtual learning environments can and should be utilized. The sense of community can be promoted in both. The modern technology provides possibilities to create wider networks that can encompass many different educational operators both from formal and non-formal backgrounds. The DISC project consists of modeling, evaluating and testing the best practices with new target groups in other partner organizations. Based on these applied models, the project will provide training and tools for teachers at national and European level.
In addition of being noticed in different parts of Europe for its educational, creative and inclusion-promotion potential, the Multisensory Space was also introduced in the USA, at Laurea’s co-operation partner Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. In March, Nazareth students created three different Multisensory Spaces, one for student wellness promotion, one for sharing refugee experience and one for promoting multicultural understanding of Bhutanese and Nepalese cultures. These impressive spaces were created both by Social Work and Nursing / Public Health students. Both the students and the teachers involved were very inspired by this learning experience and wish to further develop and apply this concept in their learning activities. Also, Rochester refugee NGOs showed interest in further applying the Multisensory Space method in their activities.
- Tikkurila Social Services Department (English Degree) wishes to warmly thank Carol Brownstein-Evans, Mary Maher and Mark Primus for their great support and also we wish to thank all Nazareth students for their hard work and kind co-operation. We welcome you all for building new Multisensory Spaces in spring 2020 at Tikkurila campus.
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