Posts in the international cooperation category

“I started very young; I was in my 30s. It was a freezing water I had to jump in. But I enjoyed it because I always loved the concept of leading. Since I was a child, leadership was a big part of me.”

Persistent and insightful, Director of Business Operations at TAMK EDU, Carita Prokki has spent almost two decades of her life serving Tampere University of Applied Sciences in different roles. Although she started as a teacher in the early 90s, her leadership vision manifested in her actions, beliefs and goals opened doors to new opportunities and career advancements. Carita was soon appointed the dean of School of Business, a role she stayed in for many years and allowed her to practice side teaching.

“When you’re working as a manager or leader, you start missing the teaching. I was then teaching adults, mostly during evenings and Saturdays. I was in heaven those times. And I think the students loved it too because we all had a great time. I used different teaching methods such as group discussions, rather than lectures”, she recalls.

Carita surprised many people when she decided to step out of the dean role and the institution she regards highly. But she reached a turning point in her professional life and felt it was time to do something different. Therefore, she focused her attention on trying something new and completed a PhD in Organizational Leadership.

“If you are not satisfied with your job or life, it also affects people around you. You have to step out and try something new. It’s not always safe, you might fail, but actually, you’re growing all the time. You become stronger. Too many adults feel pushed in the corner and stay there afraid.

Have you ever paid attention to what they say during a pre-flight safety demonstration? If there is a loss of cabin pressure, the panels above your seat will open, and oxygen masks will drop down. If this happens, place the mask over your nose and mouth, and adjust it as necessary. Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others. Think about it metaphorically. You cannot be good to others if you are not good to yourself. First, help yourself and then somebody else.”

Far from being over, her journey with TAMK took a new direction in the area of global education. TAMK has started this fresh concept in 2011 and Carita came into the picture two years later. In the beginning, there was only the 21st Century Educators programme, but Carita’s huge advantage was her comprehensive knowledge of TAMK.

“I know very well what this institution does and is capable of. You cannot sell Finnish education or tell other people about TAMK without a substantial in-house knowledge. The beginning was very fast, smooth and fruitful. But now, with other universities of applied sciences selling their expertise worldwide, the competition is getting harder, and we think it’s smart to cooperate and unite our forces. While the global trend is more present nowadays, the business ideology is not very developed in Finnish universities.”

So where does TAMK stand out compared to other universities of applied sciences? Carita’s reply is on point: “The vocational teacher education which TAMK takes very seriously. We want to do our best and deliver high-quality results. You need passion to do international business. When you’re passionate about something, it will separate you from the rest.”

On a global scale, TAMK has a unique product found nowhere else: Proakatemia. And Carita knows very well how to make good use of it:  “It happened to me sometimes to go to universities above TAMK’s level. In 30 seconds I realised I have nothing to sell to them, apart from Proakatemia. Nobody in this world has Proakatemia. That’s the ace of spades in my pocket. And I can always use that card to sell our advanced entrepreneurial studies.

She continues: “Almost every day, I think how we can praise our country and education more. Finns are modest; they are not so used with words like excellent or amazing to describe their best assets. But when you go abroad, you have to start using these words. Almost the first question I get no matter where in this world I go is: “What is your ranking in Finland?” There are no rankings in Finland. We never aimed at, we never had any competition or ranked ourselves. I hope we will never do that because it will ruin the basics of our educational system. Let’s leave our references and results speak for themselves.”

TAMK EDU makes Finnish education available worldwide. The most important aspect is adapting to different realities, Carita believes:  “Whether I go to an Arabic, Asian or Latin American country, I have to be very fast and clever with adapting to their cultures. I can’t go there with Finland tattooed on my forehead and say: “Hey! We come from Finland, and we do things like this.” Although everyone admires and knows so much about Finnish education already. To give you an example, China is such a big market that you can have all the Finnish amks (universities of applied sciences) to offer their services there, and it would still cover only a small part of it.

Chinese customers have a different understanding of a group size. We sent them a letter saying we can host a workshop for 30 people and their reply was that their minimum is 300. Last year in August, we flew there for one big training. We had 340 teachers and rectors in the auditorium waiting for us and wanting an interactive training. I was there with Mark Curcher (Program Director of 21st Century Educators and Senior Lecturer), and we had to split all those people into groups to make it interactive. It was a huge learning opportunity for us and an enjoyable experience.”

The Global Education department does not only provide learning experiences for the team that puts its soul into it, but also for TAMK’s teachers. Carita recalls one particular occasion that cracked open a strong taboo: teachers don’t work during their summer holidays.

“In 2013, I was facing a difficult situation. A group from Oman sent me a short notice message that they’d like to visit TAMK during July. Their arrival date was scheduled right after Juhannus, which in Finland is a popular public holiday. Most Finns celebrate it at their summer cottages with family and friends. I emailed the teachers in the morning with no expectations. Anyone who wants to come to work this July? A few hours later, all the teachers were at TAMK. I was amazed by the positive response, and everything went smoothly with the visit. Teachers confessed to me how grateful they were for this opportunity. I believe that the international context is the fastest highway to develop TAMK thanks to the possibilities it provides. International students are very active, they want to make the most out of their studies, and this makes it very pleasant to the teachers as well. There are an extra gratefulness and love you can feel during international courses.”

Carita travels abroad in connection with her work approximately one week each month. When everyone else is at home sleeping, she has to put up with long and often, uncomfortable flights. An alluring smile graced her lips when she detailed about showing up at a workplace: “Sometimes I feel I could be a gardener and grow flowers. But I think we all have moments in our work when we are not happy. Balancing those moments is important. I have to be patient with the global business; to build the trust and develop the relationship with our customers. In a way, I’m like an entrepreneur; I take care of sales, keep the things rolling all the time and motivate my people to sell. But I don’t put the money ahead. That’s not my style. I believe that when you show good results, the money follows.

She adds: “The Global Education department doesn’t receive a budget from TAMK. We rely entirely on the deals we make. “

Despite the high factor of uncertainty associated with her work, Carita collects distinctive rewards: “It’s challenging and the most difficult job I’ve ever done in my whole life so far. At the very moment, you can be challenged until the limits of your skills. But at the very another moment, you are in heaven with people, and you get your second salary from their sentences.”

An effective leader knows that storytelling is an essential part of leadership. And maybe another beautiful thing about Carita is that she is not afraid to pass along brave sentences on feminism and inspire other women to live an authentic life: “Many women have been under a lot of pressure for so long that they have forgotten about themselves. There are so many things women are capable of achieving in their lives. And I think that media is very cautious and not writing about all these things because they are afraid of empowered women. Women are multi-talented and multi-energized.”

Read more about TAMK Global Education

Text: Andruta Ilie
Photo: Tiina Suvanto


Tanyu and Virpi presenting the 21st Century Educators program to the world

Tanyu and Virpi presenting the 21st Century Educators programme to the world

Outstanding, highly acclaimed and on top of Europe’s rankings for the past 16 years, the Finnish education system continues to be an appealing topic for many educational institutions around the world. Consider the World Economic Forum and the many articles published on insights and secrets of Finland’s one of the most successful exports to the world. With the doors to the world already open and an increasing worldwide interest, a team of experts from Tampere University of Applied Sciences discovered an undeniable need of educating teachers through innovative methodologies to guarantee immediate results. Meet TAMK’s 21st Century Educators.

21st Century Educators is a fully supported, cohort based, collaborative programme which believes that learning is best undertaken as a social activity in an authentic context. The programme is developed so that it encompasses courses and services which can be delivered either online, face to face or in a blended format by TAMK Global Education. Which countries respond the best to the program? What skills should the educator of the future possess? Customer Relationship Managers, Virpi Heinonen and Tanyu Chen provided me the answers.

The first thing I notice when I step into their office is the chemistry between Virpi and Tanyu and how they conclude each other’s answers. Virpi constantly gives Tanyu the chance to share ideas related to her experience as a researcher well-accustomed to the Chinese market. As a consequence, Tanyu discloses how satisfied she is with her work “I realized that what I learned, researched and analyzed in theory, I can put in practice at TAMK.”

This year, they have worked with partners in China, Brazil, USA, Uruguay, Oman and Myanmar but the first two are the most eager to learn about the Finnish education system and implement the knowledge into their teaching practices. When it comes to China, the opportunities are bigger since the education model is shifting. “In 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Education issued a new policy wanting to have 600 out of 2000 existing higher education institutions transferred to universities of applied sciences. This is a big transformation. If previously the education methods and approaches were adopted from English speaking countries, nowadays China is more focused on the Nordic countries. They are deeply impressed with the Finnish education.” states Tanyu. Despite their sincere enthusiasm, Chinese customers are not easy to reach. For high-end customers, traditional face to face training is preferred to digital studies.

“We have been operating in the Chinese market for two years now and our program is very well known there because China is a very special case. Universities send their leaders to study abroad which means the management and the leadership are the core. Teachers don’t have so many opportunities and their visits here are relatively short. So if we can impact the leaders, then they will make the right decisions regarding the teacher training services.” she adds.

Do they have a follow-up scheme to track the progress of Chinese leaders back in their homeland? “Actually, we do have a follow-up scheme to collect the feedback for those who have learned in Finland and we also have Finnish experts to train the local teachers in China. So far, we received positive feedback from those teachers who attended the teacher trainings. Many of them got promoted or their level of teaching has increased. Teachers are switching their daily practices and taking to their classrooms what they learned from Finland. It’s very difficult in the beginning because their mindsets have changed, but the students’ not yet. The change is gradually happening in the classroom and it’s a slow process. “

Virpi travels more often to Latin American countries and Brazil is a top destination. “With Brazil it is going well. We just had our third graduated group and they are all great ambassadors. They are marketing Finland themselves within the federal institute where they work at so we are expecting more Brazilian teachers next year and we are also sending our teachers to Brazil. Mark Curcher, our Program Director is also taking care of the online program and services besides travelling to Brazil for conferences and workshops. We have traded in Brazil for four years already and there has been a lot of interest in Proakatemia type of innovation weeks, leadership and coaching trainings. TAMK will have a new Master’s programme in Educational Leadership starting in 2017 and the goal is to prepare those who work in educational institutions, HR management, governmental positions or NGO’s.  We are hoping to reach people from different countries with interesting and distinctive backgrounds.”

The must-have competences of a future educator

Is leadership one of the must-have competences of a future educator then? “Definitely. Leadership and coaching skills are the most needed at the moment. An educator has to be able to facilitate the student’s learning process. Students are already capable to find the information they need to support their studies so the teacher’s role is to facilitate the learning conditions and create an experience.” continues Virpi.

“If you go deep, you’ll probably find lots of skills. Lifelong learning and cultural competences are also very important. To always be hungry for learning and developing new skills and share them with your group of students. All student groups are diverse and international and we learn from them as much as they learn from us.”

Virpi and Tanyu have been working together for slightly over one year now and laid the basis of a small, but very efficient team. And while they’re selling the expertise of different degree programmes to other countries, they are counting on all the support they can get from the head of each department and front-line teachers. Especially when they have international visitors interested in class observation, laboratory showing and project presentation. A quick response is crucial in sealing the deals from which the whole institution benefits.

“We need everyone’s help and more effective internal communications in order to reach our future goals and spread the Joy of Discovery to the rest of the world.”


Text & photo: Andruta Ilie


Read more about 21st Century Educators:

Discover our brand new Master’s programme:

Professor Antonio Roberto de Oliveira has returned to Finland for his second visit this year. This time though, he is not alone. Antonio and six of his students embarked on an innovative journey of discovering new methodologies, learning techniques and entrepreneurship with the aim of changing the traditional system back in their home country, Brazil. On the last leg of their trip, they stopped at TAMK’s Proakatemia to learn more about teamwork and young leadership.

Antonio, where did your second trip to Finland start and when did you arrive to Tampere?

My journey started a week ago, in Helsinki, where we had a workshop on service design and visited a few innovative consultancies.  After that, we went to Tallinn for one day and since Monday, we’ve been in Tampere.

What have you been doing in Tampere?

We visited Mediapolis, New Factory, Futurice , Suomen Luonnonkosmetiikan Osuustukku and Suomen Lasinjalostus during our first two days here. We were impressed by the last company and their great idea of transforming used glass in reusable products. I think that’s an inspiring project. On our last day in Finland, we decided to visit Proakatemia.

What are your impressions so far?

In the morning, there was a one-hour workshop on friend leadership and now we’re taking part in an innovative challenge coming from Suomen Luonnonkosmetiikan Osuustukku, a Finnish company specialized in organic cosmetics. The theme is how to sell organic cosmetic products via Internet. Two of my students, Marcos and his wife, Sheila own a cosmetics company called Medicatriz so they know a lot about the market, customer behavior and touchpoints. Altogether with the rest of the group and Proaketemia students, they have been divided into three teams working together on new ideas. I was amazed to see that Proakatemia students, even though they are younger than my students, are already thinking ahead. They are really nice and engaged people, know what they want and are prepared for the market. The level of discussions in here is high and that’s one the most important things about this place.

Last time we talked, you told me how you wanted to change the traditional system back in your home institution, Rio Branco. Is that still one of your goals?

Yes, it is. In Brazil, the competition is high and we’re not used to work together. When people start learning and going to schools, they’re used with following a traditional system. Nowadays, we’re trying to change their mindsets by working in teams and adding entrepreneurship to all study fields. I know that anyone has the power to be innovative. They just have to push themselves and work as entrepreneurs if they want to create a social impact.

How is this change affecting the way the teacher is perceived?

The teacher is going to be facilitating the process of learning by stepping off of the stage. As a result, students will show more enthusiasm and have more power. To think by themselves and to work in teams. As a teacher, my purpose is to change mindsets with the use of different methodologies. I believe I have the power to do that and show my students the best way to redesign their lives.

Have you got a motto in life?

My motto is “Different to make a difference!”.





In the first three photos: Antonio’s students working in teams with Proakatemia students





In the last two photos: Professor Antonio Roberto de Oliveira, Coordinator of the Master in Branding Innovation at Rio Branco College in Brazil and Virpi Heinonen, Customer Relationship Manager (Global Education at Tampere University of Applied Sciences)

Text & photos: Andruta Ilie

Read about Antonio’s first visit to Finland:

Collaboration is the new key word in education



All partners ready for SMARTOUR project work

All partners ready for SMARTOUR project work


SMARTOUR aims to assist those working in the tourism industry to develop their knowledge and skills so they can progress in the industry. The project will provide training in business operations, environment and culture with a view to improving sustainability of the organisation and of the tourism offer in the region. The project outputs include SMARTOUR course – Sustainable Tourism Manager Training Course and SMARTOUR GENIE online tool.


Carol Southall presenting team work results

Carol Southall presenting team work results


SMARTOUR kick off meeting was held in UK. The coordinator of SMARTOUR, Professor Jon Fairburn organised together with staff members of Staffordshire University and Newcastle-under-Lyme College a very useful meeting for all partners. A lot of ideas were generated for the SMARTOUR course and project management issues were tackled during the meeting.

In spring 2016 desktop and field researches were done in Finland, Italy and UK. Questionnaire surveys were done among three different groups: tourism businesses, tourists and the community. The results are used for planning the SMARTOUR course.


SMARTOUR - team work

SMARTOUR – team work


The second SMARTOUR project meeting was organised in May 2016 at TAMK in Tampere, Finland. The participants of the meeting were Jon Fairburn, Carol Southall, Victoria Disley, David Langhorn, Julie Scott, Jonathan Karkut, Barbara Casillo, Antonella Tozzi, Charoula Papanikolaou and Pirkko Varis. The meeting was very good with lots decided and a plan for the way forward. Partners will now proceed with SMARTOUR course development.


Pirkko Varis and other SMARTOUR project team members happy with the results of the meeting in Tampere

Pirkko Varis and other SMARTOUR project team members happy with the results of the meeting in Tampere


Sustainable MAnageR in TOURism Sector – SMARTOUR project brings together the expertise of seven European organisations:

  • Staffordshire University, UK, coordinator
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme College, UK
  • Touch TD, UK
  • Associazione Italiana Confindustria Alberghi, Italy
  • Eurocrea Merchant S.r.l., Italy
  • CCS Digital Education – CrystalClearSoft S.A., Greece
  • Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland

From TAMK the coordinator for SMARTOUR is Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Pirkko Varis and other staff members participating are Irja Pietilä, PhD, Lecturer, Head of the Degree Programme in International Business and Sari Matala, PhD in Social Sciences/Tourism Research, Senior Lecturer in Tourism. For some activities also other TAMK staff members take part in the project.


For more information on SMARTOUR see the website


Text: Pirkko Varis

Photos: Jon Fairburn, Staffordshire University, UK

Charoula Papanikolaou, CCS Digital Education – CrystalClearSoft S.A., Greece

Pirkko Varis, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland


SMARTOUR is a project funded by the European Union under


KA2 – Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices –

Strategic Partnerships for Vocational Education and Training

Project number: 2015-1-UK01-KA202-013499

EU logo

From left to right: Steven Ball, Valentina Mosconi and Conrad Webbe

From left to right: Steven Ball, Valentina Mosconi and Conrad Webbe

The International Week hosted by TAMK’s Vocational Teacher Education and R&D gathered a total of 24 guests from all around Europe. While workshops and group projects were great in combining different techniques and ideas, attendees also discovered interesting aspects related to student entrepreneurship and working spaces. Steven Ball, Valentina Mosconi and Conrad Webbe, all Learning Technologists came forward in TAMK’s Floworks to introduce Coventry University’s Centre of Excellence and opened up to future collaborations.


CELE or short for Centre of Excellence in Learning Enhancement is a specialist teaching and learning, research and development centre hosted within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Coventry University, in UK. Initially set up as a Centre for Interprofessional e-Learning in 2005, the faculty discovered there was a specific need for a team of learning technologists. So after the project was finished, it turned into a centre for excellence.  A core team of 11 people (including a director, learning technologists and researchers) work closely together with subject specialists, freelancers and students to develop eLearning packages and help out with the curriculum enrichment within the faculty.

“We support curriculum development, we do applied research projects and we also take commissions from businesses, mainly from the healthcare industry. We offer a range of services from web app development all the way up to augmented reality and virtual reality. So we cover a large spectrum of activities. “ is Steven’s description of CELE’s goals and activities.

When it comes to the use of technology in healthcare, Conrad explains the evaluation process and sees a potential opportunity for the students to be part of.

“Standard technologies like virtual learning environments, quizzes and assessments are used in various formats. Lecturers bring us different bits of software they use in trials to get a more professional opinion on their functions, to analyze if there is a gap in the curriculum or a potential for enhanced and increased learning and develop it from there. For some projects we employ students freelance and in placement positions as well. So if there is an opportunity to maybe do more programming, the computing students can help us with that. In regards of technology, some projects combine forms and modules to use in 3D game engines such as Blender, Unity and Oculus Rift simulated to test the effectiveness of our research.“

“Our faculty is very big so we have a lot of different subjects with very different needs”, Valentina adds.

Was there anything that caught their attention during the international week and worth considering applying back home? The first one to answer my question is Steven.

“To me, the student entrepreneurship aspect was really interesting, the way students gain their degrees and run companies. It’s really hands on the practical life scenario, which I think is really good. Also, virtual reality was one hot topic of the week and a couple of universities were interested in it. It really sparked people’s attention so we’re looking into that, connecting and maybe collaborating.”

“To me it would be thinking on how to apply this style of student learning and freedom into our areas since it seems to be working so well here, in Finland.”, says Valentina.

Conrad shows interest in the idea of international collaboration. “I think there is a potential for healthcare and virtual reality. We could start off with a chat to share all ideas and we’d be happy to do projects as well. And the one that we just came with within the development group sessions we had was in regards to international collaboration. How data and ethics work and looking on how we could do potential framework in that respect. It’s something to go further with, so yes, there are a couple of things that might actually happen from our meeting.”


Text & photo: Andruta Ilie


Note: Floworks is a 21st century development hub and a collaborative network at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) focusing on improving TAMK’s resources and capabilities in digitalized learning and teaching.


Simon Ireland

International Partnerships and Business Coordinator at University of Salford, Simon Ireland attended IWBAS2016 at TAMK in March, not only as a Lecturer, but also to discuss a bold collaboration project initiated by the two universities. The double degree programme between Salford Business School and TAMK’s School of Business and Services was successfully approved on the 21st of April. Currently focused on the Tourism and International Business area, Simon breaks down the ongoing process and explains how students can benefit from taking the dual programme.

Simon, this is not your first time at TAMK, if I’m right.

No, I’ve been here many times. We started off running Erasmus intensive programme, two-week courses for students from here, my university and Jaume I University in Spain. When we brought students here, we did various activities with them. And we’ve taken your students to Salford, then everybody to Spain and we cycled round for ten years doing that.

We initially started with 60 students altogether (20 from each institution) and then, it reduced through time due to logistical reasons. It was still quite a large number. Now that Erasmus changed the policy on these intensive programmes, it hasn’t been logistically suitable to do it anymore.

But at the moment, we’re working on a collaboration of having a double degree with TAMK. We’re looking at a double degree in International Business and International Business with Tourism.

How is the preparation going for the double degree programme?

We’re really at the closing end of the process now. Once it gets approved, we can start exchanging students on that course in September, this year. Basically, it’s a combination for a TAMK student who has studied for two years here and then they would come to Salford to join our funded graduate programme for one year and once they completed that, they come back and finish off the research dissertation thesis. And that would give them both awards, so they would get a degree from the University of Salford and one degree from TAMK.

How would you describe Salford Business School to TAMK students?

Salford Business School is quite a large school within the UK. The university itself has about 20,000 students and within the Business School, we probably have about 5,000 students altogether. There’s about 70 academic staff working in the school. We do a full range all the way from pre-undergraduate and undergraduate to post-graduate, master programmes of different areas and PhD research. A full service business school. My area is Tourism and International Business. Most of my role is actually dealing with international partners at the moment, even though I’m still a functioning academic in the school. I get to travel around the world quite a lot because of that.

Tell me more about the partnership between the two universities.

It grows as the relationship grows. There are different things that can come out of these relationships. But with these things you have to progress at a natural pace. You can’t do too many activities in one go. So we’re focusing on the double degree at the moment. The double degree is almost like a progression agreement between the two institutions.

Clearly, coming from a UK university, we have a very different approach to education. Students are paying very significant fees in UK. And it really changes a lot the nature of how an organization functions and rules. So it’s quite a great pleasure to come here and see the relationships the academic have with the senior management, because the relationships in the UK are a lot more formal, a lot more structured.

One of the hot topics discussed during IWBAS was the attention deficiency in classrooms. What are your thoughts on the matter?

I can appreciate that. I think it depends on the nature of the student most of the time. Some can see having all these virtual learning environments and these electronics resources at their fingertips as being possibly a fallback, if they’re not working as hard as they should do, not engaging as much as they should do. As an academic, you know that those pieces of information are only there for support to what you actually do. And I think the need to engage a student is always going to be there. You need that sort of drive and attitude to deliver material that makes the students want to come, because they’re the ones to benefit the most. I strongly believe that the good students are the ones that will still engage and use the material as it should be, as a support material, rather than relying on it as a source. Sometimes, I think people have this misconception that putting a PowerPoint presentation somewhere is distance learning. So I think that when you consider the differences between those two, between traditional and distance learning, then materials are completely different.

There is an expectation from this generation that everything should be available to them at all times, they want an instant response from the society. I think it’s a learning process for anybody that, as availability of information and getting what you want appears to become easier, than there’s a stronger reliance that this should be expanded. When people venture out into the real world, they realize that whether they’re dealing with companies, businesses, energy suppliers, housing people, everything, they’re going to end up with the same issue. It’s a learning process for the student, rather than the other way around. There is a need to adapt to this change. The change is everywhere.

Though international weeks are meant for learning, they also create memories. What is your strongest memory from your visits to Finland?

When I first visited here, I was taken out to cross country skiing and then, we sat down by a fire and grilled sausages. That, to me, is a memory that will never go. It’s part of the whole education experience, because it’s part of the relationship development. So that’s probably one of my strongest memories.

Any life advice you give to your students?

Just relax and be happy. The world is a difficult place and you can hit challenges every single day, and everybody does. It’s the way you deal with them that makes a difference. If you just take one step at the time, things will be a lot easier than panicking, getting worried or getting stressed and try to attack things head on. Quite often, you just need to stop for a minute, relax and think: “I can deal with it.”.


Text & photo: Andruta Ilie

Note: IWBAS 2016 was the International Week event organized by TAMK’s School of Business and Services.

TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (1 of 1)-5Group photo from ProAkatemia offices in Finlayson area.

Guests arrived to VETRDI2016 from different corners of Europe: United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Estonia and Austria to name a few. A total of 24 guests attended the workshops and project works during the international week. Many connections and new acquaintances were made while getting to know the Finnish culture.

MONDAY, 9th of May

Introduction & Kick-off

Introductions of the guests were given with pictures of Finland. The task was to select a picture and explain how it describes you and your expectation of the upcoming activities week. It was the first time in Finland for many guests and they had quite different feelings. Monday was reserved for introductions and kick-off for the week.


Hangaslahti sauna evening

TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (3 of 8)Finnish game, Mölkky played by Ms. Verena Ketter from Germany and Mr. Pedro Fernández Carrasco from Spain.

Getting to know the Finnish culture included the traditional game of Mölkky. The game was quite simple and brought a nice activity to an otherwise relaxed sauna evening. The Näsijärvi lake next to Hangaslahti sauna was surprisingly warm at this time of the year. It was +10 Celsius! Nearly all of the guests tried the traditional smoke sauna. The “warm” Finnish lake water didn’t intimidate them, as many tried swimming and enjoyed it.

TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (4 of 8)Finnish sunset upon Näsijärvi

TUESDAY, 10th of May

Morning E-Learning workshops

TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (1 of 1)-3Ms.Verena Ketter from Germany and Mr. Kalle Tammi from TAMK discussing E-Learning.

Tuesday started with digitalization of learning and teaching. Topics such as MOOCs, learning games and learning processes through collaborative efforts between companies and students were discussed along the way. Different cultures and countries bring many interesting points into these workshops. This way, much knowledge can be conveyed and great ideas generated.

Afternoon campus tour to discover TAMK’s learning environments

TAOK Kv 2016 (10 of 22)In the picture on the right: Jussi Hannunen giving a presentation on Floworks.

The day continued with a tour of TAMK’s campus. There were many learning environments to be visited and it sounded interesting to the guests. Floworks was one of these, along the energy and environmental engineering laboratories, Open Lab, Wellbeing Clinic, TAMK EDU, Y-Campus and the library.

 TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (1 of 2)Mr. Hannu Kivilinna from TAMK and the ABB Smart robot.

The smart robots in Open Lab were among the most interesting equipment to see. These smart robots are equipped with sensors to detect humans near them. The robot is safer than its predecessors as it slows the operation if humans come closer.

TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (2 of 2)TAMK Students have created 3D printed items

Open Lab also features 3D-printers that students can use for anything at their own time. These are some of the items printed by the students. 3D printing has been developed in large leaps over the previous years and it’s soon becoming available to everyone.

Evening activities contained a 3D Café and bunnies!

TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (5 of 8)Bunny feeding at the 3D Cafe

The evening activities continued with the 3D printing theme. Some of the guests went to visit 3D Crush Café near Itsenäisyydenkatu in Tampere. This café also has cute bunny mascots that were fed by the guests. The cute bunnies are not the only unique feature that the café offers. They have a 3D scanner that can be used for live sized humans. After the scanning, a miniature statue can be printed from the 3D printer. However, the bunnies steal the attention with their cuteness.


WEDNESDAY, 11th of May

Morning video workshop

TAOK KV16 2 (24 of 191)Ms. Burcu Uzunöner from Turkey and Ms. Valentina Mosconi from the United Kingdom editing a video they filmed together

The theme of digitalization continued on Wednesday morning as the guests were given a lecture about the video productions in Floworks offices. This lecture and the workshop gave them tools to produce basic learning videos. The tools used were iPads and iMovie iOS versions. The tablet had a very basic and easy to use video filming and the iMovie video editing application allowed a simple and quick production of the videos.

TAOK KV16 2 (26 of 191)Ms. Kairi Ainjärv and Ms. Birgit Nicolau Costa from Estonia filming with an iPad

The workshop participants developed their own script and filmed scenes based on it. Their scripts contained a variety of topics: how to ruin an international week, Mölkky for foreigners, one-minute yoga and a DOT product marketing video. The filming and acting were sometimes very funny as laughters could be heard from different corners of Floworks.

TAOK KV16 2 (38 of 191)Mr. Urban Lim from Switzerland, Mr. Pedro Fernández Carrasco from Spain and Ms. Sandra Pinto from Portugal editing their video with an iMovie app

The editing part was easily handled with an iMovie. Even for first time users, this was quite simple and required little, if no assistance at all. After everyone was satisfied with the final version of their educational film, it was uploaded on YouTube for viewing. All videos were fun and informative. Some of them for their unique silent nature… It is always good to remember where the cameraman has his/her fingers while recording an audio.

The day continued with similar workshops and fruitful discussions until it was lunch time for everyone.

Afternoon tour to visit Demola, Werstas and ProAkatemia

TAOK KV16 2 (50 of 191)Mr. Philipp Kadlec from Austria, Mr .Markku Veima from TAMK, Mr. Urban Lim from Swizerland and Mr. Conrad Webbe from the UK walking in the Finlayson area towards Demola and Werstas

The guests spent the afternoon in the city centre of Tampere. The historical Finlayson area looked exceptionally bright in the sunny spring weather. The destination was TAMK’s ProAkatemia entrepreneurial department of Business Administration, New Factory’s Demola and the Werstas Finlayson museum.

TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (6 of 8)Ms. Olga Schirmer from Germany, Mr. Robert Strohmaier from Austria, Ms. Lynn Machin from the UK and Ms. Julia Pajula  trying on sight impairment glasses

The historical area of Finlayson has a very unique workers museum called Werstas. It currently has over 70 000 items and 350 000 images in its collection. The guests took a guided tour and a small practical workshop to try on different items from the museum. The funny glasses are called “Sight impairment glasses”.

TAOK KV16 2 (62 of 191)Head of Demola Tampere, Mr. Ville Korpiluoto explaining the overall concept of Demola

The unique concept of bringing students from different universities to create innovation with companies is one of the greatest things about Demola. Ville Korpiluoto explained how all of this works and why. Along the Demola facilities, New Factory also hosts Startup accelerator for new entrepreneurs. The organization is spreading into many countries and gaining lots of attraction due to successful projects and innovations produced by many Demola Alumni. New Factory is not actually part of TAMK, but many students completed projects there with credits added to their degree.

TAOK KV16 2 (98 of 191)Mr. Pepe Perttula explaining ProAkatemia from the students’ point of view

ProAkatemia is the entrepreneurial learning department of TAMK’s business administration students. After the first year, they are selected to study here as their main module. The study programme differs quite radically from the regular curriculum and requires a certain mindset. It gives more freedom and responsibility, as the students practically build their studies themselves with different learning goals.

All students belong to one of the 20 student teams that form a company. These companies operate as real companies and the same way as any other private company in Finland. The students learn about marketing, project work, sales and customer service through a real life experience in a very practical way. This is a huge benefit for the students while they are guided by their teacher coaches. Many of the ProAkatemia Alumni form their own companies after graduation or continue with some other company.

TAOK KV16 2 (121 of 191)The students’ offices in ProAkatemia with a Footpool table in the front

The guests were given a tour of the ProAkatemia offices. There were many facilities the students had at their disposal; meeting rooms, computers, a café and a kitchen. One surprising thing was that the students pay rent to TAMK to be able to use these facilities. They all shared these costs as they were using the same spaces. The large student company office space housed everyone in a shared space. It even had a Footpool table that was one of the projects the student companies had.

Nature and cultural tour around Pyynikki and Pispala

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Pyynikki Tower’s Munkkikahvila is a very nice place during sunny weather

Wednesday’s evening was spent with exploring Finnish nature in the beautiful Pyynikki recreational area. Views from Pyynikki Tower were especially nice in the sunny weather. All guests liked the doughnuts from Pyynikin Munkkikahvila and thought they were quite special.

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Amazing views from Pispala

Short walk away from Pyynikki is the Pispala area. It is mostly covered with old Finnish houses made from wood. These houses look quite different from each other due to non-restricted building standards at some point in time. The houses were not the main attraction however. Walking along the ridge from Pyynikki to Pispala, you can find a spectacular spot for views. The beautiful Finnish nature with its lake views and green forest surroundings can be admired from there. The guests were especially amazed that this place is only a short walk away from the Tampere city centre.

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A furry friend entertained the guests along the way

THURSDAY, 12th of May

Workshops in UTA

TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (8 of 8)Mr. Sami Serola from University of Tampere explaining the concept behind OASIS

Thursday took the guests to visit the University of Tampere and their Oasis room. The interesting designed multi-layer space is meant for hanging out, playing, relaxing and hosting fun events. The guests had a presentation of the Oasis room. Everyone was amazed that these kinds of spaces were available for everyone to use.

An evening at the Plevna restaurant

TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (7 of 8)Beer tasting in Plevna

Elina Eskola was one of the TAMK Ambassadors attending the week and described the Thursday evening as follows:

“We were a big group there with two tables reserved from the back. Beers and siders were enjoyable and we watched a show about the activities and history of Plevna. Food was also good and everyone seemed to have fun during the last evening. Surprisingly, a live band came to sing and play in honour of the Bulgarian week. They sang in Bulgarian, of course and this confused the guests as they thought it was Finnish!”

FRIDAY, 13th of May

Wrapping up the week!

TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (2 of 8)Ms. Olga Schirmer from Germany, Ms. Kairi Ainjärv from Estonia, Mr. Pedro Fernández Carrasco from Spain and Ms. Burcu Uzunöner from Turkey writing down their learning outcomes

Last day of the VETRDI2016 was spent concluding the whole week of workshops and development projects. Many of the great ideas and learning outcomes were concluded in papers by everyone who participated. The international week was very fruitful as there were lots of new things for everyone.


TAOK KV Blogi kuvat (1 of 8)Mr. Urban Lim from Swizerland giving an RDI project presentation.

The guests received great ideas to bring into their own work during the week. On Friday, everyone presented these projects they will be focusing on once they get back home. Everyone had a great and enjoyable experience at TAMK. These international weeks are a great way to kick start and develop partner relationships and cooperation between TAMK and its foreign partners.


Text: Aleksi Jolkkonen

Photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen, Emma Roinila, Ursula Helsky-Lehtola

In the front row of the picture from left to right: Aura Loikkanen, Kirsi Jokipakka, Marja Sutela, Sabrina Bösinger, Päivi Karttunen, Nina Kohr and back row from left to right: Dr. Sven Winterhalder, Dr. Kai Wülbern, Prof. Dr. Heinz Ziegler, Prof. Dr. Klaus Kreulich, Amelie Bauer, Prof. Dr. Michael Kortstock, Merja Jortikka and Toni Niittymäki

In the front row of the picture from left to right: Aura Loikkanen, Kirsi Jokipakka, Marja Sutela, Sabrina Bösinger, Päivi Karttunen, Nina Kohr and back row from left to right: Dr. Sven Winterhalder, Dr. Kai Wülbern, Prof. Dr. Heinz Ziegler, Prof. Dr. Klaus Kreulich, Amelie Bauer, Prof. Dr. Michael Kortstock, Merja Jortikka and Toni Niittymäki

The strategic leadership of Münich University of Applied Sciences came to visit Tampere University of Applied Sciences for a couple of days in April, 2016. The meeting was about developing the strategic partnership between the two universities. 



The meeting started on Wednesday with TAMK’s  staff welcoming the guests from MUAS in the Floworks offices. News and new developments of the universities were the first discussed topics. One of these developments, the Tampere3 project collaboration between the three universities in Tampere was a big topic and there was a lot of interest coming from the guests. Other topics included the strategies between both universities and the goals to achieve in the future. For TAMK, one of these goals is the aim for lifelong learning and competence for future needs. Some of the focus areas for MUAS were internationalization and integration of entrepreneurship into different topics and studies. A common interest discussion topic for the two universities was the reduction of state funds due to the economical situation. Different funding options were considered and from various sources regarding R&D projects as well.


During the afternoon, the guests were taken on a tour of the campus and to the engineering departments’ Open Lab with Hannu Kivilinna. Here, Kivilinna is showing a quadcopter with an attached camera to shoot aerial videos.


TAMK’s  engineering department, Open Lab is an innovative working environment for students and teachers. It combines open spaces where guests and students working on projects can see what is happening on the premises. The Open Lab is also collaborating with companies to provide students with different projects. Some of these projects are free and some of them are supported by the company. It is an unique environment to increase entrepreneurship and customer interaction for student learning.

Group Open Lab

The guests from MUAS were introduced to CNC mill build from the ground up by three students in collaboration with multiple companies.


Hannu Kivilinna started the tour with a brief lecture about Open Lab and how it operates. It was very interesting for the guests to hear how the concept of student projects with actual companies is working for TAMK. Kivilinna took the guests to see the Open Lab and its working students. There are many different devices and machines available to the students. 3D printers, smart robots and quadcopters were some of the most interesting ones in the Open Lab. There was also a demonstration with the smart robot system. The robot had sensors to detect how close humans are. The closer the person got, the slower the robot started to operate and by the time it could make physical contact, it stopped altogether. This function made this robot safer than its previous models. After the robots, it came the large state of the art 3D printer that could mix different materials and colours to create prototypes with complicated shapes and features. The guests were impressed by the facilities and operations of TAMK’s Open Lab.

InInternational Services meeting

Thursday’s meeting between the International Services department of TAMK and MUAS. From left to right: Noora Kahra, Amelie Bauer (Head of International Office), Nina Kohr  (International Relations Coordinator) and Sabrina Bösinger (Mobility Coordinator).



The second day of the strategic partnership meeting was filled with small group discussions activities for different departments. The International Services department and MUAS had a meeting in a relaxing environment. The discussion started with the current trends in international activities. Topics, such as the Finnish legislation change to require tuition fees and the product development of English degree programmes were first on the table. Then, the topics moved on to the international week for non-teaching staff event organizing and developing. How to on-board different departments for productive week of activities was the major concern in this topic. These international weeks are organized in various TAMK partner universities throughout the summer season. TAMK is also hosting one of these weeks. More serious topics including the recent acts of terrorism across Europe brought forward interest to develop student and staff travel safety measures and plans for possible crisis situations. The meeting between the TAMK’s international staff and MUAS was very productive and many new ideas came up for further development.

Presidents shaking hands

Prof. Dr. Michael Kortstock, President of MUAS receiving the Oiva table setting tray set (designed by Ari Kostamo) from Markku Lahtinen, President of TAMK.

The strategic partnership meeting was concluded on Thursday’s afternoon by presenting decisions and plans for the next years to come. Both TAMK and MUAS had received great ideas and inspiration for collaborative developments between the universities. More internationalization through exchange, degree students and staff exchange is of interest for both universities. Future meetings were set and hands shook at the end of the meeting. TAMKs president, Markku Lahtinen gave a very special departing gift to guests from MUAS. It was an Oiva table setting tray set designed by Ari Kostamo especiallty for TAMK. The day continued with a sightseeing city tour organized by VisitTampere. The guests visited the Cathedral of Tampere, the city centre, the Pyynikin Tower and Munkkikahvila and finally, views from Torni hotel.


Text & photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen

From left to right: Riana Schreuders and Jennifer Johnston

From left to right: Riana Schreuders and Jennifer Johnston

What happens when you plan to interview a Lecturer from Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and a Course Leader from University of Portsmouth joins the conversation? You end up with a shared discussion on learning environments, online education and the etiquette of using technology in a classroom. All intensely argued over a coffee and a doughnut in the beautiful city of Tampere.

Riana Schreuders from Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences held an interactive workshop on Cultural Intelligence (CQ) during IWBAS 2016. Aiming to make students aware of the importance of CQ as a core skill in a successful business environment, she rested her case through exercises and discussions. She also used examples from her personal journey started in South Africa and currently taking place in the Netherlands to exemplify life’s ground breaking moments:

“When I came to the Netherlands in 2009, it was the beginning of the financial crisis. After sending over 300 CVs and being turned down a lot, I was quite devastated and my confidence was zero. I e-mailed the Management Consulting firm Trompenaars Hampden-Turner and asked them if I could come and work as an Intern. During those six months spent there, I developed an online cultural guide for doing business in South Africa and I assisted in support activities for various projects. That was a ground breaking moment for me which opened many doors and allowed me to see and understand so much of the world.”

Since then, her achievements have been staggering. Riana defended her thesis, “The facilitative role of cultural intelligence in the adjustment and career development of self-initiated expatriate women” at the University of Pretoria from which she has been honored as a Doctor of Philosophy.

Becoming a Lecturer took a natural course giving her passion for working with young minds full of hopes and dreams. “Students inspire me because I feel I’m contributing to the future. As a teacher, you have such a critical role to play in shaping someone else’s future and from a mentor’s position, you have a big responsibility on someone else’s life. Anything you say can make it or break it.“

Working with students vs. working with managers

My next curiosity was how her teaching experience is influencing her activity as a Freelance Trainer and Presenter in Cultural Intelligence. Her answer, however, didn’t leave room for interpretations:

“The two are complimentary and not in conflict with each other. I love both working with young people and with corporates so I try to combine them in my life. What you learn from students you can use with managers. And what you learn from managers on creating content, you can also teach students and prepare them for the workplace. I think that working with students is more challenging than working with managers. Managers want to be there while students don’t always have a natural motivation. You have to push and pull at times.”

Jennifer Johnston smiles when hearing her answer. Course Leader in Marketing and Sales at the University of Portsmouth in UK, she admits it’s a real challenge walking into the classroom every day and discussing with her students. With a background in Hospitality Management, she switched to education about 10 years ago and it paid off.

“It was an opportunity that came along and fitted with my family circumstances. I always wanted to go into teaching and it was a big change. But students are the ones who keep me motivated.” Could that have been the ground breaking moment in her life then? “I’ll have to come back to you on that one”, she replies.

Both Riana and Jennifer found TAMK’s learning environments eye-catching. “The simulation exercises for students are quite adventurous and the way they were approached. Proakatemia is very different too. Not many places are brave enough to attempt teaching in that manner.”, states Jennifer.

“We just remodeled our campus at our business school where there are a lot of opening spaces for students to meet and work but it’s all free for anyone to use. Regarding Proakatemia, I like that students have fixed offices where they can work. It gives you an important feeling of being there.”, Riana says.

Using technology is the new talking in class

As our conversation moves further to online teaching and learning, I feel I reached a sensitive area. “The danger is that we try to take our current ways of teaching and copying it online. Taking a lecture in PowerPoint and sharing it online is not right. We need to find a way to create new forms of learning on how to engage with content and how to present it. It doesn’t feel real to me. I think it’s different for younger generations though.”

Jennifer’s remark is similar: “It’s a good point. It’s trying to get the balance right. The students want a copy of everything I’m talking about but they’re not necessarily engaging or present so they actually know what I’m talking about. What we don’t want to do is just to accept that online material like that’s everything they should know. Interacting with each other in a classroom setting creates an engagement. But it also raises some attention issues. No one really sets the rules of the etiquette when using technology in a classroom. It has becoming the new talking in class. Students feel entitled to everything, therefore they are not taking responsibility for their own learning and respecting the learning of others. I often get complaints from other students about those that are using technology. It’s impacting everyone.”

We have a final bite from the delicious doughnuts and the last sip of coffee. Riana has to catch a flight back home in the morning while Jennifer opts for exploring the city centre. Do they have a motto in life or anything specific they tell their students?

“I’m a bit of a dreamer. Do you know the theory of the six degrees of separation? You’re only separated from any other person on this planet by six other people. If you’re changing six people’s lives, you’re changing the world. My motto is: change the world, one person at a time. You have the power to change the world! “ is Riana’s answer.

“One thing I always say to my students is: their life, their career, their education. Take charge of it! You’re the master of your destiny!”,  Jennifer adds.

Undoubtedly, Riana and Jennifer continue to change the world through education.


Interview has been condensed and edited.

Text & photo: Andruta Ilie

Note: IWBAS 2016 was the International Week event organized by TAMK’ s School of Business and Services.

Igor Ter Halle


Back to Tampere University of Applied Sciences for the third time, representing Windesheim University of Netherlands during IWBAS 2016 was Igor Ter Halle, Lecturer in Online Communication. Igor hosted two lectures on ‘Content Marketing: how to get content right’ aiming to teach students how to develop a content strategy that works.

The interest rate in his lectures was impressive and overcame his expectations; a number of fifty Finnish and exchange students showed up to listen to his knowledge.  “I’m very satisfied with the overall result. All students spoke English very well and they were not afraid of making errors. We make errors all the time in life.”, he said. Though Dutch people are more perfectionists and stressed about getting things done properly, Igor sees the laid-back Finnish way rather relaxing and ascribes it to the self-confidence of having a great educational system: “You can’t go anywhere else in the world for a better system. Finland is famous for that. We even have TV documentaries on the Finnish education.”

Another differentiating aspect between TAMK and Windesheim University is the number of degree programmes in English. TAMK provides its students with more options. Igor is currently developing a business semester in English, starting in September and hoping to encourage Dutch students to cross their boundaries and dare improving their cultural skills, along with Erasmus students.

There are, of course, similarities between the two universities.  Both use innovative practices and focus on coaching instead of traditional teaching in order to create and deliver experiences and not just knowledge. Since students don’t respond to traditional lectures anymore, teachers and educators are challenged to find new ways of getting their attention. This is done through combining lectures, workshops and projects in an entrepreneurial manner. “Thinking outside the box” is the solution Igor believes in.

Igor’s career path took an interesting turn during the years, starting as a Journalist and currently being a Lecturer in Online Communication. The education field offers the freedom of creating your own job, however, this comes with responsibilities and obligations too. “What I like most about working in education is that I never did the same thing twice”, he states.

“I’d like my students to stop trying controlling everything and sometimes, just let it happen. To stick to themselves and find out first what motivates them. There are lots of people who are not doing the job they are trained for. They can do a lot more than they think, if they would only try.”


Text & photo: Andruta Ilie