Kirsi’s first post

Hi TACE colleagues,

I’m Kirsi Heinonen and working as a project researcher in Faculty of Education and Psychology. My work consist of many responsibilities: e.g. I’m a digipedagogical support for our faculty’s staff. I have drifted into this position, because I have always been attracted by digital devices (since I get my first computer about 10 years old, at the time when computers were not so ubiquitous). In addition, I working within our eEducation project, called YouToo (supported by JY). In YouToo project our team develop altogether how to support students’ collaboration and grouping (i.e. getting common ground) in computer supported collaborative learning settings. In this autumn, my teaching with English and upcoming course (Lear­ning and 21st Cen­tu­ry Com­pe­tencies: Col­la­bo­ra­tion, Crea­ti­vi­ty, and Tech­no­lo­gy) related our YouToo project.  Up to now, in our project we have decided to support their grouping with gamified Kahoot-survey in the beginning of the course. In addition I’m working with my PhD, overall my research aim or question is “how to support teachers and students in technology-enhanced learning environments.

Before that I have do some blog posts (mainly related to some courses for PhD students), but I have always dreaming about blogging and setup own blog. But now I’m too busy to do that. May be some day. 😉

I’m looking forward our next Tace meeting – see you then! 🙂

Dmitri’s post no. 1

Hello, World all you wonderful people in TACE 2018!

Never did any blogging whatsoever, but one should start somewhere, I guess. My name is Dmitri Leontjev, and I am a Postdoc at the Department of Language and Communication Studies, doing research in language assessment (for learning rather than good old testing of learning outcomes) and teaching in assessment, methodology, language (education) policy & the like graduate courses. That’s what brought me here to this course.

I guess, a reflection on the use/role of technology is what should come next, judging by the rest of the posts. I had to leave earlier Monday, and have not got to Juha’s lecture yet, so apologise if what follows is too much of a digression. My view of technology in education is that it is not (just) a tool but neither it is something using which is a goal of education, if you know what I mean. I’d never use technology (whatever one means by it) for the sake of using it. My take on it is pretty much congruent with that of Peppi Taalas (of the Lg. Centre of JYU; see here: in that technology should add value to the way one teaches and/or learns.

Technology does change the way we do things (teach, learn, communicate, read, write, think—you name it), naturally; in other words, it mediates what we do and how we do it (any Vygotsky’s fans over there?). Thanks, Matti (if I may), for your reflection on it. Agree with it completely. But while acknowledging what it brings into and takes away from our teaching, I try not to forget that using it is not a goal in itself. I can teach my students how to make effective presentations using Google slides or write blog posts (well, no, I can’t =), but I’d rather our goals are reflecting (as in this one), starting conversations (as hopefully with this one), and taking actions, with technology being there to mediate the way these goals are reached.

Hmm, that was long… in short, I see technology as affordance in the way van Lier wrote about it: as offering opportunities for interacting with the environment, which can be (are?) used differently by different individuals due to their different experiences, beliefs, understandings, skills, etc.

As to my quick reflection on the course, I join the others’ opinion, that discussions, including informal ones over a coffee offer wonderful opportunities for developing our thinking and acting as teachers and learners.

The first post

This is the first blog post of my TACE program. I am a rather experienced blogger, but using a blog in a context like this is a fresh, new experience for me. I’ve no idea how it will work out yet, but already it has made me think about all the myriad possibilities that the technology of today can offer for both learning and teaching. Yet at the same time, and following the theme of today’s session, I keep wondering the other side of the coin, since in our zeal we might not always be fully conscious of all the effects the technology has for us.

Technology often forces our brains to operate in certain modes which may or may not be for the better. During today’s session I kept thinking of the old, mechanical typewriters, which nobody (including me, of course) would ever want to use again, yet the “mode of thinking” when working with a typewriter was very different from that of a computer. With an old school typewriter one could not erase nor move back and forth within the text, but instead she would have to focus and nail down clearly formulated sentences, one after another.

Now this is difficult and laborious but it is how the old school authors did all their writing. I tend to think that it was much easier for them to just force the text out when they got past the beginning, since they couldn’t stop and search for a perfect synonym, while working other parts of the text – pretty much the way I do my writing.

This is to simply to point out that technology – in teaching and in any other activity – affects us in many ways. Some are for the better, some are for the worse. And when we get some benefits from the technology, we might also lose something.

Coming back to the session, we had some really intersting discussions today on these subjects. Both within the small groups but also with the whole group including the teachers. I have a feeling that these interactive discussions will be a major elements during this program for getting new interesting ideas for my own teaching and course planning…

Susanna’s first blog

Good evening everyone 🙂 My name is Susanna Paloniemi and I work as a senior lecturer at the department of educational sciences. My research interests fall into the field of adult education – currently I am working in a project investigating the role of emotions in agentic learning at work. Guess that we all are familiar with the kinds of pleasant and unpleasant learning experiences in working life contexts – and I certainly would like to hear of your experiences and thoughts later on.

Hope that you had a nice session today after the coffee break as well. Unfortunately, I was not able to stay due to the meetings with our new students. That is, each year, so inspiring and exiting! Right now, sitting on the sofa, I somehow get the same feeling starting TACE myself: meeting and getting familiar with new people from different backgrounds, having the opportunity to learn new things, share experiences together and to focus on things that I find interesting. Thus, I really am looking forward to this programme – especially the intercultural aspects and question. And also hope that I will be able to allocate enough time for the programme, at least I tend to.

Today, we had a brief conversation about (digital) tools that we have been using in our teaching. For me the question basically is what more do the digital platforms bring into learning and what does that require from guidance and supervision. As most of my teaching duties are carried out through small group sessions, I quite often find the role of digital tools in information and study assignment sharing – also commenting and reflecting. However, the latter not always very successfully implemented within the student groups. So all good tips and experiences are mostly wellcome.

Good night and see you soon,
– Susanna

Bhavani – A brief introduction and some thoughts

Hi Everyone,

It is a delight to interact and meet with people from diverse faculty backgrounds and professional interests in the TACE course. My name is Bhavani Ramamoorthi and I am a doctoral student in the Faculty of Education and Psychology. I primarily research in the area of relational leadership an emerging concept in educational leadership, focusing on human relations and richness of everyday interactions and dialogues. A big part of my life is being a mother to a teenager, a traveling storyteller and running a small start up company in Jyväskylä.

In my reflections so far with the course, the introductory session was great and so was the coffee break. With a large part of my mind functioning as a student, I assumed the coffee and cake would continue every session and was looking forward to it in the second one too! I feel the reflections and small group discussions in the last two weeks have brought up some valid and powerful points that highlight the nature of learning environments. I am looking forward to more collaboration and getting to know all the team members through the course.


Eija’s first blog text

My name is Eija Sevón and this is my first attempt to write a blog post. As I introduced myself I’m a senior researhcer at the department of education. I have taught the students of the international master’s programme in education that has been arranged in our faculty already for many uears. This autumn I’m involved in the course titled Educator’s professional ethics and moral education (5 ECTS credits) in which I guide an English spoken seminar group focusing on issues concerning children’s rights and parenthood. The course is shared with diverse master’s degree students at the Department of Education. Thus the participant in my group can be students from the international master’s programme but also Finnish students in education, special education, adult education or in early childhood education. One aim in our department has been that we’ll try to integrate and connect international students and Finnish student, but it is not such an easy task. It is quite often a challenge for some Finnish student to communicate in English that is partly highly understandable, but partly it is odd when thinking the present day world. This is one issue to discuss together in our TACE group. Further, I found the articles I’ve read giving new and critical insights to the issues of intercultural communication, competence, and sensitivity.

PS. I needed to write the blog text already now because of traveling to a conference tomorrow morning. That is why I have not included my thoughts about today’s presentation and slides into the text.

September 3, 2018: Introduction, Digital Technology and Teaching

Department meeting, September 3, 2018

Since I forgot to introduce myself in the first blog, I will grab the opportunity and do it now. I am a Doctoral Student in English at the Department of Language and Communication Studies, University of Jyväskylä, placed in Vaasa. I am doing research on girl agency in  contemporary versions of the folktale “Little Red Riding Hood,” in written and visual modalities. If you are interested in knowing more about my research, please see my academic website Besides my doctoral studies, I have been teaching English part-time for three years. This fall, I will most likely teach a course in Popular Culture Texts.

In today’s session, Pedagogical Head Juha Jalkanen asked us to reflect on the subjects of teaching, academic content and digital technology. What are these and where do they intersect in our professional lives? As teachers, how do we approach digital technology (DT)?  What role does DT play in our teaching? How can we engage students, challenge them and support them in digital environments? We also discussed the benefits and drawbacks of contact teaching versus noncontact teaching. Is DT problems a symptom of white entitlement? The discussion we had worked as a platform without providing  clear answers to the questions because they will naturally vary from one person, context and course together with faculty and university to another. Nevertheless, it is important for teachers to engage critically with these type of questions in order to develop as teachers in the era of DT and Artificial Intelligence.

Using digital communication tools in teaching

Based on discussion task today, I’d like to share my small paper about using Slack for computer-mediated communication
to support higher education students’ peer interactions during Master’s thesis seminar
. (click the link to open the article).

In short, I am still struggling with finding the most appropriate tool for organising my courses and teaching. I’ve used to build my own website for a course, because then I can decide how the website looks and feels. However, things become complicated when students should communicate with each others, give feedback, or return tasks (e.g. PDF-files). Building dynamic websites manually takes much more time and is much more error prone. Thus, I’ve had to include Optima/Moodle/Koppa so that students can return their assignments. Using several different communication tools, however, is just not convient.

Quick introduction and question for the TACE 2018 group

Hello folks!

My name is Matias Lievonen and this is my first blog post for TACE 2018 programme. I am a PhD student in corporate communication at the JSBE, and I will be lecturing at the Introduction to Corporate Communication -course this semester.

To stir up discussion just a little bit, I have question for you. Are you using some kind of electronic tools, platforms, or software during your lectures to facilitate interaction among the students?

For example, if the students have had discussions in small groups, is there any appropriate way for the group to upload the main ideas of the discussion to a web page, so that all the other students in the lecture can see it immediately? Or are there some tools to facilitate a simple voting concerning a topic at hand during the lecture?

Feel free to share your ideas and possible tools you have been using during your lectures!

Meeting August 27, 2018: Banal Nationalism and Successful Interpersonal Communication

During the first course meeting, we were asked to reflect on what successful interpersonal communication is in the classroom together with how we see our and the students’ roles in this process. I will structure my first blog post around these questions. For the first question, my team concluded that the personal in the interpersonal makes interpersonal communication successful. That is, the ability to see the person behind stereotypical assumptions we all tend to have about different cultures. The lecture material and the discussion together with Ingrid Piller’s article “Intercultural Communication: An Overview” (2012) challenged us to see beyond stereotypical characterizations related to nationality, ethnicity, gender and class, etc.

These are often expressed through, for example, banal nationalism. Banal nationalism means the way a nation  and its members flag the national territory and group belonging in everyday contexts, for example, the use of flags, name-dropping and other symbols. For me, the level of banal nationalism is quite week in Finland compared to other countries, such as the USA that has a high level of banal nationalism. It will be interesting to see if my hypothesis holds true after I have completed the first course assignment, in which I will record my encounters with banal nationalism during one day,

Furthermore, Lecturer Malgorzata Lahti highlighted that while cultural stereotypes fill a purpose and can be good starting points in new student meetings, they also create otherness in the form of boundaries and differences, as well as disempower the students.

Next, I want to reflect on how I approach cultural stereotypes. As a teacher, I strive for openness, to meet my students as individuals and to adapt my teaching according to what I pick up in the classroom. In this way, I believe that I avoid most assumptions. However, after learning about how easy it is to slip into stereotypical cultural assumptions, from now on, I will be more self-critical and sensitive to these.

Second, when it comes to the the instructor’s role, two-way communication and openness are important elements in the classroom. It is also important in international classroom settings to set a common goal in order to create “sameness” and togetherness and to give very clear instructions regarding the course format and rules together with the instructor’s expectations on the students. By this, the instructor assimilates international students into the local academic working climate, which is natural to local students. Moreover, the instructor can also accommodate for students with limited English proficiency by repeating the most important information in different registers of English, such as academic and colloquial.

Third, during the first session, we did not discuss the students’ role very much. However, as instructors, we do hope that they will participate in the two-way communication and follow the guidelines. Finally, if there are misunderstandings or problems, we hope that we have created an environment that feels “safe” enough to bring them up.