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.

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.

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.