Friday, 29 August 2014

Winter is coming...

Well met, ladies and gentlemen! It is the end of an age, when my reign as the intern comes to an end...

I'm an international business student, and after my exchange period abroad it was time for my practical training. I saw the job advertisement for TAMK international services and thought to myself: "this is exactly the job for me. I'm the man they are looking for." After an interview it came to pass that I started as an intern at the international services on April 1st 2014. I was to work there for five months trying to make some sense out of the various tasks the services deal with on a daily basis.

My experience during these five months has been wonderful. I know have a stronger understanding of what it's really like to work for the international services. The climax of the period has without a doubt been the final month with the summer schools and new exchange students coming in. With various tasks and increasing responsibilities I can conclude I have developed immensely during my practical training. I wish to thank all my lovely colleagues for this great opportunity and for warmly welcoming me into the community. I wish you all the best!

Text: Hannu Kouhia

Thursday, 21 August 2014

TRADIGME IP 2014 - an amazing experience!

The coordinator Pirkko Varis with some students and Virrat bear searching for new ideas

TRADIGME IP  - Tradigital Media Marketing & Online Business with Social Media
was organized 30 March - 10 April 2014. The coordinator of the IP was Senior Lecturer in Marketing Pirkko Varis from Tampere University of Applied Sciences. 70 students and staff members from 13 universities and university of applied sciences from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, UK and Finland participated in LLP Erasmus Intensive Programme. The IP included presentations, workshops and visits. In addition, student teams worked with assignments from SMEs, and they gave proposals for international marketing communications, web site design and social media. The first day of the IP the participants spent in Tampere and from there all travelled to Virrat where they stayed for two weeks. Students and staff members lived in wooden houses at a lake in Lomasaari, Virrat and could enjoy special sauna, lake and other experiences of Finnish culture.

Ben, Richard and Maria with some other students on top of Pispala hill in Tampere 

First impressions:
Sebastian:  When I arrived in Finland it was a beautiful day and I was curious looking around. Helsinki might be nice and worth seeing but it’s nothing compared to the stunning beauty of the nature and landscapes of Finland. Ben & Maria:  Our first impressions of Finland were that it seemed very peaceful and Finns enjoyed a slower pace of life than back in the UK.

Presentation of Professor Jon Fairburn from Staffordshire University, UK

Sebastian about workshops:  
Part of the intensive programme were the workshops, in which the students had the opportunity to acquire knowledge from lecturers from all over Europe and beyond. The lecturers thereby specified the framework of the project, the students themselves defined how and what they want to achieve. Afterwards the lecturers accompanied the students on their way to achieve what they defined as their goals. Besides that the students had the chance to work together in a multinational team, it should be noticed that there were no restrictions whatsoever for any of the workshops because of a study of a student and therefore everyone had the chance to attend and work interdisciplinary on any workshop. In some workshops students worked with assignments from SMEs who had given objectives to be met and the results were delivered to them. At the end of the IP there was the presentation of the workshop results in front of all participants.
Dirk van der Laan with students in a workshop session

For this IP several workshops were offered: “Digital, mobile, social media and internet in marketing, brand loyalty, integrated marketing communications & CRM”, “Workshop on social media communication”, “Marketing in Virtual Worlds” and “The customer journey, logical game programs & cross-cultural issues in social media”.
Particularly interesting to observe was the interaction between management, business, marketing and computer science people. Due to the (very) different points of view new ideas were developed and there was a lot to laugh about but also impressive results were created. During one of the workshops for example a whole game with remarkable immersion was developed and after the presentation all interested students and lecturers were able to try it themselves. All in all the workshops were a great success, there was a lot to learn for everyone and even more important, it was a lot of fun.

Ulf having fun in a presentation

Kyle about experiences at Hyvölän Talo:
This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We traveled an hour into the heart of the Finnish countryside which is basically everywhere in Finland, but this place was even more out of the way, down a small track for about 20 minutes before we reached this amazing country house. The planned activities for the day were:  go deep into the forest, split into teams, build a camp, a fire and cook pancakes, toasted sandwiches and freshly caught pike; go from the camp to the saunas, one traditional smoke sauna which felt like 1000 degrees; a jump in the famous ice lake and a hot tub.
Making pancakes in the forest of Hyvölän Talo

When you sit back and think about the times that we have experienced in Finland this day was by far the most surreal thing that we took part in. The picture is of the dining room we all ate in together after the day’s activities. There are some tired looking faces, but one thing that the picture can’t show is the noise. The room was filled with such a warm glow of happy people, talking and eating, and trying to relive the day over in their heads. It was as if it never happened. Our host was so attentive, and answered every one of my questions, the food was so delicious I went for seconds and thirds, and the memories are golden, precious and so sacred to me now. 
Ari Hyvölä with some IP people at Hyvölän Talo

Maria about the visit to Ähtäri Zoo:
We also visited a nearby Ähtäri Zoo. After entering the zoo and receiving our maps we made our way through the park to the reindeer, elks, bears and beautiful snow leopards. The park is full of many rare and exotic animals, but the ones which left the biggest impression on me were the wolves, or susi in Finnish. It was very impressive because we cannot see these animals often in the rest of Europe. Throughout our visit there were helpful staff members who showed us how they are feeding the bears, and we had the chance to do so ourselves! Overall it was an amazing experience, although it was very cold for all of us, especially those who are not used to the wintry climate. These trip and other transportations were made with coaches from the company Ykspetäjä Oy / Lepikonmäki-yhtiöt. Buses were comfortable, always on time and the service was super friendly.

Snow leopard in Ähtäri zoo

Ben about socializing:
When Pirkko sent me the itinerary for the trip, I was surprised to see that we would be apparently spending many evenings in Pub 66. I (wrongly) assumed this was a mistranslation. Pub 66 was very hospitable for our large group and had a great atmosphere. Everybody seemed to enjoy their time singing karaoke so much that I was persuaded to sing too! The comedian, Trent, was also hilarious and made for great entertainment. The staff in Pub 66 spoke good English and were always happy to help with drink selections – liquorice liquor anyone?  During other evenings many of us tried to copy the tradition of using the sauna and then going for a dip in the lake. At first this was a big shock for me but as the week went on, I looked forward to a refreshing swim in the semi-frozen lake.

A house party in super great accommodation in Lomasaari, Virrat 

Cabin L people were very kind to host many parties which lasted until the early hours of the morning; not a good idea when we had to be up at 8am for breakfast! As the trip drew to a close, we spent evenings around the campfire cooking pancakes and sausages which is a memory I will cherish for a long time. It was a great experience to mix with so many students from different countries and cultures and we have all kept in contact since the trip has ended.

Richard about friendships: 
One of the unexpected sides to the IP was the build of some long lasting friendships. Some of which will last long after the IP finished. Students from such varying backgrounds managed from day one to form friendship groups. The assumption was that the group you lived with (in your cabin) you would end up spending the most time with. However all cabins had an open door atmosphere and all the students managed to connect. Personally I have made some great connections and friendships that will live with me forever. I believe many of the IP participants are already planning to travel out to various countries to meet up with their new friends.

Ben, Kyle and Richard on the frozen lake at Hyvölän Talo

Kyle and conclusion: 
It is never an easy task to sum up an experience like this. I think I could do it if it was just a trip, but it wasn’t just a trip. What it was was something bigger than us all. We began the ten days not knowing who each other were, we tentatively trickled around the edges of groups looking for a reason to say hello. By the second day something unexplainable happened, we all clicked. It was an unforced occurrence. As if we had all been friends for years, we blended into such a perfect family, between the parties, the saunas, jumping into the lake, and not sleeping a wink, it felt like we lived it all together.
The one thing that I take personally from this whole experience is the fact I have found my wings. College can be so demanding and straining on a creative mind, there are rarely moments to break, but in Finland I found a reason to slow down. There is a tranquility that you can bottle and take home with you, something that will run out eventually, but now I know where to find it.   
Some other student comments:
Amazing, awesome, brilliant, the best experiences of my life.  Thank you Pirkko for everything!

Maria Alexandrova & Benjamin Clarke, Salford Business School, University of Salford, UK
Sebastian Bielen, HTW Berlin - Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, Germany
Richard Boroughs, Southampton Solent University, UK
Kyle Christy, Institute of Technology Tralee, Ireland

Maria Alexandrova, Richard Boroughs, Kyle Christy; Christian Reimann, FH Dortmund; Pirkko Varis, Tampere University of Applied Sciences

Monday, 11 August 2014

Omani students: Summer course full of experiences and edutainment

We had 33 Omani students and their teacher here at TAMK from 11th June to 13th July. This was already the third time for TAMK Extension Studies to arrange summer course for Omani students. The summer course included studies in business idea management, project skills, ideation techniques coaching, social media, marketing oneself, and future trends in business. The students came from different colleges of applied sciences and from different study fields, such as public relations, engineering, IT, and design. 

One of the tasks students were given during the course was to write a blog text about their stay here at TAMK and in Finland. Here are two blog texts that were nominated as the best ones:

Sultan giving a presentation on the final day of the studies

A Wonderful Edutainment Experience in Finland

Since the moment I received the good news from my college to visit Finland for study purpose, I was feeling extremely excited for it. I opened my PC immediately to check out some information about the city and the educational institution which I was going to be in couple of weeks. After seeing the amazing things the excitement reached its peak. It felt like one of my dreams coming true, and actually that’s true because I’ve been waiting for a similar chance for a long time and I finally got to visit a great country that I dreamt to spend time. Great Finland - I can say - has a very good reputation in my country because of its great industrial success in different fields. So, there is no doubt that most people in my home country dream to visit such a country.

When I arrived here, I felt like a newborn bird with all its energy to fly in the open and pure sky. Lovely weather, well maintained systems, very kind people, clean air and beautiful nature. All these elements helped me out to adapt easily to Finnish society. Then, I joined one of the greatest universities in Finland known as TAMK. In this university I’m experiencing really useful teaching methods so far. Interactive lesson, creative sessions, field visits and many other things have made me feel different and have strengthened up my attitudes towards studying. I became more enthusiastic toward studying and I`m feeling refreshed and being able to learn more and to gain unlimited knowledge. Although the subject which I’m studying in TAMK is irrelevant to my specialization, I really liked it and became interested in it in a short period of time, and undoubtedly that`s because of the amazing and different teaching methods. The teachers are applying ”learn through fun” method, of which effectiveness and efficiency has been proved world widely. So, I can say that this is their main secret which makes them unique and irresistible among others.

I’m still on the way, and there are only two weeks left to finish my program here, and I will try as hard as I can to use my time well and get benefit from all available materials and resources in this great campus and in this great country as well. Finally, from the bottom of my heart I say that ”I wish I could stay much longer in this incredible place, and I will definitely carry on this amazing experience to my home and tell others about it”.

Written by Sultan Al Saraai

All students gathered up to hear each team´s presentation.

My Time at TAMK

My name is Abdul Rahman Al Farsi. I’m 21 years old. I’m an Omani student, studying English Language and Literature at Rustaq College Of Applied Sciences (RCAS). I’m having a summer course at Tampere University of Applied Sciences otherwise known as TAMK, which is located in Finland. And I’ve got to say that so far it’s been a FANTASTIC experience, except the food part which I didn’t like very much. However, apart from the food everything else has been more than perfect for me: people, studies, shopping, nature, accommodation and the city itself.

- Why is TAMK different?

What’s even more interesting is the methods of teaching used in TAMK. A good variety of methods is found here from the classic way of teaching to the more current trends of teaching methods, and then to even more sophisticated but effective methods. At first, as a future English teacher I thought that such methods or approaches of teaching are just some kind of a theoretical talk that can only be found in books. It was maybe the teaching and learning environment in Oman that led to such a way of thinking of my part. However, it is not the case here in TAMK.

- That’s how it’s done!

For topics such as Business Idea Management, Project Skills, Ideation Techniques Coaching, How to Market Yourself and Future Trends in Business a traditional way of teaching would not be as effective as the communicative approach where authenticity is what really matters, where the students actually get to experience a simulation of a real life situations of which they are expected to be part of. An example of authenticity is a situation where a group of students is asked to create a business idea. Therefore, it`s more effective and long-lasting learning experience when it is carried out as a role play where the students act out and undertake different roles of an organization or a company, in which the responsibility is divided among individuals. The roles themselves depend on the business idea.

- Teacher’s and learner’s roles

The teacher in this case is more of a facilitator rather than a controller of the learning process, which is actually good in the sense that it gives the student a chance to be responsible for his/her own learning. This emphasis the fact that student-centered learning, which is adopted in TAMK, is, as the communicative approach suggests, more powerful and effective in enhancing the learning experience of the students. This was pretty clear in the final outcomes of our first week in TAMK where the Business Idea Projects were fabulous and very creative to the point I never thought can be reached by myself or one of my classmates. Fortunately I was wrong.

What’s even more interesting is the methods of teaching used in TAMK. A good variety of methods is found here from the classic way of teaching to the more current trends of teaching methods, and then to even more sophisticated but effective methods. At first, as a future English teacher I thought that such methods or approaches of teaching are just some kind of a theoretical talk that can only be found in books. It was maybe the teaching and learning environment in Oman that led to such a way of thinking of my part. However, it is not the case here in TAMK.

- What makes a unique learning experience?

There are three other points that might be a crucial factor of this unique and interesting teaching methodology at TAMK. The first one is team work. It is like the essence of learning here in TAMK. Almost everything is done in teams or pairs, however, team work skills, such as dividing the roles and taking leadership, are required . This leads to the part where we talk about the project management tools which help the project team or group to organize and update their work strategies. Team members are kept posted during the project period which in return is reflected on the quality of the outcome of the product. For me this is the first time to use tools such as Trello, Google Drive and many other interesting tools. The second point is the use of technology. Technology is an essential part of the learning process in TAMK where tutors try to adopt the latest and current trends of technology in their teaching methods. The third point is the learning aids and facilities that enhance the learning experience of the students and facilitate the learning in a way that helps to increase the creativity level in the learning outcomes. “You can’t expect to meet the challenges of today with yesterday’s tools and expect to be in business tomorrow” (Source: Unknown).

- Conclusion

No wonder why Finland has one of the best educational systems in the world. Apart from the unique grading system in schools Finns started from the very basis of education in schools where assessment is only found to lead the students to the right way and to guide them and prepare them for the future. Finally, I am very grateful for this beautiful experience here at TAMK and I would like to thank those people who were in any way part of making it possible.

Written by Abdul Rahman Al Farsi

Introduction text and editing: Telma Rivinoja
Essi Kannelkoski