North Karelia municipal education and training consortium (PKKY) is an organization providing qualified vocational education in North Karelia, Finland. PKKY is committed in developing vocational expertise for the benefit of North Karelia, taking both the working life and the individuals into consideration.
The consortium operates in eight fields of education and it has over 300 qualification titles with tailor-made education available. There are in total 7750 students and a staff of 1050, including 650 teachers, in the units of the PKKY.
Lately, a phenomenon-based learning has started to raise a lot of global discussion. The ideology of the phenomenon-based learning is to bring learning and teaching closer to practice, rather than focusing on single, disconnected subjects that do not relate to everyday life or to each other, at all.
PKKY wanted to adopt a learning environment, which supports phenomenon-based learning. The main challenge was to get a solution with the required technology in order to be able to study in a form of stories related to real life. Strong emphasis was put on receiving trustworthy analytics of the students' learning processes. Furthermore, an important part of the solution was to be able to give and receive feedback, as well as to grade the students easily.
The solution was a Valamis eLearning platform, which provides a great platform to put phenomenon-based learning into practice and implements it into an eLearning environment. In this solution, the students approach separate subjects in a form of a story. The story is related to a real life, and while going through the story the learners themselves do not necessarily recognize which subject each topic in the story is actually covering.
In the phenomenon-based learning the learners are taught topics instead of subjects. The topics can be related to any real life events, which motivate the learners. In the PKKY case the studied phenomenon was a process of buying a car. The story covered topics such as taking loan for the car, buying insurances, evaluating how long is the braking time in different speeds etc. Once the students have completed the story, they have covered topics such as mathematics and physics. Thus, the story helps students to think, what kind of physical of mathematical phenomenon exist behind the everyday life situations
The challenge with phenomenon-based learning is how to recognize what the student has learned. Valamis provides powerful learning analytics, which was one of the main requirements for this solution. Valamis supports the xAPI learning management system, which collects data about students' activities and what students have experienced in the learning environment.
With Valamis and its features it is possible to see, what materials students actually use and find important while learning the topic. The analytics are in a form of an exquisite concept map, which enables the visual analysis of the learning challenges. The received analytics imply clearly which parts of the study content needs to be improved. Students can also see themselves, how they are proceeding while studying the phenomenon. For teachers, Valamis provides accurate reports of the studies to evaluate and follow-up the student performance.
Due to its features, Valamis makes a perfect solution for PKKYs vision and requirements. The co-operation with PKKY and Arcusys started as a pilot implementation for one program, and currently the implementation for the whole institution and all the programs is in process.
"The seamless cooperation between Arcusys, PKKY and the Tampere University of Technology (TUT) has been the key success factor in this project. Now as the pilot phase has ended, we will start moving the actual studies into the Valamis environment during the next semester. According to the feedback, the students seem to particularly like the idea of different subjects being under one entity", tells Ville Tuominen, the Advisor of Online Learning from PKKY.
In the Valamis solution, there are advantages both for students and teachers. Students get to learn in a new and motivating way when the real life stories help them to see the phenomenon in their everyday lives. Also, the different learners are not pushed to learn in a certain way, when all of their learning efforts are getting noticed. This makes it easier to teachers to see what students are actually learning and how they could improve their eLearning teaching methods and materials. Read more about the dramatic improvements in online learning results of PKKY students in our blog post "How to improve online training and learning results dramatically".