Visiting from Finland: Heidi’s perspective on the Expedition

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written by Heidi Myyrylainen, project leader at Saimaa University of Applied Sciences, Finland

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I had the great pleasure to be introduced to the Expedition at Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Netherlands. I met Bastienne Bernasco, who developed the Expedition together with a team of lecturers and researchers. This 30-EC minor started in September 2014.

The expedition is a new way of designing education developed by a team of lecturers at Saxion University of Applied Science.

Saxion Expedition is not just about exploring the reality but also about making meaningful projects that leave a mark on society. Students come to this minor from 4 different courses: tourism, facility management, hotel management and creative technology. During the expedition students earn 30 credits. They develop new prospects and engage in joint and authentic learning.

The team have succeeded in creating a novel way of enabling and facilitating learning and improvising.

The approach is iterative. In the beginning of the project the set of questions is not clear yet. In a period of 20 weeks students go on field trips to cities, streets, companies etc. and design and implement projects that have a meaning. A group of students deal with chosen perspectives on wicked problems, problems that are seen really difficult or impossible to solve.

The idealism of youth facing the realities of society, is impressing. Instead of being distant, ignorant or afraid of wicked problems, students go to new places, streets, companies, cities and sense the realities themselves. Instead of relying on the previous definitions, they form their own ones. They reflect what they see in previous theories and practices, talking in a group, with their teachers and writing a blog. During the expedition, in week 9 they have designed a project proposal. BY exploiting their ingenuity they make a difference, step by step. For example one project was about homeless refugees in Amsterdam. In a project planned by students they stepped into real people’s shoes, as they wanted to understand the needs of homeless refugees and think what they could do about it. The Saxion Enactus group, a group of students involved in social entrepreneurship, supported their initiative. Students gave cameras to homeless people in Amsterdam so that they could show in pictures what they love, or what they carry along in their pockets.

The way students are enabled to address questions, and formulate projects to address a variety of real life problems is ideal learning in Universities of Applied Sciences. Students are learning from knowledge systems of society, not just to reproduce the existing knowledge, but to manage the professional knowledge in a new way, while co-learning and using their personal intuitions.

Heidi Myyrylainen

Project Manager

Saimaa University of Applied Sciences

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