During his recent educational expedition to Finland, our collaborator Marc-André Girard spoke with Sini Kontkanen, from the digital education research group TOTY. Listen to the interview as a podcast or read its report here!
In Finland, digital education has been the subject of research for three decades, in particular through the research group TOTY. We were able to meet one of its researchers, Sini Kontkanen, who, although not part of the team for thirty years, has been there for quite some time.
Originally, TOTY studied in particular the technological potential with a view to reducing the distances separating the Finnish communities, dispersed over a territory strongly marked by its Nordicity, particularly in Lapland. Today, many believe that digital technology is a key ingredient for the deployment of inclusive education regardless of the school attended. The Finnish school is proudly inclusive, whether it is located in the capital, in the far north in Utsjoki or in a region bordering Russia, in Karelia or Savonia.
In Finland, technologies are omnipresent in education. According to the researcher, the question of the need for their integration no longer arises, especially not in times of pandemic. The use of technologies in the classroom allows students to familiarize themselves with tools that they will use later in their post-secondary studies and in the world of work.
If Sini Kontkanen stresses the importance of talking about the pedagogical intention, which shapes the use of technological tools in school, she also mentions how the tools, in turn, shape the pedagogical approaches in her country.
An escape game as a research laboratory
Research that addresses digital technology in education has also evolved greatly over the past thirty years. For example, the University of Eastern Finland inaugurated its most recent laboratory which is, to say the least, particular. In fact, it is a escape game which is made up of three rooms in addition to the control room. The laboratory makes it possible to study how users, students, pupils or teachers, collaborate, negotiate and solve problems according to a time constraint. During this time, everything is recorded: microphones and cameras are present, the temperature of the rooms is controlled and the participants wear a bracelet which captures their heartbeats.
This space is unique in Finland, and most likely in the world. It is accessible to university researchers and professors, as well as to teachers and their students. It is therefore used as much for the training of teachers as for the continuing education of teachers, without neglecting the students who can also develop their skills there and learn various contents, according to what their teacher decides.