Day 4 of the Quebec - Finland Expedition: the development of the digital skills of Finnish teachers

Numerous initiatives for the development of digital pedagogical competence exist for Finnish teachers. Here are a few.

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Our collaborator Marc-André Girard is on an educational expedition to Finland and document it here!

During my stopover in Joensuu, I was able to meet the postdoctoral researcher Sini Kontkanen of the'University of Eastern Finland (UEF). The latter is working on various projects which aim to develop the digital skills of Finnish teachers. She is part of a group nicknamed " TOTY », Which has existed for three decades, well before the advent of the Internet in our homes! This is a particularly pioneering approach: studying digital technology and its uses in the classroom since the early 1990s! At the time, these researchers studied in particular the degree of agency of teachers in their appropriation of digital tools. Thirty years later, this subject is still relevant today, as various programs, measures and regulations compete in strategy to support teachers in their digital shift, in Quebec as elsewhere.


Since that time, many megabits have passed through our cables and the situation has evolved into the current portrayal, in 2021. The program “ OpenDigiTaito (“Open” means “teacher”, “Digi” means digital and “Taito” means “competence”) was born from the results of another preliminary research: Prep21. This research came to an end in 2018 and was a collaborative initiative involving three Finnish universities, the aim of which was to develop the professional skills of future teachers, also known as “21st century skills” in teaching.

"OpenDigiTaito" aims to develop digital skills according to three components, each developed by the expertise of three Finnish universities. The UEF is developing the escape games component, that of Lapland is focusing on distance learning and, finally, the University of Oulu is developing the popular STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering ( "Engineering") and Mathematics. The "A" refers to the integration of the arts in certain programs). The program has been awarded significant funding from the Academy of Finland, amounting to 420,000 euros.

It basically has three inescapable goals.

  • First, it is a question of developing multiplier agents who will be able to return to their environment in order, then, to influence and support their colleagues in their respective environments and in their network in the changes in pedagogical practices.
  • Second, it seeks to facilitate collaboration between teachers through the use of the digital tools available to them.
  • Finally, measures have been put in place so that this collaboration can turn into a spontaneous peer support network, led by competent teachers who are confident in the use of pedagogical tools.


Another program that has taken root in recent years, in line with those discussed above, is that of specialization studies in learning and teaching in digital environments (DigiErko). According to researcher Kotkanen herself, the program has a transformative vocation in terms of the educational vision and that of the sometimes negative perception of the use of digital tools that the teacher can maintain, consciously or not.

The two-year program awards 60 university credits and uses a variety of pedagogical approaches allowing for networking, practice sharing, reflective circles and various presentations. Aimed at teachers with more than three years of experience, it allows for a transition in terms of practice. The teacher-student will develop his pedagogical engineering skills, which have the potential to propel his career.

In this regard, some management complained that teachers had been recruited by the industrial sector to provide continuing training for employees of large companies… It can play hard in Finland!

In total, around 200 teachers have been trained by the three partner universities: Turku, Helsinki and UEF. According to data collected by previous universities, four main reasons motivate teachers to enroll in “DigiErko”:

  1. For the sake of professional development, to improve practice and obtain new qualifications;
  2. To further develop their expertise and fuel their personal and professional motivation;
  3. To model digital pedagogical integration practices;
  4. So as not to “miss the boat”. These teachers feel the carpet slipping under their feet in terms of the development of their pedagogical skills: when the scale of external change supplants that of the interior, it is indeed time to take measures to evolve at the rate of social expectations.

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(Editor's note: The École branchée is happy to be a media partner of this expedition! Note that we are not, however, associated with the fundraising campaign.)

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About the Author

Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard holds a bachelor's degree in social studies education (1999), a master's degree in history education (2003), a master's degree in education management (2013) and a doctorate in education (2022). He specializes in school-based change management and educational leadership. He is also interested in the 21st century competencies to be developed in education. He is a principal in a public high school and gives conferences on educational leadership, pedagogical approaches, change in schools and the professionalization of teaching. He has participated in educational expeditions in France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Morocco. In September 2014, he published the book "Le changement en milieu scolaire québécois" with Éditions Reynald Goulet and, in 2019, he published a trilogy on the 21st century school with the same publisher. He is a frequent contributor to L'École branchée on educational issues. He is very involved in everything that surrounds the professional development of teachers and principals as well as the integration of ICT in education. In March 2016, he received a CHAPO award from AQUOPS for his overall involvement. He is a recipient of the Régent-Fortin 2022 scholarship awarded by ADERAE for the significant contribution of his doctoral studies to the development of practice and knowledge in educational administration.

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