Do you want to develop your teaching together with other people at Aalto? Join the A!OLE community!

It already has more than 80 pilots, and the next opportunity to apply is in April 2018.


The Education@Aalto event took place in connection with the Aalto Festival in May. Tomi Kauppinen in the middle. Photo: Alisa Janits.

Aalto University's A!OLE (Aalto Online Learning) project has been funding pilot projects since early 2016 for developing online and blended learning approaches for courses of Aalto. The Vice President along with the vice deans selected the first nine pilots as A!OLE projects at the end of 2015. At the moment A!OLE has more than 80 pilots, which have come through open idea proposal calls.

A!OLE project manager Tomi Kauppinen says that projects that were granted funding have varied from interactive online books and automatic assessment to virtual reality and from educational games to video production. For instance, the Introductory Finnish MOOC, the gamification of the courses, and augmented reality in interactive storytelling have been excellent pilot topics.

'Next year we are especially looking forward to pilots that utilise virtual and augmented reality to support learning.'

A!OLE funding goes to ideas that seek to bridge educational gaps and solve challenges with novel approaches – and not to courses that are already in production. All idea proposals need to develop teaching and courses, or related tooling and pedagogical methods. The next A!OLE idea proposal call will be in April 2018. In the proposals the applicants are asked to ponder what, why, how, and with whom the person proposing the idea plans to develop teaching. After the call for idea proposals the first funding decisions for the most mature idea proposals will come within about a month.

Events boost a sense of community

A sense of community is central to A!OLE's operational philosophy. At the moment about 150 people from Aalto are in the network. This year about 40 events have been already held and the arrangements for the two biggest events will easily involve thirty people from Aalto.

According to Tomi Kauppinen it is still typical for people at the university to operate mainly within their own departments or research groups, which means that meetings that cross departmental boundaries rarely happen.

'At A!OLE we specifically want to help people meet each other. When people look at things and development projects from different angles, the results often prove to be tremendous.'

In February-March a kick-start event of the new A!OLE pilots will be held, where those receiving funding will share each other what they are doing. In May the Education@Aalto event will take place in connection with the Aalto Festival with a focus on joining forces to develop teaching. At that time those who were granted funding will present to each other where they are in developing their pilots, after which comments on the ideas will be shared and discussed.

'Developing ideas and learning together are magnificent opportunities. It is good to bring the ideas forward for comment at as early a stage as possible. Giving feedback is often very enriching and provides new ideas for further development of the pilots.'

The Learning@Aalto Gala will be held in December, at which time the work done for the development of teaching will be celebrated. The Learning@Aalto Gala is an event for the shared teaching and learning of all of Aalto University, which will be held for the first time this year. The morning of the seminar day will focus on workshops, and in the afternoon there will be freer networking and achievements will be celebrated.

Freedom, creativity, and trust are important

'Online learning is today's thing. People learn from a diversity of materials online and meet face to face in workshops to talk and reflect on what has been learned. Freedom is important.  Micromanaging only kills freedom, creativity, and trust. We need structures, fruitful check points, and community-building  events to support the implementation of freedom and creativity', Tomi Kauppinen says.

The A!OLE community is open to all at Aalto who want to develop online and blende learning together. The idea is that each person should have something to contribute to the network.

'We want to be a so-called coaching network, the A!OLE Coaching Network, in which everyone has the desire to participate both in the capacity of a coach and as someone who gets coached.  Many have noticed that they are pretty good experts', Kauppinen says.

Tomi Kauppinen serves as the A!OLE project manager. He defended his doctoral dissertation at Aalto in 2010 and for the past 20 years, has been working in both Finland and Germany on new media, online projects, knowledge representation, artificial intelligence, information visualisation and data-driven storytelling. Serving as the chair of the A!OLE coordination group and project director of the project is Professor Lauri Malmi.

Learning@Aalto Gala 2017 from Aalto people to Aalto people at the Learning Centre on Wednesday 20 December.
Please enrol by 13 December: https://www.webropolsurveys.com/S/7F0CAD15F03C1BB9.par

Further information:
A!OLE
(Aalto Online Learning)