Developing National Online Degree Education

I am extremely lucky to be able to coordinate a team of experts working together to develop online degree cross-studies in applied higher education. The group is part of eAMK project, a national project where all universities of applied sciences in Finland have joined forces to create a platform for year-round online course selection. The aim in the project is to develop online pedagogy and create quality online courses for flexible and accessible studies in applied higher education. The eAMK Online Degree group is working to share good practices and create a common understanding about online degree education at a national level.

So far the eAMK Online Degree group has two main results:

  1. Recommendations for the use of the term ‘Online Degree’ in relation to ‘Part-time Studies’, as these are used differently at HEIs and there is a need for consistent and clear use of these terms (read the article in Finnish here – English translation to follow!)
  2. Webinar Series for Planning and Implementing Online Degree studies, organised in collaboration with XAMK, TUAS and eAMK. The webinar series gives a practical tips and examples from different universities of applied sciences around Finland, and is the first of a kind for developing online degree education! See the full programme here (only in Finnish, sorry!)

The next step for developing national online degree education is to share my Pedagogical Model for Designing Online Degrees in Higher Education (PIMOD) based on my research results thus far, and co-design with the eAMK Online Degree working group the aspects that they see important in national cross-studies and online degree education. Can’t wait to see how the model develops with them!

Online Degree Design and Pedagogy

What is my research all about? And how did it all get started? I have been working as a teacher for almost two decades now. All this time I’ve always been interested in planning and designing various guides, processes and checklists in order to help others and make life easier. I started online teaching early on in my career, but even then my focus was always in pedagogy, rather than technology. Although I have to admit I like a bit of tech, too…

When my employer TUAS decided to transform our International Business from a traditional on-site daytime degree programme into an online degree programme, I had the opportunity to investigate how a pedagogical approach could be taken into consideration throughout the design of a degree programme in an online environment. Moreover, at TUAS has a specific pedagogical approach, Innovation Pedagogy, which utilises teaching and learning methods that had to be considered in the online implementation of the degree programme.

I started my research with collaboration between various stakeholders to create the below Pedagogically Informed Model for Online Degrees (PIMOD). I have presented this model so far in the following conferences: eAPRIL 2017, XIII National Symposium of Higher Education Research in Finland 2017 and FERA Conference on Education 2018.

I am currently developing the model further through design-based research by investigating the experiences of online degree programme teachers, online degree programme students and those coordinating online degree programmes at other HEIs. In addition, I am looking into international and intercultural aspects of online degree education and how that can be considered in the design of the online degree programme. Each stage brings new aspects to the model, giving it a more holistic approach. I will be sharing some of the key results here as they become available.