Title: Transformations in Higher Education: Two Cases of Change Implementation from an Estonian University
Date: Monday: 16 May, 2022
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Venue: Faculty of Education Boardroom, Old Humanities Room 326
This open lecture focuses on educational innovations and change processes in academia. Universities have experienced transformative changes and faced societal crises that have had a meaningful impact on universities´ institutional visions, teaching practices, and identities of teaching staff. In this lecture, two cases of educational innovations introduced at Tallinn University will be discussed, based on the findings from two recent research projects.
Since 2016, interdisciplinary LIFE courses have been introduced as compulsory courses at Tallinn University in order to tackle the changes in the teaching and learning culture. The students´ active role in planning and taking responsibility for their learning process is a central principle of the LIFE projects. By applying theoretical frameworks from innovation implementation research and the neo-institutional approach, we conceptualize the process of implementation of LIFE courses and outline potential learning outcomes.
Successful implementation of educational changes at the university requires active support to the innovation from a management level - communication about the new idea/concept and supporting the networking and professional development of academics. Our analysis showed that we might draw upon professional identity as a resource which could be used to adapt to changes. However, these changes might also be potentially rejected.
Secondly, we introduce the preliminary results of ongoing research focusing on how to integrate and use emerging technologies (e.g. virtual reality, telepresence robots, etc.) in university learning. We find the conceptual frames of innovation diffusion theory (Rogers, 2003) and the cognitive approach proposed by Spillane et al. (2002) useful to explain the change adoption process. We argue that the interplay of different aspects plays an important role in the innovation adoption process - the innovativeness of the user, but we also agree with Rogers (2003) that technological solutions which are perceived as being more compatible with adopters´ previous experiences. These might also be used on a smaller scale, and less complex versions will be adopted in order to cater for university educators. Moreover, the rationalisation of changes or innovations is important, and can be viewed as the key to adopting educational changes.
Larissa Jõgi, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Andragogy at the School of Educational Sciences, Tallinn University, and is also a visiting professor at Glasgow University. Her research interests include adult learning, identity, and professionalisation of adult educators and university teaching staff, learning narratives and learning experiences, teaching and learning in university and integration of new technology in teaching, and methodology of qualitative research. She is also the coordinator of the two master's programs, including the international joint ERASMUS MUNDUS program Adult Education for Social Changes. Her academic work and professional experience include research, teaching, publishing, supervising, master and doctoral students, developing international research and teaching activities and leading the interdisciplinary research group LEARN/ÕPPES.
Meril Ümarik, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Research at the School of Educational Studies, Tallinn University. Her research interests include educational changes and the adoption of educational innovations in vocational and higher education, teachers’ professionalism, and pedagogical approaches. Her methodological expertise lies in qualitative research methods. Currently, she is coordinating the IEA International Civic and Citizenship Education Study in Estonia, and is the national coordinator of the EEA and Norway Grants project “Vocational education and workplace training enhancing social inclusion of at-risk young people” (EMPOERVET)
Meidi Sirk, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Vocational Education and head of the curriculum for Vocational Pedagogy at the School of Educational Sciences, Tallinn University. Her research interests focus on vocational education (including changes), professionalism and vocational teacher professionality, and didactics in vocational education and training.