Joint online workshop on international social work and exploitation
Our students had joint teaching and worked together in groups to prepare digital stories on sex trafficking. In the online workshop, the students presented and shared their digital stories, and we discussed them together.
Our focus was on comparing how social work with victims of sex trafficking is shaped differently by the different contexts and structures in the two countries. Although Finland and Norway are both Nordic welfare states, we found important differences between them. One of the groups presented a story from England, which provided us with yet another context to compare.
Piloting joint activities
The workshop was a pilot of joint online teaching activities between Diak and VID to realize the pedagogical potential of the 3IN Alliance. Together with other colleagues, we have been planning the workshop since late 2019. It was originally scheduled for the spring of 2020 when it got cancelled because of the pandemic.
We were happy to finally test our ideas in practice, and we were impressed with the academic quality of the digital stories and the discussions in the workshop! As important as the academic quality of the workshop was, the planning, conducting, and evaluating has also given us valuable experience with joint online teaching activities.
Although Finland and Norway are both Nordic welfare states, we found important differences between them
Students on board
The students gave us input on their expectations the first time we met and evaluated the process and the workshop at the end of the seminar.
Reading the students’ feedback, we see that they hoped at the outset to get to know each other across the institutions and countries, and they wrote at the end of the seminar that they wished they could have engaged more with each other across the institutions through the process. Some of the students also wrote that they would have liked to have more teaching from both Finland and Norway.
Tips for joint teaching activities
Based on our experience from planning, conducting, and evaluating the workshop, we want to suggest the following list of aspects to consider when planning joint online teaching activities – in the 3IN Alliance and beyond:
1. Should the students work together in groups across the institutions or should they just meet for joint online lectures and workshops?
Our students said they wanted to work together, which we think is important feedback, while we also think it is important to reflect on the practical and pedagogical implications this would entail. In our case, it would have meant that comparison would have happened in the groups as well as in the workshop.
2. Should the joint teaching activities take place in a new course, in an existing course at one institution or in already existing courses at the different institutions?
The first two options may require ECTS credits to be transferred, but the last option may not. Transferring credits may be challenging as there is a considerable variation in course structures – with courses ranging in scope from 2-30 ECTS credits at Diak and VID!
3. Even if the different time zones are not an issue, different timetables may be.
Whether courses are concentrated over shorter periods or whether they are spread out over whole semesters may vary across and within institutions. Semester dates can also vary. Start the planning early!
4. Should the joint teaching activities take place in compulsory or voluntary courses?
And should they be compulsory for all students in the courses, or should they be voluntary? If the joint teaching activities are compulsory, the number of students will be easier to predict, which is an asset for planning. Making them voluntary can provide more flexibility in the implementation.
5. A shared learning platform can provide possibilities for online discussions between students
Instructions can be posted simultaneously to all students on a shared online platform. However, having a shared learning platform will require more administrative work, and it can become just another platform for the students, who may not engage with it.
6. It is worth remembering that international students of each institution may require special attention if they participate in joint teaching activities
Our experience, however, is that international students also add great value to joint teaching activities!
We take these aspects with us as we start working on joint teaching activities for next year – and we hope they can inspire colleagues seeking to develop similar activities across the 3IN Alliance!
Mika Alavaikko (Senior Lecturer, Diak), Bjørn Hallstein Holte (Associate Professor, VID), Carolina Ohls (Associate Professor, VID), Margarita Sakilayan-Latvala (Senior Lecturer, Diak).
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