As a University of Applied Sciences, JAMK has an extensive range of innovative learning techniques which all together create an engaging and interactive studying atmosphere. Being a first-year student here at JAMK faculty of International Business, I already have experienced a lot of different activities, participated in a variety of projects and visited several events. In this blog article, I would like to share with you my experience of studying at this university and tell about its methods of applied learning.
Being a first-year student of International Business, I already have experienced a lot of different activities, participated in a variety of projects and visited several events.
Studying atmosphere in JAMK
The first thing which struck my mind when I came to study in JAMK was its learning atmosphere. Students are fully engaged in the studying process: during courses, lecturers encourage us to express and exchange opinions and the same time they share their life experience on the studied subject and give advice and recommendation on how to proceed with certain tasks. Moreover, lectures are conducted interactively, so students have the possibility to brainstorm, visualize elements of the topic, practice their communication as well as presentation skills and train public speaking. In addition, sufficient amount of coursework is done in international teams – participants from different countries work together on multiple projects, for example preparing reports, conducting surveys, organising marketing campaigns, etc. Personally, I find teamwork one of the beneficiary elements of studying in JAMK, because apart from course materials I learned valuable skills of working together in a team, had an opportunity to practice leadership and improved my creativity as almost all the course tasks in our faculty are encouraged to be completed in an original and innovative way.
When I came here to study, I had completely different expectations of how my learning process will go: I was preparing for long hours of monotonous lectures, unapproachable pedagogues, strict limitations on self-expression and “out of the context” theory approach. Perhaps, my prejudices were based on conceptions of my peers about classical universities back in my home town, but, fortunately, JAMK exceeded my expectations for the better way. So far, I didn’t meet any of the things mentioned above, everything is completely opposite: lectures are engaging and interactive, pedagogues are very open and willing to help, to give an advice and there is a lot of opportunities for self-expression in a variety of tasks. I believe it is mostly due to the JAMK’s approach to studying as a University of Applied Sciences which is focused on: “providing higher education which is based on working life and its development needs and on research and artistic groundwork and directed for professional specialist tasks and supporting individuals’ professional growth.”
The university gives students a lot of freedom and flexibility in their studies. It is mostly noticeable in our curriculum: we have basic mandatory studies, practical studies and elective studies that we can pick while completing our degree. Students can choose the best option of the schedule for them as some of the courses support division into groups with different time-frames. Freedom means that we decide the learning path on our own – university provides guidance and offers the range of courses, gives support in professional development, but it does not force us to make any decision without our will. Moreover, freedom implies that we are responsible for managing our time and also, for self-learning. Lecturers set deadlines and students decide how to allocate their resources to meet the course goals. The courses are structured so, that some parts students need to study on their own: we conduct researches, investigate literature resources, collect primary data, etc. In addition, essential parts of self-learning are reflection and self-assessment. During our studies, we reflect on the things learnt and measure our progress, evaluate new skills and identify areas for improvement. Teachers-tutors help us to make decisions on our Career path and offer psychological help when we are stuck or need any kind of assistance. In addition, in the end of the semester, we complete several surveys aimed to assess our performance during the course and to provide feedback for further improvement on the structure of studies.
Further on in this article, I would like to share some of the brightest examples of innovative learning techniques used in JAMK.
It is a widespread practice in JAMK to invite guest lecturers to give speeches on study-related topics, for example several entrepreneurs have visited our International Business faculty and shared their business stories. Moreover, we also had visitors from different industries, including Employment sector, Agriculture, Marketing, IT, Game industry and more. I believe that it is very beneficial, because students get to know real-life examples of how businesses work, what are the main challenges along the way, how the process is managed. We are able to compare theory from the lessons with practice and make certain conclusions based on that, also we get to know the subject from multiple perspectives as lecturers are coming from different backgrounds.
JAMK organizes a variety of events dedicated to professional and personal growth as well as gives students an opportunity to visit such. During “Tyopäivä” (Workday) event, for instance, students can meet with representatives of Finnish companies – apply for practical work or internship. Last semester, IB (International Business) students had a chance to visit part of the Nordic Business Forum in Jyväskylä area – the biggest business seminar in Nordic region. Students from faculty of Logistics visited airport in Helsinki and had an opportunity to investigate the supply chain and the workflow inside airport’s hangars. Most recently, I had a wonderful opportunity to attend a hockey match between well-known Finnish hockey teams as part of the Entertainment industry course which gave me valuable insights about sports entertainment sector in Finland.
Perhaps, the highest value of these events along with the opportunity to develop new skills and improve self-confidence is networking. Meeting new people, establishing contacts and relationships is crucial in today’s working environment and therefore, students are encouraged to practice their personal branding skills and to seek companies for future employment.
During the first semester, we learned about “elevator pitching” – ability to present oneself in a short and compelling way (not more than 3 min approx.). In addition, as part of the Development as an Expert course we created portfolios and resumes, even got some tips on how to develop personal web-sites and create business cards. All of this was every bit as important during the actual events so that we could test our learned skills straight away.
In JAMK one can find students from more than 70 different countries. This creates a studying environment which helps students develop their international competence and prepare for their future careers. Intercultural studies in JAMK, from my opinion, are the most interactive ones as we learn about different cultures, patterns of behavior, attitudes, sets of values from our own experience while studying at the course by communicating with our peers from other countries. The most remarkable moment in my intercultural studies so far was creating a video for the project called “Tales from a multicultural classroom” . In a team of five people from four different countries we needed to make a short video clip on acute cultural topics. In the process, we not only understood and deepened our knowledge about intercultural environment, but also got to know each other better and improved our teamworking skills.
Another example of creative learning methods used in an intercultural environment was during one of the communication courses in the IB curriculum. In teams, we needed to organize a “workshop” – a classroom activity aimed to present practical implementation of several communication theories. Our team decided to organize a “quest” activity around JAMK’ campus focused on familiarizing students with innovative communication techniques. We experimented with several presentation methods and tried to deliver an engaging demonstration of communication theory for our peers.
“Innovation Week” is the culmination of innovative learning methods used in JAMK which encompasses practically all of the things mentioned above. During this week, well-known Finnish companies come to the university and give out “business cases” which need to be solved within weekly time-period. Students from all international faculties, including International Business, Logistics and Nursing mix together to start working on the given case and develop innovations to address the outlined challenges. Along the process of creating and brainstorming new ideas and viable products, Design Thinking methodology is implemented to solve real-life problems from companies and other communities. Students learn how to conduct customer surveys, take interviews, prepare pitches and presentations for potential investors.
This was a marvelous experience for me, because I have learned an extensive amount of new skills and gained precious insights in how the market operates and business offerings are created. I think, that it is impossible to learn these kinds of things from literature – you have to experience them for yourself.
JAMK´s extensive range of innovative learning techniques allows me to gain valuable theoretical knowledge as well as to acquire new practical skills for my future career.
In conclusion, I would like to say that I am very glad that my path of higher education began in JAMK. Its extensive range of innovative learning techniques allows me to gain valuable theoretical knowledge as well as to acquire new practical skills for my future career. I did not expect that I would be able to learn so many new and diverse things that are not limited to the field of study. These learning techniques wouldn’t function properly if JAMK didn’t have a supportive and welcoming atmosphere for international students where lecturers are approachable and friendly, where students receive guidance and help in their career and study choices, where internalization and quality of education are put in the first place.
We learn all the time, even when we are not studying, we still learn – this is true about studying approach in JAMK. The university supports the idea of constant education and self-development of students. While currently finishing my first year of studies of a Bachelor degree in International Business, I can’t wait to see what awaits me around the corner in the second year when the tracks specializations and practical training will start.
Kirill Anton, Bachelor degree student in International Business