VOC Theme 14 – Sustainable Development

Sorry for the delays. It’s been almost a year since my last previous post regarding VOC-modules but this is the final one ūüôā

So long story short. In the beginning of last year I started finding suitable educational institute¬†for doing my teaching practice, which I luckily did. But this last module was left behind unintentionally, and I tried to return doing it but I just didn’t find the time and resources. But here it comes.

I watched the introductory videos last year when the course went online, some of the taught topics are also introduced here in Finnish and of course United Nations website in English. As this module has its emphasis on sustainable development we will concentrate fully on that topic.

Ecological (this blog draft was almost 11 months old, so let’s keep it that way)

Why do we need ecological sustainable development? Why do we talk about it so much today? What makes environment sustainable? Which keywords are the most important for you? Will your keywords keep the chair stable and comfortable? What does ecological sustainable development mean for you, your school, your town and your community?

In terms of ecology, the sustainability can be described to be a balance between resources and consumption. As when renewable resources are being used, the time for regeneration has to be in balance with the consumption. The economic and resource-consumption is relevant also with work resources in a company, it also has to be regenerated hence the well-being of the employees is important.

The economic sustainability in my community means to be prepared. Try not to live too heavily in debt, or use too much resources that it affects negatively your future if something unexpected happens. In the ecological domain, it also can be seen somewhat similar. If the economical sustainability hasn’t been carried out, it is possible to consume ecological resources in a way, that it makes it hard to regenerate or it has a negative impact on unexpected events, such as greenhouse effect or deforestation.

Economics

For this topic, we had to choose two subtopics (out of six) to concentrate on, and I chose 2 (technology and Infrastructure) and 6 (wealth and distribution). I noticed that Eeva also chose subtopic two for her blog posting about VOC 14.

Technology and Infrastructure

For this subtopic the preliminary task was to read an article “The Role of Technology in Environmentally Sustainable Development” by the¬†Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences.The article was written in 1995, and is heavily relevant for current technological and economical atmosphere as well.

I can personally agree and support¬†the relevance and hypotheses of¬†that article such as technological advances offer multiple paths to environmentally sound sustainable development, and achieving sustainable economic growth will require changes in industrial processes, in the type and amount of resources used, and in the products which are manufactured. I believe that if currently there are no industrial processes which can’t be streamlined or improved by aid of technological advances. Technology is everywhere and understanding it’s abilities improves the sustainable development.

For the sustainable development -related game I chose the BBC Climate Challenge and by character was President Nerdson. The meaning of the game by Citeco is to fight against climate change while maintaining economic activity and remaining popular with voters. Unforeseen natural events punctuate the game.

The top-six topics I chose for the first turn (199o) were:

  • Send foreign aid,
  • Plant small forests,
  • Promote industrial energy efficiency,
  • Build affordable housing,
  • Promote recycling, and
  • Promote cooperative windfarms

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It seems that the press wanted to pick my house building plan for the headline of the local news…

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The game went forward quite similarly decade after decade, but after a while it became obvious that my environmental friendly choices (such as investing on wind energy, hybrid cars and energy transport etc…) had very, very negative impact on my popularity :):

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And I also made some critically bad decision, which caused food shortage throughout Europe and eventually I lost the election and voted out of office:

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The game was surprisingly difficult, and as I thought to make good decisions in terms of technology and environment, they had really bad impact on population’s opinions and their welfare. Overall the game and the end-results were somewhat close what I thought it to be, as when you concentrate on one direction you simultaneously turn your back on another, so maybe I should’ve made more popular decisions but on the other hand it may have caused some environmental or economical issues. It isn’t easy to run the Europe ūüôā

BTW, TOP-10 of this year’s technological breakthroughs by MIT can be seen here. Interesting picks.

Wealth and distribution

The second subtopic of the economics-domain was Wealth and Distribution. The first task was to read an article about economic equality, but the article was not available. However I did the second task which was to assess how much inequalities in consumption were being divided by their estimated annual expenditures:

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It wasn’t a surprise that the military spending was most significant single item of expenditure but understanding the amount of money used in narcotic drugs in the world was really big surprise. I really thought it be lower in that scale, and it turned out to be second biggest single item of expenditure on that list.

Political (The game-perspective)

The political side of the VOC14 was to play the¬†Town game. I began playing the game by watching the tutorial video first, and then began playing the energy activity. Eventually I chose to support the green energy, which¬†caused my¬†sustainability meter to drop by 10 per cent, so negative impact. Strange. The second task was to decide where to build houses for 1000 new residents. I chose the Auchenline Commons to be the area of the future houses because it was close to centrum and the forest was also nearby. I didn’t choose the farmland to be the place of new houses, because of farming and agriculture. The house-density I chose to be “medium” with some public transport and also small parks. But I have to build more houses for 1000 people.

Second town area that I chose to be built was to be low-density European style on the Orchards. It improved the sustainability, but was only for 500 people. So I still had to build more houses. Third area I chose to be built was the Balloch Farm. The farm is currently a dairy farm, but close to the centrum which makes it perfect place for public transport. The medium density housing also has recycle theme with bicycle routes and working public transport. In overall the area is built for population and the sustainability meter was bit improved after the plummet caused by choosing the green energy over nuclear energy.

The retail debate was interesting, whether to choose on promoting out-of-town retail development or local businesses in town. Out-of-town development takes the traffic pressure out of the centrum of the town and creates new jobs for economic viewpoint, but on the other hand increases pollution and also it’s being built on top of farmland. Hence I chose investing town centrum over supermarkets on outskirts of the town. It increased my sustainability meter, which was a big plus.

Next task was to answer the transport quiz, which comprised 10 questions regarding public transport and cars. I managed to score 7 out of 10, which improved my sustainability meter by 78 points. After the transport quiz, I took the school quiz which also had its emphasis on environment and emissions. That went equally well, 7 out of 10 and 78 points to the sustainability meter.

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Overall I did quite well. I managed to get 522 points and my sustainability meter was pretty good. Nice game and it made you think how city area planning is being done and what are the reasons behind some choices they make in the city council. My overall scores can also be found here.

scores

The political subdomain required two actual tasks to tackle. First topic I chose was Communication and Critique: I began playing the 2020energy-game by choosing an environmental-friendly way of traveling for Benjamin.  I chose that Benjamin goes around Europe by bus and hiking in the destination, which was environmentally sustainable way of traveling. Second task was to help an architect named Oliver to rebuild an old town. There were five different options for rebuilding the town, but I chose to renovate the buildings with new environmental standards:

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And it also turned out to be sustainable decision:

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Last mission was to help a researcher named Carl to find new energy sources. I chose to promote biogas which produces natural gas from natural waste, which turned out to be livable solution rather than sustainable. But in overall I made some good decisions which made the world more sustainable:

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So in overall, I guess it went quite well. Other task of this subtopic was to write a critical reflective post about this way of communication (game) so here it goes: the communication in sense of sustainable development and politics is hard task to tackle in sense of communicating it towards general population. The games (browser-based) are quite powerful way of transferring information to people, however in this domain it has its limitations, such as

  1. people have to find these games somehow
  2. they have to find motivation playing the games, and
  3. the connection between the context and the games were quite far-fetched

Also the platform of these online games (web-browser) makes them too serious for younger people, and also english language and specific terminology can be bit too difficult sometimes. So if the games were bit less serious and without videos the result might be better. The target audience of the games were also bit unclear, but I think these were made people between 20-30 years.

One thing that I liked, were the quizzes. If the games were being developed by using the quiz-forms only (and maybe with some material on the side to look while answering) the end-result might be better. Quizzes can be fun but they shouldn’t be too serious, or too easy so there is a fine line between good and bad quiz. The town game was most interesting as a whole (pre-task), and perhaps it should’ve been in the actual assignment.

Second subtopic I chose was Dialogue and reconciliation 

The game began with a News video about the Megarock-project. The video comprises newsflash about the mine-project and the city it’s affecting. The game itself consists of eight viewpoints of different stakeholders of the project: the Chief of the local Cree (native Canadians), environmental activist, the citizen, a biologist, a geochemist, the mayor, Megarock representative and the researcher.

megarock

Throughout the game it became clear that this kind of citywide, huge project creates different kinds of concerns to different people based on their viewpoints, but it also makes possibilities to solve these problems by taking their viewpoints into consideration.

After hearing the stakeholder’s opinion, the player has to choose into which category the viewpoint belongs, ecologic, economic, scientific or social category. If the chosen category isn’t right, the game gives player another try.¬†After choosing the category, game takes the player to “library” where he/she can learn more about the opinion and choose an argument to verify (bolster) it at the library. If the wrong argument has been chosen, then the player doesn’t get the debate points.

After hearing and investigating all the stakeholder’s opinions and evaluating them, the player has to choose that is he/she in favour or not in favour of the Megarock project:

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The outcome of the game was that I was in favour of the Megarock project, I had 270 points so I had some arguments to support my opinions. Although the result of the game went away very fast and I didn’t take the screenshot out of it, but it was still interesting experience.¬†The videos were quite short although well-produced, hence it feels that the use-case of this game is actual one. I am also from small municipality which used to have Outokumpu ore mine (Vihanti) when I was a kid, therefore I have some connection to mining industry in terms of community.¬†Interesting game and well produced.

Culture

The task of the fourth subtopic was to read through a short article of Culture being a fourth pillar of Sustainable Development. The article was written by “United Cities and Local Governments” and for me it’s unclear whether it was done by UN or UNESCO. After reading the article, there was a small quiz regarding the article.

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Next task was to go through and familiarise UNESCO’s material¬†about Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future and to make a mind map about¬†why it is important for students to learn about culture as a part of sustainable development. It seems that the UNESCO’s material is made for whole online course, because it consists of learning diary-templates and huge amount of material, but I quickly went through some of that ( I already spent around 10 hours this far) ūüôā

The mind map is here:

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The third task was to familiarise UNESCO’s report of Investigating in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue. I personally think that was bit too much, since the report is 400-page long book so the amount of work for one-credit course was not aligned with the workload.

Fourth task was to contemplate “why should an employer understand cultural diversity and culture as the 4th pillar for sustainable development”. It seems that there are number of studies and articles regarding cultural diversity in organisations, and most of the articles are¬†about positive sides of it, such as from multiculturaladvantage.com:

  • Increased adaptability
  • Broader service range
  • Variety of viewpoints

and from Talent Tampere website:

  • improved creativity
  • improved problem-solving
  • promotion and personal growth

But in overall I guess most important think about cultural diversity is to improve and add communication which improves the atmosphere and creativity as well as having many viewpoints makes it easier to find solutions to mutual problems.

Teaching Practice – Part VIII: Seventh and “last” lecture

The seventh lecture was being held on 11th of April and it was about standards and design practices. The lecture was also my last lecture, although I will be monitoring students’ group presentations which will be held on this week’s Friday.

The lecture was done in two parts. The first part of the lecture was regular classroom teaching about design standards, design languages and design elements. During the part two, the students had to try create a Canva-poster about a company’s design language or a design element. The actual key point of the lecture was to evaluate and discuss about the Canva as a tool, and also to make them to create something out of scratch. In the very end, when the students started to assess the accessibility of the Canva, it was wonderful to see how they began to think about it’s User Experience after “forcing” themselves to begin doing something, which they had no previous experience about. But really rewarding lecture, and I personally enjoyed it a lot. After the lesson I also asked them to kindly answer my evaluation-form I did to Google-drive. I already got two responses, and it seems that maybe it didn’t actually go as bad as I thought after the first catastrophic lecture…

Teaching Practice: Part VII – lesson six

The topic for the sixth lesson was heuristics and gestalt¬†laws. The lesson comprised 1,5 hours of classroom teaching and a pre-task, which was to read a scientific article and respond to couple of questions regarding the article. The lecture went really smoothly, and people were quite active, which might be due to some mind-tricking design images, and related topics. So, in a way with something that draws our attention, if it’s an image of something you need to concentrate on, the lecture is more effortless to keep and there’s no need for trying to motivate students discussing about the subject matter.

The after-task gained only three responses this far… Hope more responses will follow after a while.

Teaching Practice: Part 6 – fifth lesson

For the fifth lesson the overall topic was prototyping. The lesson consisted of brief group work and general-level topic teaching by powerpoint. For the topic, it was possible to find number of relevant examples from different business areas, such as phone prototyping, prototypes of cars, and so on. There was also one example of Dyson’s vacuum cleaners, that the inventor of such “bagless” vacuum cleaners made more than 5000 prototypes during five years of developing the product.

But in a way, the topic was very suitable for creating discussion and it seems, that people were interested about it, and also they made the group work (of presenting early prototypes of products) easily and great but brief presentations were kept. After-task consisted of discussion about prototyping as a whole and kind of wrapped the topic up.  Better lecture than last time and the power of group discussion is totally underrated.

Teaching Practice -Part V: Fourth lesson

During fourth lesson the main topic was product life cycles from the perspective of design, and also the adoption curve and little bit of Gartner Hype Cycle. The lesson consisted of group exercise and during the lecture, there was also my tutor teacher attending and observing my lecture.

The product life cycles is something that people find always something to discuss about. And during the lecture, there were really good product life cycle examples and also active discussion. It feels, that when discussing about smart phones and finding some examples from that area of industry, people seem to have lots of opinions and ideas. The students were given a task to find out products from different life cycle stages, and at the end of the lesson, the brief presentations were kept. And it went better than previous lesson, so maybe I’m improving or something?

Teaching Practice – Part Four (lecture three)

The third lecture was about design processes and the lecture also comprised a video exercise of how Google fixed its design process. The lecture was a slight move towards less-monologue -style of lecture and altogether it seems, that when taking the examples close to the students’ areas of interest, there is more dialogue. It seems to be great group of people and few students have good opinions and are more willing to comment when found it appropriate. But when the taught topic is quite “generic” in a sense, it seems that the PowerPoint is useful tool but how to arrange the lecture to be bit more interactive?

Teaching Practice ‚Äď Part Three: Second Lecture

The second lecture was about User Experience, and the lesson consisted of short recap of previous lecture, introduction about the topic, relevant YouTube-video, discussion about the video and short after-task. The lecture was much better than the first one, and it seems that the feeling of teaching something didn’t feel as awkward than during the first lecture.

There were almost same amount of students attending, and the 90-minute -lecture did go as I thought it would go. But still it’s too much monologue in the front of the class. Have to figure out a way to activate them more, which we shortly discussed with my teaching practice supervisor after the lecture. I also gave a small after-task to the students, which also made pretty good online conversation about the taught topic after the lecture. So better lecture and more rewarding in a way.

Teaching Practice – Part Two: First Lecture

Today was the day of the first teaching session. It was quite bad (to say the least). I thought I was prepared, but I was totally wrong – I wasn’t prepared at all. The 20+ group of young students are totally different with their studies and motivation when comparing to adult students such as EduLAB group mates. I tried to use Padlet for gaining information about product characteristics, but quite soon the Padlet was filled with images of Donald Trump, memes, and irrelevant notes. Disaster.

After a while we managed to have at least some conversation about product features, and then we had a discussion about how¬†well the Padlet worked in that precise environment. But then it actually went quite smoothly towards the end of the session, but it was horrible feeling to notice that something you’ve been preparing and hoping to be used in the lecture turned out to be total failure, and try to be there without any backup plan and there’s still around an hour of total time to go.

But after the lecture I had a talk with my supervisor and we actually came up with few ideas how it would’ve worked, such as if I had been the only one to add the notes to Padlet, or if I had shown the task on the video projector instead of talking about them. But nonetheless, it was really (I mean REALLY) quite an experience and I feel that it taught me quite important lessons: be _prepared_ and have a plan B if plan A backfires.

Siberia teaches

Teaching Practice – Part One: Observation

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For my teacher studies, I chose to do the “actual” teaching practice in the real school environment. The school I’m doing my teaching practice is the School of Business and Information Management, and the course is User-Oriented Design¬†which is being held for first-year Business Information Technology students (most of the students are in the photo above).

The setting for the teacher practice is actually quite interesting, due to the fact that I studied the same degree nearly 10 years ago. For the teacher practice I visited one lecture few weeks ago for observing purposes, which was really nice (and strange in the beginning) to walk to the same lecture room where I also attended back in -07. The lecture was the last lecture of 5 ECTS-credit Introduction to Programming-course, and the course itself comprised programming exercises, personal assignment and two computer exams.

The teaching itself is being conducted in a similar way than 8 years ago, which means that the students have to find solutions to the given programming problems using knowledge base from a website supporting the programming tasks (MSDN in this case) and the teacher helps students individually when needed. During my teacher studies, there have been introduced a number of teaching approaches and methodologies, but in this case (teaching programming for students) perhaps the currently used methods are still perfectly valid. Naturally there are students from different backgrounds, hence varying levels of programming proficiency, which makes programming a challenging topic to teach.

 

VOC Theme 13- Interaction with the working community

Themes 1 and 2 – What is interaction with the working community all about and why is it important?

For this assignment, I chose my own field of profession – telecommunication. The telecom field used to be quite popular study field few years ago but mostly due to the downfall of Nokia, there isn’t that great need nowadays for telecom engineers hence universities and polytechnic institutes had to adjust the amount of students accordingly. But currently it seems that there is still vast amount of potential, so maybe after few years we will have the next Nokia among us again?

I also think that the telecom area have had good experiences in terms of interaction with the working community, as the gap between the research area and the industry is quite narrow, so there are number of projects and programs running, which makes it possible to share the information between educational institutions and industry. The information share also helps the teachers to keep their teaching material up to date, therefore teaching current trends of the field to students thus increasing their level of competence. Working life interaction might be possible to guide by following the project-centric approach, real-life projects, active participation from the industry side and continuous reflection.

Theme 3

The first quiz didn’t go that well from my side. With few questions I easily recognized the wrong answer but I had difficulties finding the right one, as both options did fit¬†quite well¬†with the question… So long story short, I failed and got¬†D+¬†with¬†67%¬†right answers.

But the second game was much easier for me…

gravity

Theme four

For this example of¬†collaboration between vocational institutes and working life organisations I chose the Reaxity -program, which aimed for creating a “roadmap” of technologies and needed competencies to see¬†the future urban areas as open mixed reality space. The program itself is being run by University of Oulu, Oulu University of Applied Sciences and a number of high-tech companies such as VTT and Nokia. By having good examples of such innovative projects, in best scenarios it might be possible to “foresee” some of the upcoming trends in that particular field, thus providing the industry new business opportunities and employees, also nurturing research and new projects or study programs for educational institutes.