The birth of team learning model
Team learning model was established in Finland in 1993 when Johannes Partanen got an idea to travel around the world. Soon there was a note on the notice board calling on students for a free trip around the world. The response from the teacher's colleagues were amazed; was this a joke or had Johannes possibly lost his mind? But for students this was a inspirational opportunity and 24 interested students signed up.
This chosen group of students began to crush the traditional model of learning; desks were carried away from the classroom and students learnt to have conversations in a circle and relaxing in comfortable armchairs. With these actions, they wanted to separate from the traditional, strictly teacher-led and timetable obeying model, and move towards teaching that gives more space and opportunities to students. Before, students we’re just a part of the teaching model, passive receivers, where as now they have risen to the point that they play an active part in the learning process.
Small-scale projects and team working also stepped into the picture. They wanted to do customer work that companies really needed and ordered. There were no more simulated working and practical models, this was the real deal.
Learning was based on Kolbs experiental theory of learning and on the basis Partanen developed his own experiental learning circle-model. Of course, theory will always travel along with the team learning model, but instead of stuffing the knowledge into brains it would also be brought straight into action. And that’s how both sections support each other.
Soon the thought grew like the enthusiasm around it. The room got a little tight and when new students were found in 1993, Jyväskylä Team Academy was born.
History of Proakatemia
In 1999 Jyväskylä Team Academy was followed by Proakatemia at Tampere. Proakatemia began its journey with only one team, and that team, called Villivisio, is still booming today. They still run the same advertising agency at Tampere even though not all of the founders aren involved anymore.
During the first few years there was only one team at Proakatemia, but when the model had shown its potential, Proakatemia started growing and in 2005 there were two teams working at the same time. This change was followed by season of growth and now there are already eight teams!
Today, functionality of the model is no longer controversial and it doesn’t have to prove itself. Numbers, like percentages of students employment and recommendations, speak for themselves for the model, and units boom in their own areas. Now there are team academys all around the world and using the learning model is spreading wider, over different education programmes, also in Finland. For example at Proakatemia there is a team company specified in welfare, including both physiotherapy and social study students working in great harmony.
The latest takeover has been Tampere University Of Applied Sciences coach coaching, which includes over 200 teachers already from different fields of study. They spread the model to their own organizations, because the purpose is to make them understand the pedagogy in team learning model and observing the difference, that learning by doing and dialog makes in different types of students and learning environments.
But why does this model work?
Communal way of learning
In the center there is doing and learning together. That’s when we don’t just transfer old knowledge and skill, we also create something completely new. The team members are very different in their nature and personas, which enables that team to achieve much more than just an individual. Team is more than the sum of its members.
Inquiring learning is represented with PAJA-occasions. In them the members of the community have a dialog together and build mutual understanding. In the conversations it’s not only about opinions that represent the result, but especially the path of thinking behind the opinions. This deepens the understanding of every student and develop intellectual features. PAJA-occasions also enable affectively spreading the silent knowledge.
Bravely towards the storm
In the center there is curious and brave action. With the support of the team, people have courage to catch a task bravely, even though not all the skills or knowledge would be there yet. Challenges are opportunities by which we learn entrepreneurial skills. Team is able to act in challenging situations.
In the center of learning there are problems and solving them. Complete problem-solving demands the use of new information that team learning model enables. This is how you achieve comprehensive and creative solutions.
Responsible way to learn
Working happens through real situations, which means that students have to take responsibility. It gives a clear purpose and direction to all action which creates real learning positions.
Real situations and the support of the team enable lifting the learning motivation on the next level. People are genuinely dedicated to what they do.