Inclusion: rural and dispersed - Taru Kekkonen
Taru Kekkonen, Otava Folk High School, Finland
Summary of presentation
In her presentation Taru began by providing a background to the Otava Folk High School which like all Folk High Schools in Finland was set up to find new ways and paths to teach, to learn and to study and to serve the learning needs of people not otherwise provided for.
Otava started as an online school in 1997 and so has gathered a lot of experience in the online provision of secondary education. Originally it was set up to meet the needs of students in remote and rural parts of Eastern Finland however over the years its catchment area has broadened. It is built on the guiding principles of Openness and Trust and students can be of any age and includes students from all over the world.
Courses are offered in three settings which Taru described using food metaphors. The first is the Buffet Setting where students can access open-ended courses and where they tend to study alone. The second is the A La Carte Setting which provides collaborative courses which students have to book beforehand and which begin and end on a fixed date. The third setting is the Kitchen Setting where there is no teacher to serve the ready mix, but students take instead raw materials and make the mix, starting from the basics.
This is essentially phenomenon based learning where students investigate a specific phenomenon – e.g. the welfare state, happiness or power and while studying these phenomena they get to learn the skills and knowledge related to the phenomenon. In this setting students have a lot of freedom and they can choose their own approach.