When the Jyväskylä Institute of Adult Education began to participate in the LAMP project launched in 2013, it was impossible to anticipate how large the practical impact would be. “Operations are self-directed and internationalisation is accepted as a part of the field,” says Auli Bister, the International coordinator and educator of the adult education institute.
During the LAMP projects, launched in 2007, Finnish vocational adult education establishments have sent both personnel and students on international mobility periods. Behind LAMP (Leonardo Adult Mobility Pool) is a network of eight Finnish adult education organisations. The Jyväskylä Institute of Adult Education is one of the active members of the network. “The network has enabled smaller organisations to join their forces”, Bister explains.
In each project the network has its own goals, but each member organisation has also been able to emphasize their individual goals. The latest project from 2013 to the summer of 2015 aimed at providing a working life or upskilling training period for educators and other teaching and instructional personnel. The Jyväskylä Institute of Adult Education wanted to increase mobility in the technology and transportation fields. “To tell you the truth, the way the logistics field activated itself was quite impressive,” Bister says.
Going abroad is worth it
The adult education institute’s logistics educators have completely thrown themselves into the project: they now tell new students about internationalisation opportunities, which means that Bister doesn’t always have to make a separate trip for that purpose to the unit in Lietesvuori. According to Bister, it is the result of the personal experience that educators gained during the project.
Educator Hannu Pekkala says that previously it wasn’t at all customary to send students abroad for a work placement. “To me it felt only natural that this became possible.” Pekkala brought three logistics students to Germany in 2014. The students were the first students in Germany from the Jyväskylä Institute of Adult Education, so Pekkala was there to ensure a smooth start in practical matters. He received financing for the trip from the LAMP project.
Pekkala isn’t the only one who has been developing the internationalisation of the logistics field. In the summer of 2015, the entire logistics unit visited a local educational establishment and a company in Germany. During the trip the educators saw the students’ training and studying destinations, which changed their views of work placements abroad. “They now speak about it and tout it to their students, encouraging them to go,” Pekkala says.
My time isn’t over yet
Bister has been surprised to see how quickly the LAMP projects have changed the thoughts of educators in different fields about the benefits of internationalisation. Internationality has quickly become a way of thinking for them, it is a part of the teaching and vocational training, and it provides the students with different opportunities for international studies. The projects have empowered teachers. “The relationship with your professionalism, resources and competency changes with experience,” Bister says.
The latest LAMP project has further strengthened the idea that internationality belongs to adults as well, and it is not only for the youth. “It would be weird if the opportunity for an international work placement wasn’t a part of the adults’ process,” Bister points out. However, it isn’t always easy for adults to be separated from their family or work for the purposes of the work placement.
The experiences with adults’ work placements abroad have been very positive. “When an adult experiences something that changes their thinking or their idea of themselves as a learner and increases their confidence in the fact that their time is definitely not over yet, it’s the kind of thing that moves even an old-time educator,” Bister says.
Developing the quality of teaching
The LAMP projects have been beneficial for both the Jyväskylä Institute of Adult Education and the Jyväskylä Education Consortium. “Every mobility period has lowered the organisation’s threshold to develop the quality of the teaching with international cooperation,” Bister explains.
On the other hand, internationality could be taken advantage of more in competence development and leadership education. Pekkala says that educational establishments don’t always know how to utilize the backgrounds of the educators and teachers. “Educators and teachers coming from the working world might have valuable international contacts and competence. It would be good for the management and directors to map out some of this information.”
Text: Johanna Järviranta, Photograph: Jyväskylä Institute of Adult Education