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YVI PROJECT - A NATIONAL PROJECT FOR FOR PROMOTING AND ENHANCING ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION IN TEACHER EDUCATION IN FINLAND

Introduction

YVI Project (2010-14) was a national project for promoting entrepreneurship education in vocational and academic teacher education in Finland. YVI Project had four focus areas in developing entrepreneurship education: pedagogics in vocational and academic teacher education; networks and co-operation; YVI learning environment for entrepreneurship education; and strategies and curricula in entrepreneurship education. In addition, a multidisciplinary research group was gathered within the project.

YVI brought together over thirty partner organisations around Finland: universities, teacher training schools within universities, vocational teacher education units, research units, vocational colleges and universities of applied sciences, as well as several organisations in entrepreneurship, worklife and education. YVI Project was coordinated by the University of Turku, Teacher Training School, and funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) with the Finnish National Board of Education as the financing authority. Additionally, the project received funding from Development Centre Opinkirjo, Turku Region Development Centre, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and Foundation for Economic Education.

YVI Project was nominated a Best Practice project by the European Commission and the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2011. YVI learning environment is mentioned in the context of good practices in the European Commission's (EC) publication Building entrepreneurial mindsets and skills in the EU (2012, 47), and is showcased in EC:s publication Entrepreneurship Education - A Guide for Educators (2013, 56) as one of the inspiring practices featured in European level events of entrepreneurship education in 2012. The project received the president of Finland Sauli Niinistö's acknowledgement in 2013.

In this case study, we present the main results and achievements of the 4-year project that has just ended. YVI Project is exceptional for its large number of partner organisations, as well as for the fact that it covers both academic teacher education (primary schools and teaching of academic subjects at secondary level) and vocational teacher education (vocational secondary schools).

Rationale

Entrepreneurship education is recognised as an essential theme in education in Finland. Official documents steering education, such as the national curriculum for basic education, include entrepreneurship education as a cross-curricular theme that should be implemented into the activities and teaching in all basic education schools in Finland. In vocational education, entrepreneurship skills are regarded highly essential, and their learning is included in curricula for example as separate courses or integrated in different study modules.

However, the studies and surveys done prior to the YVI Project showed that even though the importance of entrepreneurial skills is widely acknowledged, the actual implementation of entrepreneurship education is lacking in many cases. To answer to the needs of promoting entrepreneurship education, in teacher education especially, a regional project called The Energy to

entrepreneurship education from YVI! was launched in South-Western Finland in 2009[1]. The goal of the project was to create a virtual learning environment for entrepreneurship education, containing materials, information, instructions, tools and links and a forum for networking. The learning environment was targeted at teacher educators and teachers especially. However, the parents of the pupils and companies interested in co-operation could benefit from the learning environment as well.

Based on the regional project, the actors in the project found that the project had a base and goals that would be worth spreading on a national level. Thus, a national project was launched in 2010 and called simply YVI, an acronym that stems from Yrittäjyyskasvatuksen virtuaalinen oppimisympäristö (the virtual learning environment for entrepreneurship education). The scope of and contents of the project were expanded, and over thirty partners joined the project (see Box 1).

YVI Project partners organisations

Teacher training schools and teacher education departments of the University of Turku (in Turku and Rauma), University of Jyväskylä Teacher Training School, Viikki Teacher Training School of the University of Helsinki, Oulu University Teacher Training School and Teacher Training School and teacher education department in Kajaani, Teacher Training School and Faculty of Education of the University of Lapland; Turku University of Applied Sciences, Centre for Training and Development of Lappeenranta University of Technology, Ruralia Institute of the University of Helsinki; HAAGA-HELIA School of Vocational Teacher Education, Oulu Region Join Authority for Education: School of Vocational Teacher Education at Oulu University of Applied Sciences and Oulu Vocational College / FINPEC, HAMK University of Applied Sciences / Vocational Teacher Education Unit, Teacher Education College of JAMK University of Applied Sciences, School of Vocational Teacher Education at Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Teacher Training School and the teacher education department of the University of Tampere, Development Centre Opinkirjo, The Joint Authority of Education in Espoo Region Omnia / InnoOmnia, YES centres, Junior Achievement - Young Enterprise

Finland, Finnish 4H Federation, Economic Information Office, Federation of Finnish Enterprises, Regional Organisation of Enterprises in the South-West Region, Pellervo Confederation of Finnish Cooperatives and the Co-operative Delegation, Confederation of Finnish Industries EK, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Turku Region Development Centre, Finland Chamber of Commerce.

 

Description of the activity/project

The following goals were set for YVI Project:

In addition, a multi-disciplinary research group, open for everyone interested, was established in the frame of the project.

The coordinator of YVI project was Turku University, Teacher Training School. Partner organisations set their own activity plans for the project. Representatives of the partner organisations also participated in working groups, established for coordinating the common activities for reaching the above-mentioned goals. Communications during the project included several newsletters, releases, reports and a magazine with a circulation of 79.000 in Finland. In addition, the project partners have spread information on YVI and entrepreneurship education through their own channels of communication. Two national seminars were organised by the project, in 2011 and 2012.

Eventually, the YVI Project received funding for altogether four years (2010-14). As in the original plan, most of the partners were involved for the first three years of the project. During the fourth year, the coordinator of the project (University of Turku, Teacher Training School) continued with a few partners, mainly for drawing together the results and achievements of the large project, and for organising a second round of a contest for networks in entrepreneurship education.

Turku 1

 

Achievements and impact

Collaborative development of entrepreneurship education curricula in teacher education

Entrepreneurship education curricula were developed in teacher education: in vocational teacher education units at universities of applied sciences, in teacher education units at academic universities, and in teacher training schools within academic universities. More than half of all units of teacher education in Finland participated in the process. The units could focus on different aspects of the curriculum as the basis of their development work, for example analysing the skills needed for entrepreneurship education, the practical implementation of entrepreneurship education, or entrepreneurship education curriculum as experienced by the teacher students.

Results of the development process include new courses of entrepreneurship education in both vocational and academic teacher education, and integration of entrepreneurship education more The school in the community thoroughly in practical teacher training periods. A research conducted on the development process showed that developing the curricula also enhanced the teacher educators' own learning process.

Creation and strengthening of networks and new models of cooperation

Development teams, both national and regional networks as well as other forms of cooperation were created and promoted. Teacher education units learned about the possibilities offered by organisations that produce materials and models for supporting teachers in their day-to-day work in entrepreneurship education. Young entrepreneurship programs and worklife co-operation were promoted for teacher educators. Forums were set for both face-to-face and virtual networking.

Two networking contests were organised for raising awareness of the effects of networking and for disseminating good practices of co-operation. In the first round in 2013, the contest entries were assessed according to the following criteria: innovativity in promoting entrepreneurship education, time span of the activities, self-assessment regarding the activities, large representation of different actors in the network. In the second round in 2014, the novelty and versatility of the actions became essential factors in evaluation. In 2014, altogether twelve large networks - ten from Finland and two from elsewhere in Europe - participated in the contest, as opposed to seven in 2013.

New pedagogical models and tools for entrepreneurship education

Models, contents and tools were created for planning and implementing entrepreneurship education in practice. Development took place in different teacher education units and other partner organisations. Experiences and practices were disseminated through YVI Project´s own publications and seminars as well as in other media. In addition, two YVI tools were created in co-operation between the partners: YVI Measurement Tool for self-evaluation for teacher educators, and YVI Engine for idea generation and networking among students and pupils.

Turku 2

 

YVI Measurement Tool for Entrepreneurship Education

YVI Measurement Tool for Entrepreneurship Education is a web tool for self-evaluation and development of entrepreneurship education skills and practices for teacher educators. The tool consists of a broad set of questions around seven selected concepts: entrepreneurship education actions; pedagogical solutions; network cooperation; learning environment; activity culture; strategies and curricula; and taking entrepreneurship education into practice. The measurement tool gives the user an instant assessment of the responses. The tool is founded on the Measurement Tool for Entrepreneurship Education™ for Finnish primary, upper secondary and vocational education teachers.

YVI Measurement Tool explains the teacher educator’s work as an entrepreneurship educator, and provides guidelines for teaching and teacher training and its organisation. It is also a tool for teacher education quality management and its development. The tool may also be employed by decision-makers as they assess the state of entrepreneurship education.

YVI Engine

YVI Engine (www.yvi-moottori.fi) is a web tool for generating ideas and collaborating in entrepreneurship education. YVI Engine helps pupils and students strengthen their skills in sharing ideas, communicating and working together. Basically, YVI Engine (www.yvi-moottori.fi) consists of discussion threads (for creating and generating ideas) and a map that shows the starting location of different discussions.

YVI learning environment for entrepreneurship education

YVI learning environment for entrepreneurship education (see www.yvi.fi/intro-english) is a platform that provides information, learning materials and practical tools of entrepreneurship education for educators and other stakeholders in Finland (in Finnish language). Contents of YVI learning environment are targeted to educators in different levels and types of education, with a special focus on teacher educators. However, everyone interested in entrepreneurship education may benefit from YVI learning environment.

YVI learning environment includes

After the ending of YVI Project, the purpose is to continue development of YVI learning environment as a relatively open network into which everyone can bring their expertise and interests.

education on the whole has been communicated to political and educational decision-makers. In YVI partner organisations, entrepreneurship education is now more strongly present in both practical and strategic levels.

Education, training and dissemination

National YVI seminars of entrepreneurship education were organised in 2011 and 2012, with specific themes of circus and stories and fairy-tale to offer participants extra inspiration. The two-day seminars consisted of practical workshops and various speeches held by entrepreneurs and influencers of the field. In addition to the seminars, the education and training activities included internal development events in different organisations, visits to educational institutions, hosting visitors from Finland and abroad, and presentations in seminars and other events.

Entrepreneurship education and YVI project activities were disseminated through a magazine with a circulation of 79.000 in Finland. Results and activities of the project have been communicated in several academic and practical seminars in Europe.

Multidisciplinary research

Over fifty research articles as well as several doctor´s and master´s theses were produced within the project. A collection of articles written by representatives of YVI partner organisations will be published in the end of 2014. These articles are based on both research and practical implementation of entrepreneurship education.

Turku research

 

Testimony from project partners

"We wanted to take teacher education to authentic learning environments of entrepreneurship. Therefore our cooperation (in YVI) with a vocational college (Omnia), given its versatile learning environments, has been worth all efforts. In addition, experiencing such a rich, long and intensive cooperation is valuable as such. We can say that in this sense, the goals set for the project were exceeded."

Heli Potinkara, teacher educator, HAAGA-HELIA School of Vocational Teacher Education

"YVI Project enabled creating a network for entrepreneurship education in the whole region of Oulu. The network brings together several educational institutions, enterprises and other organisations. The path of entrepreneurship education from early childhood education to actual work life is made concrete. - We will continue in the spirit created during YVI. The project was significant in giving our work a direction."

Martti Pietilä, teacher educator, School of Vocational Teacher Education at Oulu University of Applied Sciences

"We had in mind, the whole time, that what we do in the project should benefit all functions in our school: basic education, upper secondary education, development, and teacher education. Our activities and expertise on entrepreneurship education increased substantially as a result of YVI Project. At the same time, the modes of operation we developed during the project became an established part of our school’s activities."

Pasi Hieta, vice principal of basic education, Oulu University Teacher Training School

Success factors

Obstacles and ways to overcome them



[1].                This ESF-funded (2009-12) project was coordinated by the University of Turku, Teacher Training School, with the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Southwest Finland as the financing authority. Additionally, the project received funding from Pellervo Society, the Co-operative Delegation and Turku Region DevelopmentCentre.