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The team academy (part 1)

The Team Academy is a story of a community that learns by doing and in today's world it is a story well worth reading. It's also not too far removed from the idea of internships. Learning by doing. 

Since 1993, the Team Academy of the Jyväskylä Polytechnic in Finland has applied a new learning method based on teams, customer projects, networking and entrepreneurship. The traditional classrooms have been replaced by offices used by student teams to run projects in a business-like environment and lectures have been replaced by fertilization and knowledge-creation sessions and other communal learning methods.

The Team Academy has radically changed the traditional school/university structure, it has modified the curricula and taken learning to where it is most effective, i.e. the real work environment.

The name "Team Academy" can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, it can refer to the physical learning environment and secondly, it can refer to the people working in that environment. The people working in that environment are a community consisting of coaches and students. So that is how the name Team Academy can be interpreted, but why did we need a new learning method?

Polytechnics in Finland were set up to compliment tertiary education, not to compete with traditional universities. There are practical and concrete needs and requirements from trade, industry and the public sector and this is where polytechnics came in. 
The continuously changing working environment of today requires new skills and competencies. It is no longer enough to acquire the skills of a particular trade. We need to be constantly learning and de-learning in a fast changing business environment. One of the key areas here is to be "self-directive".
So what is "self-directiveness"?

According to Jukka Koro (1999), a self-directive learner 
1) realises and has the confidence that he/she has the ability to learn
2) is able to set goals and work systematically to reach goals
3) is driven by inner motivation rather than external controlling factors
4) is able to learn from feedback and evaluate his/her own work
5) is open to new experiences and is able to face uncertainty
6) is flexible regarding the working methods and goals
7) is able to make independent decisions and find independent solutions
8) is able to work with other people.

In the next blog entry we'll be looking at the continuing story of Team Academy, how it came about, the reasons behind it and it's relevance in todays business environment. Learning by doing is more relevant now than ever before.

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