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Equipping the new generation of ECEC professionals for the modern practice with Laurea UAS, Finland.

In the autumn of 2019, TinyApp team began cooperating with Laurea University of Applied Sciences (Laurea UAS) in continuing education training programme in Finnish "Pedagogical documentation in early childhood education", which is funded by the Finnish National Agency for Education. The first group of students started in January 2020 and early on in their training they got introduced to our TinyApp Pedagogical Assistant. Our TinyApp team organized the onboarding process and supported the students during the training. The application was smoothly integrated into the 6-month practice.

Once the students finished their training, we interviewed the two responsible teachers Anne and Johanna via zoom to find our how successful the first training was, what experiences were gained from it, and what will happen in the future.

Equipping the new generation of ECEC professionals for the modern practice with Laurea UAS

The starting point of training

The training provided by Laurea University of Applied Sciences focuses on pedagogical documentation - one of the current topics in early childhood education. Johanna said that although pedagogical documentation is a vital part of an early childhood educator's job, there is little training available. In many cases, professionals in the field wonder what pedagogical documentation is all about and what it means in practice. The starting point of the training programme is therefore to open pedagogical documentation on a practical level. Throughout the training the students find answers to questions such as what pedagogical documentation aims to achieve, how it is implemented, and how it relates to the early childhood education plan and its goals.

Four parts of training in practice

Anne and Johanna split the training into four parts. The first part focuses on the starting points of pedagogical documentation. The second is about the methods of pedagogical documentation. The third the ethical issues of pedagogical documentation. The last part focuses on the planning and implementation of one's development project. TinyApp service was introduced specifically for the methods part, but students could use it throughout the rest of the training.

According to Anne and Johanna, Laurea UAS makes strong use of learning through practice. The reason for dividing the training into parts was to connect it to concrete exercises that prepare students for the development project at the end of the course while also introducing students to the new technology that supports pedagogical documentation and encouraging them to use it. The whole 6 months of training was substantial to get students acquainted with the TinyApp service.

Competence development

During the training, students extensively increased their skills in pedagogical documentation. The TinyApp service supported this process and brought the early childhood education plan and its learning areas concretely into the everyday use of students. Johanna and Anne consider that the TinyApp service can be used to outline an early childhood education plan and help to open up new perspectives in pedagogical documentation. The introduction of the TinyApp service also promoted reflection on ethical issues connected to pedagogical documentation and a discussion of what is involved in pedagogical documentation.

For some students TinyApp was easy to use, for other it needed a bit more practice. The use of our technology in training showed the different digital service skills the students had. Teachers Anne and Johanna told us that ECEC training should take more account of the digital skills of early childhood educators and even out the differences in them, and from this perspective introducing TinyApp in learning was important. Also it opened discussion on assessment questions and how the information collected in the application can be used.

Strengths of TinyApp - how did we do?

"TinyApp makes the learning areas of early childhood plan concretely visible. The service is comprehensive, combining the planning, implementation, and evaluation. All of this can still be linked to the child's early childhood education plan and group goals. From the perspective of pedagogical documentation, TinyApp seems to be quite a pioneer. You can see from the service that you have started to develop it based on an early childhood education plan." Anne&Johanna

This type of cooperation was new to both our TinyApp team and Laurea's teachers. In result, Anne and Johanna found it meaningful to integrate an up-to-date application already used in kindergartens into the assignments of the training. They both stated that with the introduction of TinyApp, they also received an excellent education for themselves. Do you know an ECEC programme, that would benefit from partnering with us? Let us know here.

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