History of A!OLE
In January 2016, Aalto launched a new strategic development project, Aalto Online Learning, A!OLE. It is coordinated at the Aalto University School of Science by prof. Lauri Malmi and project leader, docent Tomi Kauppinen. In essence, A!OLE seeks to build pioneering online/blended learning experiences at Aalto University with improved learning results.
The project started in 2016 with nine pilot courses from all over Aalto University and the Language Center and has by since grown to have tens of pilots. The goal is to develop, explore and evaluate novel advanced technical solutions and pedagogical models for online/blended learning and disseminate identified best practices and models into wider use in order to benefit students and teachers in all Aalto schools. Examples of such models could be combining excellent, interactive online materials with intensive face to face sessions in flipped classroom settings or sharing online platforms for creating not only learning contents but also for conducting analytics of learning results.
The task of the project is to create a culture shift where digitalisation of teaching and learning is an asset to build on. However, this also includes taking a critical point of view on what may lost in the digitalisation of education. Face-to-face contact with students is one the best assets of universities, and that should not be lost. Instead human teaching resources should be used in tasks where they fit best. Many mundane tasks can be automated to save teachers’ time and creating rich interactive learning content that can support students’ self-study while joint sessions could be used for mentoring, feedback and constructive discussion.
Aalto has many actors who have been forerunners in digitalisation. Aalto’s Computer Science department has a very long track of developing online learning tools and practices, which extend till early 1990’s and even further: programming educators have been developing automatic assessment and various educational visualisation tools since 1990.
The first MOOC at Aalto University launched in 2014 was developed for programming education. MediaLab in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture has been actively developing and exploring novel educational technologies and environments. Virtual learning environments based on 3D-virtual community tools have been developed and applied in biotechnology, chemistry and in organisational development.