Visit by Oulu UniversityPeter Scott, Thursday 26 September 2002 | Annotate
On 26th September 2002 a team from Oulu University, Finland, visited KMi. The City of Oulu is the cultural, commercial and administrative centre for the whole of central and northern Finland region, which has a population of over 120,000 people. Oulu is a university, science and technology city. The sphere of influence of the university covers over half the area of Finland. The university has created links with Finland’s leading molecular biology research institute, Biocenter Oulu, and with Infotec Oulu, which investigates the use of information technology. The Thule Institute investigates people’s adaptation to cold, the change between light and darkness and among other things, the clearing of impurities in the atmosphere. Oulu has established a reputation as a city of high tech business. International enterprises have set up branches here, many of them developing cutting edge future technologies, often in co-operation with university researchers. The first Science Park created in Scandinavaia adjoins the university campus at Linnanmaa, as does the Technical Research Centre of Finland. At present, over two hundred top-flight businesses operate out of the technology park. The main hi-tech employers in the region include Nokia, the mobile phone manufacturer, which has offices and production plants in the city. Medipolis is a business and science park which focuses on medical science, medical science technology and biotechnology companies, research and information and the development and manufacture of health care products. Set up as a joint venture between the University, the City Hospital and the City Council, Medipolis acts as a catalyst and bridge between private companies and university research institutes, and speeds up the commercialization of new technologies and innovations and their development into viable products by the companies in Medipolis. Many research institutes and companies based in Oulu, together with the University Hospital, are working at the forefront of international knowledge in a number of technological fields. This mode of operation is geared to converting this specialized, internationally highly ranked expertise into business in the form of cash flow and success stories on the world markets. The University of Oulu was founded in 1958 and is the second largest University in Finland, and has 3,100 employees and over full-time 14,500 students. The university has a large scientific base of nine educational areas, which are organised in six faculties (Humanities, Education, Science, Medicine, Economics and Industrial Management, Technology). The focus areas that encompass the entire university are biotechnology, information technology, northern issues and environment. The wide scientific base of these focus areas is grounded in state of nature, its future development and the processes that aid its preservation. The university seeks to use medical sciences, technology and natural sciences to, for example, improve the well-being of our senior citizens in the community – the Technology of Well-Being was introduced as a subject in the autumn of 2001. As part of its focus on northern issues, the University is a leading partner in both the National Virtual University of Finland and the Virtual University of the Arctic. The University combines a good work environment with excellent research facilities that enable state-of-the-art technological research. The outstanding achievements of information technology have created a centre of IT technology in the Oulu region. This "Oulu phenomenon" draws visitors from all over the world. The study of molecular biology and biotechnology in Oulu is internationally renowned, and the university has two national Centres of Excellence. The standard of teaching is similarly high – the university has four national Quality Units of Education. Linnanmaa, the main campus of the University of Oulu, lies about five kilometres north of the city centre. A second campus, adjacent to Oulu University Hospital and the Medipolis complex, houses the Faculty of Medicine. A third campus is located in the town of Kajaani, about 185 kilometres to the southeast of Oulu. The university occupies spacious modern premises and has an excellent, well-stocked library. The latest computer and data processing facilities are available for the use of staff and students alike. The University Team Mrs Päivi Kytömäki, Director of The University Library Paivi Kytomaki has been the Director of Oulu University Libraries (of which there are 15 different units) since 1988. Paivi Kytomaki has been one of the key people in planning and building the national Finnish Electronic Library (FinELib). She is also a member of the Steering Group of the Finnish National Virtual University. In recent years, Oulu University Library has concentrated on creating an electronic library using e-publications, and related services, to provide support for students on and off-campus. For example, since 1999 the library has published electronic versions of the all Oulu University post-graduate dissertations using SGML, PDF and HTML formats. Currently, the move to electronic storage of documents has freed off some space and the university is discussing what kind of learning centre/library is needed at the university in the future to deal with the move to eLearning (for information see http://www.kirjasto.oulu.fi/english/). Mr. Pekka Kess, Professor and Director of the Finnish Virtual University Professor Pekka Kess is the Director of the Finnish National Virtual University Project (for information see at http://www.virtuaaliyliopisto.fi/index.php?language=eng) and Head of the Finnish Association of Distance Education, which includes all Finnish Universities in its membership (see at http://oyt.oulu.fi/fade/). From 1998 he was Professor of Industrial Management in the Department of Industrial Management and Entrepreneurship at University of Oulu, where his research interests focused on industrial enterprises in the telecommunication, electronics, software, basic metals and forest industries and especially their product and technology strategies, core competencies, business process improvement and re- engineering. Mrs. Sanna Järvelä, Professor in Educational Technology, Faculty of Education Sanna Järvelä (PhD) is a Professor in the Research Unit for Educational Technology in the Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education at the University of Oulu, and was recently a Visiting Professor in the Institute for Educational Technology at the UK Open University. Her main research interests are in technology-based learning environments, qualitative features of learning interaction, social and motivational processes in learning, and she has published widely in these fields. (See at http://wwwedu.oulu.fi/homepage/sjarvela/) Mr Heikki Riikonen, (Lic. Phil.) Project Manager, Faculty of Engineering Heikki Riikonen works at the Department of Electrical Engineering in the University of Oulu as Co-ordinator and Project Manager. Originally a human geographer, his main responsibilities are the organizing of the Gateway Education Programme for the Information Industry Fields. He also co-ordinates other higher engineering education programmes in the Northern Finland area funded by the government and European Union. His main interests related to present responsibilities are videoconferencing solutions for teaching, classroom solutions for near and far ends, learning environments and e- and m-learning solutions. Mr. Lauri Kurkela, (MSc) Project Manager, Oulu Polytechnic Lauri Kurkela, is a Senior Lecturer at Oulu Polytechnic Institute of Technology, and is working on Oulu Polytechnic’s Virtual Polytechnic Project. He is also a member of the National Virtual Polytechnic Development Team. He is also Member of the Learning Object Metadata Standardisation and Implementation Group at the Finnish Information Society Development Centre, and of the Evolution Cooperation Project (LOM related piloting and eLearning Content Production Paradigm) on behalf of the Finnish Virtual Polytechnic He is also involved in Functionality Research of the Open Learning and Working Environment for the Finnish Defence Forces. His main research interest areas are in eLearning Content Production, Problem Area Implementation of eLearning, Learning and Interoperable Competence Mr. Juha Pohjonen, Director, Campus Futurus Project Juha Pohjonen (M.A., eMBA) is the Development Manager of the Open University and heads the Campus Futurus project at the University of Oulu. His current research areas are ICT-strategy processes and the management of change in higher education. His articles have been published in national and international publications. He is a member of several national and international bodies and has been involved in several development projects, like the Finnish Virtual University Strategy Portal development group (2001-2002). Mr. Kari Liukkunen, Project Manager, Department of Information Processing Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, Mr Kari Pankkonen, Project Manager, Department of Information Processing Sciences, Faculty of Sciences Mr. Jorma Tommila, Head of The University Estates and Maintenance Department, Mr. Raine Vaikkurei, Planner, Computer Services, Learning and Research Services The Purpose of the Visit The University of Oulu has finalised its ICT strategy, which is being implemented across the institution via the Campus Futurus project. The University now wishes to re-configure the campus facilities (library, computer centre and labs, study rooms, technological infrastructure, organization etc) to develop its role as an electronic learning resource (for students locally and across the Oulu region), a key player in the knowledge based hi-tech businesses in the City and its hinterland, and a central participant at national level in the Finnish Virtual University Project.