Academic journal article Trames

Chinese University Teachers' Experiences of a Finnish University Pedagogical Workshop

Academic journal article Trames

Chinese University Teachers' Experiences of a Finnish University Pedagogical Workshop

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Western universities are cooperating with universities in Asia in increasing numbers (e.g. Ennew and Fujia 2009). China and India, in particular, have been the countries of interest to foreign higher education institutions (Yang 2008). According to Yang (2008), it is evident that both the scale of the foreign higher education activity in China and the extent of foreign commitment have been growing rapidly in recent years. Of the countries that encourage diverse forms of transnational higher education, China considers cooperation and partnership as important, and particularly encourages Sino-foreign cooperative institutions and programmes (Gu 2009). As an example of this trend, Aalto University (Aalto), Finland and Tongji University (Tongji), China, have founded the Sino-Finnish Centre (SFC), which is a strategic cooperation project between Aalto and Tongji. As a part of the strategic partnership, the two universities have also agreed on a pedagogical collaboration project during 2012-2014. One form of this collaboration is pedagogical workshops (1-2 days twice a year) that are held in China by Finnish educators.

The Aalto-Tongji pedagogical collaboration operates in the field of "transnational higher education", a term that is widely used to cover education that a higher education institution organizes outside its home country. There are a number of studies on Asian or Chinese students in foreign universities (e.g. Watkins and Biggs 2001, Foster and Stapleton 2012, Gieve and Clark 2005) and transnational undergraduate study programmes in Asia (e.g. Yang 2008, Dunn and Wallace 2004). There is also a growing body of studies on transnational teaching (Smith 2009), and in addition, there are some sporadic studies on preparing teachers for transnational education (e.g. Haley and Ferro 2011). However, no literature on transnational pedagogical training of university teachers was located. Thus, the present study has been designed to address this gap. It also seems unique that two universities from two different continents collaborate in teachers' educational training which is the case in the Aalto-Tongji pedagogical collaboration programme.

2. Theoretical background

2.1. Transnational higher education

There is no agreement on what exactly should be included in the concept of transnational education (e.g. Yang 2008, Adam 2001). An often-cited definition is the wording by the UNESCO/European Council Code of Good Practice in the Provision of Transnational Education (2001):

   All types of higher education study programmes, or sets of courses
   of study, or educational services (including those of distance
   education) in which the learners are located in a country different
   from the one where the awarding institution is based. Such
   programmes may belong to the education system of a State different
   from the State in which it operates, or may operate independently
   of any national education system.

Here, the educational services include, among others, "training modules that lead to professional development" (UNESCO 2001). The Aalto-Tongji pedagogical workshops studied in this paper can be regarded as fitting in this category.

Depending on what or who moves cross borders and where the qualification is awarded, Knight (2003) has identified four categories for cross-border education: people, providers, programmes, and projects and services. Based on this categorization, OECD (2006a) has named and described three mobility forms, i.e. people mobility, programme mobility, and institution mobility:

* A person can go abroad for educational purposes (people mobility).

* An educational programme can go abroad (programme mobility).

* An institution or provider can go or invest abroad for educational purposes (institution mobility).

(OECD 2006a: 23-24)

Regarding these mobility forms, people mobility and institution mobility involve foreign awards granted by a foreign institution, whereas programme mobility involves domestic, double or joint awards (Knight 2003). …

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