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Ways of thinking are challenged in teachers exchange

Published: 9 October 2012

Students studying technical design and architecture at Luleå University of Technology, are at the moment taught by Filipino teachers from Mapua Institute of Technology. It occurs as part of a teacher exchange between the two educational institutions. The initiative was taken by the Department of Innovation and Design at Luleå University of Technology to enhance internationalization.

– Asia is becoming world leading. Being a part of that development is very important for us, our students and Luleå university of Technology, says Åsa Wikberg Nilsson, who teaches industrial design.

The exchange program called Linnaeus-Palme is funded by the International Programme Office in Sweden. The two teachers Åsa Wikberg Nilsson, Bengt Holmqvist who usually teaches at Luleå University of Technology, visited iearlier this fall, Mapua Institute of Technology in Manila. Now they are the hosts. The next step in the partnership could be a student exchange. The Filipino teachers Maria Socorro Gacutan and Noel Sadicon who teach in architecture and industrial design at the Mapua Institute of Technology, are hopeful.

– I look forward to your students to come to us, and our to experience Sweden – but I am worried that our students will be too loud, says Noel Sadicon who have reflected on how peaceful and quiet it is at Luleå university of Technology.

All laughs but he quickly lowers his voice and becomes serious.

– I want our students to get to interact with a different culture, to be challenged and inspired. It would give them confidence, change their way of thinking and affect their work and design. I feel excited when I think of all the stories they will tell when they get back to the Philippines.

The teachers from the Philippines are fascinated by the large and well-equipped facilities at the Luleå university of Technology, but from a pedagogical perspective Åsa Wikberg Nilsson, believes that proximity between students and teachers in the Philippine school create better conditions for learning.

– They are almost like a family. There is a tremendous openness and community. They are almost like a family. There is a tremendous openness and community. Grades are mixed and students and teachers interact privately, explains Bengt Holmqvist.

The students from luleå university of Technology that are taught by the Filipino teachers, are trying to develop an environment, product or service that can make life easier for people in the Philippines. The assignment is based on the method of Human-Centered Design.

– The students are very interested and inquisitive, says Maria Socorro Gacutan.

– They interact very well. It makes our work easier and more fun, says Noel Sadicon.

The exchange program also allows teachers the opportunity to look at their own environment in a different way

– In design, it is important to get new input, to change their thinking and not just do things as they always have been. Coming to a new context sets the input process, you begin to question, says Åsa Wikberg Nilsson.