Trialogical approach to network in many ways

I had my first contact with the trialogical approach when listening Kai Hakkarainen’s lecture in 2011; he is one of the creators of the model. After that, I asked PhD Hanni Muukkonen to give a workshop in our school 2011 about the modern concepts of learning. The trialogical approach seemed exactly what should be done in upper secondary. At that time it was, however, difficult to find out what kind of collaborative knowledge creation could be used for something real in upper secondary studies.

When Liisa Ilomäki and Minna Lakkala had a workshop in our school in which we designed a teaching entities following a designing template, the trialogical approach became somewhat clearer. We succeeded to plan, step by step, an entity of several subjects focusing on the phenomenon of human rights, and later on, we also created a collaborative environment into Blogger, which was thought to be used and filled in during the courses. In Blogger ( ), the collaborative knowledge creation appeared as sharing of experiences between the courses and the blog made it also possible to share to everyone in the school. When I then had the possibility to see in KNORK Final conference 2016 the various implementations of various schools and teachers, the trialogical approach started to seem as a natural way of learning and teaching

I decided to apply trialogical approach and phenomenon-based learning for an applied course of voluntary work, which is organized once a year. In the topic, cross-fertilization between students and organisations of voluntary work is natural, especially because the students get to know the real volunteers and activities in various organisations and they themselves also participate in the voluntary work and not only search information in the Internet. I had already previously built a network of volunteers in organisations and, based on students’ wishes, I also created more contacts so that students could choose the organization they were interested in.

According to trialogical approach, my aim was to intensify the sharing of information and experiences between students by using digital tools and to create a longitudinal process of working for understanding the connection between voluntary work and human rights. The aim was that the outcome would be available to all students. Now that I conducted the process for a second time (in 2016), I also dared to take in to use collaborative writing tools, such as Answergarden ( ) and Padlet (, which we successfully used for collecting ideas and thoughts about the elements of good life and the human rights which support these elements. Students also collected collaboratively information into Google Presentations ( about organisations  which look after those people and grounds of life in which human rights have become under threat. In the end of the course we collected all experiences into that presentation. I asked students’ outcomes to be linked into Fronter (a learning environment used in our school) and these were presented to the whole student group.

The Human rights –blog did not activate students well enough because they were not given author rights and I had to link students’ outcome and collect the contents of the course. During the first implementation we collected Facebook-photos from various events but even that remained mainly my task. I could not demand that students have a Facebook account.

For the second implementation I created an own blog for the course. Students wrote individually or in pairs what they had experienced and learned. The blog appeared useful in the way that students could share experiences of events in which only some of them participated. Students could also upload pictures from Dropbox to be published in the blog.

In my course, sharing to others came true almost as by accident as the students wanted to share what they had learnt by organizing first-aid “control points” in our school, by inviting asylum seekers to school, and by opening the blog to anyone: students wanted to have a link into the blog in the virtual journal of our schools. In addition, students and I, too, shared the experiences also in the individual social media accounts. So this is how the cross-fertilization took place in the course also at this level. In future, I would like to find new cloud services which would serve my needs even better. I would like to found such an environment where we could build our common thinking and collect information and experiences of various voluntary work organisations, and the final outcome would be an overall picture in which one could investigate details more in depth.

The advantage of participating in KNORK project has definitely been the inspiration and support in reflecting and developing own work. Brainstorming and peer help with the other teachers who participated in KNORK in our school has been natural, and we have inspired each other for further development of ideas. University researchers’ critical questions have encouraged to thing the issues through a theoretical model and approach. Already during the first year of the KNORK project I understood what I could develop in my voluntary course and what of these insights I could transfer to all my other courses. Now I have developed longitudinal working processes in all my courses, and I have adopted actively digital tools and many kinds of cloud services to them. The trialogical approach has started to seem the best direction. To have meaningful learning, there should always be participatory independent and collaborative knowledge search and creation for some further use.

Anu-Elina Väkeväinen, teacher of psychology, religion and media, Helsingin Medialukio

Anu-Elina on the right. The picture is from a major national conference of Interactive technology in education in April 2014. The other teacher is Pia Kovalainen from Vantaa Vocational College Varia.


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