The Portuguese Igniting Event in videos

The Portuguese Igniting Event prepared two videos for you! By this way, you can feel like you were part of the event!

If you want to hear our Secretary of State of Economy talking about Industry 4.0 and its importance click here. If you would like to see the summary video of the Igniting Event click here.

In case you didn’t read the full news about the event, read it here.


The co-creation journey continues: Aalto Design Factory hosted a series of small workshops

During the first week of April, Aalto Design Factory hosted four similar workshops, each with a different theme: lifelong learning, diversity in technology, cross-sectoral collaboration, and STEM vs. soft skills. The goal of each workshop was the same, to inspire the participants to think about the challenges related to the theme of the day, and to embark on a journey to come up with educational solutions to one of the identified challenges.

Irena guiding the participants through the workshop process

Our hopes were to give the participants something that they could take to their own organisations, as well as to gain valuable ideas for the further phases of the Universities of the Future project. The second goal was definitely met, by the participants coming up with great ideas that inspired the Aalto team, and based on the feedback we got, so was the first. Our third goal – bringing people from different backgrounds to work together on issues related to the future of education and Industry 4.0 – was also met. The participants represented different sectors: public bodies, higher education institutions, and companies ranging from large corporations to startups.

It was interesting to notice that no matter the theme of the day, the same kinds of topics kept coming up in discussions. Once again the theme of cross-sectoral collaboration was highlighted, not just as the theme of the day, but as a necessity for lifelong learning, a tool for improving diversity, as something that students should be taught skills for, and as the most beneficial part of the workshop to the participants. The answers to our feedback survey highlighted the value of getting to hear the thoughts of people coming from very different fields. Other themes that kept coming up throughout the workshops were the importance of having common goals in collaboration, having a mutual language, increasing diversity and inclusiveness, creating opportunities for lifelong learning, and the challenge of a lack of time for learning in worklife.

The ideas that came out of the workshops called for more active participation on all sides. New models of learning could include recognising “life” as an environment for learning, helping to reflect on and formalise the learning that takes place in unofficial contexts, recognising and supporting the learning of company partners who act as sponsors on courses for students, and using up- and re-skilling as an outlet for research.

The final “product” of the workshop was an educational idea, and many of the solutions highlighted the importance of facilitation and reflection, and support for understanding oneself, understanding others, and understanding the learning that has taken place. To give a couple examples on what the participants came up with: In Finland there is a contest called “A Great Place to Work”, that rates companies as employers. What if there was a similar contest, called “A Great Place to Learn”? What if in companies there would be one coffee break a week dedicated for reflecting on own learning during the past week? What if there was a platform for bringing HEIs and companies together? What if there were ready-made recipes for cross-sectoral collaboration?

One of the main outputs was that there needs to be a shift in mindset. Learning needs to be recognised on a weekly if not daily basis, and time needs to be carved out for it. The difficulty is in that the positive effects of learning are hard to measure, and hence, other tasks that give more visible results get priority over learning. Learning should be free enough for people to be able to fit it in their agendas, but still mandatory enough, that people will prioritise it over other tasks.

Merja Fischer, a member of the team working on Finland’s strategy on AI and a doctorate in leadership, giving a presentation on STEM vs. soft skills.

After discussing with the participants, many of whom are closely involved with their own educational initiatives, it seems that there is a rough consensus on what should be done: what are the skills that should be taught (systems thinking, problem solving, basic understanding of tech…) and what are the ways to move forward (cross-sectoral collaboration, new models for learning…). However, it seems that what is hindering us as a society from moving forward are the lack of time to do anything outside of one’s own job description, the lack of ready-made recipes for how to collaborate across sectors, and shared responsibility, that results in nobody taking responsibility to act. In short, how to move from planning to action?

At Universities of the Future, our next steps are to take action based on the planning that we have been doing so far: creating actionable guiding tools on how to move from planning to action, and testing new types of lessons and courses that benefit from cross-sectoral collaboration. These next steps will hopefully give new practical examples on how different institutions could work together to improve teaching and learning in an Industry 4.0 era.

Porto Design Factory organized the third UoF Igniting Event

April the 5th was the date for UoF’s Igniting Event in Portugal. Organized by Porto Design Factory, the event was an opportunity for showcasing the project and gathering around several partners, including public institutions, members of the academy and company. Throughout the afternoon, around 100 participants passed by and were able to follow an interesting and vivid debate on the “Collaborative Digital Shift Towards a New Framework for Industry and Education”.

The event was divided into three different moments. In the first part of this afternoon-long work session, and after a brief presentation of Porto Global Hub and Porto Design Factory by Paulo Ferraz, Executive Director and UoF Project Coordinator, João Queirós and Teresa Pereira, from Polytechnic of Porto and PDF, presented the project and its main goals and outcomes. Jorge Portugal, from COTEC Portugal, the business association which is responsible for implementing and evaluating the Industry 4.0 National Strategy, then linked the goals of projects such as UoF with the challenges the country is trying to overcome within this fourth industrial revolution, especially those relating to changes in teaching and learning processes. The challenge of “instant”, flexible, productive learning, and getting to know how we can collectively build the solutions for continuous, lifelong learning, were stressed.

The second part of the event comprised a panel session on the future of jobs and the future of education in the fourth industrial revolution. Presented and moderated by António Bob Santos, from ANI, one of UoF partners, this session included representatives from three large companies operating in Portugal – Bosch, Visabeira Global and IKEA Industry (this last one also a member of the UoF Consortium) –, as well as Professor Manuel Pereira Lopes, from Polytechnic of Porto’s School of Engineering. Manuel Pereira Lopes presented the experience of Polytechnic of Porto’s MSc in Industrial Management and Engineering, a master’s degree with innovative teaching methodologies and a strong alignment with Industry 4.0 needs. Among other relevant subjects, panelists from companies presented significative experiences of collaboration with Higher Education Institutions and R&D Units and underlined the importance of stronger cooperation in the design of relevant learning processes for current and future workers.

The third part of the event included two presentations focusing on new opportunities for this sector – by Renato Gonçalves, from Nokia Portugal, and by João Borga, from Startup Portugal – and a closing session with João Correia Neves, the Portuguese Secretary of State for Economy, and João Rocha, the President of Polytechnic of Porto. João Correia Neves highlighted the commitment of the Portuguese Government with the country’s Industry 4.0 Strategy and underlined the importance of educational innovation in this process. The President of Polytechnic of Porto stressed the role of Porto Design Factory as a laboratory for co-creating and experimenting new methodologies in an integrated model of multidisciplinary education focusing on the development of the skills required by a changing world, and reached out to the audience to ask for active participation in the open community of practice the UoF project is building.