Digitisation or Digitalisation: Diverse Practices of the Distance Education Period in Finland

  • Tiina Korhonen Faculty of educational sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Leenu Juurola Faculty of educational sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Laura Salo Faculty of educational sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Johanna Airaksinen Faculty of educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
Keywords: Covid-19, digipedagogical competence, innovation, digitalisation, distance education


This case study explores how Finnish primary school teachers orchestrated school days and how teachers and headmasters organised virtual workplace collaboration and collaborated with parents during a period of distance education forced by the Covid-19 crisis in Spring 2020. The data was collected by interviewing primary and secondary school teachers (n = 15) from eight schools in various parts of Finland. Teachers’ experiences were analysed with qualitative content analysis. In this study, the school is seen as a Complex Adaptive System (CAS) and the Covid-19 crisis as a disorder forcing teachers to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Teachers are viewed here as innovators who address both pedagogical and digital challenges under abnormal circumstances. We identify diverse practices at different stages of digitalisation during the distance education period within four domains: 1) structures of school days, 2) forms of teaching, 3) collaborative activities of teachers and headmaster, and 4) forms of home and school collaboration. We also identify three groups of enablers of distance education practices: 1) the use of digital technology, 2) digipedagogical competence of the teachers, and 3) the ability of teachers to act as adaptive innovators. We find that teachers’ ability to innovate and to adapt pedagogical and digipedagogical expertise become critical success factors when change is forced upon the educational field. We suggest that the results of this study, portrayed as the enablers and domains of distance education, be utilised in planning post-Covid education. All stakeholders influencing schools at different levels should be included in envisioning and implementing future classroom practices of innovative post-Covid schools.


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