The KouKe network systematises peer learning – joining an article club or having lunch together accumulates pedagogical competence

KouKe is a network of educators and developers of higher education pedagogy with the aim of sharing information, research, practices and experiences related to higher education pedagogy. The network supports educators and developers in accumulating understanding of issues related to higher education pedagogy, and most importantly, the network provides critical peer support to its members in their work. The network actively experiments and tests different peer learning models.

The network develops the pedagogical activities of higher education institutions through a wide range of cooperation methods. The network also coordinates the annual, national Higher Education Pedagogy Seminar Pedaforum and carries out external advocacy work to promote higher education pedagogy throughout Finland. Currently, the network has one to three contact persons from 35 different higher education institutions – and all higher education institutions are welcome to join.

The members of the network work at universities of applied sciences or universities and provide various types of higher education pedagogical support in their communities. The network’s coordinators are Hanna Alaniska from Oulu University of Applied Sciences and Merja Maikkola from the University of Oulu.

Colleagues provide advice on current issues

The network offers an opportunity to increase the competence of educators and developers about issues related to higher education pedagogy. A survey conducted for network members in the spring shows that the network helps them obtain information on topical issues on digital pedagogy, among other things. Members receive important peer support from the network and learn that many others encounter similar challenges and development targets in their work. The network has provided its members with extensive contacts with different higher education institutions, and they can naturally ask their colleagues for advice and views on current issues.

A current project, Kokko, aims to develop the network’s expertise. The project’s goals include making peer learning in the network more systematic. Thanks to the project, peer learning has been exceptionally active, and different peer learning models have been tested in 2022 and 2023 in addition to traditional meetings.

The tested long-term peer learning models include consultant group work, cross-expertise mentoring, open space seminars and an article club (cf. book club). Past short-term peer learning encounters, on the other hand, include peer lunches and quick dates. In spring 2023, the members of the KouKe network met in a “boarding school” peer learning event, which was considered a very effective way to learn. During the event, we came up with good practice briefings for the KouKe network meetings, in which the members of the network take turns to explain the good practices of their institution.

Peer learning also took place in autumn 2022 and spring 2023 with a smaller group, in which network members identified teachers’ future competence needs. Higher education institutions can utilise these results in the implementation of their own education and training.

Entire higher education institutions benefit from new operating models

The methods described above have improved the competence of network members in higher education pedagogy. Peer learning allows the learning to focus on topical issues about which the members require more information and ideas. In recent years, members of the network have naturally shared and discussed practices related to digital methods and the implementation of hybrid education.

These encounters increase the educators’ and developers’ understanding, thus facilitating their work. In the case of educators and developers, the operating models are also multiplied – when they experience the methods, they can then organise similar events for teachers at their own institution. For example, the recently tested open space model received a lot of positive feedback, and several educators and developers intend to use the method in their own higher education institution.

The KouKe network will build a permanent peer learning structure in autumn 2023, drawing on the experience from the Kokko project. The aim is to ensure that the network continues to be useful and rewarding for everyone involved.

You can visit the website of the Kokko project and the KouKe network at (in Finnish).

Lecturer Hanna Alaniska
Oulu University of Applied Sciences

University Lecturer Merja Maikkola
University of Oulu

Education Designer Hanna Spets
Oulu University of Applied Sciences