Promoting pedagogical practices for advancing students’ digital competence through sharing and collaboration between schools within one city

About the Regional Innovation Hub

This Regional Innovation Hub was initiated from the scratch in the project and united successfully two pairs of primary schools from the Porvoo region with the aim of establishing a clear teaching pathway to enhance students’ basic digital skills. The researchers acted as mentors, providing guidance and assistance to facilitate collaborative efforts among the schools. Joint events were organized between two pairs of schools to foster the development of pedagogical practices for advancing students’ digital competence. Furthermore, the researcher mentors played a crucial role in promoting active interaction between the schools and the two city-level coordinators, serving as intermediaries to ensure effective information flow. Additionally, some city-level trainers were involved in the training about robotics and programming to extend the stakeholders involved in the project. As a result, the development teams within each of the four schools have taken on increased responsibilities in organizing development initiatives, demonstrating a growing sense of ownership and engagement in the process. In addition, collaboration between the school pairs located close to each other has been established and will continue.

The Regional Innovation Hub brought together ca 60 teachers including one or two ICT support teachers from each school in the joint coordination teams, 5 school leaders and two city-level coordinators as experts to support the school-to-school collaboration in Porvoo region. The schools were Kevätkummun koulu, Vårberga skola, Tolkkisten koulu ja Eklöfska skolan.

The purpose of the mentoring was to facilitate collaborative efforts among the schools to  advance students’ digital competence. Each school had a development team  that consisted of the school principal and one or two teachers responsible for digital support. Development teams of the school pairs formed together a coordination team which was  the most important object of the mentoring, because the coordination team members were responsible for planning the collaboration and development actions inside and between two schools. Finally, the leadership teams of all four schools combined their efforts in preparing and conducting a final conference presentation in the iHub4Schools project.

Local context and the needs

The Finnish national curriculum for comprehensive schools include requirements to support students multidisciplinary competences including digital competence, but implementation of the requirements vary among schools and teachers. The national New literacies program, initiated by the Ministry of Education and Culture, has defined more detailed competence definitions, but local, practical support for teachers is needed to apply them. Teachers in schools located nearby could benefit from between-school collaboration in responding to the new challenges in developing the digi-pedagogical practices, but collaboration has not been usual and only occasional. It has been experienced as challenging to organize collaboration between teachers of different schools, especially between Finnish and Swedish speaking schools. This Regional Innovation Hub was developed building on previous loose collaboration between the school pairs and promoted by the researchers as mentors especially to advance digital practices in teaching. Currently, there is not any nationally coordinated development project or work for supporting schools and teachers to use digital technology, except for the possibility to apply for funding.


The recruitment of schools was based on earlier collaboration between the researchers of the University of Helsinki and the principal of one of the schools. They had discussions about the new situation for the schools in the city to change the technical platform and start using O365 tools in all teaching. Later the city launched a DigiPath framework that defines digital competences that should be provided for all students in different grade levels, and the schools had an obligation to implement the new framework in all teaching. The schools were also interested in developing collaboration with another school that has premises in the same building or nearby: in both school pairs, one school was  Finnish speaking and the other school was Swedish speaking, which created some additional challenges in collaboration but was also a source for inspiration. These two schools constituted the first case, and later two other schools formed a similar case of two collaborating schools when they heard about the mentoring experiences in the first case.

  • Development teams from each school (in all 4 principals, 1 vice principal and 6 ICT support teachers, 11 members in total)
  • Teachers as practitioners (four schools, ca 60 teachers)
  • City-level coordinators (two experts)
  • Representatives from early childhood education, youth center and library participated in a brainstorming workshop with the first two schools (ca 10 participants)
  • Researchers as mentors and experts (two researchers)
Sustainability mechanisms of the Regional Innovation Hub
  • Development teams: Voluntary participation, previous interest in digital technology which have given them responsibilities of school-level ICT support; a compensation of a few hours paid by the school admin.
  • Teachers: Obligatory to apply the DigiPath framework and participate in the events; sharing in the teacher community rewarding: giving and receiving ideas, getting support, saving time from learning everything alone. 
  • DigiPath coordinators: Position to support local schools, better understanding of the support needed.
  • Researchers: Interest in developing mentoring as well as sharing best practices of digital technology in education.
  • Capacity building opportunities: Trainings for leaders and teachers
  • Joint projects: Between the schools is based on the principals’ and leadership teams’   activity and interest.
  • Opportunities to expand impact through recognized expertise: Not in these cases
  • Access to personalized support and guidance: Not in these cases
  • Knowledge sharing platforms: Office365 tools, DigiPath repository in Miro (the ones that are accepted by local authorities)
  • Access to network-disseminated materials: Microsoft Teams, Miro

Local platforms: Microsoft Teams areas and other Office365 tools for co-construction and sharing of pedagogical scenarios among teachers, Miro for sharing the DigiPath framework and materials in the city.


  • The development work in schools is integrated with city-level goals and strategies which the schools need to follow anyway.
  • The coordination teams will continue collaboration between the schools and will apply the methods for organising joint events.
  • Best pedagogical ideas will be collected and shared with participating schools and teachers, and within the City of Porvoo.


  • The mentoring was conducted in schools without formal connection to or official resources from the city.
  • No extra resources directly to schools for developing digital practices. Also the city received external project funding for DigiPath and it is unclear how the city will continue allocating resources for that work.

The mentors were funded from the iHub4Schools project. The city had received funding from the Finnish Ministry of Culture and Education for developing the DigiPath framework and for the DigiPath coordinators’ work.