Digimentor and Digimen­toring at Karelia UAS

Digital devel­opment has been rapid in the field of education. Karelia University of Applied Sciences has actively imple­mented digital and digiped­a­gogical devel­opment since the early 2000s. As part of the digital devel­opment strategy, the first digimentors in Karelia UAS started in 2018. The aim of the digimentors as part of the strategy is to support the devel­opment of the digiped­a­gogical compe­tence of the Karelia UAS educa­tional staff.

This article discusses the concepts of digimentor and digimen­toring, possi­bil­ities of combining pedagogy and learning technology in the future, the devel­opment of new learning environ­ments and learning technologies in Karelia UAS, and the role of Karelia’s digital mentors in future developments.

What is a digimentor and digimen­toring at Karelia UAS?

Digital pedagogy is the appli­cation of technology to support learning. Digital pedagogy always focuses on learning, pedagogical manuscripts, and a step-by-step approach to the learning process (Virtanen 2020.) In several educa­tional organi­za­tions, the use of technologies in learning design and processes has been addressed by devel­oping digital mentoring activ­ities. Digimentors are experts in the pedagogical use of technologies (Hyttinen 2022a).

The Digimentor at Karelia UAS is an expert who supports teachers in brain­storming, planning, designing, testing, imple­menting, and devel­oping e-learning processes. Digimentors provide support according to the teacher’s individual needs. Digimen­toring may involve e-learning processes as a whole, such as struc­turing pedagogical manuscripts and building the e-learning environment, or more specif­i­cally for individual digiped­a­gogical needs. These needs may include the ideation, planning, testing, imple­men­tation and further devel­opment of the course structure and content or methods and tools used in content creation or learning tasks in the e-learning environment. Digimentors have a front seat to teacher-driven needs. This allows them to use and transfer the ideas, knowledge, infor­mation and training needs between educa­tional staff and organi­zation (Puustinen & Korhonen 2021).

Digimentors work as digimentors one day per week alongside their regular jobs. Teachers can contact the digimentors any time according to their needs and schedule a meeting with digimentor by booking a meeting in their calendar. Meetings are mostly conducted remotely in Teams. The key to this approach is that the threshold for contact is as low as possible. All digimentors are teachers themselves with long and solid practical experience of teaching in higher education, which makes them experts in the teaching profession in addition to digiped­a­gogical expertise. Digimentors at Karelia UAS (in 2022-2023) are lecturer Sini Puustinen (Tikkarinne campus) and lecturers Mikko Hyttinen and Esko Tiainen (Wärtsilä campus). The digimentor activ­ities are coordi­nated by Karelia’s Student Affairs Services and the coordi­nators are instruc­tional technology specialist Minna Rokkila and blended learning pedagogy planning officer Antti Kauppila.

New learning environ­ments and learning technologies are devel­oping Karelia UAS

New learning environ­ments have been built on both Karelia UAS campuses (Tikkarinne and Wärtsilä) through the Future Work project in 2022-2023 and new technology has been acquired for teachers to use to support student learning. At the environ­ments teachers can work and implement new learning technologies together as a working community or with digimentors.

One example of the new learning environment is the Canvas space in the Tikkarinne campus, the only one of its kind in Finland (in 2022). The room has three screens for working with Canvas. This allows all partic­i­pants to produce and edit common content. This enables effective collab­o­ration, teamwork and project planning. In addition to Karelia’s teachers, students can also use the facilities. 

Tikkarinne and Wärtsilä also have MLC (Multi­Lo­cation Classroom) facil­ities that teachers can use for inter-campus collab­o­ration. In these MLC class­rooms, teachers can also teach online or hybrid classes and make use of the full-wall display in the room. Digimentors assist in the intro­duction of these new environ­ments, and the use of the technologies they include. All teachers have different techno­logical skills and using the technology can be an extra headache or even intim­i­dating for some teachers. In many cases, digimentors are also involved in teachers’ first exper­i­ments with new environ­ments, so they know that support is immedi­ately available if something unexpected happens. This promotes the uptake of new technologies in teaching and reduces the cognitive load experi­enced by teachers in combining pedagogy and technology.

Classroom with students and teachers. Screen with the photos of students who are participating online.
Picture 1. Teachers of business economics using the MCL classroom for hybrid teaching (Photo: Mikko Hyttinen).

New learning technology tools have been acquired, for example, to produce podcasts. Podcasts can be used in a wide and varied range of teaching activ­ities (Hyttinen 2022b). Training sessions on the use of podcast equipment have been imple­mented for teachers and teachers have been actively using these podcast technologies in their teaching. Teachers can use the podcasting equipment indepen­dently or with a digimentor. The podcast equipment has been purchased for both campuses and is perma­nently installed in one classroom. In addition, portable podcast devices have been purchased, which are easy to take with you wherever you like to record a podcast. These podcast class­rooms and portable devices can also be used by students for their learning projects.

Students sitting around a table with recording equipment
Picture 2. Business students using portable podcast technologies for course work (Photo: Mikko Hyttinen).
Classroom with two screens. Woman with a helmet.
Picture 3. Digimentor Sini Puustinen using AR technology integrated helmet (Photo: Mikko Hyttinen).

Digimentors in Karelia – Strong pedagogical skills and practical experience 

The main task of the digimentors is to support and help teachers with the digital pedagogical issues and challenges they face. Teachers’ questions and challenges are usually very concrete, but sometimes they require the digimentors to learn and relearn something new. Teachers’ needs vary greatly depending on their field of teaching and their level of digital compe­tence. For example, they may have questions about the e-learning environment or the use of new learning environ­ments and learning technologies in teaching. The role of a digimentor is therefore one of continuous compe­tence devel­opment and the mainte­nance of technologies that support student learning. 

Digimentors’ view of the core of digimen­toring is that the purpose of technology is always and primarily to support students’ learning and compe­tence devel­opment. In practice, this means that, at its best, learning technology can increase student engagement, motivation, meaning­fulness, variety and diversity of learning.  Pedagogical insight into when and how to use different learning technologies is a strength of digimentors. They also see the added value of learning technologies in strength­ening students’ techno­logical skills for future jobs.


Hyttinen, M. 2022a. Digimentori auttaa opettajia teknolo­gia­haasteissa. Skootteri 1/2022.   

Hyttinen, M. 2022b. Podacast pedagogi­ikalla monipuolisuutta ja vaihtelua opetukseen. https://tulevaisuudentyo.karelia.fi/2022/03/podcast-pedagogiikalla-monipuolisuutta-ja-vaihtelua-opetukseen-ja-oppimiseen/. 5.5.2023.   

Puustinen, S. & Hyttinen, M. 2022. Karelian digimen­torit tukevat pedagogiikan ja opetuste­knologian yhdis­tämisessä. Pulssi-portaali. https://www.karelia.fi/2022/05/karelian-digimentorit-tukevat-pedagogiikan-ja-opetusteknologian-yhdistamisessa/. 5.5.2023.

Puustinen, S. & Korhonen, M. 2021. Digimen­torointia Kareliassa. VASU. Karelia-ammat­tiko­rkeak­oulun verkko­julkaisu 2/2021. https://vasu.karelia.fi/2021/04/12/digimentorointia-kareliassa/. 5.5.2023.   

Virtanen, M. 2020. Verkko-opetuksen laatukri­teerit digiped­a­gogisen osaamisen kehit­tämisessä. Teoksessa: Koskinen, M.I., Nakamura, R., Yli-Knuutila, H. & Tyrväinen, P. (toim.) Kohti oppimisen ekosys­teemiä. Jyväskylän ammat­tiko­rkeakoulu, Jyväskylä, 56-59. https://indd.adobe.com/view/137919a6-4ad3-4f44-afaa-1732c507c1db. 5.5.2023.   

Cover photo by rawpixel.com on Freepik


Sini Puustinen, Senior lecturer, Digimentor, Karelia University of Applied Sciences

Mikko Hyttinen, Lecturer, Digimentor, Karelia University of Applied Sciences