RYM Award 2014 goes to Professor Kirsti Lonka

Kirsti Lonka, Professor of Educational Psychology at University of Helsinki, was the recipient of the RYM Award 2014. She and her research team have introduced world-class behavioral science and pedagogical expertise into the development and planning of different learning environments.

– We understand learning environments broadly since learning should take place everywhere: in schools and universities as well as workplaces, public facilities and homes. Yet, learning is first and foremost a state of mind. Physical spaces, in turn, must be such that they inspire people to learn, understand and internalize new things, Kirsti Lonka emphasizes.

According to Ilari Aho, Chairman of the Board at RYM Oy, the multidisciplinary expertise of Lonka and her research team has opened a completely new way of thinking in the development of the built environment. We are gradually shifting from the traditional minimizing of problems to maximizing value added.

Lonka has noted that RYM Oy’s Indoor Environment Program has provided behavioral research a suitable platform to test the performance of various learning methods and tools as well as spatial solutions in practice. – While new things are designed and built, theories are also developed. This Design Based Research approach benefits all, both researchers and users of spaces, Lonka concludes.

Converting stimulating learning environments into an export product

As an example of an agile Living Lab she mentions the modern, interactive teaching facilities built in just one summer at the Minerva learning center in Kruunuhaka, Helsinki. They adapt flexibly to many different uses and allow utilizing and experimenting with various intelligent learning technologies.

– There is room for improvement in learning environments. The pleasantness of schools has deteriorated much more than the results of PISA studies. However, by combining pedagogic expertise, multidisciplinary research and user-oriented spatial design, we can convert Finnish learning environments that hook students into an export product, Lonka believes. Her research team has a worldwide cooperation network that has also been utilized in many ways in RYM research.

The RYM Award was presented at a meeting of the consultative committee of RYM Oy. The previous recipients of the award are Granlund Oy’s former Managing Director Reijo Hänninen and Jukka Heinonen, currently a professor at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik.

For more information:

Kirsti Lonka, kirsti.lonka@helsinki.fi, tel. +358 50 524 9147

Ilari Aho, ilari.aho@uponor.com, tel. +358 40 707 7130

Kirsti Lonka RYM Award

Urban Pioneer Valeria Gryada Nominated for Scientist of the Year Award

The designer of the Aalto Learning Hubs studied in the RYM Indoor Environment Program, Valeria Gryada is one of three candidates for the Scientist of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at the seminar of The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers (FUURT) on Oct. 13, 2014.Valeria Gryada
The evolution, processes and user-centered methodology of the Aalto Learning Hub facility services network and concept have been researched in the Future Learning Environment work package of the Indoor Environment Program. Eelis Rytkönen, a researcher at RYM, and Research Manager Suvi Nenonen have been Valeria Gryada’s research partners.

“The pioneering work started by Valeria in 2011 has provided much-needed tools for implementing rapid grassroots spatial alterations and more efficient use of spaces at universities. Her inspiring and open-minded involvement of users in the design, construction and use of spaces has produced pleasant and innovative learning environments for all students of Aalto University. The Hubs have been an unqualified success based on higher utilizations rates and feedback from students,” Rytkönen and Nenonen note.

At present, ten Hubs with a total area of about 4,000 sqm are in use. The number of new potential development targets is nine. Each realized space is a prototype whose use and functionality are monitored after project completion to learn lessons useful for later projects. Cooperation between RYM and Valeria Gryada as well as monitoring of the evolution of the Learning Hub network will continue as the project moves forward.

Read more about Aalto Learning Hubs

See related result card: Empower locally, attract globally