New technologies and innovation in higher education and regional development

According to the Academy of Finland and Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, there are two prominent driving forces in today’s global operating environment. The first is the trend towards increasing mobility; the second is the growing interdependence of different parts of the world, their increasing interaction and cooperation in the economy, production, social development, communications and human exchange. In today’s global and technological world, learning has become increasingly important to all people and all communities. It is widely understood that the most important skills of the future will be communication skills. Today, everyone is able to access vast amounts of data without a mediator. Critical thinking skills are needed as a productive and positive activity. Critical thinkers see the future as open and malleable, not as closed and fixed. As noted in the UNESCO Report on Knowledge Societies (2005), there is a general agreement on the appropriateness of the expression “knowledge societies”; the same cannot be said of the content. However we define the 21st century societies there are some trends that seem to have consequences in all spheres of life. Globalization and digitalization have fundamental consequences in educational and learning life, working life and in governance. The vision is a society which develops and utilizes the opportunities inherent in the information society to improve the quality of life, knowledge, international competitiveness and interaction in an exemplary, versatile and sustainable way. These ideas have been used to develop the Global University System (GUS) within the UNESCO Chair in global e-learning at the University of Tampere. Because of the importance of media and digital literacy and competencies, in 2007 the Government of Finland published a Proposal for an action programme for developing media skills and knowledge as part of the promotion of civil and knowledge society. The reason for setting up this committee was the topicality and importance of media education as part of citizenship skills and the problems encountered in its realization. Keywords higher education, Finland, universities and innovation, new technology in higher education, regional innovation

Tapio Varis,
Professor and Chair of Vocational Education, with particular reference to global learning environments, University of Tampere, Finland. UNESCO Chair in Global e-Learning, Professor and Chair of Vocational Education, with particular reference to global learning environments at the University of Tampere, Finland, Research Centre for Vocational Education, and UNESCO Chair in global e-Learning with applications to multiple domains. Principal research associate of UNESCO-UNEVOC. Acting President of Global University System (GUS). Former Rector of the University for Peace in Costa Rica. Expert on media and digital literacy to the European Union. Communication and Media Scholar at the University of Helsinki and the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. and the University of Lapland, Finland. Published approximately 200 scientific contributions.