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Way of Working

The pedagogical foundation of the Digital Living Lab learning environment is the pedagogic model "Learning by Development (LbD)." This places the student in the driver’s seat and encourages them to assume active roles in their learning. The role of the teacher has genuinely evolved from that of an instructor to that of a coach and facilitator of the learning process.

This is not just learning but rather an action- or working environment. Students participate in real-life digital development projects. It requires goal setting, scoping a project, communication and cooperation with several stakeholders, managing your time and deliverables, and sharing knowledge. The coaches help to align the work with the learning objectives of the curriculum.

For beginners, this way of working and learning, which requires an active player role (rather than being a passive receiver of information), might feel chaotic and overwhelming. However, experience shows that this initial confusion typically dissipates quickly, and students grow their self-confidence rapidly, becoming ready to take on more challenges.

After several projects, students can create their project CVs, which help them articulate their competence and skills when seeking a job.

​The model is described in the picture below. Read more from the publication Students as customers.

(Original: Mononen, Asko, Kortelainen, Mika & Hellgrén, Anni (2016). Students as Customers: Service Process Development for Improved Student’s Customer Experience at BusinessLab of Laurea University of Applied
Sciences, Finland. In Orlando Manuel da Costa Gomes & Hélder António Fanha Martins (eds.) Advances in Applied Business Research: The L.A.B.S. Initiative. Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, USA. )

Students_as_customers_Mononen et al figu
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What is it like to study in a Digital Living Lab?

Student Perspective

Studying in the Digital Living Lab requires an entrepreneurial and can-do attitude with a solution-oriented approach. Success in studies depends on a student's strong self-management skills, enabling them to drive projects forward, seek information, and request coaching when the path ahead becomes unclear. Additionally, robust cooperation and communication skills with individuals from diverse disciplines and cultures are essential for project work.


Typically, the project's topic is not known in advance, so the ability to ask questions, take notes, learn from experts, and apply knowledge to practice is crucial for success. Students often find independent work for real-life customers to be highly motivating and beneficial.

What if co-students, customers and coaches are located in different cities?

Virtual Collaboration

Working in virtual project teams is a common practice in companies today. Remote tools facilitate communication and project management, even when team members are dispersed across different geographical locations.

Here are some tips for successful virtual collaboration:

  • Share contact information and establish communication channels with your team

  • Use apps for quick calls rather than chat and email

    • e.g. Whatsapp, WeChat​

  • Schedule regular meetings with video conferencing

    • e.g. Google Hangout, Zoom​

  • Use tools for real-time collaborative editing to produce content

    • e.g. Google Drive​, O365, iCloud, Dropbox

  • Have all contact information, project notes and material online

    • e.g. Trello for task management + Google Drive​ for documents

  • Keep your agile project management tool updated all the time

    • e.g. Trello, Asana, Wrike

  • You might need a separate discussion or knowledge building forum 

    • e.g. Slack, Teams​

More on managing virtual teams can be found behind these links:


Dargin, S. Corporate Education Group: 6 Best Practices for Managing Virtual Teams.


Abudi, G. (2012). Best practices for managing and developing virtual project teams. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2012—North America, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

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