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Way of Working

The pedagogical background of Digital Living Lab learning environment is the pedagogic model "Learning by Development (LbD)". This places the student on the driver’s seat and encourages them to take active roles in their learning. Teacher's role has changed truly from the instructor to coach and facilitator of learning process.

This is not learning but rather action- or working environment. Student 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 scope the work to
fit to learning objectives of the curriculum.

For beginners, this way of working and learning, requiring
an active player role (instead of passive receiver of information) might feel chaotic and overwhelming.
However, experience shows that this confusion typically passes quickly and  students grow their self-confidence quickly and are soon ready to take on more challenges.

After several projects, students can create their project cv’s which help them to verbalize their competence and skill once looking for a job.

​The model is described in the picture below. Read more from 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

How is studying in Digital Living Lab like?

Student Perspective

Studying in Digital Living Lab requires entrepreneurial and can-do attitude with solution orientation. The success in studies is dependent on student's strong self-managerial skills to take projects forward, to search for information and ask for coaching when it looks like the way forward is blurred. Also strong co-operation and communication skills with people from different disciplines and cultures are necessities for the project work.


Typically the topic of the project is not familiar in advance, so ability to ask questions, make notes, learn from experts and applying them to practice is crucial for success. Students often find independent working for helping real-life customers very motivating and useful.

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

Virtual Collaboration

Working in virtual project teams is everyday life in companies today. The remote tools help communication and to manage the project even if the team would be scattered in different geographical locations.

Here are some best practices:

  • Share contact information and establish comms channels with project team

  • Prefer quick calls to 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 material online

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

  • Keep your agile project management tool updated all the time

    • Trello, Asana, Wrike

  • If you need separate discussion or knowledge building forum, 

    • e.g. Slack, Teams​

More on managing virtual teams you can find eg. 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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