Opintokamu® – meaning studypal – is an entity developed for high schools and vocational schools. It aims to develop students’ capacity for studies, life management and well-being, and to provide teachers with tools for educational institutions. The project at the University of Turku has been funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture and since 2018 all material has been available free of charge to educational institutions. Currently, more than 370 secondary education institutions have already been registered as users of Opintokamu.
Opintokamu includes high-quality, research-based materials for students’ independent work and tools for adults in educational institutions to improve the well-being of both students and staff. All materials can be found digitally for registered institutions at www.opintokamu.fi (in Finnish and Swedish only).
Educational institutions may choose to offer students an on-line Opintokamu course, which the students do independently. The subjects of the course relate to three themes: Study, Social Relations, and Feelings and Mind.
Students progress through the course content, watching videos and doing related tasks. In the course materials, you can also find the Awareness Skills entity, TITA. It enables students as well as staff of educational institutions to explore mindfullnes, compassion, stress management and everyday well-being.
The goal of the Opintokamu game is to encourage students to have conversations. The game is played in a group on mobile devices under the direction of a teacher (or another member of the school staff). Teams are formed from the students that compete against each other. The topics of the games paraphrase the subjects of the Opintokamu course.
Low-threshold improvisational exercises give staff new tools to get students to know each other and create a positive and safe atmosphere. Guiding exercises does not require prior experience and they are suitable for everyone regardless of background. The instructions and guidevideos found on the Opintokamu pages provide sufficient capabilities for their implementation.
The Opintokamu report helps educational institutions in planning the well-being work. Students respond to an electronic survey in the fall. The results of the survey are quickly available and provide answers to questions such as:
- How motivated and committed are students to their studies?
- Do students experience challenges in matters such as study or time use?
- How much does loneliness, bullying, excitement or school-exhaustion occur among students?
- How do students experience their prospects for the future or their own mood?
- What does the students’ experience of belonging to the school community look like?
How to talk about concerns; Bullying and tackling it
Opintokamu gives clear instructions for teachers on how to talk about concerns and tackle bullying. The instructions support, for example, the handling of the issues that rose up in the report together with students.
These materials support the teacher’s own well-being and job performance. Materials guide the consideration of resources and expertise, as well as confronting interactions in the everyday life of the school. In addition, they provide tools for mindfulness skills and self-comeration.