Catalina Agurto, Javier Contreras & Gerardo Stoltzmann: Immersing into the workshop experience
Immersing into the workshop experience
It was July the 4 of this year and the entire Chilean team would receive an email that many
expected and that others definitely take by surprise. It was the notice that informed us that
we would be part of the Chilean team that would live a unique experience of 2 weeks at the
Proakatemia of the Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) in Finland.
Undoubtedly, the first feeling was emotion and then instant anxiety to visit one of the most
developed countries in the world and, according to various sources, to live the experience of
learning in the most awarded educational model on the planet.
Before going little we knew what learning methods we were going to experience. In Chile we
are used to attending classes in traditional format, where teachers stand in front of students
in a space specially dedicated to them and where their presence as authorities is noted from
the first minute.
Of course there are classes that are exceptions to this rule, but in the common of classes the
traditional method is repeated.
A week before starting the trip, for the first time in our university, the Diego Portales
University (UDP) developed the business camp, in which the professors of our university,
advised and trained by teachers of the TAMK became coaches and they carried out the first
training sessions we experienced together with colleagues from different faculties of the
It was certainly something innovative and different for us, but at the same time, it allowed us
to get to know our work teams in a short time. It was our first experience in a training
session, held in Chile, but with several similarities to what we would live later in Finland.
September the 18 arrived, a day in which independence day is celebrated throughout Chile
and coincidentally, it would be our first experience in a training session in Finland with our
group, the Kajo team.
The first thing we did was sit in a circle and start introducing ourselves: where are you from,
where have you been, where are you going, what will you do to get there and how will you
know that you’ve arrived. These were the main questions that were asked to start the
conversation, which together are called “Learning Contract”; however, it was rather a free
dynamic where each member of the group presented himself in his style. It was an important
initial activity since we could meet in general terms and understand a little more why we
were there and who we are.
Then we continue to describe our groupmates and their main characteristics at the
“professional” level and aspects of personality, after having previously written what we
thought of ourselves in these 2 dimensions.
It was quite interesting to contrast the perception we had about us and what our colleagues
felt in relation to the same. At this point it was pleasant to read the aspects that our
colleagues highlight regarding our abilities and even more interesting to see that many
characteristics were repeated between our perception and that of others. With this, the first
block ended and our first coffee break began, an instance used to be able to relax and
renew energy through a good cup of coffee, typical brew of Finnish culture used for its
energizing characteristics rather than its taste.
In the second and final block we separate into groups to address different important
variables to take into account to carry out “Proyektori”, monthly event held in Proakatemia in
which the different teams make known the challenges, objectives and figures achieved
during the Last 30 days, this time, the Kajo team, had to organize the event. The common
and main objective raised at the beginning of the second block was to innovate in this event
with a different and striking proposal that allowed to maintain the attention of the attendees
to the activity during all the presentations.
Within the groups the different topics were developed and after a few minutes we shared the
work done within each group with the whole team.
Finally, to end the activity, we used the motorola model, consisting of 4 questions: what was
good, what could have been better, what to put into practice and what was learned in the
It was a complete experience, where we navigate between the personal and “professional”,
and how to create new experiences to improve our proposals through feedback and new
Without a doubt something new and enriching that gave us a new perspective on how to
work as a team based on trust, empathy and commitment.
With this first training session we were encouraged to prepare our own for the team Kajo for
the next weak, this was a big challenge but we embrace it gratefully as it was a big
After preparing several hours building the structure for the training session, finally the day to
put to the test everything we had plan in our minds came. We felt nervous and anxious as it
was our first time doing and guiding an activity like this. We wanted to meet the expectations
team Kajo had over us.
We arrive to the room where we would execute our training session, we prepared our
presentation and we started one of the most rewarding and heartwarming experiences we
have been thought in our trip in Finland. At first we started with an a activity to break the ice,
to get the blood pumping and to make the team think out of the box. The objective was to
tied up two teammates and to challenge them to get free of each other without breaking the
After this, we proceed to ask them to write in a small sentence what ‘’innovation’’ meant for
them, later this sentence would be compared to what they had learned by the end of the
workshop. We noticed that many of them had some clear understanding of the concept, or
so they believed.
After having taken a small break we resume our session with a more theoretical part,
presenting a video and then key concepts, as well as tools to develop innovative ideas or
processes in the future, immediately after finishing the theoretical presentation of concepts
we give them a challenge so that it could be developed with any of the tools presented
The challenge was: ‘’How to improve the experience of drinking coffee in proakatemia’’.
They had to work for 40 minutes to come back with an innovative proposal and solution, they
presented them to all the other teams and then we proceed to have a dialogue.
They felt like not all the ideas were very innovative or that they were not entirely good, but
they appreciated the fact that they had to think hard and deep to try to solve a problem that
might have looked easy or simple but it was more profound than they thought. Despite they
did not believe in their solutions, we thought as a team that they had good ideas as they
solve in some aspects the problem and they were forced to incorporate the tools we had
given them earlier.
After this, it came to what we thought it was the most entertaining and greatest activity of the
day. Each team were given a toothpick which they had to negotiate and exchange for other
objects and those who arrive with the best product and at the same time sell it to us in the
best and most innovative way possible through a 3 minutes pitch. We enjoyed each
presentation and we could see and learn from a hidden side of Kajo, they had an incredible
personality and at the same time high selling and communicative skills.
It was at the end of the pitches where we asked the team to write in a new post it what
“Innovation” was for them, after an afternoon full of activities focused on providing them as
much knowledge as possible about this concept, they had to look back on what they had
learned throughout the session and to our personal gratitude many of the post it carried
concepts and messages that showed they had acquired new knowledge.
To end our session we asked the team if they could give us their opinions and respective
feedback to the activity we had done. The word happiness is small to describe the great
satisfaction we feel when receiving very good and beautiful comments from the team, all that
effort we had put into the activities was reflected in those positive team words leaving us a
smile along of our day, so much so that we could not stop telling our team in Chile the
satisfaction we had doing the training session with Kajo.
The expectations of our team were completely exceeded. We realized that in reality the
working methodology of the learning sessions delivered much more than theoretical
knowledge, since through this work methodology sensitive topics and sometimes intimate
topics are also discussed, revealing our concerns, weaknesses, pains, ambitions and
This work methodology can rescue the feeling of teamwork based on trust, commitment and
motivation. This is because from the first moment a student enters to study in Proakatemia it
is merely for a personal desire rather than an obligation, a situation that occurs in a very
recurrent way in Chile, although there is a great offer of universities and degrees, A large
part of the students follow the regular conduit rather than their own desire or dream, and it is
precisely because of this that a large part of university students leave the career they choose
before completing the first year of study, which translates into lack of commitment or
motivation in relation to the mandatory activities that must be carried out to be able to
advance in the curricular network in search of obtaining the professional title.
In conclusion we learn in the theoretical and human field. In the first field we take new tools
of teamwork, addressing the challenges in a dynamic way by delivering more than one vision
regarding a problem posed and at the same time making thinking of a solution is not
something tortuous but rather taking it as a challenge and a goal to be achieved through
flexible tools that generate the participation of all group members in an equitable manner.
While from the human point of view – and probably the most important – we learned that
teamwork will be fruitful only if we know our teammates well, since in this way we can better
understand their behavior and the way they develop ; Empathy and trust cannot be
developed or put into practice if we do not know the person we have next to us and that is
why exposing our desires and experiences, generate an ideal work environment to address
the problems posed with a broad vision and at the same time develop satisfactory and
And finally, beyond the human and technical knowledge that we acquire, we go with the
mission of continuing to develop this methodology in our university, since we firmly believe
that this is the way to approach education, with a strong value perspective based on the
create knowledge through a methodology that makes all participants equal among them,
promoting an environment of healthy living.