What is Network of Experts?
Network of Experts is a Finnish online service where secondary, upper secondary and vocational school teachers and tutors can search and contact experts of their desired field. The primary function of Network of Experts is to arrange virtual visits between the experts and classrooms. During the virtual visit an expert shares their knowledge and experience about a subject the class is learning and answers any questions the class has for him/her.
The goal of the virtual visits is to create a concrete link between the class topics at hand and professional life and also to introduce different professions and career possibilities to the students. Network of Experts brings new information to the class, as well as different points of view and conversation topics about the subject the students are studying.
The objective of Network of Experts is to open the classroom door towards working life : widen the learning environment and strengthen the interaction between students and their environments.
How does it work?
Everyone can view the partnering agencies without registry at the Search for an Expert section on the Network of Experts web site (usage only in Finland at the moment). When teachers want to contact the experts, they must register into the site to see the full contact info of the experts. When the desired expert is found, teacher contacts him/her and suggests a time and a topic for a virtual visit.
Teacher and school must have all the equipment needed (web cam, speakers and microphone) and some kind of web conferencing system through which the expert can be in contact with the classroom. The system can be, i.e. Skype, Adobe Connect, Google Hangout or some other functioning system, as long as both sides can use the connection.
A successful virtual visit is interactive. Pupils get to know something about the expert in advance and prepare questions for him/her. During the visit, the expert can share slides, videos, photos etc. through the web conferencing system and even send some products in advance for the class to explore while the lecture.
Virtual visit can be broadcasted to school from the next building or thousands of kilometers away. For example a Finnish HR manager working in Dubai has told students what it’s like to study and work abroad, a power plant development manager has explained to local upper secondary school physics class how a power plant works as a heat machine and a renowned journalist talked with native language students about journalist ethics and what it’s like to work as a journalist. Examples are many.
Network of Experts is a free of charge online service provided by the Economic Information Office (TAT). The service was founded in Pirkanmaa (region in Finland) with funding of Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE). After few years TAT took control of the service and has expanded it to cover whole Finland.
The service can be used in Finnish or in Swedish.