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HiOA’s innovative summer school

Students acquire insight into an innovative environment while enjoying an international vibe.

Olav Johan Øye Published: Updated:
HiOA Summer School 2017 IMG_0002 ed

One of the summer school 2017's new courses was a ‘big data’ analytics course, which is becoming an important area of competence.

‘In ICT, but also in many other fields, big data is a very relevant tool for analysing data to acquire insights,’ says Associate Professor Aiko Yamashita, who taught the course at the HiOA International Summer School.

She says that the course was a great success due to the students’ enthusiasm and the diversity of perspectives that comes from having students from very different countries, such as China, Mozambique, Ghana, the USA, Belgium and Norway.

An international environment provides different perspectives

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‘What are the academic advantages of an international environment?’

‘Different social, cultural, and economic backgrounds provide different perspectives on the assignments.’

‘One fun example is one of the challenges presented to the students: They were asked to suggest a problem that could be solved using big data analytics, thereby improving the world.’

While the students with backgrounds from finance or technology would struggle to come up with clear-cut, relevant suggestions, a girl from Mozambique had a good idea: What if we create a model that can predict tuberculosis risk based on symptoms, so that the clinics can prioritise tuberculosis tests?

Mozambique has limited access to tests, and they need to know which patients are at high risk of a type of tuberculosis, so that they can prioritise tests for these patients.

The other students immediately responded positively to the idea.

‘This is a good example of how an international mix of students can have positive effects,’ says Aiko.

‘In international environments you become more aware of the situation in other countries, and of how technology can be used to solve different problems.’

Social activities and high spirits

HiOA Summer School 2017 Anthony Giannoumis og studenter

Besides focusing on specific subjects, the summer school also aims to create a good social environment.

Volunteer IT students from HiOA, recruited by Associate Professor Anthony Giannoumis, were responsible for the social activities and making sure to support the students and to create a good atmosphere.

The final decision to hold the summer school was made relatively late this year, and there wasn't time to market it as much as could be desired. Nevertheless, the big data analytics course attracted a group of 10–12 students.

Of these, six–seven students were very active and formed a core group.

‘What were the admission requirements?’

‘The admission requirements posed a bit of a challenge, because we wanted to be as open as possible. However, some basic mathematic skills and some programming knowledge are required.

This time, we didn’t have enough resources to offer an introduction to programming, and the students’ programming skills varied.’

Motivated students

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‘We had to build competence as we went along, but the students were up for the challenge.’

‘For example, we had a mechanical engineering student, he was very skilled at solving problems. We also had a student with a background from finance at BI Norwegian Business School, who had done very little programming before, but who was very capable and simply threw himself into coding.’

‘Are the students highly motivated to participate when they come from another country, perhaps very far away from Norway?’

‘Absolutely. The summer school students are normally very motivated to learn. After all, not everyone would be willing to skip their summer holiday to go to school.’
‘Is it expensive for the students visiting from some of the poorer countries?’

‘The Mozambican students’ expenses were covered by a student exchange programme, and some students had backing from the USA and Canada. At NOK 1,000, the summer school itself wasn't that expensive.’

Innovative boost for HiOA

How can the summer school benefit HiOA?’

‘I think it’s a good way of getting to experiment with different methods – a very good innovation instrument.’

‘We used many tools we normally don't use in an educational setting, for example the interactive programming website Jupyter Notebook. Testing different approaches proved to be very useful for teaching endeavours at HiOA.’

‘But we also want to show that HiOA is an institution that welcomes internationalisation and international education.’  

HiOA’s openness and flexibility attract international students

‘HiOA is open and flexible, making it a very attractive choice for international students.’

Two Norwegian students also attended the summer’s big data course. They have lived in Norway all their lives, but also have another cultural background.

The lecturers are also international.

‘I'm from Japan and Costa Rica, and was educated in Costa Rica, Sweden and Norway. We had a French lecturer who came all the way from Chile to Norway for free to teach a module on data visualisation.’

‘We also had a lecturer from Germany, and a Ukrainian researcher working at Simula.’

‘If we can get some more resources for the summer school next year, we can get a lot more out of the big data course.’

‘We lack big data expertise in the engineering subjects at HiOA, as well as in other subjects where data analytics can be used to gain insight. We’re trying to fill a gap, and the summer school has a lot of potential in that regard,’ says Aiko Yamashita.

HiOA International Summer School lasts around one month. That gives the students time for a little summer holiday as well.

Further information

HiOA International Summer School

HiOA International Summer School

An opportunity to experience Oslo for a few weeks and earn credits towards your bachelor's degree.

The application deadline for summer 2018 is 1 February.

More information

Opportunities for international students

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA) offers many courses and programmes for international students. Application procedures vary according to what kind of courses or programmes you want to apply to.