The new facilities of Pohjois-Tapiola Upper Secondary School are located in Otaniemi in the building known as the Open Innovation House . 

Experiments in innovative learning expand in Otaniemi 


The collaboration between the City of Espoo and Aalto University in the development of innovative learning expands when the students of Pohjois-Tapiola Upper Secondary School begin their studies on the Aalto University campus in Otaniemi at the beginning of the autumn term. 

The solution is based on encouraging experiences of the first School as a Service experiment. In that experiment, Haukilahti Upper Secondary School has operated in decentralised facilities on the Otaniemi campus for a year now.  The experiment has aroused interest and been acknowledged even on the international level.

The School as a Service concept is based on a model developed by the City of Espoo and Aalto University, which sees school as a service that supports learning comprehensively – not just as a school building. The model supports new ways of learning, increases the joy of learning and encourages actors to work together and develop their operations. The experiment also includes testing of flexible and cost-effective solutions that can later be scaled up to cover other educational and cultural services. Preliminary calculations indicate that the School as a Service innovation may save up to 25% on the cost of facilities compared to an investment-based model.

Facilities enable diverse studying

The new facilities of Pohjois-Tapiola Upper Secondary School are located at Maarintie 6, in the building known as the Open Innovation House (OIH). Parts of the third and fourth floors of the house have been rented for use by the upper secondary school, and the building also includes, for example, the Aalto Start-Up Center and facilities of the Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering.

It required very few changes to make the facilities suitable for studying.

“The collaboration with Aalto University Properties Ltd, ACRE and the Aalto Start-Up Center began in the furnishing stage. We received most of the furniture needed in upper secondary school recycled from them, either on loan or permanently,” Principal Sinikka Luoma-Mattila rejoices. The facilities are also easy to adjust to meet various needs.

Some lessons are organised elsewhere on the campus. This way, students get to move during the school day, and learning takes place outside the school-house as well. Meals are organised in a nearby student restaurant at the Computer Science Building.

There are 400 students in Pohjois-Tapiola Upper Secondary School.  Natural sciences are popular options in the school, and studying on the Otaniemi campus is a way to utilise the possibilities offered by Aalto University and the campus.

“We provide upper secondary school students with a view into the Aalto entrepreneurship ecosystem, diverse collaboration with companies and start-up contacts to support familiarisation with working life. We have had good experiences of collaborating with upper secondary school students, and companies are enthusiastic to be involved,” says Marika Paakkala, Project Director of the Aalto Start-Up Center.

“In Otaniemi, we also collaborate with Haukilahti Upper Secondary School,” Luoma-Mattila says. The classrooms for art and music are shared with Haukilahti Upper Secondary School. Joint special courses with Aalto University and Haukilahti Upper Secondary School are already offered this school year, and they can be taken by students of the other upper secondary schools in Espoo as well. 

Inspiring learning environment

The City of Espoo and Aalto University are jointly developing an operating model in which students of the upper secondary schools operating on the campus have the opportunity to take university courses during their upper secondary school studies.

Based on the user experiences of the School as a Service experiment so far, students appreciate a new, inspiring learning environment and have actively taken the opportunity to participate in university courses open to them. Teachers can collaborate with their colleagues working in the university and utilise the various special facilities and services offered by the university.