It was a once in a lifetime opportunity! This is how Ana Gebejes from Serbia describes her situation in 2012 when she came to Joensuu to make her big dream come true. The dream has carried her far in her studies, work and life. In Joensuu, Gebejes feels at home.

Ana Gebejes, who works as a digital learning consultant in Valamis Group Ltd, talks about the flow of learning – inspiration and motivation, compelling study modules and engaging learning experiences. It has all been made possible by the digital learning environment of Valamis from Joensuu. Gebejes trains her customers from all over the world to utilise it.

Some of her customers are private, but Gebejes does mention a couple of organisations – with great pride and joy. They are the Epic Challenge educational program launched by NASA and the flagship project of the European Commission, Copernicus.

– The Valamis learning environment offers cutting edge technology that allows thousands of people to learn things from astronauts, for example, or gather information related to climate change from European research and environmental institutes.

Making the world a better place

To Ana Gebejes, teaching and sharing knowledge is a passion and a way to make the world a better place. Gebejes, who is from the city of Senta in northern Serbia, began her engineering studies at the University of Novi Sad.

– The student accomodations had only two computers. I remember how students had to queue at the door for their turn to use the computer to look up information. It is unbelievable how many things have changed in such a short time, the international ambassador of digital learning ponders now, about ten years later.

When Gebejes was offered the opportunity for an exchange year in the United States, she jumped at the opportunity. Her goal was to develop her English language proficiency. Gebejes returned to Serbia nine months later, but her thirst for knowledge and ardour to travel the world had only grown stronger.

The big names of Joensuu

Then she came across Erasmus Mundus – CIMET (Color in Informatics and Media Technology), the Join Master Degree of four European universities. The Master program was coordinated by the University of St Etienne in France. The other three were the Gjøvik University College in Norway, the University of Granada in Spain and the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu.

Ana Gebejes studied in the Master program in Spain for two terms. From there, she found her way to Joensuu simply because the University of Eastern Finland conducts internationally ground-breaking research in the field of colour research. As Gebejes put it, “the biggest names of the field are in Joensuu.”

– Joensuu offers first-class education and cutting-edge technology. There was no doubt that I wanted to continue my studies here, enthuses Gebejes, and mentioning the names of professor Markku Hauta-Kasari, the Head of the School of Computing, and Emeritus professor Jussi Parkkinen who has since retired. Joensuu was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the young researcher.

Gebejes got a doctorate in Joensuu in 2017. In her doctoral thesis, which belongs to the field of computer science, she studied the application of spectral video technology in human eye analysis and tracking.

The future of learning

The University of Eastern Finland is taking part in the Epic Challenge educational program that was originally launched by NASA. The program teaches creative problem solving methods, team and project work, testing and networking. Gebejes was introduced to the Valamis learning environment when she studied in the Epic Challenge program. Later on she became a teacher and project manager in the program. She found the Valamis learning environment convincing.

– I immediately thought that this is the future of teaching and learning!

Although the digital learning consultant is constantly on the road, Gebejes is committed to her inspiring and rewarding job. When it is time to relax, the woman can be found in BodyCombat or other LesMills classes.

– I also enjoy staying at home; I like cooking. It is especially enjoyable now because I recently bought a new home in Penttilä with the perfect kitchen!

Text: Sirkka-Liisa Aaltonen/Viestintä-Ässä, Photo: Jarno Artika