Designing a circular economy learning environment for Topinpuisto

29.1.2021 | Topinpuiston kiertotalousverkosto

In March 2019, we started a thesis process, which focused on improving Topinpuisto learning environment and the collaboration between Topinpuisto, its network companies and various educational institutions. Goal for our research was to find out what kind of learning platform is suitable for Topinpuisto’s stakeholders and helps to improve processes of Topinpuisto network.  One aim for our work was to solve the struggle at the back end when assigning projects as well as to provide an effective visual interface for the learning platform.

Topinpuisto clients need to know the various opportunities schools and universities can offer. Educational institutions need to be aware of the practicalities companies can offer for students. Thus, the main aim was to encourage circular economy dynamics!

The work was a participating process

We started the research by analyzing how effective the current platform is. Then we categorized previously done student works and projects to create themes that can serve as a guide for companies and educational institutions when considering collaboration with Topinpuisto.

Johanna Liipola with thesis students Olu and Marianne


We interviewed company and educational representatives to gain insights as to what is important to them for a successful collaboration and on the learning platform, and how it can be made functional.

There were many themes to consider: communication and giving resources to projects, objectives and motivations for cooperation, how projects should be assigned. These are the crucial information needed when creating these projects and information that should be available on the learning platform.

We organized an online workshop, an experience that was worth it despite the worrying about how workable and successful it would be as Covid-19 restrictions prevented us from seeing people face to face. In the workshop, we wanted to explore participants’ ideas on how to make the learning platform more engaging and resourceful to all stakeholders. Focus was on how to make students projects bring value and results to companies, expose students to real life circular economy cases and problem solving, as well as create innovations in circular economy. Participants were active and contributed to the workshop themes.

Conclusions –  a prototype of the learning platform

Our research concluded that the learning platform should provide information for all stakeholders and only when users can easily find relevant information and proceed with the actions they are looking for, the platform serves their needs and provides a pleasant user experience.

Company customers want a channel through which they can present their work to the larger society and share their achievements. Educational institutions wish that the platform would diminish amount of ad hoc project needs. Finding and agreeing project possibilities and project frameworks was essential to all, providing a more structured approach for all stakeholders.

Based on this information we built a prototype of the learning environment, which supports announcing project needs and open project assignments, where contact information is easily available, stakeholders can market their accomplishments, and students can check open vacancies for internship, trainings or thesis work. Furthermore, future project development trends and needs were also highlighted.

Finally, on September, we were at Topinpuisto-päivä to present the outcome of our six months research of improving the Topinpuisto learning environment. When presenting organizational year clock and the new visual interface for the learning platform, the feeling was awesome looking at how we have added value to the learning environment in spite of the anxiety experienced at the beginning of the process. The anxiety was not from lack of information, neither was it from lack of assistance from the Topinpuisto team but born out of a desire to make this project a success.

Eventually, we created a prototype to make visible the connections all stakeholders’ want to see in the learning platform based on all information gathered and the outcome presented to Topinpuisto!

For more information, check our thesis from here (link).

Verdict: It is doable and achievable as long as there is a will!

Marianne Taponen & Oluwaseun Orisakwe

Behind the scenes:

  • Some feelings of frustrations and hoping this can just be over and done with!
  • Late night snacking just to keep awake and feel good to continue writing!
  • Writing and rewriting!
  • Finding missing references for theory writing!
  • Online workshop preparation and slight setbacks due to Covid-19 restrictions!


  • To our supervisors, Ulla and Päivi
  • To Johanna and Miia from Topinpuisto
  • To all stakeholders and participants who contributed to our work
  • To some of our classmates for ideas and encouragement
  • To our families


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