How to support trainers and teachers from the VET sector in the implementation of dynamic, open and innovative methods?

Transformation of VET system is currently a common denominator for almost all educational systems within EU. New pedagogical approaches in line with VET QF require innovative measures to stimulate development of VET students and teachers/trainers. Such practices are well-developed and established within general education however within VET there seems not to be enough pedagogical support. There is a need to adapt them to the new context in order to enhance accessibility and quality of pedagogical content for educators in VET.

It is important that the progress towards 2020 strategy in various countries is more coherent. Level of use and exploitation of new media and related pedagogies varies significantly in different VET systems which result in difficulties in implementation of VET-QF. Although VET is relatively well-developed in terms of QF implementation e-learning course that puts a great emphasis on the design of learning outcomes and gives a practical solution for educators seeking to develop their design and moderation skills on-line will significantly ease that progress. Professional development of VET educators is a part and parcel of any development in any country and thus facilitating their learning through free and open pedagogical on-line course can help them keep up with QF VET challenges more easily. Relevant, innovative and flexible VET system in Europe depends of the people who are directly involved in education and thus providing them with high quality learning opportunities is vital for further developments.

The use of innovative practices varies among education institutions. Application of ICT is associated with e-learning and learning 2.0 is an emergent phenomenon, fostered by bottom-up take up of web 2.0 processes (or social and professional networking) in educational contexts. Although social and professional networking originated outside educational institutions, it has huge potential in formal Education and Training (E&T) for enhancing learning processes and supporting the modernisation of European Education and Training (E&T) institutions.

Research showed that VET institutions are focused on application of technologies in education, but the skills of teachers and trainers remain scares. ICT skills are core skills for qualitative performance of VET actors, due to information retrieval and development of didactical scenarios of teaching and learning activities, however, they are much lower than those at higher education institutions (HEI).

The idea of the study is to analyse the requirements of VET, taking into consideration EQARF/EQAVET and specific needs, researched and defined and focused more on qualification framework and specific e-skills of VET teachers rather than general education.

The study focused on constructivism and situated learning in order to provide VET teachers and trainers with a space for authentic learning. Educational offer for VET is mostly commercial. High fees have seemed always a guarantee of quality but closed materials do not allow learners to check them against learning needs. The global development of Open Educational Resources shows that the transparency rises quality as free and publicly accessible content is peer-reviewed, evaluated and improved. In eVET2EDU an online course was published on one of Creative Commons licences which allows for re-use. Its quality was tested though evaluators’ and participants’ activities during the pilot course in order to offer validated European product.

Horizon Report 2011 states that digital literacy is a key skill in every discipline and profession. In VET this trend is even more crucial as the constant development of technology requires transferability and applicability of e-skills in different fields of services. The e-course addresses this challenge on two levels: the course thematic field and its web-based form – participants experience digital way of engagement as well as learn how digital media can be used in VET reality.

-According to the HORIZON Report 2011 one of educational challenges is expectation to be able to work & learn any time any place. Online course in a form of short texts and activities allow for learning through mobile devices. Accessibility of e-courses and digital materials for disabled learners and those with low band with.

The starting point for the design of this study is recognition of adult learners’ needs and construction of an adequate learning environment to support development. Constructivist and connectivist approaches are believed to provide framework for definition of complex learning goals. The course is delivered on-line, through accessible learning system.

In particular it embraces:

  • authentic learning and activities in a real context – situated learning: they cover both design and moderation phase and give a series of short, practical e-tivities (G. Salmon concept)
  • immediate application of new skills into new tasks;
  • activities that promote collaborative learning and peer learning but also allow for individualised, self-paced learning (online group work, relevant discussions);
  • reflection on the learning process and reflective writing as assignments;
  • media ecology and pedagogy-driven design that stresses learning goals over the tools used;
  • smooth incorporation of new technologies that are learnt “off the side” (videoconferencing, groupware, chat etc)
  • scaffolding: initial support is significant (tutor, manual, extensive individual communication etc.) but module by module learners are gaining independence and self-direction. They are encouraged to take initiative and play moderators’ roles in authentic situations.
  • communication is vital and is encouraged by facilitators and mediated, especially in the initial stage. It exploits various channels (e-mail, discussion forum, videconference, chat, group editing) but serves pedagogical purposes mainly.

Teachers were provided with validated course materials enhancing their skills and competences especially in the area of pedagogy and new media. Special focus on competences, evidence based learning and recording achievement was maintained as well as online social skills and media literacies. As such the activities lead to increasing the quality of education in VET context.

Variety of language versions of the course makes it possible to use it also as a reference point in professional development of VET teachers. Moreover, the study shows that the e-course enhanced digital competences of the direct target group (VET teachers and trainers) and indirect (their learners) by providing them with high quality, flexible and open e-course on e-learning design and pedagogy and increases the ability of learning, strengthening the development by providing pilot e-course as well as open resources for individual learners.

Learn more:

(e)VET2EDU – Supporting Vocational Teachers And Trainers In E-Learning

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