Archive for the ‘I-Europe’ Category

Back on the blog – Why and how?

April 29th, 2008 by Pekka Kamarainen

Here I am: back again with my blog. The long winter months are over. So, it is time to continue after a period of hibernation. Well, to be honest, the weather has not been the reason for the annoying silence on this blog.

Obviously, when I started this blog I took a more difficult task than I thought. I wanted to write on innovations in the field of vocational education and training (VET) and on related European research. This turned out to be a hard ride. I must confess that I envy the ease with which my fellow blogger Graham Attwell continues his touring round the Wales-Wide-Web. I also welcome our new neighbour Cristina and hope that her learning journeys are easier than mine. Anyway, as there is life in the blog-pool of Pontydysgu, I want give a fresh start on my thoughts on I-Europe and on the future of European VET research.

When I started the blog I looked back at a special moment: the debate on a draft research agenda “I-Europe” in an open meeting of European VET researchers in September 2003. I described how we felt a “momentum” for shaping a joint research agenda – and then lost the momentum by the time the first draft was there. I put this episode into a bigger picture and analysed the change in the European cooperation climate – the loss of the perspective of ‘open future’. Then, I tried to make some points how to get back the perspective towards open futures (and what role the themes of the “I-Europe” agenda could play in this effort). And then: the rest was silence, at least for some time.

So, what was I doing? And – given my aims – what went wrong? Apparently I was trying to open a discussion on future VET reseearch and on related European cooperation initiatives. Yet, I managed to hang the starting points high up in the spheres of no-man’s-land. Also, I seem to have given myself a position like the Oracle of Delphoi or as Cassandra of Troy) – the one who can see the future but can only give a cryptic message what might be expected.

So, what is the cure? Apparently, I have to give up the style of oracle (making visionary statements) and try to adopt the style of Socrates (making questions and comments that could tease out ideas and initiatives).

I think this has been enough for the moment. Let us see what I can produce for my next blog entry – and when I will find time for it.

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    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.


    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time


    Postgrad pressure

    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”


    Teenagers online in the USA

    According to Pew Internet 95% of teenagers in the USA now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.

    Roughly half (51%) of 13 to 17 year olds say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.

    The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.


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