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Training and professional development for teachers and trainers

January 11th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Last week I was in Greece for the fourth in a series of European workshop son the training of teachers and trainers from vocational education and training. It was great to participate in an event with genuine involvement. Yes we were looking at policy, but rather than listening to long presentations and powerpoints, the workshop was designed as a series of activities for eliciting and discussing ideas.

One thing which has become clear in this series of workshops, which involve participants from every European country, is that whilst our systems may differ, and instruments and mechanisms for training of teachers and trainers are certainly different, the key issues are the same in all our countries.

Whilst in every country we have programmes for training vocational teachers, in many countries pathways and training programmes for vocational trainers are muddled. Many trainers are selected for their occupational and craft skills and may have no training as a trainer.

In every workshop their has been as emphasis on the importance of new technologies. Although many countries are providing continuing training programmes in the use of new technologies, these tend to focus on the technology itself, rather than how to use technology for learning. Access to e-learning resources is another commonly stated issue.

In every workshop concerns have been expressed about the quality of teaching and training. Whilst some countries have established registers of trainers, in general this is seen as a bureaucratic imposition, rather than a genuine move to improve quality. One popular theme has been for more evaluation, and for better evaluation tools, along with tools for self evaluation and peer group evaluation.

A question for the workshops, which are sponsored by the European Commission DG Education and Culture, is whether there should be a European Framework for the training of VET teachers and trainers and, if so, what that Framework should look like.

Here participants have been divided. On the one hand, a European Framework could provide better access to training for teachers and trainers and might serve to raise the status of teachers and trainers. On the other hand, there is a fear that a Framework imposed from above will be too inflexible and will not respect existing systems and cultures.

Most participants were more keen for a bottom up development focusing on providing more professional development support for teachers and trainers. Technology Enhanced Learning is seen as an opportunity in that respect.

There has also been considerable discussion around the idea of competence frameworks. Many countries and projects are seeking to develop competency frameworks for vocational teachers and trainers. However, there is a doubt that VET teachers and trainers jobs and practice are sufficiently similar for a single competency framework. Furthermore, for trainers a common set or ‘core competences’ applicable to all practitioners, may be too vague to be really useful and may well ignore many of the activities undertaken by trainers in a specific context. Some participants have also questioned the use of competency at all, seeing it as a lowest common denominator, rather than an aspirational tool for learning.n Instead it has been suggested, we should seek to develop individual and group learning programmes negotiated with the teachers and trainers themselves, with peer group support and even assessment.

There is a richness of ideas coming from the workshops. The outcomes are being made available on the project web site. As yet it is hard to discern any clear cut policy directions. In that respect, the issue of how we train teachers and trainers may be seen as a reflection of the emergent debates around the future of education itself.

From my interest in the use of new technologies for learning, the key issue is how we can move from using technology to provide training and professional development in the uses of technology in teaching and training, to using technology for wider areas of training and professional development.

One Response to “Training and professional development for teachers and trainers”

  1. Rev Dr David E Woodard says:

    Dear Professional Development Trainers,
    I am currently working in Indonesia as principal in a Christian Private School, Penabur International Jakarta. I am working on our proposal for our professional development budget to give the foundation for 2009/10 academic year.
    I would like to have your help in providing trainer(s) for a few sessions over a 2 day period of time. Please, can you inform me of your fees to provide the teachers professional development training, preference of economy or business class, and hotel preference?
    We have 2 different times for training, mid July and mid January.
    Thank You for your timely consideration.
    God Bless
    Sincerely
    Rev Dr David E Woodard
    revdrdavid_teaching_in_asia [at] yahoo [dot] com

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