Archive for the ‘I-Europe’ Category

Goodbye to “I-Europe”, Let’s start “Working & Learning”

November 15th, 2009 by Pekka Kamarainen

Again some time has passed since my last posting. Again the everyday life with project work has interrupted my reflection on European innovations in the field of vocational education and training (VET).

Looking back at my previous posts I start to understand my basic difficulty: I have tried to be a historian and an active contributor to the history at the same time. Moreover, I have given primacy to a once-upon-a-time agenda (the four “I’s” of my “I-Europe” document of 2003) instead of looking where the discussion is going on.

I still believe that it is worthwhile to stop every now and then to look at the big picture. However, the big picture should be seen in the light of small steps and efforts that can make the trend.

For me this is a challenge – to change the perspective from a distant viewer to that of a co-shaping and co-participating actor in the field. For this purpose I want to change the name of the blog.

The new heading that I would like to use is “Working & Learning”. I have several reasons for preferring this heading:

  • Firstly, it refers to the action context of vocational education and training (VET) – workplace learning and learning for working life.
  • Secondly, it refers to challenge for pedagogies in VET – they have to promote work-related learning.
  • Thirdly, it refers to the challenge for European VET researchers – we have to work and learn together to overcome the current phase of relative marginalisation vis-à-vis European policy development and European research agendas.

I will stop here and have a look how I can continue in this spirit with the issues that emerge from my current projects. As I see it, I am working and learning with them all the time.

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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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