Archive for the ‘workinglearning’ Category

Restarting my blog – What is on the agenda?

April 13th, 2010 by Pekka Kamarainen

Again I have disappointed myself and possible readers by letting my blog go quiet after the Christmas and New Year break. Looking back, the return to project work after holidays was overshadowed by several efforts that did not leave much energy for blogging. The imperative that was hanging upon me (and my colleagues): “Try to catch up with the tight schedules and  put in some new bids.” So, we were working our ways through and there was little time to look forward, backward or sideways.

However, this is precisely the trap that I or  we (speaking for my colleagues as well) should avoid. It appears to me that we tend to get squeezed to produce the promised project results (“survival documents”) and to concentrate with all our capacity on that. However, in order to draw conclusions from our working and learning we need to be able to produce reflective commentaries (“surplus documents”) and to share our learning results.

From this perspective I am afraid that we have gou ourselves hooked to a pattern of “working and rushing forward” instead of “working and learning from each others’ experiences and conlusions”.

Why have these thoughts come to my mind just now? Firstly, I was just interviewed by Martin Lawn who is studying the history of the European Educational Research Association (EERA) and of the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER). In our discussion we could conclude that the evolution of VETNET network of European vocational education and training (VET) researchers has also been a complex process with many features. Once again I noticed that my old logbooks on the development of VETNET and ECER have been buried to the backstage of the old VETNET homepage and hardly accessible to anyone else than myself.

Another reason is the fact that I have been recently involved in several European projects and initiatives to promote professional development of VET teachers and trainers (such as the TTplus project, the European Consultation seminars and the Trainers in Europe network). Many of these have been parallel to each other and producing their ‘own’ results. Now, there is a chance to look, what kind of group picture could be composed on the basis of these – altogether. I am not suggesting that there would not be contradictions or missing pieces. Yet, there is a chance to get an overview and to discuss, how the interim results could best be used for the next phase.

Thirdly, my friends and colleagues at Pontydysgu have been considering, how to make the best use of their blogs. At the moment it is clear that Graham’s Wales-Wide-Web continues as the flaghsip and the regular bloggers are encouraged to continue. I was kindly asked to consider, if I could get myself back to regular blogging (because there is an interest to blog postings from the areas I want to cover). There was also discussion on another option (I leave it to Graham and others to announce their new ideas when the time is ripe).

So, I am looking forward to a spring season with more postings and with efforts to discuss lessons from earlier history of VET research (vis-à-vis the current phase) and the group picture of more recent activities with focus on trainers, teachers and workplace learning. In this context I try to make appropriate use of discussions in projects and networks (and on their blogs) as well.

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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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