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Crossing Boundaries

May 6th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

The conference season is fast approaching. As well as the PLE21010 conference, Pontydysgu is involved in organising a conference about the training of trainers, ‘Crossing Borders’, being held on the 14th – 15th of October in Kostelec near Prague. The conference is supported by the Network to support Trainers in Europe and the Czcch TTnet. And the good news is it is free! The conference has issued a call for papers with a deadline of 16th June. Full details can be found on the network’s web site.

There are four main themes for the conference.

Theme 1: Institutional, economic, and societal challenges to the role of trainers and teachers in vocational education and trainers

With the growing importance of initial and continuing learning in enterprises and the rapid  introduction of new technologies, the role of trainers is changing. Research suggests that ever growing numbers of people are responsible for training as part of their work. This change is accompanied by increasing pressure for economies in training resulting from the economic recession.

At the same time the move towards more authentic work-based learning is changing the role and activities of trainers. A series of studies have talked of a move away from didactic classroom and workshop-based training towards facilitating enquiry-based learning.

Theme 2: E-learning as a challenge for trainers, teachers, and learners in vocational  education

E-Learning is increasingly impacting on training. Larger enterprises are developing in-house e-learning programmes for employees. The internet is increasingly being used for informal learning. Internet-based tools offer opportunities for accessing learning in the workplace and for communication. E-portfolios can be used to record and reflect on learning. Web 2.0 tools offer opportunities to develop customised multi-media materials to support training.

Theme 3: New ways of learning and the re-definition of the role of trainers and teachers in vocational education

Studies and reports have documented a move away form classroom and work-based training towards work-based learning. Such learning is seen as being based on practice and thus developing applied work practice knowledge. Work based learning may also be more authentic and situated than classroom based training and may be more cost-effective in contributing to production processes.

At the same time some research suggests a move away from didactic training approaches towards the provision of coaching and mentoring.

Theme 4: Professional development and HRD for changing roles of trainers and teachers

With an increasing recognition of the importance of trainers and training and changing roles for trainers, the initial and continuing professional development of trainers is also coming under scrutiny. Research suggests that structures and processes for training trainers are fragmentary and differ widely in different countries, regions and sectors. In most countries there are not mandatory standards or qualifications for trainers. It may be that most trainers rely on personal networks and informal learning for their professional development.

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    News Bites

    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information

    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.”

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