Introduction

    Join me with “Working & Learning”

    November 9th, 2007 by Dirk Stieglitz

    I am Pekka Kämäräinen from Finland. From 2005 on I work as a senior researcher at Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB), University of Bremen.  With my blog I want discuss European innovations in vocational education and training (VET) and in workplace learning.

    Working & Learning

    Quiet on the blog – Pekka on sick leave

    September 25th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

    Normally after the annual ECER conference I am eager to step into the ongoing project work – catching up with reports to be finalised and moving on with fieldwork. This time I have had to pull the brakes. Shortly after publishing the blogs on #ECER2018 I was sent to an eye operation as an emergency case. Now, one week after the operation I have a good feeling about the recovery – but it takes quite some time. Therefore, no intensive reading or writing or anything else that may disturb the healing. I am on sick leave until the 15th of October and perhaps it needs to be extended. So, I am better off taking it easy and taking rest from blogging as well.

    Funnily enough this blog post seems to be the 300th after I got myself into regular blogging at the beginning of the EU-funded Learning Layers project in November 2012. It seems ironical that I have to celebrate reaching this milestone by announcing a quiet period. But this is life – and blogging has to be adjusted to facts of life.

    Mind you, I have very little to complain when I compare my sick leave and my sick note to the well-known case of the Irish Paddy on a construction site, reported by the Dubliners:

    So, I am taking my time out and will be back when I am fit again.

    More blogs to come (in due time) …

     

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    Reflections on #ECER2018 – Part Five: Developments in the VETNET network

    September 14th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

    With my four previous posts I have shaped a series of blogs on the European Conference of Educational Research (ECER 2018) that took place last week in Bolzano/Bozen. In the first post I reported on the pilot with  ePosters powered by the digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB). In the second post I gave an overview on my own contributions – on the research background of the LTB and on ‘transfer of innovation’ issues in recent and earlier innovation projects. In the third post I reported on the Opening Session of our VETNET network (European Vocational Education and Training Research Network) and on some contributions of our Italian colleagues. In the  fourth post I give insights into some of the VETNET sessions that I had attended as a participant.With this fifth – and concluding – post I will focus on the VETNET network and its general assembly.

    Successful preparation – successful participation

    The convenors of the VETNET network – Christof Nägele and Barbara Stalder – had a pleasant duty to report on the preparation of the VETNET program and how it was put into practice. Once again we had clearly over 100 proposals and despite some withdrawals we remained among the biggest EERA networks. For the convenors the high number provided a challenge – not to end up with four parallel sessions in the same time slot. They managed it – although packing sometimes four presentations into one session. But this seemed to work fine. Also, when distributing the session chair duties, they took a new approach – in each session the last presenter was appointed as the chair. In this way the chairing duties were distributed more widely – not only to the board members. And in this way also the last presenters got their fair share of the time. Finally, the organisation of the VETNET dinner – with a record participation – was praised widely.

    ECER VETNET Proceedings 2018

    One of the remarkable achievements of the convenors was that they managed to produce proper proceedings – as an online version and as a book that is printed on demand:

    Nägele, C., & Stalder, B. E. (Eds.) (2018). Trends in vocational education and training research. Proceedings of the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Vocational Education and Training Network (VETNET).https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1319718

    The VETNET pilot with ePosters

    This year VETNET had a specific pilot activity with ePosters powered by the Learning Toolbox (LTB). Together with Christof Nägele I initiated firstly an EERA event for presenting this approach and then an EERA-funded Network project that enabled us to organise an interactive poster session with six authors who had prepared their ePosters (see my first post of this series). In the VETNET assembly I was pleased to report that this pilot activity had been a successful one. The sessions had good numbers of participants, the technology worked well and the mini-poster wall enabled further discussions after the sessions. And the EERA showcase and the instruction page are available for further use.

    IJRVET – our journal is getting stronger

    Michael Gessler, the editor-in-chief of the IJRVET (International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training) reported on the development of journal, Now that the IJRVET  has already reached its fifth volume, we can be happy that it has taken its place as a major journal in our field. during the last year we were happy that Cinterfor – the ILO unit for promoting training in Central and South America – started supporting the IJRVET.  Also, we were pleased to have the journal articles as the IJRVET Yearbook – printed on demand.

    Crossing Boundaries in VET – the Spring 2019 Conference in Valencia

    Last year we reached an agreement on scheduling two other conferences so that they are not clashing with each other or with the ECER. According to this agreement the “Crossing Boundaries …” conference and the Stockholm International VET Conference will be organised every two years. Thus, the next “Crossing Boundaries …” conference will be organised in May 2019 in Valencia (and the next Stockholm conference in May 2020). The call for papers for the Valencia conference was closed already at the end of May this year. On behalf of the organisers Fernando Marhuenda gave an interim report on the preparation. They were happy about the good number of proposals. Yet, as a consequence, the selection process had taken more time. However, the results will be communicated by the end of September. Here also the organisers are preparing the proceedings to be distributed before/at the event.

    The European Skills Week

    From the year 2016 on the VETNET network has been supporting the European Commission in organising research-related events in the context of the European Skills Week. In addition to a research work there has been a competition to award distinguished European researchers and successful European projects. This tradition will be continued and the information on the forthcoming event in Vienna will be published soon.

    Celebrating the new VETNET Network Honorary Member Johanna Lasonen

    Last year the VETNET general assembly had nominated Johanna Lasonen for VETNET Honorary Membership. In April this year the EERA Council confirmed her status and published this on the EERA website. Now the VETNET network was in the position to celebrate her. In his laudatio speech Michael Gessler paid attention to the long career of Johanna as an active member – starting from the founding process and including over 20 years service as a reviewer. Moreover, Michael listed all the new things that Johanna brought into the conference culture of VETNET when she was the first ‘local’ program chair in 1999 – the VETNET opening session with keynote speakers, the VETNET proceedings (published by the conference), the VETNET dinner (sponsored by Lahti Polytechnic) and the VETNET study visits to vocational schools and enterprises. Also, Michael referred to Johanna’s role in supporting the IJRVET in many ways. And finally, Michael gave insights into Johanna’s long career in the International Vocational Education and Training Association (IVETA) as the European Vice-President, as the President Elect, as the President and as the Immediate Past President. These duties required sometimes bold actions and firm leadership, as the examples tha Michael mentioned made us aware.

    Awarding-JL-1Awarding-JL-3

    Johanna thanked the network and the EERA Council for the honour and paid tribute to other team players as board members and convenors with whom she had worked. With this celebration we were happy to take the course to the next ECER 2019 that will be hosted by Hamburg.

    I think this is enough of the VETNET meeting and of the reporting on ECER 2018 altogether. This major conference was a good experience and now it is time to continue with the daily work.

    More blogs to come …

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    Reflections on #ECER2018 – Part Four: Insights into different VETNET sessions

    September 14th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

    With my previous posts I have shaped a series of blogs on the European Conference of Educational Research (ECER 2018) that took place last week in Bolzano/Bozen. In the first post I reported on the pilot with  ePosters powered by the digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB). In the second post I gave an overview on my own contributions – on the research background of the LTB and on ‘transfer of innovation’ issues in recent and earlier innovation projects. In the third post I reported on the Opening Session of our VETNET network (European Vocational Education and Training Research Network) and on some contributions of our Italian colleagues. This fourth post will give insights into some of the VETNET sessions that I attended. Here it is worthwhile to note that I don’t try to cover the whole VETNET program nor the sessions that I attended. Instead I try to draw attention to some specific presentations.

    Continuing vocational training, progression to managerial positions and digital tools for learning

    My colleagues Werner Müller and Ludger Deitmer presented the newest phase of the German project DigiProB. This project focuses on a Continuing Vocational Training (CVT) model that outlines a purely vocational progression route to higher qualifications. As we reported in ECER 2015, this training model has been renewed in such a way that it is not only based on subject-specific courses but – also – integrated with complex working and learning tasks and by an integrative project report.

    The training model for General Foremen

    The training model for General Foremen

    Now, in the present phase of the project, the colleagues could report on the shaping of the software ecology that had been developed to support the training and learning processes.

    The software ecology to support the training

    The software ecology supporting training and learning

    Ten years European Qualification Framework (EQF) – A success story?

    In another session Sandra Bohlinger took as her starting point the ten year anniversary of the European Qualification Framework (EQF). In her presentation she had a number of quotes that presented the ‘promises’ at the beginning phase and the others that celebrated the ten years as ‘success story’. However, looking closer to the development during these years she presented a more differentiated picture. Surely, the number of countries that have adopted the framework is larger than the number of EU Member States. And for countries that experienced a transformation from planned economy to market economy the framework appeared as an appropriate support instrument. However, the key message coming through from the evaluation studies that have been carried out recently is that no there has not been such an impact at the European level as had been expected. This, as we discussed in the session, is quite an impact itself when thinking of European policies.

    To me this was another input in the continuing story of debates on the EQF at ECER and in VETNET sessions. All these years our collegues have made critical remarks on the internal contradictions in such frameworks and their limited potential  in promoting transparency between different VET cultures. However, in this session we raised a new issue – what has happened to ‘earlier’ themes in European cooperation that had been sidelined during the years of making EQF and its national and sectoral counterparts. As I see it, these exercises were ‘translating’ national frameworks to a common ‘esperanto’ terminology and sidelined the tradition of ‘learning from each other’. (I hope that  Sandra will publish her text soon so that we can continue this discussion.)

    Use of technologies in learning – Encounters between high and low technologies

    Another interesting session was composed as a symposium that brought together different perspectives to using technologies as support for vocational learning.  Marianne Teräs introduced the symposium and presented the palette of presentations and as contributions to ‘use of technologies’ or challenges with technologies in the context of vocational learning. Two of the presentations focused on simulations in the healthcare sector whilst the third one discussed the relations between ‘high’ and ‘low’ technology in a developing country.

    Vibe Aarkrog presented her action research project in which she studied learning simulation-based arrangements within nursing education. She gave us insights into her research design and into the discussion on ‘high fidelity’ simulations vs. ‘low fidelity’ simulations. Then she drew attention to different scenarios (framing the learning situations) and to possible interventions of teachers. At the end she raised several useful questions on the role of simulations as support for learning.

    Vibe's questions on simulation-based learning

    Vibe’s questions on simulation-based learning

    Paula Poikela presented her research on the development of simulation-based learning in nursing education. In this context she gave us insights into the earlier models of computer-based simulations, to the emergence of web resources, mobile devices and wearable technologies. She also drew attention to different waves of simulation in healthcare sector, starting from arrangements for medical doctors and then shifting to specific simulations for nurses and to arrangements that involve different healthcare professionals. She concluded her presentation with a trialogical approach to examining meaningful learning based on simulations.

    The approach to study meaningful learning based on simulations

    The approach to study meaningful learning based on simulations

    In the final presentation of the symposium Lazaro Moreno opened a different perspective to using technologies to support learning. He told of a new project in which he studies the training for automotive occupations in Cuba. He gave us a picture of a huge gap in resources and equipment by comparing a) companies that bring brand new cars and maintenance software to serve the tourists and b) vocational schools that train their pupils to repair the oldtimers that are used by local people (and have at best very old computers). With this contrast he drew attention to the principles of polytechnic education – training creativity and problem-solving skills.

    Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 10.48.53

    The symposium was characterised by a lively discussion in which the colleagues added further aspects to the theme ‘supporting menaingful learning’.  Also, the participants emphasised the difference between technology at work and technology for learning. These may not necessarily go hand in hand – and this may provides chances for meaningful educational interventions.

    I guess this is enough of the VETNET sessions. Although this report is far from a comprenehsive coverage, it nevertheless shows the richness in content. In my final post of this series I will focus on the VETNET network and its general assembly.

    More blogs to come …

     

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    Reflections on #ECER2018 – Part Three: The VETNET network in dialogue with the host country

    September 12th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

    With my previous posts I started a series of blogs on the European Conference of Educational Research (ECER 2018) that took place last week in Bolzano/Bozen. In the first post I reported on the pilot with  ePosters powered by the digital toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB). In the second post I gave an overview on my own contributions – on the research background of the LTB and on ‘transfer of innovation’ issues in recent and earlier innovation projects. I also reported on my own way to prepare ePoster-versions of my presentations. In this third post I will focus on the traditional Opening Session of our VETNET network (European Vocational Education and Training Research Network). Ever since 1999 we have had a tradition to bring forward research issues and/or policy issues from the host country of the conference. Below I will give a brief report on the Opening Session in Bolzano-Bozen and on the issues that came up. Then I will make some remarks on the presentations of our Italian colleagues.

    Issues on Vocational Education and Training (VET) in the host country and host region

    Already in the preparation phase our Italian colleagues had advised that we should focus on the host region (South Tyrol/ Trentino Alto Adige) as a bilingual region in which two lingual communities live in the same neighbourhood. Following this advice the VETNET network was pleased to welcome representatives of Vocational Education Institutions/Authorities from German-speaking community and the Italian-speaking community. In addition we were pleased to welcome a representative of the German-speaking Trade associations and an Italian researcher as a discussant.

    Without going into details of the presentations it is worthwhile to not that the representatives of vocational education from both lingual communities emphasised the efforts of vocational schools to incorporate workplace-based learning into their provisions. Partly this was pursued via local partnerships, partly with the help of regional ESF-projects. Yet, both speakers expressed their concerns of high drop-out rates (although the regional drop-out rates were lower than the average in Italy). In this context the representative of the trade association (entrepreneur himself) expressed his critical views on the bridging arrangements initiated by vocational schools. His association was strongly in favour of the German-like dual system of apprenticeship in which the enterprise is the major partner and the school has a supporting function. He then presented a lively picture of achievements reached (and hurdles met) in making the apprentice training function in the regional context. With these introductory presentations we got a richer picture of the host region in which the lingual communities follow different cultural traditions in shaping the VET provisions and are on somewhat different developmental paths. Due to many questions and comments the session chair had to reschedule the discussant’s contribution (prepared by Marco Perini) to the next session (see below).

    Italian research papers in further VETNET sessions

    We already go interested in the VETNET Opening session and luckily enough we had informative contributions from our Italian colleagues who could give us deeper insights. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend their sessions but luckily enough we find their papers in the ECER VETNET Proceedings 2018 (that have been published immediately after the conference. In this respect I just try to give a brief background information on the contributions that I recommend for further reading.

    Marco Perini et al.: Research on Italian VET-laboratory instructional practices

    Cover page of the presentation of Marco Perini and Monica Pentassuglia

    Cover page of the presentation of Marco Perini and Monica Pentassuglia

    In the VETNET Opening Session we had already heard several speakers referring to “VET-laboratories” as joint learning arrangements developed by vocational schools and regional enterprises. In their presentation “One Step Forward: …” Marco Perini and Monica Pentassuglia provided firstly background information on the Italian VET system and on the introduction of this new format for collaborative learning.  Based on the background information they outlined a research framework for studying the implementation of this approach and getting feedback from different parties involved. Since the paper gives insights into work in progress, we are keen on following the further steps of the study.

    Paolo Nardi et al:: Case study on the Oliver Twist school as example for new approach in VET

    Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 16.11.26

    The paper of Paolo Nardi and his co-authors can be characterised as ‘college research’ and as ‘action research’ in a vocational education and training setting. Cometa – the training institution – is carrying out a quality development campaign with which it wants to evaluate the vocational programs and certify them with Cometa branding. In this context the ‘reality-based learning’ approach is given a major attention. Whilst the teachers are engaged with developmental process, Cometa Research team is supporting the process with documentation and analyses. The paper presents both the approach, developmental measures (concerning internship/apprenticeship) and achieved results. The interesting point here is that the Cometa Research activities are being developed as a continuing support layer – both for the school development and teachers’ professional development and for cooperation with partner universities.

    I think this is enough of the VETNET opening and on the dialogue that was opened with the host region and the host country representatives. I am looking forward to the next steps and next encounters. But I also need to give an account on other themes discussed in the conference.

    More blogs to come … 

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