Archive for the ‘21stCenturySkills’ Category

Investing in education is important

August 15th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

For a long time we have said that investing in education is key to employment and to the future of our communities and society. The trouble is we have not been able to prove it. Some comparative studies have suggested the higher levels of investment in high quality initial vocational education and training in Germany as opposed to the UK is because German companies have a longer term accounting for the returns on investment. In turn, this may be because of the higher proportion of industrial capital in Germany whilst in the UK investment capital is much higher.Equally Return on Investment (ROI) studies are usually look over a relatively short period. Also such studies are generally conducted on a micro level – looking at the return on investment for individual enterprises, rather than on communities or society as a whole.

A new UK study by the Centre for Cities provides a fascinating new insight.

As their web site explains: “The research, which uses Census data to understand the economic stories of our cities in 1901, also compares how cities have progressed across measures like population, employment, and wages to understand how some cities have become more successful than others.”

The report, Cities Outlook 1901, “highlights the extent of the long term scarring effect that poor skills can have on a city and the people who live there.  The research shows that the skills spectrum across cities in 1901 is mirrored in their economic strength today.  Seven out of eight of the best performing cities today had above average skills levels in 1901; while 80% of cities with vulnerable economies in 2012 fall into the bottom 20 cities for skills levels in 1901.

Skills, they say, “are the most important factor determining long-run urban success, and therefore are a key area for policy intervention.”

The policy implications drawn from the report are quite general and modest. But they are important, nevertheless.

Cities Outlook 1901 illustrates the way that lack of investment is compounded over time. Failure to invest in skills or infrastructure in 1901 had knock-on long-term impacts on a place and its people over decades,while targeted investment in infrastructure and ongoing investment in skills succeeded in helping some places and people improve performance.

For policymakers seeking to learn lessons from the past when confronting today’s economic challenges, three themes stand out:

1. Short-term cuts in expenditure on the key drivers of urban success are likely to result in a big bill in the medium to longer-term.

2. Skills are the biggest determinant of success for cities, and are critical to the life chances of individuals.

3. Targeting investment in infrastructure can have a significant impact upon the economic prospects of a place.

Developing a response to youth unemployment

May 9th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Since I wrote my last article on ‘What is the answer to youth unemployment?‘, elections in Greece, France and Germany have seen a decisive rejection of European austerity politics. This is hardly surprising. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that ever deeper cuts and austerity, whilst ultimately cutting the real cost of labour and thus boosting corporate profits, are unlikely to boost growth, jobs or individual prosperity in any way.

The EU reaction has been to call for a new strategy for growth, although details of what that might entail are pretty hazy.

As I wrote in the previous article, one of the main results of the recession has been a massive increase in youth unemployment and, in particular, a substantial increase in graduate unemployment. At the same time companies are increasingly requiring work experience prior to employment resulting in increasing pressure for new graduates to undertake low paid of unpaid internships. Pretty clearly new policies are needed for education and training but there seems little public discussion of this, let alone of what such policies might be. The prevailing EU policy is more of the same and try harder.

To rethink policies for education and training requires looking back at how we got where we are now. And it requires looking at more than just education and training policy – we need to examine the relationship between education and training, labour market policy and economic policy. here I am going to look at just a few aspects of such policies and hope to develop this a little more in the next week or so.

For the last decade – or even longer – economic policy has been driven by a liberal free market approach. In turn labour market policy has similarly been based on deregulating labour markets and removing protection for workers (interestingly, Germany, the one country in Europe where the economy is growing, has probably one of the highest levels of labour market regulation). At a European level, education and training policy has been dominated by a drive to make qualifications more transparent and thus comparable in order to promote the mobility of labour. Employers have been given a greater role in determining the content and form of qualifications. Employability has become a key theme, with individuals being made responsible for keeping their knowledge and skills up to date, often as considerable personal expense. A number of countries have tried to liberalise education and training systems by reducing subsidies for public education and introducing individual voucher schemes.

At them same time the rather ridiculous EU Lisbon declaration, declared the aim to make the EU “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion”, by 2010. Obviously this failed. But in line with such thinking most countries in Europe saw the way forward as moving from old fashioned vocational training to mass university education to cater for the demand for the thousands of new knowledge jobs. These jobs never materialised (except in countries such as the UK in the deregulated financial services sector which ultimately triggered the economic meltdown). As Wikipedia notes:

Much of the initial theorizing about the advent of a fundamentally new era in which economic activity is increasingly ‘abstract’, i.e., disconnected from land, labour, and physical capital (machines and industrial infrastructure) was associated with the ‘business management’ literature of the ‘new economy’ NASDAQ bubble, which collapsed in 2001 (but slowly recovered, albeit, in a leaner format, throughout the 2000s). This literature was initially known more for its hyperbole and faddishness than for its academic/empirical integrity.

In reality, many of the new degree courses were vocational in orientation – such as in the new Universities in the UK or in the Fachshule in Germany. These courses were either for new occupations – for instance in computing or simply replaced traditional vocational qualifications. It is arguable whether such a policy was financially sustainable or even desirable. It is certainly arguable whether an academic programme of learning is more effective for such subjects than traditional forms of work related learning.

To further policies associated with the obsession with the knowledge economy were the raising of the school leaving age and the so called lifelong learning policy. Longer schooling was needed, it was argued, to cope with the needs for higher levels of knowledge and skills for the knowledge rich jobs of the future. And lifelong learning was needed for the learning economies in which knowledge is the crucial resource and learning is the most important process.

At them same time the EU and national governments identified a number of key sectors which were felt to be crucial and which were then promoted through he education systems. In the late 1990s, there were dire predications of a massive shortage of computer programmers which never came to pass. And in the last five years or so EU and national governments have promoted the importance of STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths as key to the future of employment and economies. Such priorities were based on a business driven policy of skills-matching promoting the “involvement of businesses in forecasting skills needs, through an employers’ survey tool and qualitative studies on the skills needs of business” (EU New Skills, New Jobs policy).

It is clear such policies have failed  and exhorting governments and agencies to try harder will go nowhere. What is needed is a fundamental rethink. As Professor Phillip Brown points out, the Lisbon Strategy was based on the idea that the technological lead then enjoyed by advanced industrial economies would be maintained with an increasing polarisation between highly skilled and well paid jobs in those countries and low paid low skilled manufacturing jobs being undertaken in developing countries. For a variety of reasons, including rapid technology transfer and a massive expansion of public education systems in countries like China and India, this hasn’t happened.

Indeed it may be the very manufacturing sector which was downgraded by EU policy which is the future for jobs in Europe especially in Small and Medium enterprises. For all the talk of high tech, knowledge based jobs. The construction industry is the biggest industrial employer in Europe with 13,9 million operatives making up 6,6% of the total employment in EU27. In addition it has a substantial influence on other industries represented by a multiplier effect. According to a study by the European Commission, 1 person working in the construction industry is responsible for 2 further persons working in other sectors. Therefore, it is estimated that 41,7 million workers in the EU depend, directly or indirectly, on the construction sector. Out of the 3,1 million enterprises 95% are SMEs with fewer than 20 and 93% with fewer than 10 operatives (pdf file). And manufacturing makes up almost 25 percent of the German economy, as opposed to only 11 percent in the United States. German mittelstands – small, family-owned and mid-size manufacturing companies – are key to the manufacturing sector. Rather than relying on university graduates for skills and knowledge, the mittelsands tend to employ graduates from the Dual apprenticeship system.

Indeed, many countries are promoting apprenticeships as one way out of the present mess. The present English coalition government boasts of the increase in the number of apprenticeship places. But in truth most of these places are apprenticeships only in name. The supermarket chain, Morrisons is the largest apprenticeship provider in the UK with many apprenticeship consisting of short induction training courses. To deliver the skills and knowledge for workers in a manufacturing economy through apprenticeship requires high quality training and the active involvement of employers and train unions alike. Moreover it requires social (and financial) recognition fo the value of apprenticeships. that seems a long way away.

To overcome the present crisis of youth unemployment requires a series of radical and interlinked policy initiative involving economic and labour market policies rather than just tinkering with education and training curricula. At a macro econ0omic level it means developing manufacturing industry rather than merely relying on financial services and the high tech knowledge industry sector. It means making sure companies provide high quality training, rather than forcing individuals to be responsible for their own employability. It means making sure that those who have gained vocational qualifications have opportunities to use those skills and knowledge and are properly rewarded for their learning. It means freeing up capital for starting small companies. It means proper financing for vocational schools and providing alternatives to young people rather than just more school and expensive university courses. It means abandoning skills matching and planning for future societal skills needs.

In other words we have to abandon liberalisation and free market ideologies and to recognise that economies and employment are a social function. As such society has to plan for the future of employment and the provision of jobs for young people. Is this too much to ask?

 

 

What is the answer to youth unemployment?

April 30th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

According to the Guardian newspaper, Labour MP Hazel Blears, a member of a cross party parliamentary group of MPs looking at social mobility, says that seven out of 10 people get their next job from someone they know. She said “We need to ensure that young people from working-class backgrounds, whose parents don’t have the same exclusive networks as some in the City of London, are given the opportunities to achieve. This means ending unpaid internships and opening up opportunities as well as education and support.:

I am not quite sure what she means by opening up opportunities. But her claim that seven our of 10 people get their job from someone they know certainly rings true to anecdotal evidence. And although the UK has a national employment service, Job Centre Plus, a quick inspection shows that the jobs advertised tend be public sector or low paid and low skills jobs. There is no requirement in the UK to advertise jobs through government employment services and many of the higher paid jobs are advertised on different commercial online services.

One effect of the recession appears to be that whilst employers are not shedding jobs in the numbers feared (at least in soem countries), they are cutting back on employment by not employing young people.

Increasingly those companies who do take on young people are demanding work experience. Once more in the UK (regulations and practices vary across Europe) there has been an large increase in internship, especially for recent graduates. However, many of those posts are lowly paid if paid at all, restricting access to those who can afford to work for no pay and thus reinforcing the issues around social mobility (or lack of it). And once more, in reality the ‘best’ internships are going to those with contacts. Last year the Conservative party even auctioned an internship with a large accountancy company.

But however grim things may be in the UK, the situation in many European countries is much worse for young people. In Spain, youth unemployment is something like 55 per cent.

Last week I was at an EU Presidency conference which brought together ministers and civil servants responsible for employment and education and training policy from most EU countries (not my usual sort of conference, but they invited me as an ‘expert’ on new technologies). What soon became very apparent is that despite all the concern for what is happening, there were few if any ideas of what to do about it. It was very much business as usual but we have to try harder.

The most interesting contribution was a keynote presentation from Professor Phillip Brown from Cardiff University. He argues that the problem of equality of opportunity based on class,gender or race, has been see as “one of raising absolute standards of achievement to enable all to take advantage of new opportunities for skilled work which the globalisation of labour markets is seen to present (Reich 1991).” In his book ‘The Global Auction’, he argues that Western societies in particular have invested in human capital development, and individuals have taken on high levels of debt, on the understanding that both society as a whole and the individuals concerned will be well rewarded. But the “opportunity bargain” has not been kept.

Firstly it was based on assumption that the advanced industrial countries could grow richer through their lead in the use of advanced technology and a more highly skilled workforce, whilst other countries would rely on low paid jobs for cheap, mass production. That hasn’t  happened with countries like South Korea and China leapfrogging previous production modes and technologies. At the same time India and China are investing hugely in education, particularly in education in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Secondly rather than see the rise of new well paid, knowledge based jobs in advanced countries, instead , he says we have seen a new wave of “digital taylorisation:.

In a review of the book Peter Wilby says:

Digital Taylorism makes jobs easier to export but, crucially, changes the nature of much professional work. Aspirant graduates face the prospect not only of lower wages, smaller pensions and less job security than their parents enjoyed but also of less satisfying careers. True, every profession and company will retain a cadre of thinkers and decision-makers at the top – perhaps 10% or 15% of the total – but the mass of employees, whether or not they hold high qualifications, will perform routine functions for modest wages. Only for those with elite qualifications from elite universities (not all in Europe or America) will education deliver the promised rewards.

Thus doing more of the same is not an option. Neither is trying to sit out the recession and hope everything will return to normal. At a policy level it is not enough just to tinker with education systems to try to turn out more people with degrees. We need to rethink the relationship between economy, labour market and education and training. Maybe the idea that manufacturing was somehow old fashioned and was being replaced by the knowledge economy was not so clever.

Changing Education Paradigms

July 19th, 2011 by Jenny Hughes

Great graphics from Ken Robinson on the changing face of education

Loved this video – especially the stop motion animation. Content remarkably similar to a few Pontydysgu presentations. Ah well! Great minds ….

Nauczanie mobilne

March 26th, 2011 by Ilona Buchem

Niedawno, 21 i 22 marca odbyła się „Mobile Learning Conference: Crossing boundaries in convergent environments“ w Bremie – konferencja dotycząca mobile learning, czyli wspierania nauki  przy użyciu telefonów komórkowych.

Wraz z partnerką naukową z Hiszpanii zaprezentowałyśmy na niej nasz nowy projekt dotyczący kursów uniwersysteckich, ktróre torzymy razem ze studentami z Berlina i Tarragony. Nasze kursy oparte są na metodzie „action based reasearch”, której celem jest właczenie studentów do wspólnej pracy naukowej.

Studenci pracują w małych grupach nad przez siebie wybranych pytaniach badawczych dotyczących użycia telefonów komórkowych do nauki, pracy w zespole, zarządzania wiedzą itp. W trakcie kursu studenci zostają wprowadzeni w aplikacje i metody mobile learning oraz podstawowe metody badawcze oraz sami w grupach definijują pytania badawcze i wybierają odpowiednie metody do przepowadzenia badań. Są w tym procesie wspierani przez nas wykładowców.

Projekty są przeprwadzane „zza biurka” lub „w terenie”, np. studenci  przepowadzają ankiety w firmach na temat aktualnych lub przyszłych zastosowań mobilnego Internetu  i używają do tego celu technologi komórkowych. W ten sposób mobile learning jest jednocześnie treścią i metodą kursu.

Studenci używają różnych urządzeń – takich, jakie są im dostępne – od prostych telefonów komórkowch, przes Smart Phones do Tablets (np. iPads). Pod koniec semestru grupy z Niemiec i z Hiszpanii prezentują wyniki swoich badań i dyskutują na temat rozpoznanych różnic w obu krajach. Prezentacje i dyskusje odbywają się w ramach wspólnych konferencji w sieci.

Training teachers in effective pedagogic practices of use of technologies for learning

August 10th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I am doing a literature review at the moment focused primarily on pedagogic processes for using technology for learning in vocational education and training and in adult education. In particular I am interested in how we can provide both initial training and continuing professional development for teachers and trainers in teaching and learning with technology. I think such a study is apposite – whilst previously teachers have been often seen as a barrier to the introduction of Technology Enhanced Learning because of their perceived lack of skills in using such technologies, we are now coming to realise that the need for new pedagogic approaches is perhaps the biggest challenge, especially since most new teachers are confident in their own use of computers.

Here are some of the issues I am looking at:

  • Teacher training and continuing professional development
  • eLearning and pedagogic approaches to the use of technology for learning
  • The development and use of social software and web 2.0 technologies and its impact on education and learning
  • Future technologies and trends and their possible impact within education

Specific issues to be examined may include (but will not be limited to):

  • Pedagogic theories of use of technologies for learning and implications
  • Effective Pedagogic practices of use of technologies for learning and implications
  • Effective Practices in different sectors / subject areas
  • Use of technology for initial training of teachers and CPD
  • Impact of technologies on pedagogy in practice
  • Digital literacies and digital identities for teachers
  • Present qualifications for teachers and approaches to pedagogy and use of technology for learning
  • Effective practices in initial teacher training and CPD in use of technology for learning
  • e-Assessment and evaluation

I would be very grateful for any references, reports or other materials you think I should include in such a review. I would be particularly grateful for references to studies or reports on the training of teachers in other countries than the UK. All help will be gratefully acknowledged and in due course I will publish the results of the review on the Pontydysgu web site.

Generation Y researchers, open content and open source

July 22nd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

The UK based Jisc published an interesting report yesterday. The Researchers of Tomorrow study presents emerging findings from the first annual report of a major three-year study into the information seeking behaviour of Generation Y doctoral students. According to Jisc “the research shows that there are striking similarities between students born between 1982 and 1994 and older age groups.” As such it represents yet another blow to Prensky’s idea of Digital Natives.

The first annual report of the longitudinal study includes evidence-gathering from three groups of doctoral students in the UK, including: a cohort of 60 Generation Y doctoral students from 36 universities; responses to a national context-setting survey returned by over 2,000 Generation Y scholars and responses to the same national context-setting survey returned by 3,000 older doctoral students.

Generation Y students and older students concur on a number of areas:

-    Open access and open source – like students of other ages, Generation Y researchers express a desire for an all-embracing, seamless accessible research information network in which restrictions to access do not restrain them.  However, the annual report demonstrates that most Generation Y students do not have a clear understanding of what open access means and this negatively impacts their use of open access resources, so this is an area to be followed up in the next year.

-    Networked research environment – both Generation Y and older students express exasperation regarding restricted access to research resources due to the limitations of institutional licenses.  This is born from a sophisticated knowledge of the networked information environment and students regularly speak favourably about sector-wide shared services and resource sharing.

The research indicates, however, potentially interesting and important divergences between Generation Y and older doctoral students; for example, where students turn for help, advice and support and attitudes to their research environment.

-    Supervisor and librarian support – Generation Y scholars are more likely to turn to their supervisors for research resource recommendations than older doctoral students.  Also, 33% of Generation Y students say they have never used library staff for their support in finding difficult to source material.

-    Using library collections and services – Library collections are used heavily by students in their own institutions, but only 36% of Generation Y students have used inter-library loan services compared to 25% of older students, with 42% of arts and humanities students using these services regularly compared to 13% among science students.

The full report can be downloaded at http://www.researchersoftomorrow.net.

Siem Reap and Angkor Wat (24th-25th May 2010)

June 3rd, 2010 by Jo Turner-Attwell

My trip begins in Cambodia and I have travelled through Laos with a group tour from GAP adventures and next I head to Vietnam and then Thailand. The journey to Siem Reap in Cambodia started well with us only being a few minutes late downstairs to leave Bangkok. All my clocks were a bit messed up as I seemed to have got the time difference wrong, but still we were ready on time.
Day twos activities were mainly driving and border checks, which involved a lot of writing made difficult with no pen, in epic heat. I did see the first of many geckos though which was pretty cool, wandering up walls and I did get to use my lovely lovely passport photos. I think my parents are in for a shock when I come home as I now really want a pet lizard and may just bring one back with me!
The bus journey though, despite taking around 6-8 hours altogether, wasn’t actually too bad. It passed waaaay quicker than I had expected. And when we arrived in Siem Reap we were extremely happy to see that the hotel had a pool!!
Anyway on a more interesting note, in the evening we headed out onto the biggest freshwater lake in south east asia, Tonle Sap. On the way we all had a bit of a culture shock. It was very different to anything I had ever seen before, the houses were only really huts and the poverty we saw there I think is the worst I have seen so far.
The boat trip on the lake itself was nice though. We went out to a restaurant floating on the lake, where the had aligators captured underneath! It was mad. As we were going along in the boat though children would jump on and try to sell us things for a dollar. This one boat came up with two boys on. One jumped on the boat but the other had a MASSIVE snake round his neck. Luckily at we arrived at the floating restaurant at exactly this moment and managed to jump off the boat just in time.
On the floating restaurant we could climb up some stairs and see a view of the sunset which was lovely. The sun set right over the floating houses which apparently belonged to people fleeing from Vietnam around the time of the Vietnam war, but they were not allowed to enter Cambodia. So they settled out on the Lake were they could fish and live. We even saw a school!!
We then all piled back on the boat and headed back under very beautiful skies. As we got off the boat a child took my hand and walked me up the short diagonal platform to get back to the bus. I tried to shake him off but he had a really firm grip!! Then as I reached the bus he asked for one dollar, and we were surrounded by other children chanting the same trying to sell us things. One woman had even snapped our pictures as we were getting on the boat and put them on to plates.
At the end of the day we went for a meal on pub street and I had my very first tuk tuk ride (a south east asian taxi, look it up).
The next day was far more full of typical tourists with cameras, we were still hassled though, one girl in particular had really really good english. We left for Angkor Wat insanely early to try and get there to see the sunrise, I think it may have been 5.00. Anyway both me and my roomate Sylvia managed to get our clocks wrong, even the room clock was wrong and woke up at 5.08 and in the rush downstairs I managed to forget both my camera and Patrick, mine and my friends travel bear. Disaster. Angkor Wat was amazing though. I’m not sure I can really find another word, it was just amazing. And because it was so early we saw dragon snakes in the water. We did a full day of temples and I did get chance to go get my camera at breakfast so I managed to get a picture of Patrick with the temple used in Tomb Raider. That was very cool, big trees were like embedded into the structure of the temple as during war times they weren’t preserved and were therefore damaged. Made for some good photos though. We saw a fair amount of temples. There was one I liked in particular with faces of Buddha everywhere withall the big ones having different expressions.
By the end of the day we were dying in the heat though, it was unbearable!! Never have I been so sweaty in my entire life. Not a pretty image but it’s true.
Our last temple of the day was at the top of a mountain where we could also watch the sunset, but before it could really start a storm started rolling in from the other side, so at one point we had a sunset on one side and massive fork lightening on the other. When it rained, after revelling in the feeling of actually being cold we climbed down the elephant track (supposedly easier as elephants carry people up on it though I am not convinced) and then went for dinner.
The first of a lot of very good days.

Cyfrowi tubylcy i gra w szkołę

May 28th, 2010 by Ilona Buchem

Czy nauczyciele w Polsce są dobrze przygotowani na pokolenie cyfrowych tubylców? Opdowiedzi na to pytanie szukałam w rozmowie z Lechosławem Hojnackim – nauczycielem i konsultantem, zajmującym się implementacją nowoczesnych technologii informacyjnych w procesie kształcenia dorosłych, przede wszystkim nauczycieli.

IB: Ten kto zajrzy na Pana stronę internetową  http://www.hojnacki.net odkryje szybko, że jest Pan aktywny na wielu serwisach internetowych. Czym się Pan aktualnie zajmuje zawodowo?

LH: W tej chwili pracuję jako wykładowca w  Kolegium Nauczycielskim w Bielsku-Białej. To taki niszowy w Polsce system kształcenia nauczycieli na poziomie trzyletnich studiów zawodowych, zbliżony bardziej do szkoły (niewielka liczba studentów, sporo praktyk) niż uniwersytetu. Jednocześnie pracuję jako konsultant w Regionalnym Ośrodku Metodyczno-Edukacyjnym “Metis” w Katowicach i zajmuję się implementacją tzw. nowych technologii w procesie dydaktycznym.

IB: Ma Pan więc szerokie spojrzenie na zastosowanie TIK (technologii informacyjno – komunikacyjnej) w edukacji. Czy szkolenia nauczycieli w Polsce obejmują standardowo  tematy e-pedagogiczne? W jakim zakresie szkoleni są nauczyciele w temacie e-learningu 2.0? Jak to wygląda w przypadku czynnych nauczycieli,  a jak w przypadku studentów-adeptów?

LH: Czynni nauczyciele w pewnych okresie swojego rozwoju zawodowego muszą się wylegitymować dowodami opanowania TIK. Na poziomie awansu zawodowego na nauczyciela mianowanego są to “umiejętności wykorzystywania w pracy technologii informacyjnej i komunikacyjnej;” natomiast na poziomie nauczyciela dyplomowanego (najwyższym) – „podejmowanie działań mających na celu doskonalenie warsztatu i metod pracy, w tym doskonalenie umiejętności stosowania technologii informacyjnej i komunikacyjnej”. Od nauczyciela stażysty i kontraktowego (najniższe) nie wymaga się w tym zakresie niczego. Nie ma jednak sztywnych reguł, co to znaczy “wylegitymować się” i duża część nauczycieli korzysta w tym celu ze szkoleń prowadzonych przez ośrodki doskonalenia nauczycieli lub inne instytucje, m.in. w ramach projektów unijnych. W praktyce posiadanie pewnej liczby zaświadczeń o ukończeniu szkoleń, ocenianych częściej w kategorii liczby godzin niż treści i poziomu – jest wystarczającym dowodem posiadania stosownych umiejętności. Członkowie komisji oceniają tylko dostarczone dokumenty określające umiejętności związane z TIK w warsztacie dydaktycznym i czynią to przez pryzmat własnej wiedzy i świadomości.

Są to najczęściej spotykane źródła systemowej motywacji zewnętrznej dla nauczycieli. Jak widać nie ma tu miejsca na rozróżnienia dotyczące stosowania konkretnych metod, konkretnych typów serwisów, sposobów komunikowania się, w tym e-learningu 2.0. Ponadto, idąc dalej tropem systemowych uregulowań, komisje powoływane dla oceniania dokonań nauczycieli na kolejne stopnie awansu zawodowego nie tylko nie mają wytycznych, ale nawet możliwości kompetentnego oceniania metodycznych aspektów TIK – nie muszą mieć w swoim składzie ekspertów w tej dziedzinie.

Są też uwarunkowania hamujące rozwój e-learningu 2.0 w szkołach:

1. Organy nadzoru pedagogicznego (kuratorzy oświaty)  otrzymali wytyczne, aby czynnie zapobiegać ujemnym zjawiskom takim jak cyfrowa agresja i inne niebezpieczeństwa ze strony Internetu, dlatego dyrektorzy szkół (notabene w Polsce posiadający bardzo mały w stosunku do wielu krajów rozwiniętych zakres samodzielności) często uznają -  bardzo racjonalnie – że większym zagrożeniem dla ich interesów służbowych jest nadmiar kontaktu uczniów z Siecią, niż wielostronne jego obwarowania, a w praktyce – ograniczenia.

2. Chyba większość polskich szkół dysponuje pracowniami otrzymanymi z, nazwijmy to, centralnego przydziału. Zdecydowana ich większość jest oparta na Windows oraz serwerach SBS o specyficznej konfiguracji. Konfiguracja ta opiera się na tzw. “filtrach treści niepożądanych” oraz kontrolowaniu i analizowaniu całego ruchu sieciowego przez serwer, który w efekcie, w standardowej konfiguracji blokuje nie tylko niepożądane strony, słowa i złośliwe skrypty, ale także wiele pożądanych stron, nieszkodliwych słów oraz bardzo potrzebnych skryptów. W praktyce w wielu szkołach używa się w związku z powyższym komputerów, na których nie da się uruchomić np. większości serwisów z epoki Web 2.0, ponieważ poprawnie działają tylko stare, statyczne strony nie zawierające żadnych skryptów (np. osadzonych filmików, edytorów online etc.). Takie pracownie skutecznie chronią szkołę przed Web 2.0. W związku z czynnikami opisanymi w punkcie 1. oraz z braku stosownych umiejętności, a często i świadomości, ta bardzo zła z punktu widzenia nowoczesnego korzystania z Sieci konfiguracja nie jest modyfikowana.

IB: Wnioskuję z tego, że sieć społeczna jest przez szerokie grono ludzi traktowana jako zagrożenie?

LH: To niestety powszechna postawa. Czasem artykułowana dość wprost np. w kategoriach zagrożeń, agresji, groźby uzależnienia lub jako bezwartościowy strumień śmieciowej informacji. Czasem świadomie lub częściej nieświadomie ta postawa ukrywana pod poglądami typu “nic nie zastąpi książki”, “skoro ONI używają ciągle Sieci to ktoś wreszcie musi ich nauczyć obywać się bez niej lub posługiwać się innymi narzędziami”, “a jak nie będzie komputera, kalkulatora, a jak braknie prądu, to będzie katastrofa”.

IB: Muszę przyznać, że w Niemczech sytuacja wygląda jednak lepiej, ponieważ osiągnieto poziom, na którym przeważa już pragmatyczne pytanie „jak?“, np. „Jak możemy wporowadzić elementy sieci społecznej w szkołach?“. A jakie sa pozostałe wyzwania związane z kształceniem nauczycieli w tematyce e-learningu 2.0? Jakie strategie pedagogiczno-dydaktyczne sprawdzają się w praktyce? W jaki sposób wprowadza Pan nauczycieli w świat sieci społecznych?

LH: Dziś wyraźnie widać, gdzie wiekowo przebiega granica między typowymi cyfrowcami, a bardziej tradycyjnie ukształtowanym pokoleniem uczniów. Nauczyciele szkół podstawowych zapoznani z faktami, zestawieniami, wynikami badań, naturą ważniejszych zjawisk – dość gremialnie dają się łatwo przekonać, iż jest to problem, z którym muszą się zmierzyć, bo po prostu otrzymują obraz sytuacji dobrze wyjaśniający obserwowane przez nich u uczniów zjawisk społecznych wywołanych  Web 2.0. Dla odmiany statystycznie zdecydowanie najtrudniej jest pracować z nauczycielami szkół ponadgimnazjalnych. W tej grupie nauczycieli najczęściej spotykam się z odmową, obrazą nawet. Nie widzą jeszcze konieczności zmiany metod pracy, populacja ich uczniów jeszcze nie jest w pełni cyfrowymi tubylcami i jeszcze da się próbować pracować po staremu. To smutne zjawisko, bo rozsądek wskazuje, że młodzież licealna byłaby najwdzięczniejszą grupą uczniów do metod i form pracy epoki Web 2.0.

Czynnych nauczycieli zatem staram się na początku przekonać, że ich “klienci” zmienili się i będą się zmieniać dalej, w związku z czym oni muszą starać się podążać za zmianami (uwaga) wbrew ustrojowi organizacyjnemu szkoły, który rzeczywiście niesłychanie utrudnia postęp (uwaga: także w aspektach przeze mnie wcześniej tu nie wymienionych). Staram się także zaczynać od najprostszych technologicznie rozwiązań, które dają maksimum efektu przy minimalnych umiejętnościach, ale jakoś przynależnych do Web 2.0. Na przykład na początek wprowadzamam bloga na Bloggerze jako tablicę ogłoszeniową. Zaczynam więc od przekazu jednokierunkowe, ale z łatwością podejmowania dalszych kroków.

Studentów traktuję zgoła inaczej, ponieważ tu jestem w stanie ustalić bardziej drastyczne reguły. Niezależnie od treści programowych, specjalności, roku i trybu studiów, wprowadzam jako obowiązującą metodę grupowy projekt oparty (przynajmniej  technicznie) na serwisach Web 2.0. Treści merytoryczne stawiam na drugim planie za zasadami współpracy, samozarządzania, angażowania ekspertów z zewnątrz, publikowania efektów, autoprezentacji w Sieci itd. Moje podejście wynika z tego, że zdecydowana większość studentów po raz pierwszy w życiu spotyka się z faktyczną metodą konstruktywistycznego projektu grupowego dopiero po maturze! Wielu z nich wykazuje także zasadnicze braki w podstawowych umiejętnościach komunikacyjnych związanych z TIK, wbrew kilkuletniemu cyklowi nauki tego przedmiotu w poprzednich etapach kształcenia.

IB: Tak ten deficyt mają też studenci w Niemczech. Wynika to często z tego, że większości nauczycieli/wykładowców brakuje po prostu doświadczenia i umiejętności w wirtualnej współpracy, kooperacyjnych technikach, samoorganizacji na poziomie grupowym. A czy Pana zdaniem szersze kompetencje, lepsze zrozumienie mają uczniowie lub studenci? Kto rozumie zalety wirtualnej pracy grupowej i potrafi pracować/uczyć się w zdecentralizowanych, nieuporządkowanych hierarchicznie, wirtualnych grupach?

LH: TAK, dzieci i młodzież żyją w Sieci bardziej i głębiej, niż sami to widzą, bo dla nich Sieć jest  przezroczysta. To zjawisko jest podobne w swojej naturze do szczerej deklaracji uczniów, że nie PISZĄ tylko esemesują, czatują. Oni nie nazywają tego pisaniem, traktują tak, jak my rozmowę. Natomiast dość powszechnie oddzielają tego rodzaju aktywności od szkoły, nie tylko ze względu na uwarunkowania, o których mówiłem wyżej lub takie jak powszechny zakaz używania komórek w szkole. To zjawisko tzw. “gry w szkołę” oznacza, że obie strony procesu (nauczyciel i uczeń) w szkole  używają reguł, których nie traktują jako przekładalne na świat zewnętrzny. Ani nauczyciele nie mają motywacji do uczenia np. komunikowania się w Sieci, ani uczniowie tego od nich nie oczekują.

IB: Wspomniał Pan, że dzieci i młodzież nie piszą tylko esemesują i czatują. Na pewno często spotyka się Pan z pytaniem, czy takie praktyki nie zagrażają podstawowym kompetencjom pisania i czytania? Jak odpowiada Pan na takie pytania?

LH: Jeżeli uznać, że taki rodzaj kompetencji, do którego przyzwyczaiły nas doświadczenia poprzednich pokoleń i nasze własne, to kompetencje prawdziwe, jedynie słuszne, stosowalne w przyszłości, albo nawet tylko “potencjalnie akceptowalne dla większości populacji cyfrowców”, to oczywiście czaty i esemesy stanowią zagrożenie.  Przy całym moim osobistym przywiązaniu do sztuki pisania i czytania oraz wielkiej literatury (proszę zauważyć, odruchowo zacząłem odpowiedź od zasygnalizowania, że stoję po tej samej stronie barykady, co inni imigranci cyfrowi), widzę wyraźną analogię do skądinąd bardzo słusznego twierdzenia, że rozwój motoryzacji zagraża zdrowym nawykom długich spacerów oraz kompetencjom jazdy konnej. Sam jeżdżę konno dobrze i od zawsze. Jednak na codzień poruszam się samochodem, a koń jest tylko moim hobby, ukłonem w stronę tradycji, zdrowym spędzaniem wolnego czasu i gimnastyką. To samo spotyka dziś tradycyjne formy przekazu tekstowego.

IB: I na tym moglibyśmy już właściwie zakończyć naszą rozmowę, ale zadam jeszcze jedno pytanie: Czy udało się już Panu zarazić swoim entuzjazmem dla nowych technologii wielu nauczycieli?

LH: Uchodzę za skutecznie zarażającego. Jeżeli ktoś mnie personalnie do czegoś wynajmuje, to znacznie częsciej do zarażania, inicjowania, uświadamiania niż np. do późniejszego systematycznego szkolenia. Niestety ciągle szkoła w Polsce obfituje w czynniki zrażające bardziej niż zarażające, ale w ciągu ostatnich dwóch lat widzę bardzo wyraźną zmianę nastawienia nauczycieli – na lepsze.

Jakie są Wasze/Państwa doświadczenia i opinie na temat wprowadzania e-learningu 2.0 w szkołach? Dziękujemy za komentarze!

Stories of a dinosaur

May 7th, 2010 by Cristina Costa
I am still in Porto, at the Faculty of Engineering , in the University of Porto. Yesterday I did a short presentation about the use of Social Media in Higher Education for the eLearning @FEUP workshop. I mainly focused on some projects I have been developing at the University Salford, but everything went so quickly [...]
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