Archive for the ‘network’ Category

Revisiting Kostelec 3: The working climate in the “Crossing boundaries …” conference

October 24th, 2010 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two previous blog postings – Revisiting Kostelec 1 and 2 – I have presented my general impression of the conference and then an overview of the thematic sessions that I attended. However, this alone is not enough to give an idea, what made the conference such a positive experience – what brought into being the spirit of Kostelec. Here, I try to give some additional aspects that come up when I refresh my memories.

1) Working and learning together

Already from the first paper sessions I noticed that this conference has the spirit of working and learning together. Surely, the tandem presentation on ‘learning tandems’ was a good start. However, the further sessions continued with the same pattern. Instead of having had a succession of rushed monologues, we had a possibility to go into discussions and to build bridges between the current presentation and the previous ones.

2) Creative interactive spaces

Instead of filling the programme with paper sessions and symposia, the organisers had encouraged the presenters to use more interactive sessions (e.g. speed learning cafe or interactive workshop). These were not perceived as marginal ‘entertainment’ but as valuable sessions and the participants made good use of these.

3) Smart use of poster session

The organisers had encouraged participants to prepare posters. However, on the spot some creativity was needed to organise a well-functioning poster session. The solution was that posters were lying on tables and the presenters were sitting behind the table. The audience had the opportunity to sit down and have a talk over the poster that was on the table. This proved to be a good solution. (It provided also the possibility to reschedule on paper presentation that had to be cancelled because the presenters had been directed to a wrong Kostelec.)

4) The online radio show

Pontydysgu had made preparations for an online radio show live from Kostelec.  Also this event was run in a smart and participative way. When the conference had already reached the halfway stage, the participants were ready to reflect on the event and what they had gained so far. Several ideas were also raised for further discussion.

5) The online exhibition

During the preparation the organisers had welcomed contributions to the online exhibition. Before the conference most of the posters had already been made available via this facility. Also, some videos had been made to be presented in this area. During the conference this work was continued and the participants were encoraged to submit more content to the exhibition area.

6) The concluding debate

The wrap-up session of the conference was not organised as a series of speeches that look back at the sessions. Instead, the participants were invited into a debate. The participants had to submit motions (critical statements) to be debated. By means of lottery, some participants were picked as promoters (and secondants) and others as opponents (and secondants. After each mini-debate the participants were asked to formulate their own statements and then the debate was concluded by a vote. This all added up to the picture of a genuine learning event.

I guess this is enough for this posting. In my next blog I will leave the Kostelec experience and discuss the way forward.

Watch this space!


Revisiting Kostelec 2: Insights into the sessions of the “Crossing boundaries …” conference

October 24th, 2010 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous blog posting I presented my positive impression on the international conference “Crossing Boundaries: The multiple roles of trainers and teachers in vocational education and training” (14.-15.10.2010 in Kostelec, near Prague). With this posting I want to look back at the sessions and to what made the conference such a positive experience.

Firstly, it is worthwhile to note that I am writing primarily as a conference participant (my role as a member of the organising network was not a central one). However, I also had some duties as a facilitator, so I had to pay attention, how to get the sessions running well and with good spirit. Yet, I must emphasise that the key factor in the success was the fact that the participants were interesting in building up a good dialogue-oriented event.

The first thematic session that I attended, was based on two contributions from Germany.

  • Alrun Schleiff and Simone Wanken from the University of Trier gave a presentation on “The learning tandems”. Their university is piloting with a special curriculum that combines the learning processes of traditional students (doing their degrees in adult education) and non-traditional students (training specialists in companies, who are in a certificate programme). The fascination of this programme lies in the cross-mentoring approach that supports both target groups and brings them into a cross-mentoring relation during the field studies.
  • Johannes Koch from Friedrichsdorfer Büro für Bildungsplanung gave a presentation on lifelong learning in production contexts. In this presentation he examined the transition of workplace learning into internet-supported and innovation-oriented learning. In this context the role of intermediate agencies is to support the search processes, election processes and utilisation of cutting-edge knowledge.

The second thematic session was dedicated to professionalisation of teachers and trainers in VET in Spain.

  • Jose Luis Garcia Molina gave a comprehensive picture on the professionalisation of VET teachers and trainers in Spain and on the role of tripartite cooperation. Interestingly enough, both topics that had been taken up in the previous session were also discussed in the light of the Spanish input.

The third thematic session was based on contributions from the host country, Czech Republic.

  • Stanislave Michek provided insights into quality assurance in the Czech vocational schools via self-assessment and self-evaluation.
  • Jan Sperl presented the development of National Educational Portal and provided insights into the use of the different resource areas  by teachers and trainers.
  • Lubomir Valenta gave an overview of the development of Europass tools and of the use of these tools in the Czech Republic.
  • My general impression of the discussion was that all these presentations were presenting cutting-edge European developments and putting the host country into a European group picture. Also, I could notice that the participants from Nigeria and Romania made good use of this information.

The fourth thematic session was shaped as ‘speed learning cafe’ during which two short presentations are discussed parallel to each other. After half an hour the groups change the table and the presenters start a new discussion. The two presentations focused on workplace learning and  developmental tools in Germany and on assessment of workplace learning in Norway.

  • The presentation by Ludger Deitmer and myself focused on the role of holistic working and learning tasks and on the role of participative development tools. The two groups emphasised the importance of genuine and well-thought working and learning tasks as well as the role of dialogue-oriented tools. However, it was emphasised that the tools alone cannot guarantee the result if the participants are not well prepared for self-organised learning and for self-assessment.
  • The presentation of Haege Nore problematised the boundaries of learning and raised the question “who are the right assessors”. The presentation also brought into picture the potential role of co-participating researchers (basic inquiries, interactive accompaniment and evaluation).
  • Here, the groups made good use of the time but it was difficult to share the results across the two groups (discussion to be continued at a later occasion).

The fifth thematic session that I attended was also planned as a speed learning cafe with two presenters. However, one of the presenters had to cancel his participation. Thus, the session was transformed into an interactive workshop with one presentation.

  • Sandra Sukhan from Canada (originally from Guayana) gave a lengthy and highly inspiring account on her internship as a marketing manager of a newly launched training centre in Botswana. Her real life story gtave a deeper meaning to the topic “crossing boundaries” and to the necessity for taking new roles in a challenging training context (where the sustainability of the training centre and learning results were at risk all the time). Also here, the participants were not left as passive audience but were invited to think loud, what kind of lessons could be learned (when the story was told halfway). Then, this discussion was continued with further insights into the concluding phase of project (and the real life strory).

Here I think it is appropriate to stop this overview. In my next posting I try to make a shorter comment on the working climate in the conference.

Watch this space!


Revisiting Kostelec 1: Praise for the “Crossing Boundaries” conference of the network ‘Trainers in Europe’

October 24th, 2010 by Pekka Kamarainen

Just one week ago (14.10. -15.10.2010) the Trainers in Europe network organised a successful international conference. The theme of the  was “Crossing Boundaries: The multiple roles of trainers and teachers in vocational education and training”. My impression as a participant was that the title was appropriate and that the conference really tried to work its way to a better understanding on new challenges and on changing roles of vocational trainers.

It is worthwhile to note that the main organiser – the Trainers in Europe network has had to struggle to find its role on the crowded terrain of European cooperation. As we know. the network has been the successor of the Eurotrainer project that was doing studies and surveys on the position of trainers in Europe. At the same time the TTnet network of Cedefop has been the meeting point of national networks and the summarising arena of country sudies. Moreover, in 2008 – 2009 the European Commission (DG EAC) launched a Europe-wide but regionalisedconsultation process on the role of VET Teachers and Trainers as key actors for lifelong learning. Given all these activities (some of which have already been completed), what could be proposed as a possible way forward?

Looking back at the Kostelec experience, it is important to emphasise that this conference was not shaped as a traditional academic conference or as a conference of country representatives. Instead the conference – taking place in an old castle outside Prague – provided interactive sessions and creative spaces for knowledge sharing.  The particpants came with messages and questions that were related to the position of trainers and to future-oriented initiatives. The formats of the sessions supported active discussion and learning from each other – rather than lengthy monologues that would have tired the participants. Also, the work with online exhibition and with the online radio show have given insights into potentials that have not yet been fully exhausted.

In my subsequent postings I will try to give a picture, what was happening in the sessions (next one) and on some working agendas for follow-up activities.

Watch this space!


Working and Learning: New posts coming

October 24th, 2010 by Pekka Kamarainen

Sadly an overworked period led to a standstill in my blogging just when I had wished to become more active on this front. Given the circumstances, I understand that Pontydysgu relocated my blog to “Speakers’ corner” (the so-called Hyde Park area of Pontydysgu blogs). In practice this area seems to have become a “sleepers’ corner” for hibernating blogs that may come up or fall into coma.

Now I think it is time to take the floor with some messages from the recently organised conference of the “Trainers in Europe” network (see the conference information on the network website

I will try to give some insights into the conference (as the whole), into the sessions that I experienced and into issues that arise for follow-up activities.

Watch this space!


Don’t blame the technology!

March 29th, 2010 by Cristina Costa
Sometimes I wonder why people want to use technology in their practice. Is it because it’s a recognised trend in their professional sphere/discipline? Is it because others are doing it? Is it because it makes them look cool and modern? …maybe it is a bit of all…? And in a way they are all plausible answers. [...]
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    Online Educa Berlin

    OEB Global (formerly Online Educa Berlin) has announced its Call for Proposals and the overall theme for 2018: Learning to Love Learning. The event will incorporate Learning Technologies Germany – a leading European exhibition on learning technologies in the workplace – for the first time this year. More details here.

    Barcelona to go Open Source

    The Spanish newspaper, El País, has reported that the City of Barcelona is in the process of migrating its computer system to Open Source technologies.

    According to the news report, the city plans to first replace all its user applications with alternative open source applications. This will go on until the only remaining proprietary software will be Windows where it will finally be replaced with a Linux distribution.

    To support the move, the city will employ 65 new developers to build software programs for their specific needs. they also plan the development of a digital market – an online platform – whereby small businesses will use to take part in public tenders.

    OER18: Open to All,

    The OER18 Conference takes place in Bristol, UK on 18 – 19 April 2018. OER18 is the 9th annual conference for Open Education research, practice and policy. The final keynote has now been announced: Dr Momodou Sallah is Reader in Globalisation and Global Youth Work at the Social Work, Youth and Community Division, De Montfort University.  More about the conference:

    Learning about technology

    According to the University Technical Colleges web site, new research released of 11 to 17-year-olds, commissioned by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity which promotes and supports University Technical Colleges (UTCs), reveals that over a third (36%) have no opportunity to learn about the latest technology in the classroom and over two thirds (67%) admit that they have not had the opportunity even to discuss a new tech or app idea with a teacher.

    When asked about the tech skills they would like to learn the top five were:

    Building apps (45%)
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    Virtual reality (38%)
    Coding computer languages (34%)
    Artificial intelligence (28%)

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