Archive for the ‘transitions’ Category

Thoughts on the Day of German Unity – Part 2: My memories of my visits 1989-1990

October 3rd, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous blog I started writing out  memories on the process that led to Germanunification in the years 1989-1990. This is my contribution – as a Finnish expatriat working in Germany – to the celebration of the national holiday – the Day of German Unity. But, as I mentioned in my previous blog, these events have a more personal meaning than news from foreign countries. It so happened that during the turbulent October-November days 1989 I was on a a five weeks’ study visit in Germany. And in the beginning of October 1990 I was again in Germany as a participant of a conference that was organised during the days of the unification. In the previous blog I have tried to reconstruct the chain of main events. Now I try to refresh my memories on how I observed the events when travelling round Germany in 1989 or witnessing the day of unification in the middle of a German conference.

1. Memories of the period October-November 1989

I had planned a five weeks’ tour starting from North Germany (Bremen, Hamburg), then continuing via Kassel and Göttingen to the Ruhr area (Dortmund, Düsseldorf), then having a stop in Bonn, making quick  visits to Karlsruhe and Frankfurt, then spending a Week in München (Munich if you insist) and then spending the last week in Berlin. My aim was to get to know the main research institutes in the field of vocational education and training (VET), industrial sociology (social shaping of work and technology) and educational policy research (with emphasis on VET). From this perspective the trip was successful – I got a lot of fresh insights and made several good contacts. In particular, my long-term cooperation with Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB) started from that visit. But in this blog I do not wish to go to those aspects of my study visit. Instead, I try to reconstruct how I experiences the turbulent times in the German-German history while travelling in Germany when great changes were on the way to happen.

During the first weeks in North Germany the most striking news were the arrival of the masses of refugees that were evacuated from the embassies where they had been camping. It was striking, how great their expectations were on their personal future, now that they had managed to escape and start a new life. However, they had to adjust themselves to rather inconvenient temporary accommodation before they could get settled. Also, getting used to market economy with consumer goods richly available – but with market prices – was not easy for all. People told stories of young men who had just got their first jobs and immediately tried to order top class BMWs.

During the next weeks’ travels from Kassel to the Ruhr area and to Bonn the news focused more on the mass demonstrations in different cities of the German Democratic Republic (DDR). Also, we started to get insights into the difficulties caused to the DDR economy and society by the mass exodus of people to the west. Key functionaries and key professionals had left their posts and fled away – the organisations were struggling to cope with less people available. In particular in the healthcare sector this started to be a problem. At the same time the ones who continued with protests became more determined.

During the visits from Bonn to Karlsruhe and Frankfurt I heard the first news on changes in the leadership of DDR. The top man in the leadership, president and party leader Erich Honecker had stepped down. Yet, it was not clear, whether this would be just a minor face lift with some of the oldest representatives of the ancien regime stepping aside, whilst younger technocrats would try to save the regime.

During the week in München the uncertainty of the future course was still there. There were new waves of refugees via embassies. The demonstrations were continued with growing number of participants. And some other key persons in the leadership of DDR stepped down. Yet -what was to be expected. My host organisation, the sociological research institute ISF had planned a comparative project on industrial relations and working conditions in several countries and they had invited a promising young researcher from DDR to join in the consortium. She was also invited to give a speech on this topic in an event of the Civic Academy of München. Her speech was received well and the discussion started exploring other issues of public interest. When asked directly of her opinion on the recent events, the speaker shocked her audience by stating that she will not return to DDR. She had no confidence that the things would turn better.

During the week in Berlin I got the chance to understand what it means to live in a divided city and in an insular city that has been surrounded by walls. Indeed, the Berlin wall was there and you had to climb to the terraces on the western side to see the Brandenburg gate and the sites in the East. The protests kept going on and the West-Berliners were getting sure that the regime in the East is losing control. A taxi-driver’s comment was symptomatic: “They have mismanaged their economy and the political leaders have no control. If they get a chance for free election, they will vote for unification.” At that time many key persons in the protest movement were still hoping to find an alternative course for their DDR – not to push through a unification with the superpower in the west.

Few days after my return to Finland the ancien regime lost the control irreversibly, the wall was opened, the offices of the secret service were abandoned and the demonstrators caught the last agents that were trying to delete documents. And the big wheels started rolling towards the unification.

 2. Memories of the conference trip to Magdeburg in October 1990

Almost one year later I had a chance to visit Germany again. I had a chance to participate in the German umbrella conference on pedagogics of vocational education and training (Hochschultage Berufliche Bildung). Originally this conference was supposed to take place in a West-German university. However, the designed host organisation had to give up the plan. Therefore, the national organising committee made an arrangement with the University of Technology in Magdeburg to organise a West-German conference in DDR. This was understood as a a friendly gesture to support the gradual coming together between the two German states after the wall had been opened.

However, real life was much faster than anyone had anticipated. The process of gradual coming together turned into rapid unification. To the great surprise of the organisers they had to cope with the decision that the final day of the conference would be the day of unification – and a new national holiday for the unified republic. The organisers decided that they will celebrate unification by continuing the conference as had been planned.

When I arrived in Magdeburg I realised that the conference was heavily overshadowed by the forthcoming unification. The mode of unification was to join the DDR area as new federal states into the Federal Republic of Germany (BRD). In this way the Federal legislation will come into force in the new states. This caused a lot of anxieties among the people who had to cope witt legal and organisational rearrangements. These discussions overshadowed many of the sessions. The East-German participants tried to highlight what they felt was appropriate in their system of VET. The West-German participants tried to show solidarity and understanding. They also were pleading for flexibility and creativity in the the process of systemic transitions in the field of VET.

Due to the timing of the conference it got some attention from top-level policy-makers. The last Minister of Education and the last Secretary of State of DDR were attended the conference and completed their missions in these positions. The Federal Minister of Education of BRD had promised to attend during the opening panel discussion. He arrived – just in time – and gave a speech with which he indicated, who is the new master in the house and whose rules count from now on. Then, contrary to his promise, he apologised that he had to leave at once because of an important appointment in his West-German home town. So, he missed the speeches of the Minister and Secretary of State of DDR (who gave their last speeches in these positions).

On the way back from the conference I and the other Finnish delegate experienced a complete traffic chaos in Berlin. We were supposed to have plenty of time from the railway station Berlin Schöneweide to the airport Berlin Tegel. But the streets were full of people who wanted to get to the City centre to witness the special session of the parliament in the Reichstag building and/or the nearby events. Also, when we finally got to the airport, the plane was kept waiting because the Members of Parliament kept coming on charter planes to attend the session. Finally, we got a permission to fly away (but we missed our connecting flight and got an extra dinner in Hamburg, courtesy to flight company). In the meantime the prominents had their celebrations in Berlin. The picture that was taken on that evening was symptomatic – we see the Mayor of West Berlin, Mr Momper, the old Chancellor Willy Brandt, the Foreign Minister Genscher, the Chancellor Kohl, his wife Ms Kohl, the Federal president Mr v. Weiszäcker waiving their hands – and just fitting to the picture the last Prime Minister of DDR, Mr de Maizière. The new era had been started.

I guess this is enough with these memories. I have had to witness important events from close vicinity. Little of this could be understood immediately on the spot. The big picture could only be reconstructed afterwards. It is time to end these stories now that the Day of German Unity is turning into evening.

The story of the day is told. More blogs to come on working issues …

Using web 2.0 and social media in European projects

December 20th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu, UK from Web2LLP on Vimeo.

There is growing interest in how to use social media in European research and development projects. The Web2LLP project aims to improve web strategies and maximise the social media presence of lifelong learning projects. Their web site explains they provide “personalised support and training (a week-long face-to-face course and free webinars), and shares best-practices and resources.”

One of those resources is a video gallery including interviews with project managers who have used social media in European Commision sponsored Lifelong Learning Programme projects.

And when Maria Perifanou asked me for an interview how could I refuse. I talked to Maria about how we used social media in the G8WAY project. The G8WAY project was based on the idea that the growing availability of web 2.0 allows for bridging the present gap between the structures developed to support students in mastering today’s educational transition and their formulation in an institutional perspective through learner centered and connective approaches, with a chance to more effectively manage educational transition.  “G8WAY  developed web 2.0 enhanced learning environments, to enable learners to reflect and develop their creativity potentials and transitional skills in the light of their own and others’ learning experience, made visible through a variety of media sets and PLE tools, each of them designed to meet the requirements of transition envisaged, and all of which are mapped into one single pedagogy framework.”

How to classify and search careers resources?

September 4th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

More news from the excellent icould web site which “gives you the inside story of how careers work. The icould storytellers relate, in their own words, their real life career journeys. There are over a thousand easy to search,varied and unique career videos as well as hundreds of written articles. From telecoms engineers to police officers, from landscape gardeners to web designers, from engine drivers to zookeepers; they talk about what they do, what it’s like, how they came to be where are and their hopes for the future.”

the problem with any such site is how to classify information and even more so how to make it searchable. Yes tag clouds help. And of course you can search by keywords. But when we are talking about careers (and many other topics – for example Open Educational Resources) it is not so easy. On the one hand there is the need to make specific information easily accessible, on the other hand the aim to let people explore options they might not have thought of. And of course much depends on qualification requirements. My own very limited research found that most young people do not go to official careers resources but just enter search words into Google – with very variable results.Furthermore, they seemed to have a limited ability to judge the varci8ty or authority of search returns.

A press release from icould Director, David Arnold says:

In response to a major piece of user testing and feedback earlier in the year, conducted for us by the International Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby, we have completely revised our homepage, changed the structure of our content and made our functionality more explicit.  This will make it easier for our users to personalise icould content, search out what is important to them and find what they need to inspire the next step on their career journey.  As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions for further improvements and are grateful for your links, tweets, likes and recommendations.

I tested their new search wizard which asks users

  1. What types of job are you interested in?
  2. What subjects do you study, or enjoy most?
  3. What type of company would you like to work for?
  4. What kind of working lifestyle would suit you best?
  5. What qualifications do you have?

It came up with probably too many results. but they were genuinely career directions I might have been interested in. And I far prefer this broader exploratory approach to many of the very dubious psychometric tools on the market, which seem to provide all kinds of strange results based on algorithms which make a lot of assumptions around our lives and interests which might or might not be true.

 

 

The right to work

August 19th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

When I was at school, I never had a Saturday job, or even a paper round, although many of my friends did. My parents were afraid that working would interfere with my education. But I did work in the summer holidays and after leaving school worked for a year before going to university. And I think I learned as much working as I ever did at school. Indeed, the importance of work experience was shown up in our European funded G8WAY project on school to work and university to work transitions.

The Guardian newspaper has drawn attention to a study by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) on part time jobs.

The study found that “the proportion of teenagers combining part-time jobs with school or college has slumped from 40% in the 1990s to around 20% now, according to a government agency. Latest figures show that 260,000 teenagers have a Saturday job compared with 435,000 in 1997.”

UKCES say that there are multiple reasons for this. “The trend is not just recession-related but the result of an increasing expectation that young people should stay on at school, as well as a dwindling number of Saturday jobs, according to the report. Many of the jobs that young people do, such as bar work, are in long-term decline, and are forecast to stagnate or decline further over the next decade.”

The lack of opportunity for paid work is preventing young people becoming independent and in many of the case studies we undertook through the G8WAY project, resulting in considerable family tensions.

And there is an irony here. At the very time young people are being denied the right to work, employers are increasingly demanding work experience, as a precursor to employment. The result is that many young people are being forced to undertaken internships, either at a low pay rate or even without pay. That such internships exist, suggest that there are jobs. It is just employers do not want to pay.

 

New website launched

October 3rd, 2011 by Graham Attwell

We are happy to announce the launch of a new webs site, CareersTalk. The site, developed jointly between Pontydysgu and the Institute for Employment Research, Warwick University, provides access to the ongoing research and development we are undertaking into careers guidance and in particular, the use of new technology to support careers guidance. Much of this work has been undertaken with support from the EU Mature-IP and G8WAY projects.

The introduction says: “The web site is designed to provide leading-edge ideas for careers work – including information-advice-and-guidance, careers education, career counselling, mentoring, coaching, personal-and-social development, learning for well-being, for a changing world, portfolio development and individual action-planning. In particular it focuses on the use of technology for careers information, advice and guidance. Technology has already influenced, and will continue to influence, not only the ways in which guidance services are accessed by clients, but how they are used by them.”

The web site also provides links to working versions of our data visualisation tools.

Educational transitions and career adaptability

August 19th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I have spent much of the afternoon reading the UK Commission for Employment and Skills report on The role of career adaptability in skills supply. The report was written by my colleagues Jenny Bimrose, Alan Brown, Sally Anne Barnes and Deirdre Hughes from the Institute for Employment Research at Warwick University. It is particularly pertinent to our ongoing work on career transitions and Web2.0 and this post forms the first of two looking at some of the central ideas in the report.

Research in careers is limited yet careers choice and careers guidance are increasingly important with fast changing technologies and the world financial crisis rendering many occupations and jobs increasingly insecure. Few young people today will spend their entire working life in one occupation. The report based on empirical research undertaken in the UK and Norway looks at how people adapt to such a situation and how we can better support people through career transitions.

The term career adaptability, the authors say

describes the conscious and continuous exploration of both the self and the environment, where the eventual aim is to achieve synergy between the individual, their identity and an occupational environment. Developing career adaptability has a focus on supporting and encouraging individuals to be autonomous, by taking responsibility for their own career development. The operational definition of career adaptability used for this study was: ‘The capability of an individual to make a series of successful transitions where the labour market, organisation of work and underlying occupational and organisational knowledge bases may all be subject to considerable change’.

Central to the ideas of the report – and paqrazelling the development of Personal Learning Environments – is the aim of  supporting autonomy and recognising that

‘career’ belongs to the individual, not to the employing organisation (Duarte, 2004).

The report identifies a set of five career adaptive competencies:

  • control emphasises the need for individuals to exert a degree of influence on their situations;
  • curiosity emphasises the value in broadening horizons by exploring social opportunities and possibilities;
  • commitment stresses how individuals should experiment with new and different activities and projects, rather than being focused narrowly on getting into a particular job, so that new possibilities can be generated;
  • confidence relates to believing in yourself and your ability to achieve what is necessary to achieve your career goal;
  • concern refers to stimulating or developing a positive and optimistic attitude to the future. (Savickas et al., 2009, p.245).

Learning is obviously important in developing career adaptive competences, particularly learning through work.

The role of learning in developing career adaptability at work has four dimensions. The first involves learning through challenging work: mastering the practical, cognitive and communicative demands linked with particular work roles and work processes. The second has a primary cognitive focus and involves updating a substantive knowledge base (or mastering a new additional substantive knowledge base). Knowledge updating may play an important role in extending adaptability beyond a focus on the current work role. The third dimension has a primary communicative focus and comprises learning through (and beyond) interactions at work. Finally, the fourth dimension focuses upon how career adaptability is facilitated by individuals becoming more self-directed and self-reflexive in their learning and development.

One special aspect of being self-directed, illustrated by the quotes above, relates to being self-reflexive, able to identify your current skill set and how this might be enhanced and extended. Those who made successful transitions all seemed to be self-directed in either or both their learning and development and their career more generally. The link between being self-directed in your own learning and development and making successful transitions is transparent: if you can learn to adapt and continue to develop in your current job, even in less than ideal circumstances, then this provides a basis for making successful transitions in future. Several participants also pointed to the psychological dimension of how being self-directed and successful in making a major transition reinforced your confidence that you would be able to do this again in future, if required.

Those individuals who see that their skills can be transferred to other contexts have significant advantages in changing career direction over those who define themselves almost exclusively by their occupational and organisational attachments (Bimrose et al., 2008). This advantage stems from the former having a dynamic sense of themselves as being able to navigate their own route through the labour market, whereas the latter are dependent upon the pathways linked to a particular organisation or occupation.

However, the research based on a psychological-social approach, also recognised the importance of opportunity in careers transitions and the multiple-disadvantages many face in the labour market, especially in the UK, as opposed to Norway where class plays a lesser role. It also recognises the role that different labour market and education structures (and regulation) can play with regard to opportunity.

The term ‘opportunity structures’ itself contains the tension between openness and flexibility on the one hand and structured pathways on the other. Both are valuable and it is finding an accommodation which works well for most members of a society and also provides opportunities for those who do not fit initially. This should be the goal of a Continuing Vocational Training policy, informed by concerns for individual career developmen

The research approach was particularly interesting. In the EU funded G8WAY project we have been looking at the potential of storytelling, both as a research methodology or tool., and for helping young people reflect on education transitions. The career adaptability study also adopted a story telling approach.

The research study reported here adopted a retrospective and reflective approach – asking adults to reflect on their experiences of labour market transition, comment on the strategies they deployed and what, with the benefit of hindsight, they might have done differently. This approach has analytical power in that it enables individuals to ‘tell their career stories’, who invariably respond well to being given an opportunity to do so. Most individuals in our sample constructed coherent career narratives that had a current value in offering perspectives on where they were now, had been, and were going in their work lives. It could be argued that the career stories of some individuals may have been partly based on past events that have been reinterpreted from how they felt at the time they occurred. However, this misses an essential point about career adaptability: it is how the past is interpreted and reinterpreted which can act as a trigger to positive engagement with education and training when faced with labour market transitions. Hence, it is the stories in which we are interested, rather than searching for an unobtainable ‘truth’ about their attitudes and behaviours in the past.

This reflective approach has provided deep insights into dominant features that characterise an individual’s career adaptability profile, namely: individual (personality) characteristics; context and opportunities (opportunity structures); learning and development; and career orientation. These features are in constant and dynamic interaction, one with another.

One final aspect of being self-directed surfaced in many of our participants’ replies – people can learn from their lives through the stories they tell about them. Many of our participants recounted powerful narratives of where they had been, where they were and where they might be going. They were in charge of their own stories and such a perspective itself is an important component of adaptability.

The Determined, the Meanderer and the Stagnant

November 30th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

The European Commission funded G8WAY project is researching educational transitions with he aim of using social software and web 2.0 to assist young people in transitions.

As part of the methodology the project has undertaken some 50 interviews in five countries looking at how young people move from school to university or work, and from university to work.

These provide a rich, of somewhat disturbing, picture of uncertainty in an increasingly complex world. But, in terms of designing social software 50 case studies are hard to handle. The project has developed three personas or archetypes to help in this process. I proudly present to you the determined, the meanderer and the stagnant.

Persona Type 1 – “The Determined”

Key Attributes;

  • Rich resources
  • Passionate
  • Motivated
  • Congruent steps
  • Independent
  • Confident
  • Clear aims
  • No plan B
  • Ambitious

Typical Case Studies: Sara, Eleonora, Störte, Ronny

Motto – “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  (Confucius)

Demographic and biographical Characteristics
The determined person tends to have a very supportive family or peer group who are able to provide encouragement and emotional security to the individual. With this in place the Determined person is able to make bold and confident decisions in their choice of career. These decisions are often made early in the individuals lives allowing them to follow a clearly defined progression towards their objective. The determined person knows where he/she is heading and rarely ventures far from the path.

The truly Determined will always find a way to balance their families’ expectations with their own needs without compromising their goals.

Transitions

Educational and transitional pathways:

Pathways are predetermined and clear. The determined person knows what to do in order to get to the next stage. Career paths are well researched and often, little time is wasted, these are the most efficient of transitions.

Motivations and Strategies:

The Determined are passionate people, they are intrinsically motivated and confident in their own abilities. They have strong friendship groups and take advantage of networking opportunities. They use their initiative and they think things through carefully rather than acting on impulse.

Support Services used

Determined people use support services well, they make use of the internet, social networking, careers guidance services and mentors. They are likely to seek out and take advice from those with more experience.

Information and Communication Technologies

Determineds make good use of the internet by surfing web sites to search for information, using email, participating in online forums and using social networks to keep in touch with friends.

Ways in which Determineds would like G8way to help:

  • at a glance regional and national Job profiles
  • comparison of vocational and e-learning courses throughout Europe
  • blog or forum to exchange experiences and advice

Persona Type 2  – “Meandering”

Key Attributes:

  • Extended/multiple transitions
  • Following a complex pathway
  • Many distractions
  • Aware of the desired outcome but unsure of how to get there
  • Deal with problems as and when they occur
  • Look for appropriate help
  • Motivated
  • Open to suggestions
  • Active, experimenting with different strategies
  • Have less resources than the Determined type

Typical Case Studies – Amleto, Michelle, Marco, Mariaangela

Motto – “I was making good progress” (Anon – in response to a traffic cop)

Demographic and biographical Characteristics

Meanderers tend to have very wide social networks making friends easily with contacts from diverse sections of society. They receive a good level of support from family and peers but lack clear guidance. Family ideals can often be a barrier to their progress. Meanderers may have multiple goals, never being entirely sure which one to pursue, or they may have one fixed goal but be unsure which path to take in order to achieve it. Some meanderers think that their dream is beyond their reach.

Transitions

Educational and transitional pathways:

The direction is uncertain and several different pathways are attempted. There are indirections and distractions along the way such as social or financial pressures. The meanderer tends to eventually reach a satisfying position but often takes the “scenic route”.

Motivations and Strategies:

The meanderer collects qualifications and enjoys learning even though the process may not directly benefit their cause. They tend to have plenty of work experience mostly around their area of interest and may have tried their hand at a number of related jobs.

Support Services used
If meanderers use support services, they make use of the internet, social networking, careers guidance services and mentors but do so without a clearly defined pathway. They have difficulty with filtering out the useful information or deciding what to do when given conflicting advice.

Information and Communication Technologies

ICT is used by this group but more for pleasure, social networking and games than for careers guidance. In the interviews, the young people typical of the group often describe themselves as not being ICT experts suggesting a lack of confidence.

Ways in which Meanderers would like G8way to help;

  • provide a sharing platform for people in transition.
  • report the different experiences for different age groups.
  • reflect the diversity of individual transitions

Persona Type 3 – Stagnant

Key Attributes:

  • Few personal resources
  • Multiple family, social or financial issues
  • Need of support in different life areas
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Late decisions for a field of interest
  • Difficulties to prioritise effectively
  • Low self esteem

Typical Case Studies – Sambucca, Daniele and Tillmann

Motto – “We will always tend to fulfill our own expectation of ourselves.” (Brian Tracy)

Demographic and biographical Characteristics

The Stagnant group representatives have low levels of support from family and peers. They have no fixed direction and are often too caught up in the challenges of the here and now to contemplate the future.

Transitions

Educational and transitional pathways:

By definition this group is rather unmoving or moving at pressure (financial, social). They may have some academic background but tend to be early school leavers with little desire to undergo further education.

Motivations and Strategies:

The Stagnant group are not usually actively following a clear path towards a desirable position but are happy to have reach any professional status. If further education is attempted, it is used as an interim solution. Steps taken are by chance rather than design. External proposals are taken up readily. Social and financial pressure is often the motivator to get active. Own professional plans often lack sound reflection against the own abilities and resources. Learning takes place rather accidental and informal.

Support Services used

Individuals typical of this group may attend youth groups or be involved with other community programmes. They also call on known professional services but often struggle to find specific services appropriate to their needs.

Information and Communication Technologies

The group members tend to be familiar with search engines, email and some social web2.0 tools.

Ways in which the Meandering group would like G8way to help:

  • signposting to basic skills qualifications and other training and learning opportunities
  • clear, short job profiles that fit their resources
  • competency assessment
  • way of interacting with more experienced people
  • support in discussing transition issues with parents

Multiple, extended and indirect transitions that are described to be distinct features of the Meandering persona are becoming increasingly characteristic for modern transition pathways. In our case samples, they showed throughout all transition types.

Open Research?

September 12th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I am still interested in experimenting with different formats for conference presentations. Of course the call for contributions and formats for different conferences will limit the possibilities (as often does the design of the conference environment). The European Conference on Educational Research offers the possibility for workshops but, in may experience, there are very few workshops and all too often it is difficult to tell the difference between a paper sessions and a workshop sessions.

This year I submitted a proposal for a workshop around the G8WAY project on educational transitions. This was the proposal:

” A major characteristic of European societies is the rapidly growing differentiation of educational pathways, opportunities and biographies. This increase in complexity  requires great effort from learners into initiative taking, creativity, problem solving, risk assessment and decision taking. Through the past years various structures have been developed in order to support students in mastering educational transition. However they have been often formulated in an institutional perspective, discounting learners’ experience and creativity skills as well as new opportunities of technology enhanced learning.

The research workshop is based on the European Commission funded G8WAY project. G8WAY is based on the idea, that the growing availability of web 2.0 tools allows for bridging this gap through learner centred and connective approaches, with a chance to more effectively manage educational transition. Thus, G8WAY is developing web 2.0 enhanced learning environments, which will enable learners to reflect and develop creativity potentials and transitional skills in the light of self and others’ learning experience, made visible through a variety of media sets and PLE tools, each of them designed to meet the requirements of transition envisaged, and all of which are mapped into one single pedagogy framework.

G8WAY is producing 3 transition scenarios:

  1. school to work and
  2. general to higher education.
  3. Higher education to work

For each of the scenarios a problem oriented concept and case based reasoning method will be developed and embedded into a web 2.0 learning environment to facilitate reflection, case based reasoning and experimental learning on self and other’s learning experience across different educational contexts and towards the development of transitional skills. To this purpose G8WAY will develop web 2.0 learning environments combining a variety of media sets and ICT enhanced learning tools, which are connected through a single pedagogy framework.

The research workshop is intended to form an active part of the G8WAY project, allowing connection and input from the wider educational research community to the projects work and outcomes.

This will involve collaborative exploration of a series of interlinked issues:

  • What are the issues in transitions between education institutions and between education and work
  • What competences are required to deal with transitions
  • How can these competences be acquired
  • How can informal learning be facilitated to bridge scaffold transition processes
  • How can thinking & reflection, conversation & interaction, experience & activity or evidence & demonstration be supported in transition scenarios
  • How can we use Web 2.0 and social software to support transition processes
  • Where do learners gain support from teachers, trainers or peers in managing their own learning for transition
  • What roles could Personal Learning Networks or Personal Learning Environments play in transition processes”

It all sounded very fine when I wrote the proposal last January. But the proposal didn’t require me to say HOW i was going to design and run the workshop. I only had one and a quarter hours and to make it worse the workshop was scheduled for the final confernce session – after lunch on a Friday afternoon. What I wanted to do was to go beyind brainstrorming or group work around teh main ideas of the project and inclove particpants in the ongoing research of the project.

The G8WAY project has been undertaking a series of ‘case studies’ of transitions, based on a  story telling approach. To date we have gathered stories from 60 people, in six different countries. We have published the stories on the G8WAY project web site.  At the present time we have two working groups who are looking at the school to university transition case studies and the university to work case studies with the aim of deriving a limited number of persona. These persona are intended to provide a basis for developing social software to assist young people in educational transitions.

We had about 20 particpants in the workshop. I asked them to work in pairs. each pair was given one of the transition stories and asked to analyse it with respect to:

a) Foregrounded and backgrounding of issues in transition, as told in the case study

b) Possible spaces for intervention to support the transition

And, somewhat to my surprise, everyone not only dived into the work but seemed to enjoy it. Indeed, the only regret was that the time was too short. Backgorund issues and potential rooms for interventionf romt he different case studies included:

  • Family pressure – need spaces for empowerment and rethinking of options
  • Cultural integration – need for spaces / approaches allowing exploration of intergenerational issues
  • Lack of support from colleagues in temporary employment – need for more support in finding appropriate job vacancies
  • Instability – need for signposting to professional support
  • Unsure of identity = need for peer group contact and communication

Of course, without the original case studies this feedback makes little sense. But there was a genuine enthusiasm and interest form participants both in our work and in the process. This has led me to think if we should not extend the exercise,through our project web site, allowing those who are interested but not a project partner to contribute to the project research. Of course that raises the question of why anyone would want to participate voluntarily in ‘Open Research’? The answer I think lies in the relation between research and learning. Participation in a research project can be a powerful form of learning or professional development.

I am constantly being asked to fill in questionnaires and surveys to support different projects. But seldom does the opportunity for involvement go beyond that. It will require some creativity and imagination, but I see no reason why we shouldn’t start opening up our research to all those interested. And that is not just the obligatory bulletin board for visitors to ask questions or add a comment. It means redesigning the research methodologies and processes to allow others to participate. More to come in a future post….

Free workshop on educational transitions

September 3rd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

The autumn conference season is in full swing. One  of my favourites is Online Educa Berlin - this year being held on 2 and 3 December. If nothing else Online Educa is a great social event – a chance to catch up with friends from round the world. Online Educa also organises a series of pre conference workshops on 1 December. and this year we are organising a workshop for the European funded G8WAY project on educational transitions. Whilst there is a fee for many of the workshops, the G8WAY event is sponsored by the project and is free to participants.

The workshop will focus on the issue of how educational transitions can be made easier for young people through Internet-based services (e.g. career advice, information and guidance).

According to the workshop website the importance of helping young people in their quest to find employment is widely recognised and there is growing interest in the potential of technology-assisted learning when it comes to helping young people make the transition from education to employment. However, this area of learning remains in its infancy and throws up a series of issues for policymakers, researchers and practitioners alike.

The European project G8WAY: Enhanced Gateway to Educational Transition is investigating how social software and Web 2.0 applications can be used to help young people in make transitions.

The following key issues will be explored in the workshop:

  • What are the challenges of educational transitions – how can young people start a career in recession-hit European societies?
  • What is the potential of social software and Web 2.0 tools in the context of transitions?
  • What role can careers guidance and support play in this process?
  • What is the future of technology-based learning regarding career education?

The active involvement of participants, exchange of expertise and creation and further development of ideas will be the key elements of this pre-conference workshop.

whilst the workshop is free places are limited and pre registration is necessary. If you are going to be in Berlin, don’t miss our workshop.

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    Consultation

    Diana Laurillard, Chair of ALT, has invited contributions to a consultation on education technology to provide input to ETAG, the Education Technology Action Group, which was set up in England in February 2014 by three ministers: Michael Gove, Matthew Hancock and David Willetts.

    The deadline for contributions is 23 June at http://goo.gl/LwR65t.


    Social Tech Guide

    The Nominet Trust have announced their new look Social Tech Guide.

    The Social Tech Guide first launched last year, initially as a home to the 2013 Nominet Trust 100 – which they describe as a list of 100 inspiring digital projects tackling the world’s most pressing social issues.

    In  a press relase they say: “With so many social tech ventures out there supporting people and enforcing positive change on a daily basis, we wanted to create a comprehensive resource that allows us to celebrate and learn from the pioneers using digital technology to make a real difference to millions of lives.

    The Social Tech Guide now hosts a collection of 100′s of social tech projects from around the world tackling everything from health issues in Africa to corruption in Asia. You can find out about projects that have emerged out of disaster to ones that use data to build active and cohesive communities. In fact, through the new search and filter functionality on the site, you should find it quick and easy to immerse yourself in an inspiring array of social tech innovations.”


    Code Academy expands

    The New York-based Codecademy has translated its  learn-to-code platform into three new languages today and formalized partnerships in five countries.

    So if you speak French, Spanish or Portuguese, you can now access the Codecademy site and study all of its resources in your native language.

    Codecademy teamed up with Libraries Without Borders (Bibliotheques sans Frontieres) to tackle the French translation and is now working on pilot programs that should reduce unemployment and bring programming into schools. In addition, Codecademy will be weaving its platform into Ideas Box, a humanitarian project that helps people in refugee camps and disaster zones to learn new skills. Zach Sims, CEO of Codecademy, says grants from the public and private sector in France made this collaboration possible.

    The Portuguese translation was handled in partnership with The Lemann Foundation, one of the largest education foundations in Brazil. As with France, Codecademy is planning several pilots to help Brazilian speakers learn new skills. Meanwhile in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the company has been working closely with the local government on a Spanish version of its popular site.

    Codecademy is also linking up up with the Tiger Leap program in Estonia, with the aim of teaching every school student how to program.


    Open online STEM conference

    The Global 2013 STEMx Education Conference claims to be the world’s first massively open online conference for educators focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and more. The conference is being held over the course of three days, September 19-21, 2013, and is free to attend!
    STEMxCon is a highly inclusive event designed to engage students and educators around the globe and we encourage primary, secondary, and tertiary (K-16) educators around the world to share and learn about innovative approaches to STEMx learning and teaching.

    To find out about different sessions and to login to events go to http://bit.ly/1enFDFB


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