Archive for the ‘ttplus’ Category

Pedagogic Approaches to using Technology for Learning – Literature Review

May 31st, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The proliferation of new technologies and internet tools is fundamentally changing the way we live and work. The lifelong learning sector is no exception with technology having a major impact on teaching and learning. This in turn is affecting the skills needs of the learning delivery workforce.

Last September, together with Jenny Hughes I undertook a literature review on new pedagogical approaches to the use of technologies for teaching and learning. You can access the full (86 pages) document below.

The research was commissioned by LLUK to feed into the review then being undertaken of teaching qualifications in the Lifelong Learning sector in the UK. The review was designed to ensure the qualifications are up to date and will support the development of the skills needed by the modern teacher, tutor or trainer.

However, we recognised that the gap in technology related skills required by teaching and learning professionals cannot be bridged by qualifications alone or by initial training and a programme of opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) is also needed to enable people to remain up to date.

The literature review is intended to

  • identify new and emerging pedagogies;
  • determine what constitutes effective use of technology in teaching and learning
  • look at new developments in teacher training qualifications to ensure that they are at the cutting edge of learning theory and classroom practice
  • make suggestions as to how teachers can continually update their skills.

Pedagogical Appraches for Using Technology Literature Review January 11 FINAL 1

Crossing Boundaries

May 6th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

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

There are four main themes for the conference.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International Open On-line Conference on Innovation in Training Practice

November 4th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Next week – 9 and 10 November – sees the Second International Open On-line Conference on Innovation in Training Practice.

Although on-line conferences are becoming common in technology related fields, it is particularly heartening to see such practices spreading out to wider communities of research and learning. The free conference, organised by the EU funded Network to Support Trainers in Europe,  is for all those interested in the training and professional development of teachers and trainers. This includes teachers, trainers, researchers, managers and policy makers.

  • Innovations in Work-based Learning for VET Teachers and Trainers
  • Quality and Diversity: Innovations in training practice for socially disadvantaged group
  • Technology Enhanced Learning / ICT for innovation and training practice
  • Innovations in company-based training

Each theme lasts half a day, with two or three speakers from a wide range of countries per theme, with plenty of space for discussion. You can find the conference programme on the Trainers in Europe web site. The conference is open – you can find the links for the Elluminate rooms for the different sessions on the Trainers in Europe Web site but please register here so we can send you out more details.

Online conference on Innovation in Training Practice

August 6th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Last year Pontydysgu organised the first online conference on the training of trainers as part of our work with the Network for Trainers in Europe. Some seventy participants joined the conference from twenty-six different countries.

This year on 9 and 10 November we are organising a follow up conference on “Innovation in Training Practice.” The conference if free and open to all those interested n the subject. An online enrollment form will be made avaiable in the next two weeks. In the meantime we have put out a call for particpation. Wales Wide Web readers will be very welcome to take part.

CALL for PARTICIPATION

About the Network

The European Commission funded Network to Support Trainers in Europe examines the role of trainers by looking at different aspects of training practice and policy. A key objective is to foster exchange between training practitioners, researchers, policy makers and stakeholder institutions. Topics that the Network addresses include trainers’ work, skills, status, professional profile, the recognition of their work and trainers’ continuing professional development.

While the Network seeks to establish support structures for trainers in different European countries, we also have created an on-line platform to link different initiatives, studies and activities on trainers at the European and international level. The platform provides access to research results and recent developments in policy and practice as well as practical tools for practitioners and the training of trainers. A communication forum for practitioners, researchers, managers and policy makers is also available.
In 2008 a main activity of the Network was an online conference which involved some 70 participants. Given that this conference was highly successful, we wish to build on this with a second online conference this year.

Who is the conference for?

The conference is for all those interested in the training and professional development of teachers and trainers. This includes teachers, trainers, researchers, managers and policy makers.

About the conference

The conference will take place on through the internet. We hope this will not only reduce the carbon footprint of our activities, but will allow wide participation by those who might not be able to travel. The conference will utilise simple web-based tools and will be accessible by anyone with an internet connection and a web browser.

For those of you not used to presenting on the internet, we will provide full technical support and a short pre-conference training course.

Conference themes

The conference will be organised around four themes.

Theme 1 – Innovations in Work-based Learning for VET Teachers and Trainers

Work-based learning is seen as being based on practice and supporting the development of applied work practice knowledge. Against classroom-based training it tends to be more authentic and situated and may be more cost-effective in contributing to production processes. Issues to be explored in this session include:

  • How can the work environment be organised to support work-based learning?
  • What are the pedagogic approaches to work-based learning?
  • What role does work process knowledge play in the context of work-based learning?
  • How can the curriculum be organised to support work-based learning?

Theme 2: Equality and Diversity: Innovations in training practice for socially disadvantaged groups

The provision of training for socially disadvantaged groups is a high priority for the European Commission and for many European governments. Social disadvantage may have a wide variety of meanings – including gender, ethnicity, the long-term unemployed, ex prisoners, refugees etc. Targeted provision for these groups is usually focused on social inclusion within education and training or within the workforce. Issues to be explored in this session include:

  • Approaches to mainstreaming for socially disadvantaged groups;
  • Innovative pedagogic approaches to training targeted at socially disadvantaged groups;
  • Innovative institutional arrangements for the training for socially disadvantaged groups;
  • Recognising prior learning and achievement for socially disadvantaged groups;

Theme 3: Technology Enhanced Learning / ICT for innovation and training practice

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

  • What is the impact of e-learning on training and the activities of trainers?
  • How can we best use e-learning to support trainers?
  • How can we encourage and recognise informal internet based learning?
  • What is the impact of social software and Web 2.0 on training and learning?

Theme 4: Innovations in company-based training

The present high rate of change in processes and products and technology implementation is driving a focus on lifelong learning and company-based training. This can take different forms including formal courses, on the job learning, coaching and Technology Enhanced Learning and includes both initial and continuing vocational training. There is also increasing interest in informal learning in companies and in the recognition of informal learning. Competence development and frameworks for competence development are another theme which has attracted much debate over the past period. Issues to be explored in this session include:

  • Innovative learning arrangements in companies;
  • Developing learning rich or learning conducive working environments;
  • Fostering and facilitating informal learning in companies;
  • Developing strategies for competence development and organisational learning within companies.

Conference Structure

The conference will take place over two days. On each day there will be two formal sessions, one for each of the themes. Each session will last for about two hours, allowing four presentations of 15 minutes each, with 15 minutes of discussion.

The live sessions will utilise on-line e-conferencing software, allowing video and audio presentations and feedback from participants. Sessions will be recorded and made available for later viewing. Papers will be made available to participants in advance and the conference will also provide opportunities for asynchronous text-based discussion.

There will also be an parallel on-line exhibition. Details of this will be the subject of a later call.

Call for participation

We invite ideas from people who are interested in contributing to the conference. We are especially interested in supporting contributions from those who have not presented before at an online conference. Support will be available for participants in developing their presentations and in using the online conference platform. We are open to different formats for the sessions. We are not requiring a formal abstract but would like to here your ideas on what you might wish to present and any ideas you have on how you might do this.

Ideas for participation might include (but are not limited to):

  • Informal conversations
  • Workshops
  • Petcha-kutcha
  • Showcasing examples of practice, artefacts, handbooks etc.
  • Videos about practice or projects
  • Research, papers

Please email your ideas to Cristina Costa cristinacost [at] gmail [dot] com and/or to Graham Attwell graham10 [at] mac [dot] com to discuss your ideas.

Timetable

October 4 – Deadline for submission of ideas
October 20 – notification of results of review

More information

If you would like more information you can access the Network’s web site at http://www.trainersineurope.org/. You can also email the project coordinator Simone Kirpal – kirpal [at] uni-bremen [dot] de- or the conference organiser Graham Attwell – graham10 [at] mac [dot] com. Registration details and further information about the conference will be available on the platform shortly.

Challenges to the constructs of education

June 30th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Last week I was at the final event of a series of six workshops on the training of teachers and trainers. The workshops were organised as part of a policy consultation exercise by the European Commission, who regard the training of teachers and trainers as a priority area in terms of economic and social development.

Whilst leading to interesting discussions and interchange between researchers, policy makers and practitioners in different European countries, there was only limited agreement over what measures should be taken. The lack of agreement reflects, I think, major changers in education leading to a series of dilemmas.

firstly the move towards lifelong learning is resulted in more and more people having some responsibility for the learning of others as part of their jobs. They will often not identify themselves as trainers. And at the same time the opportunities for professional development and learning in different contexts are becoming braider, especially through the internet. Indeed one issue which perplexed participants as the workshop was just who should be considered a trainer.

Some at the workshop wished to introduce more regulation as a means of professionalising training and raising quality. But others pointed out that this would only really help professional full time trainers – those already with access to opportunities for professional development – and that with the increased use of the internet for learning, it would be impossible for any one nation state to regulate trainers.

There was also some discussion on the differences between vocational teachers and trainers. It was pointed out that whilst they often worked in very different contexts, both groups were responsible for the learning of others. Were the differences in job designation just a construct of our education and training systems? And with learning moving outside the institution could such constructs be maintained in the future?

On the whole there was some consensus that learning would take place in wider contexts in teh future and would tend to become part fo everday living and work. But on the issue of how within that scenario to provide support and professional development for thsoe responsible for supporting the learning of others, the workshop particpants remained puzzled. More on this issue in future posts.

Trainers, identities and qualifications

February 23rd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I am in Thessaloniki at a conference on vocational teachers and trainers organised the the European Agency, Cedefop. Whilst everyone is convinced of the key roles  of teachers  and trainers (it is interesting that no one ever stops to question that), and agree that we need better training and professional development for trainers, there remains little agreement on how this might be done.

Presenters from OECD and the European Trades Unions ETUCE) seem convinced the answer is higher levels fo academic qualifications for teachers and trainers – the ETUCE going as far as to say all vocational teachers and trainers should have ‘Masters degree level’ qualifcations.

This, forme raises all kinds of questions related to identity. Vocational teachers have dual identities – as a teacher and as a skilled workers. Many of those responsible for the learning of others in the workplace – I prefer this clumsy phrase to the word trainer – may not even identify themselves as trainer at all, but rather as a skilled worker in their occupation.

Leaving aisde the issue of whther or not masters level qualification helps teachers and trainers in their practice, I wonder how the imposition of such an academic qualification impacts on the identity of a teacher or trainer. I wonder, too, if we are confusing competence and expertise in teaching and training with univeristy degrees?

As an aside, one thing the ETUCE speaker put forward that I agreed with was the idea of autonomous work as a competnce for teachers. But does a univeristy degree result in the development of autonomous thinking?

Back on the Blog – Why?

February 11th, 2009 by Pekka Kamarainen

Here I am again, after a long period of silence. Last spring I posted a series of blog entries.  I tried to analyse the change of the cooperation climate in European educational programmes and the implications for researchers. As we know, research in vocational education and training (or VET reserch)as we call it) has profited of the creative phases of European cooperation in the late 1990s. However in the recent years there has been a loss of interest in European or trans-national cooperation.

I started to look at the big picture with observer’s questions, such as:

“What has happened to the ‘European dimension’?”

“What has happened to interdiscplinarity?”

“What hs happened to European innovations?”

Without noticing it myself I had lifted myself off the ground and put myself into helicopter or space ship. I may still agree with what I wrote on these topics. Yet, I couldn’t continue with the topics I had planned to be the next ones. Why?

The trivial reason is that I was caught by urgencies in my day-to-day work. This happens from time to time.

The socio-cultural reason is that I felt myself caught in a historian’s work that has no relevance for present-date VET research. There was a threat that I would be presenting memories for celebrating the glorious pioneering years. Yet, my intention was to produce memories for the future – for facing the challenge of open futures.

The conceptual/methodological reason is that was trying to produce comprehensive analyses on the’ change of climate’ in VET research (in few blog entries). Then, I was trying to outline alternative approaches or  change gendas. This, however, started to look like wrapping up a big bag in which I myself and my peer communities would have to fit in.

What I have learned during my period of silence is that I have to step down from the helicopter or space ship in which I had positioned myself. I don’t need to give up the intention of working with a big picture (that is needed from time to time). However, I have to nurture my thinking on the developments in European VET reseach with news, reports and impressions from field activities.

Luckily enough I have recently participated in such European projects and reviewing activities that promote a new discussion climate (such as the TTplus project and the consultation workshops on VET teachers and trainers). I am not saying that these would directly open new highways to brave new R&D agendas. Yet, they give anchor points for further consideration. In particular the current European activities on the professonal future of  VET teachers and trainers raise several issues.

Therefore, I am pleased to let my historian’s views on trans-nationality, networking and web-supported knowledge sharing mature for some  time. In the meantime I should try to catch, what is hot and what is moving in the present-date European cooperation.

Skilled performace as a basis for professional practice?

February 4th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Chris Sessums asks: “What would a knowledge base for the teaching profession look like? How can we get one?”

He goes on to say: “Imagine teachers collaborating around the globe to improve education. Sound like a fantasy? Is there a path that could lead from classrooms to a shared, reliable professional knowledge base for teaching? Is it because practitioner knowledge is highly personal, highly contextual, and lacks the vetting process associated with scientific research that such a path has never been developed? Given the millions of teachers producing knowledge of classroom practice everyday, is it worth examining what would be needed to transform teacher knowledge into a professional knowledge base for teaching? What would such a path look like?”

These are good questions. However, they pose problems over the nature of practice. Chris bases his idea of practioner knowledge around the idea of “elaborating a problem” and alaborating and testing answers to such a problem. But surely this is only part of the practice of a teacher. Can teaching be reduced to a knowledge base? In struggling to envisage what form such a knowledge base might take Chris suggests it could be developed around lesson plans. Although a readily accessible and open bank of lesson plans might be a valuable resource, it still ignores many elements of the practice of teaching. It is perfectly possible that no two teachers would use the plans in the same way. Of course that is not important. But such a knowledge base might then fail to capture the essence of professional practice (I am unconvinced of Chris’s distinction between practioner knowledge and professional knowledge).

Reckwitz (2003) distinguishes 3 different meanings or understandings of practice:

  • Practice as embodied knowledge;
  • Practice as a skilful performance with artefacts;
  • Practice as implicit knowledge, as the implicit logic of doing things

It may be possible to develop a database of the background knowledge and of the artefacts. Far mor problematic is the skilful performance. Yet it is this element of practice which would seem to be most useful for teachers and trainers.

Is one of the problems the divisions we have made between so called scientific (or professional) knowledge and practice? I wonder if it might be possible to develop taxonomies for practice embodied as skilful performance and then develop social software which would allow the sharing of such practice. If, so how and what might it look like? Does anyone have any ideas?

Reference

Reckwitz, A. (2003). Grundelemente einer Theorie sozialer Praktiken. In: Zeitschrift für Soziologie, Jg. 32, H. 4, 282-301.

Are you interested in the training of teachers and trainers?

January 5th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Happy new year to you all. Its time for the first meeting of the year.

I am off to Athens early tomorrow for s workshop being organised as part of a European funded project looking at the training and practice of VET teachers and trainers.

Starting last October, the project is organising six workshops in different European countries, each bringing together practitioners and experts from 3-6 different countries to discuss research, practice and policy in the training and practice of VET teachers and trainers. Part of each workshop will focus on findings, conclusions and recommendations of previous work in this area but there will also be a focus on identifying and addressing new topics and major issues of concern.

The workshops are open to policy makers, researchers, experts and practitioners. We are trying to update the web site as we go to provide access to the outcomes of the different workshop activities. Following the Athens workshop this week, the next workshop will be in in Bonn in Germany on 22-23 January. It is open to participants from Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Interpretation may be available in English, German, Hungarian and Czech. Travel and accomodation costs are paid by the project. If you are interested in coming please contact Graham Attwell as soon as possible – graham10 @ mac.com.

There will probably be a further workshop in Bremen in March. It is not quite sorted out which countries will be included, but in all probability it will include Iceland, Romania, Netherlands and possibly one or two more. I will post details as soon as they are avaiable.

Beyond Competence: Creating Learning Spaces for the training and professional development of trainers

December 16th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Posted below is a PDF copy of a new book: ‘Creating Learning Spaces: Training and Professional Development of Trainers’. the hard back copy will be published early in the new year. The book comes out of the two year TTPlus project on professional development for trainers. The project involved researchers from six European countries and was coordinated by Eileen Luebcke from Pontydysgu and funded by The European Commission Leonardo da Vinci programme.

At the heart of the project was the aim to develop a Framework for the Continuing Professional Development fo trainers. But we had also set out to look at who is responsible for training, what trainers do in practice and how training is changing. In fact, considering how much is talked about the importance of training, it is quite remarkable how little is known about who the trainers are and what they do.

We found that increasing numbers of people are responsible for training as part of their work – as skilled workers, as team leaders or as managers. Very often they do not have the word trainer as their job title, neither do they identify themselves as a trainer. In some cases responsibility for training comes as part of the job, in other cases they were selected because they appeared to have an aptitude for the role. In some cases they had some prior experience of teaching, in others they attended some courses but in many cases they had no training or professional development as trainers. We found that whilst there were differences between countries, especially in regulatory regimes, in terms of practice and changes in practice nationality was not a particularly significant variable in what trainers do. In all the cases we examined there appeared to be a move towards more work based learning and more use of technology for learning. This is important as most studies of trainers in Europe have started from a comparative methodology based on country. We wanted to go beyond this and examine the real practice of trainers. This involved talking to trainers themselves, talking to learners and talking to managers in different companies in the six countries involved.

We felt that if the standards of training are to be raised, improving the training of trainers must be a priority.  However, given the heterogeneous nature of the group and the range of sectors and occupations in which they work, it is difficult to see how this could be standardised, or indeed whether it is desirable to do so.  Certainly some sort of common framework would have advantages. It would provide a degree of coherence to what is a very fragmented field. It would increase the visibility of trainer training and in so doing, increase awareness. It could also stimulate the establishment of communities of practice between trainers.

Previous attempts at solving this problem can be roughly divided into two:

a)    Competence framework approaches
An output based solution that depends on disaggregating the skills and competences that have been identified as necessary for skilled performance. It is often used as a way of providing recognition for the skills already possessed by the trainer, typically though the compilation of a portfolio of evidence. It will also highlight missing competences so that the trainer can see which areas they need to develop. The disadvantages are:

  • It is essentially a backward-mapping exercise – recognizing and rewarding competences rather than providing opportunities for new learning.
  • There are invariably problems with granularity and with designing a credible classification system.
  • It identifies gaps in skills and knowledge but does not fill them.

b)    Qualifications approach
An input based approach that depends on increasing the professionalisation of trainers by providing accredited training-the-trainer opportunities, which lead to formal qualifications, hierarchically arranged. The assumption is that the provision of higher levels of trainer training and thus higher-level qualifications for trainers will push up standards of the training they deliver. The major problems with this approach are:

  • This can only operate on an individual level and is not transferable to organizations
  • There is an issue around occupational identities. Many ‘trainers’ do not see themselves as trainers per se, their occupational identity being based on being a skilled worker or manager but who still have some responsibility for facilitating the learning of colleagues.
  • It implies that progression for trainers is ‘vertical’ whereas in practice many of the trainers’ learning needs will be lateral. That is, they may want more knowledge or skills at the same and not a higher level.
  • The assumption that if qualifications are higher and harder then standards somehow go up, is unproven. In countries with a formal training-the-trainer framework (e.g. UK) there is little research evidence to suggest this.

Instead of a competence based approach we have developed a series of principles and a series of standards, together with a flexible accreditation process. The principles include the recognition of the importance of:

  • trainers in facilitating learning and the role of learning for individual competence development and organisational development
  • different modes of learning and different modes of assessing learning
  • different roles people play in training and learning
  • opportunities for initial and continuing professional development
  • opportunities of opportunities to practice
  • networking
  • partnerships
  • the development of tools and platforms
  • ongoing research and monitoring

The standards are expressed in the form of a series of commitments. The commitments are not only for individual trainers, but for teams, organisations and enterprises and governmental bodies. The proposed accreditation framework supports a process of trainers (or organisations) themselves deciding on what steps they wish to take to meet the different commitments and then of developing a portfolio or evidence to show that they have achieved this. We have also provided examples of the sort of measures they might tackle.

We have discussed the Framework with trainers and other people involved in training and there is considerable enthusiasm for our approach. In the next year we hope to further develop the framework and to run a series of pilots.

Personally I am very happy with this work. We have moved beyond competences to place practice and learning at the centre of the Framework. I would love to hear your comments on the book. And if you are interested in working with us please leave a comment or email Graham Attwell.

To download the book click here.

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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.

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    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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