Archive for the ‘workinglearning’ Category

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

September 14th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

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

Successful preparation – successful participation

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

ECER VETNET Proceedings 2018

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

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

The VETNET pilot with ePosters

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

IJRVET – our journal is getting stronger

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

Crossing Boundaries in VET – the Spring 2019 Conference in Valencia

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

The European Skills Week

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

Celebrating the new VETNET Network Honorary Member Johanna Lasonen

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

Awarding-JL-1Awarding-JL-3

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

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

More blogs to come …

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

September 14th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

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

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

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

The training model for General Foremen

The training model for General Foremen

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

The software ecology to support the training

The software ecology supporting training and learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vibe's questions on simulation-based learning

Vibe’s questions on simulation-based learning

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

The approach to study meaningful learning based on simulations

The approach to study meaningful learning based on simulations

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

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 10.48.53

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

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

More blogs to come …

 

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

September 12th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

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

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

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

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

Italian research papers in further VETNET sessions

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

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

Cover page of the presentation of Marco Perini and Monica Pentassuglia

Cover page of the presentation of Marco Perini and Monica Pentassuglia

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

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

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 16.11.26

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

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

More blogs to come … 

Reflections on #ECER2018 – Part Two: Transfer of Innovation after the Learning Layers Project

September 11th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I started to report on our activities at the European Conference of Educational Research (ECER 2018) that took place last week in Bolzano/Bozen. In the first post I concentrated on the sessions that focused on the use of Learning Toolbox (LTB) as a digital toolset for preparing and presenting ePosters in conferences. In this second post I will concentrate on my own contributions that focus on the follow-up phase of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project and on the issue ‘transfer of innovation’ after such a project.  Firstly I will discuss my presentation on the research background of the LTB – prepared for the EERA session on using the LTB for ePosters. Secondly I will discuss my paper presentation on the theme “Transfer of Innovation after the Learning Layers project”.

However, this time I don’t want to provide simple summaries of two presentations. After all, we were at #ECER2018 with a pilot project in which the poster authors were trained to convert their traditional posters into ePosters with the help of LTB. So, I also took our own medicine and transformed my ‘ordinary’ PowerPoint presentations into hybrid presentations by using the LTB. Therefore, I want to give insights into the ePoster-versions of my presentations and what all has been packed into them alongside the initial PowerPoint presentations. Let me firstly give the link to the EERA showcase, where they can be found among others. Then we can have a look at each of the two presentations individually.

The research background and the  research-related potential of the Learning Toolbox

Research background of Learning Toolbox

Mini-Poster  “Research background of Learning Toolbox (LTB)”

The ‘ordinary’ ppt-presentation gives insights into the Learning Layers project, into the co-design activities in the Construction pilot, into the shaping and pilot testing of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) and into the reporting of the results. Then, the presentation gives an overview of research themes with which I have tried to put the innovation agenda into a wider context. And I have added a lot of references to relevant literature.

In my ‘ePoster-version‘ I have prepared an LTB-stack and told my story with few tiles that accommodate text documents. In addition I have used other tiles to link to web documents for presenting our project documentation and reporting. Then, on further screens I have given access to my research papers and to videos presenting our application partners’ views. In this way the ePoster-version provides a richer resource environment on the background of the LTB.

The ‘transfer of innovation’ issue before, during and after the Learning Layers project

Mini-poster "Transfer of Innovation after Learning Layers"

Mini-poster “Transfer of Innovation after Learning Layers”

Here, the ‘ordinary’ ppt-presentation gives some background information on the Learning Layers projects, on the co-design and pilot activities in the Construction pilot and describes the transition to the follow-up phase. Then, the second part discusses the ‘transfer issue’ as it was analysed in the light of earlier German Modellversuche, in more recent innovation programs and in specific pilots to promote transfer via ‘encounters’ and joint search processes. The presentation makes some comparisons between these earlier examples and our present situation. And here again, we have some literature.

In my ‘e-poster version‘ I have prepared a simple LTB-stack with two screens. The home screen gives access to the ppt-presentation and to the full paper and to my author information. The additional resource screen gives access to essential web links: the reports on Learning Layers results, the documentation of the Construction pilot as the “LTB-Chronicle”, the EERA-showcase with other ePosters. And concerning the literature, it provides two content tiles – literature on the transfer issue in Modellversuche (only paper-based) and my research papers uploaded on ResearchGate. In this way the ePoster-version has provided a somewhat richer resource environment.

I think this is enough of my contributions. I hope that this blog post helps to get access to the ePosters and to the resources they make available. If that is the case, it was worthwhile preparing them. But this is not all about the #ECER2018.

More blogs to come …

 

Reflections on #ECER2018 – Part One: Bringing Learning Toolbox and ePosters ‘home’ to ECER

September 11th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

As usual, I have also this year participated in the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER). This year the conference was organised in Bolzano-Bozen – in the bilingual South-Tyrolean area next to the Dolomites. But for me and my colleagues this was not at all a touristic mission. In addition to the ordinary conference program we were in charge of the pilot activities with ePosters powered by the Learning Toolbox (LTB). In my previous post I have reported on our preparatory activities. Now it is time to report, how we put it all into practice and what kind of experiences we made. Below I give first insights into the Interactive ePoster session of the VETNET network (European Vocational Education and Training Research Network). Then I report on the EERA special session for discussing the use of the new toolset – the LTB – for preparing ePosters in a wider context.

The Interactive Poster Session of VETNET with ePosters presented in a session room

As I have reported in my previous post, we had invited all authors who had proposed posters to be presented in the VETNET (Network 2) program of the ECER 2018 to prepare ePosters and to present them in an Interactive Poster Session in the VETNET area. We were pleased that all authors had agreed and that we had their ePosters ready in the EERA showcase prepared by the LTB developers. However, we had very little advance information on the venue and very little time to prepare the room for the session. Thus, the best we could do was to organise a similar session as an ‘ordinary’ paper session – but now presenting ePosters. A major difference, however, was the fact that we had a full set of mini-posters presented on ‘poster wall’ in the session room before the session and it remained after the session.

Mini-posters for the VETNET ePoster session at ECER 2018

Mini-posters for the VETNET ePoster session at ECER 2018

We had an additional difficulty in the fact that the EERA session was scheduled immediately after the ePoster session, so we had to organise the presentation and discussion on six posters in a tight time frame to get in time to our next session. For this purpose we grouped the presentations into pairs that had some commonality in their themes. Here again, our authors were flexible and the arrangement suited them.

Firstly. Wilko Reichwein presented insights into the cross-university cooperation in shaping vocational teacher education by linking subject disciplines and pedagogic know-how to each other. Then Marta Virgós Sánchez provided insights into the implementation of ‘dual’ training models in Spain. Cooperation between learning venues (Lernortkooperation) was discussed from the perspective of educational planning (the German presentation) and from the perspective of feedback from the parties involved (the Spanish presentation).

Secondly, on behalf of a Hungarian research team Marta Takacs Miklósi and Attila Karoly Molnar presented their comparative studies between the preconditions for education, training and learning in the prisons in Hungary and Poland. Then they presented insights into the learning opportunities and the role of andragogy (adult-oriented support for learning) in Hungary and Slovakia.

Thirdly, Maria Christidis gave insights into the communication culture and learning culture within the training of nurse assistants in Sweden. Then Katharina Peinemann provided insights into the inclusion issues in the German pre-vocational learning provisions (the ‘transitional system’ ) and into challenges for teachers’ professional development.

Altogether, we suffered from the time constraints, but we could stimulate some discussion. And since the authors could stay a little longer at the ‘poster wall’, they could advise interested participants, how to upload the richer LTB stacks (with the help of the QR-code) to mobile phones and get further information.

The special EERA session “Using Learning Toolbox for presenting Educational Research”

Our next session – the EERA-wide event to inform participants from other networks on the ePosters and the LTB – had been proposed and planned before we knew how successful we would be with the VETNET session. Therefore, we had planned firstly a presentation that gives a report on the development of the LTB in the Learning Layers (LL) project. This was prepared by me. (I will get back to this input in my next post.)

How to start with ePosters - extract from Gilbert's presentation

How to start with ePosters – extract from Gilbert’s presentation

The main input for this session was prepared by Gilbert Peffer on behalf of the LTB-developers. He gave insights into the functioning of the LTB, on the process of preparing and presenting ePosters and on possible uses of ePosters at different conference venues. Also, he presented newer ideas for developing ePoster sessions, e.g. the ePoster Arena. (This includes a central podium for presenting several short pitches and then distributed round tables for discussions with presenters.)

New engagement formats - extract from Gilbert's presentation

New engagement formats – extract from Gilbert’s presentation

In the discussion we had feedback from the authors of the VETNET ePoster session and further questions from representatives of other networks. Also, we got several questions concerning the use of LTB as support for practice-based learning in vocational and higher education. We still have a lot of impressions to digest and a lot of points to be made to EERA as conclusions on our pilot project.

I guess this is enough of this pilot project. But I will keep the topic ‘ePosters’ present when I give an account on my own presentations. I also did my homework in preparing ePosters although I presented in somewhat different sessions.

More blogs to come …

Learning Toolbox goes (to) ECER – Welcome ePosters prepared with EERA-Toolbox

September 2nd, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

One of the most successful spin-offs from our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project has been the use of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in conferences to prepare ePosters. As regular readers of this blog know, I have covered the work of the project and its construction pilot since 2012. And in the recent years (during final phase of the project and in the follow-up phase) I have written a lot of the flexible mobile toolset that was named “Learning Toolbox( LTB)” since it was designed to support vocational and workplace learning in the construction sector. BUT one of its most interesting applications has been the preparation of ePosters as an alternative for traditional paper posters. And, as I have written (somewhat enviously), our colleagues have been successful in introducing it to conferences of medical educators (AMEE), dentist educators (ADEE) and educational technologists (EC-TEL). However, now it is the time to announce that LTB will be introduced into our field – to the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) in the annual conference of the European Educational Research Association (EERA) that will take place in September 2018 in Bolzano/Bozen in Italy. Below I will give a brief report how this has come into being and what we are doing next week in the conference.

The two proposals: a special EERA session and the VETNET network project

During the preparation of the ECER 2018 we (the VETNET network) prepared two proposals. Firstly, we proposed to have a specific EERA-wide session to promote awareness on the usaes of LTB for shaping ePosters in research conferences. Parallel to this we prepared a proposal for an EERA-funded “Network project” to be implemented by the VETNET network. Both proposals were linked to the idea to organise an interactive VETNET poster session in which the authors would presented their posters as ePosters within the VETNET programme. We were happy to see that the proposals were approved by the EERA authorities and that we could go ahead with the initiative.

The preparation of the VETNET pilot with ePosters

During the preparation phase the LTB developers prepared a special web page “FAQ ECER” in whch they gave all possible advice for the conference participants who had proposed posters for the ECER programme. With short instruction videos and with a well edited Webinar recording the authors were advised, how to enrich their original posters into ePosters by using the LTB.

Getting ready for the conference

During the last few weeks we have made the positive experience that all authors have been able to make use of the LTB and prepared their own ePosters. Now they are available on the page “EERA showcase“.

In addition, I have prepared my presentation for the EERA session (on the research background and usability of the LTB) also as an ePoster (or hybrid presentation) using the LTB. And furthermore, I have prepared my presentation “Transfer of Innovation after the Learning Layers” also as an ePoster (or hybrid presentation) with the help of LTB – or as we could call it in this context “the EERA-Toolbox”.

So, we have done quite a bit of work to bring the ePosters to the ECER 2018 and to demonstrate that the EERA could follow the example of other conference organisers. We are eagerly looking forward, how our pilot sessions will be received and what kind of feedback we will get from the authors and the audience. I will surely report on that in a short while.

More blogs to come …

 

Summer is (almost) over – catching up with the work and the blog

September 1st, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

This year my summer break (from blogging) was longer than I expected. Partly this was due to the fact that we had to do a lot of administrative backstage work in May and June. As a consequence, my preparation for my own conference contributions was delayed. When coming back from holiday, I had to catch up with the postponed conference preparation. And therefore, blogging had to wait.

Now, I am almost happy with what I have achieved and therefore I am getting back on the blog. Next week I and many of my colleagues are attending the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER 2018) in Bolzano/Bozen in Italy (South Tyrol). We are looking forward to the traditionally good VETNET program for research in vocational education and training (VET). And we are bringing new features to the conference work. But that is already a topic for another post.

More blogs to come …

The TACCLE4-CPD project takes further steps in its work – Part Two: Reflections on policy mapping in (German) VET sector

June 10th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I reported on the second transnational meeting of our EU-funded project TACCLE4-CPD and our efforts to develop tools and concepts for continuing  professional development of teachers and trainers. As has been the case with earlier TACCLE projects, we focus on integrating the use of digital tools and web resources to pedagogic approaches. In my previous post reported on the meeting itself and on our progress in adjusting our work program and the partners’ activities to each other. With this post I want to take a closer look at one of the tasks – mapping and analysing current policies – and what it requires from us (the German partners) working in the field of vocational education and training (VET). Below I try to give an overview on the role of regulative frameworks, innovation programmes and R&D initiatives in this context.

On the role of regulative frameworks

When discussing the role of educational policies, colleagues from other countries tend to refer to the “National Curriculum” as a key instrument and its implementation as the central process. This doesn’t apply to Germany. Since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany (and after the German unification) the regulative powers have been given to the Federal States (Länder), not to the Federal Government (Bund). Thus, there are 16 autonomous Federal States deciding their own curriculum frameworks – with some level of mutual adjustment in the Standing conference of cultural ministers (KMK). Yet, the differences between larger states (like Bavaria and Lower Saxony) and the city states (like Hamburg and Bremen) can be considerable.

When it comes to the field of vocational education and training (VET), there are further complications in the picture. For the dual system of apprenticeship (the mainstream model), the regulative powers have been divided. The Federal Government (Bund) has the power to regulate the workplace-based training, whilst the Federal States (Länder) are responsible for the school-based education. Furthermore, the intermediate training centres (überbetriebliche Ausbildunsstätten) that support training in the construction sector and in the craft trades are managed by the umbrella organisations of the respective industries and trades.

In the light of the above, tracing the policy processes at the level of regulatory frameworks reminds me of putting together a jigsaw puzzle with numerous pieces.

On the role of national innovation programmes

Whilst the Federal Government (Bund) doesn’t have the regulative powers in (shool-based) education, there is a growing consensus that Federal funding is needed to promote digitisation and digital competence throughout the society – including the education and training system. For this purpose the key instruments are the Federal innovation programmes – such as the ones promoting the use of digital media in VET (DiMeBB and DiMeBB2). This funding includes R&D projects in which education and training providers work together with service providers and supporting researchers.

Parallel to this, the Federal Government has provided special funding to promote digitisation and digital competences in the intermediate training centres. This funding is allocated partly to support the updating and upgrading of equipment and partly for supporting the staff training.

This reminds me of putting together a mosaic when all the pieces are not (yet) available.

On the role of local/ regional/ domain-specific initiatives

In the light of the above it is worthwhile to pay attention on specific measures and initiatives in a local/regional context or in domain-specific training. These may influence heavily the ‘implementation realities’ in digitisation and in the acquisition of digital competences. Also, it is worthwhile to pay attention to the impact of earlier R&D activities – inasmuch as they may have had a sustainable impact on the education and training cultures. Here I can refer to the long-term engagement of ITB in introducing Project Management training in schools (in particular in Bremen and the neighbourhood). In a similar way we need to pay attention to the use of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) as a digital toolset to support vocational learning and organisational knowledge sharing.

All this reminds me of describing changing facets of a caleidoscope.

I think this is enough to illustrate, how complex these mapping and analysing exercises may be. However, the formulation that we agreed – “Policies looking for (appropriate) practices; Practices and initiatives looking for policy support” – is helpful. In this spirit I find it easy to continue our work with this task.

More blogs to come … 

The TACCLE4-CPD project takes further steps in its work – Part One: Reflections on our project meeting

June 10th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

As I had told in my earlier blog of December 2017, our institute ITB is involved in a new European project TACCLE4-CPD. This project is the fourth one in the TACCLE project family that supports teachers and trainers in integrating the use of digital tools and web resources into teaching and learning processes. Our project is developing tools and concepts for continuing professional development of teachers and trainers in different educational sectors. (For further information on the background and on the earlier TACCLE project see my blog of the 9th of December 2017.)

Now we had our second project meeting and we were able to see, how we can bring our activities with different educational sectors and with different “Intellectual Outputs” together. As I had mentioned in my previous blog, the earlier TACCLE projects had been working with general education – with primary and (lower) secondary schools. In our project some partners continue the work with focus on these educational sectors whilst others bring into project insights from adult education (AE) and vocational education and training (VET). In our kick-off meeting we had a first look at the work program and on the starting points of different partners. Now we were  having reports on activities of different partners – both concerning the fieldwork and the conceptual work. In this way we were able to take further steps in adjusting our activities to each other and in including different contributions to the Intellectual Outputs. Below I will firstly discuss the progress with our work program and then some specific issues from perspective of the German team and of the VET sector.

Progress with ‘streamlining’ the work program and the partners’ activitities

In our meeting the dynamics was as follows: We had firstly activity reports of one or two partners, then we noticed that they served as a lead-in to some of the Intellectual Outputs. We had a brief debate with some challenging issues – and then ended up with a common conclusion that ‘streamlined’ the work for all of us. Below I will take up some topics that illustrate this:

  • Analyses of current policies to promote digitisation and digital competences: With the activity reports we were caught with the contrast between countries that have centralised educational policies (driven by the National Curriculum) and others with more fragmented power structures and policy processes. This led us to a brief debate on what is merely ‘local/regional’ and what counts as ‘policies’. With a little help of mindmaps and diagrams from other project we found a good formulation for streamlining our mapping and analyses: “Policies looking for appropriate practices – innovative practices and R&D initiatives looking for policy support”. In this way we could provide a European group picture without giving too much emphasis on explaining different policy contexts and instead draw attention to the ‘implementation realities’.
  • Developing a tool for quality assurance: In this context the responsible partner informed of their ongoing qualitative study with schools participating in the eTwinning programme. This triggered a discussion, whether other partners should replicate a similar study or not. However, in the course of discussion we noted that the study is shaping a matrix for analysing quality issues and in this way contributing to the project.
  • Developing a Route Map for promoting digital competences and Planning tools for institutional managers: In this context the responsible partner presented earlier versions of such Route Maps. They had been successfully implemented in earlier TACCLE projects and in national follow-up activities. Another partner presented a somewhat simplified and more condensed version (developed in another predecessor project) that could be taken as a basis of the planning tool. We agreed to merge the tasks and work with both variants of the tools.

I guess this is enough as reporting on our meeting. We had several other points to discuss in the meeting. I will get back to them in due time. In my next post I will discuss the mapping and analysing of policies from the German perspective and with emphasis on the VET sector.

More blogs to come …

 

 

 

Back to Tampere – Back to the Work Research Centre (WRC)

June 9th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I reported on my participation in the international conferences organised by Stockholm University in the beginning of May 2017 and 2018. In the middle of May I had another trip – this time to my old home town Tampere, Finland and to my old institute – the Work Research Centre (WRC) of the University of Tampere. It so happened that the WRC was celebrating its 30th anniversary and I had been one of the founding members. So, this was going back to the roots and via a long journey down the memory lane.

I was particularly happy to attend this event because 30 years before I had missed the founding festivities due to clash of dates with some other obligations. Also, I was looking forward to this event, since my ex-colleagues had asked me – half a year before – to write a text on the founding phase of the WRC for a national event that took place in Tampere. At that time I could only send the text, not knowing how it will be used and in what kind of setting it will be presented. So, I was exited to see, what had happened with my old institute, how many friends of  old I would meet and who are the champions of the younger generation that are continuing the work. But let us go back to the memories before we get to the event.

“How it all started” – what did I write down

The colleagues had asked me to write a text on the founding phase, because they new that I had been involved in a preparatory planning initiative  (1986-1987) and that this particular initiative did the seeding work that led to the decisive steps in 1988. For me this was of fundamental importance, because that planning task was my first job after graduation. And after the founding of the WRC I worked as a semi-senior researcher for laying the foundations for research on “Education and Working Life”. This work took me first to Nordic (Scandinavian) cooperation (1988-1992) and to European cooperation (1991-1994). In this process I got deeper involved in research in the field of vocational education and training (VET). And then, at the advent of the Finnish EU-Membership I was sent as a national seconded to the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), which at that time was located in Berlin. And after Finland joined EU, I got a job in Cedefop as a temporary official of EU and moved with Cedefop to Thessaloniki, where it was relocated in 1995. (And after my time in Cedefop I ended up – via a transitional phase – to my present job in ITB, University of Bremen.)

What could I then bring into discussion on the founding phase – having been there a relatively short while and then having been so many years elsewhere. Probably the best service I could do was to reconstruct the history of creation of the WRC as an achievement of an innovative movement that sought to upgrade the standing of research on working life in  the university structures and to stimulate interdisciplinary cooperation in theory and practice. Firstly this was sought by planning an interdisciplinary post-graduate Master programme for R&D in working life. In the planning of this concept I did my best to pass information on similar initiatives in Scandinavia and in Germany. Moreover, I tried to pass information policies and innovation programmes to improve quality of working life (LOM in Sweden and Humanisierung der Arbeit in Germany). Whilst, the post-graduate Master programme was not picked up as such, the idea to strengthen the institutional status of research on working life was taken seriously. At that time a new government coalition was being forged and the trade unions were heavily in favour of stronger support for specific research activities on working life. Also, the new management of the University of Tampere understood, what was coming up. Therefore, a decision was made to strengthen research on working life throughout the university faculties and to set up a special research unit – the WRC.

Whilst there were many processes that contributed to the founding of the WRC, the relatively young researchers who started there with project funding, had to develop the patterns of work and the modes of cooperation from scratch. But, for creative young researchers this was a source of inspiration rather than a factor of demotivation. And, given the strong winds from research policy and the support from Social partners, several flagship projects were launched already in the early years. Some of them were intensively working with the Social Partners – in particular the action research projects on quality of working life in municipal organisations or on the modernisation of work processes in textile and clothing industries. In the long run these projects provided the basis for a research tradition that has been continued later on. This was my message.

How was it received – reflections on the event in Tampere

I arrived early, so the first thing that I saw was a poster exhibition – consisting on three major posters. In the first one there was a brief description on the founding of the WRC with several photos of the early years. In the second one was my text nicely lay-outed. In the third one was a specific history of the action research projects with photos from different project generations.

When the event started, there was s short welcoming address on behalf of the University of Tampere, then some music played by a band consisting of young professors and researchers. Then, the interim manager Sirpa Syvänen (already involved in the earliest action research projects) gave a speech on the development of WRC. The very way that she relied – explicitly – on my text and drew upon the analysis when continuing to the newer phases – that gave me a good feeling. The researchers of WRC were telling their own history, how they made the WRC sustainable via their own work. And this was mirrored by a young researcher who reflected, how WRC could develop in the future.

Then, the event moved to a phase of two successive slots of parallel workshops, During the first slot I attended the workshop on dialogical innovation projects – referring to the flagship project “DINNO”. Here I was pleased to see that these projects are built on wider networks – involving other research institutes alongside WRC and involving regional universities of applied science (when the training of healthcare professionals is concerned). In the second slot I attended a workshop that discussed myths and facts on modern employment relations. Here the speakers were professors and researchers from the Faculty of Social Sciences – with affiliation with the WRC. They were referring to projects using national and Nordic statistics. Here I was pleased to see that the boundaries between the WRC and the faculty departments were easy to cross and that practical cooperation was everyday life practice.

At the end of the event the recently appointed new director of the WRC – a newcomer from a neighbouring university – was presented and she gave the concluding speech with a commitment to continue the good work in such a collaborative spirit as had been demonstrated in the event.

I guess this is enough of my memories and of this very special event. I was happy to see that I had been able to contribute something special for the preparation of the event. And I was even happier that the WRC could proudly celebrate itself as a thirty-year old research unit that had been built and carried on by project-based researchers relying on their own competences and on collaborative spirit. We agreed to stay in contact and I am looking forward to next encounters.

More blogs to come …

 

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