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Big bureaucratic pictures or bottom up networks of practice?

May 12th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Pekka Kamarainen has written an interesting series of blog posts looking at European research in Vocational Education and Training and focusing the ‘European dimension’, ‘interdisciplinarity’ and ‘innovation.’

In his post on innovation ne draws attention to the limited  development in the use of technology for vocational education and training. I think he is right in saying one of the problems is the European Commission obsession with big pictures. It seems to me there is little focus on what is actually happening about teaching and learning – and especially on how learners are using technology and how we might help them. Projects funded by the EU tend to focus on yet more digitalisation of learning materials, yet more on-line handbooks and endless projects on introducing VLEs.

Truly innovative projects tend to be lost in the dross. And the European Commission’s obsession with administration has blinded them to the need to create communities to share innovation.

Furthermore the structures of the programmes have effectively excluded enterprise participation. Whilst VET research is important, so too is the involvement of teachers and trainers – practitioners – in the processes of development. All too often European projects are comprised of reseachers talking about teaching and training but with little or no experience of practice.

I do not  know how we can overcome these problems. I have little faith in the European Commission. The best practices seem to have come from bottom up networks – for instance by language teachers – which can survive the episodic nature of funding support and who share a passion for what they are doing.

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2 Responses to “Big bureaucratic pictures or bottom up networks of practice?”

  1. This is interesting. Graham has commented above my posting on my blog “I-Europe” and now his comment is being cricluated in the blogosphere. That is fine.
    However, I think Graham has had a slightly confused the discussion by mixing ‘big picture’ and ‘big packages’ with each other.
    As I see it, we need to have a big picture on what is happening with European policies, country-specific developments, innovation programmes, grassroot initiatives etc. The question is, what do we see (and what do we leave to the margins) when we create the big picture.
    In this context the European policies and cooperation programmes have been looking for ‘big package’ solutions or initiatives that could be incorporated into ‘big packages’. This is linked to the idea that innovations will be created ‘out there’ and exported to he Member States and to the field of education, training and working life.

    For this reason I try to prepare the ground for a closer examination, how the future innovation strategies (in VET and work-related learning) can be built upon snall-scale initiatives, transitionall steps and knowledge sharing. However, we need to draw some conclusions of our earlier efforts and to see how far we have got with them.

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  1. […] Pontydysgu fasst einen Blogbeitrag von Pekka Kamarainen zur europäischen Forschungspolitik in “Vocational Education and Training” zusammen, dessen Aussage ich an dieser Stelle kurz zitieren möchte: In his post on innovation he draws attention to the limited development in the use of technology for vocational education and training. I think he is right in saying one of the problems is the European Commission obsession with big pictures. It seems to me there is little focus on what is actually happening about teaching and learning – and especially on how learners are using technology and how we might help them. Projects funded by the EU tend to focus on yet more digitalisation of learning materials, yet more on-line handbooks and endless projects on introducing VLEs. […]

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