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Reports on ECER’15 Budapest – Part Four: The VETNET network preparing for ECER’16

September 17th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous posts I have reported on the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER’15) that took place in Budapest last week (8.9.-11.9.2015). I started with a report on the symposium of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. I continued with reports on sessions based on intervention research and by summarising my general impressions on the conference (and on the VETNET program). Now it is time conclude this series with a report on the general assembly of our European Vocational Education and Training Network (VETNET), the Network 2 of the European Educational Research Association (EERA).

Background

As the frequent participants of ECER know, the ECER conferences are organised by the umbrella association EERA that has been founded by national associations for educational research (that are organisational members of EERA). In practice the conference program is based on the contributions of thematic networks (currently 32) that are based on (informal) individual membership. Our network VETNET is one of the oldest and largest and has a wider interdisciplinary profile – with special commitment to the field of Vocational Education and Training, Workplace Learning and Continuing Professional Development. Therefore, VETNET has constituted itself as a community under a wider umbrella and as a conference within a conference – a successful working neighbourhood.

Recent developments

In the general assembly of this year we were happy to have several reports on special activities (in addition to the usual report on preparing and implementing the program for ECER’15). Here I recapitulate some points of these reports:

International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training (IJRVET)

In earlier VETNET general assemblies we had made the decision to launch this journal as the journal of VETNET and to obtain the support from EERA and the global umbrella organisation WERA. In his report on behalf of the editorial board Michael Gessler could inform of the publication two issues in the year 2014 (Vol. 1) and two issues in 2015 (Vol. 2). Also, the geographic spread of the authors of articles and the members of editorial board has proven that the journal has established itself as genuinely international (with roots in Europe but with openness to wider world). Looking forward, there are lots of manuscripts in review process for several forthcoming issues. And the results of the Bremen conference and the ECER ’15 provide a basis for continuity.

WERA International Research Network on VET (IRN-VET)

I gave a report on this initiative to set up a global network under the auspices of the global umbrella organisation World Educational Research Association (WERA). In 2013 some VETNET board members (mainly Michael Gessler, Ludger Deitmer and myself) invited cooperation partners from different global regions to join in as founding members of the IRN-VET. According to the policy of WERA this initiative was approved for a three-year period (to be reconsidered at that time). In ECER’14 in Porto we had organised a special ’round table’ with multiple contributions on forthcoming activities and issues for thematic cooperation at global or inter-continental level. For ECER’15 we did not plan a similar session. Instead the Bremen International VET conference (see my previous blogs) was organised as a pre-conference to ECER and as an event of WERA IRN-VET. We were please to see that many of the founding members from non-European regions were present or had sent their representatives to the conference. Also, most of the founding members were already involved in the editorial boar or advisory editorial board of the journal IJRVET. In this respect we had already achieved a lot but we still need to have discussions, how to take the initiative further.

 Work with Emerging researchers & with other EERA networks

Lazaro Moreno gave a report on his participation as a VETNET representative in the Emerging Researchers pre-conference and in the tutoring process. He emphasised the need for VETNET to continue this participation and to encourage young researchers to make use of this forum. Lorenz Lassnigg informed of initiatives to organise cross-network sessions with neighbouring networks (mainly with Policy Network) and on plans for future conferences. He also emphasised the importance to stimulate such cooperation with new initiatives.

Preparations for ECER’16 – VETNET 20 years anniversary

In this context we had several issues to discuss. Firstly, there were organisational issues – the need to revise the regulations of VETNET (to take into account the growth of the network and the wider range of activities) and to prepare for the elections of a new board. We already took the first steps by inviting Christoph Nägele and Barbara Stalder to work as program chairs for the next conference.

Regarding the contents I took up the issue that VETNET will celebrate in 2016 its 20th anniversary. To me this gives rise for special session(s) to review the development of European VET research (both periodically and along certain key themes). To my surprise this proposal prompted an immediate reaction. The link convenors of the network (Michael Gessler and Marg Malloch) and the founder of the network Martin Mulder publicised the decision of the board to declare me as Honorary Member of VETNET from that date on (10.9.2015). I was pleased to receive this recognition but at the same time took it as an obligation to put my above mentioned proposal into practice by ECER’16.

I guess this is enough on the VETNET general assembly and on the ECER’15. The work will be continued.

More blogs to come …

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