<!–:es–>Pekka Kämäräinen (ITB): Report from the ECER conference, Part 5: Issues on collaborative learning technologies<!–:–><!–:en–>Pekka Kämäräinen (ITB): Report from the ECER conference, Part 5: Issues on collaborative learning technologies<!–:–><!–:eu–>Pekka Kämäräinen (ITB): Report from the ECER conference, Part 5: Issues on collaborative learning technologies<!–:–><!–:hu–>Pekka Kämäräinen (ITB): Report from the ECER conference, Part 5: Issues on collaborative learning technologies<!–:–><!–:de–>Pekka Kämäräinen (ITB): Report from the ECER conference, Part 5: Issues on collaborative learning technologies<!–:–>

Two researchers from Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB) represented the “Coop-PBL in VET” project at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER”12) that took place from 18.9. to 21.9.2012 in Cadiz, Spain. I will report of our experiences via six blog posts. In the fifth post I will summarise two presentations that raised different issues on collaborative learning technologies.

The presentation of Ingrid Henning Loeb (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) focused on the theme “blogspot.com as the means of internationalizing VET teacher education”. Ingrid presented the bilateral cooperation arrangement between the vocational teacher education programme in her university in Sweden and a corresponding programme in Charles Stuart University, Wagga Wagga, Australia. As vocational teacher education programmes are often arranged as part-time programmes for teacher candidates who already work as teachers, the opportunities for international exchanges are limited. In particular, the possibility to organise international exchanges between Sweden and Australia are even more limited (since the mobility schemes of EU are not available).

However, both universities could agree on joint blogging project in which all teacher candidates committed themselves send a fixed number of blog postings. These were supposed to present their working context as VET teachers (including outside views and inside views of buildings and snapshots of working and learning tasks without showing any faces). In addition the participants committed themselves to write fixed numbers of comments to their peers” postings. Furthermore, their supervisors agreed to contribute to the blogging as well.

On the Swedish side the exercise was implemented successfully. The VET teacher candidates found the tasks inspiring and the use of the chosen blog facility (blogspot) as reasonably user-friendly. Also, the were confident to use English (to them a foreign language) as blogging language. In this respect the learning experience was positive and was taken up as a seed for possible further involvement in international exchanges.

(On the Australian side the exercise could not be implemented in full scale because the participating region was hit by bad floods and the teachers had other concerns at that time. Therefore, only the supervisors could contribute to the blogging on their behalf.)

The presentation (and the discussion in the session were important from different perspectives. Firstly, this well-organised bilateral exchange exercise had several features that made it easy for the participants to join in. Secondly, the experience with the relative success gave rise to thoughts, how such pattern of exchanges could be used in wider (European) contexts. Thirdly, the role of blogging facility (proprietary software or social software) was discussed. Finally, the role of academic supervisors as co-participants and/or as accompanying researchers was also brought into discussion.

Ingrid”s presentation is available on the VETNET home page http://vetnet.mixxt.org/networks/files/folder.15356:2 (Loeb_ECER_2012).

(Collaborative learning was also practiced in the evening programme of the conference – Foto by Michael Gessler, ITB)

The second presentation by Christoph Kaletka and Bastian Pelka (TU Dortmund, Sozialforschungstelle, Germany) gave a presentation on the theme “E-Facilitators: Functional Hybrids between ICT Teaching and Community Management”. The presenters gave an overview of a wide range of national and European projects in which e-facilitators had played a central role in supporting diverse adult learners in tele-centres or open learning centres or libraries.

Here it is essential to note that the presenters were not talking about employees in call centres or ICT help desk persons. Instead, their focus was on people who were engaged in adult learning programmes as facilitators of learning processes with special tasks to support the use of web and online learning facilities. Here they have observed a growth of professional requirements and/or commitments:

  • Level 1: On demand assistance
  • Level 2: Level 1 Training
  • Level 3: Level 2 User empowerment
  • Level 4: Level 3 Active participation in community.

As a conclusion, the presenters referred to the emerging discussion of the need to consolidate a professional profile for such e-facilitators. This triggered a lively discussion in which the participants referred to the need for such (or similar) e-facilitators in other educational sectors and non-formal learning contexts (e.g. to support professional networks or networks of SMEs).

The presentation of Christoph and Bastian is available on the VETNET home page http://vetnet.mixxt.org/networks/files/folder.15356:2 (Pelka_ECER_2012).

Altogether it is important to note that this session raised several questions for further cooperation between such initiatives (that could be facilitated by the VETNET network):

  • How can the choice of software and web services (proprietary or open source) contribute to the success of such cooperation initiatives?
  • How to make wider use of such initiatives to internationalise VET teacher education and pedagogic initiatives in vocational learning?
  • What could be the role of such E-Facilitators in other educational sectors and non-formal learning contexts?
  • How to link European research cooperation to participation in such projects?

To be continued …

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