Monday, May 20, 2019

Technology and the future of work - NZ


The government has launched a report to be collated ontechnology and the future of work. Through the Productivity Commission, an issue paper has been drafted and submissions are now being gathered. Submissions close June 5th and the final report is due to the government on 31st March 2020.

The remits of the report are to debate and consolidate knowledge on - What are the current and likely future impacts of technological change and disruption on the future of work, the workforce, labour markets, productivity and wellbeing? How can the Government better position New Zealand and New Zealanders to take advantage of innovation and technological change in terms of productivity, labour-market participation and the nature of work?

Technological change seen to affect work in the following ways. There will be a creation of new tasks and jobs; reduction in demand or increase in demand for workers in some existing jobs dependent of components of these jobs; and changes in the economics of different work arrangements (i.e. project based employment, precarity, etc.)

Proposes 4 scenarios to think through –
More tech more jobs, more tech less jobs, stagnation or steady as (i.e. no change). So, nothing new as yet and it will be interesting to see, next year, what the report comes up with.



Monday, May 13, 2019

Submissions - Reform of Vocational Education - New Zealand

Did a catch up on the Reform of Vocational Education in New Zealand. Submissions for the Minister of Education's proposals, closed in mid-April.

A large number (over a hundred)of submissions were submitted. Given the tight timeframe for submissions, the number shows the importance of vocational education.

Here is a summary of a few of interest to my research:

Ako Aotearoa's submission expressed the views from their role as the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. Ako Aotearoa supported the proposal for a unified vocational education system. They saw the reform as an opportunity to ensure there was an emphasis on teaching standards and the development of teaching capability. In turn, to ensure all learners, during the transition, were supported through the 'new' systems' implementation.

The ITF (Industry Training Federation) representing the eleven Industry Training Otganisations, provided a different perspective. As the proposal affected ITOs in many respects, including their disbanding and replacement with Industry Standards Boards. Their core activities of supporting work-based apprentices and trainees, is proposed to be shifted to the mega-ITP. Hence, their submission was to rationalise the need to leave the support of workplace training with ITOs. Constructive advice was provided as a way forward including the strengthening of the roles of ITOs and their continuance and the introduction of an employer incentive scheme to encourage employers to join the system.

The union for tertiary teachers and allied workers, the TEU (Tertiary Education Union), agreed with the proposals as laid out by the Ministry. The provisos were to ensure the reforms met the requirements and commitments of the Treaty of Waitangi, an opportunity to address aspects of gender equality within the NZ VET system, a commitment to support VET and to engage unions in the processes of transformation, transition and implementation.

The NZ VET sector is now awaiting the government's response to the consultation process. Almost all the consultation documents decry the short length of time availed for response. However, the number of responses, many of them supportive and proactive, has at least raised awareness of the size and importance of VET contributions to the economical and societal aspects of NZ.



Monday, May 06, 2019

Horizon Report 2019

The 2019 Horizon report is now up and provides the annual overview on the state of the future of learning, with emphasis on moving towards digital environments for learning.

This year, the people consulted covers an international albeit Western centric view. The usual short, mid and long term trends are identified as:


Short term
Redesigning learning spaces
Blended learning designs

Mid term
Advancing cultures of innovation

Growing focus on measuring learning

Long term
Rethinking how institutions work

Modularised and disaggregated degrees


Significant challenges are also identified:


Solvable – improving digital fluency, increasing demand for digital learning experiences and instructional design expertise

Difficult – evolving roles of faculty with edtech strategies; bridging the achievement gap

Wicked – advancing digital equity; rethinking the practice of teaching.

Time to adoption is always interesting to see as many of the previous predictions have been accurate.

Now  - mobile learning and analytics technologies

2 -3 years – mixed reality and artificial intelligence
5 – 6 years – blockchain and virtual assistants


Of note this year is deeper discussion into the lack of movement with several highly relevant trends. these include the following


Adaptive learning – understanding progress and potential has been the main challenge as there are many ways to view adaptive learning; scaling has been a challenge and requires large amounts of resourcing.Resourcing is also mentioned in the next two promising trends. 

Augmented and mixed reality – usability and ergonomics. In short, the need for VR glasses to enable AR, MR and VR has been a major impediment. There are usability issues, especially when VR goggles have to be used with a wide range of learners from different age groups and physical needs. As with gaming, the need to ensure authenticity of the experience, makes it a continual resourcing challenge to keep the elements up-to-date and relevant.

Gaming and gamification - Again, good simulations, game-based learning platforms etc. require large amounts of time, effort and technical backing to develop. The specialised 'situated' nature of learning means customising the game to make sense to a diverse learner audience means, continual resourcing to update and this requires resourcing which is not always easily available in the education system.




Monday, April 29, 2019

Interactive content for blogging

Here are a few interesting additions to blogs, when they are used for teaching and learning.

List from Edublogger post of 16th Febuary this year.

Edublogger itself, is a good resource for teachers, using blogs as a learning enviroment / teaching and learning support space.

The list includes the following:

Flippity

This app turns google spreadsheets into various activities including online flashcards,quiz show or carnival wheel, scavenger hunt, artistic words, timeline, badge tracker, typing test, spelling words list / manager, word search, crossword puzzle, word scrabble, bingo, hangman, progress indicator, memory game, madlibs, mix and match, tournament bracket and certificate quiz!

h5p

Here, the app assists with the creation, sharing and reuse of interactive html5 content in a browser.  Course presentations, interactive video, memory game are examples. Content types include games, multimedia, questions and social media.

In educatio, it is possible to create time-based arithmetic quizzes, couurse presentations, dialog cards, drag the words, fill in the blanks, flash cards, find hotspot etc.


Playbuzz

An interactive story creator, allowing for authoring, distribution.

learning apps

This is a German web 2.0 application to support teaching and learning with the ability to embed small interactive modules. Allows resuable learning and teaching 'building blocks' to be availed to learners.


quizizz

A free quiz generator to support the review and assessment of content.

tinycards

A flashcard builder from duolingo, the language learning site.






Saturday, March 23, 2019

INAP 2019, DAY 2 afternoon


After lunch, I return to the teaching and learning stream.

Firstly with Dr. Christoph Nagele from the University of Applied Sciences and Art, North Western Switzerland and Professor Markus Neuenschwander on ‘preconditions of learning at work and its impact on occupational and organisational satisfaction’. Began with context of the Swiss VET. Generally, Swiss students complete baccalaureate to progress to university or 60% of students complete initial VET, then work and either engage in continuing education OR proceed on to higher education at vocational pathway or to applied university. Therefore, work after initial VET is important in preparing / informing people on possibilities beyond their current work. So, are learning opportunities contributed through personal growth, job control, workload, social support, occupation satisfaction and organisational satisfaction? Data from 2012 – 2019 of educational pathways of 800 + young people. Data collected at end of compulsory school, initial VET and at work. Participants differentiated by whether they stayed on in work or sought job change. No effect from growth need but contributes to positive impact on job control. Workload and social support (slightly) positive. Learning opportunities are affected by occupational and organisation satisfaction.

Then, Dr. Bill Esmond from the University of Derby with ‘apprenticeship teaching in England: new practices, roles and professional formation for educators’. Covered international background on educator roles in apprenticeship; origins of competence assessments in England; updated on contemporary policy change; the study method and findings. In general, apprentices assisted by academic teacher, vocational teacher and workplace trainer / mentor. Assessors are not usually associated with a workplace or training organisation. There has been a removal of qualifications from apprenticeship, so assessors may now not be required. Therefore, some assessors move into training roles. VET educators are continually being de-professionalised. Traditional apprenticeships had about disappeared in the late 1970s / early 1980s. Modern apprenticeships introduced in the 1990s and they were not so much market driven but policy driven. There was a focus on assessment rather than on the actual learning and training. Now, a shift back to workplace training rather than assessment. Therefore, assessors move into training roles. Interviews of 16 assessors to see how this change was occurring. Studied ‘how new set of practices was being adopted’; differentiation of other educator roles; contested learning locations; and firm-based or industry-based knowledge. Therefore, a shift in roles, leads to confused but pragmatic adjustments.

Next, with Simon Whatmore, Nicolas Wyman and Andrew Sezonov from the Institute of Workplace skills in Innovation in Victoria, Australia on ‘ the creation of the Australian industry and skills committee, the governance and operational reform lessons of the new Australian training package development model’. Overviewed Australian VET and challenges including gap between knowledge generated by training system and skills demanded by employers. Additionally, there are chronic skills shortages and structural issues although there are strong job outcomes and employer satisfaction with the outcomes of training packages. Training packages are set up as a ‘list of ingredients’, not a recipe. There is variability in outcomes as the competency assessments are subject to interpretation. Described the rationale and details of shift from Industry setting councils (ISC) to Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC), tasked with industry leadership, high quality training and flexible delivery models. Discussed whether the new system is effective after running for a few years. Minimal impact although there have been improvement in outcomes in sectors which had weaker pathways.

After afternoon tea, a plenary on the conference summary and outlook with Professors Erica Smith and Philipp Gonon. Professor Thomas Dessinger then closed the conference. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

INAP conference - DAY 2 morning


Late finish last night from the conference dinner, held at a traditional German beer house, and earlish start today.

The first keynote is with Professor Dietmar Frommberger from the University of Osnabruck, on ‘apprenticeship comparison – differences, trends and challenges. Covered the different manifestations worldwide of apprenticeship. Reasons for these and further development of apprenticeship systems. Began by re-iterating the long history and longevity of apprenticeship and the current interest and revival. Degree of standardisation and formalisation of apprenticeship varies across countries. Informal apprenticeship where there is no certification, ‘exam’ etc. exists in all countries. Target groups comprising apprentices varies from adult / employees to junior / school leavers. There is a difference between ratio of school / workplace learning and whether these are mandatory or voluntary. Curriculum approaches range from fragmented modularisation, competency based to no modularisation, not competency based and final assessment completion only. Management models vary from no direct public or legislative intervention to public control by ministry / ministries / national training agencies. Stakeholder involvement from none to strong alignment and funding models also vary. Standards for trainers range from none to legislative standard requirement.
Reasons for the above variances are often historical with adjustments made as national systems develop. Economic considerations often inform how apprenticeship systems evolve. Provided the example of the UK, whereby early industrialisation changed the nature of apprenticeship / employer relationships. Apprentices were exploited as ‘boy or cheap labour’ and because of this, unions did not support them, especially when apprentices wages drove the pay rates down within industries.UK therefore, has a different trajectory to other European countries, which retained apprenticeship and tweaked these as industrialisation progressed.
Then covered the further developments of apprenticeship systems. Costs tend to now be distributed among many – public, employers (i.e. via levy), apprentices. Curriculum development usually in the form of competency based approaches, modularisation and qualification frameworks and systems. Qualification of teachers and trainers taken to be the norm.
As a summary, there is a balance between company interests / HR development and standards exist in all apprenticeship systems. For successful change, a balance is still required. The balance is challenged through many reasons, apprentice poaching, company difficulties in meeting standards, rigid curriculum, funding complexities etc. Development of a ‘theory of change’ is a next step.
Through questions, other factors include how apprenticeships fit into the broader VET and education systems. The range of occupations covered and number of apprentices present, in comparison to other tertiary education options, also impact on how apprenticeships are viewed. Especially their attractiveness as post-school destinations.

3 streams of presentations begin after the keynote. I stay with the Future of Work: Industry 4.0 stream.

Professor Philipp Gonon presents on ‘learning skills in the digital age: in schools or in the workplace?’ Covered digitisation as having an extensive impact on apprenticeship. Part of a larger study focused on how VET is impacted by digitisation. Summarised recent paper ‘times of uncertainty’, a literature review of the mainly European literature on digitisation. Digitisation in VET may be viewed as affirmation, disruption or as provision of alternative option. Rise of the distribution of learning – at school, at home, in the workplace. Provided examples of distributed learning occurring with apprentices in workplaces situated in different countries (polysynchronous), ‘smart’ manufacturing. Detailed the project objectives and longitudinal (3 years) study areas. Evaluation of integration of tablets into VET reveals mixed results – challenges include logistical and technical and learning approaches. Proposed changes will include displacement, drift, layering or  conversion rather than exhaustion (i.e. collapse of the dual apprenticeship model).

Then, Dr. Ludger Dietmer from the Institute of Technology and Education in Bremen, on ‘studying the relationship between quality of apprenticeship and the in-company work environment’. Summarised the current key challenges in German VET; quality of apprenticeship and in – company work environments; quality tool to be used in the case studies; and some results. Challenges include recruiting sufficient number of VET teachers; weak cooperation between schools and training companies; improving quality apprentices; and provision of VET teachers able to provide quality training. Cooperation across learning environments is important, weak cooperation weakens work process learning. Continuum of cooperation from information sharing, coordinations, shared projects, cooperation, and ‘learning field team’ to work on curricula – there is institutionalised didactical – methodological cooperation. 60% of schools are at the bottom end of continuum and not many at the higher end. Summarised the role of VET teacher ‘queriensteiger’ who has higher ed qualification, high domain vocational skills and experience, vocational practice and pedogical skills and ability to integrate practical knowledge with vocational scientific knowledge. This VET teacher is able to straddle both learning environments and may shift cooperation up the continuum. They should be able to apply knowledge and experience to implement and assess quality of company VET; able to plan tasks; access tools and instruments to study learning; and ability to evaluate the data to inform innovation and improvement. Shared several projects completed, using spider diagrams to illustrate the quality points being met (or not). 

Professor Pan Haisheng from Tianjin University presents on ‘an empirical study on motivation and policy validity of Enterprise’s participation in vocational education’. Began with the rationale for the study. Mainly due to increase in demand for skilled workers driven by rapid shifts into 'intelligent manufacturing'. Competences required of social, technical and occupational specific. At the moment, competence demand ratios are not matched to course supply rations. Therefore, need to match as students are not prepared sufficiently work-ready and one important factor is a lack of support and involvement of companies to better inform curriculum and training. Has to be balanced as enterprises tend to be willing to pay for technical skills but not for general skills. Summarised hypothesis for the project, context of research, findings and conclusions. Used 'international comparative research for employers' scale - preference scale for enterprise partipations in VET' as a tool to tease out technology preference and cost preference variables. 



INAP 2019 conference - DAY 1 Afternoon


After lunch, I chair the sessions on teaching and learning. First up, Professor Zhiqun Zhao from Beijing Normal University, on ‘application of the COMET competence measurement in the evaluation of work-based training programmes at vocational college in China’. COMET projects carried out in China over the last decade with several pilots. Provided background on VET in China with over a million students going through each year. The context is evaluation and many teachers have negative experiences as evaluation is top down requirement. This project aims to design a unified national evaluation project with regional and sector-specific organisation. Data collected through information platform and outcome-orientated competence diagnostics. COMET concept selected for adaptation for programme evaluation. 2017 trial evaluation conducted to verify appropriateness of tool. 4 areas – toolmaking, logistics management, nursing training and horticulture. Tests tasks and pretest testing undertaking with ‘expert workers’ and tests modified based on analysis. Trial evaluation in 3 provinces in 26 colleges and over 2000 students of online tool. Results are promising. Indications that nursing training has good development with Zhejiang (a relatively economically well developed province) achieved highest level of competence. Generally, competency of students was slightly higher than theoretical average. This could be due to all students having to have completed national exams. Toolmaking presented weaker level of competence. This could be due to weaker support for practical training. Horticulture was relatively highly developed. Surmised this was due to strong pedagogy. Concluded COMET test results being valid and reliable. Open test was welcomed by students especially when they are interesting and challenging. The evaluation will now be used by Ministry of Education and will now be evaluated by provincial educational authorities.

Second presenter is Dr. Ursel Hauschildt, from UBC GmbH in Bremen on ‘Teachers, trainers and their students’ skills development. Interim results from a competence diagnostics project’. Provided an overview of COMET, the instruments and tools, and the context – South Africa in the engineering and manufacturing sector. Important with COMET is that it is not only used to measure or evaluate, but also to develop competence further. This project studied the stagnation of competence development and how changes in pedagogy and support of learning can overcome this. Stagnation referring to no increase in competency through years of training progression. Possible if learners received feedback after each test, to help learners move forward. Teachers and trainers need to ensure their own competence is also at the right level so they are able to guide the learners. Evaluations of the test show learners are motivated by the test methodology due to its problem solving nature.

Thirdly, presentation with a group from the Swiss Federal Institute for VET with ‘Apprentices’ perceptions of teachers’ and in-company trainers’ competences at the core of training quality’. The team include Matilde Wenger, Florina Sauli, Valentin Gross and Jean Berger from the Swiss Federation VET. Presented the rationale for the project with quality of initial VET (IVET) being a key focus. IVET quality is complex and debated topic. Definition defers from perspectives of learners, employers etc. has to be fit for purpose and connected to personal expectations and needs of the key stakeholder. One aspect is teacher and in-company trainers’ skills contributing to quality dual IVET. To what extent are teachers and in-company trainers perceived skills are important and relevant to training quality. Survey of 320 engineering and retail apprentices with questionnaire. In schools, teachers skills, intrinsically motivating classes, educational system, time management and relationships with peers. For in-company, it was trainers skills. In-school and trainer pedagogical skills were important. Provision of pedagogical skills to teachers and trainers requires adequate pedagogical preparation. Teachers need to have recent meaningful trade-specific experiences, not just academic but practical. Limitations of the study detailed and potential future steps include observations and to have the survey also supported with interviews.

Then, ‘work and school related profiles of apprentices’ learning resources’ with Fabienne Luthi and Barbara Stalder from the Institute of Upper Secondary Education, Bern University of Teacher Education. Used the job-demands- resources- JD-R model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). JD-R has strain and motivation to meet organisational demands. Job demands include mental, emotional, physical and job resources include support, autonomy, etc. Resources can also be categorised as workplace (functional, stimulate learning, task and skills variety, learning climate etc.) and school (support, coaching and mentoring and instructional quality). Demands include potentially stressful aspects of the work and need to motivate young workers. Development vocational competences and the establishment of vocational identity essential goal of apprenticeship both at school and at work. Hypothesis is that learners with high resources at workplace and school will have higher satisfaction, lower risk of termination. Used the data subset from a larger study on transitions from school to work. Resources identified were autonomy, instructional quality, learning opportunities, climate and demands. Resources at work seem to be better than at school. At risk learners seem to find resources at work to be lesser than at school. Perhaps identifying possibilities of these learners not completing their apprenticeship. Conclude current and future job satisfaction and occupational commitment is highest when resources in both learning locations are high. High work resources are more important for satisfaction commitment than school resources.

After afternoon tea, 3 streams commence. I attend the two presentations in the Future of Work: Industry 4.0 stream. Firstly with Dr. Valerie Taggart from Sligo Institute of Technology with ‘Business process re-engineering: thinking outside the digital box’. Presented her reflections on how students applied class learning in real life industry practice in a 3rd year of degree apprentice programme. 70% of the final mark for the innovation, creativity and critical thinking module in a business process engineering course. Qualitative research to find out challenges faced by students, how they overcame these challenges, the lessons learnt and whether the learning through the previous years, support the requirements of the project. Completion rates were good. 

Lastly, Milagros Gimenez from the University of Birmingham on an Argentinian based study ‘Building strategic relations: linkages between the IT sector and the secondary school technical education in Great Resistencia (district in Argentina)'. Provided context of the Argentinian educational system. VET schooling (secondary) is for 6 years. There are 1455 VET schools focused mainly on the industrial and agricultural sectors. Rationalised project with the adoption of a local economic development approach. Shared the way articulation can occur. Found there was low quality and low / medium frequency if articulation, little coordination and not much evidence of strategic direction.

A busy day with a good range of presentations. Good to meet familiar faces and catch up with the focuses and changes occuring with various international systems. The challenges posed by the presently murky future of work is a common thread through all VET systems.  

INAP - International Network on Innovative Apprenticeship 2019 DAY - 1 Morning


Notes taken. I will tidy and add links etc. when I get back to work in May J
The International Network on Innovative Apprenticeship (INAP) is holding its biannual conference at the University of Konstanz. Konstanz is a picturesque town on the shores of Lake Konstanz which is on the German / Swiss border. A small conference of just over 100 participants, mainly from Germany with small contingents from Switzerland, Estonia, Italy, China, Ireland, India, Austria, Australia and Canada.

The theme for this 8th conference is ‘Contemporary apprenticeship reforms and reconfigurations’.
Conference begins with welcome from the Conference committee chair, Professor Thomas Dessinger. Followed by welcomes from the vice-rector for research at Konstanz University, Professor Dirk Leuffen and Professor Philipp Gonon, President of the INAP board.

The first keynote is with Professor Lessa Wheelahan, now based at the University of Toronto, who presents on ‘The relationship between vocational education and the labour market in Australia and Canada – a comparative perspective’. Professor Wheelahan moved to Toronto 5 years ago and shifted there from an illustrious career in Melbourne. Presentation builds on 10 years of work in Australia and Canada. Question was ‘why are qualification in vocationally orientated tertiary education in Anglophone countries have weak links to occupations’. Most of explanations are not in vocational education’s role or employment and educational pathways but a consequence of structures of the labour market and the way employers use qualifications to select graduates to enter and continue. Tighter links important but governments do not do this due to philosophy of letting the market find its place. Presented on the similarities and differences between the two courntries; and understanding what each has done. One major difference is Canada does not have a federal system and each state ‘self-govern’. Obtaining national data is a challenge. VET has higher esteem in Canada when compared to many other Anglophone countries. Canada has VET as part of the higher ed. Sector, whereas with Australia TAFE is not HE. Similar issues – skills mismatches, weak VET in schools, pathways, and weak links between qualifications and work. Canada has a high number of people who have completed Diploma level type qualifications and in total has the second highest percentage (70% - Korea is slightly higher) of people 16 -64 with qualification. In Australia, the short cycle vocational programmes tend to be together with VET / with training the objective. In Ontario, short cycle is still Higher Ed / with emphasis on education.

Presented on varieties of capitalism. Liberal market economies use market to match graduate and jobs. Coordinated market economies used social partnerships. Tight links between ed and work in coordinated market economies, loose links in liberal market economies. Transition systems are important. Coordinated market economies – strong links to work, weaker connections with HE, value outcomes / employment logic. Liberal market – weak connections to work, signal ability – educational logic. Warning – employment or educational logic does not dictate curriculum and assessment. Northern Europe ‘employment logic’ apprenticeship system has strong ed. Component. Liberal market economies use qualifications as a sieve.
Proposed all qualifications should support entry to and progressions in the labour market; further study and lifelong learning; and social inclusion. In unregulated occupations, prepare students for a wider field of practice. ---- Many points here which need to be thought through in relation to the NZ Reform of Vocation Education.

The paper presentations begin and there are 4 streams. I present in the ‘teaching and learning’ stream and stay with the stream through to lunch.

I am first up and present on the findings from one of the eassessment for learning sub-projects – supporting the learning of the sociomaterial: Novices’ perspectives on virtual reality welding simulators. In summary, presented on the precepts of sociomateriality and its importance in trades teaching and learning. The pros and cons of VR welding simulators are discussed based on perspectives from novices. Important sociomaterial aspects of welding are not replicated on the simulators but the opportunities for feedback from learning analytics and accompanying peer learning effects are important positive contributors.

Next, Aine Doherty from the Institute of Technology, Sligo (Ireland) presents on ‘reflective learning is a two way street: using student feedback to improve teaching, learning and assessment in online apprenticeship’. Context is apprentices in the insurance industry completing a 3 year degree apprenticeship leading to a Honours Bachelor qualification. Students work 4 days and meet one day a week online using Adobe Connect. E-diaries were one aspect of reflective learning. Programme now in the third year. Student perspectives were collated and reported in the presentation. 300 word reflective essay every week / every other week in year 2, worth 20% of final mark. Online survey with just over 50% completion of first and second year students. Lowering requirement to a diary essay every other week assisted and student satisfaction improved. Good to see update of this programme which was presented at the last INAP conference.

Then, Dr. Silke Fischer, from the Swiss Federal Institute for VET, Switzerland, shares the principles for ‘The effectiveness of further teacher education (FTE) in Switzerland’. Outcomes from a small part of her thesis. To begin, introduced the VET Swiss system and the school intern further teacher education programme. FTE is a required part of Swiss teaching. VET teachers generally have a discipline specific degree and many teach only part-time. School-intern FTE is where the entire school staff are involved in further learning processes to improve teaching. Generally, a once a semester activity (one day) with expectation teachers will implement the approaches into their lessons. Topics (since 2005) include blended learning, school improvement, videos and numeracy deficits. Sample of 240 plus participated (almost 50%) with most having taught at least 9 years. Results indicate significant discrepancy between knowledge framing the topic between part-time (less) and full-time teachers. Effectiveness of FTE doubtful and lack of transfer in to practice. Topics often not strategically selected and organised.

The final presentation in this session is with Dr. Martin Berger, from the Department of VET, University of Teacher Education, Zurich, on ‘Teacher credibility at vocational school’. Based on his thesis. Defined teacher credibility as the good sense (subject credibility), good moral character (trustworthiness) and goodwill (care of students' learning) which is conferred by students. Image of the teacher, provides an effect of 'an image transfer mechanism (Kopperfield, 2007), helping students' learning through improved engagement to the subject. Quantitative study with VET students. Asked if in assessing the credibility of their teachers, do VET students distinguish between competence, trust and caring; do students assess the credibility of teachers of different subjects differently; and does teacher credibility have an effect on students' subjects perception. Sample of over 600 students between 16 - 21 across 41 occupations covering two subjects - language, communication and society (general education) and vocational subject. Used McCroskey and Teven (1999) three dimensional structural model of teacher's credibility. Extended with instrumental and affective dimensions as well. Found students assessed teacher credibility globally (simple heuristics) rather than separately. There was no difference between credibility of teachers across subjects. More important in general education than the vocational. VET have to cover all the bases of good sense, moral character and care to have effect. More important in general education than in vocational subject. 





Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The precarious future of education – risks and uncertainty in ecology, curriculum, learning and technology – book overview

 'The precarious future of education - Risks and uncertainty in ecology, curriculum, learning, and technology was published by Palgrave and MacMillan in 2017. The editor is J. Jagodzinski. I read the ebook version via the Ara library.

As per publishers description:

This volume examines the challenges weighing on the future of education in the face of globalization in the twenty-first century. Bringing together eleven authors who explore the paradox of an “after” to the future of education, each chapter in this book targets three important areas: ecology as understood in the broader framework of globalization and pedagogy; curriculum concerns which impact learning; and the pervasiveness of technology in education today. 

The chapters originate from a series of seminars held at the University of Alberta in 2014. Therefore, a Canadian and ‘teacher education’ slant on the topic.

Most of chapter 1 and a bit of chapter 2 are available via Google Books


Chapter 1 is by the editor – The precarious future of education: the speculative fictions of education.

Provides the background and rationale for the book with three sections titled - up in the clouds: take 1 and then take 2, take 3 which also has the sub-title of the futility of resistance? The first section, sets the scene with an overview of the philosophical literature on 'progress', debating how the enlightenment envisaged progress as a sort of utopia, but the reality has many 'blemishes' on the perfect world, promised by technology. The second part, critiques the offerings of contemporary educational visionaries, of 'self-directed' learning enabled by digital technologies. The other side of the coin is the dehumaisation of teachers, who are replaced by 'learning machines' and its assumption that knowledge can be defined and commodified. Creativity and innovation may be the essence of humanity but there are major challenges in affording opportunities for all to attain.The last section proposes the need for educators to be cognisant of the lure of technology and to be critically reflective on both the advantages and disadvantages of technology's role in education.


Part 1 – Curricular difficulties, ecology, globalisation and pedagogy

Second chapter by T. Carson and H. Smits titled ‘after the future in teacher education’ argues and discusses what needs to change with current teacher education, to meet the needs of the future. Teacher subjectivities or identities are important as these contribute to pedagogical decisions. There is a need for teacher education to ensure imposed curriculum is critiqued. Student teachers need to attain a diversity of thought, to be the champions for their students. Teachers should never be just transmitters of knowledge but have responsibilities to ensure pedagogy is deployed appropriately and ethically to prepare students for the future.

Chapter 3 on ‘curriculum lessons from ecopsychology’ by J. Seidel offers three lessons which address ecological concerns. These are firstly, a summary of the concerns and challenges prompted by the shift of humanity into the Anthropocene. In the second, a zombie movie is used to tease out what makes us human. The chapter closes with principles on how ecopsychology may contribute to educational direction.

Then A. Fidyk with ‘the influence of cultural and familial complexes in the classroom: A post-Jungian view’. Focuses on the need to understand the unconscious when working in education, especially the family and cultural layers of the psyche.

J. Parsons on ‘ silent schools? On the re-emergence of oral language and culture in education’. Questions the emphasis on written literacies and proposes the rationale for the elevation of oral literacies. This chapter is very evocative as 'silent' school rooms are the norm. Parson's questions whay schools have to be quiet, especially given the 'screen' generation not having sufficient face to face interaction both within and outside of school. 

Part 2 is on learning explored – asking the question ‘what is learning?’

G P Thomas presents the on ‘what is and what will be science learning (theory) in science education reform and practice? Stories and reflections. Through personal reflections, the author raises questions about technological education. What has it ignored and dismissed? Why? And some proposals for moving forward.

Next chapter by D. Britton on ‘big data and learning analytics: the ‘new’ teaching machine’. Uses the Lacanian psychoanalytical perspective to explore the fantasy space of learning. A critique of the application of data to informing decisions being made about learning and learners.


Then K. Heyer with ‘the case of wondering ‘its’: the future as more of the same in the name of change’. Challenges the current work on ‘modernising’ education as more of the same, only delivered / packaged differently. He suggests the 'learning to learn' approach has become a 'new' trend and that again, there is a need to view this trend critically. 

Part 3 – technological dilemmas

J. Kendrick on ‘brave new network: the gambit of living automated lives’. Explores the various means by which digital devices are supposed to enhance community at school.Especially the effect on the lived lives of students and teachers, given the uniquity of technology. Proposes the need to address the issues of creativity and literacy in schools to provide students with sufficient learning to be able to counter the imposition of digital networking.

Followed on by C. Adams with ‘technology’s hidden curriculum and the new digital Pharmakon’. Reflects on the implications and significance on human lives and how technology affects teachers and teachers’ lives.

J. Norris writes on ‘pioneering the use of video in research and pedgogy: A currere of media(tion). Set in the context of drama education'. A critical evaluation of using video drawing from the author's experiences and presented as a historical narrative. 

Last chapter by J. Beier with ‘the future is cancelled: from melancholia to belief in the world’. Brings some of the themes and threads from the previous sections and chapters. Discusses how contemporary pedagogy is charged with providing education for the future. Yet, the future is still hazy. Proposes the 'future is cancelled' - for now' and the need to have 'resistance come from within - moving from critique to belief.

Overall, academic approach throughout founded on recent conceptualisations of how people learn. As per the books overall intent, the overall tone is cautionary, providing a constrast to the prevalent 'bright future' focus of most work on this topic. All in, a refreshing change, although pessimistic tone in several chapters. The book is written in the academic genre and may be difficult to access for the lay reader. However, as always, 'not every cloud has a silver lining'! we need to be cautious about the rhetoric on how technology and digital literacies are 'must haves' without also ensuring that students are provided the opportunities to be critical users / contributors to technological change and the future.