University of the West of Scotland

Projects

LeTeEM - Learners, Teachers and Employers

Principal investigators : Professor Thomas M Connolly, Dr Tom Hainey and Dr Abel Usoro

Funding Body : EU LLP, Comenius

Value : €298,785

Project Partners :

The European Council has repeatedly stressed the key role of education and training for the future growth, long-term competitiveness and social cohesion of the Union. Recently, the Council agreed that 'any solution to youth unemployment required a combination of policies and sectors, and that young people need the right skills for the labour market. Stronger cooperation between education and training providers, social partners and other relevant parties should be promoted to support a smoother transition from education to work' (3144th Council meeting, 10 Feb 2012).

Of key importance in enhancing learners' employability, entrepreneurial potential and familiarity with the working world are partnerships between education and training institutions and employers. As stated by the Council of the European Union (9876/09), “competitiveness and growth of Europe's economy could be improved by putting the knowledge triangle to work, notably by developing partnerships between employers and education and research institutions which are aimed at fostering innovation and ensuring its transfer into practice.” In this way, employers' knowledge and experience can be used, in the course of the lifelong learning process, to help each individual acquire the knowledge, skills, competences and positive attitude towards work that will support his or her chances of finding a suitable job or starting his or her own business.

To achieve this, the education element of the knowledge triangle 'research-innovation-education' should be strengthened, starting early – in schools. The competences and learning habits acquired at school are essential for developing new skills for new jobs later in life (SEC(2008) 2177); (2006/962/EC & 2010/C 117/01)). To develop these competences while retaining grounding in basic skills, schools have called for a more flexible learning environment, such as new pedagogies and cross-curricular approaches to supplement single-subject teaching. ICT is a great enabler to implement modern curricular and innovative approaches. Importantly, it provides the needed flexible learning environment that promotes LLL.

The project will exactly target these critical needs: adaptation, development, testing, implementation and dissemination of new teaching methodologies and pedagogical strategies for use in the classroom and including the development of materials for use by pupils. The project will also find strategies for stronger cooperation among stakeholders in order to improve students' skills.

Proposed Approach

One of the most successful methodologies for developing a partnership with industry and promoting creativity, competitiveness, employability and the growth of an entrepreneurial spirit has been created by a Finnish university for university level students. Called 'Learning by Developing' (LbD), this methodology has been chosen by the project team as it directly addresses the problems of building close ties between education and the workplace and engendering creativity and innovation in both fields.

LbD has been applied successfully in Higher Education. This project will adapt the LbD methodology to work with secondary education. The LbD methodology will be adapted by pedagogic and implementation aspects, and for use across Europe, by addressing cultural, legal and localisation issues. Training courses and webinars will be created for stakeholders in the process of adaptation: teachers, administrators, business and government. The training courses will be piloted across Europe, leading to wide-scale preparation of a final training course.

To support the pedagogy, the project will adapt a learning platform (based on open source technology) that takes learning out of the physical classroom to allow all the stakeholders to interact in a way that is independent of time and place and makes learning easily accessible for all generations. This paradigm is a critical feature of the methodology that promotes interdisciplinary cooperation, where all actors gain and create new knowledge, including knowledge of the workplace.

About 'Learning by Developing'

LbD integrates ICT in teaching and learning and is based on five principles: 1) authenticity, 2) partnership, 3) experiencing, 4) investigative approach, and 5) creativity. LbD teaching is based on a development project that is genuinely rooted in the world of work, and it produces new practices and competences. Pragmatic theory of knowledge considers that real-life situations are the focal point of learning, the goal of which is practical development of these situations. This methodology has common points with other successful approaches to learning such as Service-learning, Multiple Intelligences, Learning communities, learning by doing, project-based learning and situated learning.

Enhancement of ICT skills and ICT-based learning is a key goal of this project. Leading researchers, practitioners, administrators and policymakers from various countries underline the importance of an education reform through technology and social media, teacher preparation, curriculum and instruction. This will support lifelong learning of key competences through ICT. It will strengthen the link between the formal and non-formal dimensions of learning. The project takes into account the concept of individual development and will use tools and methods that are appropriate to young people and which promote exchanges among peers. It will adopt forms of learning where the process is more important than the outcome.

The cumulative impact of the methodology is:

  • That learners, teachers, and the world of work gain new ways to think, learn and innovate.
  • The learning process develops into networking communities in educational institutions and in society, enabling international networking and enhancing many LLL skills.
  • Each society becomes a networking society where different generations support and work together and break the barriers of learning, work, employability and social exclusion.
  • EU becomes stronger by gaining the means of responding to the challenges of future society.

The aims of the project are:

  • improve the teacher training and develop strategies for exchange of experiences that would improve the quality of education for work;
  • develop pedagogies, strategies, methods and tools for teacher training that promote learning of key competences and employability in the classroom taking into consideration the realities of each participating country;
  • develop pedagogies and strategies that promote learning of key competences and employability;
  • promote innovation and creativity as a natural essence of teaching and learning at various stages across EU and ensure its transfer into practice;
  • encourage young European students to develop employability through creative thinking, curiosity and enquiry, critical thinking, social and communications skills, confidence and practicality;
  • promote various types of learning;
  • address the specific needs of different types of learners;
  • achieve positive change of and exchange between the teachers and learners through enhanced use of online/mobile teaching and learning methods;
  • support ICT based pedagogies, practices and services for lifelong learning;
  • bring research, innovation and development closer to the roots and everyday life of EU citizens, public organizations as well as public and private enterprises.

More specifically, the objectives of the project are to develop:

  • develop pedagogical guides on LbD model for trainers and teachers as well as learners;
  • bring together teachers and learners as well as various sectors of working life to exchange experiences on LbD;
  • design and run training courses for teacher trainers/teachers to demonstrate how to implement the LbD model and coach the learners;
  • achieve positive change of and exchange between the teachers and learners through the enhanced use of online/mobile teaching and learning methods;
  • promote adoption of modern, innovative teaching and learning approach known as LbD;
  • organise a large scale pilot across Europe in secondary schools using the LbD model with the support of a developed 'connected learning community';
  • evaluate the results of the pilot project and promote further R&D of the LbD model to meet the requirements of different teaching and learning environments and cultures;
  • produce best practice guides and use case scenarios for teachers/stakeholders;
  • disseminate results to inform stakeholders of results;
  • advance the sustainability of the results enabling the use of the materials long term.

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