From teacher training to teacher learning

Whenever the performance of teachers in educational centres is evaluated, teacher training appears as a key issue. And it is crucial, simplifying, in two areas. On the one hand, as an indicator of the teacher’s level of competency updating, that is, for their evaluation and professional accreditation. On the other hand, as an instrument for this teacher to expand their toolbox and apply it in their day to day with their students.

Without aiming at judging here the effectiveness and efficiency of the various initiatives that are currently under way in terms of teacher training, what is true is that most of them have pivoted on institutionality and training. By institutionality we mean that they must begin and develop from certain institutions, be scheduled well in advance, have a certain structure and duration or teaching load and, above all, be recognized as such, that is, as teacher training initiatives within a determined scheme of the Administration. By training we understand, precisely, the high formal component of these initiatives and that, by construction, leaves out a very wide range of initiatives and learning opportunities that occur in the margins of the established system of teacher training.

There are reasons for this to be so and we do not want to open this space now to discuss them. Surely we would agree: guarantee a certain quality, avoid fraud (especially economic), etc.

But, that we aim at guaranteeing these principles does not mean that there is only one way for our teachers to learn. Moreover, it begins to be highly dissonant that, while we affirm that an era is opening where it is important to learn to learn, where it is essential to learn throughout life, where we must give tools to our students to be autonomous in their learning (present and future), we keep formal teacher training ase the only practical option: closed initiatives, circumscribed to a time and a space, and highly directed, prefabricated and unidirectional.

Outside the radar of the traditional teacher training, many educators begin to organise themselves in communities of practice and learning (virtual or face-to-face); share doubts and resources in their blogs; participate in edcamps, workshops, webinars or educational hackathons; carry out innovative projects that open up the educational community, and a long list of examples that begin to be not an exception, but a real trend that does not stop winning critical mass.

Are we capable of recognizing and, above all, fostering this type of learning, of high value (because it is not individual, but collective!), but that systematically falls outside what we have usually understood as training of trainers?

Post originally published on 28 February 2018, with the original title De la formació de formadors a l’aprenentatge de formadors in Edubaromentre.cat. All articles published in that outlet and republished here can be read in English at edubarometre.

Report. Inclusion in the age of post-democracy

Cover of the report Inclusión en la era de la Postdemocracia

Inés Bebea (from Ondula), Gabriel González (from Fundación Esplai) and I (with the help of Juan Sánchez, also from Fundación Esplai) have just issued our report Inclusión en la era de la Postdemocracia (Inclusion in the age of post-democracy).

The origins of the proposal “Inclusion in the age of postdemocracy” come from the debate held during the day of the plenary meeting of the Advisory Council of Fundación Esplai on Committed Citizenship, held on January 20, 2015. In this debate took part the Advisory Board, the Board of Trustees and the technical team of the organization, and during the event the participants identified the challenges that technology is creating at the social level at the present time, and to which the Fundación Esplai Foundation should respond in order to collaborate in the the construction of a technologically empowered citizenry that makes a critical, responsible and useful use in the pursue of their own personal development and that of one’s community.

The project takes as its starting point a basic document, which sets out the concrete objectives to advance in this line:

  • Present the state of the situation on the practices of active citizenship in the areas of health, education and democracy.
  • Propose consensuses that group different actors and sensitivities towards a common strategy and action lines.
  • Design action lines for the promotion of active citizenship based on an intensive, open and community-based use of ICTs.

Between July and October 2016 Fundación Esplai launched a proposal to study and debate the role that Information and Communication Technologies play in social inclusion and in the active exercise of citizenship, as essential tools for access to education, health and democratic participation. The work proposal, which emphasizes the analysis of the call third-level digital divide, included a participation process to which a broad sector of the citizenry was invited, especially those more linked to Fundación Esplai initiatives: members of the Advisory Board, Board of Trustees and professional staff of the Fundación Esplai, organizations of the of the Red Conecta and associated networks, professionals in the ICT sector, Education and Social Inclusion as well as private individuals interested in the topic.

Download:

logo of PDF file
Final report:
Peña-López, I., Bebea, I. & González, G. (2017). Inclusión en la era de la Postdemocracia. Informe del estudio. Octubre 2016. El Prat de Llobregat: Fundación Esplai.

Book chapter. Networked learning: strategies and tools to open and disrupt educational institutions

Portada del libro Pedagogía Red

Professors Begoña Gros and Cristóbal Suárez have edited a new book that has just been released, Pedagogía red. Una educación para tiempos de internet (Networked pedagogy. An education for the Internet age).

I have been invited to write a chapter for the book on how can we learn in networks or as networks. The easiest way to answer the question would have been to come up with a list of tools… which would have been outdated the day after the book saw the light. Instead, I focused on how “educational institutions” (understood in a very broad way: the textbook, the teacher, the classroom, the library, evaluation, etc.) could be opened, unfolded so that their momentum gathered along the years could be disrupted and actors and tasks profoundly changed.

Besides thanking both Begoña Gros and Cristóbal Suárez for their invitation, I also very heartily have to thank Toni Aguilar, as he was the first one to force me to think in this terms when he invited me to do the talk ICT and education:: evolution of education, revolution in learning, which I have repeatedly given after that — and finally became a book chapter, as now can be seen. Gràcies Toni!

The book is in Spanish, the chapter is called ¿Con qué aprender en red? Estrategias y herramientas para la abertura y disrupción de las instituciones educativas (Networked learning: strategies and tools to open and disrupt educational institutions) and here goes the abstract and the bibliography I used.

Abstract

Cuando se habla de qué herramientas utilizar para aprender en red, es fácil acabar utilizando la herramienta por la herramienta. A pesar de que nos repetimos a nosotros mismos cual mantra que las herramientas son solamente instrumentos para conseguir unos fines – en este caso de aprendizaje – nos ocurre una y otra vez que ponemos las herramientas en el lugar de los fines.

Ello ocurre incluso en los casos donde nos dotamos de categorizaciones o de verdaderas ontologías para asignar cada herramienta al cajón del que solamente saldrá cuando tengamos claro su papel instrumental.

En este capítulo vamos a evitar caer en la tentación prescindiendo, por completo, de una caja de herramientas. O de una lista. O de una categorización. Todo un reto para lo que, a primera vista, debería ser un despliegue de estrategias y herramientas para el aprendizaje en red.

En su lugar, nos centraremos en tejer la red de aprendizaje. Y lo haremos desmontando, desplegando, abriendo las instituciones que, hasta hoy, siguen protagonizado (y con mucho éxito, no querríamos perder esto de vista) la enseñanza. Y el aprendizaje, a menudo confinado a esas instituciones.

Más que en las herramientas, pues, queremos poner bajo el foco la disrupción que las instituciones educativas están sufriendo y que, en parte, viene de la mano de determinadas estrategias y herramientas. Y es analizando las disrupciones que se están dando en el papel de 10 instituciones educativas que hemos seleccionando que veremos cómo actúan determinadas estrategias y herramientas.

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Baumgartner, P. (2005). “How to choose a Content Management Tool according to a Learning Model”. In elearningeuropa.info, 17 May 2005. Brussels: European Commission.
Benkler, Y. (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Blaschke, L.M. (2012). “Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning”. In International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13 (1). Edmonton: Athabasca University.
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Zook, M.A., Graham, M., Shelton, T. & Gorman, S. (2010). “Volunteered Geographic Information and Crowdsourcing Disaster Relief: A Case Study of the Haitian Earthquake4”. In World Medical & Health Policy, 2 (2), 7-33. Berkeley: Berkeley Electronic Press.

eLearning Africa 2016 (VII). Back up for Online Tutors and Mentors

Notes from eLearning Africa 2016, organized by ICWE GmbH and held in El Cairo, Egypt, on 24-26 May 2016. More notes on this event: ela2016.

Back up for Online Tutors and Mentors

Chairperson: Robert Kisalama, Belgian Technical Cooperation, Uganda

Ismael Peña-López, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain
eSupervision: A Four-tier Applied Model

(more…)

eLearning Africa (2016)

eLearning Africa 2016 (VI). Creating Communities of Practice for Teachers

Notes from eLearning Africa 2016, organized by ICWE GmbH and held in El Cairo, Egypt, on 24-26 May 2016. More notes on this event: ela2016.

Creating Communities of Practice for Teachers

Would you like to hear about the methods and tools to enhance teachers’ pedagogical skills? Learn how communities of practice, by and for teachers, can influence professional development.

Chairperson: Mohamed Ahmed, Mansoura University, Egypt

Hela Nafti, Tunisian Education and Resource Network TEARN, Tunisia
Achieving Peace by Building Sustainable Global Online Learning Communities

SDG Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Learners have to acquire skills and, most especially, attitudes and values — because information is everywhere.

iEARN: 130 countries, 30 languages, 40,000 educators, 2 million youth. iEARN (International Education and Resource Network) is the world’s largest non-profit global network that enables teachers and youth to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world.

Learning Circles promote theme-based project work integrated with the classroom curriculum. Working with Learning Circle partners from around the world help students develop important interpersonal skills. Learning Circles also encourage interactions among teachers providing a very different model of professional development.

A Learning Circle is created by a team of 6-8 teachers and their classes joined in the virtual space of an electronic classroom. The groups remains together over a 3-4 month period working on projects drawn from the curriculum of each of the classrooms organized around a selected theme. At the end of the term the group collects and publishes its work. Then, just as any class of students does, the Learning Circle comes to an end. Each session begins with new groupings of classes into Learning Circles.

Created a Tunisian circle to deal about peace and sustainable development.

Capacity building, teacher training is the most relevant thing for teachers: you can not teach if you do not know how to.

Paul Waibochi, CEMASTEA, Kenya,
Using Social Media (Whatsapp) in Enhancing Teacher Pedagogical Competencies: Case Study Cemastea – Lesson Study Model

How can we improve teachers’ competences in how to deliver the curriculum through m-learning: how to use Whatsapp for education and learning purposes.

In infrastructure matters, Kenya is ready: 80% mobile uptake, high bandwidth per person, familiarity with mobile services (e.g. m-pesa), etc.

Process of teachers working in teams to develop lessons to adress an identified problem amongst learners. The developed lesson is taught by one of the teachers while others observe. The team discusses the taught lesson and make improvements.

The purpose of m-learning is more access (you save travelling of both students and teachers), more efficiency and quality. Now lessons are not only face-to-face, so they are not so much time-constrained, and happen instead on a blended-learning basis.

Another good thing about Whatsapp is that it supports multimedia: the teacher can teach and videotape the lesson and then share it through Whatsapp where other teachers can observe and comment.

Finally, the idea is to create a community of teachers that engage in the project, help each other, share their outputs. In parallel to that, the teachers acquire or strengthen 21st century skills, like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, etc. in addition to constant professional development and regular orientation and training.

Discussion

Q: How do we select the teachers? Waibochi: they come from the same grade, and from the same topic to be taught at a particular class.

Q: how do you eliminate “noise” from Whatsapp groups? Waibochi: it is about defining well what is going to be the topics of conversation, and stick with them.

Q: how do you measure the expected outcomes in the communities of practice? How do you evaluate results? Waibochi: there are screening surveys that are used to evaluate what the students knew before and after the intervention.

Q: Why not your own chatting platform? Waibochi: not only Whatsapp, but also Facebook accounts. The technology is already there and everybody is using it.

eLearning Africa (2016)

eLearning Africa 2016 (V). Entrepreneurialism, Capacity Development and the Role of Education in Accelerating Change

Notes from eLearning Africa 2016, organized by ICWE GmbH and held in El Cairo, Egypt, on 24-26 May 2016. More notes on this event: ela2016.

Plenary: Entrepreneurialism, Capacity Development and the Role of Education in Accelerating Change

Economic growth and technological innovations are beginning to change Africa but how can the transformation be made permanent? How can the pace of change be quickened? How can we ensure that Africa is not just transformed but able to compete in tomorrow’s markets? How can we encourage a new spirit of entrepreneurialism? How can we boost capacity development, to ensure that Africans are ready to seize new opportunities in the future? How can we empower African educators and give them the tools they need to teach new skills? How can we enable students to make the most of a new world of learning? How can we put education and training at the heart of Africa’s transformation? These are just some of the questions which our panel of experts will address.

Chairperson: Hossam El Gamal, Chairman of the Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC), Egypt

Dr Tarek Shawki, Secretary General of Presidential Specialised Councils, Egypt,
Keynote Address

Education in our lifetime requires great innovation and collaboration. We need to understand what is required from the ecosystem.

What is the relationship between the economy and education? We have to make this issue surface and take over the public debate. And the the social justice that should come with education.

It is likely that the assessment system is quite guilty for this dissociation between education and the economy, between earning a diploma and learning.

People lack autonomy because the system is ruled with a totalitarian approach. This lack of freedom implies that some decisions are left unmade.

A new project by the Egyptian government, the Egyptian knowledge bank, has been buying a massive amount of digital content (scientific, educational, etc.) from major publishers and put it online for free (for Egyptian IPs). But not only that, new textbooks are pointing at these resources, so that the content of the textbooks is enhanced by the one online.

The project is framed within a macro strategy to redesign Egyptian Education as an Education 2.0.

Prof Moses Oketch, Professor of International Education Policy and Development at UCL, UK
Perspectives on ICT, Lifelong Learning and Endogenous Development in Africa

Besides moneraty benefits of human capital, there are non-monetary benefits, like better health, etc. And, in addition to that, there is non-monetary social benefits (vs. individual benefits). It is time to put these concepts in the forefront of the public debate.

And technology has become crucial in the human capital formation. And not only human capital, but endogenous development. And this is crucial for sustainable development, while also reducing diminishing returns of investment.

Last, technology is changing the very concept of lifelong learning: you are actually learning all the time.

Four key connections:

  • Identify and support incentives for ICT and lifelong learning.
  • Overcome barriers arising from investment externalities.
  • Encourage and support endogenous technology/applications that are locally relevant and scale them up.
  • Enhance ICT inclusivity in learning and teaching to overcome structural inequalities and skills deficit.

Dr Rania Reda, Founder & CEO of ITQAN for Smart Solutions, Egypt
We Can Dream Bigger Now

To transform education we have to take into account all education stakeholders: students, educators, parents, administrators, etc. And entrepreneurs come and try and fill the gaps that these stakeholders might have to unleash their full potential, to optimize performance. Assessing the stakeholders’ needs is the first step for transforming education.

Augmented reality can certainly help to improve education. By projecting things that do not exist into real life, learning can be much more engaging, a requisite for real learning. Visualization, quite often, helps to understand complex concepts, eases the assimilation of content.

How to use augmented reality in schools: help with homework (e.g. a video is displayed when a page of homework is scanned), book reviews (e.g. the student can annotate a book and anyone can read/hear/see it), parent virtual inspiration (e.g. record parent encouraging their child), yearbooks (e.g. bring photos back to life), word walls, lab safety, deaf and hard of hearing flashcards.

Discussion

Oketch: how do we measure the impact of technology in matters of learning outcomes? We have to begin to measure learning in different ways as we do now. We haven’t figured out yet how to do it, and it will certainly be the next frontier.

Rania Reda: besides infrastructure — which is crucial — mentoring is very important: many times one knows what to do, but does not exactly how. And here is where coaching an entrepreneur can lead to very good results.

In a very near future, learners will be much more learner-centered in their learning. When information is abundant, one begins to learn how to access and manage information, and to use it for learning.

eLearning Africa (2016)