Part One of a series reviewing literature and projects in the training and professional development of VET teachers in the use of digital technologies.
The work of teachers in adult and vocational education has undergone considerable change in recent years. Teachers’ roles have been expanding and the link between the quality of education in those sectors and the quality of teachers and trainers firmly established (Cedefop 2004). The European Commission (2010) says VET should be delivered by highly qualified teachers and experienced trainers who are supported through initial and continuing professional development (including digital skills and innovative teaching methods) in view of delivering high quality learning outcomes. Efforts should be targeted at increasing the attractiveness of teachers and trainers professions to ensure a sufficient number of qualified teachers and trainers.
The provision should be based on an appropriate/different mix of modern learning environments, including work-based learning and technology supported learning, pedagogies and tools as well as access to state of the art infrastructure.
The increasing focus on the use of technology for teaching and learning in VET is being driven by changing economies and production in different sectors and consequent skill needs, particularly in the context of digitalization and the introduction of new technologies. The European Commission Advisory Committee on Vocational Training Opinion on the future of vocational education and training post 2020 (2018) says “VET systems need to be better adaptable to the rapidly evolving socio-economic environment, more demand-driven and open in terms of forms of provision, notably through internationalisation strategies, more transnational mobility experience, new forms of digital learning, blended learning, modules for re- an up-skilling that are offered and diversity of providers.”
A CEDEFOP (2018) study on the Changing role and nature of VET highlights some trends paving the way towards VET in the future:
- VET provisions are becoming increasingly diverse. Countries with school-based VET are strengthening apprenticeships and vice versa. Work-based elements are given high priority and visibility in all VET forms. At the same time boundaries between school-workplace and vocational-general are becoming less clear cut, pointing to hybrid models. Vocationally-oriented higher education is becoming more visible and gaining in importance
- Countries are reducing the number of qualifications they award while broadening their scope, as they put more emphasis on social and transversal skills and competences.
- VET’s re-orientation towards learning outcomes and competences potentially allows for a more learner centred approach.
- More flexibility in the time and place of learning and increased acceptance of prior learning opens up VET to broader groups of young and adult learners.
- As skills-intelligence systems are becoming stronger, they highlight the need for reviewing and renewing skills and matching them more effectively to jobs.
George Herd and Alison Mead Richardson (2015) highlight five drivers for the development of ICT in T Vocational Education and Training – “the requirements of a knowledge economy, the increase of ICT in the workplace, the demand to increase access to initial vocational education and training, the lack of qualified teachers and the requirement to provide opportunities for continuing professional development, re-skilling and skills upgrading.”
In the coming years, VET teachers and trainers will be required to help shape quick and flexible responses to emerging needs, related both to the integration of thousands of refugees and migrants into the labour market and to the need to develop basic, digital and entrepreneurial skills. Providing teachers and trainers with access to quality professional development and support is essential to ensuring that both their technical competences and pedagogical skills are up the highest standards (CEDEFOP)… not been sufficiently visible in national policies (. The Riga conclusions (2015) have put renewed emphasis on the issue, calling for systematic approaches to and opportunities for initial and continuing professional development (CPD) of VET teachers, trainers and mentors. Cooperation and partnerships among stakeholders are seen as a way to support this
The UK Jisc says research has shown that students respond favourably to authentic, meaningful digital activities that are linked to or directly embedded in their learning and assessment, especially if those activities are relevant to their future employment ambitions.
Learners now enter vocational education and training with “increased experience of technology, and have the expectation that technology will feature in their learning journey in some way.”
Jisc acknowledges, however, that staff and students have different levels of digital literacy skills and many do not have a clear understanding of how courses could or should use technology to support learning.
They say that “Embedding digital activities and assessment opportunities as part of the curriculum sets the expectation that students will use technology throughout their studies. And with responsive support from the college or provider, such expectations establish a base line of digital literacy and confidence that can become the norm in learning and teaching practice over time.”