Distance Education Teaching Methods in Childcare Management

Distance Education Teaching Methods in Childcare Management

Andreas Wiesner-Steiner (Berlin School of Economics, Germany), Heike Wiesner (Berlin School of Economics, Germany) and Petra Luck (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch185
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Abstract

The cultural and technical history of e-learning scenarios can be traced back to traditional forms of distance studies, CD-Rom learning programmes, audio-programmes or educational TV. But other than these forerunners, two closely related myths often shape policy towards ICT and education: the irresistible power of globalisation and the determining effect of technology. Both views present the success of e-learning throughout the education system as inevitable. The space left for practitioners in higher education is either to embrace the new media or to watch its inevitable unfolding. In this paper we take a critical stance towards that perspective and suggest that the shape and learning effect of new media in higher education is contested and evolves in communities of practice. No technologies are neutral and it is more appropriate to speak of economic, technological and societal features as interactively fostering the importance of e-learning through distributed actions (Rammert, 2002). From such a perspective, e-learning is perceived as a co-product of didactically and technically situated features (Wiesner-Steiner, Wiesner, & Schelhowe, 2006) that foster and enable but don`t determine human learning through the use of digital technologies. Main characteristics are: • Interactive and multimedial design of content • Learning via digital networks • Netbased communication The EU-Leonardo-project “European Enhancement of Early Years Management Skills—EEEYMS” (http://www. eeeyms.org/) was intended to enhance employability of people employed in the Early Years Childcare management sector by providing access to a high level qualification in line with the emerging industry requirements. This was achieved by developing distance learning materials available via the World Wide Web and other forms of media including CDRom` s, specific to the employment area which is also aligned to a degree pathway, and will be available within Europe. It was further achieved by the creation of a European network association for childcare to ensure sustainability after the project is complete. EEEYMS provides an accredited route for the attainment of a relevant degree level qualification for careers and managers within the childcare sector, and assist in attracting suitable people into this employment sector to meet the childcare demand over the next 10 years. With ODL materials, the project enhances employment opportunities and career status for a still predominantly female workforce. Research suggests that the increased status and professionalisation obtained through the availability of a high level qualification will make the industry more attractive to male employees. EEEYMS thus provided higher level qualification to people disadvantaged in the labour market and those who faced discrimination in accessing training due to disability, geographical location or family commitments. The use of ICT systems was thus thought to enhance knowledge and learning experience and the employability factors, as the knowledge will be directly transferable to the work environment.
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Introduction

The cultural and technical history of e-learning scenarios can be traced back to traditional forms of distance studies, CD-Rom learning programmes, audio-programmes or educational TV. But other than these forerunners, two closely related myths often shape policy towards ICT and education: the irresistible power of globalisation and the determining effect of technology. Both views present the success of e-learning throughout the education system as inevitable. The space left for practitioners in higher education is either to embrace the new media or to watch its inevitable unfolding. In this paper we take a critical stance towards that perspective and suggest that the shape and learning effect of new media in higher education is contested and evolves in communities of practice. No technologies are neutral and it is more appropriate to speak of economic, technological and societal features as interactively fostering the importance of e-learning through distributed actions (Rammert, 2002). From such a perspective, e-learning is perceived as a co-product of didactically and technically situated features (Wiesner-Steiner, Wiesner, & Schelhowe, 2006) that foster and enable but don`t determine human learning through the use of digital technologies. Main characteristics are:

  • Interactive and multimedial design of content

  • Learning via digital networks

  • Netbased communication

The EU-Leonardo-project “European Enhancement of Early Years Management Skills—EEEYMS” (http://www.eeeyms.org/) was intended to enhance employability of people employed in the Early Years Childcare management sector by providing access to a high level qualification in line with the emerging industry requirements. This was achieved by developing distance learning materials available via the World Wide Web and other forms of media including CD-Rom`s, specific to the employment area which is also aligned to a degree pathway, and will be available within Europe. It was further achieved by the creation of a European network association for childcare to ensure sustainability after the project is complete. EEEYMS provides an accredited route for the attainment of a relevant degree level qualification for careers and managers within the childcare sector, and assist in attracting suitable people into this employment sector to meet the childcare demand over the next 10 years. With ODL materials, the project enhances employment opportunities and career status for a still predominantly female workforce. Research suggests that the increased status and professionalisation obtained through the availability of a high level qualification will make the industry more attractive to male employees. EEEYMS thus provided higher level qualification to people disadvantaged in the labour market and those who faced discrimination in accessing training due to disability, geographical location or family commitments. The use of ICT systems was thus thought to enhance knowledge and learning experience and the employability factors, as the knowledge will be directly transferable to the work environment.

The primary target group was that of childcare professionals actively working in the sector or entering this profession, where a niche in the market exists for a relevant specific degree award. EEEYMS thus wanted to attract more women into managerial positions, while encouraging more men to enter the profession by providing a credible award.

Because empirical evidence on the increase of e-learning-efficiency is both difficult and important, external evaluation of the EEEYMS e-learning modules via surveys has been an integral part of the entire project. The aim here was to include a more objective, independent feedback at every stage of the programme. According to the projects aims, the evaluation was conducted following the principle of gender mainstreaming (Wiesner, Kamphans, Schelhowe, Metz-Göckel, Zorn, Drag, Peter, & Schottmüller, 2004) and considering intercultural inclusion-aspects (Zorn & Wiesner-Steiner, 2006).

Key Terms in this Chapter

E-Learning: Electronically supported learning; all kinds of learning with the use of digital media for the presentation or distribution of learning materials and/or the support of communication.

Gender: Refers to the social gender role or the social gender qualities; everything that is typically assiociated with men and women within a certain culture.

VLE: Virtual learning environment.

Gender Mainstreaming: Refers to the political idea of gender equality on all levels of society.

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