Technologies to “Bridge the Gap” among Learning Contexts in Vocational Training

Technologies to “Bridge the Gap” among Learning Contexts in Vocational Training

Elisa Motta (Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET), Switzerland), Elena Boldrini (Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET), Switzerland) and Alberto Cattaneo (Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET), Switzerland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2122-0.ch021

Abstract

The dual-track system characterising Swiss Vocational Education and Training (VET) is based on the alternation of three learning locations: the school, the training company, and intercompany courses organised by occupational organisations. In this way, apprentices gain experiences in different contexts, which then have to be connected in a unique knowledge corpus in order to develop real professional competences. However, the different decision-making bodies involved in VET perceive a gap in the learning among the different contexts, for example consistency of work procedures. The two studies presented here focus on mobile technologies and Web 2.0-supported collaborative writing as examples of the use of technology in professional education to bridge this gap. The results emerged in terms of ease of use, perceived usefulness of the artefacts, and in terms of pedagogical added value of the instructional design. The findings confirm that the underlying pedagogical model is valuable and further research is warranted.
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Introduction

The focus of the studies presented here is to underline the valuable role of technological artefacts in supporting the process of bridging the gap among the different learning locations characterising Swiss Vocational Education and Training (VET) curricula. Each of the two experiments presented sheds light on the use of a specific technology (respectively mobile devices and web-based tools for collaborative writing) in a specific professional domain to capture the experiences lived by the apprentices at the workplace and to exploit them at school in a structured learning and pedagogical scenario. The overall framework of these experiments is consistent with some recent models of vocational learning (e.g. Tynjälä, 2008; Eraut, 2004) which underline the necessity to develop an integrative pedagogics able to incorporate workplace-based learning in school education and vice versa.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cross-Contexts Learning: In the VET system the learning process include different kinds of experiences depending on the different learning locations; these resources have then to be connected in a unique knowledge corpus in order to develop real professional competences.

Mobile Devices: Portable technological devices such as headband cameras and iPhones.

Erfahrraum: Neologism built by merging two German words: “Erfahrung” which means “experience” and “Raum” which means “space”; it indicates a model to capture real professional experiences at the workplace through technologies and to exploit this material to design learning activities at school that foster reflective processes on what has been experienced.

Collaborative Writing: Writing activities using tools that facilitate the editing and reviewing of a text document by multiple individuals.

VET Dual System: The dual-track system characterizing Swiss Vocational Education and Training (VET) is based on the alternation of three learning locations: the school, the training company and the so-called intercompany courses.

Didactical Scenarios: Didactical planning including the different variables of a learning/teaching activity (objectives, target, time, space, technological devices etc.).

Technologies: In the framework of the studies presented here, technologies are perceived as tools (such as mobile devices and web-based tools) to support learning activities with the aim of fostering links among the different learning locations.

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