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Conference ICBL2008

November 03 - 05, 2008 Florianopolis, Brazil

Learning-on-Demand for Employee’s: a Possible Strategy for Opening Traditional Universities Valère Awouters, Ruben Jans, Sebastiaan Jans Limburg Catholic University College, Belgium

Key words: Blended learning, e-Learning, Instructional Models, VLE (Virtual Learning Environment), WEB 2.0 Abstract: Society and education are changing. Lifelong learning becomes a reality. Students at universities are no longer only young people between 18 and 22 years. Also adults combining work and study are finding their way to the university. That diversity and mix of students asks for a new teaching strategy. At the same time, ICT in general and Virtual Learning Environments are available at every university. However a good didactical strategy is still missing.

1 Introduction “Heterogenity was too big”, “Level not adequate enough”, “I didn’t learn anything new today”, “Much too difficult”, “Good formation, but not for me, the announced content was not clear enough for me”, … are just a few examples of often read elements in evaluations of formations followed by adults. This kind of formations are inefficient, as well on the cost as also on the motivation to learn permanently. The knowledge-economy asks for an increased quality and efficiency for life-long learning. Increasing efficiency means learning that what is necessary and useful and e.g. no repeat of already learned and not needed knowledge and competences. Increasing efficiency means also a reduction on the cost of the formation, because in the future there will be needed more continuous formations. Although student-centred learning, work-based learning and competency-based learning are focussed these days, in the majority of the formations it is the ‘lecturer’ who is determining the agenda, the selected content, the used learning – or is it teaching – design. A very simple, but real happened example illustrates this: an employee wanted to improve her knowledge about making graphics in Excel and asks for a short formation. Where-ever she informs, she is offered an (excellent) Excel-course of several weeks, in which everything is explained, from the absolute beginning about rows, columns and cells, till pivot tables. Her problem is that half the course is not appropriate for her. Nevertheless the teachers, lecturers have the knowledge she is searching for. What is essential is the way in which life-long learning in a knowledge-economy will be organised and didactically offered to learners. This influences the efficiency, and the satisfaction of the learners on one hand and certainly not lesser important the learning cost for the employers on the other hand. Offering content online, often called e-learning, didn’t bring the desired solution. Logically learning is more than consuming online content. The learning style is more important than the way the content is offered. “If content is king, why would we need universities, libraries could do the job. Context is king, content is just another part of the learning environment” (Baumgartner, 2006).


Conference ICBL2008

November 03 - 05, 2008 Florianopolis, Brazil

‘Blended learning’ is the new hype after e-learning. Blended learning, meaning to blend several elements in learning, as e.g. traditional instruction and learning and cooperating online. But there is more ‘to blend’: the learning demand, the offered learning contents, the didactics, learning on the workplace, … have to be brought together.

2 Research project 2.1 Description of the project Therefore a research project on how the optimal mix or blended learning and teaching can be realized was submitted and approved by financial means of the Belgian government (Flemish Government, departments Economy and Education). In this research project the main question is how traditional universities - realizing that their students or clients are no longer exclusively 18-22 year old students, but more and more adults in life-long learning - can realize this mix? This research project has several elements: of course there is the technological part in which can be found out how information can be offered to learners and how cooperation by using discussion forums, wiki’s, weblogs and a lot of WEB 2.0-tools can support learning. More important however is the way teachers/lecturers can change their didactical acting. The goals of the research project are divided into knowledge-exploration, knowledge-translation and knowledge-spread. Five pilot-projects – divided over five departments – were selected. 2.2 Partners This research project is done in cooperation with the Open University of The Netherlands, and four Belgian partners. SFC – Heusden, a secondary education school, Management Information, an Association of Human Resource Managers, Smartbit bvba, a company and Syntra, an organisation that offers evening- and week-end formations for adults. 2.3


2.3.0 Defining the reference frame of the students Students of open university colleges have different ages, knowledge’s, experiences and attitudes. The collection of all these is called the reference frame of the student. This reference frame influences the learning processes. Therefore it is necessary to analyze this frame and the expectations of the students. Implicit knowledge has to be explicit. To help the students to define this knowledge, attitudes and competences the website is used. For each formation the required knowledge and competences are formulated. Learners can check this and simply by clicking answer if the required items are not present are a little or complete achieved. 2.3.1 Learning and Teaching The goal of teaching is that it strengthened learning. Learning is what happens every day everywhere. Learning happens also through experiencing. This kind of learning is not designed from a didactical strategy. Higher education focuses on another kind of learning that indeed demands a didactical strategy. One of the most fundamental critics on formal learning is that it focuses too much on abstract knowledge without the learning context. 2.3.2 Distribution of learning content Learning contents can have different forms. They also have different characteristics, what makes it difficult to discuss about the ‘learning object’. In a traditional view on education, teachers see it as a main responsibility to create, spread and re-use learning materials. In a 2(4)

Conference ICBL2008

November 03 - 05, 2008 Florianopolis, Brazil

changing educational world, it is the question if this task (learning materials) is still the main task or core business for teachers and lecturers. Organising learning processes is more than offering content and seems to become more and more a task for teachers. 2.3.3 e-learning supporting didactical models How can e-learning support learners? In the past a lot of schools and teachers have had access to a Virtual Learning Environment, but how to use it didactically was often led to the teachers inspiration. The “Goettingen Catalogue of Instructional Models” tries to help teachers to integrate ICT in their daily teaching practice. The model starts from the didactical work of the teacher. The fundamental approach of the “instructional models” serves as documentation tool as well as instructional planning instrument. With the help of this approach educationalists like instructional designers, authors, teachers, trainers are enabled to describe their educational offers in a transferrable way and to plan their courses and learning modules according to a good didactic practice. The didactic models are especially usable for the planning of Blended Learning arrangements which are didactic settings using a blend (mix) of different methodologies and learning environments such as classrooms, web-based learning environments, as well as practical learning on the job or in learning projects.

Figuur 1 20 instructional models

The 20 models can be described by their fundamental didactic principals, the sequential phases, the elements of the learning environment and their suitability for particular contents and target groups. This documentation and presentation system was called the "Göttinger Katalog Didaktischer Modelle" (Goettingen Catalogue of Instructional Models). 2.4 Test cases For the moment 5 test cases in different departments, such as health-care, teacher training, but also industrial engineering are set up. Main goal is to help teachers/lecturers to blend their courses and set in this way their classroom doors open to a wider range of possible learners.

3 New formations for lecturers To help lecturers and teachers to support blended learning a special postgraduate e-learning and digital didactics is created. In this 2-year formation 4 modules are offered: from pedagogical insights in the new education for all-programs till a concrete project, carried out in own authentic settings. Teachers and lecturers get support in blended teaching and supporting blended learning. At this moment we see an interest in this formation over all educational levels in Belgium. Primary education teachers, secondary education teachers and lecturers at universities are candidate for this formation. 3(4)

Conference ICBL2008

November 03 - 05, 2008 Florianopolis, Brazil

4 Conclusions The student is changing. Students are combining work and study. Also adults find their way to the university. Lifelong learning becomes reality. However teachers and lecturers need some help to handle this diversity. Students are not always able to come to classes. Virtual learning environments and blended learning can support this. How to transform the course into a blended learning one is difficult for lecturers. The Goettingen catalogue of instructional models can help in this process. Twenty didactic models and didactic principles are analyzed and by each of them advices for e-learning and blended learning integration are given. With this catalogue the research project will try to help lecturers transforming their courses and realizing blended learning in a new, more open university college.

References [1] Anderson Terry, The Theory and Practice of Online Learning – Second Edition, 2008, Edmonoton (CA) [2] Baumgartner P., Social Software - New Trends in Teacher Education , 2006, [3] BE-ODL, Van leerinhoud naar e-leerinhoud, [4] Blinc productions, Goettingen catalogue of instruction models, [5] Harper D., Education for a Digital World: Advice, Guidelilnes and Effective Practice from Around the Globe, BCampus and Commonwealth of Learning, 2008, Vancouver (CA) [6] Simons J., digitale didactiek: hoe kunnen academici leren ICT te gebruiken in hun onderwijs , 2002, Utrecht (NL),

Author(s): Valère Awouters, Master of Science in E-Learning, Multimedia & Consultancy Limburg Catholic University College, Teacher Training Department, [ED+ict] Research Unit Agoralaan, Gebouw B, Bus 4 3590 Diepenbeek Belgium Ruben Jans, Bachelor Teacher Secondary Education, student Master of Science in ELearning, Multimedia & Consultancy Limburg Catholic University College, Teacher Training Department, [ED+ict] Research Unit Agoralaan, Gebouw B, Bus 4 3590 Diepenbeek Belgium Sebastiaan Jans, Bachelor Teacher Secondary Education, student Master of Science in ELearning, Multimedia & Consultancy Limburg Catholic University College, Teacher Training Department, [ED+ict] Research Unit Agoralaan, Gebouw B, Bus 4 3590 Diepenbeek Belgium


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