Aihearkisto: osaaminen

Vaihtokokemukset jakoon!

Yli 30 gradialaista kokoontui tiistaina 19.5. Teamsin välityksellä jakamaan ajatuksiaan ja kokemuksiaan henkilöstövaihtoihin liittyen. Tilaisuudessa oli mukana myös Aarhus TECH -oppilaitoksen koordinaattori Flemming Olesen, joka on aiemmin tänä keväänä jakanut kokemuksiaan Gradian kv-blogin koronajuttusarjassa. Tilaisuuden pääteemat olivat kansainvälinen osaaminen ja vaihtojaksolle valmentautuminen.

Suvi Hirvijärvi, Stephen Clark., Flemming Olesen ja Pirkko Lahti
keskustelemassa kansainvälisestä osaamisesta ja keinoista, joilla sitä ovat hankkineet.

Sanomattakin lienee selvää, että Kiinassa vuoden alussa puhjennut COVID-19-tartuntatautiepidemialla on ollut suuri vaikutus erityisesti kansainväliseen toimintaan ja Erasmus+ ohjelman rahoittamiin kansainvälisiin liikkuvuuksiin ja hankkeisiin. Gradian osalta pandemia siirsi yhteensä noin 50 henkilöstövaihdon ja useamman hankkeen kokousten toteutusta eteenpäin tai verkkoympäristöön.

Vaikka matkat on peruttu, kansainvälinen yhteistyö jatkuu. Samalla kansainvälisyyden perinteiset mittarit, lähtevät ja saapuvat opiskelijat ja henkilöstö, painuvat nolliin. Nyt onkin hyvä pysähtyä ja pohtia ovatko mittarit riittäviä? Mitä muuta kansanvälisyys on kuin liikkuvuutta? Miten sitä osaamista, jota perinteisesti on haettu liikkuvuuden kautta, voidaan vahvistaa ja tukea myös ilman fyysistä matkustamista maasta toiseen ja millä mittareilla vaikutusta tulisi mitata? 19.5. tilaisuuden osallistujat pohtivat myös omalta osaltaan mitä kansainvälinen osaaminen on? Perinteisen kielitadon kehittämisen lisäksi tärkeiksi nousivat vuorovaikutus- ja verkostoitumistaidot. Myös kasvun ja kehittymisen “moottorit” – rohkeus ja uteliaisuus – mainittiin useaan kertaan.

Mitä omasta mielestäsi kansainvälisellä osaamisella tarkoitetaan?

Liikkuvuus, matkustaminen toiseen maahan, pysyy jatkossakin tärkeänä osana osaamisen kehittämistä maailmassa, jossa keskinäiset riippuvuussuhteet ovat yhä selvemmin ja konkreettisemmin näkyvissä elämämme kaikilla osa-alueilla. Koulutuksen yksi tarkoitus on valmistaa elämään kulttuurisesti moninaisessa maailmanyhteisössä ja toimimaan rakentavasti ja vastuullisesti yhteisen maapallon hyväksi ja tämä kevät on osoittanut sen, että aivan kaikkia kokemuksia ei kuitenkaan voida kokonaan siirtää Teamsiin tai Zoomiin. Akuutin koronatilanteen jälkeen meidän on kuitenkin syytä jatkaa sen pohtimista mikä rooli matkustamisella on ja milloin se tuottaa juuri sitä lisäarvoa, jota tavoittelemme.

EU-komissio linjasi toukokuun lopussa, miten rahoitusohjelmien ulkomaanjaksoja voidaan toteuttaa loppuvuoden 2020 aikana, jos koronaepidemiasta johtuvat poikkeusolot jatkuvat. Linjauksen mukaan ulkomaanjaksot on mahdollista aloittaa virtuaalisesti verkkototeutuksina ja niitä voidaan jatkaa kohdemaassa sitten, kun tilanne sen sallii. Henkilöstövaihtoja voidaan toteuttaa jopa kokonaan virtuaalisesti, mikäli poikkeusolot jatkuvat. Tarkempia ohjeita virtuaalivaihtojen säännöistä ja rahoitusehdoista ei vielä ole. Seuraamme Gradiassa komission tiedotusta ja viestimme niistä heti, kun rahoitusohjelman ohjeet ja Gradian linjaukset tältä osin valmistuvat.

Huhtikuussa päättyneen henkilöstövaihtohaun valinnat ja ohjeet myös koronan alta siirtyvien vaihtojen osalta on julkaistu intrassa 29.5.2020. Kevään 2021 vaihtojen suunnittelu ja valmennus onkin syytä käynnistää pian kesälomakauden päätyttyä. Syksyn aikana pyritään useimpien kohdalla käynnistämään vaihtovalmennus mm. tutustumisella kohteeseen verkon välityksellä sekä tavoitteiden tarkemmalla määrittelyllä.

Vaihtokokemukset jakoon! -tilaisuudessa pohdittiin miten vaihtoon kannattaa valmistua ja missä asioissa osallistujat kaipaavat oman organisaation tukea. Apua kaivattiin mm. kielivalmennuksessa ja kohteeseen perehtymisessä.

Millä vaihtoon valmentautumisen osa-aluella kaipaat eniten Gradian tukea?

Tilaisuudesta kerätyn palautteen mukaan tämän tyyppiset tilaisuudet koettiin tärkeinä (yleisarvosana 4, maksimi 5). Kokemukset ja vinkit sekä rennot haastattelut olivat vastaajien mielestä parasta antia. Osa vastaajista toivoi, että jatkossa tilaisuudet päästäisiin pitämään lähikontaktissa ja että vuorovaikutteisuutta olisi enemmän. Ensimmäistä ei voida luvata. Jälkimmäinen sen sijaan kyllä jatkossa onnistuu paremmin. Seuraava vastaava tilaisuus järjestettäneen lokakuussa 2020. Seuraa siis intraa niin tiedät milloin ja mihin tulla!

Rea Tuominen, kv-suunnittelija, p. 6159

New normal in Novo mesto

When on Friday, 13th March 2020, it became clear that schools would be closed for a while and the work/study would be done remotely, no one knew how long the school doors would be locked for. We were confident we would stay at home for a maximum of 3 weeks. However, we never imagined that the quarantine would last so long,” says Headmistress Andreja Petrovic from Ekonomska šola Novo mesto.

We quickly had to find the ways for remote working. Some guidelines were provided by the Association of Higher Vocational Colleges, but they were rather general, not very useful for the specific situation. Surprisingly, no instructions were received from the Ministry of Education, at least not in time.

The participants in education are very helpful to one another. We looked for examples of good practices from colleagues from different schools and different education levels. We learned about different tools and tried them out – Jitsi, Zoom, VID Arnes, Exam.net. At our school the basic tools for remote working are Moodle, OneDrive and email.

Lecturer Sonja Kukman emphasises the role of the teachers. “It is extremely important that the lecturer provides support to students during and after the class. We have learned that remote working is extremely challenging for lecturers, as they have a lot more to prepare, review assignments and give feedback. We find the workload for lecturers to be much higher and the efficiency to be lower. “

At the same time, the staff at Novo mesto College have noticed also that distance learning is more demanding also for students who have to invest much more energy in learning than in the classical learning process, since they do not get immediate feedback.

“A big problem for our students is the equipment – some do not have a good Internet connection or have poor hardware performance,” notes Lecturer Damjana Mozic. Big software providers have allowed the college to use specialized software for free, but students were unable to download it because of less powerful computers. So, they’ve still had to find their own way.

The biggest challenge is certainly taking on-line exams, for both lecturers and students. But even that is going on well. Any video conferencing tool is suitable for oral exams – the lecturer and the student only establish a video link. Written exams are a bigger challenge. “First, we used a combination of a Moodle Quiz and a video link for written exams, later we started using the Exam.net platform. We find this platform very useful for safety reasons, and we intend to organize teacher training to use it in further exams,” says Lecturer Jerca Bozic Kranjec.

Before the exams, the lecturers must test the tools with students. Special attention is also given to students who do not have computer equipment or an efficient Internet connection. We prepare personalized exams for them.

After the first exams, the lecturers presented their experience to their colleagues in a video conference and answered their dilemmas. At the end of the first exam period the exam results and experiences will be presented to all lecturers and students.

“We are convinced that distant learning is a greater burden or challenge for students, as they have to do everything on their own and therefore the level of their activity is also much higher than in the classical education process. “ Unfortunately, psychological distress has also been present due to isolation and lack of social contacts. On several occasions students have turned to the headmistress and the lecturers because they just want to hear some encouraging words. They are afraid of the situation, they are afraid that they will not be able to successfully complete the study year.

“We all wish we could return to school by mid-May, but we doubt that will happen. It might be that this study year’s lectures will be completed by remote working and we will meet again at school at the end of summer.” Colleges in Slovenia are not autonomous and cannot decide when to return to the classrooms, the decision depends on the Government and the Ministry of Education. Another problem is that the colleges get most of the information from the media, which is unofficial, and the information changes on a daily basis.

“The problem is that we do not know when the first-year students will be able to do their placement in companies, which is an important part of the study process at higher vocational colleges.” Both, placement at employers in Slovenia and Erasmus+ placement abroad have been cancelled. The National Agency is very responsive, but unfortunately, the college cannot provide students with concrete information on the opportunities of taking placement abroad. This year, students will definitely not be able to do that, despite the fact that a lot of effort and time have already been invested in the activities. Sonja Kukman states that they hope that they will enjoy their Erasmus+ placement abroad in the coming periods, regardless of the present negative experience.

“What to say in conclusion? In this new situation, we have begun to learn and are still learning. We miss what the mission of the educational work is: personal contact, interaction, two-way communication, student feedback. We miss discussions, conversations, hanging out with co-workers.”

Now all the staff at the college want to do is to go back to their workplace and to work within the school walls with students and colleagues. But there is a silver lining in (at least almost) every situation: “We can only hope that we have all learned a great deal from this – from new forms of work to the adoption of new communication techniques and, last but not least, we had the opportunity to deepen into ourselves. This is an experience that will become handy in the future work field as we started thinking about gradual introduction of blended learning just before the corona situation broke out.”

Ekonomska šola Novo mesto, Vocational College, Slovenia

Andreja Petrovič, Headmistress

Sonja Kukman, Lecturer

Jerca Božič Kranjec, Lecturer

Damjana Možic, Lecturer

Greetings from the Netherlands

In this series of blog posts checking how our partners are doing, we have landed in the Netherlands. Marit den Ouden is a relatively new coordinator working in the International Office of Deltion College located in Zwolle. Deltion College is a member of the Dutch Alliance and through the TDA also a member of the Network of Networks like Gradia.

Marit with the view from her home office.

“We fully switched to distance learning on the 16 March when our government announced that the schools had to be closed.” Deltion had started with the introduction of distance learning on a small scale already 5 years ago so they managed to do the switch relatively quickly. Some of the experts in distance learning had anticipated the situation already before 16 March and had captured their thoughts and vision in a memo. Immediately after the government announcement the distance learning task force started their work. “Already in the first week after 16 March they provided training for our staff and all kinds of materials for our use,” says Marit from her home office. The materials were put on the Deltion College intranet and they were used by quite many people. Two weeks ago all Deltion teachers got a paper magazine delivered at their homes with all kinds of tools and information about distance learning. At the moment of this interview, the Deltion task force is already preparing for the next school year.

There were of course some challenges as well. “Some teams did their own “thing”, a bit outside the general frames which were set by the college 😉 In such a big college as ours – around 19.000 students and 1.400 staff this is hard to prevent.” This resulted in some extra ‘follow-up’ work for the task force. “Our experience is that teachers don’t easily ask questions even though we try to facilitate direct, easy contacts with our experts.”   

Marit reflects back to the beginning of remote learning; “I think that we were relatively well prepared. We already had experts and experience on distance learning at Deltion. And we already had blended coaches in the teams. There was a lot of energy and positive spirit to act and go for it together.” She also believes that this experience will lead to permanent changes. “Distance learning will get a more permanent place in our vision on education. We expect that we might keep providing distance learning to our students in the future on a structural basis, for example one day a week. And we might do more appointments and visits – like apprenticeship visits – ‘at distance’. “

At the moment of the Corona outbreak Deltion College had more than 150 students abroad for an internship. So the first task was to get all these students home safely. Also there were many international study projects (both for students and staff) planned which had to be cancelled. And the students who were in Zwolle at that moment for their internship had to go back home.

Deltion College is expecting the crisis to have an impact on the international activities both in the mid and long term. “It will give an extra boost to activities within the spectrum of ‘internationalisation at home’ and our vision to deal more consciously with travel in the perspective of climate change.” Marit says that they expect that in the mid term the number of mobilities will drop because the impact on travel possibilities, the safety issues and because the impact of Corona on certain sectors will probably last quite long. “But it is good to put things in perspective. Also internship opportunities within our country will be affected for a while. The importance of internationalisation will increase even more, but the activities to achieve internationalisation might undergo some shifts.

“On personal-level, I think I’m basically a quite flexible person, when it comes to adapting to different circumstances. It is my passion to be open towards other cultures, national contexts and perspectives and discovering the underlying reason behind differences and similarities. And stimulating others in this ‘compassion’.”

However, Marit does confess that she misses the personal contacts a lot. She has also noticed, like so many of us, that digital meetings are more energy draining than physical meetings. “So at the end of a day full of Teams meetings I usually feel a bit in a daze. It is good to see that colleagues stay in good contact and we often use our camera which feels much more personal than only hearing each other’s voice. It is heart warming to see how much we support each other, both national and international partners.” Marit is holding regular video meetings with her international partners and is expecting this method of cooperating to stay permanently.

On a final note, Marit recommends starting your work day – if possible in your country/region – with a walk for about an hour. “This will give you a lot of positive energy for the rest of the day. ”

More information about The Dutch Alliance https://www.dutchalliance.nl/

Time for reflection

Carmen Romero wears many ‘hats’. She’s a teacher, head of department and international coordinator at one of Gradia’s partners in the Basque country, CIFP Construccion Bizkaia in Bilbao. Like many others, their college switched to distance learning on 13 March.

“Overall, changing to distance learning was expected to be a big challenge for all the teachers and students, but the response and reaction has been really good, better than we expected”, Carmen says in her new home office (= dinner table). Most of CIFP Bizkaia’s students are following the classes and making the tasks and jobs that teachers ask them to deliver. Meet is used for video conferences and, in the beginning, they also used Zoom. All the teachers are willing to help students and attend to their needs even outside of their “regular” timetable. Possibly an advantage of being an small organization. Learning and teaching are progressing relatively well under the circumstances and this way of working will continue, at least, until 15 May.

“The biggest challenge has been to transfer the tasks that should have been done at the college workshops for tasks that can be done at home.” Many of the technical skills of construction trade can’t be developed at home, so teachers have come up with different challenges in which the students can combine creativity, technical knowledge, measurements and budgeting. For example, the 2nd year students of interior work have to “set up” their own company and make a proposal for refurbishing their own houses. The task includes making the drawings, searching for materials and explaining how they should be used, taking measurements, budgeting and explaining which professions are needed to perform the work as well as make a work plan for the whole project.

“Initially we worried about the access to the Internet from home, but fortunately most of our students had it.” For those who didn’t (only two of them), the college loaned each of them a computer with a key for the Internet. All the schools in the Basque Country had the order to do it, being provided Internet keys if necessary.

Essential tools for remote working:
laptop, headset, colleagues via an online tool and coffee.

“None of us were prepared for this situation.” It has been a completely new way of working for our schools which are still very much based on in-person interaction and classes. But due to the willpower of the teachers we are dealing with it beyond anything we could have imagined. According to Carmen, it’s unlikely that this experience will change the way their college operates in the future. “Basically because, as I have mentioned earlier, our specific field implies the need of being at the workshops to gain the skills and competences.”

The coronavirus situation has of course had an impact on the college’s international activities. “The first impact happened when Italy closed their borders. Seven of our students were prepared to make their internships in companies there and, after waiting for two weeks to see the progress of the (at that moment) limited epidemic, they had to unpack their luggage and stay at home.” The second wave of events happened when three CIFP students who were in Finland at the time the state of alarm started in Spain and there was a mad dash to bring them back home quickly. “I became 10 years older in only 24 hours!”, Carmen recalls.

The third impact has been that the college has had to ask for change of duration of their Erasmus+ funding so that they could use the grants at a later date, if possible. The future of mobility activities depends greatly on the medical developments: ” While the vaccine is not yet available and there are no effective medical treatments for this virus, I don’t think we are willing to risk sending the students or teachers abroad. It feels like the most appropriate approach at the moment.” Carmen remains optimistic and thinks that, as all whole scientific community all over the world is working to find a solution, it will come earlier than we can even imagine.

Under Spain’s state of emergency regulations, citizens can only go out alone to buy food, seek medical care, for emergencies or to work in essential industries.  Despite staying indoors for weeks, Carmen says she’s coping very well. “As everyone here, I miss leaving my home, going out, seeing others in person.” But, at the same time, not having to invest time in going to the work place has meant that there is time left over to do other things. “I try to be dressed as if I were going to school every day. It can sound superficial but I’m sure that to spend the whole day wearing leggings and an old t-shirt makes you, how I could say it, feel scruffy and, consequentely, can make you feel unhappy after several weeks inside the home. But anyway, I just want to go out 🙂 “ , Carmen adds. She believes that the current changes to the way of living will continue while there is a medical solution. “When it comes, we will work and behave as we have always done. Spanish people, “genetically”, need close physical contact.”

And finally Carmen would like to remind us all that “many persons are suffering terribly with this pandemic. Some of our friends have lost their mother, father or other relatives; some of our acquaintances have died. It’s a good time to reflect on how we behave with our family, friends, schoolmates or neighbours. It’s a time to rethink our priorities and to be grateful for all we have, for the life we enjoy and it’s time to “send into permanent exile” the complaints and the selfishness.”


CIFP Construccion Bizkaia is a member of EMEU network http://em-eu.eu/

Navigating uncertain times

During the past weeks, the coronavirus has cast an uncertainty over everyday life across the whole world. Unlike in most previous occasions of disruption, where the uncertainty has been more geographically limited, this time Gradia and its’ partners all over the world have been “in the same boat”, dealing with very similar issues and challenges. Therefore, maybe some of the solutions can also be the same?

GBS St. Gallen from Switzerland and Gradia have a long history of cooperation including working together in innoVET network on digitalisation of learning, teaching and processes. Daniel Kehl, Principal of GBS St. Gallen and Karin Haltner from their International Office report that their college was closed on 16 March and they have all been working from home since then. In general working and studying remotely seems to be progressing very well thanks to various digital tools, such as Teams, Skype and WhatsApp.

 The switch to distance learning was done in two phases, says Daniel Kehl. Phase 1 or the preparation phase took place over five days between 16- 20 March. Phase 2 or the actual implementation started on 23 March and is still ongoing. “The whole process went amazingly well. Both the teachers and the apprentices were very well prepared and highly motivated. A big challenge for some teachers was to have to make up for the lack of digital know-how in a very short time.” The speed of switching to distance learning and lack of “physical”, personal contact were also complicating factors. They also soon noticed that preparing online lessons is very time-consuming .

According to Principal Kehl, GBS St. Gallen was relatively ready to make the jump into the world of distance learning and teaching. “The fact that we are in the middle of the process of changing our classes to “digital classes” (bring your own device) we were actually pretty well prepared. However, we were really surprised at the speed of implementation. But everyone pulled together and helped each other to solve problems and challenges.”

There’s a strong feeling in GBS St. Gallen that this experience will permanently change the way in which the college operates. “We understand more about various e-learning tools. The way in which we teach may be more varied and therefore, the learning experiences will also more enriched.” Once they return back to the college, there is a plan to prepare a survey to find out what kind of permanent changes the staff and students want to implement.

Like everyone else, unfortunately GBS St. Gallen had to cancel or postpone all planned international mobility activities with immediate effect. “We are very much hoping that there will be no long-term impact on our international mobility.” In the meanwhile, GBS St. Gallen wants to continue the work started within innoVET network and share their experiences in distance learning with their partners abroad.

Although transitioning to remote working has gone surprisingly well, the social aspects of working life are difficult to transfer to the digital world. “I feel it’s unfortunate that due to the social distancing the interpersonal part of working life is somewhat lacking but we try to compensate this with online coffee breaks or aperitifs”, Karin Haltner says. “The Swiss Federal Council decided last week that the college may be reopened on 8 June, but let’s see what happens….”

More information about innoVET network https://innovet.cloud/about/

and Jaana Virtanen (at)gradia.fi

GBS St. Gallen https://www.gbssg.ch/