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BIE’s Essential Project Design Elements contain two new items, both of which are familiar to those who know PBL. One is “authenticity,” which has to do with how real-world the project is. The other is “reflection,” which we have previously coupled with “revision” but now stands on its own; students should reflect on what they’re learning, how they’re learning, and what they have accomplished in a project.
See it on Scoop.it, via Educación flexible y abierta
Klemenčič, M. and Ashwin, P. (2015) What’s next for Europe? Inside Higher Ed, May 26
As my holiday in Italy draws to a close, I thought it would be appropriate to do a short blog on developments in European higher education. I look to my many readers in Europe to comment and correct me as appropriate.What the article is about
This is an interesting article about future policy for European Higher Education, following the Bologna Process Ministerial Conference on May 14-15 in Yerevan, Armenia. (Sigh! Yes, you are right, Armenia is not yet part of the European Union, but it is a member of the Council of Europe, and, since 2005 has been part of the Bologna Process, which sets out pan-European strategy for higher education.)
This article gives a pretty good overview of what the Bologna Process has achieved to date, and also what it has not achieved, and also gives a good description of where European education ministers want to go in the future, in terms of pan-European policy.The achievements of the Bologna Process
The Bologna Process is:
a voluntary convergence and coordinated reform of higher education systems across the member countries of the European Union and beyond. The aims have been to promote the mobility of students and staff and to enhance the quality and international competitiveness of European higher education.
The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) now has 48 members, including non-European Union countries such as the Russian Federation, Belarus, Armenia and the Ukraine.
Its successes include:
- a common three-cycle degree structure across countries;
- student mobility: students can transfer course credits acquired at one institution to any another institution in the EHEA;
- European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance and the European Register of Quality Assurance Agencies, ensuring that all countries have compatible internal and external quality assurance procedures.
This of course raises the question: If the Europeans can enable students to transfer seamlessly between 4,000 higher education institutions across Europe and beyond (and they do, in droves), why is it so difficult to do this in Canada, and particularly within Ontario, for God’s sake?
One of the great scandals of Canadian higher education is the refusal of Ontario universities or the Ontario government to put in place any form of automatic transfer of credits. (Yeah, there are seven universities in Ontario that have a paper agreement amongst themselves, but the reality is that it is NOT an automatic process even between these seven institutions).
BC and Alberta have had a mutual transfer system in place for many years, but the only thing more difficult than moving from a university in BC (or from anywhere else in Canada) to a university in Ontario is taking a bottle of BC wine with you to Ontario (yes, that is actually illegal in Canada). Talk about provincialism.The challenges of the Bologna Process
Like anything to do with the European Union, excessive bureaucracy is a major challenge. In particular, to quote from the article:
much of the energy of the Bologna Follow-Up Group, the governing body of the process, has been channeled into detailed questions about decision structures and processes. The Bologna Process needed a new sense of purpose to bring the governments together and re-energize international cooperation within the EHEA. And this indeed happened [at the Yerevan conference].
What’s driven this new sense of purpose is youth unemployment:
The unemployment rate for people 29 and younger in the European Union is 19 percent, the highest in at least 10 years. In Spain, the figure was 53 percent in November 2014; it was 49 percent, in Greece, followed closely by Croatia and Italy. Higher education is seen as one key pillar in Europe’s vision to fight unemployment among young people, preventing them from becoming a “lost generation” and source of social upheaval. The communiqué emphasizes the need to ensure that graduates possess competencies that will make them employable.
The article lists several ways this is to be done, such as:
- a better dialogue between higher education institutions and employers,
- a good balance between theoretical and practical components in curricula, and
- continued support for international mobility for study and work placement.
The authors though acknowledge that:
higher education alone, of course, cannot solve the problem that is so clearly linked to economic growth and also labor regulations.
They might also have mentioned the failed economic policy of austerity, which is a major cause of youth unemployment in Europe.
A second objective is to make European higher education more inclusive. A particular concern is the low participation rate of immigrants from the Middle East and Africa in European higher education, and the possible radicalization of immigrant youth:
three types of mobility are accentuated in the communiqué: for students and staff from conflict areas, students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and mobility of teacher education students.
The third objective is to improve the quality of teaching and learning in universities and colleges. The authors note that it is surprising that it has taken so long for this to emerge as a priority for this first time at the Armenia conference:
..the quality of teaching and learning is far from satisfactory and varies significantly across European systems and institutions…the majority of countries do not have a strategy for the advancement of teaching and learning or specific structures to support it. At best, higher education institutions are developing their own units for supporting excellence in teaching and learning or funding teaching development programs. At worse, higher education teachers are left to their own devices to improve their teaching (or not) when alerted by the outcomes of student satisfaction surveys.
In Yerevan, the ministers have committed to support higher education institutions in pedagogical innovation, exploring the use of digital technologies for learning and teaching, and in better linking learning and teaching with research, innovation and entrepreneurship. You have to wonder though why it took almost 20 years to get these items on the agenda.What next?
The authors of the article are surprisingly optimistic that these new policies will be successfully implemented by the governments of member states. However, by 2018, the set target gate for implementation, both Greece and Britain may well have left the European Union, and I will be surprised if countries such as Italy, the Ukraine and Bulgaria will have made much progress towards these objectives, because of structural and economic difficulties.
Nevertheless, on balance, despite the stifling bureaucracy of the European Union, and the political and economic challenges faced by many European countries, the Bologna Process has enabled many European universities to improve their standards and to modernise, and is likely to continue to do so into the future.
One key theme coming through from comments at the Chronicle is what I perceive as an unhealthy cynicism that prevents many people from listening to students and faculty on the front lines (the ones taking redesigned courses) on their own merits.
Sunday’s post highlighted two segments of students describing their experiences with re-designed courses, but we also need to hear directly from faculty. Too often the public discussion of technology-enabled initiatives focus on the technology itself, often assuming that the faculty involved are bystanders or technophiles. But what about the perspectives of faculty members – you know, those who are in the classrooms working with real students – on what challenges they face and what changes are needed from an educational perspective? There is no single perspective from faculty, but we could learn a great deal through their unique, hands on experiences.
Consider the the specific case of why students might need to work at their own pace.
The first example is from a faculty member at Middlebury College describing the need for a different, more personalized approach for his geographic information system (GIS) course.
Jeff Howarth: And what I would notice is that there would be some students who would like me to go a little bit faster but had to wait and kind of daydream because they were just waiting. And then there were some students that desperately wanted me slow down. Then you get into that kind of slowest-car-on-the-freeway, how-fast-can-you-really-go type of thing. So, I would slow down, which would lose part of the group.
Then there would be some folks that probably would want me to slow down but would never ask because they don’t want to call attention to themselves as being the kind of—the slow car on the freeway.
Michael Feldstein: At this point, Jeff realized that even his small class might not be as personalized as it could be with the support of a little more technology.
Jeff Howarth: What I realized is that, if I just started packaging that instruction, the worked example, I could deliver the same content but allow students to first—if I made videos and posted it on something like YouTube, I was putting out the same content, but students could now watch it at their own pace and in the privacy of being able to go as slow as they need to without the social hang-ups of being considered different.
Students could now watch it at their own pace and … and go as slow as they need to without the social hang-ups of being considered different. So, that was really the first step of—I did all of this, and then I told another colleague in languages what I was doing. And he said, “Well, that’s called ‘flipping the classroom.’” And I thought, “OK.” I mean, but that’s not really why. I did it without knowing that I was flipping the classroom, but then that’s how it happened.
Compare this description with an example from an instructor at Essex County College teaching developmental math.
Pamela Rivera: When I was teaching the traditional method, I’ll have students coming in and they didn’t know how to multiply. They didn’t know how to add and subtract. Rarely would those students be able to stay throughout the semester, because after the third—no, even after the second week, everyone else was already in division and they’re still stuck.
And the teacher can’t stop the class and say, “OK, let’s continue with multiplication,” because you have a syllabus to stick to. You have to continue teaching, and so those students will be frustrated, and so they drop the class. The Teacher can’t stop the class…because you have a syllabus to stick to.
At the same time, you had students who—the first couple of weeks they’ll be extremely bored because they already know all of that. And so, unfortunately, what would happen is eventually you would get to a point in the content that—they don’t know that, but because they have been zoning out for weeks, they don’t get that “OK, now, I actually have to start paying attention.” And so, yes, they should have been able to do that, but they still are not very successful because they were used to not paying attention.Remarkably Similar Descriptions
Despite these two examples coming from very different cases, the actual description that faculty offer on the need for course designs that allow students to control their own pacing is remarkably similar. These isolated examples are not meant to end debate on personalized learning or on what role technology should play (rather they should encourage debate), but it is very useful to listen to faculty members describe the challenges they face on an educational level.
The post Worth Considering: Faculty perspective on student-centered pacing appeared first on e-Literate.
I know that this is the way we want to go. But I also know it's really difficult. If I need a product built, say, how do I get that large cluster of self-managing units to do it? If I need email to function on the weekends, what motivation does the SaaS provider to do that? If I need to connect my laptop to the network, why would IT security enable that? A network structure does away with command and control, but to work it has to replace that with mechanisms that motivate mutually supportive practices. And these are hard to design.[Link] [Comment]
This post is a good overview of the concept of "working out loud", something we've visited in these pages from time to time. Here's John Stepper: "Working Out Loud starts with making your work visible in such a way that it might help others. When you do that – when you work in a more open, connected way – you can build a purposeful network that makes you more effective and provides access to more opportunities."[Link] [Comment]
I don't always compare myself to the list of most cited living philosophers. But when I do, I use Google Scholar, which would put me at 36th on the list, if I were listed.[Link] [Comment]