Friday, April 19, 2019

E-Trainers free online training for vocational educators

E-Trainers is an EU supported project providing free online training for educators in the vocational education and training (VET) sector. There are three courses:  creating digital content, life and career skills, and  digitally competent and confident teacher. The courses are implemented in Moodle, with an appealing clean, no fuss design. However, the details of the course and quiz design is confusing.

Entry Test



I registered and took the entry test. My score was 12/14. But in a couple of cases I had to guess. The courses are provided in nine languages, so there are bound to be some translation difficulties. At one point the system lapsed into Italian.

Some questions were confusing, for example: "Which of these are video sites?", had two right answers, but I was only allowed to pick one. Another was a free text entry asking for an answer from some competency framework, which was not cited, so I had no idea what the answer might be. Another question said that a "flipped course" was an "online course", which I suggest is incorrect (it combines online and face-to-face).  But these are all minor quibbles.

I started with the first course:

Creating Digital Content


The course content itself is divided into very small web pages, with an image and a sentence or two, with about a dozen of these pages making up one lesson. These appear to be designed to fit on a smartphone screen without scrolling. However, this makes for very disjointed reading, especially on a larger tablet, laptop, or desktop screen. Even on a smartphone I would prefer larger chunks.

The first course, on  creating digital content, references the Co Building a Good Guidance project. This aims to improve students "active involvement" in school. It is an interesting approach to do this via online techniques.

The course suddenly takes a change of pace, going from offering single sentences to complex instructions for suggests entering a co-building international contest. I suggest not encouraging students, as their first exercise, to creating online content which will be made public and judged. 

Also, I suggest students should be introduced to content creation with text, and still images, first, and video later. Text and images are an easier introduction to preparing online content, these are the foundation for video, and are far more useful than video. However, the course frames the use of of text, and images as just a way to plan and prepare videos, not an important commutations media in themselves.

The course suggests using the Tricider free brainstorming tool. It gets a little confusing at this point, as brainstorming seems to be a broach in the course. Also, I could not work how to proceed without actually registering for a Tricider account. There is a similar branch for Padlet. This is not to say these are not good products, but I did not want to register at this time, and a student may want to use another product, or not be permitted to use these by their employer, or government. 

It is curious this EU endorsed project is promoting the use of Facebook and Google, given concerns the body has had concerning these companies. In particular the course recommends for teachers with students having special needs: "Teachers should help students to create Facebook and/or Google accounts."

I had completed 7% of the course when I gave up. I was not sure what exactly I still had to do.


Life and Career Skills


The second course is for VET  teaching. A survey of european employers is quoted as finding they want employees who have:
  1. Positive attitude
  2. Problem solving
  3. Communication
  4. Working under pressure / Resilience
  5. Learning to learn
  6. Flexibility
  7. Personal discipline
  8. Time management
  9. Teamwork
  10. Responsibility
Unfortunately there is no citation to where these results came from.  Also I have doubts about teaching behaviors, such as a "positive attitude". As an extreme example, I don't want the computer professionals I am training to say software is going to work, when their judgement is otherwise, especially for safety critical systems.

At the second step of this course I started to get a little frustrated. The second section "planning" started with a quiz question about competencies which had not yet been discussed, so how was I supposed to know the answer. Based on my knowledge of education (I have several qualification, and a couple of decades of experience) I guessed, and got it wrong.  I don't mind getting a question wrong, but I was not offered any remedial material to help me learn, but was offered another nine attempts at the same true/false question. I got the question right at the second attempt, but was none the wiser as to what this was about.

Then the details of a "PERSONAL COMPETENCE CARD" were detailed. However, the concept of what this was for, who developed or used it was not provided. I can guess that from the context, but a course should explain this explicitly.

8% into the course I gave up.