How to promote social media uptake in VET and adult        training systems in Europe – Practical example                o...
1. The current status of social media uptake in VET and adultlearning in EuropeIn The Global Web Index (Global Web Index 2...
training structures. Many trainers are concerned that integrating web 2.0 elements is   requiring too much time to adapt t...
learning. Similarly, the business model for collaborative blended learning courses could includea payment system for train...
3. Integrating innovative collaborative online platforms and trainingmodules in VET and adult training - SVEA as best prac...
Figure 2. SVEA Platform: Dashboard       A Blog that allows the user to have a conversation on a topic with the course te...
3.1.2. How the SVEA platform addresses the learners’ needsThese functionalities have been implemented on the platform in r...
delivery scenarios is because they are based on a common approach to pedagogic principlesand application of learning theor...
4. ConclusionsThis paper has tried to provide an overview of the current uptake of social media in VET andadult learning. ...
AuthorsTony TooleProject Director, Coleg Sir Gâr, Graig Campus, Llanelli, Wales (UK)tony.toole@e-college.acPetra NewrlyPro...
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How to promote social media uptake in VET and adult training systems in Europe – practical example of the “SVEA” European project

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Authors: Petra Newrly, Tony Toole, Simona Pede.
Social media applications such as Twitter, blogs and Facebook are used more and more in our daily personal and professional lives. Also, many educational institutions are becoming increasingly aware that such social media applications can be effectively integrated into their learning and lifelong learning delivery systems.

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How to promote social media uptake in VET and adult training systems in Europe – practical example of the “SVEA” European project

  1. 1. How to promote social media uptake in VET and adult training systems in Europe – Practical example of the European project “SVEA” Tony Toole Coleg Sir Gâr (United Kingdom) Petra Newrly MFG Baden-Württemberg (Germany) Simona Pede MFG Baden-Württemberg (Germany)SummarySocial Media applications such as Twitter, Blogs and Facebook are becoming used more and morein our daily personal and professional lives. Also, many educational institutions are becomingincreasingly aware that such social media applications can be effectively integrated into theirlearning and the lifelong learning delivery systems. However, currently very few are actually usingthese applications to innovate their training systems and to offer more learner centred services.To promote the benefits and, hence, the uptake of social media within the vocational education andadult training system, further targeted measures are needed. One such measure would be toprovide trainers with the knowledge needed for them to integrate web 2.0 applications in theirtraining delivery and encourage use across the vocational education & training (VET) sector.However, before training in the use of web 2.0 applications can be developed effectively, it isnecessary to understand both the barriers to their use and the needs of the user which have to betaken into account when developing new training methods that integrate social media applications.This article outlines the barriers and challenges, as well as the opportunities offered by web 2.0tools, which are currently influencing the European training systems in the development of morecollaborative and learner-centred vocational and adult training.The paper will demonstrate how learner-centred training elements such as a collaborative onlinetraining platform can be integrated into course systems and which provide the functionality neededto offer targeted services to the learners as well as to the trainers supporting lifelong learning inEurope. The paper will also describe how tailored training modules are being developed to supportthe trainers from VET and adult training institutions to implement the use of social media tools intheir courses.This article is based on the first results emerging from the SVEA project following a regionalanalysis on the uptake of social media in VET and adult training system in Europe. This analysiswas carried out in five European regions: Baden-Württemberg (D), Vlaams-Brabant (BE),Extremadura (ES), Piemonte (I) and Wales (UK).SVEA is funded by the European Commission within the Lifelong Learning Programme Leonardo daVinci.Keywords: Online learning, Blended learning, Vocational Training, Web 2.0, Social networking,Collaborative platformeLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu • 1Nº 22 • December 2010 • ISSN 1887-1542
  2. 2. 1. The current status of social media uptake in VET and adultlearning in EuropeIn The Global Web Index (Global Web Index 2010)1 provides data on social media use inEurope and indicates that the UK and Russia are the most active with half the populationhaving a social media profile in one or more applications. In Italy, Spain, the Netherlands andGermany there is also significant activity with a third or more of the population using socialmedia. Increasingly, Europeans are uploading content online, particularly pictures and videos;Italy and Spain being the most active with around 40% of internet users involved followedclosely by the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and France.Whilst the sharing of such visual content is popular, the production of written content is muchlower. The statistics show that Europeans are more active as consumers of written informationthrough exploring subjects of personal interest, online shopping, employment opportunities andsimilar sources. The main area where written content is produced by individuals is in socialcommunications applications like Facebook and Twitter.Such Web 2.0 communications tools are also being increasingly used in education in Europe.Blogs and Wikis are the most frequently applied social networking communications applicationsin education and image and video sharing is becoming common. Other tools in use includepodcasts, document sharing and social tagging. Education institutions are establishing anonline profile through web 2.0 services with a presence on YouTube, iTunesU and otherapplications.Studies conducted by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) show that theincreasing uptake of social media in the everyday life provides new opportunities for innovationin Education and Training Institutions and represents a crucial factor which can be exploited inorder to prepare the learners of the 21st century (Redecker, C., Ala-Mutka, K., Punie, Y. 2009).In the UK, research has demonstrated the benefits of Web 2.0 tools in educationalmanagement, student learning and engagement, library function and resource provision andacademic social networking (JISC, 2010)2.2. Challenges and future prospects of integrating social media inlifelong learning structuresThe previous section showed that European society already demonstrates a good level ofdigital literacy that enables people to use social media tools regularly in their private lives.However, an examination of the use of social media in the lifelong learning field shows thatactive use remains relatively small compared to the leisure time use. The challenge is todetermine how can this be improved and how to remove the barriers to the integration of socialmedia in a sustainable way within VET and adult training institutions in Europe.2.1 Challenges of integrating social media in adult trainingThere are several challenges3 which can be identified Europe wide that still hinder theembedding and active integration of social media tools within the lifelong learning process inEurope: Overcoming barriers of acceptance The most recurrent barrier is the lack of acceptance by both trainers and learners regarding the value of integrating social media applications to improve and modernise the learning and1 The Global Web Index is a a recurring survey of more than 50,000 users of social platforms in 18 marketshttp://globalwebindex.net/data/2 http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/topics/web2.aspx3 The outlined challenges result from a regional analysis conducted within the framework of the project SVEAwww.svea-project.eu, a project funded by the European Commission within the Lifelong Learning Programme.eLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu • 2Nº 22 • December 2010 • ISSN 1887-1542
  3. 3. training structures. Many trainers are concerned that integrating web 2.0 elements is requiring too much time to adapt their training structures and training content the trainers have so long worked with. Often they do not receive any support from their institution which further hinders them in the development of new training that includes social media applications. Overcoming technological barriers Besides the lack of acceptance, many training institutions still do not have the capacity and the technical requirements to offer training in the use of web 2.0 tools. This can include the availability of broadband connections as well as compatible technical infrastructure. Additionally, especially in the public sector, it is often the case that specific social media platforms or websites are blocked due to security reasons. Often also the overabundance of the techniques is a barrier for people not used to working with computers. There exist so many different web 2.0 applications that people who are not used to working with these techniques get lost and feel overwhelmed. As consequence they do not even start trying to work with those tools or use them in their training. Innovating the management structure of VET institutions As well as strengthening the integration of social media in lifelong learning delivery, it is also important that VET and adult training institutions themselves think about how the inclusion of social media applications can benefit their management structure. It is important for management to be open to the new structures facilitated by social media tools and to consider shifting from a hierarchical management model towards a flat hierarchy and self-organised teams. This would help to ensure that social media applications actually work within the institutions. This view suggests that the organisational culture has to be transformed into a more open business and learning structure. The implementation of social media tools will further facilitate the employees to actively co-develop their organisational processes (Figure 1). The working processes within the organisations will consequently be more „owned‟ by their members. Figure 1. Web 2.0 in the personnel and organisational development of training institutions (SVEA Regional Needs Analysis, 2010)As well as innovating their management structures through the use of web 2.0 technologies,training institutions also have the opportunity to improve the flexibility of their accreditation andpayment systems. There are many training institutions which do not have a scalable creditsystem for online training and could benefit from such a system for the delivery of onlineeLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu • 3Nº 22 • December 2010 • ISSN 1887-1542
  4. 4. learning. Similarly, the business model for collaborative blended learning courses could includea payment system for trainers that accounts for new methods of working such as supportinglearners through online forums or through chat sessions.2.2 Benefits brought by the inclusion of web 2.0 in adult trainingDespite the fact that there are many big challenges which still have to be overcome beforesocial media applications become an integrated part of our lifelong learning system, themajority of users in the VET and adult training field are already persuaded about the potentialbenefits those tools offer in the improvement and innovation of the lifelong learning system inEurope (SVEA Regional Needs Analysis, 2010)The trainers, in particular, highlight the high level of collaboration that web 2.0 tools offer toremote groups/ individuals that enable them to cooperate easily online. As a result, learning isbecoming more interactive and also personalised as the learners have the opportunity toreceive direct personalised feedback from the trainer using web 2.0 tools. The learning successis consequently higher (SVEA Regional Needs Analysis, 2010)Many training institutions are also already aware of the potential of increased costeffectiveness when using web 2.0 applications. Web 2.0 tools allow institutions to delivercourses more cost-effectively online as a result of not using classrooms and other resources,as well as saving travel costs and time for the distance learners (SVEA Regional NeedsAnalysis, 2010)2.3 Future prospects in adult trainingConsidering the current situation outlined in the previous paragraphs, it is possible to outlinesome trends that are likely to mark the VET and adult training environment in the next years:  Training at work is becoming more important. Therefore the flexibility that online delivery and the use of web 2.0 tools offers is increasingly attractive to both employers and workers. Tailored courses can be created that allow the learning to be scheduled around work activities.  A mixture of face-to-face and online training is becoming important as it can offer more flexibility for all types of learner. Face-to-face training will remain an important component in most cases, though fully online delivery will be an option.  The trainer‟s role will change: It will be increasingly as a moderator offering a framework for learning to the learners, guiding them through the information to gain the relevant knowledge. The learners will have a role in the generation of their learning materials by using collaborative online tools.  Since the emergence of web 2.0 tools in the early 2000‟s there has been a general trend towards convergence and aggregation that allows users to combine the functionalities they require on the same website. Widgets or apps can be easily combined and embedded from different web sites. To be genuinely usable by trainers building online environments for their courses, the functions need to be able to be selected, dropped into the learning environment page, re-sized to suit and then just work. It is anticipated that this will be the future and that the teacher IT skills required will be no more than those needed to create a word processed document or a powerpoint presentation.eLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu • 4Nº 22 • December 2010 • ISSN 1887-1542
  5. 5. 3. Integrating innovative collaborative online platforms and trainingmodules in VET and adult training - SVEA as best practice:In the previous sections the main needs, barriers and benefits regarding the uptake of web 2.0in VET and adult training have been outlined. Several projects and efforts are trying to addressthese issues. In this section the rationale of the SVEA project will be outlined which aims topromote the use of web 2.0 tools in VET and adult learning. To achieve this, the project hasundertaken two main actions:  the development of a collaborative online platform offering a range of different web 2.0 tools to be used by learners and learning institutions  the development of short training modules/units on the use of web 2.0 in learning that will be freely downloadable online3.1 An online platform to support trainers and learnersIn order to foster the use of web 2.0 tools for organisational and personnel development in VETand adult training, the European project SVEA4 is currently developing a platform which aims tobring together, in a single environment, the benefits offered by different web 2.0 tools andsocial platforms. Built using Open Atrium, the SVEA platform has been designed to be easy-to-use and intuitive. It is based on the open software Drupal and, as such, it is extensible andcustomizable.The SVEA platform will offer different functionalities, which are designed to support the learnerin the overall management of their learning activities that can range from face-to-face to fullyonline. At the same time, through the use of a wiki and networking based system, it willencourage the exchange of knowledge and information between learners and the collaborativedevelopment of documents and learning resources.The SVEA platform will be tested with relevant stakeholders in 5 European regions and it willbe consequently adapted and modified following their suggestions before being released forgeneral use by the end of January 2011.3.1.1 Main tools and functionalities of the SVEA PlatformThe main part of the SVEA platform is represented by the group space where a user canaccess all the available functionalities. The home page of the group space is a dashboard withseveral customizable mini widgets. They can be turned on and off and arranged to suit theindividual user. The SVEA platform‟s functionalities are shown as icons in the header 5; theycomprehend:  A Wiki that allows the management and sharing of documents and attachments within a group. In a Notebook page different kinds of external resources (e.g. video, slides, audio etc..) can be easily embedded  A Case Tracker that allows the user to assign “to do” lists and create unlimited “projects” within each group. A case is a “task” that is assigned to one or more user. The case tracker also allows the user to classify the “to do” item, give it a priority, and manage its status.4 SVEA is funded by the European Commission within the Lifelong Learning Programme Leonardo da Vinci.5 A complete description of the functionalities of Open Atrium can be found here http://openatrium.com/eLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu • 5Nº 22 • December 2010 • ISSN 1887-1542
  6. 6. Figure 2. SVEA Platform: Dashboard  A Blog that allows the user to have a conversation on a topic with the course team and with other users  A Calendar that allows users to share events and meetings within a group. Public calendars can also be imported into a group calendar. This functionality permits users to easily communicate key events such as the starting and ending dates of courses, exams, deadlines for submissions and so on  A Shoutbox, a microblogging service that allows users to share short messages, links, and information within a group  A Bookmarks system that allows to collect and share external links  A Documents repository that allows saving documents in different formats and navigating through a personalized file repository and assigning access permission to other users. Users can create their own folders and share documents with specific user groupseLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu • 6Nº 22 • December 2010 • ISSN 1887-1542
  7. 7. 3.1.2. How the SVEA platform addresses the learners’ needsThese functionalities have been implemented on the platform in response to the main needsidentified within the SVEA Regional Needs Analysis (SVEA Regional Needs Analysis 2010).Among other things, the stakeholders mentioned the need for a higher level of personalizationand interaction in learning. Both needs can be effectively addressed by the use of social mediatools, which allow such interaction and increase the ability to personalize content.Also relevant, according to the stakeholders, is the ability to adjust the learning process tothe individual learner’s needs and learning style. Learning modules can be seen and readmore than once online, and small learning units are more likely to be used by adult learnerswho usually don‟t have much spare time.For these learners, not only the time issue is important but also the ability to engage in theirlearning at a distance or from different places. A platform, such the SVEA one, which containsall the learning resources and tools needed for a particular course, can be used anytime andfrom everywhere; thus offering a greater flexibility and allowing the learners to follow their ownlearning patterns.Interaction is fostered through the use of online tools which allow users to post comments,work collaboratively on a document and start a conversation about a chosen topic. Theimplementation of the microblogging system gives users the chance to contribute to an activelearning community, where people can quickly exchange information, opinions and advice,while staying in touch with other learners. Each member has a profile, as in social networkingsystems, with personal information they are happy to share with others in the network.The online interaction is also positive from a trainer‟s point of view: using the same platform,trainers have the opportunity to directly communicate with their students, providing themfeedback on courses and methods. At the same time it gives students the ability to evaluate thecourses and learning materials, and to provide feedback which can help the trainer to improvethem.The SVEA platform is thought to offer advantages also for the management of learninginstitutions. The same tools can also be used to communicate with and inform learners onorganisational matters. Additionally, through the different tools offered, the management canmonitor students‟ activities and collect data (such as page views, access time etc.) whichallows the learning process to be tracked. The platform has the advantage of allowing staff toshare information with colleagues, (thus avoiding multiple emails); share files and calendars;facilitate the collaborative writing of documents as well as the recovery of documentation; andincrease the visibility of information about people and their skills.The development of this ad hoc platform has also tried to respond to the fear expressed bysome learners and trainers of mixing their social networking life with their working/learningenvironment. Although the platform works in the same way as web 2.0 and social networkingtools, it also provides a safe environment where people can share only the information theywant to. At the same time, the platform allows the integration of external tools, thus avoiding theduplication of information elsewhere on the web.3.2 The training concept and underpinning pedagogyThe platform, of course, is not enough in itself for people who are still not familiar with web 2.0tools to understand and apply their use in VET and adult training. SVEA has decided to developa training course that supports trainers to understand how to use social media for learningpurpose and get acquainted with them.The training modules being developed for the SVEA online platform are being designed so theycan be used for both self-paced learning and as part of a teacher-supported online or blendedlearning course. They are also designed for both individual learning and for group-basedcollaborative learning. The reason why the same modules can be effective in each of theseeLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu • 7Nº 22 • December 2010 • ISSN 1887-1542
  8. 8. delivery scenarios is because they are based on a common approach to pedagogic principlesand application of learning theory.The pedagogic approach is an interpretation of social constructivism and employs discoverylearning as its central process. The key assumptions are that:  Learners are diverse: the learners addressed by the SVEA project are trainers who are themselves supporting VET and adult learners. Each trainer-learner will bring its own personal and professional experience to the learning process and will operate in different communities of practice;  Learning is an active, constructive process: the modules endorse Vygotsky‟s (Vygotsky, 1978) view that all human learning and development is achieved through situated learning activities. Didactic teaching is regarded as only effective for awareness raising, not skills development or competence;  Learning is an inherently social activity: learning happens in social contexts both formal and informal. The SVEA learners, even those using the modules for self-study, will be engaging through their learning activities with colleagues, friends and family. Their engagement with web 2.0 tools and social networking will add to the social dimension of their learning.In the future it is likely that the conventional classroom based teacher/learner relationship willbe replaced by a much more flexible system where learners have a choice of how and wherethey engage with their learning. The role of the teacher, the librarian and other support staff willchange accordingly. A modern interpretation of Vygotsky‟s „Zone of proximal development’(Vygotsky, 1962) is that the collaborative learning he referred to would now include the onlinecommunity and be correspondingly more beneficial.A number of other well regarded contributors to learning theory have also supported the viewthat learning is best facilitated as a situated and collaborative activity. Prominent amongst thesehas been Lave & Wenger (Lave & Wenger, 1991) who introduced the concept of a communityof practice where participants have a common interest, need or goal and share theirdevelopment experience for mutual benefit.The SVEA training concept is based on collaborative learning. The learning activities all lead tothe sharing of experience between learners and this is seen to contribute positively to thelearning outcomes. The learners are invited to contribute their own experience and opinionsand there is a deliberate Socratic learning approach that recognises the value that reflectivelearning brings.Discovery learning is a feature of the module design. Examples of web 2.0 applications inteaching and learning are presented as case studies and the learners are invited to share theirresponses and opinions, based on their own experience and views.The modules represent only a small sample of the web 2.0 tools available and are intended todemonstrate the potential they have to facilitate and enhance the teaching and learningprocess. In that respect, the overall training concept is that of providing a gateway for VETpractitioners to begin their own learning journey that will prepare them for a future when the useof such tools will be commonplace.eLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu • 8Nº 22 • December 2010 • ISSN 1887-1542
  9. 9. 4. ConclusionsThis paper has tried to provide an overview of the current uptake of social media in VET andadult learning. It has outlined which are the challenges that still have to be addressed in orderto promote the use of web 2.0 tools for learning purpose and has mentioned some of thebenefits that trainers and learners see in their implementation.To offer a concrete example of how the future use of social media in training could look like, thepaper has analysed the case of the European project SVEA. The aim of the SVEA project is toassist institutions adapt to the new online environment by providing training modules for staff inthe use of web 2.0 tools as well as a collaborative platform where all these tools can be usedfor learning purpose. The training modules will be made available to institutions across Europethrough the Open Atrium platform described in this paper. It is anticipated that the modulesproduced by the project will be the start of a process that will see further training modulesdeveloped as existing web 2.0 tools evolve and new ones emerge.ReferencesAla-Mutka, K., Bacigalupo, M., Kluzer, S., Pascu, C., Y. Punie and C. Redecker (2009). Learning 2.0:The Impact of Web2.0 Innovation on Education and Training in Europe. JRC Scientific and TechnicalReport, retrieved April 1, 2010, from http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC55629.pdf.Burgess, R. (2010) The Educational Theory of Socrates, retrieved September 19, 2010 fromhttp://www.newfoundations.com/GALLERY/Socrates.htmlEurostat (2009). Internet access and Internet use in the year 2009, retrieved March 12, 2010 fromhttp://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=STAT/09/176&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=enGlobal Web Index (2010). Social web Involvement, retrieved September 12, 2010 fromhttp://globalwebindex.net/data/Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning - Legitimate Peripheral Participation. CambridgeUniversity Press.Redecker, C., Ala-Mutka, K., Punie, Y. (2009). Learning 2.0: The Impact of Web 2.0 Innovationson Education and Training in Europe. JCR Scientific and Technical Report, retrieved March 18, 2010from http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC56958.pdfSVEA Regional Needs Analysis (2010) from http://www.svea-project.eu/fileadmin/_svea/downloads/SVEA_Regional_Needs_Analysis_01.pdfVygotsky, L. S. (1978) Mind & Society. Cambridge MA. Harvard University Press.Vygotsky, L. S. (1962) Thought & Language. Cambridge MA. MIT Press.eLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu • 9Nº 22 • December 2010 • ISSN 1887-1542
  10. 10. AuthorsTony TooleProject Director, Coleg Sir Gâr, Graig Campus, Llanelli, Wales (UK)tony.toole@e-college.acPetra NewrlyProject Manager, MFG Baden-Württemberg, Public Innovation Agency for ICT and Media,Stuttgart (Germany)newrly@mfg.deSimona PedeJunior Project Manager, MFG Baden-Württemberg, Public Innovation Agency for ICT andMedia, Stuttgart (Germany)pede@mfg.deCopyrights The texts published in this journal, unless otherwise indicated, are subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivativeWorks 3.0Unported licence. They may be copied, distributed and broadcast provided that the author andthe e-journal that publishes them, eLearning Papers, are cited. Commercial use and derivativeworks are not permitted.The full licence can be consulted on http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/Edition and productionName of the publication: eLearning PapersISSN: 1887-1542Publisher: elearningeuropa.infoEdited by: P.A.U. Education, S.L.Postal address: C/ Muntaner 262, 3º, 08021 Barcelona, SpainTelephone: +34 933 670 400Email: editorial@elearningeuropa.infoInternet: www.elearningpapers.eueLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu • 10Nº 22 • December 2010 • ISSN 1887-1542

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