The E-Twinning Programme: Collaborating on the Internet with Partner Schools in other European Countries
July 21, 2008 | Leave a comment
eTwinning is part of the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme. The programme enables individuals at all stages of their lives to pursue stimulating learning opportunities across Europe through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The eTwinning programme is designed exclusively for schools in primary and secondary education.
Teachers interested in the programme are asked to give details about their project idea and the type of school(s) within the EU countries with which they would like to put in contact. Teachers can then share and exchange ideas on an online collaborative workspace. Grants can be obtained from the EU or from the local government authorities concerned to subsidize the purchasing or upgrading of IT equipment, if required.
There are communicating classroom solutions available that enable schools at a distance to communicate with each other and to participate in interactive learning sessions. Audio and videoconferencing tools boost the value of these exchanges, which can be further enhanced by real-time collaborative work and the sharing of documents.
School partnerships in Europe: http://www.etwinning.fr/
European Commission / Education & Trainig: http://ec.europa.eu/
July 21, 2008 | 1 comment
The term serious gaming combines two apparently incompatible notions: that of introducing an entertaining aspect into a project with a serious purpose. Although it started by making use of video game codes, serious gaming has substantially extended its reach and is now being applied to viral advertising campaigns as well as to e-learning programmes for the business world.
Serious gaming places learners right at the heart of the teaching strategy. The learners are actors in the learning process and their role is to carry out a mission by overcoming the different obstacles in their path. By entering and adapting to a specific virtual world, learners find themselves having to deal with situations they may encounter in their professional lives. There is software available that enables users to create serious gaming e-learning programmes; these can be used for local distribution or for distribution via an LMS platform.
This e-learning format offers the advantage of presenting the learning experience in an enjoyable way and its innovative aspect appeals to audiences already familiar with e-learning environments.
- Serious gaming in the U.S. Army: http://www.americasarmy.com
- Serious gaming blog: http://seriousgamesblog.blogspot.com/
June 17, 2008 | Leave a comment
Communicating classrooms designate the software and equipment that allow students in a classroom to access the world by means of multimedia tools. They are the spin-off of a procedure used by teaching teams looking to share ideas on educational projects that they have in common.
The Internet allows people to communicate with each other freely and frequently without having to travel to meet them in person. It enables students to learn a foreign language and about its culture through exchanges with native speakers, and schools to create partnerships for cross-disciplinary studies.
Communicating classrooms make use of videoconferencing, with webcams and easy-to-use “table” cameras that can film part of the whole of a classroom. The synchronous mode fosters language exchanges and brings together students who live in very different geographical areas.
The Comenius* Programme
The Comenius programme seeks to develop understanding of and between various European cultures through exchanges and co-operation between schools in different countries. Comenius has the objective of promoting the participation of at least 3 million pupils in joint educational activities by 2013.
*Johann Amos Comenius: a 16th century theologian, philosopher and teacher who believed in bringing education to all. He is considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern education.
June 12, 2008 | 1 comment
New software solutions enable users to rapidly create digital content. The emergence of this new software has led to the industrial production of e-learning tools.
The industrialization includes two types of activities:
- The industrialization of tools
- The professionalization and implementation of processes
The industrialization of tools mainly concerns teaching organizations and large companies that have significant human and educational resources. The fact that content can be easily created and distributed has had a direct effect of the volume of production and the harmonization of formats.
This software revolution has enabled the tools to evolve into multimedia e-learning solutions.
The convergence towards a single production tool presents two advantages. It allows people to :
- Move beyond the issues of reversibility inherent to developments in the software used
- Offer a single and global tool to all participants, as each one has different skills in relation to the resources available.
June 12, 2008 | Leave a comment
Special types of training tools are necessary for teaching learners with motor or sensory deficiencies in either normal or specialized classroom environments. Many solutions are now available, both in terms of software and equipment that allow the vast majority of people easy access to computer technology.
Numerous software solutions have been developed allowing those with physical disabilities to access computer technology. The visually-challenged, for example, can write and manage Windows software by voice-activated command, thanks to voice recognition software and headsets equipped with microphones.
Multimedia areas are also being designed to optimize and enhance the use of computer technology for students with disabilities. Teams of designers and ergotherapists have developed special furniture offering greater flexibility. Work platforms can be adjusted via electronic command systems for use while lying down, sitting or standing. Central processing units are directly integrated into the furniture and the table leg is placed in the middle to allow more freedom of movement. With a flat-screen on a swivel arm, the desk can be fully customized.
Thanks to all these new developments, individual workstations or entire classrooms can be especially equipped for a relatively low price.http://www.yanous.com/English.html
April 21, 2008 | Leave a comment
The success of e-learning programs lies largely in the quality of the learning tools, but a personal support system is key to optimizing the project. There is no sense in having an e-learning program without tutoring except in the case of very short courses of study.
- E-learning managed by tutors from within the company. The tutors have the opportunity to monitor the training course, and can even automate the process by using special software tools.
- E-learning delegated to an outside company (outsourced to a training organization or content provider); this is often the case for office automation and foreign language training.
E-learning and tutoring
The tutors’ role is changing in e-learning practice. They now estimate the levels of autonomy and the possible effects of resistance to change, monitor participants throughout the training program, lead groups in virtual classes and discussions, and supervise students individually. Contrary to “traditional” teachers, tutors do not have to be experts in the field: above all, they must be able to make students comfortable using the tools, communicate effectively and, of course, have good teaching skills.
Some of the e-tutoring applications planned in the field of education:
- Putting students in touch with local language teachers who could intervene remotely in language training programs from their country of origin;
- Development of exchanges between classes in different European countries (e-twinning programs);
- Tutoring for students in rural or mountain areas, outside regular school hours;
- Tutoring for students who are hospitalized.
Tutoring assistance tools
There are several types of tutoring assistance tools for e-learning programs:
- Although the presential method remains the most effective one at the start of a training program and for true beginners (presentation of the features and the actual handling of the tool), this method can now be replaced by virtual classrooms, in particular in the case of multi-site training programs.
- Communication is an important aspect of e-tutoring: it can be carried out in a synchronous mode, with tools such as chat rooms and virtual classrooms, or in an asynchronous mode, through open forums or e-mails for individual requests… The emulation effect and group solidarity is created via collaborative tools: resource libraries, portals with personal user access.
Effective e-learning management
Whether teachers come from inside or outside the company, their feedback to the Human Resources or Education & Training department is key in confirming the entry/exit levels and in monitoring participants’ progress. A mid-course test enables the tutors to adjust the program if necessary.
Tutors must be able to interact effectively with the different participants, and even with several groups of participants of different levels. The scheduling of the work and evaluations is a critical factor: tutored content solutions enable certain tasks to be automated, including schedule management and the generation of alerts to tutors according to pre-defined rules.
These solutions are either linked to the e-learning content, or provided independently from the online learning solution.
Traditional tutoring methods still exist but it’s e-tutoring solutions that are generating all the buzz!
For more information:
School Partnerships in Europe
February 11, 2008 | Leave a comment
One-quarter of all employees in French companies with 20 or more employees are called upon to use a foreign language at one time or another in their professional activities. The most revealing fact in the latest DARES survey was the high percentage of the subjects who were ill at ease reading a document in a foreign language. The figure represented approximately 500,000 people in companies with over 20 employees, or 22 % of all of those interviewed.
France lags behind in language learning
The rigorous laws regarding the respect for a country’s language of origin are perfectly compatible with multilingualism. Take Quebec, for example, where 62.5 % of the French-speaking active population use English in the context of their work, and only 12 % feel uncomfortable with it.
France has a lot of catching up to do; especially as relatively few companies offer language learning programs. According to DARES, 62 % of the people who said they were uncomfortable understanding a foreign language had taken courses during their professional careers, but only one-tenth of them had done so in language learning.
The debate over foreign language training in companies has become all the more relevant as more and more members of the workforce require these skills. Nowadays, supervisors and technicians need to be competent in foreign languages. In the near future, factory employees and workers will be joining their ranks.
A range of training options
The software market for language learning methods, in particular English, is growing slowly but surely. It now represents 5 % of the total training methods market, estimated at 300 million Euros. There are currently 2,000 business-related language schools in France. They all offer several learning modes, most of them combining traditional presential methods and the use of multimedia or e-learning tools. To attract and retain these targets, the software industry will have to find new solutions for 2008.
Online voice exchanges between learners are likely to grow, thanks to lower Internet telephony rates.
Visioconferencing, which up to now has been expensive and relatively inaccessible (special equipment, dedicated lines) will spread with the development of ADSL connections. It is now being used in conjunction with local networks and general public educational software. These usages lead up to the concept of communicating classrooms, which could become a major feature in “blended learning”.
February 11, 2008 | Leave a comment
E-learning is taking on a role in the world’s leading universities and international schools that goes beyond simple online access to courses. Far from being detrimental to the reputation of these establishments, the virtual classrooms that have been put into place have cut participation costs, enlarged audiences and enhanced their brand image.
Students nowadays are a particularly mobile population with very different needs. Distance learning permits the setting up of customized study programs. Students can benefit from all the school’s teaching tools, thanks to easy 24/7 Internet access, while away on internships or studying abroad.
The virtual campus includes special programs for basic training or continuing education covering the entire curriculum. The administration platform enables teachers to monitor individual student results, the time spent, and adapt the programs accordingly.
Following the example in leading schools, e-learning content is now being offered in the so-called “closed” subjects (office automation, mathematics, finance…) as well as in open ones (management, HR, research, languages…).
The system is also being extended to distance learning offers shared by several large European universities. The e-LERU virtual campus brings together eight universities that are members of LERU (League of European Research Universities) and includes first-rate distance learning modules that are taken into account in the degrees offered by the partner schools. The aim is to enhance the value of each of the partner university programs, and to highlight their strengths, specificities and complementary aspects.