Review, analysis and proposal of conceptual framework of the digital pedagogy in VET, with special focus on WBL

Within IO1, Framework and guidelines on digital pedagogy in VET with focus on WBL were produced as a conceptual framework for the development of the following IOs within the project. The Framework supported digital course design, maximizing the utility of the course for VET teachers, in terms of efficiency and experience enhancement. This output is expected to significantly benefit all stakeholders, particularly VET teachers and institutions, outlining the targeted digital pedagogical skills for VET teacher training, specifically WBL. The audience of the curriculum are: (a) the T4SVEN partners who undertook the design of digital course curricula and the development of digital course and the implementation of the teacher training, (b) VET teachers who engaged in training course, and (c) other organizations and stakeholders involved in VET (education, training and youth researchers, policymakers, and experts from across Europe). Two surveys (for VET teachers and learners) were conducted to identify possible examples of good practice in the field of innovation in the use of digital tools in VET and WBL. Based on the survey results, the Framework integrated teachers’ and learners’ perspectives about online learning, summarizing the advantages, challenges, needs, and recommendations expressed by both groups. The Framework defined three main areas digital course curriculum should address, alongside the digital pedagogical skills / learning outcomes of the course. These areas included Open Educational Resources (OERs) in e-learning, Digital Pedagogy – Creating and Using Educational Scenarios, and Augmented and Virtual Reality Technologies in Education.

The main stages of IO1 involved: (1) review, analysis and drafting concept framework, and (2) definition and translation of final joint framework.


Development of digital course curriculum

Based on IO1 Framework, within IO2, the Curriculum on digital pedagogy in VET was developed for teaching in blended or digital environments. The curriculum defined three course modules, each defining specific learning objectives, content structure (in units), learning outcomes per unit, and course materials that would be developed for the online course. Each module further described instruction, independent activities, and assessment. The course workload was approximated and ECVET points defined. The audience of the curriculum are: (a) the T4SVEN partners who will develop course and platform within project activities; (b) the VET providers that conduct teacher training; and (c) other training organizations involved in VET training.

The course consists of three modules and each module contains two to three units:
Module 1: Using Open Educational Resources (OERs) in e-learning
Module 2: Digital Pedagogy – Creating and Using Learning Scenarios
Module 3: Augmented and Virtual Reality Technologies in Education

Important issues concerning Open Educational Recourses (OER) and their educational exploitation for supporting teaching and learning are at the core of the educational material. The important role and practical added value is placed on learning scenarios in teaching and learning from the digital pedagogy standpoint. Synchronous and asynchronous digital environments and tools that support digital pedagogy are presented and issues concerning creation, co-creation and sharing of digital educational recourses and content using free and shared tools in learning scenarios are presented. The added value of augmented and virtual reality (VR) scenarios and applications in education is explained and platforms and tools for the creation and use of 3D-digital simulations, games and VR scenarios are presented. The proposed curriculum offers possibilities of flexible training based on the needs of VET teachers. The methodological approach is based on active, experiential, and transformational learning, including technology-driven project work, learning scenarios, VR simulations and other process-oriented learning techniques in an on-line learning environment.
The main stages of IO2 involved: (1) development of digital course curriculum; (2) definition and translation of digital course curriculum; and (3) course piloting.


Development of digital course

Based on the curriculum from IO2, the Course on digital pedagogy in VET was developed in IO3. The course was tailored to VET teachers who taught work-based learning (WBL) modules in the blended and virtual environment, specifically in sectors vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The course structure followed the three modules with corresponding units of the Curriculum on digital pedagogy from IO2. A set of learning material and assessment tools were developed for all modules and units of the course. Three videos and 10 learning scenarios were also produced as part of the training materials. All training materials were translated into German, Greek and Croatian.
The main stages of IO3 involved: (1) development of the course structure; (2) production of the course digital materials (lessons, videos, learning scenarios, assessment tools, etc.); and (3) course piloting.
A Piloting plan was prepared and agreed upon by the project consortium, outlining the activities, instructions, and resources for piloting the online course on digital pedagogy in VET and the virtual environment. Local pilot events were carried out and feedback was collected by all partners in each country of the project consortium according to the Piloting plan. Each project partner also produced one pilot report summarizing the results of piloting at the national level. 40 VET teachers piloted the course from two VET providers in Croatia, the School of Hospitality and Tourism Osijek and the Technical School Daruvar, five VET teachers from the School of Automotive Engineering of Limassol – S.o.A.E., Cyprus, ten VET teachers from Ergasia Ekpedeftiki S.A. and Metropolitan College (VET providers in Greece), and five VET teachers from Brainymotion AG and Ausbildungsverbund Teltow e.V. (AVT Bildung), in addition to one additional expert in digital education. During piloting, the participants tested the course platform and the virtual environment, took three modules of the online course on digital pedagogy, tried out learning scenarios, and completed self-assessment tools available among the course materials. After completing the course, participants took an evaluation survey reflecting on the piloting experience, which indicated that the course on digital pedagogy in VET responded to major challenges and needs expressed by pilot participants.


Platform Development

In IO4, a web-based platform was developed to host the online course on digital pedagogy in VET, which had been developed as part of IO3. The platform was designed to support the innovative approaches and digital technologies for teaching and learning, specifically WBL, and continued professional development of VET teachers and trainers. The platform hosts all the teaching materials, learning scenarios templates, and assessment tools produced within IO3, following the modules and unit-based structure of the course. The platform also features responsive design, FAQ section, user manual, and training content in all languages of the consortium: English, Greek, German and Croatian. A link to the course platform is available on the project website.
The main stages of IO4 involved: (1) defining user requirements for web platform; (2) Educational content preparation and creation; (3) Web platform design and development; (4) User acceptance testing of web platform; (5) User Manual.

Virtual World

Formulation of a game-based, virtual reality educational platform

In IO5, the 3D Virtual World virtual educational environment was created to allow course participants to learn about and try teaching activities supported by virtual and augmented reality technologies. The 3D World hosts the training material in an attractive training environment designed for teachers, with tools for designing immersive and engaging learning experiences. The 3D Virtual World features 3D learning scenarios and simulated classrooms. A user handbook was produced in English for navigating the functionalities of the virtual environment and translated to German, Greek and Croatian. The Roadmap on Virtual Reality and Virtual Worlds in VET training and the Roadmap on Training with Virtual Worlds were also prepared within IO5. Based on the produced technical specifications, the virtual educational infrastructure was designed and the training material was integrated into the virtual world. Furthermore, templates for 3D learning scenarios were prepared, as well as learning scenarios and training activities in the virtual world environment.
The main stages of IO5 involved: (1) Roadmap on Virtual Reality and Virtual Worlds in VET training; (2) Roadmap on Training with Virtual Worlds; (3) virtual world architecture and implementation; (4) server configuration and software installation; (5) avatar management webpage; (6) first version of 3D Virtual World with basic educational infrastructure; (7) templates for the 3D learning scenarios; (8) virtual classrooms; (9) integration of learning material and courses in the 3D World; (10) implementation of the training scenarios and learning activities; (11) translations for the 3D Virtual World – User handbook; (12) authoring the User handbook.

Peer Review

Evaluation framework for VET teachers in form of peer evaluation

In IO6, 40 VET teachers engaged in peer reviews of the coursework, which involved mutual evaluation of teaching scenarios for teaching and learning in digital environment. Peer review is an external evaluation carried out by peers, i.e. colleagues working in similar institutions or environments. It is an engaging and formative evaluation process, from which both the reviewed teachers and the peers benefit. Guidelines for peer reviews outlined the methodology for conducting peer reviews, introducing the peer review concept, alongside a step-by-step guide on how to carry out the process. Training curriculum and materials for peer reviews were also produced (including the PPT for the training, teaching scenario template, peer assessment form, peer review report template, and survey questionnaire for participant evaluation of the activity). The training curriculum described specific contents, learning outcomes, division of tasks, timing, requirements, key steps in preparation for peer reviews, and resources for participants. In preparation for the activity, VET teachers piloting the course created teaching scenarios for work-based learning (WBL) in the virtual environment and using digital technologies, based on the online course on digital pedagogy in VET and competences acquired through the virtual environment. The training sessions for peer review presented the peer review procedures, resources, assessment areas and criteria for the peer review, clarified requirements and key steps, and provided an opportunity for discussion among the pilot teachers. The concept of peer reviews was explained and tips for structuring formative and constructive feedback were discussed. Local peer review events were conducted at the level of each country and involved the same VET teachers and trainers who piloted the online course on digital pedagogy in VET and the virtual environment (IO3). Each peer review team conducted a peer review meeting to share feedback and suggestions for improvement of the teaching scenarios they had reviewed. During the meetings, participants received critical yet sympathetic feedback and advice on the quality of their teaching scenarios from peers, discovered best practices in applying digital technologies in teaching and learning in an atmosphere of openness, professional integrity, and candor as a prerequisite for mutual learning. The oral feedback and suggestions for improvement of teaching scenarios were based on the quality assessment areas and criteria outlined in the Guidelines for peer reviews. Specifically, teachers used peer assessment forms to structure their feedback (strengths and areas for improvement of the teaching scenarios) according to assessment areas and criteria. At the end of the activity, peer review reports were prepared for each country and feedback was collected from the participants through an evaluation survey on the effectiveness of peer reviews.
The main stages of IO6 involved: (1) Peer evaluation guidelines in English, translated to German, Greek and Croatian; (2) Peer evaluation training course curricula and materials in English, translated to German, Greek and Croatian; (3) Peer evaluation pilot in each partner country, involving peer review meetings.