The Fifth International Conference on ICT4D ,Education and Training , E-Learning Africa 2010, took place in Lusaka, Zambia from 26th to 28th May, 2010 .
eLA is the largest gathering of eLearning and distance education professionals in Africa, enabling participants to develop multinational and cross-industry contacts and partnerships, as well as to enhance their knowledge, expertise and abilities.
As one of the relevant events at the conference ,the WVS-Representative attended the 4th African UNESCO-UNEVOC TVET Summit: “Flexible Learning: From TVET Policy to Skills Training Practice”, which was led by UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training
,Common Wealth of Learning and German Federal Institute for Vocational Training . The event took place in the Main Hall from 09:30 to 16:45 Hrs .
This year’s summit was planned to have two main elements: The adoption by TVET institutions and skills training providers of:
1. A technology-supported, blended curriculum strategy
2. An innovative, cooperative programme for vocational orientation and initial vocational training in sport stadiums (related to sports facilities management).
However , only element 1 (A technology-supported, blended curriculum strategy) was accommodated .
1. Blended Learning in TVET.
To investigate what is meant by blended learning in skills development and how it has the potential to improve the quality of learning and teaching. Blended learning teaching materials and approaches can be used to support initiatives that improve institutional flexibility and access. We advocate that a long-term strategic focus to mainstream blended learning supports a broad range of TVET policy aims.
Blended learning is not wholly dependent upon a sophisticated eLearning technology infrastructure. The workshop examined those things that can be done differently using a combination of existing or easily developed resources alongside required organisational changes; effectively linking policy with practice. This does not infer a wholesale transformation, but is an attempt to combine teaching quality improvement and, at the same time, improve access for under-represented groups e.g. the informal economy workforce.
Participants had to identify possible barriers to introducing technology-enhanced programme delivery and discussed the change management processes required to move an institution towards more blended flexible learning approaches and what local strategies could be most effective
The summit targeted any TVET policymakers, institutional managers or teachers.While the audience was anticipated to be those who are interested in the use of technology to enhance quality and introduce more flexible approaches to skills training in technical and vocational subjects.Expected Outcomes were Knowledge shared, innovative initiatives featured and discussion stimulated on flexible learning approaches to TVET in Africa.
The Summit was Co-Chaired by Ms Alison Mead Richardson ,Education Specialist –Skills Development ,Common Wealth of Learning (COL) and Mr. L. Efison Munjanganja,Officer in Charge ,UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre.
The Welcome statement was made by Mr.Saul Murimba , Director of Vocational Education and Training , Ministry of Education ,Zambia and the TVET Summit overview was presented by Ms Alison Mead Richardson ,Education Specialist –Skills Development ,Common Wealth of Learning (COL).
In his opening statement ,Mr Murimba from the UNESCO Office in Harare set the scene by talking about the importance of TVET. He emphasised that unfortunately most TVET systems are outdated and there is a lack of professionalism therein. Equipment and curricula are outdated. Teachers do not have access to and benefit from research. Yet TVET is being seen as the engine of sustainable development and has been adopted recently as one of the 8 priorities at the meeting of Ministers in Kinshasha. Hence the reason for TVET reform in many countries. Amongst the strategies of the reform is the use of ICT in TVET. The example of Malawi was quoted as an effective system making use of ICT by private sector. He appealed to member countries to promote open access to knowledge.
Keynote Address : Employing the UNEVOC Network ,e-Forum and online services to develop and improve TVET.
The Keynote Address : Employing the UNEVOC Network ,e-Forum and online services to develop and improve TVET was presented by Mr. L. Efison Munjanganja,Officer in Charge ,UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre . In his keynote address , Mr. Munjanganja, emphasised flexible learning and how it evoked technology, access,opportunities to learning, better employment opportunities. This is in line with SADCcountries objectives that want to be competitive globally and calls for rethinking of TVET on main agenda as exemplified by papers and strategies in various conferences.Many advantages of ICTs as connected to flexible learning were spelt out. For instance, it could extend capabilities and are characterised by learners taking centre stage. It helps toteach larger and diverse group. However, the challenge is how these advantages can become real in technology poor TVET countries. He also talked about the different appellation of flexible learning. However, he pinpointed blended learning characterised by learners taking centre stage, amongst others. Then he mentioned the different services offered by the UNESCO‐UNEVOC as part of the vision of the UN. Various services mentioned
Mr. Munjanganja also emphasized on the readily available e-forum and online services that can be accessed and utilized by any TVET practitioner around the world for free , simply by signing up using a simple online form . Some of the services mentioned were the :
(i) UNESCO-UNEVOC e-Forum ,which is a mailing list on TVET issues for individual TVET experts from around the world and was started in 2000. He gave examples of issues discussed as :
• Curriculum revision and redesign
• TVET reform in different countries
• Evaluation and assessment of work-based learning e.t.c
(ii) TVETipedia – An Open TVET Portal
• A new online portal for the exchange of information on TVET.
• Based on easy-to-use ‘wiki’ technology (like wikipedia )
• TVET experts worldwide can create accounts and add/edit content
• Quality is assured by UNEVOC editorial team.
He further stated that UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre assists and facilitates the acquisition of skills and knowledge to innovate TVET ,uses various modes of learning and action , and through it UNEVOC network ,E-forum , several online services enables individual learning and learning for others , and opportunities for joint knowledge creation.
Innovation and technology : from policy to practice
Presented by Mr.George Herd of Common Wealth of Learning , this was one of the fascinating segment of the Summit .
He started with an overview of the Common TVET Policy themes , and proceeded to present evidence on how effective and efficient the delivery of TVET could be once ICTs are incorporated . Evidence raged from efficiency to increased performance and job creation , to rise in grade and gain of teachers’ time reducing on the costs . Mr George Herd gave a detailed framework from high level policy to implementation.Evidence from different countries (UK, USA and Australia) was spelt out. The example of UK where more than 52,000 participants moved from Grade D to C in science as a result of ICT support was mentioned.
He further highlighted the availability of resources that would support the integration of ICT into TVET delivery . Some of the resources mentioned were (OERs) Education Resources , web 2.0 technologies ,(FOSS) Free and Open Source Software , Mobile applications , the cloud ,Social networking , development partners e.t.c
The speaker proceeded to highlight more about Flexible and Blended Learning . He mentioned and emphasized the need for learners to have a flexible choice of where and when to learn , while having collaborative classes , forums , study , mobile , online , leveraged by (LMS)Learning Management System which are led by group facilitators as blended learning .
However,he said that flexible learning and blended learning should be supported by flexible institutions . By saying so , he further stated that institutions need to find ways of adopting the use of eLearning . There after , he rose questions of how institutions are going to adopt and how policy makers are going to make sure that institutions adopt and adapt. In response , the critical issue of agile teachers and institutional strategy were raised . Agile Teachers : Teachers need to be trained through a continuous capacity building initiative for managers and teachers to adapt to this change , which can be achieved through a Continuing Professional Development initiative. In an institutional strategy , there should be a consideration of quality improvement agenda , which includes ICT access , efficiency ,equity , relevance and entrepreneurship , where we have to use ICT as a vehicle .
A Quality Improvement Agenda
In a quality improvement agenda the following issues should be noted :
• transforming ‘work ‘ in TVET
• Institutional change programme
• Flexible , service culture
• Entrepreneurial institutions
However, it should not just be about technology , but institutional development should also be emphasized . More so , two elements should be considered :
i. Learning and teaching
- Learning and teaching should be agile, flexible
- based on evidence informed practice
- learning reflecting the world of work
- Learning how to learn – the traditional classroom is not good for teaching learning how to learn.
ii. Policy makers and Development partners
• They should focus on quality improvement through ICT
• Long term sectoral view
• Their should be Collaboration networks among institutions –institutions can not do this on their own
• Their should be National Support Agencies
• Their should be change management and sharing of best practices
• Institutions should target the pioneers and early adopters and build capacity from within
• Their should be TVET Advocacy , institutions should communicate and build the image of TVET .
• The government ministries should support others to implement TVET
In conclusion the speaker said that when we are using ICT in TVET,then we are standing up.
ICT for TVET teachers professional development in Africa.
The morning session ended with the presentation of Mr Engida from UNESCO, IICBCA who talked about the importance of integrating technology and pedagogy in the training of teachers. He also presented the UNESCO toolkit that has been tested in different countries and underlined the necessity for gradual development of teachers from emerging, applying, infusion to transforming stage. The way forward mentioned was that no single agency can tackle all these areas and there is a need for a strong and sustained partnership approach.
Flexible Skills development initiative
Presented by Ms. Alison Mead Richardson ,Education Specialist –Skills Development ,COL , In the afternoon, Mrs Richardson started by introducing the Commonwealth of Learning and the “raison d’étre” of flexible skills development initiative (FSDI). She mentioned that the initiative enhances the efficiency by using ICT to improve administration, increase access and quality. She also talked about the various components of FSDI and emphasises once again on the importance of engaging development partners in FSDI. The example of COL and E Forum working together was coined. The presenter mentioned and explained different skills development initiatives that the Common Wealth of Learning is offering .These include the International Computer Driving License equivalent program .Further more , she announced the commencement of the self-directed online course in flexible and blended approaches to technical and vocational skills development –FaBTVSD-starting in June 2010.TVET policy makers and institutional managers interested in participating in this course are requested to forward their details vial email to COL.
Using ICT to improve quality and access in TVET : Group work and Reports
This was presented by Ms. Alison Mead Richardson and Mr.George Herd ,COL.
The promise of ICT in TVET is the potential for :
- Increased access
- Improved quality
- Improved efficiency
How can this potential be realized ? This was set as the basis for group discussion , thus the participants were devided in three (3) groups and were asked to discuss the following questions .
i. How is flexible learning dealt with in your national policy ?
ii. What does flexible TVET look like in your institution in 2020/
iii. What needs to happen in your institutions to realize the potential of ICT in TVET?
The outcomes of the 3 workshops were as follows:‐
• There are varied levels of TVET in various countries – for some it is there and for others it is not – ICT is used generally but not specific to TVET
• Many countries have started positioning TVET
• Many countries are integrating ICT in the education policy
• Some governments are ready to fund the implementation of TVET policy
• Others are doing consultation for national policy reforms
• ICT literate vocational trainers
• Implementation of asynchronous, home based class for learning
• Availability of user friendly materials, appropriate materials and equipment
• Improved accessibility to TVET through improved bandwidth at appropriate cost
• Digitised relevant content/material
• Empowered TVET goal orientated trainers
• Online and continuous assessment and evaluation
• Competence based assessment assisted by TVET
• Gender mainstreaming that is supported by TVET
• Avail ICT facilities and infrastructure
• More investment in TVET
• Invite all stakeholders such that TVET is made relevant to all who need it
• Devise appropriate technologies to enhance TVET eg low energy consuming technologies
• Community sensitisation
• Lobby for political will to support and implement TVET
• Establish a strategic implementation plan for TVET
• Harmonise stakeholders
• Clear development road map
• Accredited and standardised certification
• Continuous monitoring and evaluation
All members confirmed that there were national policies to support flexible learning and more specifically ICT in education sectors. The group identified both the progress made and challenges in the implementation with regard to national policies.
• Increased funding for computers at learning institutions
• Increased access
• Some training of teachers in the use of ICT
• Increased flexible delivery
• Lack of harmonisation of policies in making them relevant to all institutions
• Instrumentation for implementation is weak
• Change in the mindset of management as well as educators is slow
• Marginalisation of learners because of geographic and socioeconomic status
• Failure of policies to cascade to grassroots level
The following initiatives were identified in the group’s vision 2020:‐
• Recognition of formal, informal and incidental learning
• Harmonisation of TVET and ICT policies
• Policies to support independent and self directed learning
• Improved infrastructure (country wide access to broad band)
• Virtual classrooms
• Increased use of technology in every aspect of the teaching and learning process: research, curriculum design, delivery assessment and evaluation
• Continuous research and teacher development
• Use of a variety of media in the teaching and learning process eg tv, radio and cell phones
• Convergence of technologies
• Closing the divide
• Aligning delivery to technology
• High cost of access creating a barrier to universal access
• Inadequate government support
• Ensuring quality standards
The following recommendations were deemed necessary to realise he potential of ICT in TVET:‐
• Revise methods of delivery and content of curriculum for teacher training
• Respond to market and labour needs
• Align curriculum to national human resource strategy ad to technology
• Introduce a mixed model of training in order to open access, reduce cosy, improve quality and to establish a culture of learning to lean
• Strengthen linkages with private sector
• Introduce a shared training environment eg multipurpose facility
• Introduce the use of simulation especially in raining environments
• Collaborate with experts
• Decentralise training and make it relevant to the economic activity of the specific region
• Optimise the use of current resources
• Sensitise media houses t use some of their time for educational and development
• Develop communities of practice
• Engage in advocacy to elevate the image of TVET
• Leverage on access stories to motivate teachers and learners
• ODL Policy
• Learnership scheme
• One authority for TVET
• Service Learning
• Labour Market
• More coordinated TVET
• Uniformity in TVET
• Use of ICT
• Quality in TVET
• More inclusive
• Improve image of TVET
• Staff development in TVET Education and use of ICT
• Need TVET Authority
• Need for open Policy
• ICT infrastructure will be in place
• Capacity building such as:‐
• Training of Trainers
• Training of Manager
• Training of Policy Maker
• Developing of ICT Experts
• Curriculum/Training Materials
• Regular reviewing of the curriculum
• Relevant programmes at school level
• Partnership (public/private)
• Adequate budget allocation for TVET
In conclusion, flexible learning and blended learning needs a new mindset and cannot be implemented in isolation. Various partners need to be engaged if it is to be successful.
This creates more opportunitkies for telecentres as they can provide various ICT tools to support flexible and blended learning.
This is a food for thought for all telecentre operators to consider actualising this.
Thanks all for your attention.
Wandila Simon Kamukwape
Youth Skills for Development-Zambia
World Virtual School - Zambia , Director