Sloop2desc - Sharing Learning Objects in an Open Perspective to Develop European Skills and Competences

COMPETENCE-BASED LEARNING IN EUROPE & THE SLOOP2DESC MODEL
Pierfranco Ravotto
AICA, Milan, Italy p.ravotto@aicanet.it

ABSTRACT
This paper deals with the issue of competence-based learning starting from the definitions provided in the European Qualifications and e-CF Frameworks and suggests that it is necessary both to consider the three elements of knowledge, skills and attitudes separately, and act on them as a whole by placing students in concrete situations in which to produce results. Then the experience of the courses Sloop2desc shows how it can be done in a virtual classroom eLearning course. KEYWORDS: Competences, Attitudes, Abilities, EQF, e-CF. Knowledge, Skills,

L’ABSTRACT
L'articolo affronta il tema della didattica delle competenze a partire dalle definizioni fornite nei documenti europei EQF ed e-CF e suggerisce che occorra sia prendere in considerazione separatamente i tre elementi conoscenze, abilità e attitudini, sia agire su di essi complessivamente ponendo gli studenti in situazioni concrete in cui produrre risultati. Successivamente, a partire dall’esperienza dei corsi Sloop2desc, indica come sia possibile farlo in un contesto di corso eLearning in classe virtuale. KEYWORDS: Competenze, Conoscenze, Attitudini, Capacità, EQF, e-CF. Abilità,

1. INTRODUCTION
"2desc", added to the name of the previous project SLOOP, indicates the scope of the transfer of innovation: the SLOOP model of online education and open educational resources has been transferred to the field of competence-based learning and, in particular, informatics competences. "2desc" stands for "to develop the European skills and competences". For some time the European Commission, training experts and national and local authorities have been insisting, with regard to education, on two themes: competence-based education and the use of ICT to support education and training. These are two issues generally addressed in a distinct way. Sloop2desc has had the merit of joining them: is it possible to provide competence-based teaching through the use of ICT? The courses offered to teachers, are a concrete example of online competence-based learning: a model that has provided an affirmative answer to that question and that can be transferred from the informatics context and from teachers' training to students' training. This article presents the Sloop2desc model of competence-based learning, as it has emerged during the project and the training activities involving more then 600 hundred teachers as students in three European countries. The article is divided into two parts: competence-based learning and the Sloop2desc experience of online competence-based activities, followed by an appendix …

2. COMPETENCE-BASED LEARNING
In 2006 the European Commission for Education and Training set up a list of eight recommended key competences which should be incorporated in all new school curricula. Digital competence and learning to learn are listed among those eight key competences. Even more at the professional level, there is attention to the issue of competence and therefore the request to schools and universities to get engaged in competencebased learning. Competence-based learning brought into education at all levels two major changes: a shift from content of teaching and training paths to the "learning outcomes" which are likely to be achieved and which can be used either in the further education, path or in the world of work and in any other social context; enables transferability of competences from one subject area to another . But what do we mean by competences? The European Qualification Framework, EQF, and the European e-Competences Framework, e-CF, about which we will talk later, substantially provide the same definition of competence. From EQF we read: “Competence means the proven ability to use knowledge, skills and personal, social and/or methodological abilities, in work or study situations and in professional and personal development” [1].

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Giovanni FULANTELLI, Lucian OPREA

Competence-based learning in Europe & the Sloop2desc model

e-CF defines competence as follows: “Competence is a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge, skills and attitudes to achieving observable results” [2] [3]. From this definition three major dimensions or bulding blocks of competences emerged: Knowledge, Skills, Personal, social and/or methodological abilities or attitudes. But a competence is not a simple sum of them: it is the proven ability to use them in a context achieving results! What recommendiation can be given to teachers at all levels and authorities responsible for preparing new educational programs? Essentially the following two main concepts: all three dimensions - knowledge, skills and attitudes (or "personal, social and/or methodological abilities") - must be taken into account when preparing educational programs or individual teaching lessons; it’s not enough to ensure the acquisition of knowledge and skills, or the possession of attitudes; it’s necessary to promote their application in situations to get observable results. Let us first consider the three issues separately.

2.2 Skills
EQF defines Skills as “the ability to apply knowledge and use know-how to complete tasks and solve problems”. E-CF defines them as “the ability to carry out managerial or technical tasks”. The “school for everyone” was born to make people acquire skills: the famous mastery of literacy and numeracy. In language and mathematical teaching, as well as in design and technical subjects, the skills, knowhow, has always been the centre of teaching activities. But it is not always so: often the "know how" is considered a "result”, almost automatic, of knowledge or something to be put off to the work environment. Knowledge and skills are indeed intertwined, but if skills can generally originate from knowledge, it is also true that “doing” can stimulate the acquisition of knowledge. In addition to this, the acquisition of skills is more likely to be self-checked by the student with a positive effect on her/his involvement in the achievement of learning goals and on her/his motivation to learn. Even for the skills, like knowledge, should be emphasized the importance of a careful verification of their acquisition by students.

2.3 Attitudes
I use the term attitudes, proposed in e-CF because it is more concise, but I consider it, at least in first approximation, as the equivalent capacity of personal, social and/or methodology abilities to which EQF does not add specifications. e-CF defines Attitude as a “cognitive and relational capacity (e.g. analysis capacity, synthesis capacity, flexibility, pragmatism,...)”. It specifies: “It is close to the concepts of ‘manner’ and “demeanour”, it is the French ‘savoir être’”. e-CF also contains the following concepts: “If skills and knowledge are the components, attitudes are the glue, which keeps them together”. The discourse on attitudes is certainly more complex than that of knowledge and skills as this item implies abilities of very different types. Leaving for another occasion the objective to classify them, we limit ourselves here to a list including personal capabilities, methodological and social abilities (according to EQF) and/or cognitive and social capacities (according to eCF): storage capacity, interpretation, extrapolation, link analysis, synthesis and evaluation; autonomy, responsibility, target orientation/results, ability to organize, ability to concentrate and focus; awareness, flexibility, ability to orient themselves; ability to pose and solve problems; ability to listen and communicate; ability to work in groups, to accept different points of view, to support his own point of view, to coordinate and agree to co-ordination; ...

2.1 Knowledge
EQF defines Knowledge as “the outcome of the assimilation of information through learning. Knowledge is constituted by a set of facts, principles, theories and practices related to a field of work or study”. E-CF defines it as “the set of know-what (e.g. programming languages, design tools...) and can be described by operational descriptions”. Very often schools and individual teachers only transmit knowledge, the programs are often a list of content that the teacher should explain and that the student must study. The necessary criticism of such a model, however, has resulted, at times, an underestimation of the importance of acquiring knowledge. As Calvani writes “Today the school has significantly reduced its attention to the cognitive dimension in favour of "other". It has given space to other dimensions, in itself also important (the socioaffective, or awareness of the great problems of the world, etc.); the risk is to assume that these other dimensions are in themselves sufficient to form the competences that future citizens will need" [4]. Knowledge is one of the bases of competences and therefore must be acquired. If it is desirable that the school activity is not limited to a simple transmission of content, and if it is not at all certain that transmission is the most appropriate methodology for the acquisition of content, should however be noted that it is necessary to check carefully that students have acquired the collection of facts, terminology, principles, theories, procedures, ... that support the competences to be achieved.

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Sloop2desc - Sharing Learning Objects in an Open Perspective to Develop European Skills and Competences Surely these are the skills to which teachers are greatly concerned and which affect, in important ways, educational attainment. Often the assessment made by teachers brings together knowledge and specific skills and cognitive abilities (and often social abilities) but without offering the student a clear description of its deficiencies and of related improvement targets. Above all the risk is to consider attitudes a personal characteristic, something determined by genes and/or social conditions, something on which the primary school may take action, while university and perhaps even the secondary school can’t intervene any longer being them already acquired (or not acquired) at that time. So the "glue", that holds together knowledge and skills and which is an essential component of competence, is often left out of the training, or, anyway, there is not a conscious, explicit and "organized" intervention. participants acquire competences both in the use of eLearning and Web 2.0 tools, and as far as competencebased learning is concerned. To achieve this it worked both on the ground of the acquisition of individual knowledge and skills, and on the development of attitudes, placing the participants in a concrete context in which to produce usable results (teaching materials to use with students). First it is worth clarifying that the online learning model we adopted is the virtual classroom in the Moodle environment: the participants are organized into classes (30-40 people with two tutors), each of them in their own "course", activities are scheduled so that the students carry out the activities at the same time, a strong interaction is required between the students and between students and tutors (in forums and using e- mails, chats, videoconferences), sometimes as debates and exchanges of ideas, some other times as cooperation in carrying out activities (also using tools such as wikis, googledoc, mindmap, ... ). The course expected the acquisition of a set of knowledge, for example, concerning the CreativeCommons licenses, the European documents on key competences, EQF, e-CF, the EUCIP syllabus, ... To provide such knowledge either links to existing presentations and to the original documents have been included or slides with audio, or videos or SCORM objects have been developed. To consolidate this knowledge, activities like "reading, listening, …" have been accompanied by a request to discuss it in forums starting from inputs provided by the tutors. For example: "What CreativeCommons license do you think is more suitable for teaching materials?" (and here a broad discussion of whether to introduce the constraint of “not commercial” has developed). There are many skills that the Sloop2desc course was intended to capture: open a Moodle course, include resources, monitor activities of students, produce a learning resource with eXeLearning, create a slideshow with audio and make it available on SlideShare, communicate via Skype, collaborate on a wiki, use GoogleDoc, put a resource to be shared in freeLOms, … To promote the acquisition of these skills the course proposes existing, or ad hoc developed, tutorials, often in the form of videos on YouTube (or Vimeo) or SlideShare presentations, work proposals, sometimes individual, sometimes in groups. So, for example, as for the use of Moodle a "trial course" has been created where participants could practice including resources and activities. All the modules include a discussion forum and, therefore, the discussions among peers and between peers and tutors is one of the main features of the course. In Modules 2 and 3 collaborative activities are planned. Collaborative activity in Module 2 is essentially functional to learn how to use tools like Skype, 3

2.4 Competences
If competences are not a simple summation of knowledge and skills but their use, enriched by the glue of attitudes, in practical situations, the school must put students in situations already during their training paths guiding them to operate and interact to produce observable results. Even if not generalised, experiences of this type already exist. They are substantially of two types: workbased experiences and project-work activities. Workbased learning, by definition offers a work context with its own dynamics and its products. Work-project activities focus on the results to be achieved, individually or in-group, and generally go beyond the mere disciplinary context. What suggestions can be given to promote a competence-based teaching? In my opinion the following ones may help: clearly define the competences to be achieved as a basis of the educational contract with students, precisely define the knowledge and skills on which those competences are based and provide "objective" evaluation tests, make the necessary attitudes explicit and help students self-evaluate and improve in respect to them, propose collaborative project activities suitable to make students consolidate and reinforce knowledge and skills, and in which they could measure and develop their attitudes (personal, social, methodological abilities), organize experiences to be carried out outside school/university where, again, they could measure and enhance knowledge, skills and attitudes.

3. ONLINE COMPETENCE-BASED LEARNING IN THE SLOOP2DESC EXPERIENCE
The course, which will be described in the next chapter 5, “The Sloop2desc course”,, intended to help

Giovanni FULANTELLI, Lucian OPREA

Competence-based learning in Europe & the Sloop2desc model they were acquiring and using their attitude to online collaboration as glue.

GoogleDoc and the wiki. In Module 5 collaborative work aims at the production of resources to be used with students. Discussions and collaborative activities help develop a set of attitudes related to exchanges of ideas, acceptance of different points of view, assumption of responsibility and, where appropriate, leadership. Finally all these debates and collaborative activities allow participants developing a set of attitudes, the ones related to the assumption of responsibility and, where appropriate, leadership. The context where to exercise these attitudes, namely the net, was in many respects new for teachers who were used to work in a face-to-face environment. And I think that this news has allowed each to get selfassessment of his/her strengths and weaknesses and personal growth. This is an important element to learn to play the role of online tutors, either in the training of teachers (the tutors of the cascade courses have been selected among the participants of the pilot courses) or with their students. So the course Sloop2desc has dealt with all three elements: knowledge, skills and attitudes/capacities. But it has not acted independently on these different aspects, but setting a context in which to operate: the one of producing, in a collaborative way, open educational resources to use with their students. So the trainees have been provided with a context where they had to work together to produce observable results, applying and developing the knowledge and skills

4. CONCLUSIONS
The term e-learning, unfortunately, does not distinguish between two very different models: one based primarily on self-learning, the other - that which we have used in the project - based on interactions and collaboration in a virtual classroom. In the first model the teaching resources transmit knowledge and in the presence of simulations, may also facilitate the acquisition of skills; and if there is a tutor, its function is to resolve any technical problems or, at most, to support motivation for learning. The second model - the virtual classroom - is instead focused on the interactions between people, as well as it happens in a face-to-face dimension. It also enables development of attitudes, in particular the relational ones, and above all, enables carrying out collaborative activities within a concrete situation.

REFERENCES
[1] European Commission – Education & Culture, EQF, European Qualification Framework [2] CEN, E-CF, European e-Competence Framework version 2.0, [3] CEN, E-CF, European e-Competence Framework version 2.0, Users Guidelines [4] Calvani A., Teorie dell’istruzione e carico cognitivo. Modelli per una scuola efficace, Erickson.

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