Globe@Home: Lessons learned so far in pilot exchange with 3 European VET schools

Ihmisiä Teams-kokouksessa.

Article No. 2 - February 2023  By Antti Heikkinen

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In 2022-2023, the Erasmus+ small scale partnership project "Globe@Home" will link VET students from 3 countries – Finland, Denmark and The Netherlands – doing online activities across the borders. Here is the status after pilot exchange in November-December 2022.

 

The game plan

The original plan – developed by the teachers Antti, Marja-Leena, Charlotte and Wendy - was for all the students to participate in a course in Marketing English in a way that would allow different field students to employ their skills. Furthermore, besides the starting and finishing lessons, the plan was that the students would do their work in their free time and do all the planning and exercises in Teams together with their own schedules. 

For this purpose, a Moodle course was built with exercises and folders to save work to, as well as a Teams room for participation. 

Very quickly it was evident that there are several obstacles. Despite careful planning there were technical difficulties with sound etc. for some participants. This was already expected, however it could not all be sorted out. 

 

Obstacles faced

The main issue – and the main finding from the whole project – was that clearly students at this level of education and with the normal, ongoing exams and classes:

  1. simply do not generally have the time to arrange meetings with people from abroad on their own (and especially considering time difference), and
  2. lack organizational skills and expertise required for contacting the unknown, new people in an organized fashion, or to schedule any joint ventures with them effectively.

It is, after all, a task that requires multiple scheduling programs, screens as well as the communication skills and courage to push through and make it happen.

It is not an easy task even for the teachers to do, especially in a foreign language, and obviously far too much to ask from normal students. The only students who managed to actually do some work and meet in the project were either native speakers of English or received constant guidance and direction from their teacher. 

 

Future ideas

There are two ways that can work for future planning of similar projects:

  1. Either have the schedules made beforehand for teachers so that their lessons interlap for the entire course and all meetings, ie have all meetings scheduled within normal school schedules, (or at least most of them), or 
  2. Instead of full courses, be content with shorter communication tasks and with singular groups/classes each time, not necessarily the same class through the whole period etc. 

 

In other words: perhaps it is too much to aim for a full course to be carried out online and maybe not necessarily even have a single, named class assigned to the project, but work with whatever classes the teachers might already happen to have that coincide at the same time in their schedules. 

That would simply require for each teacher to list any classes in their weekly schedule that could take part in one, for instance, 45-minute-long meeting and work on a communicative task (planned beforehand).

After that, the classes could evaluate and discuss the experience with their respective teachers and/or move on to possible other meetings. 

This needs not be restricted to language teachers either, so going on with planning, inquiries and plans should be made whether vocational subject teachers might also be interested in having such occasional sessions with foreign students, either leading it on their own or with the assistance and co-operation of a language teacher. 

Valuable lessons are learned from this 2-month pilot exchange in 2022 and moving on with new activities in 2023.

 

Contacts regarding the Globe@Home project:

Co-funded by the European Union -logo, jossa EU-lippu vasemmalla ja oikealla teksti.

Keltaisella pohjalla teksti, jossa lukee Globe @ Home.

Mustalla pohjalla valkoiset ZEC-kirjaimet.

Horizon-logo.

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