Technology Enhanced Learning for Adult Educators

Tara Robinson works in the Further Education and Training Division of the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board.  In this post Tara shares the staff's experiences of taking part in their Erasmus+ Adult Education Staff Mobility Project and how it helped them in their use of various technologies when working with adult learners.

In 2016 the Further Education and Training (FET) Division of the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board started a KA104 Staff Mobility Erasmus Project called "Technology Enhanced Learning: Supporting Quality Teaching and Learning through use of New Technologies". It was the first time we took a whole-service approach to a European project, submitting a common application and opening up opportunities for staff right across all our adult education programmes in Limerick and Clare.

Technology Enhanced Learning

Our project aim

The overall aim of the project was to enhance the capacity and capability of our staff to deliver high-quality Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) by participating in structured professional development events.  These took the form of conferences and training courses.

Several factors influenced our choice of a TEL theme:

  • Findings from a national FET Staff Skills survey identified that only 29% of staff had a high level of confidence in applying TEL, with 22% reporting a low level of confidence. This was the lowest rate across 19 separate skill areas.
  • In 2016 the FET Division had established a cross-service TEL Champions Network to share knowledge and practice, and collaborate on innovative TEL projects including the development of a local FET Technology Enhanced Learning Action Plan.
  • At the time, Limerick and Clare ETB was involved in two initiatives: the development of the national TEL Strategy and the TEL Professional Development Framework, both led by SOLAS.

Types of activities our staff attended

Once our theme had emerged, we looked for a series of relevant high-quality training events relevant to our needs and objectives which we included in our successful application. In total 25 staff participated in six separate mobilities over the 16-month lifespan of our TEL project.

Participants' areas of work included:

  • Adult Education Management
  • ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teaching
  • Horticulture
  • Communications and Photography.

Training events ranged from high-profile conferences such as the Learning Cities in UK and Learning Technologies in London, to research and education-focused events such as BETT in London, EC-TEL in Lyons, EDEN in Sweden and JISC in Birmingham.

Most of these events were two- to five-day conferences which included a wide variety of workshops and training inputs. At a personal level, staff reported very high levels of satisfaction with the mobilities, both in terms of the quality of the events but also in terms of networking and sharing practice. They were also exposed to cutting edge educational tools and technologies and innovative TEL practice.

Technology Enhanced Learning

Impact

After their mobilities, all participants reported an increased confidence in applying TEL in their own practice. They also returned from events with new perspectives on TEL which not only influenced their work but were also brought in to the development of our TEL Action Plan.

We can point to a range of other really positive results at organisation level.  This was our first Erasmus+ Adult Education Mobility project (KA104) as an ETB and as such we learned hugely from it. We developed a whole set of new processes to support the project around recruitment, selection, travel, and dissemination. We intend to refine these process for use in future projects.

We also got to use the TEL project to mainstream a previous Erasmus+ Open Badges initiative. Three TE+L Badges were created to recognise participants' learning and 62 badges were awarded through Moodle on completion of tasks related to:

  • Applying for and completing a mobility
  • Engaging in a number of dissemination activities
  • Taking part in the evaluation processes.

Highlights

One of the overall project highlights for us was Show and TEL. This was a model of staff CPD devised to allow participants disseminate the findings of the Erasmus+ conferences along with other areas of good practice in TEL. Twenty-two events--short and half day workshops--were scheduled for staff and members of the public. Examples of workshop titles were: Will the Robots Take Our Jobs, Speed Testing 10 Tools for Teaching and Learning, and What is a Learning City?. Show and TEL took place during Lifelong Learning Week in Limerick and All Aboard Digital Skills Week. Workshops were attended by more than 140 people and resulted in our being awarded a Gold Medal by All Aboard for the TEL initiative.

Education and Training Boards were created just five years ago. In our case, the FET Division is constituted of the further and adult education services of three former VECs and two Training Centres. Our organisation now employs nearly 800 people. While the participant numbers in the project were small, the resources afforded to this project allowed us for the first time to give staff from right across the service the opportunity to engage in an international mobility project.

Advice to other Adult Education organisations

For any organisations thinking of doing a KA104 project, we would highly recommend jumping in. We found taking a strategic approach, asking critical questions and basing the theme of our project on organisational needs proved a solid approach. This approach gave us a clear focus and we feel it resulted in greater impact.

What's next

Since our TEL Project wrapped up we have applied for, and started, a new KA104 Mobility project themed around our FET Division’s cross-service Integrated Language, Literacy and Numeracy Framework.

Find Out More

  • If you’re interested in Mobility Projects in Adult Education, visit the Erasmus+ Adult Education section of our website.
  • To find out more about the work of the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, visit their website.
  • Check out their Technology Enhanced Learning Action Plan in this video:

Photos courtesy of Tara Robinson. We welcome your contributions to ‘Insights’ at comms@leargas.ie.