Transforming Approaches

University of Malta (Valletta Campus)

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Stephen Bezzina, Research Support Officer, Department of Artificial Intelligence, University of Malta, Attard, Malta

The Best of Both Worlds: Blended Learning Design as a Vehicle for Progressive Pedagogical Change in Irish Further Education and Training View Digital Media

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Cohen Ambrose  

Workplace training, lifelong learning, and apprenticeships lie at the heart of the Further Education and Training (FET) sector in Ireland, yet the curricula and provision modes remain traditionally and academically situated. A new professional development programme designed and facilitated by Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board’s (LCETB) technology enhanced learning team seeks to disrupt the hierarchical knowledge flows of traditional further/vocational education and training (F/VET) curricula and rigid face-to-face provision mode by supporting a transition to blended learning. In what ways can an institutional transition to blended learning support a change to more collaborative and active learning experiences in the F/VET classroom? In what ways can digital technologies and blended learning design be used to make collaborative and inquiry-based learning easier and more accessible to teachers designing learning in F/VET environments? In what ways can an inquiry through blended learning professional development programme model and promote the collective intelligence and distributed knowledge-making of teachers in the Irish FET sector? These core questions frame LCETB’s transition to blended learning provision over the course of the 2022-23 academic year. This study explains the researcher's rationale and theoretical bases informing the PD programme design. It demonstrates the initial findings of the programme via an action research methodology and a design and development ePortfolio comprised of multimodal lesson, activity, and assessment designs created and curated by participating teachers. Finally, the research proposes an open-access, adaptable, and scalable blended professional development programme for other F/VET institutions making the transition to blended provision.

Empowering Learners in Language E-classroom : Digital Pedagogies in Language Learning and Lessons in World Citizenship View Digital Media

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Nataly Tcherepashenets  

E-learning can contribute to the creation of a more equitable, respectful, and just society. In the first part of my paper, taking my cue from the insight of such diverse thinkers as Mikhail Bakhtin, Zygmunt Bauman, and Robert O’Dowd, I suggest that international language e-learning can meet one of the biggest challenges of our time: the exercise of the rules of mutual hospitality. In this educational context, the willingness to acknowledge the cultural strength and uniqueness of each participant goes in tandem with openness to the creation of the supranational community of learners. I further propose that online intercultural exchange, facilitated by instructors who see themselves as life-long learners can become a manifestation of the liberating power of collaboratively created knowledge in any setting. In the second part, I discuss the collaboration between the State University of New York, Empire State College (USA) and Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico) in the co-developing and co-teaching of Advanced Spanish/English: Language and Culture. Particular attention is given to the analysis of students’ engagement with such topics as immigration, commercialization of culture, and ethical dilemmas as productive points of departure for exploration of the challenges and rewards of life in the intercultural society. This case study allows us to demonstrate that digital pedagogies in the context of international language education can enhance personal growth and have a transformative effect on identities of students and instructors.

Readiness of Academics for Digital Education

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Philip Bonanno  

An extensive review of literature has been carried out about the readiness of educators to different aspects of digital education. Subsequently a multidimensional model was developed to describe the readiness of academics for distance education. The model was refined through various research initiatives with various categories of educators. This paper describes the research study carried out about the readiness for Distance Education of academics from Western Balkan Universities in the context of the SMARTEL Project. Readiness is defined in terms of professional qualities and professional competences. Professional qualities, considered as first-order dimensions, include epistemological beliefs, pedagogical conceptions and psychological factors. These determine the second-order dimensions which include the professional competences pedagogical practice, competence in ‘design for learning’, digital competences and awareness of environmental factors that influence the educational ecosystem. A survey was developed based on these dimensions and administered to academics from seven Western Balkan Universities. The data collected was used to identify readiness factors in terms of professional qualities and competences and in terms of the academic and technological support mechanisms underpinning distance education programmes.

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