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Embedding Networked Learning in Greek Higher Education Institutions: Policy and Practice
Symposium Convenors: Demosthenes Stamatis and Theodoros Kargidis
The Operational Programme for Education and Initial Vocational Training (O.P. "Education") is a framework programme designed to aid Greece in meeting the challenges arising internationally due to the development of innovative technologies.(http://www.epeaek.gr). It is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Ministry of National Education. Having as a target to enhance the quality of education provided at all levels, the O.P. "Education" has funded a number of actions with the aim of raising the effectiveness and competitiveness of the existing system of Higher Education in Greece. Crucial among them was the action supporting the introduction and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the graduate and postgraduate study programmes (curricula) of Higher Education Institutions. This action is underway and is planned to finish by the end of 2008.
In this context most of the Greek Institutions are incorporating Networked Learning techniques (both synchronous and asynchronous) in their study programmes. The symposium has the goal of acting as a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experiences, gained in this process of introducing Networked Learning in Greek Higher Education Institutions, and to discuss policy and practice issues. The papers of the symposium focus on a number of such issues regarding organizational, pedagogical, and technological aspects of Networked Learning:
This symposium was organised within the activities of the Project "Undergraduate Studies of the Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki/ Work Package 1" , funded in the context of the Priority Action Line 2: "Promotion and improvement of education and vocational training in the framework of lifelong learning" (EPEAEK, Action category 2.2.2.a.) of the Operational Program for Education and Initial Vocational Training.
Exploiting Distance Learning Methods and Multimedia-enhanced instructional content to support IT Curricula in Greek Technological Educational Institutes
P. Belsis, C. Sgouropoulou, K. Sfikas, G. Pantziou, C. Skourlas,
Various instructional strategies and material are at the disposal of the designers and tutors of online distance courses. However, in order to be effective, instructional interaction must exhibit some specific characteristics. Designers and tutors have to make (and change) decisions related to the selection and sequencing of the instructional material, specify when and how to cover students'needs during the phase of practicing specific skills and understand when to respond to students'difficulties about the subject matter. They also have to be aware (during the stages of the design of an online, distance-course) of the theory and practice already established in the context of distance tutoring. Standardization of expected learning outcomes in computer science departments has been acknowledged by internationally recognized organizations such as the ACM or the IEEE. According to the ACM/IEEE Computing curricula, "computer science students need to be able to develop conceptual and physical models, determine methods appropriate for providing efficient solutions to a given problem, and be able to select and implement appropriate solutions that reflect suitable constraints, including scalability and usability". The need for standardization and adoption of such principles has also emerged in the case of Greek Technological Education Institutes. Multimedia support also arises as an interesting challenge in modern academic education schemes. An overall support of these principles, as well as the description and evaluation of a multimedia enhanced teaching methodology has been part of our research considerations.
An important constraint factor of Technological Education in Greece is the low ratio of the permanent teaching staff in respect to the continuously growing number of students. In addition, the ongoing explosive expansion of the Greek higher education has further aggravated the situation.
Hence, the driving forces behind our efforts have been the need for standardization and co-operation, the limited time frame, and the lack of human teaching resources. Unfortunately, traditional instructional design models generally tend to be linear, step by step guides directing the tutor through a series of necessary stages. Therefore, an "ambitious", non-prescriptive, combined Content - Instruction and Tutor - Learner Centred Approach (COIN_TULE) must be applied. The suggested approach is based on activities and task sets emerging from published research results and practitioners'experience about the natures of learning, instruction and the subject matter. More precisely, we try to explore, examine and capture the relationship between Content and Instruction (COIN-relationship) and the relationship between Tutor and Learner (TULE-relationship). Such a work forms a basis for the extraction of useful characteristics that are incorporated into a methodological framework. The major advantage of this approach is that the Learner is put at the centre, which, not only improves understanding of the target audience, but also emphasises on the definition of course goals and learning objectives, the compilation of a detailed description of the content to be included, etc.
In this paper we present a methodological framework for supporting the
combinatory use of distance learning techniques, based on a mixed COIN_TULE
and multimedia enhanced approach. At first, we briefly formulate the problem
and describe the decisions which direct our choices. We explain the planning
and design of our framework, presenting the sub-tasks related within the
framework in more detail. Finally, we discuss evaluation of the learning
experiments we have conducted, along with interesting outcomes and directions
for future work.
Kostas Vassilakis, Nikos Psaroudakis and Michail Kalogiannakis
The integration of e-learning is becoming a strategic, yet challenging goal, making it crucial for institutions of tertiary education to highlight their e-learning activities and to present a modern profile to the public. Within the networked learning environment the possibilities, accessibility and other options previously not possible in the traditional classroom now become available.
In the framework of this research we are trying to analyze the use of asynchronous education platform at TEI of Crete. This platform, named "e-class", is a typical asynchronous tele-teaching platform which supports synchronous ways of communication gives to the lecturer the ability to organize his educational material and present it in various media through the network. The platform's site is http://eclass.teicrete.gr. Learning Management System (LMS) like e-class are likely to occupy an ever increasing and prominent role in the teaching and learning process, paving a new road changing the existing ways of teaching and learning, from a traditional in class way to totally synchronous or asynchronous distant one.
During the last four years, TEI of Crete is using e-class to enhance traditional classroom instruction by incorporating a number of online activities. In this article, we present our experience from the use of this platform. E-class consists of a multilevel organization structure and gives to the students the opportunity to organize their study using the educational material published through the network. The platform has a pedagogical effectiveness related to the objectives of the course, offering easy and friendly navigation and use of its functions for both educators and learners.
The current study is an expansion of our earlier work during the period of introducing e-class platform at TEI of Crete (2004-05). We gather information concerning the measurable usage of the major features of the platform, for the academic year 2007-08 and we try to assess them. The survey applied on courses of 10 departments of TEI of Crete. Three of these departments are concerning branches of TEI of Crete, which are located in cities of Crete away from institute's headquarters (Heraklion). The introduction of blended learning in a course may be viewed as a strategic educational development project. In 2004-05, the first period of e-class use at TEI of Crete the frequency of platform use was not encouraging, maybe, because the exploitation of the platform was fairly new. Both teachers and students regarded the platform's services as a support and complementary tool for the conventional way of education. Eventually, information for 228 electronic courses was retrieved. Not all of these electronic courses are active for the current academic year (2007-08). There is a substantial increase of platform use comparing the present state with the status during the academic year 2004-05, where 42 courses were developed (September 2005) for the same departments.
Moving from traditional classroom into e-learning environment teaching and learning should adapt to the new circumstances and possibilities. In terms of pedagogy, practice and theory in networked learning is still at a relatively early stage; however, emergent trends and models point to the influence of educational theories that conceptualize learning as an active, situated and fundamentally social practice. At TEI of Crete the main use of e-class platform remains the educational content management. We argue that e-class platform could help our institution for a successful transition from a traditional to a blended way of learning and teaching. The challenge is to persuade academics at TEI of Crete that such e-learning systems could offer qualitative content and benefit for themselves, students and faculties. After almost 4 years of experience using the platform (2004-08) it will be crucial to invest in training seminars and innovative programs for the teachers of all the departments of TEI Crete.
This work was supported by the project "Regional Innovation Pole of Crete"
(vertical action: Advanced Broadband Services & e-Business) which
belongs to Measure 4.6, Action 4.6.1 of the Operational Program "Competitiveness"
of the 3rd Greek Community Support Framework Program (Creation of Regional
Innovation Poles), as it was announced by the General Secretariat of Research
and Technology of the Ministry of Development.
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can facilitate the
education of mechanical engineers. The implementation of e-education leads
staff to new roles and unknown activities. ICT-based education for mechanical
engineering is a new learning approach that is seen to take place within
communities of practice. In the new context of education there are new
players in e-education, and the roles of the players have changed. The
results on the educational process that have been accumulated during the
last three years of using the e-learning material in Mechanical engineering
department are presented. The educators and the students described several
detailed examples related to some subject matter. The educators strongly
believe (80%) that the best strategy for achieving the learning goals
is the presence of the students in the class. Students agree with above
approach only by 60% as the rest of them find very useful the availability
of the didactic material in the internet.Only 50% of the students expressed
their opinion about the quality of the courses to restricted accessibility
to internet facilities from their homes. Above fact was expected as Kabouridis
and Kakarelidis (2006) at their research amongst the students found that
72% own a personal computer at their home and 60% have ADSL internet access
-a prerequisite condition to use e-learning effectively-.The agree that
e-education does not provide the opportunity of learning by doing which
is very essential for the future engineers. The majority of educators
and students agree that e-learning material doesn't cover the need of
hands-on activities and it must be improved. The virtual experiments give
the same results for the same inputs which is not the case for the real
life problems. The active participation of the students is missing.The
lecturers of TEI do not appreciate the ICT as a mean of personal connection
with their students and their colleagues; they consider it as very cold.
TEI of Patras did not embraced the new technology in the whole University
-only four departments decided to participate in this pilot application
of e-education-. As a consequence of this policy the learning environment
has not been expanded in the whole community. (Wenger 1998). The educators
strongly believe that ICT make the students "passive recipients of
knowledge". Kenway and Bullen (2000) point out that ICT wide implementation
will bring more fundamental changes in the way educational institutes
operate and most probably it will influence the future of the society.
The majority of the teachers at the beginning of the project accepted
the commitment to produce didactic material for the e-education but in
the following years 80% of them did not enriched it. The above results
are in accordance with Laurillard (2002) who makes important points about
the lack of conceptual frameworks and the variability of academics engagement
with ICTs, which reduce the potential gains they might offer. The main
reason for this attitude is based on the lack of staff training policy
and support for the production of e-education materials. As a matter of
fact students are not encouraged by the educators to use the facilities
of the website.