Category Archives: CPD programmes (IO2)

The hand book will contain descriptions and comparisons of different modes and delivery models for Continuing Professional Development designed to promote the adoption and use of digital technologies in the classroom. It will also look at how teachers competences can be developed so that they are in a position to help primary teachers deliver the new curriculum requirements with respect to ICT. It will contain case studies, examples of good practice, specimen programmes etc together with practical suggestions and tips.

There is a considerable body of work around training trainers and teachers, and a smaller but significant number of publications on training teachers to use technology for learning. However, almost all of them are academic papers or research reports. We will take that research together with the experiences of expert trainers in the field and translate it into a practical handbook for professionals who have to design, organise and deliver CPD opportunities and other training events for teachers.

We will also test the handbook in the Vocational Education and Training and Adult education sectors.

Presenting my contributions to TACCLE4 CPD project – Part Four: Shaping a new Theme Room Training framework

In my previous posts I have given an overview of the reports for our ongoing TACCLE4 CPD projects that I had completed so far. At the end I have mentioned that all the reports so far provide contributions to a new framework for developing training for teachers and trainers – with emphasis on promoting digital competences in the context of vocational learning. Already in the previous reports I had made the point that this should be based on the Theme Room training concept that was initiated and implemented in the Learning Layers project. During last week I have written a draft report to outline such a framework.  Below I will present some background information and the concluding section of the report. I think that they will give an idea, what kind of framework is taking shape.

The idea of Theme Room Training – oringins and new perspectives

This framework is being prepared as a final product of the EU-funded project TACCLE4-CPD. The project has continued the work of earlier TACCLE projects in promoting digital competences of school teachers. However, concerning the field of VET, this project drawn upon the experiences of the EU-funded project Learning Layers (LL). The LL project developed digital tools and training concepts to support workplace-based and vocational learning. The concept of “Theme Rooms” was developed as a part of the LL project to promote digital competences of vocational trainers.

The training in ‘Theme Rooms’ was initiated by the above-mentioned trainers who wanted to develop a more systematic training arrangement. With this approach they wanted to reach all training staff in their organisation. In this way they wanted to promote the use of digital tools in all areas of apprentice training.

The idea of Theme Rooms was based on the following pedagogic principles:

  • Combination of real and virtual learning spaces for focused thematic blocks for promoting digital competences;
  • Signing in into ‘theme rooms’ for completing the learning sessions with exercises and then signing out (with a flexible tempo);
  • Working together in teams in terms of peer learning and peer tutoring;
  • Rotating between different themes in order to reach common awareness of the subject matter and to develop a common competence base.

The concept of Theme Room training was put into practice as a staff training campaign during one month. This training campaign based on the Theme Room concept helped the trainers to become users of the LTB in their own training. Now, in the current situation, it is possible to identify many parallel approaches to introduce digital tools and new media into vocational learning. At the same time there are new qustions concerning the significance of digital technologies in the context of vocational education and training (VET). These are taken up in the new framework.

What does the new framework stand for?

The main elements of the framework are thematic blocks that can be used as a basis for the Theme Rooms of the updated training concept. The following set of thematic blocks is presented in the further sections below:

In the first thematic block the framework draws attention to digital transformation (as a major socio-cultural challenge) and to digitization (as a more specific development). This block invites to think, how VET provisions can prepare for such processes and/or provide co-shaping contributions.

The second thematic block discusses the readiness of older and younger learners to use digital media and tools in the context of vocational learning. This block invites to think, how older teachers, trainers and workplace mentors can find their own ways to use such tools to promote vocational learning. Also, it invites to think, how younger learners can best familiarise themselves with work processes, uses of traditional tools and digital tools in their own learning.

The third thematic block presents a set of parallel “Innovation paths” for introducing digital tools into vocational learning contexts and to enhance the digital competences of teachers, trainers and learners. Four of these paths have been named on the basis of specific projects or their final products – the Kompetenzwerkstatt, Learning Toolbox, Brofessio and CARO paths. The fifth path refers to smart uses of Open Educational Resources (OER). This block invites to think, what kind of vocational learning contexts are relevant for the user and what can be learned from the exemplary cases.

The fourth thematic block presents insights into the TACCLE4 CPD Routemap tool and its uses for organisational planning (of the use of ICT resources) and development of training (with focus on promoting digital competences). For both purposes the Routemap outlines levels of proficiency with corresponding criteria. In this way the tool invites to think, at what stage is the organisation regarding its use of ICT resources and what kind of steps can be taken with the help of training.

Altogether, the framework invites the readers to think of their own solutions and to find their own ways to promote digital competences in their field. Thus, the framework provides starting points and gives further impulses and references for further developmental work.

I guess that this is enough of the idea of the Theme room Training 2020 framework. I need to emphasise that it is still under construction. As I see it, the texts for the thematic blocks have already been shaped. Yet, each block needs a further layer for comments, questions, resources and impulses. So, there is still some more work to be done.

Field visit in the region with a group from Namibia – Part One: Fresh impressions from the field

This week our institute – Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB) of the University of Bremen – has hosted a study visit of a prominent delegation from Namibia. This study visit is part of a cooperation process that has been started with smaller steps and now there is an ongoing discussion, how to deepen the cooperation. As I have not been involved in these discussions I leave it to my colleagues and to the Namibian authorities to find the bast ways forward.

As a part of their program the delegation visited on Tuesday two interesting organisations in the nearby region. With the training centre Bau-ABC I had had active cooperation for many years in the EU-funded Learning Layers project. But in the follow-up phase I had only had a chance to make some occasional visits. As a contrast, I had not visited the vocational school BBS Wildeshausen before. Instead, I had had several conversations with one of the teachers who is also working in several projects of our institute. By joining the study visit group on Tuesday I had a chance to catch up with newer developments in Bau-ABC and to get live impressions from BBS Wildeshausen (of which I knew only via our talks in Bremen). Below, I will give a brief account of the visits in both places. In my next post I will outline some conclusions for my work in the ongoing EU-funded project TACCLE4-CPD.

Visiting the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup

At the training centre Bau-ABC Rostrup the delegation was interested in finding out, how such an intermediate (industry-supported) training centre has been embedded into the dual system of vocational education and training (VET). Here, the representatives of host organisation were able to give a picture of the mutual agreement of the Social Partners (employers’ confederations and trade unions) that such an intermediate learning venue was necessary in the construction sector. Likewise, they could explain funding arrangements and the organisational setting via which the industry and the craft trade companies were supporting the training centre. In addition, the visitors got a picture of the role of the training centre at different phases of apprentice training. Finally, the visitors got insights into the continuing vocational training (CVT) that provide a vocational progression route to managerial qualifications in the construction sector.

During our round tour at the workshops and outdoor training areas we could see, how the pedagogic ideas were put into practice.  We got impressions of apprentice training via holistic occupational work processes, of learners’ rotation from major learning areas to supporting areas and of the patterns of self-organised learning. In particular we had a chance to see, how a digital toolset (the Learning Toolbox) was used in delivering instructions and collecting apprentices’ project reports. Here we could see that  results of the EU-funded Learning Layers project were actually used to support training.

Visiting the vocational school BBS Wildeshausen

The second part of the visit was somewhat different, because only some teachers of the BBS Wildeshausen were present (the school holiday period had already started). Yet, we had a good possibility visit the integrated vocational learning facilities of different occupations. In Wildeshausen the school architecture had abolished the separation of classrooms, workshops and laboratories and instead provided integrated spaces. This was already a great support for integrating theoretical and practical learning. Yet, the major innovations that were presented to us were in the pedagogic sphere.

When describing the learners’ projects the teachers drew attention to the role of real occupational tasks and to controlling the quality by the learners themselves. Moreover, some projects engaged the learners in constructing devices that were needed in their training or in manufacturing products that could be used in the training. In the agricultural and automotive workshops we saw vehicles that had been constructed by nearby industries to make the functioning of the machinery more transparent (and to give easier access for diagnostic measures and repair work.

I guess this is enough of the observations during the field visit. The visitors from Namibia were very impressed and inspired. Since they were in a process to start new cooperation activities, the visit gave a lot of food for thought. As for me, I had joined them to make appointments with Bau-ABC trainers and teachers in BBS-Wildeshausen to discuss the next phase of my work in the TACCLE4-CPD project. And in this respect this was a very productive and helpful field visit. I will discuss my ideas and interim conclusions in my next post.

Teaching Control Technologies to younger children

These resources are designed to be used by teacher trainers or for teacher CPD courses. We have tried and tested all of the Taccle workshops with teachers across Europe as part of the Taccle projects.

Here we share our aims, objectives, and resources. You are free to use and repurpose the materials under the cc license at the bottom of the site.


Robotics / control technology for younger children

At the end of the session, teachers will be able to:


Use cubelets to solve simple programming problems

Programme a Beebot and demonstrate some examples of how the can use it in the classroom

List the advantages and disadvantages of each, their value for money and their applicability to the age range.


Control Technologies for Younger Children




Literature Review

The attached document is work in progress on a literature review for the Taccle 4 project. It is focused on  the way that in-service teachers are being helped to gain skills in changing technologies and new pedagogies.

However it notes that there are a series of constraints and issues in this field. Firstly, CPD in this area has grown much faster than the research. Blog posts, on-line forums, conferences and other forms of communication suggest that far more is happening than is recorded in published research.

Secondly, Daly, Pachler and Pelletier (2009) argue that “the literature provides evidence that many effective approaches to ICT CPD are in place, but they remain localised” #CPD is fragmented – unlike initial training, it is not a homogenous model and interesting small scale developments may not be widely disseminated. What ICT CPD lacks in coherence, it makes up for in innovation but this is difficult to capture. As Daly, Pachler and Pelletier (2009) note, it is “a very varied provision which has grown ahead of a comparable rate of research into its effects.”

Thirdly there are issues around definitions. We have already raised the problem of defining e-learning but defining ‘CPD’ is also problematic – in terms of exactly what can be labelled as ‘CPD’ and also in terms of scale. As Becta (2006) points out:

“However, it is worth noting that the lack of a commonly agreed and well understood set of definitions of e-learning competences, taken together with the uncertainty about what constitutes good practice and effective pedagogy for e-learning, may have led many respondents to overstate the e-learning skills levels of staff.”

Fourthly, the data sources of some of the published research should be taken into account. For example, the statement  “Some 80 per cent of colleges offered staff development programmes to support staff who wished to develop or adapt e-learning materials.” (Becta, 2006) is based on the replies to a postal questionnaire sent to college principals.

Finally, in looking at research into effective practices in ICT CPD in order to draw out what appear to be critical success factors, it is hard to isolate “… CPD issues which are specific to ICT CPD [as opposed to those] which are linked to wider approaches to the effective professional development of teachers.” (Daly, Pachler and Pelletier, 2009).

lit reveiw work in progress notes

Digital Technology in the Classroom – A handbook for teacher trainers

There is a considerable body of work around training trainers and teachers, and a smaller but significant number of publications on training teachers to use technology for learning. However, almost all of them are academic papers or research reports. We have taken that research together with the experiences of expert trainers in the field and translated it into a practical handbook for professionals who have to design, organise and deliver CPD opportunities and other training events for teachers.


In the case of vocational education and training, a series of special reports have been produced to address the specific challenges and opportunities for promoting digital competences in the field of VET. This handbook presents those reports in a portable, embeddable format for VET professionals and those responsible for CPD  and educator training in vocational contexts.

Twilight sessions

Methods of Training – Twilight sessions

Jen Hughes


These are a well-established mechanisms of staff development across subject and policy areas. In a 6 month ‘test’ period we have undertaken twilight sessions in 8 different primary schools with 5 of those schools asking for a follow up session.


Typically, the session will start at about 3.45 – 4.00pm and finish between 5.30 and 6.00 averaging 2 hours with a 15 minute coffee break. The session may be voluntary, open to any teacher or teaching assistant that wants to attend or part of a mandatory programme of staff meetings and events.


It is difficult to generalise the format because in each case the ‘brief’ from the head teacher or head of IT will be slightly different. However, all our twilight sessions have a certain pattern.


Firstly, twilight sessions are often a harassed head teacher’s way of introducing teachers and TA to the new curriculum for IT / Digital Competence Framework. It is basically a scattergun approach. All staff need to know the basics and a short, sharp twilight session for everyone seems a good idea to set the ball rolling. There are many advantages. In two hours the trainer can keep teachers’ attention and ‘entertain’ them at the end of the working day by using a wide range of equipment and materials demonstrating the use of IT across the curriculum and with different ages. It is easy to build in practical activities and ideas that will stimulate their imagination. Two hours is not a long period to concentrate and, given that they will all have done a day’s work beforehand, works well as a time slot. To that extent, twilight sessions are ideal for awareness raising, introducing teachers to practical activities and providing a measure of reassurance that they will be able to cope with the new requirements.


However, there are serious disadvantages to this model. It is expensive – in a primary school there are rarely more than 12 people in a group. Although the session might only be 2 hours, the set-up and packing up if the trainer is using a lot of practical activities can easily take another 1 ½ hours plus travel time. It is also an awkward time to combine with other activities – we have found that delivering a twilight session means leaving the office, on average, at 2 – 2.30 which means that no other activities are possible after lunch. Half a day of trainer time – excluding preparation – to train 12 people for less than 2 hours is not cost effective.


There are other problems with twilight sessions. In two hours it is possible to engage staff and give them a flavour of what is expected. The evaluation sheets show that staff enjoy the sessions and they are motivated to get started. However, it is difficult to do more than provide a ‘snap shot’, which is a good starter but which needs rapid follow up. It is almost impossible in 2 hours to consider in any detail progression or integration with thematic work. The other operational problem is that if there is a second twilight session organised, it is always a problem guaranteeing the same staff will be there. Finally, it requires a fairly experienced trainer as if staff are sampling maybe 6 or 8 different activities, it means the trainer needs to be confident in planning and delivering a wide range of content, using very different technologies.


Nevertheless, it is a useful model. On the whole, teachers are quite prepared to stay for twilight sessions as long as they are not too frequent and the more senior staff prefer them.