Category Archives: Types and Styles of Training

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.

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.