Self-organised vocational training can benefit a lot from the possibilities offered by e-learning. Dr Stephanie Merkenich from the Glass Working Technical School, Rheinbach, and Dirk Dittmann from the Association of Craft Businesses Märkischer Kreis, Germany, showed that devices and tools such as video simulations, wikis and podcasts can develop intrinsic motivations to learn and to teach.
Each school day at the Association of Craft Businesses, Märkischer Kreis, brings a new e-learning module for the car trade. With the KFZ4me programme, pupils have the possibility to learn from e-learning teaching materials that their classmates have developed in the course of their studies.
The authoring process represents the acquisition process, with visualisation and virtualisation bringing a new level of involvement and commitment in the classroom. Dirk Dittmann pointed out the strength of this concept, which is that the programme does not neglect traditional teaching techniques. Pupils work on their sessions and modules autonomously, but with enough guidance to carry out their modules.
Looking for appropriate visualisations and videos on the web, his pupils come across testing software, which is quite common in the car trade business with its many digital applications. Films are also integrated into the learning process. Dirk Dittmann has had to admit at times that this kind of free adaption has led to discussions with the copyright owners.
Dr Stephanie Merkenich, working as an English teacher and e-learning expert at the Glass Working Technical School, Rheinbach, has not faced such problems with content partners. With her pupils she develops tools to promote professional English in the glass business. What she experienced was that pupils have a strong desire for active teaching methods and that e-learning meets this need rather effectively. Hers is also a “learning by teaching” approach. To prepare her pupils for business conversations at trade fairs, for example, she introduced self-produced podcasts, educational videos, motivational games and wikis.
There is an extensive learning module behind the model project KooL, which Dr Merkenich manages while working together with other schools involved in the glass business. She asked her pupils what they think would help to develop their learning process. The development of a compendium about glass scored high for them. All in all, the concept of Dr Merkenich considers the high level of specialisation of her field as well as the ever-changing subjects and innovations that have to be covered by the curriculum. Pupils can learn whenever and wherever they want, which is another benefit the e-learning approach offers.
Thomas Michel from the Dienstleistungsgesellschaft für Informatik mbh, Germany, presented the status quo of the European Computer Driving License (ECDL) programme. He focussed on what can be done to help pupils survive in the digital world. Graduates can significantly better their chances on the job market after having passed this programme. The ECDL would thus be an appropriate tool to accompany the introduction of e-learning in vocational schools.