Pedagogy in virtual environment

Evolving roles of teachers and trainers in VET and AL

University teachers in contemporary teaching and learning

Pedagogy in virtual environment


For many years, digital pedagogy has been discussed, as a way of purposeful integration of digital technology into educational processes in order to efficiently achieve learning outcomes. Digital pedagogy finds optimal ways to complement the traditional way of teaching in the classroom with modern technologies that allow significantly greater access to educational content and encourage collaborative learning and teaching, both in physical and virtual environments.

While digital pedagogy follows a model of blended learning and teaching (combination of face to face and online learning and teaching), the crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus pandemic suddenly moved the entire educational process into a virtual environment. Therefore, the question of pedagogy in the virtual environment arose, i.e. the question of effective organization and implementation of the entire educational process in the virtual environment. Quick shift to intensive use of digital tools and teaching in fully virtual environment posed new challenges to teachers.

How to lead the teaching process effectively, provide optimal conditions for learning and teaching, enable students to achieve learning outcomes at a satisfactory level, how to motivate them, how to assess student achievement, provide support to students belonging to vulnerable groups, how to successfully lead the class and maintain group cohesiveness in these circumstances, what consequences we can expect, these are just some of the questions that arose during this crisis.

Teachers have invested great efforts in solving these issues, all their knowledge, competences and experience, and they found new effective ways of teaching, but it is still necessary to work on improving such forms of learning and teaching and provide teachers with support and opportunities to further develop their professional competences needed for teaching in a virtual environment but also competences that can be used in traditional classrooms enriched with technology.

It is important to discuss development of pedagogy as such no matter which model of teaching is taking place. The teachers need to acquire new skills and competences all the time so professional development of teaches as well as their career progression need to be taken into account. Council conclusions on European teachers and trainers for the future have recognized the importance of teachers and the fact that they have a crucial role in preparing individuals of all backgrounds and ages to live, learn and work in the world of today, as well as in creating and leading future changes.

The session will be moderated by Katarina Grgec.

Elvisa Sekulić who is a teacher in Croatia will give an overview of what pedagogical skills were now mostly needed in order to lead a class of students in an online environment and how she solved challenges in everyday work, especially those related to pedagogy in a virtual environment.

Lilia Maria Vicente is invited to present the example which pedagogical skills of Potuguese teachers have contributed most to successful distance learning and what still needs to be done to ensure quality pedagogical work in distance teaching.

Finland is constantly working on the development of the education system and teacher training so Paivi Nilivaara is invited to share what have the teachers reported how they found effective ways of teaching in a virtual environment and in which direction it is necessary to further develop teachers’ competencies in order to apply their pedagogical competencies in a virtual environment.

European Commission is exploring different aspects of teacher training within the working group on School policy and there is also the Yammer group on Distance learning. Hannah Grainger-Clemson will give an overview of how to explore the pedagogical opportunities and challenges of a blended learning model – a combination of in-school and distance learning, which is very likely a form of teaching organization at the beginning of the next school year. There will be talk on how to support teachers and schools to use innovative pedagogical methods and safely lead the teaching process in new circumstances, for the benefit of all learners.

Evolving roles of teachers and trainers in VET and AL


In May 2020, the Council adopted Conclusions on European teachers and trainers for the future Document recognised that Teachers and trainers, at all levels and in all types of education and training, are an indispensable driving force of education and training. They have a crucial role in preparing individuals of all backgrounds and ages to live, learn and work in the world of today, as well as in creating and leading future changes. It acknowledges that the COVID-19 has put an unprecedented challenge before teachers and trainers at all levels and in all types of education and training. It raised the awareness of the role VET teachers and trainers, as well as adult educators, have in promoting and developing basic skills and key competences, along with teaching up-to-date vocational or technical skills and knowledge.

Against this background, thematic session 2 will focus on the evolving roles of teachers and trainers in VET and AL. It will be moderated by Vesna Anđelić and Nino Buić.

In the first half of the session, Irene Psifidou, Cedefop expert will deliver the presentation on VET teacher changing roles and attractiveness. The presentation will build on Cedefop’s recent report on the challenges and support for VET teachers and trainers during the pandemic. Jari Laukia, director of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences will focus on VET teacher/trainer and Covid-19, experiences and inquiry based results in Finland.

In the second part, during the panel discussion panellist will be Ann Vanden Bulcke, DG EMPL, Elenora Schmid, Cedefop, Susan Flocken, European director of ETUCE and Jari Laukia, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and focus will be on several topics.

The OECD 2018 TALIS survey confirmed teacher shortages, including VET teachers in a large number of EU member states. Council Conclusion reaffirmed that teaching profession is losing its attractiveness in many Member States. The teaching profession faces a number of challenges and demands. It is imperative to devise strategies for attracting new teachers to the profession, as well as adequate support for their retention. The ACVT opinion from 2018 underlines that VET should be provided by highly qualified teachers and experienced trainers, who are adequately supported throughout initial training and continuing professional development (including digital skills and innovative teaching methods).

The majority of European countries expresses the need to update VET teachers on industry and labour market developments. Cooperation and partnership between VET schools and labour marker stakeholders are considered to be essential for ensuring VET quality and relevance. Crucial VET teacher competences thus include pedagogical-didactic competences, as well as industry-relevant competences. The above-mentioned Council Conclusions states there may be an increase in the need for hybrid-model teachers and trainers who work in both VET institutions and companies.

Active discussions have been lead on a system-level approach and opportunities for initial and continuing professional development (CPD) of VET teachers. The VET teaching practice represents a dual profession: the teaching and the core, vocational profession. Accordingly, their CPD should address both aspects. 2020 Conclusions, stressed out the necessity to further develop and update the competences of teachers and trainers, to ensure their expertise and encourage their autonomy and engagement, and to foster their personal and professional wellbeing, motivation and feeling of value. Furthermore, it recognised that the wellbeing of teachers and trainers influences their job satisfaction and enthusiasm for their work, and has an impact on the attractiveness of their profession, and subsequently on their retention in the profession.

The particularity of VET is reflected in the necessity of researching vocational pedagogy, which has different meanings that reflect many educational traditions and influences. Vocational pedagogy enables the development of tools and models that can help teachers efficiently coordinate teaching methods with their student’s needs and the context in which they work – particularly the integration of teaching and work based learning as the most important feature of VET. Recent Covid-19 crises has shown necessity of use of ICT in VET for distance, and to a large extent virtual teaching. However, use of ICT creates many new possibilities for vocational pedagogy focused on the student.

University teachers in contemporary teaching and learning


The session on University teachers in contemporary teaching and learning will cover the challenges that teachers face that are relevant in particular for higher education. Introduction by the moderator, Ana Tecilazić Goršić, will recall the importance of learning and teaching in European higher education policies and, in particular in the European Education Area and the European Higher Education Area. The challenges for further developments in this area will be set in the context of the current crises caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.

Michael Gaebel is invited to present his view on the key outcomes of the EUA EFFECT project, including the most important messages from the European Principles for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching and the recently published feasibility study  Promoting a European dimension to teaching enhancement, as well as most important findings of a recent EUA survey on the impact of Covid 19.

Terry Maguire is invited to share the information on a good practice of the Irish National Forum and the benefits of taking a national approach to the enhancement of teaching and learning and the system level changes that are difficult to achieve by individual institutions; developing a national professional development framework for all those who teach, involving students as partners in the enhancement process and in particular Irish understanding of student success, including monitoring it by using learning analytics.

Ulf-Daniel Ehlers is invited to present the outcomes of the work of the BFUG Advisory Group on Learning and Teaching and in particular the Advisory Group Recommendations for national/governmental support/action for the enhancement of European higher education learning and teaching.

Gohar Hovhannisyan is invited to present the ESU work on learning and teaching and student centred-learning, and, in particular, students’ perspective of the challenges in further developments of learning and teaching in higher education in the context of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak to learning and teaching.

After the introductory interventions, each of the panellists will be invited to share their views on questions covering the topics related to future of learning and teaching, social inequalities in post-COVID-19 higher education, cross-border mobility of students and staff, quality of learning and teaching, educational innovation and open educational resources, cooperation through the national and European-level structures, supporting teachers in applying research-based and student-centred learning, teaching and assessment, enhancing their competences in a more digital environment and redefining the role of students taking over more responsibility in managing their own learning process, supporting strategic development and innovation capacity of institutions, including its transformation in a digital age.

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