ICT TRAINERS WORKSHOP (IITW)
British Council, Czech Republic
1 INTRODUCTION AND EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This document reports on the British Council International ICT Trainers Workshop which was held in Prague on 4-10 July 2001. It was attended by participants from eight different countries and led by a team of tutors from the UK, Poland and Morocco.
The report is organised as follows. The second part of this Introduction provides an executive summary of the report. Section 2 provides the background to the workshop, Section 3 lists the aims and objectives, Section 4 describes how the workshop was set up, Section 5 describes the course content and rationale, Section 6 details the feedback provided by participants on the workshop, Section 7 lists the outcomes of the workshop, Section 8 provides an evaluation of the event, Section 9 contains comments on the venue, Section 10 presents my recommendations and Section 11 provides a brief conclusion to the report.
1.2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The idea (Roy Cross') for this workshop grew out of the British Council meeting in Graz (January 2001) at which it became clear that BC ELT managers in East and Central Europe would be interested in some sort of regional co-operation in ICT for ELT focused on the training of ICT teacher trainers. The idea for the workshop was floated in early March and the official go-ahead was given on 21 May.
The workshop was held in Prague on 4-10 July. It was led by myself, Phil Brabbs, with the help of Wojtek Drajerczak from Poland, Abdelmajid Bouziane from Morocco and Roy Cross from BC ELT Group London. Participants attended from eight countries in the ECE region, namely Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Malcolm Griffiths, Stasa Zavitkovska and Bill Ross also attended various parts of the workshop.
The overall aim of the workshop was to kick start a potential ICT trainer training project in the ECE Region. The objectives were to:
This event was a workshop rather than a taught course, with input, participation and reflection by participants playing a key role. Process and team-building were seen as being more important than product. The main focus of the event was trainer training, though there were also opportunities for participants to develop their ICT skills through a combination of taught sessions, peer training sessions and project work.
A key aspect of this workshop were the pre-course discussions which took place by egroup before participants came to Prague. The egroup was used to provide information, set pre-course tasks, negotiate the course content, carry out a survey of participants' needs/wants, etc
Sessions during the workshop itself included:
Feedback on the event was overwhelmingly positive and there were a number of important outcomes:
In the light of the workshop it is recommended that:
If this event were to be repeated, it is recommended that:
If this event were to followed up, it is recommended that:
Finally, the International ICT Trainers Workshop appears to have been a successful event, but it would be a great pity if it ended up being merely a "one-off". The issue of ICT training for teachers is one which it seems will only get bigger and more important in the years to come. In my view, the British Council is uniquely positioned, to play a key role in helping regional partners to develop appropriate and effective ICT training for teachers, particularly in the area of ICT for ELT. I hope that the recommendations contained in this report might provide some concrete suggestions as to how this might be done.
That is the end of the executive summary. The main body of the report now follows.
It seems particularly appropriate to adopt a regional approach to teacher training in the field of ICT for ELT, since many countries in the ECE region are experiencing a similar need for training and much could therefore be gained by sharing expertise and experience.
Discussions between myself, Roy Cross (Deputy Director, ELT Group, BC London) and Malcolm Griffiths (ELT Projects Manager, BC Czech Republic) about how to set up some sort of regional cooperation in the field of ICT training for teachers began in the summer of 1999. These discussions grew in part out of an internal report which I prepared for Malcolm in my then role as BC ELT Regional Co-ordinator for W and S Bohemia.
The 1999 report investigated the feasibility and desirability of providing ICT training for British Council project partners. One of the report's main findings was that poor ICT skills amongst project partners was putting a substantial brake on the success of BC ELT projects in the CR and it was recommended that ICT training be provided through a network of local BC ICT trainers.
In the Autumn of 2000, the BC CR set up a national ICT for ELT Initiative and it was hoped that this would constitute a pilot for a regional ICT project to be launched in Graz at a meeting of British Council managers and other invited guests (25-28 January 2001).
Although the attempt to set up a regional project was unsuccessful in Graz, it became clear at the meeting that managers would be interested in some sort of regional co-operation in ICT for ELT, focused on the training of ICT teacher trainers and the Prague workshop was a response (Roy's idea) to that interest.
(For more details about the background to this workshop, please see Section 5 of the report on the British Council's ICT for ELT Initiative in the Czech Republic, which can be obtained from Malcolm Griffiths.)
3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The overall aim of this workshop was to kick start a potential ICT trainer training project in the ECE Region.
The objectives of this workshop were to:
4 SETTING UP THE WORKSHOP
4.1 INITIAL NEGOTIATIONS
The idea for this workshop was circulated to regional ELT managers in early March this year by Malcolm Griffiths. Once it was clear that there was sufficient interest to go ahead, a more detailed proposal was circulated in early March.
This detailed proposal contained suggestions regarding the venue, participant profile, course aims, objectives and content and my name was put forward as the person to manage and lead the workshop. Managers were asked to say how many participants they would like to send, what their aims would be in sending them, how this event would fit into ICT plans in the countries in which they worked, etc.
Official go-ahead for the course was given on 21 May at which point I took over overall responsibility for all academic matters with the BC Czech Republic handling administration. Wojciech Drajerczak (BC ICT Coordinator in Poland) was invited to work with me as co-tutor on the course. Although strictly speaking a participant, Abdelmajid Bouziane from Morocco (see list of participants below) also joined the team and worked as a co-tutor.
4.2 SELECTION OF PARTICIPANTS
Participants were selected by BC ELT managers in the different national offices with the following suggested profile in mind:
The final list of participants was as follows:
5 COURSE CONTENT AND RATIONALE
This event was a workshop rather than a taught course, with input, participation and reflection by participants playing a key role. Process and team-building were seen as being more important than product. Consequently, the workshop was not a completely ready-made article when participants arrived and continued to evolve throughout the duration of the workshop.
The main focus of the event was trainer training, though there were also opportunities for participants to develop their ICT skills through a combination of taught sessions, peer training sessions and project work. There was an emphasis on transferring skills and responding to trainees' needs and wants, with reflection on the process of organising and running a course.
5.2 PRE-COURSE DISCUSSIONS (EGROUP)
A key aspect of this workshop were the pre-course discussions which took place by egroup before participants came to Prague. The egroup was used to provide information, set pre-course tasks, negotiate the course content, carry out a survey of participants' needs/wants, etc. Below is a list of the key postings to this egroup in the lead up to the workshop. The first message was posted on 11 June 01, just over three weeks before the beginning of the workshop.
|Tutors visit venue in morning.||Introduction
|ICT Skills Course design (1) (Tutor)||ICT Training Materials design (Tutor)||Online
authoring -Hot potatoes
and Regional Planning (1)
|Project presentations (1)|
Good ICT Trainer
|ICT Skills Course design (2) (Tutor)||Project||1.Digital
2.Intro to Powerpoint
|National and Regional Planning (2) Roy Cross||Project
Final round up
|Tutors plan workshop||ICT
1.Web dev using a web editor (Tutor)
2.Intro to HTML (Partic)
|CD ROMs for ELT (Tutors)||Project
Using the Net in the classroom
1.Egroups & Newsgroups
|Evening||Tutors arrive for dinner and pre-course planning||Pps
arrive 18.00 for welcome buffet at 19.30
Welcome packs at hotel and subsist.
|Dinner booked in a restaurant||Dinner booked in a restaurant||Free||Free||Farewell dinner|
|5.3.1 NOTES ON THE
As can be seen, there was a clear focus in the programme on developing participants' trainer skills, although time was also given to developing their ICT for ELT skills (which is in any case a necessary component of an ICT for ELT trainer's skills).
As can also be seen, sessions were run by a combination of both tutors and participants. Volunteers from the group were asked to prepare a number of the ICT Skills Improvement sessions, and during project sessions the participants worked independently, with tutors offering assistance only when requested.
It had been intended to provide oral feedback to those participants who ran sessions, but in the end I decided not to do this, mainly because it just did not feel right within the context of this particular course. In order to give such feedback, I felt it would have been necessary to provide support for participants when preparing their sessions which there simply was not time to do. However, those participants who did run sessions received feedback in the form of anonymous feedback sheets filled in by other participants. This feedback was a mixture of both positive and negative points and I think it will have been very useful to those who ran sessions.
Although the programme officially finished at 17.00, a number of participants stayed behind after hours to work on their own, and many participants also used break times to do more work.
When setting up the projects, participants were asked to work in groups of between 2 and 4 people, with at least 2 countries represented in each group. They were also informed that they would present the fruit of their week's work (even if this was just "work in progress") on the last day of the course. In the event, most people used a PowerPoint presentation to do this, though one group used a special presentation programme called KeeBoo.
6.1 INTERIM FEEDBACK
Anonymous feedback was obtained from participants each day on all sessions except for the project sessions in which they worked independently. A simple grid was used to obtain this feedback which looked something like this (the actual grids used were of course bigger to provide more room for comments):
DAY: (eg Friday)
6.2 FINAL FEEDBACK
All but two of the participants (who had to leave early) filled in the final feedback sheet immediately at the end of the course. The results can be found in Appendix 1.
The following is a list of the main outcomes of the workshop:
Here is a brief description of the projects produced by different groups of participants during the workshop:
There was not time during the workshop to complete these projects, but it is hoped that work on them will continue after the course.
Roy Cross has offered to fund the commercial hosting of the websites referred to in Projects 5 and 6, provided this does not exceed the figure that was mentioned in the last session. There is also the possibility that the portal for trainers and teachers wishing to improve their ICT skills (Project 5) could be linked to, or even integrated into, the British Council's new Teach English site in the future.
7.2 ACTIVITIES MATRIX
In the national and regional planning sessions near the end of the course facilitated by Roy Cross, the participants identified specific tasks they would like to work on in the coming months. These tasks were then entered into a matrix to help people working on similar tasks to cooperate with each other. (See Appendix 2)
At the top of the matrix is the type of activity participants would like to work on. Some would like to produce a presentation for teachers, eg on Hot Potatoes, some would like to produce a workshop on different topics such as WebQuest, PowerPoint, Hot Potatoes, etc, some would like to develop entire courses for specific audiences such as IT for ESP students or ICT for beginners, some would like to develop materials and resources eg to support beginners courses (presumably in ICT), some would like to develop further their own ICT skills eg by preparing for the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence), and others would like to be involved in all kinds of dissemination, course design and management.
7.3 ELTeCS BID
On the final day of the workshop, ideas were put forward for a possible bid for ELTeCS funds in the next round (deadline 30 September 2001). Areas of interest for such a bid were:
A number of people volunteered to take part in putting the bid together, namely Viera Blahova, Wojtek Drajerczak and James Thomas. Malcolm Griffiths offered to provide feedback on any eventual bid proposal before its submission.
7.4 INFORMAL REGIONAL NETWORK
By the end of the workshop, there was a very strong feeling of group cohesion and it is hoped that this will continue when the participants return home. Of course it is very early days, but there are strong indications that different members of the group will continue to co-operate, if only because such co-operation could provide a good deal of help. The IITW egroup provides a perfect forum for future group communication and the sharing of materials using the shared files and bookmarks facilities on the egroup website. Not all members of this group are yet ICT trainers, but those who are not clearly have a keen interest in training.
7.5 IMPROVED ICT AND ICT TRAINER SKILLS
Although it is very difficult to quantify to what extent the participants improved their ICT and ICT trainer skills, there is some evidence to suggest that both of these were enhanced.
Firstly, both of these areas were given a good deal of attention in the programme (though input is not the same as uptake, of course). Secondly, there is a good deal of evidence in the participants answers to Questions 12-15 in the final feed back (see Appendix 1). Thirdly, it was clear that participants were already beginning to use some of the ICT skills they had developed on the course, the most obvious example being PowerPoint presentations. Finally, a number of participants remarked to me orally how the workshop had given them an insight into ICT course design.
7.6 COURSE CD ROM
Participants were encouraged to bring resources and materials to the course which they wanted to share with their colleagues in digital form. These were copied into a shared drive during the workshop and then copied onto a CD Rom for everyone to take away. A similar procedure was adopted for resources developed during the workshop itself, digital photos taken during workshop, etc.
8 COURSE EVALUATION
8.1 MEETING OF COURSE OBJECTIVES
In the light of the description of the workshop above, the list of outcomes in Section 7 and the comments from participants in the final feedback (see Appendix 1), it seems reasonable to conclude that all the objectives of this course (see Section 3) were largely fulfilled.
In Section 7.4 above, it was mentioned that one of the outcomes of this workshop has been the formation of an informal network of participants. Not all the participants are yet trainers, and it is clear that some of the participants at least will need a good deal of help and support to become successful ICT trainers. Nevertheless, most, if not all of the participants, appear keen to work as ICT trainers (if they are not already doing so) and so I think it is reasonable to assert that the first objective (To promote the formation of an informal (at this stage) regional network of ICT trainers) has been achieved, at least in part.
Objectives 2-4 were as follows:
All of these items were addressed in some detail in the sessions led by Roy Cross in the Monday morning sessions and also brought up again in the final round-up session on Tuesday morning when the possibility of an ELTeCS bid was being discussed.
From the discussions, it seems that there is keen interest from the group to cooperate on a regional basis, both by continuing work on the projects started during the workshop (of which all but one involved participants from at least two countries) and by working together on tasks such as course, workshop, presentation and materials design as identified in "Roy's matrix" (see Appendix 2).
It was apparent in both the Monday and Tuesday sessions that some sort of co-ordination for the group's activities would be welcomed by the course participants and it was suggested that funding for someone to take on a coordinating role might be included in an eventual ELTeCS bid. Roy suggested that such a coordinating role might be rotated every 3-6 months. It was not discussed exactly how the coordinator would coordinate.
Roy's matrix, the projects and participants' answers to Question 14 (Two things I will do as a result of having attended this workshop are ) all show evidence of participants having identified individual and common goals at various levels, from the personal to the regional.
As far as Objective 5 is concerned (To share information, materials and resources), participants had a good deal of opportunity to do this during the workshop by providing material for the course CD ROM, by offering training sessions, taking part in group discussions, working on projects with other participants, sharing informally in breaks, etc.
Objective 6 was "To develop participants trainer skills and their awareness of training issues". As has already been stated, a good deal of time was given over to achieving this objective during the workshop. Some of the sessions explicitly addressed this area, eg "The Good ICT Trainer", "ICT Skills Course Design" (1+2), "ICT Training Materials Design".
But this objective was also addressed by giving participants the opportunity to take part in sessions run by a variety of tutors and participants. It is interesting to note that there is now a strong awareness in the group of the need to focus on the methodology of ICT training, which was one of the main requests for a follow-up workshop (see Q20 in the feedback).
Although no formal feedback was given to participants who ran sessions, anonymous written feedback from all participants was made available to them.
The final objective was "to develop participants' ICT skills". This objective was addressed explicitly in the ICT Skills Improvement sessions, but also in a number of other sessions run by tutors focusing on such topics as on-line authoring (Hot Potatoes), use of a digital camera and PowerPoint. The project work also gave participants an opportunity to practise new ICT skills acquired during the workshop.
The overall aim of this workshop was to kick start a potential ICT trainer training project in the ECE Region. It remains to be seen whether such a project will in fact materialise.
8.2 FURTHER COMMENTS
8.2.1 GROUP COHESION
One aspect of this event which was particularly noticeable was the way in which the group "gelled" extremely quickly. There are a number of possible reasons for this. For example, managers were asked to nominate people according to a clear set of criteria, including excellent interpersonal skills and a keenness to cooperate on a regional basis.
It also seems likely that the pre-course communication by egroup greatly facilitated group cohesion. As course leader, I certainly felt that I already knew the participants before they arrived and it was just a matter of putting faces to descriptions. It is likely that many of the participants felt the same way. The pre-course egroup discussions also gave me an opportunity to make very clear in advance exactly what the course was about, to discuss the content, find out about participants' ICT skills levels and training experience, etc, all of which made starting the course on the first day so much easier and less stressful. I feel all of this would also have played a role in putting participants at ease and helping them to settle in more quickly.
8.2.2 COURSE INTENSITY
On the whole, participants seemed happy with the timing, location, duration and intensity of the event. For me it was also interesting to note how participants had no trouble working with computers from 9 am-5 pm, whereas a group I taught earlier in the year who had much poorer ICT skills found 10 am-4 pm to be quite gruelling and tended to have difficulty concentrating by the end of the afternoon.
9 VENUE ISSUES
9.1 FOOD, ACCOMMODATION ETC
The feedback from participants about all aspects of the non-academic side of the arrangements was extremely positive and I think well-deserved. The hotel were extremely welcoming and flexible and the vouchers greatly appreciated by all (we all received free vouchers which could be spent on food and drink at the hotel). The food and service were very good.
The only problems encountered were mainly in connection with two of the restaurants used: U Vejvodu and Jezuitsky Dvur where overcharging and poor service were a problem. In contrast, the restaurant Stoleti gave excellent service at very reasonable prices.
9.2 TRAINING CENTRE
Before the workshop started, I thought the separation of the hotel and the training centre (the journey took about 30 minutes) would create a lot of problems. In fact, it was much less troublesome than I expected, though there is no doubt that it did add some complications. I found it essential to have a laptop computer in order to prepare sessions in the evening and not being connected to the Internet meant that I could not access web pages in advance.
Although it was possible for participants to stay after normal sessions had finished, in practice it was difficult for them to stay after 7pm and some people mentioned this as a problem in their feedback sheets. On the other hand, it did mean that participants were forced to rest in the evening which may have prevented early burn out.
The PVT Centre staff were extremely friendly and helpful at all times and did their very best to meet all our requirements. The technical equipment and support were both of a very high standard and I would certainly recommend using this centre again.
10.1 MAIN RECOMMENDATIONS
10.2 IF THIS EVENT WERE TO BE REPEATED
If this event were to be repeated:
10.3 IF THIS EVENT WERE TO BE FOLLOWED UP
If this event were to be followed up
The International ICT Trainers Workshop appears to have been a successful event, but it would be a great pity if it ended up being merely a "one-off". The workshop mapped out a lot of the territory to be covered, but in such a short course, it was only possible to visit a few locations on the map and even then only on flying visits.
The issue of ICT training for teachers is one which it seems will only get bigger and more important in the years to come. In my view, the British Council is uniquely positioned, to play a key role in helping regional partners to develop appropriate and effective ICT training for teachers, particularly in the area of ICT for ELT. I hope that the recommendations contained in this report might provide some concrete suggestions as to how this might be done.
And finally, I would like to say a big thank you to all the people who made this course possible, especially Roy Cross, Malcolm Griffiths, Wojtek Drajerczak, Abdelmajid Bouziane, Dasa Sephtonova, Jani Brabbs, Vera Reichmannova, Vlad'a Vokaty, Neal Hoskins, Olga Stankova, Frauke Noelker, Angus Savory and of course, last but not least, all the course participants, without whom everybody else's work would have been in vain.
Phil Brabbs. Plzen 13 July 2001
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