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CoNeT: Co-operative Network Training
Start date: Oct 1, 2009,

Ethernet-based systems, which are used in the field of automated control and production operations, are becoming an increasingly attractive technology of choice for companies, research groups and professional bodies throughout Europe and beyond as they combine large capacity and high speed with flexibility, and provide a cost-effective complement to IP technology (). Although the number of Ethernet-based networks is expected to grow rapidly in the future (), there is a huge shortage of suitably qualified personnel and this shortage is predicted to continue (‘Skills for the Future’, ).In order to meet the challenges of the knowledge-based society, not only do many new workers need to be trained in Ethernet-based systems, but existing employees in the field need to update their knowledge and skills in this and related areas. Thus, there is a real and identifiable need for tailor-made courses that provide employees with the theoretical and practical knowledge they need now, as well as with the tools to pursue their own learning and remain up-to-date in the future. While companies enhance their competitiveness, employees will improve their own employability. The general aims of this project, therefore, can be divided into 6 main areas:1) To train automation engineers, maintenance engineers, process workers and under- and postgraduates in modern network technology applied to control operations and automated solutions. This will raise productivity in assembly and manufacturing industries.2) To develop hands-on training modules at different levels of complexity aimed at students and company employees. It is anticipated that trainees who are already employed will need to fit their learning around existing family or work commitments, therefore the materials will be broken up into ‘bite-sized’ discrete packages and flexible modes of delivery will be used including the use of both ICTs and face-to-face teaching. 3) To assemble mobile laboratories. These portable labs can be transported between companies and universities and used to complement the training modules. Annual intensive seminars using these and in cooperation with industry will be organised for the participants.4) To foment mobility between the companies, universities and other organisations involved in the project. Students will have the opportunity for work placement and project work in the partner companies as well as study abroad with partner universities. Academic staff may participate in teaching and research related activities with both academic and non-academic partners. The materials will be developed through close collaboration between academic staff, company representatives familiar with the needs of their employees and the training organisations. Company staff will share their expertise with university colleagues and students in the form of input to course design and content and teaching. 5) To develop the general, vocational and social skills of the trainees and trainers involved.Lifelong learning skills need to be developed if students and employees are to stay current in their fields. Staying abreast of new innovations, techniques and information is a pre-requisite for successful problem-solving and decision-making on the job. The instructional methods employed will include problem-based learning, case studies, intentional learning, reciprocal teaching, cognitive apprenticeship, collaboration, reflection and other intrinsically motivating activities.
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