Sustainable Student and Staff Mobility
Start date: Aug 1, 2014,
End date: Jul 31, 2016
Savo Consortium for Education (Savo Vocational College) is one of the largest providers of vocational secondary education in Finland (approx. 8500 students, teacher and support service staff approx. 1150). The objective of the Sustainable Student Mobility project (SUMO) is to centralize all student mobility under one project thus improving the quality of mobilities and making their management easier and more effective. During the project students in initial vocational education carry out a 4-10 week on-the-job training period or study period abroad. Part of the students give their vocational skills demonstrations abroad. In addition, students are encouraged to critical thinking by means of an assignment that deals with sustainable development. They are also motivated to make use of social media such as facebook, blogs, etc. during their on-the-job training period abroad. The beneficiaries of the project comprise 176 students in initial vocational education and 46 vocational teachers.
Students prepare themselves for the study / practical period abroad by means of self-study material collected in moodle and with the help of teachers. From the spring 2014, Savo Vocational College organizes annually in spring and autumn an international summer school offering students courses in English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, German and Russian languages, 32 hours each. When selecting students for practical periods abroad, attention is paid to those who have done summer school courses, because in this way students prove their commitment and ability to plan their studies longer ahead. Students, of course, make also the language test designed by the European Commission. After having returned home the students will have feedback and assessment discussions with their teachers.
The vocational teacher agrees with the receiving organization on the contents, implementation and assessment of the practical period. Student, teacher and workplace instructor draw up an on-the-job training plan and, if necessary, a vocational skills demonstration plan. The vocational teacher prepares the student for the practical period abroad and for vocational skills demonstration. The on-the-job training periods are carried out according to the ECVET principles and guidelines in the ECVET Toolkit.
Students are provided with before and after questionnaires, the purpose of which is to map the development of their language skills and professional skills. Additionally, students do an assignment about sustainable development and fill in a report in the Mobility Tool.
International coordinators and vocational teachers inform students about the project and take care of the selection and preparation of students, assessment of on-the-job training and vocational skills demonstration environments, training of workplace instructors, etc. Coordinator takes care of the documentation and financial administration and informs the key-players on the practices to be applied.
Introduction of new practices (for example ECVET) requires often training of workplaces. Most of the staff training periods in this project deal with training of workplace instructors into ECVET. One teacher gives a course in Trento, Italy.
The project will have remarkable results and impacts. Students learn new professional skills, communication skills, critical thinking and new things about the culture of the target country. They become more independent, gain self-confidence and courage. Their knowledge of languages improve and they are no longer afraid of using foreign languages. A practical period abroad may contribute to students’ finding a workplace. International co-operation supports also lifelong learning of teachers participating in the project, leads to new international contacts and increases collegial collaboration. The project increases teachers’ international skills, increases their enthusiasm towards the development of their own field of expertise and has a positive impact on their professional growth. In addition, the project improves the co-operation of vocational schools and companies in Europe and meets the demand of enterprises of Northern Savo, Finland for technical staff able to work in an international atmosphere (for instance in installation, service and maintenance tasks). The project supports the integration of mobility in the qualifications and increases the attractiveness of vocational education. With the student and staff mobilities, good practices related to the provision of education, student assessment and recognition and validation of learning outcomes become more known in organizations, which improves remarkably the quality of the practical periods abroad and the transparency of the exams. Carrying out student and staff mobility systematically makes international activities and practices in organizations more vigorous and improves the quality of vocational education as a whole.
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