DEFINING A GREEK E-LEARNING STUDENT-CENTRIC VOCATIONAL TRAINING ENVIRONMENT
In the Greek knowledge-based economy the vocational educational performance depends on ensuring that all categories of students possess current and up-to-date knowledge and skills. The new knowledge and information-based economic system implies a strategic role for the vocational training function and has significant implications for the identification of training needs and the delivery of training.
Vocational training in Greece is expressed through public and private institutions , called IEK, that operate under the closed control and supervision of the OEEK organization. The vocational training centers are located in every major city and accept students after lyceum. The duration of the studies is two years and each year consists of two semesters. Students are required to attend classes and each semester they are assessed through a mid term and a final test. An IEK student is the one who failed entering a Greek university. Most of the students work, bringing valuable up to date experience into the class and at the same time high rate of absenteeism. The classes and the labs are overcrowded. Textbooks are out of date and libraries do not exist. On the other hand, every year the OEEK organization is asked to analyze training needs in greater depth and train a larger number of students with different backgrounds in terms of knowledge and experience and it has to do so more rapidly than in the past, while attempting to reduce training costs to remain competitive in a vocational European complex and changing environment. Facing such a demanding situation, OEEK organization is called upon to implement “matured” strategies that are enabled and supported by e-learning and e-assessment information technologies in order to improve its vocational training attained goal level. The situation must improve radically and instantly and the training habits must change. IEK institutions should turn to e-learning as a “best practice” aimed at providing adequate training to their students so they can remain up to date and competent in their current or future jobs.
Vocational training is deemed to benefit from e-learning for various reasons, both economical and technical; this includes reduced travel costs, training needs being met at more appropriate time for a student, faster and up-to-date distribution of training materials, consistent delivery of courses’ content, convenience and opportunity to learn at each student’s pace. The adoption of e-learning and e-assessment technologies for purposes of effective and efficient training and human resource development is rapidly growing in large European educational organizations both public and private. However, most e-learning literature is focused on issues of cost and technology; few attempts have been made to identify the contextual conditions, pedagogical prerequisites, methodologies and the design principles for the successful implementation of e-learning in a large public vocational training organization like OEEK.
This paper focuses on exploring processes and practices of pedagogy to actively engage Greek students into the e-learning vocational training process forming a student-centric vocational training environment for the OEEK organization.