LIFELONG LEARNING IN APPLIED FIELDS (LLAF) TEMPUS FUNDED CONSORTIUM – PRE-PILOTING "LEARNING TO DO" PRACTICES
Educational practice is continually subjected to renewal needs, due mainly to the growing proportion of information communication technology, globalization of education, and the pursuit of quality. These types of renewal needs require developing updated instructional practices that put a premium on adaptability to the emerging requirements of present society. However, university instruction is criticized for not coping with these new challenges while continuing to exemplify the traditional instruction. In order to overcome this critical inadequacy between current educational goals and instructional methods, the LLAF consortium is collaborating to create a curricular reform for lifelong learning (LLL) in teachers' education, health care and other applied fields. This project aims to achieve its objectives by developing, and piloting models for training students in LLL and promoting meaningful learning activities that could integrate knowledge with personal transferable skills. LLAF has created a practical guide for teachers containing updated pedagogical strategies based on the constructivist approach for learning, arranged along Delors’ (1996) four theoretical ‘pillars’ of education: Learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together. This presentation will be limited to "learning to do". According to this pillar, professionals must develop the ability to continue to learn in order to cope with the changing and overgrowing complexity of the context they are working within. They should become "adaptive experts", which involves not simply knowing the existing best practices, but also having the skills and will to search for new practices when needed. This educational strategy will be exemplified by a case-study conducted in the pre-piloting stage of the project. The case describes a two-fold educational process implemented in a course entitled: Introduction to informal education.
Step 1: Evidence-based learning – in which learning was based on reading academic articles and finding literature describing case studies and field experiences about the characteristics of informal education, its components, dimensions and its spheres of activity. Multicultural groups of students collected materials regarding the nature of informal education.
The students categorized the materials found into three areas that are covered by the informal education in Israel:
a. youth advancement;
b. leisure time;
c. social education.
Then the students searched for questions that concerned them with relation to the three realms of content. The question chosen was: How to motivate youth to get involved in the community and society?
Step 2: Problem-based learning – to answer the question raised, students collected materials, interviewed youth movements guides, student council members, guides in boarding schools, community center directors, instructors of youth at risk, community youth activity managers, etc.
The students synthesized theory and findings from the field, followed by group and class discussions in light of the academic articles read by the group members. Assessment of the learning process indicated the following: The students learned about informal education, its nature and functions; they met the different areas exist in the informal education systems in Israel from theory and field work investigated by them. Implications of these findings for the LLAF project are discussed.