Lifelong Learning Programme

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Chemistry Teacher Training In Slovakia

Katarína Javorová, Beáta Brestenská, Milica Križanová

Department of Natural Sciences, Psychology and Pedagogy, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University Bratislava (Slovak Republic)

dubrava@transfer.sk, javorovakatarina@gmai.com, brestenska@fns.uniba.sk, krizanova@vazka.sk

Abstract

The Digital Technologies (DT) have become an integral part of the didactic process of all education levels. Their integration into education is in Slovakia seen in the terms of the use of technologies. Many times there is a lot of incorrect and superficial understanding in the society of what Digital Technologies are and what role do they play in the cognitive and learning processes. Teachers are required to use technologies in the education process during their lessons. There is an ongoing training of the teachers organized by the school management. Here they learn to work with different technologies that school already provides or would like to provide. Unfortunatelly, majority of the trainings aims merely at the technology´s technical aspects and not its didactic use. The modernization of the education system counts with well prepared teachers who are trained in modern technologies, therefore the need for lifelong teacher learning at all types of schools arises. The process of transition from the traditional to modern school was launched in Slovakia by the national project Infovek Slovensko (Infoage Slovakia). The program was employed during the years 1999-2004. It aimed to prepare the young generation in Slovakia for life in the information society of the 21st century. Following this step several nation wide projects focusing on teacher education were implemented. National projects Modernization of the education system at elementary schools and Modernization of the education system at high schools are presented in this paper. Their main objectives were to achieve changes in the teaching forms and methods at schools and to prepare elementary and high school teachers. The aim group consisted of elementary and high school chemistry teachers who participated in the national projects.

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Comments about this Paper

Your comments are welcome


Date: 2013.08.01

Posted by Giuseppina Caviglia (Italy)

Message: In this paper it is explained in detail how to train teachers to use ICT in teaching. The framing of the issue in question is correct as it established that technological tools are important only if functional to teaching and not “per se”.This point of view is confirmed by the statement given to the training course in which teachers are brought to act differently in a modern school where the storage processes are reduced and the lessons are more varied and interesting, excluding the use of ICT ", to offer ”old things in a new way."
Obviously, the training course also includes computer literacy but the methodological-didactic part is more relevant, including also activities of very detailed computer design.
The listing of the module contents which goes beyond the teachers computer literacy offers interesting insights ranging from databases and softwares to the possibility of making measurements and connecting to various types of instrumentation. Moreover, it is always central the attention paid to the general pedagogical approach as well as to the changes in school and in the building of skills. A significant part of the course is dedicated to the elaboration of teaching projects (what is a project, how to plan, organize, use, and evaluate it, examples of projects fulfilment). It is not neglected the evaluation part with the effort of finding new ways for the students evaluation and where also self-assessments are mentioned, even if only for high school degree. All this is important since it includes the use of ICT within a comprehensive consideration of the of learning/teaching process.
All paper relates to the use of technology to update the way to do school, but, as already mentioned in the previous point, it considers technological tools useful only in a context in which teaching is not a simply transmission of contents. The reference to constructivism is clear, but what seems more interesting to me, and more useful referring to the Italian school, it is the attention paid to the planning activities in the last module with insertion of a conscious, functional and suitable use of computers, multimedia and online resources.
The intervention of ICT is inserted into plans aware of the use of information technology in teaching specific scientific contents. Great importance is given to the need of ICT by teachers in order to avoid to be obsolete in a world where digital system has become natural for children who attend our schools. Tools to make the lessons more interesting are introduced in the third module, specific to the type of school, and include: specific softwares, use of visualization experiments, performing of digital measurements, connection to databases for materials and/or contents, e-learning, use of portals dedicated to the process of knowledge construction, use of interactive whiteboards, choice of new ways to assess students, examples of open lessons.

Date: 2013.07.11

Posted by José Luis Cañavate (SPAIN)

Message: This article presents a way for a better implementation of ICT in the teaching of Sciences in general and chemistry process in particular. This training is developed based on the erroneous belief that the domain of ICTs emphasizes to handle the technology but dismissing its educational application or giving a minor.
It is important to highlight from the article, the mention of different tools (platforms work, development, specific applications, portals, etc...) that may try to apply and use as experience in the development of Sciences and chemistry.

Date: 2013.06.20

Posted by Inforef (Belgium)

Message: The paper is a perfect reportage completed of diagrams and tables to efficiently illustrate the way in which Slovakia is integrating technology in education.
The process of transition from the traditional to modern school was launched in Slovakia by the national project Infovek Slovensko (Infoage Slovakia) already during the years 1999-2004 with the aim to prepare the young generation for life in the information society of the 21st century.
Slovakia is then a great example to look at for the countries that are updating their education in these years and this paper is surely a very well structured and efficient document able to give an overview of the Slovakian results in the transition.
The only thing I would like to underline is that, differently from what the title of the paper let believe, the text doesn’t specifically address the chemistry education but it focus more on the technology applied on different subjects and in particular in math.
I personally found the introduction chapter of the document one of the most relevant part of the paper for chemistry teachers. Containing also an overview of Information and Communication Technologies and Digital Technologies in the work of a teacher, illustrated through a diagram, this part enable to clearly explain the efforts made by the Slovakian education system in order to adapt to the current situation in which Digital Technologies have become an integral part of the didactic process of all education levels.
Also the conclusive section of the paper is important in my opinion to give a final general idea of the concept the document wanted to show up.
For the 21st century the basic skills and literacy such as reading, writing and arithmetic are not sufficient any more. The teacher is now put into a very difficult position of continual learning and developing new professional skills (pedagogical, technological etc.) but in a World in which without ICT or DT no one can imagine everyday life, the paper says, no technology skills for the teachers means not to provide to their already “digital students” the joy of learning, discovery and creation and so they will not develop their need for lifelong learning.
So the paper strongly promotes the use of ICT and DT as an essential method to teach science nowadays, it doesn’t refer in a specific way to the chemical education but for sure it supports the introduction of technologies in the school system also affirming that in order for the teacher to become a model for the students in using modern digital technologies, first of all he needs to have the skills illustrated in the Figure 1 of the document, and be trained in using them in his subject teaching.

Date: 2013.06.18

Posted by Rositsa Dimkova (Bulgaria)

Message: The paper presents the results of national projects that aim at modernizing the educational system in Slovakia as part of the long-run programme for transition from traditional to modern schools. ICT are viewed as an element of the innovative teaching and learning methods. Since high quality education requires highly qualified teachers, a modular teaching system has been developed so that teacher can expand their competences. Module 1 contributes to the computer literacy of teachers and builds basic skills in major computer products - texts, spreadsheets, diagrams, PP presentations, on-line communication, video conferencing, etc. Module 2 provides knowledge of and skills in social networks, interactive didactic systems, sound and video processing. Module 3 is more practice-oriented and refers to the use of ICT for a specific object.
The publication views practical examples of using the respective software in Chemistry teaching (MS Office, ChemSketch, HotPotatos, EclipseCrossWord, Yenka, Mendeleev's Periodic Table, etc.), virtual labs (Vernier, trainer, Pasko, examples of using measuring devices), products for creating presentations, assignments for the teaching process, practical examples for their application. The benefit of the system is its practical orientation - practical examples for using an interactive "assistant" in Chemistry teaching, project proposals for teachers referring to how to organize, plan and implement their own projects. In addition, training in additional competences related to innovative assessment methods, such as self-assessment, assessment-diagram, etc., is envisaged. Such a system could be very useful and applicable into Bulgarian schools.


Date: 2013.06.16

Posted by Rosalia Zunino (Italy)

Message: The paper is relevant because it describes the organization of a national training program for teachers, connected with the education reform in Slovakia (2009).The projects aim to innovate and upgrade teaching methods, especially by developing Digital Technologies for teaching.
The number of teachers involved is very high and therefore the project deserves the highest consideration.
Similar national projects were planned in Italy in different times, and sometimes they reached good results.
In order to judge the Slovakian projects effectiveness, the opinion of teachers involved should be listened.
The project involves teachers of each subject, not only chemistry.
The paper is more suitable for teacher training promoters rather than for teachers. However chemistry teachers can find, in the Module 3 description, the name of some useful software in chemistry (e.g. Chem Sketch, Periodic Table Classic, PASCO) or in chemistry and other subjects teaching (HotPotatoes, EclipseCrossWord, Yenka, …).
The paper strongly encourages the ICT use in didactics, as a tool facilitating higher cognitive processes (apply, analyse, evaluate, create).

Date: 2013.05.31

Posted by John Pountos (Greece)

Message: This well-written paper presents a case-study analysis of a teacher training program in the application of digital technologies at primary and secondary schools in Slovakia. Its title is rather misleading since it does not present an overview of the current situation in chemistry teacher training. The specific training program consisted of 3 modules and took place between 2009 and 2012. It referred not only to teachers of chemistry but of several other subjects including some non-science related like for example History, Slovak language, Fine arts and Music.
The paper gives some further emphasis on the Chemistry Module of this training program by presenting analytically the titles of the teaching sessions as well as a short description of the thesis topics carried out by the 70 chemistry teachers who successfully completed all 3 modules (in December 2012). This information is useful since one can get a concrete idea of the content of this program and perhaps get new ideas while designing a similar program in some other country.
The paper does not provide with additional information concerning the evaluation and impact of this training program. This would be interesting and necessary to find out and could perhaps be the subject of a future study.

Date: 2013.05.07

Posted by James Ring (Ireland)

Message: The paper is modern and relevant as a whole, however the title is a little misguiding as the actual paper is not so much about Chemistry (1page out of 8), but about Digital Technology in many subjects, with Maths being by far the most applicable subject.
The paper alludes to the fact that education techniques need to modernise to be relevant for a modern word, which is a very true, but I didn’t really see anything chemistry specific and the paper really deals with moving beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.
There are no student specific statistics on how students have developed, this dealt more with how teachers retrained and defended their thesis.
Overall I would see this paper as an introduction or a background document. It would be useful for teacher training policy makers as a case study in how another country is trying to modernise its teaching, however I would not recommend this as a must read for chemistry teachers but some might find some ideas that they can develop on.
I would not recommend this paper to teachers unless they want some experiential reportage.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.

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