EfVET presented the e-book at the final Conference of the Schools 4.0 project in Porto

The international event was held in a blended format from the Auditório Carvalho Guerra at the Catholic University of Porto on October 14, 2021. It was introduced by the inspiring quote of Nelson Mandela: “Education is the greatest tool we have to transform the World”. 

Many were the speakers and panellists, both national and international, within and outside of the partnership who highlighted the importance of innovation in the current school system, especially after the challenges and pressures brought by the Covid-19 pandemic which emphasised even more the need of innovation and digitalisation in Education and Vocational training. 

One of the important parts of the Conference was also the presentation of the e-book – conceived in the framework of the project – by Marta Santos, Secretary to the Board of EfVET, in the content, and Olga Neves, Illustrator of e-Book, in the illustrations, presented by Maria João Proença.

The IO- Intellectual Output resulting from this project, materialised in digital e-Book format (and also available in printed document), intends to be an inspiring working tool to mobilise all educational agents in the dynamics of innovation and in the challenging process of continuous  change towards excellence in vocational education and training.

This e-book, one of the resulting products from the Action Research process, is a pedagogical reference of innovation for professional education in the 21st century, financed by the 2018-1-PT01-KA202-047463 project of the Erasmus Programme which was overseen by two UCP expert investigators and CEDH researchers, of national and international recognition, Professors Joaquim Azevedo and Luisa Orvalho, that led this venture and conducted the elaboration of the conceptual framework related to Part I.

Methodological procedures  

From an empirical point of view, a qualitative methodology has been chosen, the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) model. The methodological device for appreciative action-in-action investigation, as shown in Figure 1, is characterised by a cycle of 5 phases: Define, Discovery, Dream, Design, Delivery / Destiny.

  Figure 1.

The challenging and abrupt changes taking place in societies and economies  

In this chapter the reference is to the times of cultural transition we are experiencing, with strong impacts on today’s societies and economies; technological revolution, the digitalisation of society, economic and cultural globalisation, new lifestyles, profound transformations in the economy, at work and in employment.

The 3 main pillars of VET Industry 4.0 

The 3 main pillars of a VET 4.0, capable of meeting the challenges of industry 4.0 (the name for which the 4th industrial revolution was coined at the Hannover fair in 2011 in Germany) are based on scientific, technical and social and emotional skills.

1st Pillar: Information Analysis and Data Set Interpretation are key learning areas in this century’s Curriculum
2nd Pillar: Informatics and Computational Programming are the basis of digitalisation
3rd Pillar: The social and collaborative component of digitisation

The school under pressure from innovation and digitalisation 

In this chapter, an approach is made to the main challenges that are putting a lot of pressure on school education and training to change their old educational paradigms, especially in these times of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a new roadmap for innovation and change underway, in emerging trends to global challenges, such as: the new skills required of all citizens, and in particular of trainers; the new teaching, learning and assessment environments facilitated by the technological revolution and the digitisation of the school organisation; another more open and flexible curriculum management; concern in the production of higher quality qualifications; school and professional guidance for mentoring, counseling, recruiting of candidates and students in vocational education.

How did VET teachers, schools and our countries react to the Covid – 19 challenge? 

School closures in all countries to contain the spread of COVID-19 hindered education and increased inequality of opportunities of millions of students across the globe. UNESCO, in March 2020, shared COVID-19: 10 Recommendations to plan distance learning solutions to ensure that learning remains uninterrupted during this period.

  1. Examine the readiness and choose the most relevant tools.
  2. Ensure inclusion of the distance learning programmes.
  3. Protect data privacy and data security.
  4. Prioritise solutions to address psychosocial challenges before teaching.
  5. Plan the study schedule of the distance learning programmes.
  6. Provide support to teachers and parents on the use of digital tools.
  7. Blend appropriate approaches and limit the number of applications and platforms.
  8. Develop distance learning rules and monitor students’ learning process.
  9. Define the duration of distance learning units based on students’ self-regulation skills.
  10. Create communities and enhance connection.

In Part II, the theoretical and conceptual framework of the IO is illustrated with examples of good practices and case studies carried out in schools (based on documentary research) designed, implemented and tested by the different partners, in classroom and on-the-job training contexts, complemented by narratives, testimonies and recorded interviews of experts, entrepreneurs and graduates of the VET system.

The presented “cases” are examples of good practices/ Case-studies /Innovative practices from all partners, and Life stories of VET reference persons. Professional and personal narratives of students and others stakeholders

In summary, it is expected that this pedagogical tool can contribute to stimulate and implement innovative processes and experiences of disruptive change, which will be further developed in Part II, that mirror the guidelines of National and European policies present in the curricular documents of the participating countries.

Within the autonomy, curricular flexibility and diversity of educational projects that characterise vocational schools is it expected that these mechanisms serve as a tool to help teachers, students and all internal and external stakeholders to reconceive original, suitable educational and training models, so that the youth can face the current challenges of the 21st century outlined in the “Strategic Vision for the Recovery Plan of 2020/2030” with more resilience, ensuring the transition to a Green and Digital Europe and a modern, more sustainable economy.