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Erik Madarász, a Community Story from Hungary

20/07/2020
minn EPALE Moderator
Lingwa: EN
Document available also in: HU

Erik Madarász

I have worked in the field of vocational education and training and adult education since 1999. I am currently working as the educational director of Soter-Line Oktatási, Továbbképző és Szolgáltató Kft. Since 2007, I have been a member of the National Association of Adult Education Experts. I have been involved in the EPALE project as an external consultant since 2017. Having worked as a registered adult education programme expert since 2014, I am a founding member of KárpátHáló Egyesület. In 2019, as part of our digital literacy activities as a non-governmental association (KárpátHáló Egyesület), which is a self-financed project, we taught basic-level computer skills to more than one hundred Hungarians over the age of 60, who live outside Hungary.
Since 2017, I have been involved in community-building activities as an external consultant of the EPALE project. My work and interests are closely related to the project activities. As an active participant on the platform, I have been involved in producing, sharing and using content. The national and international community of the platform provides a good opportunity to adopt best practices, share experiences and be involved in sharing knowledge.

Introduction

The measures implemented in order to slow down the spread of the virus have brought about a process of change in the field of adult education. Almost overnight, this has led to the long-awaited digital explosion becoming an integral part of our lives. A lot of people now work, negotiate, study and teach from home. While a few months ago, there were only a handful of examples of digital tools being used in adult education. Now, in the light of the current Covid situation, the learning process is unimaginable without their application. Vocational teachers and instructors and training participants have switched to digital education in the space of a matter of days. Training coordinators, in cooperation with teachers and students, have sought the best solutions and the most effective devices and applications. Between them, they have chosen the most suitable channels to convey information and the best ways to objectively and authentically measure the knowledge acquired and to give feedback.

The training processes

During the course of trainings organised in purely electronic learning environments, we had to fulfil and consider special vocational, educational and technological requirements. These typically included the following:

  • it is important to provide continuous access to the learning material to be mastered,
  • it is indispensable to monitor objectively the degree and depth of how the content is mastered,
  • it is of vital importance to measure authentically and appropriately the students’ knowledge,
  • the training coordinator must place great emphasis on continuous communication and supporting students as well as on establishing and effectively maintaining cooperation (teacher-student, student-student, student-training coordination, teacher-training coordinator).

When carrying out digital trainings, the trust and joint responsibility of the parties are of far greater importance than in the case of trainings organised under conventional circumstances. While the legislative measures adopted in the special situation allow for the digital curriculum to be implemented and managed in an unconventional manner, the monitoring and systemic identification of students poses a number of challenges for training coordinators. During the trainings, they must consider the varying levels of the participants’ technical preparedness, IT skills and the available devices. The shortcomings in these regards may impact the training process and can easily lead to students dropping out. As far as students are concerned, we seek to improve their IT/technical skills to a consistent level through a six-hour preparatory course provided free of charge. The free catch-up training provides assistance primarily for those who apply for some digital training due to their changed living circumstances, while lacking the necessary technological and methodological skills. The training allows participants to become familiar with popular online devices, applications and methodologies that can help them master the foundations of digital education. This allows them to get an insight into the opportunities and means of online learning that facilitate, support and generally enable the digital acquisition of vocational or other skills. The newly acquired skills enable them to confidently take part in any digital training as they now possess the necessary technical knowledge.

The outlook

Once the pandemic has subsided, when it comes to planning the trainings, we must primarily opt for various types of distance education, tested and experienced during the state of emergency. The acquisition of IT skills and their elevation to a higher level are of increasing importance. In order to carry out modern adult education programmes successfully, we must organise trainings that provide supplementary, differentiated-level IT skills for large groups of people, preparing would-be participants of vocational trainings for learning in the new system of distance learning.


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