Professional development of educators in their institutions as a means of workplace learning
Apart from modern technology, a fast-paced tempo and changing habits ranging from diets to clothing styles, the modern lifestyle has brought about, at least declaratively well-known - concept of lifelong learning. It is a concept that involves lifelong training and education of adults, with a view to permanent development of competences within their potential, education or occupation. Lifelong learning is a broader term than lifelong education, as education is considered to be organized learning, while mere learning takes place whenever there is an opportunity to acquire knowledge. Even though it is quite evident that the need for constant improvement and learning – everywhere and at all times, in a way represents a key need for the individual to keep up with the times, the question of how to do this arises. Of course, there are many possibilities, from language courses, drawing, cake making to more serious courses involving information technology or psychotherapy. However, how can an employed adult fit such a serious course into their already tight schedule?
One practical way that is also recognized by employers includes workplace learning. Many employers have recognized the need for training their staff, and thus they organize courses and other activities to enable them to further their competencies and get ahead.
From my personal experience as an educator, I can vouch for possibilities of workplace learning in the education sector. Namely, the very Law on the Foundations of the Educational System and Upbringing provides for two types of employee training: within the institution and outside the institution. According to the Rulebook on Continuous Professional Development and Advancement of Teachers, Educators and Teaching Associates, training consists of:
- preparing demo classes, i.e. activities accompanied with discussion and analysis
- presenting newly acquired knowledge from training courses, with an obligatory discussion and analysis
- presenting books, handbooks, professional articles, journals and didactic material from the fields of upbringing and education
- presenting blogs, an online sites, posts, applets, social media and other multimedia content
- publishing scientific work, authorship and co-authorship of books, handbooks, teaching aids
- conducting research that contributes to the improvement and affirmation of the process of education and upbringing
- professional visits and field trips defined by the institution's development plan
- implementing a project related to education and upbringing within an institution
- working with students
- competitions and events
- professional teams, associations, affiliations, branches at the city/municipality level whose work contributes to development and affirmation of the process of education and upbringing
- school marketing
- working in working bodies and programs.
One such activity that presents social media and other multimedia content has recently been held at the school I work in, Petro Kuzmjak. It was a lecture held by the eTwinning ambassador and a teacher from the School of Electrical Engineering in Novi Sad, Zvonko Gašparović. He gave this lecture on the basics needed to use the eTwinning platform to teachers and school principals from the municipality of Kula. Our colleague gave a detailed presentation of this platform which supports project teaching and connects teachers and educators from pre-school to high school level. The aim of this lecture was to enable teachers to use the platform on their own, as well as to create and carry out various projects during regular classes and extracurricular activities. Upon the completion of the lecture, the teachers received a certificate of professional development in the institution. One could say that this lecture was successful because some teachers have already created their accounts on this platform and started using the acquired knowledge in practice.
It is indisputable that the concept of lifelong learning is a pressing need in this modern time, in circumstances dictated by rapid technological development. As Bryan McGill pointed out: ''Lifelong learning is a never-ending personal revolution''. If that revolution is supported by the employer and takes place in the workplace, everyone is a winner, both employees and employers, but also the end-users of the services, which would include, in our case, incredibly motivated students eager to participate in projects connecting them with their peers throughout Europe using the eTwinning portal.