The traditional role of the teacher as an unquestioned authority has been replaced by the role of a facilitator that encourages people to recall, value, talk about, and critically analyze their own past experience to construct knowledge from it. This new paradigm changes the identity of teachers from a new understanding of learning.
This quote, from my application for PhD studies at Shumen University, illustrate that as practitioners of adult learning in a global community we work with others experience. In 2004 I enrolled to the “Adult Learning and Global Change” program through Linköping University in the fourth Cohort. The most valuable outcome was the gradual transformation in my perception of my professional practice, which led to a scholarship for PhD studies at Shumen University. During the ALGC program also I established a new framework of understanding that allowed me to reflect on my ongoing experiences of teacher training in Bulgaria. Norms are negotiated in a common discourse and I found peer-to-peer learning useful for critical reflection. I could also see that a collaborative setting help us to reformulate our immediate experiences.
Knowledge is embedded in prior knowledge:
I initially was focused on input and to create opportunity for learning, but one key feature in the program is that the learning experience is embedded in prior knowledge. In order to develop expertise we scrutinize our own assumptions and create an awareness of others decisions and situation. When I first visited Konstantin Preslavsky University of Shumen inBulgariathey were interested in exchange of knowledge for in-service teacher training withSweden, but didn’t found the methods in the project adaptable to the reality of teachers in the country.
Formulate goals that make sense to participants:
The project is now using local capacity and the goals are formulated in ways that make sense to the participants. The Swedish Institute had me as a candidate for a bilateral agreement and the Ministry of Education and Science inBulgariaaccepted my application. My role will be to initiate a new knowledge discourse and promote informal learning in an everyday context. The ambition is to produce a knowledge society by retraining and updating teacher’s pedagogical skills.
Norms in everyday practices sensitize the perception:
I would say that cultural sensitivity helped me to address the international differences that in our society might lead to exclusion from adult learning. One example is when qualification and skill formation is only voluntary without enough incentives. The context for everyday practices is restricting innovative teaching due to strict working hours and lack of resources. The existing views and perceptions sensitize us to filter the experience and only use norms included in our identity. There are ways to question that identity.
Peer-to-peer learning creates critical reflection:
My position in the discourse for in-service training is that we learn from experiences of others and also when we make their experience our own. This appropriation requires critical reflection, which will occur during interaction with colleagues of friends. That is why I have highlighted the theory of peer-to-peer learning and use Computer Supported Collaborative learning, CSCL, as method.
Collaborative learning provides variation in ways of understanding:
Variation in ways of understanding is a key element to investigate our position and makes us aware of new approaches. The spontaneous and immediate experience is unprocessed and confusing, but can be used for collaborative learning. Reports from case studies give us examples of how we can use new knowledge. Then in peer discussions we formulate our own interpretations as well as get confronted by others, which then create reformulations
Comments from peer students in ALGC
Jan Green: “Your personal experiences with Computer Support for Collaborative Learning, ICT, and being a student of learning here certainly add to your tacit and explicit understanding of what teachers may / will go through in this project. Therefore, you will have the sensitivity to address these concerns before they come up and/or deal with them in a supportive manner when they do come up. […] Very important work for now and for the future. Your work in Bulgaria in the local context certainly has potential to be ‘translated’ into many other cultures and areas of the earth!”
Paul Stacey: “There are several components to it that intersect with some of my areas of interest and work. In particular I’m fascinated by the potential use of personal and collaborative Internet offices/spaces/rooms, whatever you want to call them, for personal and peer to peer learning. Another key part for me is the way you propose to see these used to sustain momentum and keep learning flowing between what I presume are face to face workshop meetings. This is an especially crucial concept”
Carla Crozier: “I couldn’t agree more with the quote “Knowledge building occurs as students explore issues, examine one another’s arguments, agree, disagree, and question positions. Collaboration contributes to higher order learning through cognitive restructuring or conflict resolution, in which new ways of understanding the material emerge as a result of contact with new or different perspectives.”(…) “Collaborative learning is predicated upon interaction” I find in my situation / context this is also very key. […]The thing I really like about collaborative learning is it provides a framework to bring out people’s strengths – individual competencies working together for that goal as you state.”
Barbara McPherson: “The concept of peer to peer learning is well accepted in classroom teaching; the extension into the computer supported collaborative learning can be equally as valuable and possibly overcome barriers to participation in a physical class.”