Scholarly article on topic 'Innovative Models for Vocational Education and Training in Romania'

Innovative Models for Vocational Education and Training in Romania Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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{"vocational training network" / "video infrastructure" / "virtual classroom" / "student response systems" / "peer learning assessment system"}

Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Liviu Moldovan

Abstract This article shows how the teaching infrastructure used by specialists in e-learning has been renovated in order to improve educational quality and make it more adaptable to the Romanian labor market. Two partner universities from Romania and Norway had an initiative to promote the access to new and innovative methods and educational resources, but also to ensure the large implications of ICT in the educational process. The initiative is developed in the MoVE-IT project, financed by EEA financial mechanism. The validation of the infrastructure is done by delivering a number of vocational education and training courses.

Academic research paper on topic "Innovative Models for Vocational Education and Training in Romania"

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 46 (2012) 5425 - 5429

WCES 2012

Innovative models for vocational education and training in Romania

Liviu Moldovan *

"Petru Maior" University, 1 Nicolae Iorga Street, Tirgu-Mures 540088, Romania


This article shows how the teaching infrastructure used by specialists in e-learning has been renovated in order to improve educational quality and make it more adaptable to the Romanian labor market. Two partner universities from Romania and Norway had an initiative to promote the access to new and innovative methods and educational resources, but also to ensure the large implications of ICT in the educational process. The initiative is developed in the MoVE-IT project, financed by EEA financial mechanism. The validation of the infrastructure is done by delivering a number of vocational education and training courses.

© 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Huseyin Uzunboylu

Keywords: vocational training network, video infrastructure, virtual classroom, student response systems, peer learning assessment system

1. Introduction

Higher education institutions are the power sources on which new development in global economy relies. They are changing into marked dependent service universities where new types of students require new ways of organizing learning, as mentioned by Stav in 2010b. Electronic communications are often used in vocational training courses for industry; one example is provided by Pohl et al. (2008) for the Ecodesign course.

In-company training is one of the critical skills and key constraints to economic growth and development in Romania. The pilot project "Innovative Tools and Models for Vocational Education and Training in Central and Western Romania" (Move-IT) has solved this challenging problem by disseminating and deploying successful state of the art large-scale skills upgrading solutions from Norway to Romania (Moldovan, 2010). This paper presents the aim of the project and virtual classroom modernization.

2. The Vocational Education and Training Network

A high definition video network is constructed in the Central and Western parts of Romania, and organizations in 4 different towns may utilize the infrastructure to provide vocational education and training. The European EEA Program has financed the Move-IT project. It is an innovative project that aims to develop and establish a regional network of vocational education and training centers in Romania by transferring knowledge, good practices and state of the art advanced video communication solutions from S0r-Tr0ndelag University College in Trondheim, Norway (HiST). The results are improving the inter-institutional partnership between existing vocational training centers and "Petru Maior" University of Tirgu-Mures, Romania (UPM) by stimulating and improving the quality,

* Liviu Moldovan. Tel.: +40-740-498-427 E-mail address:


1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Huseyin Uzunboylu doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.451

accessibility and supply of vocational education and training services for further development of human resources.

The design and establishment of the state of the art vocational education and training infrastructure is based up on best video practices from Scandinavia. The video network contains the following main components:

• A high standard dedicated video room at UPM, for delivery and distribution of vocational training to external partner sites by use of two-way videoconferencing and digital smart boards;

• A multiplatform production suite for quality assurance and management of real time production process, that is a production room of audio/video, real time streaming, DVD, download PC, iPad, smartphone, production of printed teaching material, posters, leaflets, power points, etc.;

• Video rooms at 3 different vocational schools (in the towns of Oradea, Alba Iulia and Sighisoara) in the region that is dedicated to receiving training from UPM or another organization that utilizes video in training;

• A digital auditorium, two digital classrooms and two state of the art computer laboratories at UPM.

The video room at UPM has the following 3 usage scenarios (functionality):

• Transmission of courses by internet to the external locations; to retrieve images using two high definition cameras, each positioned optimally for the user location that are transmitted and displayed in external locations on control screens; simultaneously are transmitted images taken from the computer (also by using interactive board connected to it), notebook PC, document camera, DVD / BD player;

• Production of training material for distribution on offline web platform by acquiring images using high definition video camera and training materials from PC, document camera, etc.;

• Video conferencing sessions with 3 other foreign locations simultaneously.

Figure 1: Furniture placement in the video room

Equipment used in the video room (figure 1) is: high-definition video cameras, display screens in two positions of the room, PC with monitor, interactive board connected to PC, document camera, DVD / BD player with included audio system, sound system microphones and fixed wireless placed in different areas of the video room. Editing equipment installed in the production room include workstations with two monitors, video capture cards and audio production, active studio monitors, microphone, headphone type monitors, graphics tablet, laser color printer, leverage optical media.

Equipment used to run the integrated system consists of: video codec; control system for easier use of equipment; automatic control system used with detection devices; video converters, scaled, amplifier / distributor; array audio / video sources to connect audio and video conferencing studio.

After installment of equipment, the IT professionals have been trained in two courses: Prepare your IP Network for HD Video Conferencing, and Technical Basics and Practical Training in Using Videoconference. These courses enabled IT professionals to exploit equipment at desired parameters.

3. Infrastructure Validation

The validation of the vocational training network has been done by:

• Development and deployment of instructor training through a dedicated instructor training program;

• Delivery of vocational training courses that may utilize blended learning methods mixing (i) on-site training, (ii) inclusion of learning management systems, (iii) deployment of streaming video solutions, and (iv) effective use of videoconferencing into distance learning environments;

• Evaluation of training methods and technical solutions for easy transfer of results and achievements.

3.1. Teacher Training Sessions

During the project we have developed and deployed instructor training through a dedicated instructor training program. The objective is to deliver a set of state-of-the-art training courses for trainers and teachers. During the project the following courses were delivered: Introduction to training delivery that utilize video communication and Learning Management Systems for organizing course material in vocational education; Pedagogical methods and use of video in vocational education and training; Blended learning methods and optimization of video in vocational education and training. The training consists of a combination of theoretical and practical tasks in class (2-3 days), followed up by mentoring and guidance of the instructors/teachers by utilizing videoconferencing (2-5 events). Videos of the training sessions are available on the project website (

Instructors' feedbacks on the training sessions were collected from a survey given at the end of the training period. A selection of the results obtained from 39 instructors appreciates that: a) Videoconferencing seems like a useful tool for training/courses: totally agree (9), agree (22), neutral (7) disagree (1)...; b) I would like to use videoconferencing for my own courses: totally agree (5), agree (24), neutral (9) disagree (1)...; etc.

As a conclusion of the training sessions we appreciate that most of the teachers selected to participate at the training sessions did not use video equipment before the training sessions. The personal benefit after participating at the courses was very good, as well as the courseware and the instructor and they agree on the relevance of the course for use of video conferencing in the future (Stav & Moldovan, 2010a).

By using the infrastructure, educational video content for teachers training in new educational technologies has been developed: 20 clips - on subjects like: Clothing and background, Calibrating a digital whiteboard, Using a document camera, Two-way communication, Suitable clothing and backgrounds, The noise produced by cup in a videoconference, The influence of sunlight, How the teacher may use a Smart board, The noise produced by a pencil in a videoconference, Experiences with use of video in skills upgrading, Noise and disturbances in a videoconference, A sample lecture, etc. The clips have been used during the teacher training sessions, but also will be used for both organized and self-training of the new users of the vocational educational and training network.

3.2. Blended Learning

With the new installed equipment: smart boards, projectors, document camera, video camera, etc. the blended learning technologies have been employed in the UPM day courses. The blended learning solutions are new pedagogical methods which utilize face-to-face training, composed of the following elements:

• Traditional classroom structured instruction with face-to-face training where the trainer and the students meet when the course starts. Digital smart boards are often used during the course;

• Self-paced learning through Learning Management Systems (LMS);

• Hands-on practical training and collaborative laboratory work;

• Inclusion of video streaming and videoconferencing services that offer high quality multipoint two-way real time communication to groups of students;

• Evaluation of students' achievements with the student response system and peer learning assessment system.

Educational video content for students training in the pilot phase of the project in quality management and

industrial engineering have also been developed: 31 clips - on subjects like: 5S, Product packaging, Internal audit, Second party audit, Third party audit, Product conformity internal certification, Devices calibration, Internal communication, Document control, Product external inspection, etc. These video clips are completed with other productions in various areas of teaching.

3.3. Training Delivery

In the 5 month testing period of the educational network, blended learning and video conferencing have been used in 67 VET courses, delivered by the 5 partner institutions, for more than 2.100 students. Analysis of experimental data collected in the evaluation period of the educational network shows that:

• UPM and the network of vocational schools have got access to modern ICT and video technologies, and knowledge associated to these technologies. This allows the organizations to exploit this knowledge in the forthcoming years for their own development of courses and services at different technical levels. Additionally, they are able to exploit new market opportunities both nationally as well as internationally;

• The know-how and technology obtained through the project has a generic nature and can be applied to all kind of vocational education. UPM may also exploit new business by transferring their obtained knowledge to other players in the educational sector in Romania or abroad, thus strengthening their income.

4. Student Response Systems and Peer Learning Assessment System

Student Response Systems or SRS technology generally include a receiver, a collection of keypads (transmitters or "clickers") and dedicated software (Pein et al., 2010). Through a wireless connection the clickers enable students to answer a number of questions or quizzes during a lecture (figure 2). Because the students use their keypads instead of raising hands to submit answers, individual responses stay confidential from the rest of the students while result overviews are available on the classroom screen. The teacher gives the students a task, for instance a question or a problem. The students solve the task and respond anonymously by using the SRS either on their laptop or through their mobile handheld device, whereby the teacher gets a "knowledge map" of the class (figure 3). Finally, the teacher must decide how to provide the feedback to the class.

Figure 2. The interface for voting sessions on an iPod Touch

Figure 3. The response of a SRS vote is shown on the Smart board

The traditional way of teaching face to face does not allow participants in the teaching process -teachers and students- to verify their learning achievements during partial or final exams in a short period of time and the results are published after a few days. From another perspective, smartphones with high resolution become more popular to the students, the access being conditioned by their price, which becomes lower. It is estimated that mobile device will replace in the very near future the access to evaluation tests instead of computer interface.

In order to have access to new evaluation models, UPM has decided to use the Peer Learning Assessment System (PeLe) for smartphones. The first prototype has been demonstrated at the International Conference Online Educa Berlin in December 2012, by specialists' from HiST, as a result of the Done-IT project ( It is a new evaluation model where test results for a class are turned into an active, creative and collaborative learning process by the use of immediate feedback, designed to enhance students learning.

The mobile student evaluation system for smartphones gives the teachers a new tool to provide verification or elaborative feedback to students immediately after a test or exam. Students still remember questions after testing,

and in this way they have the opportunity to learn the reason why an answer is correct or not. This method is a collaborative supported learning that helps students to improve their knowledge in the study subject. Thus, mobile technology provides new evaluation and testing criteria for education and training.

The evaluation system comprises an embedded automatic marking system, which helps teachers to see the participation degree of the students and results of the evaluation.

In Romania, the SRS and PeLe technologies are used in combination with state of the art video adapted e-learning solutions, in order to provide training to vocational schools. The first testing of SRS for mobile devices was done over a period of 7 weeks. Students' feedbacks on the system were collected from a survey given at the end of the test period. A selection of the results obtained from 87 students appreciates that: a) First impression of the SRS is: very good (11), good (43), OK (29)...; b) SRS gives the opportunity to actively take part during the lecture: strongly agree (9), agree (37), neutral (22)..., etc. As a conclusion we appreciate that most of the students are satisfied with the use of the SRS and find it very promising for further use of PeLe.

5. Conclusion

UPM has developed a new teaching infrastructure for e-learning, and has improved teaching quality by arranging a new distance learning program in Romania. It has practical implications for academics from UPM and partner organizations due to the promotion of the access to new and innovative methods and educational resources, but also the large implications of ICT.

The growing need for personnel with technical education within the industry in Romania will create a new opportunity for business services, which can be exploited by UPM. These services can be course development of general nature. The need for bespoke course development will increase drastically as the industry is becoming more specialized. The internationalization of industry in Romania will foster a differentiated course development in order to meet the needs. UPM's unique position with its international cooperation, quality assurance, and knowledge makes them be the natural contact points for such activities.


Supported by a grant that is financed by the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


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