The aim of this project is to support teachers in adopting an inquiry approach in teaching science at second level (students aged 12-18 years) across Europe.
This will be achieved by utilising existing resources and models for teacher education in IBSE, both pre-service and in-service. In addition to SAILS partners adopting IBSE curricula and implementing teacher education in their countries, the SAILS project will develop appropriate strategies and frameworks for the assessment of IBSE skills and competences and prepare teachers not only to be able to teach through IBSE, but also to be confident and competent in the assessment of their students‟ learning. Through this unified approach of implementing all the necessary components for transforming classroom practice, i.e. teacher education, curriculum and assessment around an IBSE pedagogy, a sustainable model for IBSE will be achieved. SAILS will provide teacher education workshops in IBSE across the twelve participating countries and promote a self-sustaining model encouraging teachers to share experiences and practice of inquiry approaches to teaching, learning and assessment by building a community of practice.
“SAILS aims to prepare teachers, not only to be able to teach through Inquiry Based Science methods but also to be confident and competent in the assessment of their students’ learning.”
A European approach
The SAILS consortium consists of thirteen partner organisations, including universities, SMEs and a multi-national organisation, from across twelve European countries. The strength of this consortium lies in its vast experience and expertise in the areas of science education, teacher training and resource development for teaching, learning and assessment.
By using a pan-European approach, SAILS will ensure that the diverse practices built up in each country can be analysed and shared, resulting in the development of models of best practice. These can be used not only in all the consortium countries but will also be available for other countries to adopt. This European approach raises the standard for everyone by encouraging national implementation, and by extending and promoting innovation in science teaching and learning in the classroom.
“The long-term aim is to generate a greater interest in science subjects at school, improve the take-up of science at third level and thereby increase the number of skilled graduates for employment in science and technology in Europe”.
The National Digital Learning Resources Service (NDLR), funded by the HEA, is an open educational resource service, providing an open online repository and community portal, shared between the seven Universities and the fourteen Institutes of Technology in Ireland. The NDLR uses innovative technologies and social networking tools to foster over thirty active communities of practice.
The NDLR, with the aim of promoting and supporting higher education staff in the collaboration, development and sharing of learning resources and associate teaching practices, has been a success on a national level for higher education in Ireland. It currently hosts over 20,000 open digital resources, developed by higher education academics and also contains a number for resources from Jorum, an open online repository in the United Kingdom. This paper provides an in-depth look at a selection of these resources and their use by participants.
Communities of practice (CoPs) can also become a powerful way for SMEs to innovate and develop new capabilities, as they consist of voluntary members who share similar challenges, interact regularly, can learn from and with each other and would like to improve their ability to address the challenges they face.
In this paper we first summarise the current training needs and learning methods used in SMEs, outlining the features of Web 2.0 that may be utilised to fulfil these needs. Then we discuss if Communities of Practice are a suitable environment for informal learning within SMEs. Finally we offer an example of how informal learning and CoPs can efficiently improve skills within SMEs.