Learning by Design: Under-graduate Students’ Practicum & New Forms of School-based Training

In 2010 discussions about the New School reform in Greece were well underway generating much debate in the public sphere. It was at that time when a few academics were proposing new ways of conducting school-based training with the use of digital media. The universities of Rhodes, Patras and Athens took part in a pilot project funded by the Ministry of Education where Learning by Design (LbD) was the principal method of action research and training in selected Greek schools.

Research findings of this attempt were very supportive and thus the Greek LbD network expanded to include trials in different levels and universities concerning curriculum design and teachers’ training. Greek teachers and university students were very receptive of the new means in designing of dynamic learning environments. They gradually perceived themselves as being knowledge producers and workers in times of crisis. Educators redefined their teaching practices and collegial relationships both at regional and national levels whereas post graduate research projects emerged.

In this context the 1st International Symposium on Early Childhood Pedagogy at the University of Ioannina, Greece, run by Associate Professor Maria Sakellariou in association with Learning by Design project Coordinator in Greece, Eugenia Arvanitis, will take place between 22-23May 2013. The symposium is devoted to Learning by Design and its application for the first time in Greece in undergraduate preschool education students’ Practicum, which evolved during the last year. It also came as a pre-conference event to the 20th International Conference on Learning (http://thelearner.com/the-conference) to be held at the University of Aegean, Rhodes ( 11-13 July 2013). Thus, celebrating the active engagement of Greek academics, teachers and students to the newly formed learning community, which envisages to promote innovative pedagogical practices in Greece.

The 1st International Symposium on Early Childhood Pedagogy will be a multimodal forum, which will present and reflect on Learning Elements designed at laboratory level and taught at schools by 250 undergraduate students as part of their compulsory Practicum exercises in kindergartens in the city of Ioannina. Students’ presentations will be supplemented by academic reflections and rigorous discussions in an attempt to draw up a synergy between theory and practice in the Greek context. Another aim is to generate a public dialogue amongst academics, teachers, students, educational personnel and administrators on best practices of teaching and training and, thus, promoting a bottom up change of school-based training culture in Greece.

Greece is in turmoil at the moment suggesting that it is time for visionary initiatives and hands on approaches. Greek educators and academics create a common ground for a change.      More information: http://earlychildhoodpedagogy.gr