EPICT

Project home page: http://www.epict.org/

Function in the project: member of the International EPICT Consortium, leader of the Hungarian EPICT research and development team.

EPICT - The European Pedagogical ICT Licence is a comprehensive, flexible and efficient in-service training course introducing a European quality standard for the continued professional development of teachers in the pedagogical integration of information, media and communication technologies (ICT) in education. EPICT comprises content, method, technology and processes, all of which are controlled internationally by the EPICT Group and nationally by the EPICT country, enabling the national environment to obtain both recognition and accreditation for its professional development.

EPICT combines pedagogical knowledge of ICT integration with basic ICT skills training. The basic philosophy is that when upgrading teachers, one without the other makes the training useless.
The training course is realized through blended, flexible learning where the methodology applied is team-based and involves process-oriented learning, problem-based learning, collaboration activities and team-based assessment. Thus the Pedagogical ICT Licence is a course concept that offers teachers basic ICT skills on a personal and a professional level through focusing on the pedagogical integration of ICT in the teaching practice.


Content of the European Pedagogical ICT Licence

Compulsory modules

Optional modules (select 4)

• Using the Internet and Internet resources, search and evaluate data
• Writing electronically
• Communicating electronically

• School innovation

• Using digital images
• Using spreadsheets
• Using presentations
• Producing educational websites
• A head start with databases
• Models and simulations
• Layout and dtp
• Educational software
• ICT and learning styles
• ICT and reading (special needs)
• ICT as a compensatory tool (special needs)
• Games and learning

Piloting EPICT, a new e-learning course for teachers on ICT in education in Hungary
EPICT (European Pedagogical ICT Licence, www.epict.org), a new model for in-service teacher education, provides exactly that. Its aim is to furnish basic ICT skills in connection with current methods that they can effectively support. This course is based on a blended learning method in groups of 4 or five, that can be formed both on the basis of an institution (staff members of a school) or on a shared professional experience (kindergarten educators, teachers of the same discipline, administrators, school heads, etc.) The course requires PC and internet access and a degree in education. As all tasks and exercises are closely connected to school practice, it is important that all group members were employed in education during the course. Four compulsory and four optional modules have to be learnt. Knowledge and skills are tested through group based, collaborative tasks realised in the authentic setting of the school of the participants. Technical and educational support is provided by the facilitator assigned to the group, a practicing teacher with high level ICT skills trained to mentor online. Focal points of the course are:

  • The role of ICT in the realisation of new educational paradigms
  • Development of ICT competencies of teachers
  • Planning for computer-supported learning
  • Usage of digital tools, teaching aids and resources
  • Use of ICT in school management and communication

All themes of the course have a pedagogical rationale. Participants work with ICT-skills related to these themes. Participants work in teams where teachers together develop material and learning scenarios for use in their own daily praxis. Teachers follow eight modules in the following order: Three compulsory - Four optional - Final compulsory.  When reading the names of the modules, always keep in mind that the content is focussed on the pedagogical use of ICT in education, thus all modules cover both the aspect pedagogical integration and the ICT-skills.
 
Modules in a European Pedagogical ICT Licence are structured to meet this need so that teachers can select the elements that are most relevant for them. The contents can be used with any software platform. Each module is divided into the following elements:

  • Pedagogical introductions and articles
  • Best practice articles
  • ICT-skills exercises
  • ICT manuals
  • Inspirational links

The course has been in use in 12 countries worldwide (among them, Australia and 6 African countries, cf. www. Epict.org) and is currently been piloted and accredited in Hungary and Great Britain.
Participants of the pilot course for EPICT in Hungary are 130 primary and secondary teachers. They have been invited from among more than 450 applicants who volunteered to test the in-service course under accreditation that was offered free of charge for participatory evaluation. Participants include all teaching levels ranging from kindergarten up to institutions of higher education. The majority of teachers (61 % come from secondary education (grammar and vocation al schools, ages of students: 12-18), another 28 % from primary schools (ages of students: 6-14), the minority representing kindergarten education (8 %, ages of children: 2-6) and tertiary level (3 %, ages of students: 18-23+). Pilot participants represent major age groups of the teaching population almost equally to that of the Hungarian average: the majority, 47 % are between 30 and 40 years of age while 32 % are between 41 and 53 and 11 % under 30. Only a minority of teachers (11 %) are employed in leading positions (school heads and deputies, leaders of kindergartens). Men and women are almost equally represented (54 versus 46 %) and the same is true for the disciplines: 42 % teach humanities or, as junior level primary teachers, are specialised in this area, 48 % are teachers of science and maths and 10 % other disciplines including the arts or kindergarten education.
The training involves an 8 month blended learning course taught for groups of 3-5 teachers. Groups were formed on the basis of schools of origin, as EPICT intends to promote ICT culture in schools as a whole and not just train lonely pioneers. For experimental reasons, we formed some groups based on discipline ( that work very well) and rank (two for school heads, and one for kindergarten head teachers, that work in a less than satisfactory manner.) Learning content includes the complete selection of EPICT modules: three compulsory ones followed by 4 options selected by the groups of teachers learning together, and ended by the fourth compulsory module. Every group has a facilitator – a qualified EPICT tutor experienced both in educational computing and public education. In order to get acquainted with the material, with fellow group members and facilitators, an introductory day for the whole course was organised in September 2005. After 3 month of e-learning in the virtual learning environment selected for the course, Moodle (www.moodle.com, http://moodle.epict.hu/). Another face to face occasion for the introduction of the optional modules and discussion of learning problems that occurred during the course was held in January 2006. In May of the same year, a third meeting for the pilot will be held to introduce the fourth and most demanding compulsory module on school management and ICT.
Motivation and teaching through correspondence is a key component of personality development that facilitators also enrich through face to face encounters with their group if needed. Facilitators meet every month in order to exchange their views on the progress of the groups, and act as a case discussion session for issues arising from the (un) ability of certain participants to cope with the requirements of learning in a virtual environment. Group cohesion and dynamics are another area often dealt with during these meetings, when common strategies of handling indolent group members that endanger the work of their peers as well as workaholics that do all tasks or make all decisions about module assignments by themselves, not letting others be meaningfully involved.

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