IMPROVEMENT OF THE PEDAGOGICAL MODEL OF THE VOCATIONAL STREAM OF SECONDARY EDUCATION, USING A VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT BASED ON MOODLE

ABSTRACT

This project reflects on how to proceed in order to improve the pedagogical model of the vocational stream of secondary education in Portugal, through the implementation of a Virtual Learning environment, based on Moodle. Its use as an educational resource of the Gustave Eiffel Vocational School (Portugal) was supported by the board of the institution, and four teams were created to implement it: technical support, platform training, ICT training with special focus on multimedia development, and quality control.

This platform was designed to complement the face-to-face sessions, in a blended perspective (b-Learning) based on the principles of constructivism, social-constructivism and constructionism of teaching and learning processes. We aimed at growing the motivational aspects of the educational community, namely by using Communication Interactive Systems as auxiliary elements to transform the teaching practices, adjusting them to the expectations of the Digital Natives, i.e. the today’s learners.

The data analysis allows us to verify that the impact of this project was far beyond the initial expectations as the initial goals were clearly achieved or surpassed: the timetable was accomplished on schedule and we almost tripled the number of people involved in this project (students and teachers). When comparing with the initial projections, the teachers training sessions were very effective and led us to the preparation of extra on-line training sessions to meet the demand, and no significant incident occurred during the implementation of the project. At the moment we are planning to extend the platform’s usage to all courses in the school and to some organic units of EPGE involved in adult lifelong training.

Alongside with this project we achieved the improvement of the pedagogical model of the vocational stream of secondary education in Portugal, blending the face-to-face model with a platform that provides an organized and systematized environment, allowing students to study and learn more effectively and autonomously. These practices promoted the student’s self-efficiency, and a re-conceptualization of the teacher’s pedagogical practices. Some of the most significant highlights from the feedback we gather are presented in this study.

KEYWORDS: Learning and teaching systems, vocational education, b-Learning, on‑line learning platforms, case study.