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European Innovative Teaching Award
Project

AlterDrive

School: Centrum Kształcenia Zawodowego w Wysokiem Mazowieckiem

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Topic(s) addressed

The project was aimed at creating innovative tools for the learning of alternative drives for motor vehicles (i.e. the online platform "AlterDrive"), and the virtual reality (VR) environment. Following several discussions and analyses, we concluded that the development of this sector of the automotive industry will be of key importance to the Polish, European, and global markets in the near and distant future. Experts estimate that the average annual increase in car production will amount to 3.6% by 2021, and that the share of vehicles with alternative drive sources will double from 3.7% in 2015 to 7.3% in 2022. This translates to a significant increase in the number of cars on the road. On the one hand, the industry’s development would mean an increase in employment and the mobility of societies, but on the other, it is associated with an increasing impact on the natural environment – leading companies from the sector to develop technologies that are also of low impact to the natural environment. It should be noted that the profile of the desired employee also changes along with such changes in trends in the automotive industry. The task of the vocational school therefore, is to provide the best possible preparation for students who are studying in fields related to the automotive industry so as to meet the needs of the dynamically changing labour market. The aim of this project was to meet these expectations by creating an international strategic partnership (CKZ and ARP vocational schools - AIJU research and technology centre - PP and ERA enterprises). The project aimed to do this by verifying a vocational teaching model that is based on propulsion systems; modelling the introduction of elements relating to alternative sources of vehicle propulsion into teaching and the theoretical scope; conducting research and verification of employers' needs with regard to staff and the skills needed by the industry; developing a methodology and a set of practical exercises for the creation of course materials in the automotive industry on alternative propulsion; defining materials for the implementation of courses in the automotive industry for alternative power sources and conducting a pilot course with students and entrepreneurs; and, developing the "AlterDrive" platform to facilitate learning of alternative drive systems for the profession of a vehicle technician and other associated vocations.

All of the project’s intellectual output and their descriptions are available on the its website www.alterdrive.eu under the section "OUTPUTS." Participation in this project allowed us to disseminate best European practices, as well as to better adapt vocational education and training to the dynamically changing and developing automotive industry through the use of the aforementioned AlterDrive educational platform, and the VR virtual environment. Both the educational platform "AlterDrive" and the VR environment aimed to interest and teach innovative solutions for car drives and illustrate their eco-friendly impacts in comparison to conventional solutions, which is a challenge that all European countries are currently facing – and will continue to face into the future. One of the project’s main goals was also to create innovative tools that are accessible from any place and at any time. These tools allow for learning and teaching in a flexible manner, which is one of this project’s strong points (i.e. on-site, at school, distance, or hybrid). The tools developed are fully digital, and allow for effective and inclusive education into the field of alternative drives for motor vehicles, which, in retrospect, was highly desirable and necessary in the era of digital education, and against the larger background of COVID-19.

Target groups

The project’s target groups saw the participation of vocational education teachers, consisting of 5 Polish teachers of various ages who were directly involved in the project and who came from 3 different fields, namely, car technician, car mechanic, and mechatronics technician. Furthermore, 10 Polish teachers of different ages were also involved in the use of tools that had been developed during the project. Another 5 Czech teachers of various ages who taught in the automotive industry were also directly involved in the project, with an additional 12 Czech teachers of various ages who utilised the tools that had been developed during the project. The project’s student participants consisted of 16 secondary Polish students who participated directly in the fields of car technician, car mechanic, and mechatronics technician, with approximately 30 students acquiring knowledge and skills in these fields of study each subsequent year. Furthermore, there were 16 secondary Czech students who were studying the automotive industry, with approximately 50 students acquiring knowledge and skills in the industry for each subsequent year. Participant companies and enterprises from the European automotive industry consisted of 28 Polish enterprises, services, workshops, and showrooms; 16 Czech companies, services, workshops, and showrooms; and, 20 Spanish companies, services, workshops, and showrooms, as well as other individuals and institutions interested in the topic of alternative drives for motor vehicles.

Methodologies

The project’s innovative nature lies in its solutions, which was based on a multidisciplinary approach that was developed through broad cooperation among technical schools, research and technology centres, and enterprises in the field of development and national and international projects, as well as consultation with companies from the automotive industry – all of which made the development of innovative teaching tools and methods possible. The open online educational platform "AlterDrive" is accessible anywhere and at anytime, provided one has Internet access. The platform itself may be accessed through the project’s website www.alterdrive.eu. In the interest of increasing students' motivation for skills acquisition in this field, we used the "learning by doing" method, as well as "learning through play," which involved the use of online tests, interactive quizzes that use the IT-KAHOOT tool, interactive crosswords that use the IT HOTPOTATOES tool, or interactive puzzles that use the IT-EDUCAPLAY tool, with all of the aforementioned tools available on the "AlterDrive" educational platform. We had also created a virtual environment for the learning of alternative drives for motor vehicles, with access to this environment provided on the "AlterDrive" platform. This is to be downloaded and installed (available at the "VR Game Experience" section of the project’s website); in order to fully utilise the system, the user would also have to be in possession of the VR tools as described on the project’s website www.alterdrive.eu under the "VR Game Experience" section, or alternatively, utilise their own. Innovative teaching methods and tools make knowledge expansion an interesting and fun manner through which to expand the school curricula, for example in the combining of formal and informal learning. The fact that the platform is open to everyone and that it facilitates the exchange of insights and experiences, helps in the acquisition of key competences such as IT or teamwork skills, or foreign languages. The developed innovative design tools also allows for inclusion and cooperation among students, as well as between students and the teacher – thus necessitating the active role of students within the learning process, and that of teachers in the teaching process, ultimately enabling both teachers and students to delve into the digital side of school. Furthermore, it is the school’s belief that digital and innovative tools should be used in the interest of making the educational process more interesting and motivating so as to enable students to acquire knowledge and skills effectively. In addition, the innovative digital tools and teaching methods developed during the project also allow for teaching to be implemented using various approaches, such as distance, hybrid, or stationary, which meant that the COVID-19 pandemic has not proven to be an obstacle to the school’s teaching and learning processes.

Environments

The project’s learning and teaching environment supports innovative teaching and learning methods through the use of innovative tools; furthermore, the project environment itself can be said to be virtual with regard to its innovative teaching and learning methods, and in its use of tools – all of which allow for the use of either the "blended learning" or distance learning method, as well as for its application in school-based classroom teaching, with the activation of methods such as the ‘flipped lesson’ also applicable here. It is worth emphasising that all activities were implemented at the International Centre located in the picturesque Spanish city of lbi. During the 5 days of training, partners' tasks with regard to the implementation of information on alternative drives and the development of an educational platform were thoroughly discussed. Evaluation tools were then created in the form of quizzes on theoretical knowledge for future users of the educational platform "AlterDrive." Forms of innovative teaching that used tools such as Kahoot, Hot Potatoes, and Educaplay were also developed, with participants having learnt the specifics of electric and hybrid drives as well as simulation tools and the devices necessary in the creation of virtual reality. Teachers could then pass on acquired knowledge and skills to colleagues and students at their institutions. The training itself saw the participation of 5 teachers from Poland’s Centrum Ksztafcenia Zawodowego in Wysokie Mazowieckie, and 5 teachers from a school in Prague, the Czech Republic. Teachers also had the opportunity to acquire knowledge in the field of alternative drives for motor vehicles, as well as create innovative tools (discussed in the section "Project environment"), which support innovative teaching methods. The project largely activated and integrated the teaching staff, who, during school meetings for various subject, transferred their acquired knowledge and skills on developed tools to each other. Additionally, the project enabled teachers to exchange experiences with their European colleagues, and learn about new working methods that influence the adjustment of vocational education to the needs of the labour market. The solutions used by partner institutions proved to be inspirational to teachers, and provided them with an incentive to improve their own teaching and educational work. The necessity to communicate in a foreign language motivated the development of teachers’ linguistic competences, which was confirmed by the fact that Krzysztof tuniewski, one of the teachers from the Centrum Ksztafcenia Zawodowego in Wysokie Mazowieckie (the content manager of the AlterDrive project), won second place in the competition ‘Teacher with POWER.’ The competition’s theme was the use of innovative tools that had been developed through international Erasmus+ projects, and the use of POWER programmes in conducting classes, with the competition’s organiser being the Foundation for the Development of the Education System. International cooperation created conditions for the development of both students and teachers, motivated them to constantly improve their learning and teaching methods, encouraged their mobility, taught them to think and act independently, facilitated their cooperation with others, and ensured quality and innovation in the teaching and education of students.

Teachers

Teachers involved in the project contributed to innovative teaching and learning processes through their acquisition of new IT and digital competences, which led to positive developmental impacts on the digitisation of schools, with virtual reality, the educational platform, and IT tools significantly enabling distance or hybrid learning. An element of the "AlterDrive" project was training meetings for schoolteachers who participated in the project, with AIJU - Research and Technology the entity responsible for the implementation of said training. Participation in a large international project had a positive impact on the employees of partner institutions, as it enabled them to use this experience (including those gained during training) to create and expand the project using their ideas and conclusions, which was facilitated by the project’s open-access approach (via the website, or the AlterDrive platform itself). Other project benefits to partners included the exchange of experience, knowledge, and good practices through the synergy of activities and cooperation; learning of practical solutions for education used across European institutions; improvement of teachers' professional qualifications in line with foreign standards; the identification of contacts with whom other projects may be developed and implemented; the possibility to cooperate on common problems with partners from other countries; and, the development or transfer of innovative solutions in vocational training activities. It was also extremely important to us that the project’s results could be successfully applied by other entities that struggle with similar problems with regard to distance or hybrid education. Furthermore, our school and other interested schools were much more willing to use the project’s innovative tools during the COVID-19 pandemic, for which a great need exists for distance education. As such, other entities may, by following our example, create similar solutions for their educational areas. The solutions themselves have a form that is ready to be used in practice. Access to these solutions is free of charge, and their summary, along with their characteristics and documentation, are available to everyone through the project’s dissemination of results Everyone can, and should in fact, capitalise on these innovations as they can contribute to improvements to schools’ objectives, improvements to the quality of education, stimulate motivation to study and work, and increase a school’s digital possibilities. Indeed, there are as many benefits as there are solutions, among which some may be applied to individual problems, and others to identify and solve wider problems. The project’s impact was also noticeable in the adaptation of the teaching process to requirements relating to the shaping of students' skills, the needs of the modern labour market, and the adaptation of educational tools in this area. In addition, the project has also made its impact in the field of didactic tools by raising education levels and attractiveness while incorporating the use of modern technologies into the education process. The implementation of seminars that provided a summary of the project, as well as other activities aimed at the dissemination of the project’s results, articles, and general information, contributed to an increased interest among representatives from local authorities, supervisory and business authorities, and in the activities and opportunities offered by international cooperation across a great number of areas. In addition, the project increased the involvement of parents into school life, and they have also noticed its potential benefits with regard to education approaches (distance and hybrid education). Project participation had a positive impact on the overall image of vocational education, and through the promotion of the project’s activities, revealed the possibilities and connections of this approach. The value obtained as a result of the project’s implementation also broadened participants’ thinking. The project’s implementation turned out to be an excellent example of interregional cooperation, promoted schools among potential students, and also promoted the Erasmus+ programme. The project’s impacts at the local, regional, national, and European level was primarily the extension of international cooperation in the field of vocational education in terms of and with the participation of many different entities and participants. The effects of this are already visible, as we have since been invited as a school to participate in projects carried out by other European entities. All of this allows the school to be innovative in its teaching and learning processes, with a far wider impact on the school, and within the local and European environment.

Impact

Training staff, as well as staff from schools and organisations who were interested in the solutions developed by this project, have themselves introduced new, interesting, and innovative methods of education, as well as innovative tools and approaches for students in the profession of automotive vehicle technician. Thanks to the project’s joint implementation, partners have gained new experiences as a result of international cooperation and increased their prestige in Poland and in their respective countries, which has resulted in their acquisition of new partners (post-gymnasium vocational schools; companies; research and technology centres), due to the project’s use of modern communication methods (video chat, videoconference) and its successful inter-sectoral arena. The "AlterDrive" platform remains an open platform with the possibility of continuous expansion, with its learning platform carrying 3 main modular units: i) CNG and LPG Supply Systems, ii) Hybrid Drive Systems, and iii) Electric Drive Systems. The educational content for each individual modular unit can be found on the project’s website www.alterdrive.eu. It is worth mentioning that all training materials are in English, which enables all European educational institutions and other interested entities to use it (one of the project’s objectives). However, materials were also  translated into partner school’s native languages – Polish and Czech. Furthermore, sets of practical exercises were prepared for each modular unit to ascertain knowledge levels in the form of classic on-line quizzes, as well as modern tools such as KAHOOT (interactive quizzes); HOT POTATOES (interactive crosswords), and EDUCAPLAY (interactive puzzles). The platform may be used in classrooms that teach motor vehicle technician across Europe, with the interactive "AlterDrive" platform and all its functionalities accessible from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The design environment was complemented by a very important and innovative tool for practical exercises in the form of a game that tests acquired knowledge regarding the alternative drives of motor vehicles. It is thus a virtual reality environment in the shape of a car workshop, through which one can learn about electric car drives through play. We focused on electric drives given the attention on said drive, as well as their position in the development of alternative drives for motor vehicles. In retrospect, it may be said that we met the expectations of a digital school, and the objectives of distance/hybrid learning, both of which are highly relevant today given the needs of school against the backdrop of COVID-19.

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Stakeholders

Participants

Akademie řemesel Praha - Střední škola technická

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Czechia

AIJU - Asociación de investigación de la Industria del Juguete, Conexas y Afines

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Spain

ERA Evropská rozvojová agentura - European Development Agency

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Czechia

Perfect Project Spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzialnością

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Poland