What changes does the PRINTeL Project intend to introduce in PC HEIs classrooms, what needs to be improved? What kind of T&L activities and modalities PC HEIs provide to their students today? What is wrong with them?
Let’s have a look at what is going on in our classrooms nowadays. Very often we can see archaic teaching practices, limited use of ICT, lack of interactive approaches and a gap between T&L and research. As a result, student surveys very often reveal dissatisfaction and insufficient learning experience. These issues are common for the PC HEIs and caused by several reasons, which are briefly described underneath.
The first is the modest capacity of teaching staff in the usage of new pedagogical approaches/didactics, innovative T&L methods, technology enhanced and online learning tools. Teaching staff heavily relies on traditional lecturing as a main form of instruction. But the practice shows that even a good lecturing has limited effectiveness in helping students to retain knowledge and most important, to use it in the novel situations. Current outdated T&L practices provide simple transfer of knowledge without developing practical skills and real-life competences. Students express similar concerns. They often complain about courses not being interesting, as they just sit and take notes, and hardly see the value and significance of what they have learned. Students are bored with outdated lectures and need more experiential learning activities and interesting knowledge from a cutting-edge research. Poor retention of knowledge is another issue. Students seem to have learnt the material in a course (as evidenced by their exam scores) but later they are unable to retain this knowledge when they move on to other courses.
To overcome the above-mentioned problems teachers should redesign their courses, so as to provide students with more experience of using what they have learned and offer opportunities to apply knowledge they gained (such as teamwork, simulation or role-playing, project or problem-based learning, portfolio development, etc.). While the knowledge of the subject matter is not a major bottleneck to a good T&L for a significant part of teachers, their interaction with students is a main concern. Teachers lack conceptual tools to rethink and reconstruct T&L activities as well as the knowledge on how to design and effectively deliver their courses. For this they should be transformed from “being just lecturers” to “being designers of learning methods and environments”.
ICT based instructional technologies and interactive e-learning tools are not yet widely and effectively used today. Teachers lack appropriate skills and experience in the usage of contemporary audio-visual tools and e-learning platforms. For this purpose, the quality of teaching staff development programmes should be enhanced in the PC HEIs. Universities are in need of effective platforms for uniting and sharing their educational resources in order to increase the potential for providing quality and innovative teacher training courses. A virtual platform for uniting and sharing online educational resources, good practices in innovative T&L and integration of technology could benefit significantly to the improvement of teaching staff development.
Scarcity of propagation and dissemination of good practices among HEIs is another major issue, which needs to be addressed as well. The PC HEIs lack the communities of innovative teaching practice, periodic workshops and information seminars, regular forums on innovative instructional methods, as well as internal institutional incentives and award programmes for the excellence in T&L.