Study trip educational module – Staffordshire University (UK), Warsaw University (PL), Vytautas Magnus University (LT)
The module was developed during a process of preparing and organising two study trips in each of three partner countries: Lithuania, Poland and United Kingdom in the period of 2011-2012. The process consisted on ongoing, multilateral consultations and testing each phase of the module by the representatives of the three countries.
The module is ready to apply in different vocational training systems. The study trip is planned not only as a part of training but is developed to create links between VET students, practitioners and communities. It is thought as intensive theoretical and practical study of active communities in the chosen region that can be continued in a co-operation with them.
The module has three phases: it starts from preparatory phase, develops during study trip and finalises in the summary phase after the study trip. The module can have its culmination in placements organised after the study trip in the visited communities and institutions.
1. The aim of the preparatory phase is detailed planning of all activities connected with designing each study trip. It involves: defining the participants of visiting group; recognition of the chosen region from cultural, social and economical perspective; finding local allies and establishing bonds between the organisers of study trip and visited communities, cultural centres and art institutions. This preparation serves all the participants of visiting group as a possibility to have impact on the program of the study trip. They play an active role at each step of the research, getting an opportunity to gain more fundamental knowledge about visited region, use methods of analyzing different kinds of existing sources, prepare themselves methodically for the future meetings during the trip. The crucial task of this phase is to provide best organisational and logistical background of each study trip, that will meet expectations of all the participants: visiting group, visited communities and institutions.
- recruitment of visiting groups (groups of max. 17 participants, recruited from VET students, practitioners, community members);
- cultural, social and economical research of the chosen region.
- The first step is a survey of existing sociological diagnosis, demographic and economic data.
- The second step is the analysis of web materials and documentation treated as a crucial source of information about cultural policy and activity of the region.
- The third step are consultations with local experts and cultural activists that take place both via phone or internet and during study visits.
- the process of building a program
This phase includes permanent contact with the members of communities and local institutions, which will be visited during the study trip, in order to prepare together the detailed program of each visit. During that time all the decisions about organizational and logistic part of the study trip are taken. Appropriate route and schedule are created, accompanied by booking accommodation, food supply, travel for the whole period.
2. The aim of study trip is to create a platform of exchange of methodical knowledge of VET students, experience acquired at labour market and methods developed by communities. Each study trip is designed to show a wide range of communities’ activities and the cultural specificity of the chosen region. It serves to improve educational quality and effectiveness in the curriculum of vocational training. Direct meetings during the study trips are meant to establish solid links with visited communities and institutions in order to prolong the contact and co-operation in the future.
During the study trip the participants are given a chance of meeting experienced professionals in their field of work and talking directly with them about the specificity of community work (e.g. their ability to cope with existing institutions and organisations, their recognition of local needs and possible financial resources, their skills in mediating between people, their tested models of activity). The crucial part of each study trip from pedagogical point of view are workshops and work exchanges that provide a chance of trying and testing presented methods. During the meetings both sides consider the possibilities for further co-operation and, especially, for organising a placement for VET students or young practitioners.
The participants are expected to continue the research during the study trip by taking active part in all the planned events, taking notes, collecting documentation etc. Each day finishes with a special work session, when all important issues are discussed.
- time: 3-6 days journey across the chosen region; it consists of 1-4 meetings per day;
- forms: discussion sessions, workshops, presentation of projects and their documentations, exchange of work.
- participants: members of communities, representatives of cultural institutions, both public and non-government.
3. The aim of the summary phase and placements after the study trip is to evaluate the study trip and reflect all the gained knowledge and experience. The summary includes valuation meetings, collecting the reflexions in different forms: reports, diaries, photo and text documentation. The placements aim at providing possibility of coming back to visited communities and institutions after the study trip is finished. It allows durable participation in everyday work of those communities and institutions, taking active part in the current projects and developing skills based on their experience. This close co-operation, understood as a result of study trip, serves as a bridge between vocational training and labour market.