Results Checklists

Leadership

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This checklist is the result of a meeting of experts that took place 26 - 28 February 2020 in Espoo / Finland. Due to the Corona crisis the checklist did not yet undergo a subsequent consultation process involving further experts. If you have any suggestions how to improve this checklist, please let us know anytime!

No matter if you are reflecting on characteristics (or quality attributes) of an information or communication technology (ICT) or on specific digital media that you intend to acquire, or on a digitalisation strategy you plan to implement, the following questions might be helpful to proactively scrutinizing their respective potential contribution to inclusive vocational education and training (VET).

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‘Effective leadership’ has been identified as a particularly powerful factor for successful inclusive education that finally leads to employment at the open labour market. This means: investing in effective leadership could be a ‘game changer’. Leadership encompasses different responsibilities that – individual, team-based or decentralised – leaders need to fulfil. The following collection of responsibilities is used to structure this following checklist:

  1. Developing, shaping and pursuing a vision
  2. Acting as a change agent
  3. Improving teaching and learning practice
  4. Creating a positive, motivating and inclusive atmosphere / climate
  5. Management of individuals, teams, data and processes1

1 The Wallace Foundation (Ed.): The School Principal As Leader: Guiding schools to better teaching and learning. January 2013, New York, USA.

1. Developing, shaping and pursuing a vision

This first responsibility relates to the future of the organization / institution: where does it need to go, what is the right direction? Inclusion could be seen as a as general as possible vision for an organization / institution active in VET, in reality most probably being combined with further clarifying aspects what the organization / institution wants to become.

Effective school leadership requires leaders to look ahead. The anticipation of the future (or of different futures!) is a key component of strategic management; it observes developments in the closer (e.g. changes in learner characteristics of beginners cohorts, changing attitudes of regional employers, local / regional labour market developments) or wider environment (e.g. megatrends, policy changes) of the organization and gathers appropriate data on these developments. Once this data on trends and developments has been collected, it needs to be assessed, to which extent those developments could be seen as opportunities or rather threats for the organization and its specific vision. Finally, based upon these results, suitable strategies need to be developed to e.g. defend threats or to make use of opportunities that may occur (usually as part of a so-called SWOT analysis). These activities might be relevant to be viewed for possibilities to be supported by ICT.

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2. Acting as a change agent

Organizations / institutions are under permanent change, due to ever changing internal as well as environmental conditions. While it is relatively simple to define new structures, procedures, responsibilities etc., it is quite complex and difficult to implement and safeguard these changes permanently. The challenge is that members of the organization / institution (i.e. staff and other stakeholders) tend to be more or less resistant to changes, hence change processes need to be accompanied appropriately.

The people (internal or external) who drive the change process forward are called change agents, and leaders can take the role as a change agent as well. These change agents are individuals who know how to get people in an organization involved in solving their own problems. A change agent's main strength is a comprehensive knowledge of human behaviour, supported by a number of intervention techniques / strategies, with expertise in the behavioural sciences and in the intervention technology of organizational design. There are many possible intervention strategies from which a change agent may choose. This checklist is based on six specific assumptions2 and examines in this context the role that ICT can play.

2 See R. Beckhard (1969). Organization development: strategies and models. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley. pp. 26–27

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3. Improving teaching and learning practice

Effective leaders shall offer further professional development opportunities to all staff, including teachers, to ensure quality in education. Furthermore, they should also contribute to the development and implementation of individualised and flexible curricula for learners, and to the provision of different pathways and options that allow for exploration (i.e. horizontal) or progression (i.e. vertical) to match the learners’ needs. Both aspects could be understood as approaches to better understand and address the professional needs of teachers and the educational needs of learners.

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4. Creating a positive, motivating and inclusive atmosphere / climate

School leadership needs to develop an inclusive policy, where differences among learners are considered a ‘normal’ part of the educational culture, and to create an atmosphere of motivation and commitment. The following aspects of ICT might be supportive in this endeavour:

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5. Management of individuals, teams, data and processes

And finally, leadership also encompasses the practical management of people and of processes. Here, ICT can possibly play some of its known strengths.

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Context

The main objective of the Strategic Partnership EICON is to support organizations / institutions providing vocational education and training (VET) to become more inclusive using information and communication technology (ICT). Managers of organizations / institutions that are active in VET are particularly in need for guidance on how to further develop, as they often have to work towards multiple aims simultaneously, i.e. inclusion usually is one among many other aims. EICON particularly explores the inherent potential and synergies in the overlapping section between education, inclusion and digitalisation.

How to use this checklist?

We are convinced that there is no 'one best way' for any organization / institution active in VET to increase its inclusive capacity with ICT. Rather, each one needs to find its own solution that then fits perfectly to its respective situation and requirements. Therefore, we aim to guide organizations / institutions through a thorough review process of its current set-up. This will be done by asking a series of questions, each single one directing the view to an essential area. The idea is that the checklist questions are discussed internally with all relevant stakeholders, and then own conclusions based on the discussion results are drawn. By no means all checklist items need to be answered positively. However, if none of them is met, i.e. a certain ICT / digital media / digitalisation strategy does not address any of the checklist items, then it probably won't impact positively on the respective checklist topic. See also further checklists for other topics (e.g. pedagogy, technology & infrastructure, links to employment and other stakeholders, leadership) under www.eicon-project.eu

All checklist items should be reviewed both at classroom level as well as at organization level, because an increase of an organization's inclusive capacity requires that impact is not limited to the classroom level. On the other hand, a VET organization / institution cannot be inclusive without having inclusion implemented at classroom level, i.e. both levels are essential.

EICON (Enhancing inclusion capacity of educational organizations / institutions providing VET with information and communication technologies (ICT)) is an ERASMUS+ KA2 Strategic Partnership for vocational education and training during 2018 - 2020 (Grant Agreement No.2018-1-DE02-KA202-005110). This checklist has been developed in the context of EICON. It represents the results of discussions among the experts involved in the project as well as a subsequent public consultation process that involved a wider audience in reviewing the intermediate results.

Creative Commons Licence CC BY SA

The checklist is published under the Creative Commons License CC BY-SA, i.e. you are free to copy and redistribute the checklist in any medium or format, and to remix, transform and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially. However, you must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. If you remix, transform, or build upon this material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as this original. To give appropriate credit, please use the following information: [Author] ERASMUS+ EICON Project Consortium [LINK] www.eicon-project.eu

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the content that reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.