Report on Comenius Project
Salzburg, December 1999
rom 8th to 22nd December 1999 Frank Pettitt, IT lecturer at Woolwich College, London SE18 and Jonathan Guy, Librarian, Woolwich College, visited Salzburg, supported by a Central Bureau grant. Specifically, the visit was part of the Comenius project, an EC funded venture which aims at establishing the concept of a virtual InterNETional classroom among partnered schools in the community through use of Internet links and information technology.
The following were the activities carried out during our stay.
I. Teaching and discussion groups
This is a higher secondary technical school from ages 14-18+, one of the best in Austria and with a very standard of attainment and resources. Many of the students go on either to University or to well-paid positions in the expanding national electronics and engineering industries.
1. English background lessons.
Lessons and discussions were delivered and chaired by FP and JG in English on the following subjects:
These lessons were followed by discussions in which the Austrian and the English progressions were compared and contrasted and in which the high level of English attained by most students was suitably exercised.
The change from secondary to tertiary economy, from an industrial-docklands based work ethic to a warehouse and services one was documented also with the use of old photos and articles. To a lesser extent we discovered that Salzburg, too, has had to make substantial changes in its employment opportunities. For example, the old salt mines, which were the basis of the cityís former great wealth have all but closed and electronics, services and, especially tourism have taken their place. Several of the HTL students had visited Woolwich and Woolwich College earlier in the year and were, thus, especially interested in seeing us.
Here the higher aspirations of Austrian students as compared with those in Southeast London were evident. In fact, many students had virtually guaranteed jobs when they left as a result of their work experience connections at school. Resources were at least equal to and in some respects (thanks to private sponsorship, especially from Siemens) superior to the found at home. Students at Salzburg also benefited from a superior urban environment with a higher standard of housing, cleaner air and conveniently near countryside activities.
2. IT lessons
Lessons and discussions were delivered and chaired in English by FP on
The students appeared to be aware of the technical basis of this problem. We, therefore, concentrated more on the social, managerial, and historical reasons for it and gave plenty of opportunities for questions and answers.
A college of further educationís clearly not servicing the same sort of clients that a technical school educates. I explained the wider variety and level of courses in IT that I had to teach. Again, plenty room was given for student participation and discussion.
This was given freely and when required, as some of the classes appeared to be rather large in terms of the teaching resources available.
b) Evening classes
English lifestyle discussion and conversational practise were held at the following institutions:
This was held in a primary school building that also served as a local community centre. Many of the students had already been on trips organised by their teacher to English-speaking parts of the world. Although there was a keen wish to develop English speaking knowledge there was also a very strong social aspect to the lessons: the meeting of students for local chat was a significant factor for their getting together for the lessons. However, the lessons followed a set pattern with my colleague and I leading conversation and discussion groups in a suitably split class.
This type of College is a well-resourced further education establishment with many branches throughout Austria. The buildings at Hallein were new and very well equipped. The students attending this class were there for a more professional reason than those at Puch. Here, English speaking would directly enhance their Job prospects and facilitate their employment. The lessons followed a more orthodox plan using well-defined tutorials and textbooks. Again, dividing the class into smaller groups facilitated the development of English conversational practise.
II. Specific Comenius project contributions:
This booklet was produced by FP and JG in collaboration in landscaped double-column format and included the following sections: an introduction to the Comenius project
Text and Graphic materials were supplied almost wholly from the students (some reaching us via email while we were actually writing up the booklet) and FP and JG exercised editorial matters, producing an overall coherence with linking passages between the various sections.
The booklet was published on the Web in HTML format with assistance from Prof. KB from the school, with a hyperlink from the school home page and from the Comenius site. It is placed alongside the poster as another Comenius project and may be easily accessed for examination by those with Internet links.
III. Cultural Exploration.
In addition FP and JG participated in cultural and related activities aimed at becoming more acquainted with social life in Salzburg. These included:
(A Salzburg Diary was produced for the benefit of friends and colleagues)