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EURIAC carried out and tested unit 2 - Working with motor controllers


The first assignment; the students made a PLC program.

In November 2012, Radius College in Breda, the Netherlands, organised a second mobility period to evaluate the unit Working on motor controllers in the EURIAC project. In total six students from Spain, Finland and Sweden attended the two week training.
The EURIAC project team has defined work tasks for each unit of learning outcomes, and for the second unit they were as follows:

Work tasks for unit Working with motor controllers

  • Produce general scheme drawing of a production module using CAD systems
  • Assembly, programming and commissioning of a production module including Ladder programming with PLC and motor drivers.
  • Assembly, programming and commissioning of a production module including Sequence Ladder programming with PLC.
  • Using relays and contactors controlled by PLC in order to put the Y/D motor into service. 
  • Applying general safety rules according to the low voltage directive
  • Working with frequency controllers
  • Using basic principles of measurement in a motor control circuit for fault finding

In relation to the work tasks, there are a number of predefined learning outcomes. The learning outcomes are described in terms of Skills, Competences and Knowledge that the students should have achieved at the end of the mobility period.

Differences in educational systems in Europe

In the Netherlands, the educational programmes for initial vocational training are not divided into courses or described in terms of learning outcomes. The programme involved in the EURIAC project, is school based but carried out as work procedures and described in terms of competences. On the contrary, in Sweden all educational programmes at upper secondary level are divided into approximately 25-40 different courses where the students get a grade for each finished course making it possible for them to accumulate learning results.
Since the EURIAC training is organised into units and learning outcomes, Radius College had to work in a new way to handle the training for the EURIAC mobility.

The unit & learning outcome approach generated more practical work

Ad Stam, the teacher responsible for the Dutch unit, thought it was no problem working with a two week course. The content of the unit corresponds to what he normally does with the students in the Dutch qualification. The difference was that the learning outcome approach required a higher degree of formality than he is familiar with, the way the training is predefined and described in detail. The training Ad Stam carried out with the EURIAC students in two weeks within this field of technology, corresponds to what he normally does with his own students in one semester.

- Usually I spend much more time on explaining the theory. But I think this way is better for the students since they got to work much more with the equipment, he says.

At the end of the two weeks course, the students’ achieved learning outcomes were assessed both theoretically and practically. Normally Ad Stam only gives his students feedback on which level they are, not a formal grade.

- I think the result of the test matched the competences they had shown during the two weeks. But I did notice that the students’ competence level in English had an effect on their result.

The way to assess the students’ achieved learning outcomes is still under development in the EURIAC project. The work and discussions carried out so far by the professionals show that the choice of pedagogical approach greatly affects the discussions about assessment. It has also shown that the level of understanding of validation needs to be improved among professionals in vocational training in general.

The mobility created positive energy

Ad Stam very much enjoyed the two weeks of training the European class. It was nice for him to come upon new situations at his own school.

- Normally I give my students specified tasks. With this group I decided to give them only my wishes and I asked for their suggestions in four hours. Within three hours they had figured out most problems with a reasonable solution. Me and my colleagues are now convinced you don’t have to “give it all” to the students!

The students were also very pleased and thought it was exciting. But most importantly, the learning experience gets wider abroad than at home. New machines, new teachers, new friends, different pedagogical approach and the possibility to speak English in a professional environment all add up to an invaluable learning experience.
The first week the students worked on frequency controllers.  Ad Stam had planned to end the first day at 4 pm, but at 5 pm he had to ask the students to leave since he had private obligations for the evening.

- And that happened almost every day! Ad Stam happily exclaims.

Organising is essential

The Dutch students and the mobility students were not mixed the whole time. For a couple of days Ad Stam put the EURIAC students at the back of the class. He thinks it works well to mix the students during practical lessons, but it is more complicated during the theoretical lessons.

- Maybe it will be easier to mix them another time, now that I have gained some experience. It was difficult to know how things would turn out the first time.
But even with better preparation, students will have difficulties working together taking into account that some students have a language barrier.

Ad Stam’s colleague Debbie Van Iersel was also in the class to help the students out and she arranged host families, transports, lunches, farewell dinner etc.  She also enjoyed having the international students at school.

- They were very pleasant guests!

 

If you want to know more about the unit of learning outcomes carried out at Radius College in the Netherlands, please contact:

Ad Stam, Vocational and Educational Trainer, Radius College
Phone: + 31 76 573 3899 
E-mail: A.Stam@rocwb.nl

Debbie Van Iersel, Work Package Leader for the four Technical units, Radius College
Phone: + 31 76 573 3444 
E-mail: d.vaniersel@rocwb.nl  


The city of Breda, the Netherlands