Earlier this month, the TrainingAid team participated in the training sessions organized by Travelife, focusing on sustainability practices in the tourism industry (Sept 2-4, 2013, Monnickendam). In attendance were representatives of associations, vocational schools and educational institutions (from Croatia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Latvia, The Netherlands, Poland and the UK), interested in incorporating Travelife sustainability criteria into their curricula and training programs.
Sharing the Lessons Learned
One of the key objectives of the training program was to identify tangible opportunities for educators to incorporate the Travelife Sustainability System for Tour Operators & Travel Agencies into current and future school curricula and educational programs, and to recommend concrete steps for implementing those opportunities. To this end, the participants shared ideas, lessons and recommendations with each other through small-group brainstorming sessions and working group discussions.
Since Travelife has an extensive experience working with (and learning from) destinations and tourism businesses, educators can take advantage of the various lessons learned from Travelife’s professional training on sustainability in tourism (targeting tour operators, travel agencies, trade associations and destination organizations). The key challenge here, however, is to effectively and appropriately “translate” those lessons into the classroom context.
How can educators translate the effective training methods that work for industry professionals into teaching approaches relevant for students? How can teachers best address students’ different levels of background knowledge and skills? And importantly, how can educational programs offer a practical learning experience for students?
Improving Skills through Practical Learning
Many educators emphasized the importance of incorporating practical elements into classroom to enhance students’ learning experience. Here are some of the examples and ideas shared during the session:
- Problem-based learning: This approach utilizes problem-solving activities to engage students in active learning, with the instructor playing the role of facilitating the learning process.
- Role-playing: Some class projects include role-playing exercises or games with the aim of creating fictional scenarios that offer hands-on learning opportunities through realistic challenges.
- Project-based learning: In this “learning by doing” approach, students learn through working on projects that address practical application of their knowledge.
- Content and language integrated learning: This approach of learning means that the students learn the subject (e.g. “sustainable tourism”) in a foreign language (e.g. German, English, French), thereby combining content knowledge and language skill acquisition.
From these discussions on making learning practical (and therefore more meaningful) for students, one of the most important takeaways for us was this: While educational institutions can certainly benefit from the lessons learned by corporate and professional trainers about practical learning approaches, the benefits of sharing the lessons learned also apply to corporate and professional trainers and training program providers: There is much that those in the professional training field can learn from recent trends and current developments in the education sector, particularly regarding the implementation of innovative learning approaches and training tools.
It will be exciting to see more collaboration – for capacity building endeavors in sustainable tourism and various other fields – between the professional training and academic sectors to facilitate the sharing of best practices, lessons learned, and new ideas.