Hera teaches you a vocation... at school
Working at Hera Group
Hera teaches you a vocation... at school is an innovative project for disseminating and developing corporate technical knowledge, within the scope of the HerAcademy training activities, which involves an exclusive collection of Technical Institutions in Emilia-Romagna.
Hera and school teachers, specialised in a wide variety of subjects, are designing specific learning programmes together which cover a three-year period of orientation and specialisation. For the Group, and specifically for the resources involved, helping schools integrate their teaching with the typical skills of the area is an innovative opportunity for developing the expertise to convey "knowledge-based capital", a key resource for development and collective identity.
The project will be developed over a period of three years, as defined by specific protocols of collaboration with the institutions involved, in line with the new system for the curricula of technical institutions.
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The Hera teaches you a vocation... at school project was conceived within the scope of activities for the management and development of knowledge carried out by the Group’s Personnel and Organisation Head Office. Hera has always shown a strong commitment to improving the dissemination of its own technical knowledge-based capital, devising and applying the “Vocational School” model. This involves a methodology and a collection of tools (the “Vocation Exercise Books”) aimed at facilitating the learning/teaching processes among workers with varying levels of experience in everyday work situations. At the heart of the Vocational School is the attention to the cognitive nature of the various components of work-based knowledge: from formal and codified expertise to tacit knowledge, to the broad range of heuristics featured in the majority of corporate technical and operational professional skills.
Hera teaches you a vocation… at school was launched from this experience; in this case, the dissemination of professional subjects takes on a different nature, moving into formal educational contexts towards subjects (the students of the Technical Institutions) in very different cognitive conditions from strictly corporate ones.
For Hera, its commitment to this new approach has two meanings:
- on one hand , reinforcing valuable relations with academic institutions in the area, which contributes to ensuring students gain better qualifications. At the heart of the relationship with the ITIS is the shared and joint creation of learning micro-contexts which integrate scholastic subjects and corporate matters, paying attention to highlighting relations between technical aspects and economic aspects. As far as a future expert is concerned, learning to reason with business logic is extremely important for making their professional work sustainable. Hera’s contribution places a strong emphasis on this perspective;
- on the other hand, reinforcing the Group’s knowledge-based capital management organisational and professional skills, guiding the various Hera experts to recognise, represent, and impart corporate expertise matters and meanings of interest to the Technical Institutions in a manner which is not obvious. Management of the water cycle, energy topics, and waste management will be examined specifically, giving priority to emphasising the reasons behind technological and management decisions.
To sum it up in a slogan, “Teaching is learning”: conveying expertise and ways of dealing with technical problems to a young audience by way of a professionalisation process is an interesting opportunity for self-reflection on the meaning and value of distinctive corporate skills. In other words, the ways in which Hera has chosen and implemented its technologies, wading through the characteristics of businesses, the specific natures of areas, and the requirements of environmental, economic and social sustainability. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to highlight and extend the value which Hera brings to the area, transforming it into an extensive professional development resource.
The experimental nature of the project has meant that it was advisable to adopt a progressive and targeted approach, aimed at creating significant and effective teaching situations, related to the specific nature of the areas and subject to ongoing monitoring and a final evaluation.
Hera teaches you a vocation... at school was launched in the academic year 2012-2013, originally involving two Technical Institutions deeply rooted in the socio-economic fabric of Romagna, the ITIS Nullo Baldini of Ravenna and the ITIS Guglielmo Marconi of Forlì, based on the three-year curricular integration work protocols. In 2013, the conditions were favourable for extending the experiment to the ITIS Enrico Fermi of Modena, in this case through, with free choice extracurricular activities for students.
The adoption of a contextual and joint constructive approach led to the development of a specific proposal for each institution, with a commitment spanning across several years, in line with the gradual introduction of new curricular systems by the schools.
The first two programmes were delivered during the academic year of 2012-2013 (Climate-Energy 20-20-20” package at the ITIS Marconi, covering all III classes and the “Drinking Water” package for class III of the chemistry faculty in the ITIS Baldini), covering 3 class-based sessions lasting 6 hours each in a lesson format.
In the academic year of 2013-2014, as well as the reiteration of the activities aimed at the new year III classes, teaching will continue for year IV in ITIS Baldini with the completion of the water cycle (Purification) and in the Marconi ITIS with the specialisation of energy sector activities for the chemistry and electronics faculties. The first year of the limited extracurricular integrated studies “Smart technologies and sustainability: the management of the water cycle in Modena”, will also be launched as an experiment, aimed at the fourth years in the ITIS Fermi chemistry and electronics faculties.
The Hera teaches you a vocation... at school project is based on an integrated methodology, aimed at promoting two distinct and complementary learning processes: in the academic institutions involved (aimed at the pupils and, by extension, the teachers) and in the Group, among the key players of the professional system.
The guiding principle is “designing, organising, and directing the dissemination of knowledge externally reinforces knowledge management skills and corporate professional identity internally”.
Teaching is learning: the project seen from the knowledge management corporate perspective
In any professional system, the management of knowledge-based capital requires the joint implementation of a specific set of skills, starting with the shared recognition of the importance of the topic in strategic, organisational, and professional terms.
For the bearers of knowledge, this involves carrying out various operations, as an ordinary part of usual work processes, from outlining what they know (especially in highlighting relations between various concepts) to conveying and developing it. Beyond the various techniques, knowledge management is greatly facilitated by the capacity for self-reflection of the various players involved: those who convey, but also those who receive. Reflecting on what one knows, how one learnt it, what the key elements are thereof, what portrayals would be appropriate to make the meaning obvious strengthens awareness, capacity for action and vocational identity.
Integrating corporate knowledge with academic curricula: an active and participatory approach
In order to be effective, the integration between academic curricula (curriculum studies or “by subject”) and corporate skills (the “world of work”) requires the creation of specific learning micro-contexts, through which the relations between “theory” and “practice” are pointed out. This is more effective if one adopts a joint constructive approach in which each bearer of knowledge (teachers and corporate representatives) is committed to understanding the various specific characteristics and to negotiating a shared framework, consistent with the cognitive characteristics of the recipients.
That’s what the Hera teaches you a vocation… at school project has established, around a collection of principles shared by the company and the academic institutions involved. To sum up:
- an active approach, centred on the development on the part of the students of a capacity for interpretation (“producing questions”) and minimal plans of action (“looking for answers”), both on an individual and collective basis;
- focusing on know-why aspects, the framework meaning ofknow-what, seen, above all, as the introduction of key terms (structuring of thoughts through linguistic actions);
- scalarity, starting from a common base (consistent with what has already been achieved by the ITIS in the first two-year period) and moving on to gradual specialisation in the second two-year period and the fifth year based on the contents of the individual structures;
- interdisciplinary approach, through highlighting relations between technical aspects and the economic-legal context;
- alternating (as far as possible) between classroom-based learning and activities in the field:
i) individual, autonomous, and semi-structured activities (e.g. observation of life situations - one’s own home, academic institution, etc. - to search for “signs” of what has been introduced);
ii) collective-structured activities (guided tours to plants);
- integration with teachers, in terms of “fine” planning of classroom activities and assessments, in order to reduce cognitive costs as far as possible and reinforce the meaningfulness of learning.
"The choice of adopting a specific approach for each Technical Institution involved in the project has led to the development of a plurality of institutional resources (commitments between Hera and individual scholastic institutions, integrated with the individual POFs - educational policy plans), educational (projects involving multi-year individual courses, supporting students) and for updating teachers. The represent a wealth of development, which Hera is making available to the entire scholastic system".