The seven Principles of Dialogic Learning (Flecha, 2000) are the basis of interactive groups and they always have to be taken into account:
The participants, teachers and volunteers have to be considered as equals in the classroom; an egalitarian dialogue ensures that their contributions are valued according to the content of the arguments and not according to who is making the contribution.
Therefore, it is based on a dialogic relationship between participants, teacher and volunteers in the classroom. The teacher is no longer the only one who can share knowledge about the content, the classmates and the volunteers are also valuable essential resources. This approach promotes a creation of knowledge based on inter-subjectivity between all the educational agents. In other words, knowledge is created together with everyone, and we all have something to contribute to it.
For example, at the beginning of a course the teacher must expose the five key ICT competences of the European framework (information processing, communication, content creation, safety and problem solving). Then they agree together with the participants on what contents are important for them to work on, ensuring that everyone can give their opinions. This way, although there us a programme that the teacher and the volunteers would have already discussed before starting the course, the voices of all the participants are taken into account.
"We live in a little village. You need a computer to have an outlook." Watch what our Swedish participants learnt in their course and why it was important to them!
Everyone has different intelligence and learns differently. An intergenerational approach puts value on these different intelligences from elderly and young people. Everyone can contribute to creating knowledge, whether they have had an academic education or not, because adult participants have acquired skills from their own life experiences that are transferable to an academic context as long as appropriate conditions are guaranteed.
For example, there are people who because of their job have to use the email very often so they can help out others who don’t. They create an account together and they learn together how to use the email’s functions, some of which none of them had seen before. Others might be more familiar with digital spreadsheets because they have needed it in their jobs too, and they can share what they know with the group. It helps because the teacher might explain it with a technical language the group doesn't understand, while when they work together and use their own words everyone understands the concepts better. This way, the cultural intelligence the group has becomes a resource for everyone to learn digital competences better and faster.
“If she can then I also can.” Watch how our Spanish participants have overcome their initial feelings of insecurity.
The elderly and young disadvantaged participants are empowered by transforming their situation, becoming active citizens and overcoming by themselves their social, occupational and/or educative exclusion. When participants are the ones who create knowledge and culture, it also transforms the way they interact in their family, personal and work environments.
An example of how the improvement of ICT competences transforms the life of the participants is the case of a participant who enrolled to a literacy course and used WhatsApp (a chat application for smartphones) to practice and to learn the alphabet. Another participant who is also learning to read and write uses voice messages through WhatsApp to communicate more easily instead of writing messages. Roma participants from Bulgaria have also stated that it would be helpful for them to learn how to use Skype in order to communicate with family members who live abroad.
“I understood that working with a computer is not something to be afraid of.” Watch the experience of our participant from Bulgaria with computers.
Dialogic learning includes academic contents and abilities, as well as instruments like dialogue and reflexive thinking. In order to achieve the best results, it is essential that the contents are decided together, through a negotiation between the participants and the teacher.
When applying this methodology, the participants will acquire digital competences based on the European digital framework EUROPASS. If there is dialogue and critical thinking, the participants will develop their abilities to process and select information, which is essential for two of the key competences in the European curriculum: Information Processing and Problem Solving.
“We are curious. We want to develop our skills.” Watch which skills our Swedish participants acquired.
It refers to the need to respect the participants’ individual needs and to promote a learning based on their own demands and necessities. When they actively work together they learn more and what they do has meaning. Dialogic learning is one of the best ways to overcome the loss of meaning because people see that their participation produces changes and improvements.
“I have learned to use Skype in order to connect to my husband.” What did the course mean to one of our Bulgarian participants?
We need a democratic education with the active participation of the participants in the classroom because, in this context of egalitarian dialogue, it promotes the attainment of mature and critical thinking. As the participants get used to working together and helping one another, they will gradually be more supportive of their classmates, ensuring better learning results by overcoming difficulties together.
“We met during the course and now we became friends.” There is more to interactive groups than learning digital skills!
Dialogic learning is based on considering diversity a source of enrichment. If someone is not familiar with certain skills and competences, it doesn’t mean that the expectations of what they can learn should be reduced. Instead, the needed support has to be given to improve their skills to be able to learn in the same way as their classmates.
Speaking a different language? It doesn’t matter if you are willing to communicate!