Better-E applies e-Learning in Adult Education

Based on the partners’ experience on barriers to e-Learning, ‘Better e-Learning for All‘ (‘Better-E’) proposes a global approach to create better e-Learning.

Better-E logo-erasmus-plus

The Project’s name is already providing information about its objectives by demanding an upgrading on the quality of e-Learning practices and simultaneously an enhancement on the number and characteristics of the Organizations and people to involve in e-Learning.

Partners are aware of the common cross-border barriers to e-Learning in the context of Adult Education as these had been identified by the partners previously. These barriers had been divided into several categories:

– Accessibility: the physical and technological infrastructures in which the learning occurs and through which the material is presented.
– Availability: appropriate learning resources.
– Presentation: the social infrastructure in which the material is presented.
– Stakeholders: learners, trainers and organizations.
– Courses: course content and pedagogy.

Considering these barriers as an ensemble, ‘Better-E’ proposes tools and methodologies to diminish them, providing solutions both from technological and pedagogical perspectives. The solutions will be gained with due consideration of the fragile autonomy held by stakeholding learners, and the empowerment necessary for the changes to take place.

‘Education’ and ‘Training’ are not foreseen as the only key scopes for e-Learning practice as the ‘Better-E’ Project sets out to foster Social Inclusion and Cohesion as identified objectives achievable through an improved implementation of e-Learning practice. The enhancement of both the practice and the quality of e-Learning, the increasing of the number and type of e-Learning promoters and, above all, addressing significant social issues through better e-Learning practice are all being identified as significant if intangible results from the project.

The project Objectives are, among others:
– to propose, to test and to create a user-friendly and pedagogy-centered e-Learning Platform for course promotion;
– to introduce and to incorporate e-Learning into organizations (chiefly training-provider NGOs) usually not currently including e-Learning practices;
– to promote e-Learning as an inclusion device, in the context of traditional Education and Training being regularly considered to be a mechanism for social inclusion while e-Learning is not
– to use e-Learning to encourage active citizenship and entrepreneurship through initiatives fostering green skills, entrepreneurial mind-sets and appropriate skills.

The Project will directly target two main groups: (1) Training Provider NGOs, and (2) their targeted audiences. The philosophy sustaining it is the need to generate e-Learning best practices as close as possible to organizations providing Adult Education and Training Systems but usually without the application of e-Learning. Engaging them with e-Learning practice will consequently benefit their learner target-groups by engaging the learners in ways that will reduce the potential and risk of social exclusion.

The Project foresees the direct involvement of dozens of NGOs from the partner countries.
The scientific, pedagogical and technological scopes of the deliverables are prepared and will be applicable to the entire range of e-Learning stakeholders, including Schools, Universities, Private Training providers, among others.

Project promoters will engage in Preliminary Research to upgrade the State-of-the Art for the application of e-Learning with regard to a range of organisations, policies, countries and learner backgrounds. The partners will then conceive, test and launch the ‘Better-E Platform’, an online tool to fully conceive e-Learning courses, embedded with technological solutions while addressing important pedagogical concerns.

To test the Platform and engage final beneficiaries, the Partnership proposes the conception, testing and delivery of two e-Learning courses: (1) ‘Entrepreneurship’, promoting active citizenship through enterprise while applying innovations that can break the cycles that perpetuate social exclusion. (2) ‘Easily Moving from Learning to e-Learning’, an instruction course that includes in part a guide to the use of the ‘Better-E’ Platform.

The ‘Better-E’ title not only seeks to engender thoughts of better e-Learning, but also may identify ambitions for a ‘Better Europe’, by means of strong European Partnerships contributing for better common societies. It may also recall a common pronunciation with the word ‘Battery’, symbolising energy generated through partnership, aligning the project with the Erasmus+ global priorities and aims.

VETAAL – Vocational Education and Training for Ambient-Assisted Living

VETAAL_Logo

VETAAL seeks to integrate AAL – Ambient-Assisted Living – systems in furniture to create products that can offer ‘smart’ support for people in the later stages of life or people living with physical disability so they might live independently.

The project fulfils this by training staff from the furniture manufacturing sector to provide them with the skills for designing and manufacturing these products where ICT sensors are integrated into the frames of the finished articles. The training will mean the furniture manufactured will be in accordance with specified safety requirements so they are CE marked and fulfil ISO Standards, fulfilling legal and safety requirements for European and International Markets.

The VETAAL platform will connect experts and students from the furniture sector. Users will have the chance to share information, knowledge and experiences with other EU users. VETAAL will also become the first step for collaborations with an approach to enhance the EU cooperation in AAL and its correct integration in the furniture sector. For the project Partners, VETAAL reduce the dependency of furniture SMEs on other auxiliary organizations like environmental consultancies, and will offer competitive Smart Support Furniture for AAL to them as SMEs.

The care and support of elderly and disabled people is an emerging, niche market for the furniture sector. To cover the requirements of this group, more and more furniture organizations are focusing on this market, even integrating AAL (Ambient Assisted Living) systems in their final products to produce what is called Smart Support Furniture.

However, it has been found that most of the furniture manufacturers do not have the skilled employees required for designing and manufacturing products for this sector according to the specific safety and mechanical needs (CE marked, ISO Standards, etc) that these products must accomplish to fulfil the legal and safety requirements for European and International Markets. Consequently, the main objective of VETAAL is to address the challenges of the vocational skill mismatch that the new demand of an AAL-integrated Habitat has produced, by the development and validation of a harmonized European curriculum based on the principles of ECVET in the area of design and the manufacture of Smart Support Furniture that provides e-learning through introductory face-to-face sessions to provide experts working in the furniture sector or preparing to enter the labour market.

The specific objectives (SO) of the VETAAL project are:

  1. Define skills needs in the field of AAL and requirements for designing and manufacturing Smart Support Furniture for Ambient Assisted Living.
  2. Design and develop a Joint Curriculum on Smart Support Furniture for Ambient Assisted Living by implementing innovative methods in e-learning and face-to-face learning.
  3. Develop a Multilingual eLearning Platform for teaching the remote learning part.
  4. Involve VET policy makers contributing to the outcome dissemination to guidance services, representative organisations as well as to relevant national, regional or local authorities, exploiting the project outcomes and recognizing it as a standard VET model, which will ensure a high impact on VET policies.
  5. Develop a Memorandum of Understanding: Defining criteria for memorandum of understanding and recognition of learning outcomes and concluding a MoU to shape future operational partnerships between partners.
  6. Develop Draft training recommendations that can be adopted by training institutions in all European countries
  7. Develop Draft training recommendations that can be adopted by training institutions in all EU countries

VETAAL will set three different training paths depending on the user’s professional background. The training paths will also be based on four main learning pillars (Basic concepts on electronics, design and ergonomics, psychology and needs of elderly and disabled and AAL integration in furniture) which will be developed in detail between all the partners according to the real training needs of the target sector.

IGUALA – a gender equality training package

This project will allow the translation and adaptation of a flexible on-line gender equality training package developed in Spain as a result of a project in the framework of the EQUAL Initiative between 2005-2007.

The objective of the project is the development of an Internet-based platform to deliver the Equal Opportunities course for teachers and trainers enhancing education and employability practice under the Lisbon Agenda. The adaptation will take into consideration the national idiosyncrasy of the other members of the partnership comprising SMEs, vocational and training associations, research institutions and non-profit associations.

The aim behind a Leonardo da Vinci Transfer of Innovation project is to improve the quality and attractiveness of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in the participating countries by transferring existing innovations to new environments through working with transnational partners. Innovation transfer projects generate synergies by exploiting existing VET innovations. These innovations can be based on previous Leonardo projects, or on any other national, European or international innovative projects, and can be transferred into vocational training systems and organisations at national, regional, local or sector level.

The partners in the project – from Spain, Bulgaria, Italy, Poland, Portugal, France, Germany and UK – considered the lack of gender skills in training staff. As equality between women and men is a key principle of European policy, gender mainstreaming should be present at the design, development and evaluation of the VET systems. In doing so, it is necessary that VET practitioners and staff linked to the VET system increase their skills and competencies on gender equality.

A study by Eurydice “Gender Differences in Educational Outcomes” from 2010 pointed out that traditional stereotypes are a challenge for establishing gender equality in education in EU member states, and that it is difficult to find gender specialists working in academic institutions who could help trainers, tutors and teachers to design pedagogical units from the gender perspective.

The proposal required the consortium to analyse the needs of the target groups, identify innovations that in principle are suitable, select those that will meet the needs of the target group in the best way, and analyse the feasibility of the blending and the transfer. We explained how the project would blend the selected innovations, adapt them to the legal framework and training system – public, private, sector – as well as adapting them to the language, culture, geography and needs of target groups. We showed how we would transfer them to, and test them in, the new environment, and how we would integrate the transferred innovations into a range of training systems and practices.

There should be a result from this application in June 2011.

Professionals communicating for young people to prioritise health

Currently there are wide variations between European countries in the quality of training available to professionals working with young people in activities that include health education.

The aim behind a Leonardo da Vinci Transfer of Innovation project is to improve the quality and attractiveness of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in the participating countries by transferring existing innovations to new environments through working with transnational partners. This project, ‘PROCOM-VET – Effective communication methods for professionals to promote and encourage young people for healthy lifestyle choices’, looks to transfer a successful and innovative training as applied for health educators in the Veneto region of Italy and adapt it for a region in Turkey, so arresting the disparity between these two regions.

Innovation transfer projects generate synergies by exploiting existing VET innovations. These innovations can be based on previous Leonardo projects, or on any other national, European or international innovative projects, and can be transferred into vocational training systems and organisations at national, regional, local or sector level. The objective here will be for the project to focus on tobacco and for this to be applicable as a case study that will allow further adaptation for professional training concerned with the use of alcohol and drugs and also applicable in the other countries participating in the work of the project.

The partners in the project – from Italy, Turkey, Poland, Germany and UK – envisage the impact of a region gaining a critical mass of professionals trained in the approach adopted in Veneto will bring a confidence among many regions to assess their basic approach to communicating with young people on the subject of substance abuse, opening the door to an increased engagement with young people regarding how they might make positive decisions on health issues related to substances that they will hold on to throughout their lives.

The project will transfer an approach for improving the communication skills of medical staff and educators, in part by building an online portal and virtual learning environment adaptable as a virtual location and forum for VET in health education skills connected to substance abuse across many countries and regions in Europe. The innovation will provide the medical staff with skills to establish effective communication and new methods to approach their young patients in order to fulfil their duties not only as healers but also as practitioners of preventive medicine.

As with IGUALA, the proposal required the consortium to analyse the needs of the target groups, identify innovations that in principle are suitable, select those that will meet the needs of the target group in the best way, and analyse the feasibility of the blending and the transfer.

There should be a result from this application in June 2011.

Common Strategic Framework – worth waiting for?

Researchers, businesses, public bodies, and various third-sector organisations that have been a part of the EU Framework Programmes in recent years will be learning more and more over the next two years about the new Common Strategic Framework.

The Framework was set up to support the ambitions for Europe 2020 – and we will all be eager to see if it really does meet the demands made by the research community.

Can a single, streamlined framework focused on this key strategy for the next decade lead to the innovative work the Community wants to see taking place in Europe?

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European Competence Network for applying Accredited Prior Learning

Searchlighter was one of nine partners making an application in February 2011 to develop a project to improve the application of Accreditation of Prior Learning at a European level.

The consortia’s proposal came from a belief among the nine partners that Accredited Prior Learning (APL) within Lifelong Learning systems is not being utilised effectively almost entirely as a result of ineffective valorisation of the research completed. APL not only helps to stimulate Lifelong Learning but is also seen as an important tool in human resources, stimulating employability, mobility and career development. This can be applied especially for disadvantaged groups like migrants, drop-outs and others who may have problems in proving competencies in their professional background.

This application was made to the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme under a designated Action for the Dissemination and Exploitation of Results. The prime objective for a Multilateral Project such as this is to help create a framework for the effective exploitation of the results of Europe’s Lifelong Learning Programme and previous related programmes at sectoral, regional, national and European levels. Priority is given to projects that can identify barriers to dissemination and exploitation, develop robust models for successful dissemination and exploitation of results, assess the impact of results, and assess the impact of dissemination and exploitation actions.

Transnational projects have already shown that APL can take different forms and can have different added value in different countries. However, projects have consistently proved that in almost every case it is of great value for the participants. The case made by the consortia  is that a common, flexible accreditation system that can be offered with the help of Recognising Prior Learning procedures is a first step for the accreditation of skills and competencies for EU citizens travelling across national boundaries in Europe, and especially for migrants from outside Europe.

With partners from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland, France, Spain and Romania as well as the UK, we hope to hear the result of this in June 2011.