Executive Agency, Education, Audiovisual and Culture European Studies and Research in Adult Learning and Education - ESRALE

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1 Executive Agency, Education, Audiovisual and Culture European Studies and Research in Adult Learning and Education - ESRALE Progress Report Public Part LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC

2 Project information Project acronym: Project title: Project number: Sub-programme or KA: Project website: ESRALE European Studies and Research in Adult Learning and Education LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC LLP Reporting period: From To Report version: 1 Date of preparation: 29/04/2015 Beneficiary organisation: University of Kaiserslautern Project coordinator: Project coordinator organisation: Project coordinator telephone number: Project coordinator address: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ekkehard Nuissl von Rein University of Kaiserslautern (mobile) (landline) This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein Copyright Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency. The document may be freely copied and distributed provided that no modifications are made, that the source is acknowledged and that this copyright notice is included LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 2 / 17

3 Executive Summary The ESRALE project is making good progress albeit the subjects of the project have proven to be more complex than anticipated beforehand. ESRALE is trying to find a basis for carrying out a flexible international joint master s programme offering the opportunity to gain access to the European dimension of research and practice of adult education. The task has proven to be complex because there are twelve partners involved who are based in 9 different countries across the European Union. All of those countries have different traditions and cultures concerning adult education. Beginning with different names, such as adult education and andragogy for this field, there are fundamentally different understandings of the topic and its theory. The aspect of the level of professionalization in combination with the different labour market systems and educational systems creates different requirements towards a common core curriculum. Further there are different systems for the recognition and validation of prior learning and competences across Europe. Some partner countries already practice a quite active recognition of prior learning, such as Ireland, whereas other partner countries do not have a strong practice in this field, such as Germany where the field of Vocational Education and Training (VET) is quite strong and has a long lasting tradition. Therefore the Validation of prior learning has been regarded as a crucial part of ESRALE and needs to be closely connected to the redesigned curriculum. The redesign of the core curriculum faces the biggest challenges throughout the project because there are many bridges to build. The combination of the different local curricula has proven to be a challenge in terms of language, university cultures and regulations and of different orientations of the contents provided in the respective modules. This is also true for the doctorate programme, which faces even more obvious differences in the organisation and regulation of PhD pathways throughout the different countries and universities. E.g. the establishment of doctorate schools is something new in the field of adult education in Germany, where students can mostly decide very freely on the path they choose to acquire their PhD. Doctorate schools already exist in Germany, but the traditional way, which is mostly used in the field of education, is much more unregulated than within a doctorate school and often involves the students to work in universities. In order to involve students from different countries and different cultural backgrounds, the ESRALE project involves a Summer School (from here on referred to as Summer Academy), which has taken place once in Brno in the Czech Republic since the beginning of the project and has been a great success. Students from seven different countries participated in this event and had the possibility to meet eight professors from six of the partner countries. Communication will be further improved by involving ICT means like virtual conference rooms which can be provided by the German scientific network (adobe connect) and the ESRALE Learning Platform itself LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 3 / 17

4 Table of Contents 1. PROJECT OBJECTIVES PROJECT APPROACH PROJECT OUTCOMES & RESULTS PARTNERSHIPS PLANS FOR THE FUTURE CONTRIBUTION TO EU POLICIES EXTRA HEADING/SECTION LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 4 / 17

5 1. Project Objectives The objectives of the project are to develop a joint master s programme in adult education, implement it across the partner s institutions, and also to implement a doctorate school in order to support the European dimension in research in adult education. It also aims to offer the master s students in the connected fields of adult education, such as pedagogy, sociology or psychology etc., to gain access to further education in the field of adult education in order to develop the level of professionalization and support the European visibility of adult education. The doctorate programme will be designed to promote research, research competence and scientific exchange in the field of Adult Learning and Education (ALE). All activities within ESRALE should support the general European aim of opening up higher education to non-traditional students in. Therefore the joint European research and PhD programme will be developed in a way that it will lead to a mutual degree at EQF8. The PhD programme will benefit from the international mobility between partners so that students gain the ability, not only to research theoretically in their home country, but also to travel to partner countries. Thus it is possible to build bridges connecting different understandings of adult education from different cultural backgrounds in the partner countries. Those e.g. include the difference between adult education and andragogy. Further, the new EMAE and the PhD programmes will complement each other and create an integrated qualification which will be covering EQF levels seven and eight. This creates a possibility for students, to specialise in the field of adult education beginning with their master studies being able to continue in the same field until gaining their PhD degree. In connection with these programmes, ESRALE aims to develop new teaching and learning materials, such as publications on comparative research, empirical research and research with a European dimension. These teaching and learning materials, as well as all teaching across the project will be accompanied by an online platform. It is used for communication and learning. This platform makes use of the openolat software and is provided by the Virtual Campus Rheinland-Pfalz (vcrp.de) which is situated at the University of Kaiserslautern. The University of Kaiserslautern utilises this e-learning platform for various learning scenarios, such as on the job learning for employees of the University or for supplementing courses for on the spot students and for distance courses. The VCRP has a lot of experience in providing this platform and supporting e-learning. All ESRALE partners are engaged in establishing physical mobility arrangements for students and teachers between all partner institutions and beyond. Acting across several borders within Europe, either online or in person, the language is a crucial part of this project and the subject. As the working language is English, another objective of the project is to promote the proficiency of students and staff who are engaged in it. In the field of Adult Education and Learning the LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 5 / 17

6 language is a key factor. Every country has its own notions certain terms, due to cultural, historical or language reasons. These differences establish a high complexity for everyone involved in the project because the direct translations of key terms into English often fails and carries the risk of losing the cultural connotation, which is key to understand the European dimension of Adult Education and Learning. Further ESRALE aims to foster the European dimension in study and research of ALE by reflecting and working on European research questions like EU-Statistics, EU-Benchmarks, best practices and common questions like demographic change, literacy issues and many like more, which are relevant for the European future in ALE. Therefore ESRALE also wants to bring together research partners out of different European countries to carry out common interdisciplinary work which is enriched by different their professional and cultural backgrounds. These common works aim to support the internationalisation of scientific literature and findings in the field of ALE. The integrated study programme in ALE, that is being developed, should be a model for making higher education more accessible for adults. The means to open up higher education will include validation systems in intake/through take-procedures that validate all kinds of learning outcomes (formal, non-formal and informal). The summative and formative assessment validation of prior learning will lead to the possibility to open the access to the programme for competent practitioners (partially) without the regular formal qualification requirements, within the limits of local legislatives. Therefore a tool will be developed for identifying and documenting the relevant competencies to enter the programme. It is also an aim, to personalise learning in higher education by making the curricula more flexible to suit a broader variety of learning purposes such as qualification, certification, update, upgrade, competence-management and providing the possibility of interim awards and certification of programme parts where applicable LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 6 / 17

7 2. Project Approach The ESRALE project is mainly addressing three groups of people in the field of Adult Learning and Education: Firstly, Practitioners who want to enlarge their competence towards the European and international dimensions of ALE, towards (international) academic methodologies as well as towards a better level of scientific evidence, while remaining in the field of practice in order to achieve a professional view on the daily challenges of adult education. Secondly, Graduates who want to continue their studies in research contexts, in order to gain a PhD degree for their scientific career and are interested to establish a connection from the practice to the scientific background by providing relevant questions from their experiences in adult education. Thirdly, Junior researchers in lifelong learning who want to broaden their expertise with a European and international dimension. Therefore a common research and doctorate school is crucial to improve the master programme in adult education in order to allow graduates to continue their education as doctorates. This will help to establish common research habits and practices in the field of ALE oriented towards the needs of practice, creating a better understanding of the different notions of ALE across Europe. Further, the summer academies are used to connect researchers with the target groups junior researchers and graduates in order to link them together and introduce them to the intercultural differences and European dimension and to encourage them to continue their education and work in the field. In order to open the access to the study programme including the renewed EMAE and the PhD track an instrument for validating competences will be developed provided for each partner to implement it according to local legislatives. The study programme aims to be more flexible which will be achieved by a stronger modularisation of the curricula according to the EMAE contents and will include the possibility of delivering contents via an online learning platform. Combined, the ESRALE project is following a holistic approach, which includes all important stages. This begins with the Master level going further to PhD level and integrating practitioners and researchers LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 7 / 17

8 3. Project Outcomes & Results The creation of a sustainable lifelong learning-culture in HE is at the heart of the ESRALE project. This needs, first of all, a shared and acknowledged concept for the validation of the learning outcomes of practitioners in the field of lifelong learning, including a knowledge base on validation. Secondly, it needs a modular, basic programme for practitioners to prepare for and to strengthen their personalized approach in the lifelong learning arena. The resulting learning programme will be integral and linked to the doctorate school to enhance and encourage the transition from studying to research and to benefit from the experience of the practitioners. The VPL-systematics aim at helping practitioners to explore pedagogies and practices to develop their own practice within their own organisational context for their own specific purposes. VPL is about making a personal inventory of learning outcomes so far and being able to decide on the need for further learning. Moreover, VPL-systematics are suitable for practitioners operating in lifelong learning contexts wanting to enhance learning opportunities and VPL experiences. This part of ESRALE provides the building blocks for enhancing a sector-based approach towards VPL-steered learning strategies in terms of an analysis of: 1. (inter)national policy developments. Since the 1970s the development and gradual implementation of RPL-systematics can be observed in the international context. This aims at clarifying the why of VPL: why has is it been developed and only gradually been implemented so far? why is it that the time s ripe for full implementation on national and sector-levels? 2. When implementing RPL on a national and sector level it is of great importance to be aware of the complex nature of the RPL-systematics, the critical success factors and its reaching out to a variety of perspectives. This presents the how of VPL by analysing best practices of RPLsystematics in different countries, especially the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, Finland and Switzerland. This analysis is finalized with the formulation of the four main models for RPL-steered learning-strategies. 3. The what of VPL. The main purpose of this part is to answer the question What to do when implementing VPL in the HE-arena?. First the stage is set for both conclusions as well as critical success factors regarding the implementation of VPL-systematics in the HE context. Then the challenges for the HE sector are formulated in combination with a roadmap for the further implementation of VPL in the HE-arena LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 8 / 17

9 The 2nd part of the report is a kind of toolbox for setting up VPL in a HE-context. It contains a number of existing methods, tools and designs for capturing the learning reality of the target group for the VPL-methodology in this project. Every university can apply these tools themselves in their own national context and develop its target-group orientation for lifelong learning. The input of the practitioners is one of the crucial and innovative elements which will also have impact on strengthening the research programme on ALE. The workpackage Flexibilisation and labour market orientation of the Master programme is dealing with the redesign of the EMAE curriculum. This very complex task is constantly being carried out. Different country specific regulations, the different methods of granting ECTS points, different term dates and many different curricula, and accreditation rules make this a very challenging task. A first concept of a guideline for curriculum redesign has been developed and delivered on time, and three other versions of improving and updating it have been carried out with the contribution of all the partners. Study plans of 10 university partners have been gathered. The core curriculum of the master program has been adjusted to the needs of the labour market, and university partners find solutions to ensure its compatibility in their study programs, according to local accreditations regulations. In this way, the EMAE has been designed as a Joint Programme. The Guideline on flexible & cumulative studies that will guide students through the ESRALE programme has been designed, and continuous updating is ensured, according with the developments in each academic year. With respect to the implementation of the master programme in the partner universities, the legal aspects have been gathered, and the online platform for delivering the courses of the common core in a blended way has been set up. Additionally, the revision of the respective curricula is taking the national qualification frameworks into account in order to achieve flexibility of content and realise a real outcome orientation The project website has been installed and can be found under the URLs esralenetwork.org and esrale.org. The website uses the developed logo and its colour scheme. This scheme has also been applied to the Learning Platform in order to create a corporate identity which helps students to quickly identify documents and products from ESRALE. This website is therefore fulfilling multiple purposes. Its blogging functionality is also used as an overarching tool for dissemination and exploitation. A Summer Academy concept has been developed, guiding the organisation, implementation, and evaluation of the Summer Academies. The first Summer Academy was implemented in Brno, Czech Republic at the Masaryk University in September There were 26 Students, of whom 14 were engaged in Master s studies and 12 were engaged in PhD studies, from nine different countries Europe wide, involved in the Brno Summer Academy. The Summer Academy involves two different tracks which are complementary to each other. Both Master and PhD students share the core sessions at the Summer Academy and then split up for LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 9 / 17

10 sessions specifically addressing their current level of studies. PhD students have the possibility to discuss their current research ideas and dissertation projects in different stages of development with other PhD students and international experts, receiving fresh input from other students and counselling and advice from the experts. The Master students continue their sessions with the transnational project which is also held by an international expert. The transnational project runs beyond the end of the Summer Academy involving online cooperation of the teacher and the students using the online learning platform allowing them to keep in touch and work distantly after the Summer Academy itself is finished. Each Summer Academy ends with a conference day, involving several international experts from within the ESRALE Network and from outside the ESRALE Network and giving both the Master and the doctoral students a unique opportunity to engage in an inspiring environment of state-of-the-art research sharing. All in all, the Summer Academies offers a complex learning opportunity for both the Master and doctoral students and also provides a high inspiration in conducting an original research and further engaging in educational pathways within ESRALE and the field of adult education. Deriving from an idea of Prof. Federighi, Boffo and Prof. Nuissl, WP4 doctoral programme has been conceptualized as an open and flexible programme that develops a completely new approach for studying adult and lifelong learning by deeply integrating workshops and lectures. Workshops focus on the PhD candidates research projects. On the contrary, lectures aim only at presenting the empirical research methodologies in Adult learning and education. As a consequence, doctoral programme empowers PhD candidates to make decisions on pedagogy topics and contents of workshops (bottom-up approach to contents). The research unit of the University of Florence implemented the doctoral programme during the first Summer Camp (Brno, 15th-21st September 2014) in order to test the educational effectiveness and give evidence about the validity of the of the doctoral model. The doctoral model has resulted effective in educational terms in relation to the goals of the Brno summer camp, such as the development of metacognitive skills. Further development have been drawn and discussed among ESRALE partners and will be implemented in the next Belgrade Summer Camp to be held 14th-20th September Prof. Federighi and Boffo have organized the Empirical Research Methodology in Adult learning and education Workshop to be held on 30th April It will be based on the doctoral programme concept. Indeed it is divided in two sections: the first aims at presenting the themes of internationalization and qualitative research to PhD candidates and future PhD candidates in the field of Adult education. The second section aims at discussing PhD thesis/projects in small works groups. The final discussion aims at presenting the outcomes of the group works to the audience. Partners from the ESRALE project, PhD candidates, Master Degree students will take part. Furthermore, members from the Italian Association of Pedagogy have been invited to take part to the meeting as national experts in the field of Education. Three manuals will be edited by Prof. Boffo, Federighi, Nuissl, Sava in the field of Comparative adult education, Empirical Research Methods and Methodology in LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 10 / 17

11 Adult Education. Indexes of the manuals have been shared with ESRALE partners and will be presented during the Empirical Research Methodology in Adult learning and education Workshop to be held on 30th April 2015, since focus of the Workshop is Research Methodology. The University of Kaiserslautern has provided the Online Learning Platform using the software openolat. The platform is hosted and developed by the Virtual Campus Rheinland-Pfalz (vcrp.de). Everyone involved in the ESRALE project has the possibility and is encouraged to use the platform for teaching. It has been used to guide the Summer Academy in Brno up to now. It will however also serve as a platform for future courses within the ESRALE network. It is a flexible and modern learning platform that can be utilised in many ways, involving dissemination of course material, communication via forums and even simultaneous collaborative writing through an integrated etherpad. It further has the capability of serving as a documenting tool by uploading files, pictures or building a glossary wiki. ERASMUS+ mobility contracts are increasing. All partners seek to achieve a full connection with ERASMUS+ mobility agreements in order to support the exchange of students and teachers within the future activities involving the Summer Academy and the EMAE and PhD activities deriving the ESRALE network. The Higher Education Research Centre (HERC) DCU is responsible for Exploitation (WP 8) and has worked particularly closely with PECS University which is responsible for Dissemination (WP 7) throughout the reported period. In the first instance, this collaborative approach produced a Dissemination/Exploitation reporting tool, where the project partners could record their activities at four levels: European/ International, National, Local/ Regional, and Institutional. DCU has developed the Exploitation strategy tailored to the ESRALE project. Maintaining a web site was seen as a key tool to be used for both dissemination and exploitation and as a means of gathering feedback from peers, experts, researchers, potential customers, industry, and the general public. At the partner meeting in Timisoara (Romania) in April 2014, DCU proposed that Exploitation would be enhanced through the establishment of ESRALE Advisory Groups, which would be tailored to each partner s situation. During the presentation at that meeting, examples of such Advisory Groups for DCU and the University of PECS were presented. It was agreed that an Advisory group would be established for ESRALE as a key Exploitation mechanism for sustainability of the project in the future. The Dublin City University (DCU) also developed a first draft of a Transfer Guide (Deliverable 26). Its stated purpose is to enhance the capacity of end users to develop and innovate the professional provision of adult education across Europe by providing an expert resource that will introduce them to the distinctive knowledge and practice developed by ESRALE. The first draft of the Transfer Guide was circulated to ESRALE members for comment on May 17th 2014The ESRALE project documents and the kick-off meeting of the project set the main goals of dissemination activities of ESRALE project partners, coordinated by the LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 11 / 17

12 representative of the University of Pécs and the ESRALE project coordination at TU Kaiserslautern. Leader of WP7 provided a dissemination concept by the end of 2013 which was modified at the Timisoara project meeting in April Accordingly, partners jointly developed the website of the project; an e-flyer and poster of ESRALE so as to distribute ESRALE goals and work-package related achievements at distinguished European, national and at local/regional conferences, seminars, workshops and other particular events focusing on adult learning and education. All relevant activities of ESRALE-partners have been documented through dissemination reports referring to the first period of the project. Another major mean in the context of dissemination was the first ESRALE Summer Academy and Conference Day that was organised by the University of Brno, our Czech project partner. The Summer Academy is not only a key project product and tool of ESRALE, but it is a strategically important dissemination tool for ESRALE so as to distribute the project goals and relevant achievements through one key product in an international environment where studies and research on adult learning and education is discussed on the one hand and developed, on the other, through lectures and group work. We presume that the forthcoming Summer Academy at the University of Belgrade, Serbia will have at least the same kind of impact. Finally, we have to underline the role of blogging on ESRALE, especially at the website of European INFONET Adult Education, which has become a potentially strong tool for dissemination. Such dimensions have to be expanded through the EPALE platform too. We consider the dissemination activities of ESRALE as successfully developing and detailed enough to meet the previously set dissemination goals having been described in the project description of ESRALE. The leaders of WP 7 and 8 collaborate in order to negotiate upon issues influencing both dissemination and exploitation. The whole project is accompanied by the evaluation carried out by the German Institute for Adult Education (DIE) LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 12 / 17

13 4. Partnerships In order to straighten the path for interested students all partners make continuing efforts to establish ERASMUS+ Mobility Partnerships amongst the project partners. The network of mobility agreements is growing steadily. It will be extended, once a fully connected network is reached within the project partners. The ESRALE project has already begun to widen its network beyond the planned connections of the project ESRALE has successfully established a connection with the Winter School ( at the University of Würzburg in Germany. This annual Winter School focuses on Comparative Studies on Adult and Lifelong Learning. These two Schools will have a mutual benefit from each other s activities and international expertise. The University of Würzburg is closely working together with the Centre for modern India also situated at the University of Würzburg. Up to this point, there has also been a first inquiry from the University of Delhi to build a partnership with ESRALE, which has to be negotiated in the future. Further students were interested in taking part in the ESRALE Summer Academy with a special interest in the recognition and validation of prior learning (RPL/VPL) LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 13 / 17

14 5. Plans for the Future For the future of the ESRALE project, it is planned to foster the connection to the Winter School at the University of Würzburg by including cross-school possibilities, e.g. continuing the work on the transnational project started in the Summer Academy. In order to achieve a high sustainability means will be searched to install ensure the continuation of the Summer Academy after the official end of the ESRALE project. At the end of April 2015 the first research workshop will take place at the University of Florence involving Master and PhD students. The focus of this workshop will lie on the methodology of Empirical Research in Adult Learning and Education. Based upon the requests partnerships outside the ESRALE network and outside Europe are being planned in order to extend the network and achieve an outside view. Once the curriculum will be developed, the possibilities for new partnerships will be greater and further mobility connections outside of the ESRALE project can be established by each partner in order to achieve a greater network of interested students and researchers. In addition, an anthology on international joint programmes is planned which will analyse the Perspectives of European study programmes. It will include different transnational study programmes which will be presented from experts from within the study programmes, following criteria. In addition, experts from the ESRALE projects will comment on the presented studies from their point of expertise in the ESRALE project. This will add a reflective value to the discussion on transnational study programmes aiming to encourage others to engage in those study programmes LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 14 / 17

15 6. Contribution to EU policies The ESRALE project establishes a European core and network of researchers (and PhDs) contributing to the scientific development of Adult Education and Learning. Opening the access to this programme with the Recognition and Validation of Prior Learning (RPL/VPL) will enable more non-traditional students to gain access to scientific education with a close connection to the practice this group of people would not have had before. Therefore, ESRALE contributes to the aim to open higher education to new target groups aiming at education for all. Further it supports individuals in lifelong learning efforts. ESRALE will by definition of its content focus and its focus on research contribute to findings in the field of lifelong learning. Engaging scientists in this field will foster research initiatives in adult learning and education. The partners within the ESRALE project are building up a mesh of mobility agreements enabling students and researchers to move across Europe and gain insight into different cultures of research and teaching in ALE. This contributes to the European aim to increase mobility. But not only physical mobility is increased. The above mentioned validation of prior learning will also increase vertical mobility as people will be able to gain a higher qualification. ESRALE will contribute to the professionalization of staff in the field of adult education and enabling them to work on the European labour market and thereby increasing their employability e.g. in international Organisations, having a specialisation on the European Dimension of Adult Education. The network created in the ESRALE project is designed to be a sustainable network that will continue to contribute scientifically to the quality and efficiency of the adult learning system across Europe LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 15 / 17

16 7. Extra Heading/Section Further Activities: The University of Kaiserslautern is going to publish an anthology on European Curricula with contributions from project partners and experts from other transnational projects in autumn Between October 2014 and March 2015 University of Florence engaged in the production of various products and documents supporting dissemination, exploitation and presentation of the ESRALE project to a public audience. During the international Winter School on Comparative Studies on Lifelong Learning organized from 28/01/2015 to 06/02/2015 at the University of Würzburg, Germany, Italian Master and PhD students analysed and compared European and international Lifelong Learning strategies and experienced direct interactions with key European stakeholders in Lifelong Learning (e.g. European Association for Adult Education), local providers in adult and continuing education in Würzburg (Academy Frankenwarte, Kolping Academy Würzburg, Continuing Education Center of the local Chamber of Industry and Commerce). During the second part of the Winter School Italian Master degree and PhD students worked with other international students on the comparison of selected subtopics of Lifelong Learning in selected countries: How does the training of trainers vary in different countries? How does Adult Education participation differ in various European countries? How do quality systems vary in different countries? Which differences and similarities do we find in the policies towards Lifelong Learning in different countries? What conclusions can be drawn out of these differences and similarities? During the international Winter School of Wuerzburg, Prof. Boffo, Dr. Tomei and Dr. Gioli of the University of Florence interviewed (4th-5th February 2015) some German Master and PhD students in order to understand how the German Adult education curriculum influences the match of labour supply and demand in the German Adult Education field. The results demonstrate the strong impact of traineeships in the development of technical competencies and professional identification LLP DE-ERASMUS-EQMC 16 / 17

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