What is the European Inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning?

The European inventory is a ongoing project in EU created in 2001 coordinated by European Commision in cooperation with Cedefop. The European Inventory is practical tool providing all working in the informal learning field with updated, easy accesible practical information on curent practicies and case studies in all countries. The European Inventory is closely connected to the European Guidelines on validation. That it is why it is one of key tool for realizing the lifelong learning in Europe.

European Inventory 2010: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/about-cedefop/projects/validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning/european-inventory-scope.aspx

European guidelines for validation non-formal and informal learning

People are acquiring knowledge anytime, everywhere and in different context: education, work and leisure activities. It is becoming more common to learn outside the formal education in informal way. This new learning processes require the learning outcomes to be recognized so identified and then validated. Validating is seen as the crucial element influencing on the improving the lifelong and lifewide learning. That is why EU is putting such huge value on making the learning visible and value. The process of validating is interdependent requires involvement of different kind of stakeholders than in traditional certification. To strengthen the comparability and transparency of the European validation process, its framework and methodology  at the national, regional and local level EU the principles for validating the informal and non-formal learning were created. The guidelines aim to support the countries, regions and sectors in conducting successful validation by providing practical set of instruments.

Full version of publication: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/publications/5059.aspx

Benefits for the organization engaging in validation processes

Organizations who are perceiving  the informal learning as the valuable asset of the company as well as are engaged in validation processes can get significant profits out of this approach. According to the 2010 European Inventory those are as following:

  • increase motivation and interest in workplace practice on the part of the employee/learner;
  • reduce the amount of time needed to complete a qualification and therefore require less time away from the workplace;
  • generate new ideas and developments in the workplace as a result of a process of reflection on practice by the employee/learner;
  • improve employee retention and reduce recruitment and training costs.

In some cases the company needs to demonstrate that its workforce is highly qualified, for example when competing for contracts or seeking insurance for safe working on an assignment.

Source European Inventory 2010: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/about-cedefop/projects/validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning/european-inventory-scope.aspx

Benefits of recognizing and validating informal learning for individuals

Recognizing and validating the informal learning process outcomes is significantly beneficial for individuals. The example of tangible advantages are as following:

  1. Improvement confidence and self‑esteem of learners; The process of reflection that recognition of prior informal learning involves, and promoting the value of learning by self and others, often leads to increased self‑confidence as a learner.
  2. Increase the motivation to continue learning. Planning for further learning: the process of validation helps learners to think about what they have achieved so far and identify their strengths and skills. This helps to identify longer-term goals and what they need to do to achieve them.
  3. Gain access to formal education. Gaining credit for learning from experience for purposes of further formal learning: this may lead to entry to a program of study at a college or university or allow joining at a more advanced level, thus shortening the study period.
  4. Gain access to employment. Recognizing the competences based on informal learning can help people to get new job, get more professional duties, get promotion.


Why recognition and validation of informal learning outcomes is so important?

In the era where the people and their know-how has become the most valuable asset in the labor market as well as within companies and institutions, informal learning has often become much more valued by the educational and business environment than outcomes of traditional education.

In the European Union there is increasing value put on recognizing learners’ knowledge, skills, competences gained in the informal learning context outside the traditional educational systems. Acquiring the knowledge and competences in an informal way emphasizes the necessity to validate those learning experiences and to make them visible and recognized in all of Europe, and makes them usable for further personal development.

That is why recognizing, organizing, monitoring and validating the informal learning process is such an important issue for employees and employers, students and teachers. Informal learning experiences, outcomes recognition and validation are crucial factor for creating a learning society and knowledge-based European economy.

It is very difficult to identify, collect, track, categorize, recognize, validate and make visible to others the informal learning outcomes which otherwise can be forgotten and lost. The TRAILER project is addressing this problem by providing the solution for keeping the informal learning outcomes alive, available, easy to update for learners and visible for institution.

More information about the recognition and validation practice in EU: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/publications/5059.aspx
More about the TRAILER project: www.trailerproject.eu

Open Universiteit implements showcase into their personal learning environment

The TRAILER e-portfolio formed the basis for a showcase tool for the personal learning environment that the Open Universiteit in the Netherlands offers to its learners. The showcase is required because learners are allowed to bring in a set of learning activities, formal and informal as part of their curriculum when they can present sufficient evidence for having achieved those learning activities. Modifications of the showcase addressed several usability aspects of the TRAILER e-portfolio, by removing most of the unnecessary complexity, and by improving usability. The showcase is tightly integrated into the personal learning environment obliviating the need for a separate ILC. Instead the showcase now presents the learner with a more varied scale of activities to choose from, ranging from formal courses, social activities, and informal activities learners partake in in the personal learning environment. In addition, learners can upload files or search for activities and resources outside of the personal learning environment. Moreover, learners can create and maintain the showcase from a single page, while the TRAILER e-portfolio consists of a combination of separate editors, each requiring a separate page. Major improvements have been made to the user interface: features are integrated better, page layout is improved, and drag and drop allows users to easily add and move objects around. Of course, the showcase contains a section with personal information from the profile created in the personal learning environment and learners can annotate activities and resources made available in the showcase. Learners can easily share the showcase with others. Export of the showcase to PDF files is improved greatly to create more visually attractive PDFs.

Figure 1. The improved showcase integrates all required features

Figure 1. The improved showcase integrates all required features

Figure 2. The showcase as others can view it

Figure 2. The showcase as others can view it