First steps

As part of the BEVIN Project’s ongoing search for effective validation tools for non-formal and informal learning, the project will conduct a ‘Cross-European Data Search’. This article attempts to better understand validation tools and how this task will contribute to more effective validation methods.

Firstly, what are validation tools for non-formal and informal learning? Before we can begin to answer this question, we must address the topic of validation. In order to align a; person’s, organisation’s or industry’s skills and competences with the current EU policy of ‘making learning visible’, validation of those skills needs to be undertaken. This process as defined in the CEDEFOP Guidelines 2014 states validation as; ‘The confirmation by a competent body that learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and/or competences) acquired by an individual in a formal, non formal or informal setting have been assessed against predefined criteria’. Non-formal and informal learning is typically diverse and not standardised so validation tools need to mirror this.

So, the tools. Typically, these vary from country to country, but the most common tools are; Communication, Competence, Observation, Interview, Portfolio Method, Debate, Presentation. Often requiring changes and adaptions to meet the needs of the learner’s industry, context and situations, these tools follow a similar form to that of formal learning validation methods.

With such a wide-ranging set of tools, it is often difficult to determine which is best for ‘effectively’ taking learnt skills through to validation and on to certification. This is where the BEVIN ‘Cross-European Data Search’ comes in. Performing an in-depth research of existing databases (EPALE, ADAM EST) and all EU 28 member states, it will identify, combine and evaluate validation tools for inclusion into the overall database.

The tools in question will be categorised and collated depending on their; origin, tool type, method of validation, quality assessment and other characteristics. Crucially the chosen tools will be collected from a wide range of sources thus not limiting our scope solely to tools produced from other EU projects, reducing the potential to finding what is effective, and what actually works.

All BEVIN project partners will be undertaking comprehensive national data searches, in the coming months and a broad Cross-European database will be presented at the next partner meeting in June.

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