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LEVER UP - Valuing informal learning and transversal competences experienced in volunteering to increase employability, social responsibility and mobility

How can we evaluate our competencies such as communication, teamwork, empathy, flexibility and problem solving?

How can we improve or develop them?

How can we make them explicit to others who are interested in such as job recruiters, employers, trainers and teachers?

LEVER UP provides a method, some procedures and a wide set of tools for identifying and valuing the transversal competencies characterising people. It offers a way to show how informal contexts such as volunteering can be a melting pot of practice and learning for individuals. It defines a frame within which people can validate prior learning, but also nurture and empower their soft skills for the future.

Exploiting the legacy of a first Erasmus+ project (2014-2016), LEVER UP fine-tuned the model, the process and set the fundamentals for a 360-degree service, in other words, a validation system shareable by multiple European countries and supporting all the aspects for carrying out activities to users over time.

The Model

It deals with fifteen competences that volunteering easily brings into play. Nevertheless, the job market and the formal education and training are very interested in them as well.

Responsibility, Empathy, Initiative, Flexibility & Adaptability, Engagement, Leadership, Communication, Teamwork, Intercultural &Diversity Management, Result Orientation, Organisation & Planning, Digital Thinking, Problem Solving, Learning to learn, Innovation & Creativity.

Here are the competencies that LEVER UP clustered into four groups,-Personal, Social, Organisational, Methodological,-  for increasing their comprehension and use at benefit of the individuals, tutors and assessors.

 

The Model describes them in terms of learning outcomes; identifies assessment criteria and adds other elements that allow relating these competencies to the existing European frameworks and mobility tools such as the EQF, the eight European Key Competencies for LifeLongLearning, the ECVET and the EUROPASS.

The Validation process

It defines five steps for guiding the learners through the competence valuing path, in coherence with the European Guideline for the validation of informal and non formal learning (Cedefop, 2015). The first step starts from raising awareness of themselves; go through the stage of identifying and documenting their own competences, and finally achieve the phase of assessing and certifying them. These steps identify a modular, transparent and sequential validation pathway, but the users must see them as flexible as needed. In fact, the process plans several exits along the way, according to the actual wish and the needs of the individuals.

The decision to undergo formal assessment is at personal discretion. If the option is chosen, then a third part, – an external assessor - , validates the competencies proved by the personal portfolio and through a direct interview.

In this case, LEVER UP evaluates the competence and measures it in terms of:

  • How far the learning outcomes are fulfilled (scale: Basic; Accomplished; Expert)
  • What environment complexity (context; task; autonomy) the candidate is able to interact with (scale: low; mid-low; mid-high, high)

where the latter measure aims at giving the sense of proficiency level in a comparable way as the EQF introduces.

The formal assessment is the only step that leads to the LEVER UP certification and to the release of an Open Badge.

The toolkit

LEVER UP provides more than 35 tools at use of the learner/candidate, the tutor and the assessor. The toolkit aims at supporting all the requests a validation implies and, at the same time, it wants to provide a set of multiple resources that can be flexibly used in pathways as individualised as possible. Competence cards, practice activities, self assessment forms, guidelines for developing evidence are some of the tools available to learners, as well as a semi-automated assessment tool and a Portfolio Quality Check List are other resources at use of assessors.

 

The training

Guidance is a key instrument for the competence validation to succeed. Practitioners must ensure open-mindedness, non-discriminatory approach and above all a real competence on the instruments and procedures. Hence, LEVER UP decided to provide a specialist training for assessors, tutors and future LEVER UP trainersErrore. L'origine riferimento non è stata trovata.. The Moodle platform makes it sharable across countries, while the face-to-face activities open to the needed local flexibility.

The course lasts approximatively 20 hours to carry out within a couple of months. It consists of five online modules and a blended path, which includes face- to- face sessions. Each module in made up of presentations, videos, practice exercises, other resources and a final self-assessment test.

On successful completion of the course, the training releases an Open badge. It certifies that the person can practice LEVER UP in the role of Tutor, Assessor or specialist Trainer. It introduces a quality mechanism to ensure that the LEVER UP tools are reliably used. Open badges are credentials that support visibility, but also the quality boundaries of a community where practitioners share common values and goals.