During the last almost two years the partnership was working on M_APPing competences to provide a mobile offered support for documentation of learning experiences during mobilities within the project M_APP, Mobile Learning App, which was funded by the Grundtvig Action of the Lifelong Learning Programme.
In lifelong learning, non-formal and informal learning and their recognition are of particular interest in Europe. With M_APP we focused on the difficult aspect of informal learning. Informal learning has no set objective in terms of learning outcomes and is not intentional from the learner’s standpoint. It constantly takes place naturally and spontaneously as part of other activities. Often, it is referred to as learning by experience or just as experience. As key for the further benefit of informal learning, the documentation and transparency of this constant learning in all different kind of settings is crucial. Therefore M_APP also took into account the European Guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning of CEDEFOP, the European Center for the Development of Vocational Training. Generally the nature of validation processes outside the formal system presents many more choices for the learner than in the formal system. This is not only because the process of validation can be more complex but also as it serves a much greater diversity of purposes (CEDEFOP 2009).
As mentioned above, informal learning is often just expressed by the word experiences. People say they have experienced so much when travelling and spending time abroad, just according to our M_APP project slogan ‘Travel broadens the mind!’. Having a concrete answer on what it is for real is often a challenge to put in words. The main difficulties of grasping informal learning is that it is not bound to special settings, situations and backgrounds, practically happening anywhere and anytime, difficult to describe and to bring evidence along for. This is what M_APP tried to tackle by setting a frame around travelling abroad and focusing on two of the eight European key competences, learning to learn and social and civic competences. Within M_APP it was tried to develop a first approach with innovations in two main areas.
- Concerning content aspects, the consortium tried to categorise learning experiences in the context of transnational mobilities so to have a pre-defined set. Therefore, two of the eight key competences for lifelong learning were chosen as a basis in the background, recommended by the European Parliament and the Council in 2006 as a European reference framework for lifelong learning strategies.
- The second innovation aspect on the methodological and technical side was dealing with the way of documenting the learning and providing proof for a later presentation and eventual validation. With M_APP it was decided to use a mobile device app as people have their mobile phones along all the time. This allows them a permanent documentation in any situation at any time. It also allows adding evidence for those experiences like f.e. photos, videos, audio files and documents. In the end, all collected informal learning experiences with their proofs are then subject for the recognition procedure installed.
Within M_APP a mobile app for both, iOS and Android operating systems as well as a web application, which is accessible through all browsers, were developed. The final versions of the mobile and web application is fully accessible in six languages including English, German, Spanish, Swedish, Romanian and Turkish.
Both, the mobile and the web app can be used for the documentation of informal learning experiences through pre-defined situations. And it is also possible to add some more detailed text, photos, videos and audio files. In addition there is the possibility to attach pdf documents through the web application. As the user has one account only, the data is automatically synchronised between mobile and web app and users can decide when and how to add new situations they have experienced and their proof.
Within the web application, a recognition procedure is then installed. After finishing a trip, users can decide to validate their informal learning experiences. Therefore, they are doing a self evaluation of their trip which is then sent together with all the mobility documentation to the external validation. The entire process was kept close together in one tool, enabling to take advantage of all data and stay within the technical tool system without the need to fill in additional paper.
M_APP is now available on the Google Playstore (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.rapidrabbit.mapp) and Apple iStore (https://itunes.apple.com/de/app/m-app-mobile-learning/id969073840?mt=8) for download. When connected to it everybody can use the synchronised web M_APP accessible via webapp.mapp-project.eu with the same profile and login data as for the mobile version. Are you interested in staying up to date or do you want to learn more about the M_APP project? Visit our webpage www.mapp-project.eu or contact us directly.