Filled with skills
Enhancing the validation of prior learning by NGOs
Validating informal and nonformal learning entails co-operation between an individual and different organizations. In the Finnish NGO field, the actors are usually volunteers, NGOs, Study Centres (I.e. non-formal adult education providers), formal educational institutes and work life. NGOs want to see their high-quality, versatile and up-to-date activities more widely acknowledged. At the same time, skills and competencies acquired in NGO activities can speed up a individual’s route through formal studies to graduation and offer valuable work experience. Finland has already set up active structures and policies for VPL, but still we encounter certain challenges. Challenging themes include e.g. the recognition of learning environments, the evaluation of learning outcomes and the forms of skill certificates.
Finnish NGOs have undertaken important work to enhance VPL. An essential part of the work has included influencing and informing policy-makers and formal educational institutions about liberal adult education and the skills and competencies gained by participating in courses and voluntary work. NGOs have ‘studyfied’ their activities and planned their courses and content of volunteering to be more competence-based. Study centres have provided skill certificates, digital badges and formal study registers. To enhance comparability, NGOs have linked their skills and competences to various frames of references like the European key competencies for LLL, EQF and ESCO. The Finnish Scouts have taken a step ahead and developed a digital tool to help NGOs and formal educational institutions compare their learning outcomes.
About Lotta PakanenCountry
Sivis Study Centre
Ms Lotta Pakanen (MEd, qualifications in teaching & student counseling) is highly experienced in adult education in a third-sector context. Pakanen works as a specialist at the Sivis Study Centre, which is a nationwide adult education provider promoting non-formal learning. Sivis has 72 member organisations who represent finnish NGOs (e.g. the Guides and Scouts of Finland and the Finnish Red Cross).
Pakanen specializes in the recognition and validation of prior learning, particularly informal and non-formal learning. She guides and supports NGOs during their validation processes by helping them make learning outcomes visible and by implementing outcome-based thinking and procedures to their courses and voluntering programmes. Pakanen also develops tools for acccreditation and validation, e.g. learning certificates and digital Open Badges.
Pakanen has published e-materials and articles to support the recognition and validation of skills and competences achieved by participating in volunteering or other NGO activities. The most recent publication is called Filled with learning, which is an eCourse aiming at informing teachers and student councellors about the informal and non-formal learning contexts. Pakanen is interested in finding new digital tools for evaluating, displaying and widening learning.