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 Welcome to the Non-formal and Informal Learning e-Community
Welcome to the e-Community on the Identification and Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Cedefop: Jens Bjornavold

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This e-Community is provided by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) in order to support the development and implementation of methods and systems for identification and validation of non-formal learning. Established already in 2003, the e-Community is intended as a meeting place for everybody interested and involved in the field - policy makers, practitioners, researchers and others.

There is clear demand for such a meeting place. During recent years validation of non-formal and informal learning has become a key-element in national and European strategies for lifelong learning. More and more countries have moved from a stage of initial testing and experimentation to full scale implementation where validation has become an integrated part of mainstream education, training and learning systems.

These developments signal a shift in perspective where it is acknowledged that learning takes place in a wide range of settings - at work, in voluntary activities as well as in schools - equally important to the creation of a knowledge based society. This shift can also be described as one from learning inputs to learning outcomes. While a learning input based approach will emphasise duration and location of learning, an outcome based approach will give priority to what an individual actually knows an/or is able to do.

The e-Community is a tool supporting exchange of experiences and mutual learning in this field. The following issues are of particular relevance;

* The development of the education and training pillar of the Lisbon strategy; "Education and Training 2010". Validation is currently followed up by the cluster on "Recognition of learning outcomes" and the members of the e-Community will be invited to provide input to this work.

* The implementation and development of the Common European Principles on the Identification and Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning will be given priority in the coming period and the members of the e-Community can provide important support to this work.

* At national level, questions related to quality assurance and cost-efficiency of validation are becoming more important. The e-Community can support the exchange of experiences and mutual learning on these themes.

* The e-Community will support the development of national and sectoral Communities of Practice. This will include a continuation of support for the development, dissemination and valorisation of transnational projects (such as Leonardo da Vinci Thematic Action and other Pilot Projects).

The profile will, however, first and foremost depend on the input by the members. Welcome to the e-Community.