EPALE aims to become a community



While the European EPALE site has been active for several months, the linguistic versions are just beginning to build up. EAEA talked with the National Support Services in Finland and Austria about the present and future.

The Finnish linguistic version of EPALE gets more local content in February.
"In the beginning the site will include news items, blog posts and a training and event calendar," says Senior Programme Adviser Reeta Knuuti, from the Finnish National Support Services of EPALE from the Centre for International Mobility CIMO.

The German EPALE site is produced by EPALE coordinators from Germany, Austria and German-speaking Belgium.
"The team has been active now for a few weeks and we started to publish content from Austria," tells Ms. Ricarda Motschilnig, Coordinator from the National Agency for Lifelong Learning, based in The OeAD (the Austrian agency for international mobility and cooperation in education, science and research). It is EPALE's Nationale Support Service in Austria.

"We are two persons working in this framework and have already established close contact with our German colleagues, in order to cooperate in terms of producing for example information materials and products together," Ms. Motschilnig continues.

EPALE will be officially launched in Brussels on 15th of April 2015. The national promotional campaigns start during the spring.

Central Service Desk sets the rules

Overseen by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) of the European Commission, EPALE is managed on a day-to-day basis by the Central Support Services.
"It is a consortium of two organisations, Ecorys UK and Intrasoft Ltd, who work together to develop and manage EPALE," Ms. Motschilnig explains.

According to Ms. Motschilnig, National teams are free in choosing content and in encouraging discussions, which they deem relevant for the national as well as European adult education community.
"Common guidelines are needed so that the portal stays consistent as it operates in 30 countries," the Finnish colleague Ms. Knuuti says.

Info-hub for European adult education

"Everything within the site is organised around five themes: learner support, learning environments, life skills, quality and policies, and strategies and financing," Ms. Motschilnig tells.

According to Ms. Knuuti (picture on the right), EPALE’s event and training calendar is a completely new kind of a service. Searching information is made easier with a library, where national EPALE coordinators are loading information on adult education in different European countries. Ms. Knuuti gives an example: "If you want to find out about for example Romanian adult education, you can turn to EPALE."

In general EPALE aims at being easily approachable. Its target group consists of everyone working in the field of adult education.
"The content has to be written in everyday language. We want to avoid jargon," says Ms. Knuuti.

More benefits with registration

Interactive content can be browsed as soon as the user has registered.
"One can load project reports and spread information on project results through EPALE," Ms. Knuuti tells.

In the future the site will also include a partner search. It will work like a dating site: you can find the one through the portal. Ms. Motschilnig expands:
"Once registered, you can comment directly on blogs, participate in forums, initiative new discussions and contribute relevant material by sending an email to the National Support Service or the Central Service Desk."

Adult educators as content producers

In Austria the National Support Service will involve all relevant stakeholders in the work process.
"The aim is to encourage the integration of all major representatives in order to reach the target group," Ms. Motschilnig (picture on the right) explains.

The Finnish adult education professionals get to produce content through news items and blogs. Ms. Knuuti hopes that users will give actively feedback on what is needed and what is futile.
"I wish that the Finnish and European adult education community in all their variety takes part to producing content to EPALE," Ms. Knuuti says.

Get to know EPALE

Text: Aura Vuorenrinne
Photos: EPALE, Heli Salonen, Danube University Krems – University for Continuing Education