NVL celebrates its tenth anniversary. To find out what meaning networks can have for the development of lifelong learning in the Nordic countries DialogWeb has asked network members from various NVL networks. Anni Karttunen is a member of the Validation network.
What is the importance of working in networks for you and your organisation?
- I started working in the NVL’s expert network for validation in 2005. It has been a fantastic journey and a learning opportunity from many different viewpoints.
I remember in the beginning the experts from different countries were coming and going and it was difficult to find stability and a common direction within the network. Over time, the situation stabilized and now the expert network for validation is a closely-knit group of passionate, dedicated professionals, who have become more than just colleagues. We are Friends with a capital F. We have been able to build trust and find a common language and a direction with validation despite the fact that validation procedures vary and developments are at different stages in the Nordic countries.
Undoubtedly, the biggest benefit of the network is that there are experts just a Skype call away. If in doubt, ask the network! If I need partners in a project or if I need study visit places, I can always approach the members of the network and know for sure that the co-operation will be easy and of high quality. On the other hand, the validation expert network is connected to other networks and this has resulted to a beneficial cooperation. For example, the European Commission, Cedefop, the Observal Net as well as the Unesco Life Long Learning Centre are co-operating with the NVL validation network for mutual benefits: the NVL network gets first-hand information on the validation developments within the EU and even on a global scale and has easy access to an even wider expertise base. They get our expertise and insights and help in disseminating e.g. new policies. Again, we get more visibility when we work together in organizing seminars or other types of cooperation together with other networks and organizations.
During these ten years, the validation network has developed many tools, carried out research, arranged seminars, but most of all discussed many of the challenges that each country is facing with validation. All these activities have made me understand my own context in a deeper and more critical way and helped me to understand how validation isarranged and how it is developed in other countries.
In what ways has your participation in an NVL network helped you profesionnally?
- My job as a European Educational Expert entails a lot of training of trainers, developing validation and guidance systems in other countries (both in the EU and outside). It has been very beneficial to use the Nordic countries as examples of how validation can be developed and implemented in various ways and still have the same objectives and outcomes for the society, working life and the individual. This has also improved my capability to see validation from various angles and help Finnish organizations (e.g. in the non-formal sector and Higher education) to develop validation procedures that are fit for purpose for their organization.
The NVL validation expert network has provided me with new opportunities within my own sphere of work. I, as well as many of my other network colleagues, are the country rapporteurs for the European Inventory on Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning. I have been able to use many of the tools developed within the network in my daily work as an international expert, e.g. in Ukraine, Russia and Egypt, and in the training of trainer sessions in Finland and other EU countries. My own work and expertise has gained a lot of visibility through the NVL network and provided me with opportunities to work with various European organizations, such as EAEA, the European Training Foundation, Cedefop, Bertelsmann-Stiftung just to mention a few.
I would not be me without the network.
Read more about the NVL Validation Network