Vienna Adult Education Centers have created a system of competence descriptors. The system will make it easy to integrate non-formal adult education into both the national and the European qualifications frameworks, Gerhard Bisovsky explained.
The Rosa-Mayreder-College in Vienna, Austria, offers a one year master course in Feministic Basic Studies. There is a traditional curriculum, and the students write a diploma thesis at the end of the course.
But at the same time the learning outcome of the course is described in detail. A complex chart from 5.1.1 to 5.1.3, from 7.2.1 to 7.2.8 and so on describes the competences gained from participating in the course.
In his presentation Gerhard Bisovsky used this course as an example of how to use the system of competences, called the frame curriculum, developed in a white paper by the Vienna Adult Education Centers (Wiener Volkshochschulen) in collaboration with the Vienna Municipality.
“The aim of the frame curriculum is to create coherence of the different provisions of adult education. Also it makes possible a link to the Austrian national qualifications framework and other frames,” Gerhard Bisovsky told the conference.
Eight key competences
“The frame curriculum is based on the European key competences, but it is also a result of a mapping process of the courses provided by adult education in Vienna,” Gerhard Bisovsky said.
Out of this process came eight key competences for lifelong learning:
• Communication in the mother tongue
• Communication in foreign languages
• Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology
• Digital competence
• Learning to learn
• Social and civic competences (incl. health)
• Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship
• Cultural awareness and expression
A system of descriptors
But that is not the whole story:
“Each key competence consists of sector competences on the horizontal level, and each competence is defined by attitude, knowledge, abilities and skills,” Gerhard Bisovsky explained.
On the screen he showed examples of the subdivision of some of the key competences.
One of the examples was the key competence “learning to learn”. It is divided into four sections:
- Time management
- Organisation of information
- Learning in groups/group learning
- Motivation and self-esteem
But each section again is divided into different descriptors. For example “learning in groups/group learning” consists of these descriptors:
- To communicate in groups
- To contribute to groups
- To accept decisions in groups
- To work together in groups
Some on the key competences are divided into even more descriptors. For example “Social and civic competences” is divided into four sectors, and sector four “personal area” consists of 11 descriptors.
By bringing together bundles of many of the descriptors from three key competences “learning to learn”, “social competence” and “initiative and entrepreneurship” the Rosa-Mayreder-College can present the participants of Feministic Basic Studies with a detailed mapping of their learning outcome.
Any learning process
“Such bundles of competences can lead to formal qualifications. It will make it possible to implement a standardized system of educational provisions with permeability and transparency. It can lead to better communication to learners. In addition it creates an overview and calibration within the educational institution,” Gerhard Besovsky said and added:
“The framework curriculum is formulated on the basis of the same principle as the national qualifications framework: learning outcomes. Nearly any learning process can be allowed into the framework curriculum and the national qualifications framework.”
Gerhard Besovsky was convinced that there are lots of advantages for non-formal education in the qualifications framework:
“It can bring a rise of quality via definition of standards. Also it can integrate modularized qualifications in different subjects. The definition of these modules may also highlight missing provisions and motivate institutions to provide new courses,” he said.
But Gerhard Besovsky also wanted to make the conference aware of some of the same challenges that Niamh O’Reilly mentioned before him:
“Some people fear that the offers that are not compatible with the national qualifications framework will be seen as courses of low value. In the end providers may stop offering open and low threshold courses,” Gerhard Besovsky warned.