VILMA - Validation of Informal Learning in Mobility Actions




Why was the project initiated / what triggered the start of the project?
Mobility learning in European adult education in its multiple forms is playing an increasing role, at local, regional and European levels. As research work, expert discussions and real cases in VILMA partners’ actions show, there is a lack and a strong need for a comprehensive approach and a consistent set of instruments to assess and evidence the impact of informal mobility learning on the competence development of the individual learner on the basis of a comparable reference system and a common methodology.

What was the intention of the project / what did it want to achieve and for whom (target group/groups)?
The VILMA project is based on the experience built in previous EU-funded projects (among which ACT and ACT-NET) and in particular one project dealing with validation of informal learning in European projects and partnerships, the VIP project ( Since January 2009 VIP has been exploring European projects, partnerships and networks as informal learning environment to assess and evidence the competence development of team members working in such European actions. VIP seeks to improve the visibility of informal learning that takes place in such projects, networks and partnerships.

The VILMA project aims to reach all stakeholders dealing with mobility actions:
• Adult learners and trainers of different contexts within the numerous mobility actions, e.g. service trainings, volunteering projects and different kinds of national and bilateral exchanges.
As the evaluation method is specifically suitable for “non-mainstreaming” groups like unemployed young adults, disabled persons and senior citizens, the project explicitly addresses those non-mainstreaming or even “disadvantaged” target groups that should profit most from the concept of “informal learning”.
• Managers, partners and other organisational staff of European mobility actions
• Evaluators and validation practitioners such as counsellors, assessors, process managers and other external observers.

What are the achievements / results so far?
At the current stage the project has worked on the needs analysis about the acquisition of competences in European mobility actions and the availability of validation and certification systems in regard to those competences.
The survey has identified a clear demand of a validation of personal and social competences in order to evidence the learning outcomes and learners’ developments in the course of mobility actions and projects.
This demand was stated in all the four LLP sectors.
Based on the outcomes the VILMA-partnership has established an evaluation system for the assessment and evidencing of specific competences acquired in mobility learning and successfully piloted them in a first series of European and nationally funded mobility actions for senior volunteers, young unemployed persons, youth mobility and disabled/disadvantaged persons on mobility.
A European course and a conference on validation of mobility learning and a conference were carried out in cooperation with a parallel project on validation.
As far as dissemination activities are concerned the project partners were participated in different conferences and workshops in Europe.

What are the main learning points of the project?
To create a comprehensive evaluation system for learning in mobility the project VILMA has been transferring and adapting a well proven approach (LEVEL5; REVEAL; to assess and evidence competence development in non-formal and informal learning and its instruments to European mobility actions.
LEVEL5 describes competence developments on the basis of learning outcomes and classifies them on three dimensions (cognitive, active and affective) and five levels. In contrast to EQF also the affective dimension of competence development is taken into account and learning outcomes are displayed in a process oriented way.
Thus, personal and social competence and skill development can be assessed and precisely evidenced, also in the course of a non-formal and informal learning setting.
A standard assessment procedure and a software for 3-D visualisation with a built in certification instrument are parts of the LEVEL5 assessment and evidencing system.
By 2011 the system has been successfully applied in more than 50 informal and non-formal learning projects, ranging from self-organised grassroot learning activities, vocational trainings, extracurricular school projects, EU-funded education projects to mobility actions.
LEVEL5 was scientifically evaluated in the framework of two international PhD theses.

What experience could be transferable? How could the project experience inspire other organizations / countries?
It should be noted that the validation of these competence is still unknown territory also in the VET sector The VILMA system approach can be easily transferred to all other mobility actions in the LLP as the pilots have been showing already in the first project months. They can be also applied in other actions such as Grundtvig courses (transfer will be done in Dec. 2011 during the GINCO conference and ERASMUS mobility (as discussed during the ERASMUS cluster conference) but also to the YiA programme.

Contact details
The project is being coordinated by BUPNET GmbH, an adult education provider in Germany.

VILMA is a part of the European network REVEAL (Research and Evaluation group for Validating, Evidencing and Assessing informal and non-formal Learning) that has been collaborating in four LLP projects since 2005.

Sabine Wiemann
Am Leinekanal 4, D-37073 Göttingen

Presentation Sabine Wiemann: PDF