Author: Karolina Pietkiewicz (The National Unions of Students in Europe)
Author’s Note: This article was first completed in 2016. Since then, EU has started consultation on a new recommendation on Key Competences on Lifelong Learning, which can be found here.
This paper aims at developing detailed definitions of three competences that are relevant for the topic of MOOCs on the basis of an in-depth desk research analysis. Those competences include: learning to learn, sense of initiative and creativity and entrepreneurship (and intrapreneurship).
The first part of the paper serves as an introduction on skills and competences in the era of new technologies from an international and European perspectives.
Three following parts will focus on presenting detailed definitions of each competence, pointing out at the most important abilities to be developed and improved by the courses designed within the framework of this project.
The last part concludes the paper and proposes a handful of considerations for the future.
The evolution and development had a great impact on the societies, which having immensely grown, can be referred to as knowledge societies. Facing economic and democratic crisis, Europe and the world have been addressing education, more importantly, the concept of lifelong learning by encouraging more learning-outcomes-oriented and therefore competences- and skills-oriented approach (Ananiadou, Claro, 2009).
Competence is a broad concept that embraces knowledge and skills. For the purpose of further consideration, we will use the following definition developed by OECD in the frames of DeSeCo project.
A competence is more than just knowledge or skills. It involves the ability to meet complex demands, by drawing on and mobilising psychosocial resources (including skills and attitudes) in a particular context. For example, the ability to communicate effectively is a competence that may draw on an individual’s knowledge of language, practical IT skills and attitudes towards those with whom he or she is communicating (Rychen & Salganik, 2003).
BizMOOC aims at designing MOOCs that would develop LLL and business key competences at the later stage. Therefore, at the initial stage of the project’s implementation this paper was developed to establish detailed definitions of the competences that have been defined as directly relevant for this project, which include: learning to learn, sense of initiative and creativity and entrepreneurship(&intrapreneurship) (Freidl, 2015).
Learning to learn constitutes a key competence of life-long learning (LLL) and is a prerequisite to acquisition and improvement of skills and knowledge. It is a main resource of personal development and active citizenship. It is seen as a capacity for all that can eventually foster the development of democracy. To briefly explain its meaning it is about giving ownership to the learner over the activity of learning.
As BizMOOC will specifically focus on the ability to learn through MOOCs and to develop web literacies (Friedl, 2015) a basic definition of learning to learn was developed:
Learning to learn is related to learning, the ability to pursue and organise one’s own learning, either individually or in groups, in accordance with one’s own needs, and awareness of methods and opportunities.
However, having gathered and analysed the materials available, including strategical European Union (EU) and European Higher Education Area (EHEA) documents, as well as literature, a detailed definition of this competence was adapted to be used for this project. The definition that the authors chose was based on the definition presented in the recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council on key competences for lifelong learning (EC, 2006) complemented by findings from other sources, as well as own experience of the authors.
‘Learning to learn’ is the ability to take up and continue learning, to organise one’s own learning individually or collectively with the optimal use of time, information and learning opportunities. This entails the ability to set one’s own aims and objectives, identify the ways, means and obstacles to achieve them according to an individual learning strategy and to monitor and evaluate own learning process effectively. This competence means gaining, processing and assimilating new knowledge and skills as well as seeking and making use of guidance. Learning to learn engages learners to build on prior learning and life experiences in order to use and apply knowledge and skills in a variety of contexts: personal, professional and social. Awareness of the ways of enhancing one’s motivation and confidence are crucial to learning to learn.
To enable learner/trainers to function as motivators and facilitators of the learning to learn process of the participants of their educational work, with a view to the development of a positive attitude to learning throughout the life course among those participants (EC, 2006; Hoskins, Fredriksson, 2008).
Generally, education does not only serve the short-term labour market goals, but in order to take ownership over the educational goals (either for the purpose of furthering one’s educational path or for the purpose of upskilling or reskilling), an individual needs to have awareness of the competences, knowledge, skills and qualifications required. Learning to learn requires an individual to know and understand their preferred learning styles at all times to be able to search for the education and training opportunities and guidance and/or support available (EC, 2006; Hoskins, Fredriksson, 2008).
Learning to learn competence requires the acquisition of the basic skills such as literacy, numeracy and ICT skills necessary for further learning. Skills that would enable an individual to access and acquire new knowledge and skills. Those education and training activities imply working specifically on habits and attitudes specific to situations or certain persons, and on learning practices, such as to concentrate for extended periods and to reflect critically on the purposes and aims of learning. Learners should have the ability to dedicate time to learning individually and independently, but also to work in teams as part of the learning process. As a part of learning to learn competence they should be able to learn how to organise their own learning, evaluate their own progress, and to reach out for advice, information and support when appropriate (EC, 2006; Hoskins, Fredriksson, 2008).
A positive attitude includes the motivation and confidence to pursue and succeed at learning throughout one’s life. A problem-solving attitude supports both the learning process itself and an individual’s ability to handle obstacles and change. The desire to apply prior learning and life experiences and the curiosity to look for opportunities to learn and apply learning in a variety of life contexts are essential elements of a positive attitude (EC, 2006; Hoskins, Fredriksson, 2008).
According to the recommendation of the European Commission, sense of initiative has been defined as a competence along with entrepreneurship as one of the eight key competences necessary for developing and maintaining a knowledge-based society. However, for the purpose of BizMOOC those two competences were separated and sense of initiative was paired it up with creativity.Being able to demonstrate initiative and original thought, alongside self-discipline in starting tasks and completing them to deadline, are essential attributes that have been identified by employers as priority issues. Sense of initiative and creativity embraces skills such as taking the initiative, intuitive decision making, making things happen, identifying opportunities and creative problem solving. Education oriented on the sense of initiative and creativity competence offers acquisition of a wide range of emotional, intellectual, social, and practical skills (EC, 2006).
Having gathered and analysed the materials available, including strategical European Union (EU) and European Higher Education Area (EHEA) documents, as well as literature, a detailed definition of this competence was adapted to be used for the purpose of this project. The definition that the authors chose was based on the definition presented in the recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council on key competences for lifelong learning (EC, 2006) complemented by findings from other sources, as well as own experience of the authors.
Sense of initiative and creativity refers to an individual’s ability to make things happen – taking ownership of the process of coming up with and launching creative ideas. Shortly, it means creativity, vision and responsiveness to opportunity. It enhances intuitive decision making and creative problem solving through developing a wide range of emotional, intellectual, social and practical skills. It grows the ability to use one’s imagination and creative methods of self-development. It helps to engage in further training and motivate individuals to take actions on their own that would lead to an effective establishment, launch and management of projects that were sparked by original ideas.
Given the above mentioned, the following elements are recommended to be addressed in the process of developing the MOOC for the purpose of improving learning to learn competence (Otten, Ohana, 2009; QAA, 2012):
The entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship competence constitute an important component of the employability concept. The changes in the labour market and in educational needs demanded a new, more practical approach to skills and competences. Despite the development of this competence, it still remains difficult for learners to become successful in the labour market, proceeding with their personal careers.
However, having gathered and analysed the materials available, including strategical European Union (EU) and European Higher Education Area (EHEA) documents, as well as literature, a detailed definition of this competence was adapted to be used for the purpose of this project. The definition that the authors chose was based on the definition presented in the recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council on key competences for lifelong learning (EC, 2006) complemented by findings from other sources, as well as own experience of the authors.
Sense of entrepreneurship refers to an individual’s ability to generate new ideas and turn them into action. It includes innovation, risk-taking, and the ability to establish, launch and manage projects in order to achieve planned objectives. This supports individuals, not only in their everyday personal and professional lives and ability to use opportunities, and constitutes a basis for more specific skills and knowledge needed by those establishing or contributing to social development and economic activity. This should include awareness of ethical values and promote good governance (EC, 2006; QAA, 2012).
Essential knowledge embraces the ability to define opportunities available for personal and professional activities that would fit in a broader socio-economic context that societies live in, facing all the challenges of developing world with all their implications on educational systems and labour markets. All the learners should get acquainted with the ethical position of enterprises, and how they can they can enter in the role of social entrepreneurs to fulfil not only purely economic needs, but contribute to social sustainable development (EC, 2006; QAA, 2012).
Skills acquired should be linked to proactive project management, effective representation and negotiation, and the ability to work both individually and collaboratively. It is essential to develop the ability to judge and identify one’s strengths and weaknesses, and to assess and take risks (EC, 2006; QAA, 2012).
Learners that have acquired entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship can be described as having a proactive, independent and innovative approach in personal, professional and social life. It entails motivation and determination in striving for fulfilment of the objectives, both in personal and professional dimension (EC, 2006; QAA, 2012).
Given the above mentioned, the following elements are recommended to be addressed in the process of developing the MOOC for the purpose of improving learning to learn competence (Otten, Ohana, 2009):
The above definitions were used for the purpose of the projects and constituted the basis for the further exercises within the BizMOOC of creating and launching MOOCs for the purpose of developing certain set of competences. The analysis was mainly focused on the European context, as the project tackles mainly the European perspective. Those definitions are not rigid and fixed, but rather flexible and open. There may appear a need to adjust them over time depending on the dynamics of the project and the context. The definitions will further develop as future strategies and frameworks are developed and passed.
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