Bridging the gap between formal and non-formal learning
In this Strategic Partnership, funded by the Erasmus + Youth programme, we have analysed the potential of non-formal learning (NFL) methods used in youth work and how to implement these methods in Vocational Education and Training (VET-schools) as a supplement to formal education. NFL as a method is also called experienced based learning (“learning by doing”) and demands active and voluntarily participation from the learner.
Using non-formal learning methods, particular attention is given to the needs and interests of the learner. Especially students at risk of early school leaving and other young people with fewer opportunities benefit from non-formal learning, because of the individual approach.
The first project result, IO1 Scoping Paper, shows the potential and many positive results of the use of non-formal learning methods in VET-schools. During the project we identified different methods that have been used by project partners:
Group Volunteering (ESC/EVS) projects at VET-schools with teachers or through collaboration with NGO’s, individual EVS, volunteering locally, trainings and placements, reflection workshops, campus instructors, the Scrum method, conflict management workshops with trainers from NGO’s and student involvement.
The IO2 research article «Towards a new paradigm in learning» shows that it is possible and desirable with non-formal learning methods as a supplement in formal learning environments like VET-schools, both from the viewpoint of students, school management and NGO’s.
Partners have been looking into NFL recognition and result measurement tools, and especially the already designed Open Badges seem to be a useful method implementing for example a NFL method like Group EVS into VET-schools (see IO3).
Regarding the aim of prevention of early school leaving, we have looked at the experiences with different NFL projects and models carried out at our schools. Research shows that these activities received mostly positive feedback from the students. They recommend our schools to continue with non-formal learning in VET-education, but more research is needed to gather proof and draw the final conclusion that these measures help preventing early school leaving.
Where there's a will there's a way. Our project CLUE 2 Inclusion shows that in a relatively short time span, many good NFL activities can be carried out in VET schools. A good plan and a cooperation agreement between the school and NFL partners will smooth the road