Réflexions sur l’organisation d’un événement

Dernièrement a eu lieu l’évènement Conversations sur les compétences, organisé par percolab avec la collaboration avec ses partenaires. L’objectif premier consistait à partir de récits de praticiens et de la participation d’un auditoire multilingue, issus de secteurs et de pays divers, de susciter des conversations et d’avancer des réflexions autour de l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie, de l’employabilité et des organisations apprenantes. Mon rôle d’organisatrice a pris fin avec la mise en place du site de documentation de la journée (voir vidéos, audios et document résumé des projets). À moi maintenant d’identifier mes apprentissages de l’expérience.

1. Le moment d’arrêt pour identifier les thématiques sous-jacentes aux portfolios numériques qui les relient a été révélateur. Qui parle portfolio parle en fait de :

  • apprentissage, dans son sens le plus large, tout au long de la vie, tous les types d’apprentissage et l’apprentissage individuel autant qu’organisationnel;
  • connaissance de soi, actualistation et réalisation de soi;
  • un travail et une vie avec un sens. Faire l’ouverture de l’évènement m’a forcé à rendre explicite ses trois thématiques avec lesquels je fonctionne depuis un certain temps, et c’est tout ça qui me motive dans mon travail (et pas seulement avec les portfolios numériques).

2. Réunir des personnes pour apprendre nécessite une ambiance de confiance – une ambiance où l’on peut se permettre de prendre des risques, de se laisser aller. Une foule de petits détails contribue à sa mise en place : le lieu, la lumière, la nourriture, une animation douce mais ferme, un formule démocratique, respect des langues des personnes, etc.  Il faut créer le rire et nourrir le plaisir.

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Perspectives sur la communication et les portfolios numériques

Une semaine de perspectives portfolios : trois lieux, trois moyens, trois histoires.

Vendredi et samedi dernier, j’étais à Queens, New York, pour la conférence Connections où on parlait de l’utilisation des portfolios pour développer la cohérence personnelle des étudiants et de la capacité des individus à devenir  agents du changement. C’était toute la fraîcheur d’un collège communautaire, La Guardia, qui a invité 500 personnes chez eux, pendant que la vie quotidienne du collège continuait à tourner. Voilà un geste genéreux et authentique de partager ainsi autour des projets de portfolio numérique, entre autres le leur, qui dure depuis 2002 et touche presque 7 000 élèves! L’administration, les profs, les professionnels, le personnel de soutien et les élèves, tous là, très fiers de leur réussite – pas moyen de sortir de là sans être touchée.

Lundi, c’était à Sherbrooke pour l’événement AQIFGA, le réseau de l’éducation des adultes. On y discutait, entre autres, comment positionner un dispositif comme un portfolio numérique dans les mains de l’individu est une approche qui s’inscrit en plein dans le virage vers l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie. L’ouverture et la réceptivité des personnes présentes étaient palpables. Encore une fois, j’étais touchée.

Et puis ce mercredi, c’était ma première vidéoconférence VIA avec le réseau REPTIC des CEGEP. De nouveau, le sujet portfolio numérique, mais cette fois-ci, sous la forme d’une introduction pour ce réseau qui souhaite un modèle de portfolio numérique pour le cheminement des élèves dans leurs programmes. Mais là, mon manque d’aisance ou d’expérience avec le format des vidéoconférences s’est fait sentir. Ouch! J’ai l’impression d’avoir tourné en rond, manqué le cible, ennuyé les gens. Quand le potentiel de ce monde me tiens tant à coeur, quand l’auditoire est si allumé, quand je cherche tant de pouvoir être à l’écoute des gens. Eh! bien, je me sens, oui, décue de moi.

Mon constat – je reçois mieux et je communique mieux AVEC les personnes. La distance imposée par la vidéoconférence, malgré toutes ses fonctionalités merveilleuses, n’a pas disparu : j’avais l’impression de parler toute seule dans ma cuisine plutôt qu’à des vraies personnes. Et je dis ça, moi qui travaille depuis des années avec des équipes distribuées, moi qui a fait ma maîtrise à distance, moi qui défend l’apprentissage à distance. Oui, tout ça m’a permis de mieux me comprendre autour de mes compétences de communication.

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University of the streets and informal learning

For such a fan of informal learning it took me way too long to finally get it together to go to a Montreal University of the streets event (which by the way is a bilingual gig). The format here: a guest speaker (in relation to the theme of the day) gets the conversation going and a moderator « manages » the lively conversation. It’s been going on for 5 years.

I love these type of events – informal learning spaces where a sense of « personal mastery » and collective exploration helps thinking advance and community to emmerge.

Another informal learning network percolab is part of in Montreal is the Knowledge Kafé (café des connaissances), similar, but with a different formula. Before meeting to share and converse everyone agrees to read a specific text based on the theme of the month. And this event is 15 years strong!

In my quest to further explore informal learning structures (yes, you can put those two terms together), I intend to discover more of these conversation spaces, such as the Récit des écoles des citoyens in France, and others that I find out about.

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Transferring competence from one situation to another: maintaining your sense of possibility

The other day I was talking with a highly skilled person, an airplane pilot. I asked him, « If you lost your job tomorrow, what could you do? »

« Well, I would need to go and get trained for a different field. » he responded. He did not have a sense that all his competences and experience as a pilot could in fact be absolutely useful for another field of work. That he functioned as a leader, a communicator, a team player. That he had developed attention to detail, respect of process, preoccupation with security etc etc.

We get lost in our specialisations, so much so that we don’t see that what we know and what we can do is absolutely transferable. Yes, transferring knowledge and skills is one of the greatest challenges to teach, both in schools and in the workplace. Which brings us back to valuing our competences and expressing them in a neutral or decontextualised way to better get a grasp of our true potential. In so doing, our pilot would be better able to project himself into a world beyond his present one. If you don’t have a sense of the potential of transfer you can feel either locked in your work or lost when it taken away from you. We need to keep our sense of possibility, don’t you think?

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But what is learning?

I dare you to ask someone you know what they have learned lately at their work, or what they would like to learn. I need to take a course on « latest software version 5.8 », « presentation skills » or « time management », someone might say. It seems that most people associate learning with « taking a course ». So, is lifelong, lifewide learning about taking courses all the time for everything?

I certainly hope not. For me, learning happens everyday and all the time. It is a natural process, but somehow it slips through our fingers – we aren’t really aware of all the learning we are doing. Sometimes, (not all the time) it could be interesting, pertinent or professionaly sensible to be able to better capture our learning, to see traces of our foreward movement, to take stock of how much we have progressed, to pat ourselves on the back, to get strategic about a hurdle etc. For this, we need to go beyond training and examinations.

This is lifelong learning, and it requires lifelong learning tools such as the personal learning environment (PLE), the personal competence manager (PCM) or the personal/professional ePortfolio (my one, I dare to share with you). But where go novel tools, goes also a new mindset. Here is our absoluteley amateur attempt at expressing that idea in the area of continuing professional development.
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Version française

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Portfolios as an instrument to recognise non-formal learning and education

Though most of our learning is non-formal and informal, these forms of learning are usually given a back seat to formal learning that occurs in official learning institutions with official certification. I am right there with the OECD in thinking that learning needs to be perceived as encompassing the whole spectrum of formal, non-formal and informal learning for promoting personal fulfillment, active citizenship, social inclusion and employability. One initiative that is adressing this issue is the European portfolio for the recognition of learning and education of youth workers and leaders – that’s to say those people working with our youth from Scout leaders to human rights education. These people are doing « good work » in our societies which for the most part goes underecongnised and undervalued. The Directorate of Youth and Sport of the Council of Europe feels strongly enough about it to pass a resolution to tackle the « problem ». The youth leader and worker portfolio project fits within this resolution and the mini-compendium on non-formal education is part of the background work.

The project is to develop a portfolio with a common competence framework of what youth workers and leaders do as an instrument to provide a broad view of the area within which they are involved and heighten self awareness on the competences they are in the process of developing via this work.Imagine, all the various non-formal training sessions that youth work volunteers and leaders are involved in and now individuals may be provided with a tool with which they will be able to track their learning with a long-term, big picture approach. By documenting non-formal learning in such a structured way, it gives credit and clout to all that it is. Animators will be encouraged and enabled to

  1. Assess their own learning
  2. Set clear and achievable goals
  3. Identify, express and reflect on their own view of progress and development of new opportunities
  4. Summarise achievments and collate supporting evidence

This initiative is to be applauded. Of course there is a tension and preoccupation with this effort : non-formal areas of our society, such as youth animation and work, have their own non-formal culture and ways of functioning. Is it really possible to standardise and formalise this field without negatively impacting its non-formal essence? I believe so. By using their portfolio, workers will gather a larger perspective of the field within which they have made a committment and they will develop their awareness and value of the competences they develop through their non-formal learning and youth work. In so doing the positive impact should be two-fold, workers feeling good about themselves and their work, and workers becoming more professional in their work. In the end, the youth of our society deserve the best and the european portfolio initiative is a project towards that goal. We need only to look at a similar project on a smaller scale to see the potential impact of such a process.

A portfolio based model for validating informal learning gained during voluntary activity has been implemented for scouting groups in the Gelderland region of the Netherlands. The project study highlights how « having their skills validated had substantially increased the personal confidence of some volunteers. » One particpant pointed out that « having her learning validated had increased her motivation during her volunteering and other professional activities. She had been able to transfer the competence profiling technique to her other work as a social worker.  » Also, benefits are noted for the organisation: « The general profile of Scouting in the Netherlands has been raised, with wider recognition of the efforts made, and skills and knowledge of volunteers. The establishment of scouting groups as ‘learning firms’ has also given these groups a higher profile and greater recognition by educational institutions. »

The portfolio has the potential to make life skills and competencies in areas of non-formal and informal learning more visible, thereby contributing to the social and formal recognition of a field and its workers.

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