Open Curriculum for Open Educational Practice

Introduction

The project «From open educational resources to open educational practices for commons community and cultural projects» (OpenCCCP) attempts to move forward in the integration of practice and online resources in the improvement of professional learning processes.

This OER proposes a model of learning from the practices developed by professionals in community work in disadvantaged environments or neighbourhoods. The model, referred to as a learning framework, emerges from the experience of several organisations. It uniquely attempts to bridge the gap between free and open educational resources available often online, and initiatives that express the real and present concerns of a community.

Learning frameworks are research-based learning design models that help facilitators align learning objectives with existing activities and practices, create motivating and inclusive environments, and integrate assessment into learning. The frameworks serve as a conceptual map for planning a curriculum or course of study and can be easily adapted and blended to build diverse content appropriate to the objectives being pursued.

Open Educational Resources have been developed over the past years in several formats, conceptions and directions in all learning scenarios. OER are part of a global move on changing the way of learning by giving access to free training resources, that can be very specific and in very different topics, and that usually can be used freely by learners, without any accompaniment by teachers or trainers. A clear example is https://oer.makingprojects.org/ where OER contents of different topics are compiled and where one can carry out his own learning process.

In spite of that, the next challenge is how to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute those resources by linking them to effective open approaches in which to explore teacher-learner-peer interactions, creation and assessment of contents.

We are convinced that one of the most innovative aspects is to link OERs with OEPs, with this we connect the digital with the real world, generating blended learning (see glossary). The idea behind this combination is to generate a collective process of open and collaborative learning full of content that circulates freely.

There are many strategies and methodologies for working with communities, some examples of which help us to understand possible processes. For example when we focus on community arts (see glossary) we refer to artistic or creative activities based in a community setting (see http://www.collage-arts.org/collage-arts/ as an example). Works from this genre can be of any media and are characterized by interaction or dialogue with the community. Often community art is based in socio-economically deprived areas, with a community-oriented, grassroots approach focused in the fight against social exclusion. Imagine a context like this: “Members of a local community will come together to express concerns or issues through an artistic process”. It may involve professional artists, but always mediators such as trainers, cultural managers, social activists, youth workers or social workers.

In this context, cultural heritage offers the facilitator / trainer several elements to work with: from tangible (buildings, monuments, clothes …) to intangibles (objects and cultural spaces, language and oral traditions, …), natural (green space, biodiversity, urban-nature relations, …) or digital (resources created in digital form, including text, images, video, records). In addition to that, there are the different resources the community in its diversity could at some point or already now manage(s) collectively, as a commons. These are all elements that can materialise in community processes. Inclusion in the form of intercultural dialogue, attention to diversity and support for gender equality, receives special attention.

The final idea is create an OEP that have the following attributes:

  • participatory technologies;
  • openness;
  • innovation and creativity;
  • the sharing of ideas and resources;
  • connected communities;
  • generation of apprentice;
  • reflexive practices and peer reviewing;
  • including some aspects of cultural heritage.

Managing educational resources as a commons can make learning more affordable and exciting.

What is a learning environment?

A learning environment is a series of layers that involve communities, methodologies and expected results that have to be combined to generate a learning process.

It considers a research phase, where a general context of the community is developed and participants, mediators and/or experts have to be identified to participate in the project. In this phase a concrete problem has to be defined in order to design the rest of the process to find a collaborative solution for this.

A creative phase, where in collaborative workspaces, we put together knowledge and skills to prototype and find solutions for the previously defined problem.

For these two first phases, different tools can be used. Module 3 goes deep on them.

A design phase, where the knowledge and information has to be organised to generate a local action plan to test the prototype. In this phase an evaluation tool has also to be considered. More information about this can be found on Module 4.

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Concepts OER and OEP

OER

When we talk about an OER, we mean an Open Educational Resource. These are freely accessible, openly licensed text, media, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes. The term OER describes publicly accessible materials and resources for any user to use, re-mix, improve and redistribute under some licenses.

OERs can be very specific and give resources of very different topics. Usually they can be used freely by learners, without any accompaniment by teachers or trainers.

The development and promotion of open educational resources is often motivated by a desire to provide an alternate or enhanced educational paradigm.

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OEP

Open educational practices (OEP) is the use of Open Educational Resources for teaching and learning in order to innovate the learning process. They may involve students participating in online, peer production communities within activities intended to support learning or more broadly, any context where access to educational opportunity through freely available online content and services is the norm. Such activities may include (but are not limited to), the creation, use and repurposing of open educational resources and their adaptation to the contextual setting.

The goal of Open Educational Practice (OEP) is to build the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that support and improve teaching and learning. Using open educational resources (OER) presents unique affordances for educators, as the use of OER is an invitation to adapt, personalize, and add relevancy to materials that inspire and encourage deeper learning in the classroom, across institutions and in a wide range of different contexts.

The OEP includes the open sharing of teaching practices and aims «to raise the quality of education and training, and innovate educational practices on institutional, professional and individual level». The OEP are also viewed as the next phase in OER development that continues to transform 21st century learning and learners. It is thus the next step to develop OER as levers for the transformation of learning through open intellectual property approaches, motivational frameworks, co-creation of content, technological skills and new certification methods.

The idea behind this combination is to generate a collective process of open and collaborative learning full of content that circulates freely. Openness should not only be accessed but also connectedness, trust and innovation.

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The commons, what are they?

The commons are the things that we inherit and create together and that we hope to leave to future generations. A great diversity of natural, cultural or social goods, such as: biodiversity, seeds, Internet, folklore, drinking water, genome, public space, etc. Goods that we often only perceive when they are threatened or in danger of disappearance or privatization. Everyone has access to the commons, it is just another civil right and not only those who can afford it.

Are the commons connected with the OEPs?

The «commons» is a model of governance for the common good. The way to produce and manage in community goods and resources, tangible and intangible, that belongs to all of us, or better, that belongs to no one.

The commons re-situate us in a humanist framework, in which issues that the neoliberal model has left aside, such as transparency, equity, universal access or diversity, gain new legitimacy. It proposes a possible alternative to the market economy, from which to integrate the economic and ethical, the individual and the collective. A model based on communities structured on trust.

Here, the attainment of skills and competences is based on paradigms of sharing knowledge, solidarity and commons. These forms of learning are bottom-up and construct new narratives amidst global urbanisation. The contexts in which such approaches flourish are mostly at the micro level within local communities and neighbourhoods.

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What do we need from the communities in the OEP's?

In a world of rapid transformation and often too slow systemic transition, identifying projects like OEP can do is to pilot change. Many projects that are already underway or have been developed in the past can be identified as open educational practices following the 8 attributes we identified in this model (participatory technologies; openness; innovation and creativity; the sharing of ideas and resources; connected communities; generation of apprentice; reflexive practices and peer reviewing; including some aspects of cultural heritage).

The dominant discourse of the market economy has a tendency to impose on us a logic of targeted efficiency and quantifiable outcomes, although this is not necessarily what initiatives like this contribute to society. These projects try, and on occasion fail, but often come up with lessons that, when later up-scaled and promoted, can have a meaningful impact on people’s lives.

The active participation of the community, the creation of environments and methodologies that allow the community to question its problems and propose alternatives for change, the systematization and evaluation of the research process, the dissemination of research results. The condition for carrying out this process or the main task of the researcher or social educator is to create the capacity for communities to express themselves, analyze their reality, produce their arguments, and associate broader social and political movements.

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Why is cultural heritage a key part of a learning environment?

Enlace a PDF 2014-heritage-mapping-version-2017_en.pdf

Enlace a PDF Participatory_governance_cultural heritage_en.pdf

The commons are created and recreated, connected and reconnected. It is born from the interaction between the members of a community (communities distributed and/or strange up to that moment) gathered around a theme or a problem. The commons is a state of emergency (because it is unpredictable and because it is urgent), it arises from the empowerment of those «affected» who claim threatened or destroyed rights. There are no commons without community, and vice versa. Therefore, the main objective is to make visible emerging communities of affected people – to give them time, to give them experience, to give them technology, to give them the means, to give them the word – with the will to build among all of them a more just world, a common world.

To talk about the commons is to recover important aspects of human behaviour, and also of its culture and nature, which the market discourse has discarded. The commons establish a new way of measuring «value». «Value» is not just a question of price, it is something that is rooted in communities and their social relations.

OEPs, then, are ways to highlight or put into value knowledge, practices and cultural heritage among communities, while developing skills in these communities.

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Key elements to design OEP

  • Design of the learning environment
  • How to build/reinforce trust between participants
  • Venue or place where the activities will be developed
  • Communication design and process (posters, social networks, etc)
  • Evaluation of the whole process

See good practices at:  Comprehensive Model for Open Educational Practice.

What is learning from context?

= developing skills and competences by being active in the community which can later be re-use in other fields of activity from formal employment to community activism.

The man idea behind “Learning from context” is that through engaging in our community we acquire different kinds of skills. Hard skills , soft skills, social skills, technical skills. Often we need these skills in order to further the ambitions of that community. So we use them an improve them. Learning from context aims at recognising an strengthening those skills, and where possible make them useful in other contexts. (See also https://www.opencccp.eu/why-learning-from-context/)

The traditional mainstream approach to employment often refers to education as conforming to market demands through specialisation. In contrast, extant social innovation literature ((Mulgan, Tucker, Ali, & Sanders 2007; Franz, Hochgerner & Howaldt 2012; Moulaert 2013; Durkin, 2016) considers the potential of voluntary, selforganised, citizen-based initiatives in different areas, for instance in public services and provision of social welfare (Oosterlynck, Kazepov, Novy, Cools, Barberis, Wukovitsch, & Leubolt, 2013[1] ). In Learning from Context, the attainment of skills and competences is often based on paradigms of sharing knowledge, learning by doing, solidarity and commons. It is not unlikely, that the contexts in which such approaches flourish happens at the micro level within local communities and neighbourhoods

In a sense, Learning from Context is what Ivan Illich [2] (1971) conceptualised for young people’s relationship to school, but applied to a period in life traditionally regarded as post-school-career. Illich described as De-schooling the shift away from traditional, government-influenced institutions of schooling to a less-restricted method of learning inspired by curiosity. While the term Lifelong Learning dates back to the 1960s where it initially referred to learning in retirement[3] , and later to learners of that same age group, it more recently has become to signify keeping the workforce up to date. A World Economic Forum article entitled “To succeed in a changing job market, we must embrace lifelong learning[4] ” is an interesting point in case. Therefore, a new term such as Learning from Context imposes itself, in order to include dimensions of learning under threat of being overshadowed by employability, such as awareness, identity, develop potential, build human capital, realise aspirations and enhance quality of life.

Before Learning from Context can start to happen, a community needs to be organised. Previous work has identified routes leading to a community that can start Learning from Context. Either there is a sense of urgency around a specific issue (this can be a local planning development, an opportunity or threat of local heritage, changing legislation, … ) in which case the Learning can “surf the wave” of this urgency. If there is no urgency, a work of Training Trainers and creating a share vision of the future happens before the Learning from Context can take place. (see Image below).

Captura de pantalla 2020-11-17 a las 12.47.01

In the past, Learning from Context programmes have been developed on different topics:

  • The Localism Act and the way it shapes the lived of people in North London
  • Meringplatz and the (non) development of a inner city residential area in Berlin
  • The living industrial heritage of the residents of La Marina in Barcelona
  • The insulation of Somers Town from the economic boom of Kings Cross in North London

As the name suggests, Learning from Context is a context-specific way of Learning, which makes it hard to write fits-all training programme. Examples have been developed for specific themes, such as in urban planning (see Level Playing Field) or OER transit.

While other themes are being explored, the resource of information and lessons will extend.

Videos about previous work

Video on Belearning

Video on Elephant Path

Video on Prinzessinengarten 1

Video on City Mine(d)

Video on City Mine(d)

Interview with Christoper Pissarides

Video on Som La Marina

Video on Prinzessinengarten 2

1 Durkin, C. (2016). Social entrepreneurship: A skills approach. Policy Press.
Franz, H. W., Hochgerner, J., & Howaldt, J. (Eds.). (2012). Challenge social innovation: potentials for business, social entrepreneurship, welfare and civil society. Springer Science & Business Media.
Jessop, B., & Hulgård, L. (2013). Social innovation research: a new stage in innovation analysis?. In International Handbook on Social Innovation (pp. 110-130). Edward Elgar Publishing, Incorporated. Jessop, B., & Hulgård, L. (2013).
Moulaert, F., Swyngedouw, E., Martinelli, F., & Gonzalez, S. (Eds.). (2010). Can Neighbourhoods Save the City?: Community development and social innovation. Routledge.
Moulaert, F. (Ed.). (2013). The international handbook on social innovation: collective action, social learning and transdisciplinary research. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Mulgan, G., Tucker, S., Ali, R., & Sanders, B. (2007). Social innovation: what it is, why it matters and how it can be accelerated.
Oosterlynck, S., Kazepov, Y., Novy, A., Cools, P., Barberis, E., Wukovitsch, F., & Leubolt, B. (2013). The butterfly and the elephant: local social innovation, the welfare state and new poverty dynamics.

2 Illich, I, (1971) De-schooling Society, New York, Harper & Row

3 Illich, I, (1971) De-schooling Society, New York, Harper & Row

4 https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/07/the-cognitive-limits-of-lifelong-learning  

Five questions on Learning from Context

What is Learning from Context ?

= developing skills and competences by being active in the community which can later be re-use in other fields of activity from formal employment to community activism (read more in comments)

Why use Learning from Context ?

Learning from Context is a form of personal development that happens in tandem with developments in a community. These community developments can be pre-existing or exogenous to the process, or they can be initiated as part of the learning process.

Existing community developments can be large real estate developments, neighbour plans, neighbourhood renewal schemes … They are referred to as exogenous as they were initiated outside the community.

The community can also opt for initiating its own process. Issues that can gather a wider community, often relating to environmental (pollution, lack of green space, … ), cultural (local heritage, arts, creativity, … ) or social or political issues.

These developments, exogenous or self-initiated, provide a common goal to which the community can work, which triggers its curiosity and offers it the need to learn an acquire knowledge and skills.

Learning from Context aims to make members of the learning community more aware of what they are learning, in order to allow them to apply these skills and knowledge in other contexts.

How does Learning from Context happen?

Learning from Context requires a group of people, a shared locality and a common goal. The group can involve a “trained trainer” or make us of existing online resources [See OER]

A group diverse in age and background increases the possibilities to learn from each other. The shared locality is the first common denominator: the group shares a neighbourhood with all the shared experience and proximity that entails.

This groups identifies for itself a relevant topic, within which it sets itself an achievable target. Attaining that target builds upon the physical, intellectual and human resources of the whole group, which provides the opportunity for learning and exchange.

Where to start?

There are two starting points: either a community has a topic and wants to better understand the learning that takes place while engaging with that topic; or, a community is interested in learning together and organises around a local topic.

In both cases Learning from context and its online resources, can provide a backbone along which to organise the work.

How much does it cost?

All resources are free; free as in free speech as well as in free beer.

How much does it cost?

All resources are free; free as in free speech as well as in free beer.

Strategies for partnering and dialoguing at local and international level

This module proposes a methodological framework and a set of tools for steering collaborative processes of knowledge transfer. It draws on experience and practices of the five partners of the OpenCCCP project. It results from pooling educational resources and methodologies coming from a set of application fields as diverse as education, social work, participative planning and design, environmental justice and economic development.

The focus of the educational practice proposed here is on Cultural Heritage, but the “Learning from Context” processual framework adopted has a general validity that may be applied to a wide set of purposes to steer participative processes aimed at such applications as urban regeneration, social inclusion, local development, nature based solutions etc.

In the following is presented the methodological framework specifically developed by the partner TSR to steer its cultural production and adapted to design a training curriculum devoted to the use of collaborative atlases for heritage and the commons . The model is centred on the function of alignment, which encapsulates the facilitation / coordination role that the recipients of training should be able to acquire through the open educational process.

4 fields, 4 variables, 8 moments

This model is designed to steer complex processes through collaborative approaches. It comprises a set of main elements described as fields, variables and moments that require the alignment of actors and procedures to determine shared visions and results.

The four essential fields of application are places, people, objectives and practices.

Places means the spatial dimension, that is defined by limits (administrative, functional, psychological); relations (connections, flows, infrastructures); resources (nature, heritage, culture) attached to the territories interested by transformative or descriptive processes.

People refers to the social dimension, that means human resources, power relations, narratives, issues and needs affecting individuals and communities involved in the process.

Objectives means the strategic dimension that involves imagination, representation, political agency and the organisational capacity needed to produce transformations in a defined context.

Practices means the creative dimension, or the dimension of the making. It involve skills, capacities, savoirs, customs, and more in general, all the everyday practices that shape, transform and maintain territories and communities.

These overlapping fields are modulated and regulated by four essential variables: language, procedures, expectations and time.

Language refers to the words we use to describe conditions, objectives, actions and results. The terms used in complex processes involving multiple actors, interests and competences are never unequivocal, subject to different interpretations and different uses in different contexts. The constant translation of specific languages, disciplinary terminologies and jargons into a language comprehensible to all participants is an essential part of the collaborative process.

Procedures refers to the way as action is coordinated between any acting community. Protocols established within the process require constant verification to align with the customs of the communities and groups participating to the actions, with the rules established by laws and policies, with technical standards and with planning requirements.

Expectations. The condition for success in a collective process is in capturing, building, sharing and managing plausible, achievable and timely expectations, and in providing continuous evidence of progress and results.

Time is the ultimate fundamental implicit variable in any process. Establishing appropriate timing, coordinating actions, defining concatenations and priorities is the essence of the process and determines its effectiveness. A right action at the wrong time is a wrong action!

The alignment of variables and fields happens through eight typical moments: reconnaissance, assessment, communication, coordination, visioning, design, Implementation and maintenance. In our scheme we represented these as an ideal cycle, linearly going from the reconnaissance of initial conditions to the maintenance of produced effects and circularly able to repeat themselves. In the reality such moments happen often in a disorderly way, with frequent overlapping, repetition, indeterminacy.

This conceptual framework is a canvas that can be readapted for different purposes, where the 16 element can assume different relevance, in some cases also not being all present.

Collection of methods

During the OpenCCCP development, the partners used a shared online platform to collect and share a range of methods and to constitute a common set of open educational resources to draw on for preparing the training curricula. The categorisation of the methods followed grossly the above scheme of processual moments. The methods have been listed with the indication of their purpose, the structure of the learning activity, the time required, materials needed and when available links and manuals.

This step allowed to constitute a shared pool of education resources to be adapted to the diverse focuses of the training organisations, to compare methodologies and to reflect on the common trait of practices coming form the different background of the partners and applied to different fields of activity.

During the OpenCCCP development, the partners used a shared online platform to collect and share a range of methods and to constitute a common set of open educational resources to draw on for preparing the training curricula. The categorisation of the methods followed grossly the above scheme of processual moments. The methods have been listed with the indication of their purpose, the structure of the learning activity, the time required, materials needed and when available links and manuals. This step allowed to constitute a shared pool of education resources to be adapted to the diverse focuses of the training organisations, to compare methodologies and to reflect on the common trait of practices coming form the different background of the partners and applied to different fields of activity.

In the next section we are illustrating how this framework has been employed to select a set of methodologies and to structure a specific curriculum by Partner Tesserae

Collaborative Atlases for Heritage and the Commons

Tesserae is and organisation founded by researchers with a background in urbanism, participative practice, art and new media. Partners already in the EULER E+ project that laid the grounds for OpenCCCP project, the interest and practice of the organisation is on developing inclusive methodologies of empowerment of the local communities’ capacity to imagine and transform their territories. In the frame of OpenCCCP our focus has been on the concept of heritage making – that is an interpretation of heritage as a collective process to be steered by citizens rather than a given crystallised memory corpus legitimised by cultural institutions. In this perspective, the definition of heritage is consistent with that of commons.

For the purpose of this training project we concentrated our attention on the first three moments and on the socio-spatial dimension of the neighbourhood:

Reconnaissance is the crucial moment of recognition of the elements on the field, unraveling the complexity of factors that influence the initial state of a context, a territory, a social organism or product idea. No transformative project can achieve effective results without an accurate listening process of the background conditions.

Assessment is the process of considering all the information, evaluate and make a judgment about a situation. It requires to represent hierarchies, topologies and taxonomies of elements, and to produce baselines, maps and charts.

Communication is literally the action of sharing, that means deploying linguistic and technical means allowing collaboration and knowledge transfer among partners. Effective communication plans are essential to any successful operation.

By properly and accurately realising this first three steps it will be natural and smooth proceeding into the other moments, setting effective cooperation procedures, developing common visions, designing and implementing effective solutions, and finally maintaining sustainable outputs and results.

We identified the collaborative atlas as an innovative tool for managing heritage making processes, and we structured a specific curriculum on open educational practices on developing skills and methods for experimenting such atlases. We draw on the development of digital atlas platform prototype that our organisation is bringing forward since several years, including the recent Erasmus plus project COMENSI.

The curriculum is structured in three modules that mostly regard the first three essential moments of the above presented framework: reconnaissance (here in its specific urban dimension), assessment (here focusing specifically on mapping practice) and communication (with a focus on collective storytelling).

The training is aimed at social practitioners, civil servants and active citizens interested in improving their professional capacity with innovative instruments of analysis and representation. It presents and tests a set of tools and methods aimed to facilitate participatory processes, with a focus on cultural heritage as factor of civic engagement. Participants are targeted in the fields of social work, participatory urbanism and design, visual anthropology, cultural production, social innovation, local development etc. The objective is to train hybrid figures able to act as facilitators bridging local communities with wider social strata and to connect different local initiatives with other in communities and network. Their essential role should be that of disseminating potential educational resources and fostering their application il local practice, activating local competencies and knowledge.

The training is structured in three modules of one and a half day each, with a total of six meetings and requires individual work from the participants. (60 hrs in total, 30 in class and 30 personal assignments)

  • The 1st Module on Urban reconnaissance (URLab) is dedicated to the multidisciplinary analysis of a given socio-spatial context, disentangling and classifying the complexity of elements that concur in determining any urban identity. Based on the methodology of Urban Reconnaissance and on the platform developed by the ogino:knauss collective, the aim of this module is to identify the basic taxonomy of phenomena to be investigated.
  • The 2nd Module Collaborative Mapping (MapLab) is aimed at representing structures of relations and topologies, employing digital cartographies, graphs and conceptual maps to represent diverse configurations of local communities and their cultural heritage. Here we propose methods as “Mapping threads” and “Mapping layers” for investigating socio-spatial patterns and determine the essential thematic categories of the atlas (designing a taxonomy)
  • The 3rd Module on Digital storytelling (StoryLab) is dedicated to giving voice to individuals and communities, with a particular attention to underrepresented and silenced groups. It introduces a series of techniques and formats for inclusive storytelling processes and open publication platforms. This module has the double aim to increase the competence of the participants in their capacity to represent intangible heritage, and as well to improve the availability of tools accessible to local community to set their own narratives, empowering subjects more at risk of exclusion.
  • A final workshop is dedicated to wrapping up three action plans that will detail a roadmap to transform the practices tested and envisioned during the training activities in actual actions of engagement of the local community in a collective initiative. This action plans will include an assessment of stakeholders and programs that could sustain the realisation of the plans in the future.

The training is completed with the technical experimentation of prototypes of digital platforms currently developed by the partner Tesserae like the Comensi digital Atlas and NarrAbility. The program needed to be partly readapted to the conditions dictated by the Covid 19 emergency, but most of the tools adopted revealed themselves extremely useful to develop a socially distanced collaborative praxis.

What is it in the context of OPENCCCP a Local Action Plan focused on heritage enhancement?

Definition, main aspects of it and some examples, links and resources for the design of local action plans.

Despite some places having great cultural potential to build on policies, programmes and  projects, valorization actions are missing due to several facts such as the lack of proactive culture, unprepared institutions, short term vision, economic and political interests.

However the desire of changing and improving the place where people live or work could push, in such places, local groups, associations, public bodies and single citizens in front of the questions “what can we do for our neighborhood?”, “how our vision of changing could turn into reality and actions?”.

In specific places, characterized by ancient and modern heritage (meaning as physical artifacts and intangible attributes),  the daily discovery of neighbourhood potential, stories and memories (as well the desire to not let the heritage disappear) could let emerge more specific questions such as  “how can we valorize our cultural heritage?”

The local action plan approach could help in this process of bottom-up awareness and, consequently, of action in a meaningful and proactive way as structured stakeholders groups and single citizens could use this tool to turn their visions  into reality.

In the same way, organizations with the desire (or mission in the case of very specific public bodies) to develop local projects of valorization or neighbourhood renovation could use the plan approach to better understand the sequence and the elements an action should contain to lead to the desired change.

Thus, a local action plan could effectively describe the way an organization could meet selected objectives or goals through detailed action steps that describe how and when these steps will be taken in a defined and specific territorial area. Up-to-date plans should provide a positive vision for the future of each area and a framework for addressing housing, economic, social, environmental and, more specifically, cultural priorities.

It is in this sense that the local action plan concept, if focused  on local heritage valorization, could be related to the wider Local Economic Development (LED) approach in order to take concrete sources of inspiration from its practical applications .

The purpose of Local Economic Development is to build up the economic capacity of a local area to improve its economic future and the quality of life for all. It is a process by which the public, business and non-governmental sectors work collectively to create better conditions for economic growth and employment generation including also the better use of local cultural resources.

In fact, according to the OECD publication “Culture and Local Development” there has been, in the last years, a growing interest in the role played by cultural activities especially in local development.  When  major  traditional  industries  declined  or  disappeared  at  the end  of  the  last  century,  cultural  tourism  and  creative  industries  have  been recognised as both a heritage and a lever for future development. Central and local governments were mandated to develop infrastructures for cultural creation and heritage conservation, to widen the accessibility to cultural goods  and services, and to ensure that culture reinforces the image of their territories. These objectives remain valid, but the context has evolved, influenced by several trends such as digitalisation, globalisation, central city neighborhood gentrification, new conditions on the cultural goods market.

In particular these objectives should be aligned to innovative participative actions that support citizens (together with an intermediary body as an ngo or a local public body)  of a specific place to determine and co-design the progress of their own neighbourhood to contrast emerging issues as gentrification or touristification.

Regardless of the previous mentioned issues, also in this complex and changing framework, it is certain the value of cultural heritage (tangible and intangible) enhancement, led by a specific plan based on the knowledge of the cultural element that has strong potential to lead local economic development on the right path.

In order to better understand this vision an example could help. Thus, we can look at the project “Open Vicoli” https://www.opencccp.eu/open-vicoli/ . Open Vicoli is an 18 months project that aims to build an alliance for the street of Genoa (“vicoli” little typical italian city alleys) within social workers, cultural operators, local museums.

The goal is to put the efforts carried out by the various organizations that operate and live in the territory of the historic center of Genoa into a system, creating a stable and ever-expanding network that unites cultural and social sectors in a structured dialogue, to experiment the methods of involvement and participation and bring citizens closer to the culture and the heritage widespread in the project area. The main objective is to build together a new vision of the alleys: from problem to proposal, from excluded territory to shared value.

The general structure of a Local Action Plan

The development process of a local action plan is structured according to several and logically interconnected sections.

The first step of a local action plan is the “local context analysis.

The first aspect to take into consideration when we start to think of an action to be implemented is, in fact, to understand and have clear the definition of the starting issue of the plan thanks to a strong context analysis. The design of local action plans is in this sense necessary to start to solve a local issue, or to understand how to valorize local potentialities, by developing activities as educational training, pilot cases, heritage valorization, etc.

A good analysis requires the knowledge based on the context of reference. It also includes preliminary activities such as a stakeholder mapping, focus groups, formal and informal meetings with local stakeholders that could be interested, affected or activated by the plan itself. In particular the stakeholder map is important when it is  faced with a new context to provide a focus to where efforts should be spent to ensure the diversity of the area or issue is represented (see at this link a description of this tool applied  to an engagement process).

Another tool useful for the local context analysis is the informal meeting. Especially if you face work in deprived or complicated neighbourhoods, informal meetings are fundamental tools in the work with local people. Informal meetings could open the way to enter into the real issue, and consequently the solution your plan needs to consider to be effective or, at least, strongly related to the context in which you are going to focus.

The action “spazi di quartiere – neighbourhood spaces” and “laboratori di quartiere” are good examples of this preliminary approach applied in a deprived neighbourhood of Palermo (Italy). In this action the organization Bond of Union through formal and informal meetings comes out with real issues and potential ideas for solutions proposed by citizens. All this work has been preceded by a report analysing the main local issues through interview and questionnaire to give voice to neighbourhood inhabitants.

Overview Local Context analysis

Type of preliminary tools useful to the analysis

  • formal and informal meetings with local stakeholders
  • stakeholders map
  • focus groups
  • official reports

Definition

An analysis of the current situation of a groups, organization, program, project with respect to its environment

The second main step is the establishment of “objectives or changes we want to make happen”. The changes or objective should be a direct consequence of the previous phase. Several methodological approaches, as the  logical framework or the theory of change, could be used to come out with them. It is however essential  that they are in line with the previous analysis and with the specific context of references in order to follow a logical path of local development.

Each objective or change should be then related to practical actions that allow us to realize it and make it real and in particular to answer the question “how do we get there?”. This is the third step that we can  call a “plan of action”.

Organization staff, citizens or other stakeholders, selected in the first phase, should be assigned to each action and objective with a specific “execution timeline”. The timeline is the fourth important element of each local action plan. It is extremely important to try to imagine since the beginning the time necessary to dedicate to each action of the plan to avoid the loss of time control over our plan.

The fifth essential element is the assignment of “resources” (budget, materials, people, etc.). It is recommended to carefully plan the specific resources to be assigned to each objective as well to identify “barriers “that could limit the purpose of the action.

In order to reach each final objective/change and to better visualize it, organizations and citizens could also foresee a “final outcome” or a final activity co-created by the group of local actors involved.

The final step is the “monitoring”. A specific monitoring process is suggested to allow the executor (or the coordinator of the Local Action Plan) to maintain a general control over the action of change and to demonstrate (also through specific indicators or through a more detailed impact analysis) the success of the plan.

To resume its main features, a Local Action Plan should contain at least:

  • Local Context analysis
  • Stakeholder Mapping/Focus group with principal local actors/Meeting
  • Identification of main issues (potentialities)
  • Objective or changes you want to achieve
  • Plan of actions
  • Execution timeline
  • Monitoring

The following table resumes through a simple template the principal features of a Local Action Plan matrix. It can be in any case modelled according to specific issues, needs and local contexts:

Local Action Plan, OEPs and OPENCCCP project approach

Local action plans are also a way of implementing Open Educational Practices (OEPs). In the contest of the OPENCCCP project the local action plans are in fact considered and included as a practical application test of OEPs based on partners’ local experiences and/or the OEPs already created. The project foresees also the definition of local action plans to test the methodology and the curriculum jointly developed by the partners (as Intellectual Output I and 2) . It is in this sense that we intend the development of plans to support the creation of Open Educational Practices.

In our case we specifically focus on the use of cultural heritage in local context as part of local knowledge and learning by context experience to support community, practices and/or social inclusion processes. References to Open Educational Practices could be found at this link.

Capo Open Labs

Bond of Union experiences in Palermo Capo Open Labs . It should be considered as an applied example to better understand and explain how the local action plan approach, described in the previous section, could be applied in a specific neighbourhood.

Namely, the neighbourhood of action has great potential for local cultural heritage enhancement and valorization. This should be based on the involvement of citizens, associations and institutional stakeholders to join a common path of local development based on culture enhancement.

Capo Open Labs is structured as a series of workshops starting from a local issue recognised by Bond of Union through context analysis and listening to residents’ needs of the Capo neighbourhood in Palermo (Italy). One of the main challenges of the neighbourhood is how could the deprived residents benefit from the local heritage and more in general how to use the local heritage to enhance social inclusion.

Potential benefits for the local community  are, in this sense, not exploited. An heritage that is tangible but also intangible (i.e. the culinary street food traditions of the district) legacy composed by variegated historical influences (from ancient arabic origin of the city to the spanish, barocco and liberty style). In this sense the issue expresses also a strong potential.  Thus, the objective is to categorize and valorize this vast cultural heritage by creating an active interaction with local residents and citizens.

The main idea (or plan of action to mention the table previously presented) is to define a strategy to use neighbourhood cultural heritage to promote processes of social inclusion among the residents through the interactions between universities students and local citizens. The two cycles of workshops (“Observation and mapping of cultural heritage” and “Development of actions and strategies for the enhancement of cultural heritage”) are in fact open to a different target including students of architecture, social and cultural workers, local activists.

Their main purpose is to design together actions of valorization, starting from the recognition and mapping of the local resources and elements of cultural heritage. Participants of the learning activities and workshops will plan strategies, projects, actions, initiatives to promote the use of cultural heritage to foster social inclusion. It includes also the presentation of the final results and possibly the test of some of the ideas proposed (funding specific funds) developed by the participants.

Capo Open Labs are so summarized according to the local action plan matrix mentioned before in this example:

Other examples

Switch on Mehringplatz

http://www.tesserae.eu/project/euler/

Web References

Personal and professional development is very much tied to both the acquisition and the recognition of knowledge, skills and competences. One needs to be able to perform certain tasks, but maybe just as important, one needs to be able to use acquired skills sets in different sectors of activity, or in different geographical areas. Modularity (the ability to divide a training course into sections that are transversal) and transferability (the ability to use knowledge, skills and competence in different areas) are therefore important, because they facilitate employability, competitiveness and even social cohesion – particularly in a context that offers such a wide array of opportunities as the European Union.

In order to facilitate workers’ mobility within the EU, the European Commission designed systems for an easier equivalence of vocational education and training. In this context the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) mechanisms[1] were created, which are used in the European context as “common languages” for “translating” (transferring, receiving recognition or accumulating) assessed learning outcomes (acquired in formal, non-formal and informal contexts) with the scope of achieving a qualification or taking part in lifelong learning, from one national qualifications system (NQF) to another.

1 Part of a set of European Transparency Instruments (https://www.ecvet-secretariat.eu/en/other-european-transparency-instruments).

A. The European Qualifications Framework (EQF)

EQF is a system which facilitates the translation, or the equivalence of qualifications from one national qualifications framework to another. It ranks qualifications (levels 1 to 8) based on learning outcomes (statements of what a learner knows, understands, and is able to do on completion of a learning process) “defined” in terms of knowledge, skills and competences. These are detailed for each EQF level, as detailed in Annex 1.

B. European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET)

ECVET specifically focuses on the process/steps necessary for developing a training in order to make its learning outcomes transferrable. It highlights the fact that learning outcomes (clustered in study units) can be transferred from one course to another, or from one learning context to another and, also of importance, introduces the possibility for learning outcomes achieved in non-formal or informal contexts to also be taken into consideration for obtaining a qualification (they can also be recognized, upon evaluation).

b.1. Developing a training course, according to ECVET

The steps for developing a training course according to ECVET (in their chronological order) are:

  1. Identifying competences that the training aims to develop. If the competences are part of an occupational standard (if the training focuses on a particular occupation), they should be linked to these.
  2. Assess the EQF level of the training course. If occupational standards not available, the EQF level (1-8) should be identified based on the table provided in Annex 1.
  3. Set course objectives – the process should include entry level and requirements, as well as specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound (SMART) objectives.
  4. Establish learning outcomes – again – when occupational standards are in place the learning outcomes should be based on the knowledge, skills and competences set in the standards. A good idea would be to actually write the learning outcomes with the EQF framework level descriptors in mind.
  5. Set learning activities – includes setting a number of hours dedicated to trainer-trainee interactions, or to self-study, or to practical (hands on) learning. Also – it is a good opportunity to set the number of credits.
  6. Set the assessment of learning. ECVET emphasizes the need for ongoing and final evaluations. Learning outcomes should be grouped in study units and ECVET credit points should be established in the design phase of a training/educational program that aims to be recognized in a NQF (and subsequently in other NQFs through the EQF).

b.2 Transferability

ECVET introduces a credit system to facilitate the transfer of learning outcomes from one context/system to another. In order to be transferred, learning outcomes have to be assessed. The outcome of the assessment is recorded in a learner’s personal transcript and constitutes credit. A Personal Transcript is a document that belongs to the learner. It is a record of learning achievements that contains information on learner’s assessed learning outcomes, units, and ECVET points awarded. It also specifies the identity of the learner and the competent institution/s that assessed, validated and recognised the learner’s credit.

b.3 Recognition

ECVET facilitates the validation of formal, non-formal and informal learning because it describes the knowledge, skills, and competences required for a qualification and the associated units. This makes it easier for the competent institution (in charge of assessment/validation/recognition) to identify what learners have already achieved in comparison to what is required in order to obtain a qualification.

Also, this may be helpful in the fact that a learner would not have to go through a learning process that he or she completed in a different context and for which he or she already achieved a set of learning outcomes, previously.

ECVET allows for the evaluation to be done for assessing if a person has reached one or more learning outcomes (e.g. evaluation for certain disciplines) or for evaluating if a person has reached all learning outcomes necessary for obtaining a qualification (e.g. final exams for obtaining a license).

Moreover, ECVET can also be used to enable learners to achieve some units through validation of informal and non-formal learning and others through formal learning, as well as facilitates the documentation of learning outcomes achieved through the use of tools such as personal transcripts. This is why the design of a training program needs to include the ongoing evaluation of study units completed, not just a final evaluation.

The evaluation of learning outcomes can only be done by a competent institution (an institution which has the power to evaluate and award units/qualifications or to give credit with established procedures and mechanisms for the identification, validation, and recognition of these learning outcomes through the award of the corresponding units and the associated ECVET points).

2 Occupational standards are statements of work performance reflecting the ability to successfully complete the functions required in an occupation, as well as the application of knowledge, skills and understanding in an occupation. Occupational standards are defined in terms of activities performed by a person in a given occupation whereas education and training standards are developed from the activities defined in occupational standards, and they include learning outcomes and learning activities which ensure that the necessary skills and knowledge are developed by a person to enable him or her to perform at an agreed level in an occupation”. (“Developing and Verifying Occupational Standards”, 2011).

3 An additional way to help determining the EQF level for a course is to compare it to similar courses that have already obtained an accreditation in a NQF (which should have a corresponding EQF).

Setting the framework for ECVET and EQF

The transfer of assessed learning outcomes/credits takes place in a framework set through either:

– Memorandums of Understanding (MoU), through which competent institutions, empowered in their own setting to award qualifications or units or to give credit for achieved learning outcomes for transfer and validation, accept each other’s status as competent institutions, each other’s quality assurance, assessment, validation and recognition criteria and procedures as satisfactory for the purposes of credit transfer. The MoU also expresses the agreement on the conditions for the operation of the partnership, such as objectives, duration and arrangements for review of the MoU, as well as the agreement on the comparability of qualifications concerned for the purposes of credit transfer, using the reference levels established by EQF. It also identifies other actors and competent institutions that may be involved in the process concerned, together with their functions.

– Learning Agreements. The Learning Agreement is written for a particular case of mobility and describes the learning outcomes concerned as well as how these will be assessed. A Learning Agreement is signed by the following three parties: the home institution which will validate and recognise learning outcomes achieved by the learner; the hosting institution that delivers training for the learning outcomes concerned and assesses the achieved learning outcomes; and the learner to be aware of the forthcoming learning process and to commit oneself to the agreement.

ANNEX 1 - Descriptors defining levels in the European Qualifications Framework (EQF)

Levels

Knowledge

Skills

Responsibility and autonomy

Levels

--

Knowledge

In the context of EQF, knowledge is described as theoretical and/or factual.

Skills

In the context of EQF, skills are described as cognitive (involving the use of logical, intuitive and creative thinking) and practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments).

Responsibility and autonomy

In the context of the EQF responsibility and autonomy is described as the ability of the learner to apply knowledge and skills autonomously and with responsibility

Levels

Level 1
Relevant learning outcomes

Knowledge

Basic general knowledge

Skills

Basic skills required to carry out simple tasks

Responsibility and autonomy

Work or study under direct supervision in a structured context

Levels

Level 2
Relevant learning outcomes

Knowledge

Basic factual knowledge of a field of work or study

Skills

Basic cognitive and practical skills required to use relevant information in order to carry out tasks and to solve routine problems using simple rules and tools

Responsibility and autonomy

Work or study under supervision with some autonomy

Levels

Level 3
Relevant learning outcomes

Knowledge

Knowledge of facts, principles, processes and general concepts, in a field of work or study

Skills

A range of cognitive and practical skills required to accomplish tasks and solve problems by selecting and applying basic methods, tools, materials and information

Responsibility and autonomy

Take responsibility for completion of tasks in work or study; adapt own behaviour to circumstances in solving problems

Levels

Level 4
Relevant learning outcomes

Knowledge

Factual and theoretical knowledge in broad contexts within a field of work or study

Skills

A range of cognitive and practical skills required to generate solutions to specific problems in a field of work or study

Responsibility and autonomy

Exercise self-management within the guidelines of work or study contexts that are usually predictable, but are subject to change; supervise the routine work of others, taking some responsibility for the evaluation and improvement of work or study activities

Levels

Level 5
Relevant learning outcomes

Knowledge

Comprehensive, specialised, factual and theoretical knowledge within a field of work or study and an awareness of the boundaries of that knowledge

Skills

A comprehensive range of cognitive and practical skills required to develop creative solutions to abstract problems

Responsibility and autonomy

Exercise management and supervision in contexts of work or study activities where there is unpredictable change; review and develop performance of self and others

Levels

Level 6
Relevant learning outcomes

Knowledge

Advanced knowledge of a field of work or study, involving a critical understanding of theories and principles

Skills

Advanced skills, demonstrating mastery and innovation, required to solve complex and unpredictable problems in a specialised field of work or study

Responsibility and autonomy

Manage complex technical or professional activities or projects, taking responsibility for decision-making in unpredictable work or study contexts; take responsibility for managing professional development of individuals and groups

Levels

Level 7
Relevant learning outcomes

Knowledge

Highly specialised knowledge, some of which is at the forefront of knowledge in a field of work or study, as the basis for original thinking and/or research Critical awareness of knowledge issues in a field and at the interface between different fields

Skills

Specialised problem-solving skills required in research and/or innovation in order to develop new knowledge and procedures and to integrate knowledge from different fields

Responsibility and autonomy

Manage and transform work or study contexts that are complex, unpredictable and require new strategic approaches; take responsibility for contributing to professional knowledge and practice and/or for reviewing the strategic performance of teams

Levels

Level 8
Relevant learning outcomes

Knowledge

Knowledge at the most advanced frontier of a field of work or study and at the interface between fields

Skills

The most advanced and specialised skills and techniques, including synthesis and evaluation, required to solve critical problems in research and/or innovation and to extend and redefine existing knowledge or professional practice

Responsibility and autonomy

Demonstrate substantial authority, innovation, autonomy, scholarly and professional integrity and sustained commitment to the development of new ideas or processes at the forefront of work or study contexts including research

Bibliography

Blended Learning

Blended learning is an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, path, or pace.

Community art

Community art, also sometimes known as «dialogical art», «community-engaged art», or «community-based art», refers to the practice of art based in and generated in a community setting. Works in this form can be of any media and are characterized by interaction or dialogue with the community.

Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning is the «ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated» pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Therefore, it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, as well as competitiveness and employability.

Community processes

Processes that need to be followed and documented to guarantee (or look for) active participation and effective collaboration of everybody across the community.

Open learning design

Open learning design is the application of a pedagogical model for a specific learning objective, target group, and a specific context or knowledge domain. Specifies under which conditions what activities have to be performed by learners and facilitators to enable learners to attain the learning objectives.

Education (expanded)

Education can happen in any moment, in any place. Inside and outside the academic institution. This is a proposal in line with ZEMOS98’s attempt to reflect on the idea of giving new meaning to education in a way that is not just limited to the academic-institutional sphere. The new digital conjuncture is a new opportunity to recover the idea of reciprocity in the forms of distribution of knowledge.

Culture

Culture is a shared heritage among a group of people. It is a set of mental habits that defines the slow through which we see things and which guides our interactions with others. Culture is the «operating system» of the city.

Beta

Inherited from the programming field, it is considered a project in «beta» which is not finished but it is at the disposal of everyone because it is provided, it finds the limits, it is evaluated and it can be improved.

Hacker

those who want to improve an object / process / device already exist to provide it with new functions.

City

The city seen as interconnected, not separated, layers.

Participation

Participation has always been managed and quantified, but this perspective has been changed because it continues to be transformative.

Sharing

From the perspective of philosophy 2.0, sharing as a human essence. http://freesouls.cc/essays/07-isaac-mao-sharism.html

Collective intelligence

This is a form of intelligence that arises from the collaboration and competition of many individuals, or from a single experience. It is a generalised term for cyberculture or the society of knowledge. It appears in a wide variety of forms of consensus decision-making in bacteria, animals, human beings and computers.

Prototyping

The process by which we arrive at the design of a prototype.

It is a limited representation of a product or idea, which allows us to test it in real situations or explore its use, thus creating a design process of iteration that generates quality. A prototype can be anything, from a paper with simple drawings, an action, an interface to a complex software. They are useful for communicating, discussing and defining ideas between those who design them and those who are responsible for them.

Social

Indissociable from culture, from education, one of the innovative axes of our time.