Lifelong Learning has to constantly re-examine and restate its beliefs and practices in order to stay relevant. When I started in Adult Education some 25 years ago, Local Authorities and all post 16 education providers had generous funding available to support adults who had either been disadvantaged by their education, or who simply needed new skills. Working in the Welsh Valleys area we were able to build upon the spirit of co-operation we found amongst the women’s groups that had sprung up during the miners’ strike. Using European funding we could provide ICT labs and intensive one year training programmes in post mining communities.
Alongside our part-time humanities degree in the community we offered European funded ICT training and this attracted more than 3,000 adults eager to learn new skills. These centres transformed their communities and still offer a vital lifeline. The centres were staffed by local volunteers who were part of the community and understood the community’s needs. We had contact with other providers but each body provided what they and the centres thought was required.
The learning city concept can contribute greatly to lifelong learning objectives within a community (rural area, neighbourhood, city or region). However, it must be well planned, engage stakeholders from across different sectors and most importantly provide a mechanism for monitoring progress.
I define lifelong learning using the PASCAL definition ‘structured, purposeful learning throughout the lifespan, from cradle to grave’. This links with the UNESCO definition of a Learning City, which feature the mobilization of resources for some broad goals to do with individual empowerment, economic and cultural prosperity, social cohesion and sustainable development. The resources include formal education, workplace learning, community and family learning, technology, ensuring a quality experience while developing a culture of learning within a community.
The Role of Hume Global Learning Village Committee in building communities of practice & social capital in Hume, Australia.
When Hume City Council established the Hume Global Learning Village in 2003, they set up a dual structure of a high level Advisory Board and a locally- based Committee to support and facilitate the initiative. The role of the Advisory Board was to set strategic directions for the initiative while the Committee was to give a local voice and access to local organisations ad networks. The Committee has continued to facilitate the village since then, despite a significant change in its status in 2014, and in the process has built communities of practice across Hume that facilitate communications, shared understanding and knowledge, and above all trust in supporting successive Village strategic plans.
I interpret a community of practice as a group of people which learns how to improve its knowledge, its behaviour and its influence as a result of interaction between each other and with other groups. I suggest below 3 case studies where this happened.
Over the past decade, the Learning Region has become a widely adopted concept in European education policies. However the concept has taken different forms and has been reflected in a variety of network figurations. From different departures points and though various pathways many projects have developed domain specific knowledge in the area of social capital building, governance and institution building, stakeholder collaboration, public-private partnerships and transversal cooperation. The basic intention of the R3L+ project was to capitalize on this diversity by bringing together actors from our respective countries in order to learn from each other and jointly elaborate a common quality framework for the development and management of cooperative learning arrangements among educational providers, SMEs and public agencies.