There is no doubt that the society of the future will be a learning society. Citizens are required to constantly update their competences, not only with regard to the world of work but in an encompassing approach to participate in contemporary societies. Moreover, modern societies face a rapid differentiation of educational pathways, opportunities and biographies. This increase in complexity from learners requires great effort into initiative taking, creativity, problem solving, risk assessment and decision taking, all of which requires learners to become stakeholders of their own learning process.
However, learner populations with a disadvantaged background or those remote from learning have great difficulties to take ownership of their learning, without being empowered. Empowerment is a term frequently found in formal and informal policy documents and expert discourses about adult education. But, although a great deal of rhetoric about learner empowerment, adult education practice too often remains caught in traditional instruction methods, fixed curricula and pre-defined learning outcomes. It's in particular low achievers who suffer from this situation, because they in the formal education system usually have made the experience that major parameters of their learning is out of their control, and thus never had the chance to develop a sense of ownership for their own learning.
PARTICIPATE is a new European project, which aims to promote participatory methods in adult education. It starts from the assumption that the impact on disadvantaged target groups can be greatly increased if education providers manage to adopt participatory approaches and methods, and this way support their learners to develop a sense of ownership of their learning and become lifelong learners. The specific objective of the PARTICIPATE project is to build a model for participatory design of learning outcomes.