The CONNECT project aims to leverage the impact of Learning Cities through building urban ecosystems of lifelong learning that harness the assets of European cities and transform them into a network of seamless pathways of learning experience for adult learners. In a society where existing educational pathways no longer guarantee opportunity, and with a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots, connected learning for all citizens can open up new entry points and pathways to opportunity; in particular when integrating both the potential of ubiquitious learning technology and learning opportunities created by European cities.
To help cities better address challenges such as Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees, Poverty, and to make the most out of EU funding opportunities, the European Commission has launched a new web portal during the European Week of Regions and Cities.
The Australian Learning Communities Network Inc (ALCN) was formed in 2001. ALCN is a network of leading edge practising agencies building sustainable communities using learning as the key driving element.
It now has a membership comprising around 38 learning communities around Australia, represented by lead agencies such as local government, Adult Education Centres, Private Organisations, Libraries, Community Centres, Universities, Charitable Organisations, Peak Learning Bodies, Youth Agencies and Technical and Further Education Institutes. The lead agencies have formed, within each learning community, a network of partnerships comprising business, local government, education, government authorities, community interests, libraries, and support services agencies.
The ALCN recognises that the aims and goals of most organisations/groups cannot be achieved in isolation and there is a need for partnerships within the community. The emphasis needs to shift to strategic alliances and partnerships, improved linkages between stakeholders such as education, vocation, technology, employer groups, government agencies and regional development.
The 13th PASCAL International Conference, Learning Cities 2040 - Global, Local, Connected, Sustainable, Healthy and Resilient, is taking place from June 3rd to June 5th, 2016 at the University of Glasgow. It is will focus on future directions for Learning Cities at a time of considerable challenge and opportunity for cities, with significant development in their role and contribution to learning. Following soon after the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) 2nd International Conference on Learning Cities in Mexico City with the inauguration of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, the UN Paris conference on climate change, and UN decisions on sustainable development goals, the conference provides opportunities to share ideas and experience on the development and role of Learning Cities in this challenging context, with opportunities for fresh ideas and innovative forms of partnership.
Two years ago Prof. Michael Osborne asked me to contribute to a special issue of UNESCO's international review of education, dedicated to the topic of learning cities & regions. The publication should shed some light on quality in developing learning cities & regions, based on knowledge gained from EU sponsored projects and my evaluation work in the field. The following reflections build on the arguments already brought to the fore, and take those a step further by raising 8 fundamental questions towards building successful learning cities & regions.
In order to make lifelong learning reality, EU member states over the past two decades have promoted structural change in order to make their educational systems more flexible. More recently, national governments have started to decentralise the design and provision of adult education from the higher levels to local or regional governments, and to stimulate the building of local networks for lifelong learning. It is supposed that those networks are in a better position to react rapidly to changes and match learning needs with demands. Moreover, stakeholders on the micro-level are expected to bring learning closer to home but also closer to the situations in which it is applied (work, family, care, hobbies etc.).
Susannah Chambers, NIACE in her latest vlog is discussing the positive contributions and valuable skills Community Learning can bring to learners and society. Underpinning research evidence is presented to support the call for there to be national investment in a radical new vision for Community Learning.
The XPLOIT project was created to enhance the exploitation of the many European learning projects. Most of them are producing excellent materials and resources which are vanishing after the end of the funding period. The question was (and still is) why and the mission was to find a systematic practice in supporting new infrastructures in the local communities to make use and adopt those many resources.
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.