One of the priorities of ET2020 is the professional development of staff working in the adult education sector, with a view to improve the quality and efficiency of adult learning. Following this priority in 2010 a framework for “Key Competences for Adult Learning Staff” has been launched, which defines the generic and specific competency profile for professional staff working in adult education.
The DEMAL project focuses in particular on the development of two specific competencies:
- Being capable of designing the learning process (B1)
- Being an evaluator of the learning process (B2)
Five stakeholders from Greece with different background and expertise in adult education recently expressed their opinion and personal experience with regard to the design competence, confirming the relevance of such a competence in their teaching experience since they dedicate most of their time and attention to it, combining practice of specific activities with theoretical reflection. According to the Framework definition, this competency entails the ability to translate needs, demands, wishes and backgrounds of the adult learners into a learning process through three basic activities:
- identifying learning needs;
- formulating learning objectives;
- selecting method, style, technique and technology to support the learning process.
All interviewees have showed their agreement with this articulation recognizing, however, the priority of the identification of learning needs. This phase is the milestone of the entire learning process because from the definition of learning needs it will be successively possible to determine the objectives and the teaching styles and methods. ‘Identifying needs’ for all participants can be divided into three moments.
- The first one is ‘self-related’ since it refers to the expertise and knowledge the adult teacher should possess in advance in terms of contents, policies, method,
- the second moment is ‘target group-related’, that means knowing and taking into account status, education level, age, interest in the subject,
- while the last stage represents the ‘synthesis’ among the first two: the teachers’ knowledge is being adapted and tailored in order to formulate the appropriate objectives, contents and tools for the audience.
Regarding the formulation of learning objectives, for some of the interviewees it is an interactive task which should include also the participation of the target group in the discussion of the objectives in order to clarify the purposes of the course. Finally, the selection of the teaching methods is connoted with the adoption of learning techniques which can serve a double aim: one the one hand they have to fit the learners’ needs and on the other improve their skills. Some stakeholders have also emphasized the importance of the adoption of new technologies and innovative practices to facilitate engagement and participation.
In conclusion, is it possible to create a competence "identikit"? The experts answer is yes and they have recognized the need for at least an EQF level 6 which corresponds to a Bachelor level. Not only a certified qualification but also competencies, knowledge and abilities are necessary for the translation of B2-related tasks and activities into practice. These skills have been listed by the stakeholders as follows:
- constantly updated expertise and knowledge of the topic and teaching methods, including IT skills;
- communication skills, and high degree of management and organizational skills that allow teachers to work and monitor their work autonomously and responsibly;
- furthermore, some have expressed the relevance of some personal qualities such as creativity, critical thinking, open mind, positive attitude and empathy while only one has listed the need for possessing psychological competences.