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Optimized Training - Innovative Methods and tools for Acceptance of prior Learning in qualifications and workplace training
Start date: 01 Sep 2016, End date: 31 Aug 2019 PROJECT  ONGOING 

Background:The Optimal partner countries, NO, UK, IR and FR, have set ambitious fish farming production growth targets, increasing the demand from fish production and supply companies for job-seekers with proven expertise and competence. The current generation of farm operatives must develop the skills to operate increasingly sophisticated fish farming equipment and ICT systems, according to specifications, as a matter of urgency. The lack of job applicants with evidence of the competence and skills potential employers are looking for is a shared concern. Many do have relevant knowledge and skills which have been gained during fish farm employment informally or within a technically related sector, that go unrecognised, compounding the problem. Sophisticated systems for the recognition of prior learning (RPL) are needed, so as learners with some experience can ‘fast track’ the completion of fish farming qualifications that employers respect and trust. Profile of participants:The partner countries VET providers and employers will work in partnership to develop and pilot learning technologies and methods that can improve the delivery of VET to work based learners through the application of RPL methods and technologies. All learners involved in the pilots will have gained some relevant and/or transferable knowledge and skills, informally, during their employment, but will also have significant knowledge and skills gaps to address. Such gaps in knowledge and skills result in heterogeneous VET classes, which are a serious challenge many VET teachers are faced with when they try to optimize learning outcome for work based learners in distance learning solutions consisting of a combination of e-learning and (some) face to face training.The introduction of RPL will leads to individualised learning, allowing teachers and instructors to focus on the most challenging topics and concepts with individuals or groups of learners. The RPL tools and methods can be applied to synchronous distance learning, overcoming the geographic barriers that often prohibit them from travelling to join conventional face to face classes and training sessions. Objectives: The ultimate goal of Optimal, is to develop a RPL system that enables an individual’s informal competences and skills to become recognised and accepted, within fish farming qualifications and built on through individualised learning. This will be achieved by: - Evaluating alternative RPL processes and technology being applied within innovative VET delivery systems within the partner countries, identifying best practice for sharing. - Piloting new, cost effective and user friendly RPL methods/ ICT tools that can determine and document evidence of a learners’ existing knowledge and skills, for acceptance as formal competences within respected fish farming qualifications. - Evaluating the learners’ experiences of the RPL process and the subsequent delivery of their individualised learning plan, to inform the development of improved RPL systems. - Developing new specifications for improved RPL tools and methodologies, informed by learner and employer feedback during the piloting and evaluation phase. ImpactsMethods and technology supporting RPL and individualised learning will be developed and improved, fully involving VET providers, industry and learners within the process, addressing industry’s skill needs priorities for key occupations, such as the cage farming operative.More VET teachers will be enabled to apply improved and proven RPL methods and technology to the delivery of their VET courses, to make them more flexible. Consequently, VET will become driven by individual learning plans and supported by flexible and accessible learning resources, including e-learning. A 90% reduction of face to face teaching is anticipated, improving the accessibility of VET qualification based courses by work based learners, gaining time efficiencies and reducing costs without reducing quality in comparison to conventional face to face delivery. By focussing on individual knowledge and skill gaps, the quality and effectiveness of learning support and VET provision as a whole will be raised. Long term benefits:Access to workplace training in fish farming industry is increased, while training costs are reduced without reducing the quality of the training.The proposed new RPL-TOOL has the potential to be used in many sectors outside VET education, for instance in higher education to make an "instant mapp" of students knowledge and skills. Teachers may afterwards immediately adjust and adapt the training activities such that they reflect students knowledge and competence.
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