Improving Validation in the Voluntary Sector

More and more people and organisations are becoming aware of the educational value of volunteering, and of validation opportunities for the voluntary sector. However, the use and impact is largely unknown. Furthermore the risk of reinventing the wheel by setting up new projects is evident, and on the other hand, there are ‘’missing links’’, e.g. in connecting the validation methods with the European Guidelines or instruments like the European Qualification Framework for Validation, or in forms of volunteering that are not recognised.

The Improving Validation in the Voluntary Sector (ImproVal) project sets out to tackle this problem by:
- creating a "volunteering validation compendium" that brings together the results of prior projects and a synthesis to make the pedagogical principles of validation better known
- conducting a study among volunteers and organisations who have participated in validation processes about the impact of validation, combining quantitative data by questionnaires and qualitative data through group interviews
- producing recommendations for policy makers and organisations interested in validation on basis of the synthesis and study
- engaging stakeholders in a dialogue on validation by using webinars and facilitated workshops in five countries, thus raising their awareness and interest in advancing validation.

Our aim is to reach at least 250 volunteers from organisations participating in prior validation-related projects to participate in our study, and through the workshops and webinars, we hope to reach a total of 200 stakeholders at local, national and European level.

As a result:
- Organisations involved in prior projects will learn about the usefulness of the methods and tools created and to further adapt them to fit current validation policies, thus giving 'old project results a new life'
- Participating organisations will learn to adapt their validation policies and gain new methods as well as reaching an overview about existing instrument to validate skills and competencies acquired in field of volunteering
- There will be increased understanding of the value of competencies gained by volunteering and volunteering in general among participating organisations and various stakeholders, such as voluntary organisations, educational institutions and policy makers
- Various organisations will be able to use and adapt existing tools in their validation activities and avoid putting time and effort into creating something that already exists and to focus on more innovative projects
- Policy developments can be detected at micro level at some educational institutions in them opening up more to validating informally learning outcomes, and beyond individual institutions in policy recommendations at local, regional and even national and European levels.
- Possibilities will be described to embed existing instruments and procedures for validation in European policy instruments (e.g. European Qualification Framework)

In the long term, the project aims to benefit a wide number of individual volunteers who will have better access to validation opportunities, thus increasing motivation for learning and employability, and also voluntary organisations through access to methods and tools, educational institutions through an understanding on learning by volunteering and validation which give them the ability to guide their learners more smoothly through formal education, and employers and policy makers by increasing their awareness if the educational value of volunteering and their ability to design policies that advance the use of validation.

Members of the partnership:
Opintotoiminnan Keskusliitto ry – Finland
Life Long Learning Platform – Belgium
Otto-Friedrich Universität Bamberg – Germany
Platforma dobrovolnickych centier a organizacii – Slovakia
Edos Foundation - The Netherlands

This project is funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

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