3rd Feb 2010 | 02:39 pm | Filed under Uncategorized

As a representative of the Euronet-PBL coordination team I attended the annual Erasmus coordinators’ meeting in Brussels. The two-day meeting was mainly dedicated to issues that are relevant for project development and project management. In addition, the meeting provided an arena for discussing the importance of Erasmus projects for European policies and for the shaping of future European cooperation. Below I give some insights into the highlights of meeting and reflect upon the lessons for Euronet-PBL project.

1. The opening session on the role of Erasmus projects in European policies: Here I would like to emphasise the openness of the DG EAC representatives for dialogue with the projects. The presentation on the European policy context for the period 2010-2020 was  overshadowed by the second generation of framework processes (“Bologna 2.0” and “Education and Training 2020”). Yet, when the discussion shifted to the shaping of the next generation of Lifelong Learning Programme, there was a clear appeal to get feedback from blind spots and grey zones in policy-making and in implementing trans-national cooperation. In this context I drew attention to the conceptual differences and policy controversies that we have observed concerning the status of practice-based learning arrangements in Higher Education. The DG EAC representatives Mr Filip van Depoele and Mr Endika Bengoetxea welcomed my offer to provide them more feedback information (as issues arising from our fieldwork and comparative analyses).

2. Discussion on dissemination and exploitation of results: The Executive Agency had invited a presentation by Mr Gareth Long, an  experienced e3valuator/assessor and former project coordinator. It was refreshing and inspiring to hear him emphasise the need of meaningful dissemination – not actions for the sake of appearance. He strongly recommended to consider the questions “Who can be reached?” and “What impact can be achieved?” instead of “What kind of impression this gives to the funding and monitoring bodies?”. In the subsequent workshops the project coordinators seemed to be in very different positions – some had to wait for formal OK for their interim results, others were more free to make work in progress available. Also, the readiness to introduce blogs, wikis and social networking tools varied greatly.

3. Networking across parallel projects: Throughout the meeting the participants were given opportunities to share knowledge on the project concepts, emerging results and lessons learned. For the Euronet-PBL the most important task is to establish a cross-project dialogue with our sister project “Q-PlaNet” (Quality Placements Network). This project tries to develop common quality criteria for workplaces that want to host transnational students’ placements. In this respect the Q-PlaNet project is looking more closely at the workplaces as host organisations. In or discussion with the project coordinator, Mr Edmund Zirra from Karlsruhe, we agreed to share results with the help of blog postings, podcast interviews and (eventually) with mutual working visits.

Also, I noticed that we have some common areas of interest with the projects of the EUCEN network of Universitary Continuing Education Centres in Europe. For our policy-related conclusions it is essential to study the lessons of the BeFlex Plus -project (Promoting Flexibility in the Bologna Process). Also, our ideas on common frameworks and toolboxes have similarities with their training materials and training concepts. This is to be followed up with the project coordinator, Mr Oliver Janoschka.

4. Bilateral talks between the Executive Agency and the Euronet-PBL project: In the final phase of the meeting the Executive Agency offered an opportunity for bilateral talks on project-specific issues. I presented the Minutes of the December Meeting in Bremen, an exemplary catch-up plan, the updated monitoring table on the progress with pending work packages and informed of the recent development of the project website. The project officer, Ms. Katarina Smalova considered that the documented decisions and the follow-up measures showed that the project had taken up the recommendations of the external assessor. In particular the active use of the website was considered positive. Concerning the administrative aspects, it was considered appropriate that project invests more on the work of coordination team. If the project needs an extension, it should be requested in such a phase that most work packages have been completed and in which the extra months will provide added value for presenting the results for wider audience (and ensuring better utilisation of the results).

This  document has been written as my personal report on the meeting based on my notes on the discussions. The persons mentioned in the report are free to correct me if I have not quoted correctly our discussions and working agreements.

Written in Bremen 3.2.2010

Pekka Kämäräinen

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