While the pandemic has disrupted many projects, the ECVET Community of Practice has led the discussion on mobility in the new normal.
Now in its fifth year of operation, the ECVET Community of Practice (CoP) brings together experienced mobility practitioners from across the UK, to share experiences and best practices and to inform the development and use of the European Credit System for VET (ECVET) in UK learner and staff mobility programmes.
With some new members, and with definite plans for continued exchange, Covid-19 was a bit of a curveball, requiring that CoP members change both the schedule and focus of their discussions on VET mobility.
Maintaining the flow
Whilst CoP activities were entirely virtual, discussion and debate continued across the year. Conversations turned towards the value and deliverability of virtual or hybrid mobility as well as the potential of Covid-19 for having a longer-term impact on learner confidence and their interest in participating in future VET mobility programmes.
With only a few mobility flows able to be delivered in the early months of 2020, VET practitioners in the UK and across Europe were faced with little option but to cancel or reschedule mobility programmes, with many now looking towards delivery in the second half of 2021.
CoP members discussed this phenomenon and confirmed that international mobility was increasingly perceived as no longer a priority, with individual learners reluctant to contemplate travelling abroad and with UK institutions having to focus their efforts on programme delivery and continuity.
Staying on track
As digital teaching and learning took on a more important role in Covid-19 times, the CoP discussed the role of digital technologies in mobility and whether digital exchanges might actually play a role in the delivery of future VET mobility programmes.
There was relatively little appetite for this among the participating professionals and, whilst there were some examples of practice, in which international partners were collaborating to deliver digital skills demonstrations in one or more subject areas, these were often seen more as a means of bridging the gap until physical mobility was able to return than as a means of complementing or enhancing future VET mobility programmes.
With the first long-duration Erasmus+ VET mobility projects having been financed in 2018, CoP discussions also centred on the form and nature of this new model of mobility, reflecting on the emerging preference for involving recent VET graduates over wider VET learner cohorts.
Ready, willing and able
With the future of ECVET still unclear but with a confirmed vision for the streamlining and simplification of European quality assurance, learning recognition tools and frameworks (including ECVET), there is no guarantee of a sixth year of activity for the ECVET Community of Practice. However, members have confirmed their continued interest and commitment, and, in the short term, will use their own networks and platforms to facilitate discussion and exchange.
In the longer-term, members remain ready, willing and able to serve as future CoP members and to support the development and delivery of future international mobility programmes, whatever form, duration and direction they might take. Until then, the ECVET Experts wish them every success and send them heartfelt thanks for a job well done.
Want to find out more about ECVET's work on mobility? Read our recent blog post on SMaRT international mobility.