3rd webinar on assessment practices in the training field

The International Youth Work Trainers Guild together with partners are developing an online platform for professional development and appraisal of trainers. After the success of the 1st and 2nd webinar about practices of using 360º assessment (view webinar recordings and results), on the 3rd of July we hosted the 3rd webinar to engage trainers community into conversations about the use of 360° assessment in trainers’ work. 20+ people joined the webinar online.

This time we met with Jonathan Bowyer:

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2nd webinar on assessment practices in training field

The International Youth Work Trainers Guild together with partners are developing an online platform for professional development and appraisal of trainers. After success of the 1st webinar about practices of using 360º assessment (view webinar recordings and results), on the 5th of May 2018, we hosted the 2nd webinar to engage trainers community into conversations about the use of 360° assessment in trainers’ work. 15 people joined the webinar online.

This time we met with Mara Georgescu and our Guild’s member Yuliya Stankevich to learn from their experiences of 361º assessment that was implemented during the long-term training for trainers course ‘TRAYCE’.

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1st webinar on assessment practices in training field

The International Youth Work Trainers Guild together with partners are developing an online service for professional development and appraisal of trainers. We are diving deeper to get to know some exciting practices of using 360º assessment as we are planning to use this approach in our online service for trainers.

On the 3rd May 2018, we hosted the 1st webinar to engage trainers community into conversations about the use of 360° assessment in trainers’ work. More than 25 people joined the webinar online. The webinar was broadcasted during the meeting hosted by the Pool of Trainers of the European Youth Forum.

Two speakers Agne Kvikliene and Darko Markovic were sharing their experiences related to trainers competence assessment.

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Trainers and Digital Environments

During the month of December and January research team of AppRaiser project was working to gather feedback from the trainers’ community to start a process of creating a web-based 360° professional development appraisal service for trainers and other training stakeholders.

The initial user research data collected from 23 online survey responses and 10 personal user interviews from trainers who are working internationally for at least 2 years and carry on several international training activities every year.

Based on the research we drew a detailed report for a platform design, and we decided to pick the most interesting bits for our international trainers community to share and open a discussion. The infographics present the results of the survey, in this post, we will contrast them with the data from the interviews.

First of all: why trainers use digital environments?

As it is presented in the infographic major reasons for using digital environments (By “digital environments” we understand such internet-based solutions as online platforms, digital tools or digital applications) are team communication, project coordination and planning training activities. Comparing this data with interviews, the answers were similar: main reason was communication and management.

The difference we spotted was that only 3 trainers (from 10 interviewed) stated they use digital environment for their learning and professional development comparing as its shown in the infographic to half of the survey respondents.

Secondly: in which digital environments trainers carry on their professional activities?

From the group of trainers that stated they use digital environments for professional activities, we asked what tools/ platforms they use. Both in the survey and in interviews the mention tools were similar. First place was taken over by Facebook. It is quite a surprise taking into account that Facebook is a social network and its primary mission was not connected to be a platform for professional activities. Next, on the list, we found famous and all very known Skype (communication reasons) and Google Drive (storage place and collaborative work). At the end of the, we found trendy Slack that as a tool for project management was already widely used in big companies and corporations and it’s slowly finding its place in the third sector and freelance world.

During the interviews discussing bit more about Slack we heard opinions that it got popular among trainers and started to be recommended all around and ‘‘If everyone else is using it so I need to use as well’ [interviewer]

Besides the pattern of a tool being commonly used very important was to note that the tool have to be easy to use, when the time is running no one wants to be bothered figuring out how to use it, when it’s simple it’s faster to internalise it with what we already use.

Thirdly: do trainers review their performance in digital environments?

During the survey big part of answers showed that trainers conduct self-assessment, feedback and review their performance online. Tools that they mention for doing it are mostly: google docs/forms created by themselves or a team they work with, 360 review (a business tool tested by the IYWT in a seminar in 2016) or Badgecraft.

Comparing it to interviews 7 out of 10 mentioned they use digital tools for the mentioned above purpose. Youthpass (4 interviewees), SALTO TOY profile (3 interviewees), Badgecraft (2 interviewees), ETS self-assessment (2 interviewees). Other answers were more individual about using ‘home-made’ questionnaires or using some national systems.

All the answers are quite different and that can be connected with different understandings of what are digital tools for self-assessment and reviewing. There are a very few environments/tools that are developed for self-assessment and reviewing purposes only.

And lastly: how about you dear trainer?

  • What are your reasons for using digital tools in your trainers work??
  • How open are you towards new tools for professional use? Do you think trainer community is ready for a game changer-appraisal service?

Please do comment answering the questions and contribute to discussion, we would like to know your opinion. For more information don’t hesitate to drop us an email on appraisal@iywt.org

And feel free to see a  detailed report for a platform design.

Position statement of the Guild on the European Commission’s proposal for the European Solidarity Corps

In response to the call for feedback on the “Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL laying down the legal framework of the European Solidarity Corps” the Guild has issued a statement on behalf of its members with the aspects of the proposal that we consider to pose critical challenges to the quality of youth mobility through volunteering.

Here’s what we have to say about it:

The International Youth Work Trainers Guild (further – IYWT Guild) on behalf of its members is issuing a statement regarding the current state and the future of the European Voluntary Service (EVS) and the new entry of European Solidarity Corps (further – ESC).

In response to the European Commission’s proposal for laying down the legal framework of the European Solidarity Corps;
Taking into consideration the European Commission’s concept note – main actions implementing the European Solidarity Corps;
Based on the results of the European Commission’s study on the impact of transnational volunteering through the European Voluntary Service;

Following a consultative process with the our members, who mostly are training experts in the field of the Erasmus+ and European Voluntary Service, the IYWT Guild wants to point out that we deem the road-map to substitute the EVS with ESC as illogical.

The IYWT Guild agrees that EVS should have thorough evaluation to identify and take further improvements, but it does not seem to make sense to abandon the successful programme which worked for 20 years in favour of absolutely new ESC framework which yet needs to be developed and prove it’s success.

What really puzzles our members and leave us with unsolved questions about the procedure adopted for such a change in the panorama of tools available to support and further develop international volunteerism and youth mobility in a non formal framework is hereby further described:

The choice to swipe away a wealth of 20 years of experience, infrastructure and branding of EVS, only few months after having celebrated it’s twentieth anniversary and made it visible across Europe and beyond with a huge effort in communication;

Lack of clear indication how the current EVS training cycle and other support measures will be implemented in the new ESC framework aiming to guaranty the inclusion of participants with fewer opportunities;

Overall loss of inclusiveness by leaving out all the individuals that have no access to information or to guidance of any kind (contradicting with the core goal of increasing European solidarity);

The decrease in the potential for transforming a volunteering experience in a multiplier fostering a further growth in the feeling of EU citizenship and sense of belonging that EVS, rooted in the network of small local organizations involved in the sending side that do not appear to be anymore considered by the proposed ESC structure;

The weakening of the whole concept of a program that also aimed at empowering local NGOs and local communities and that now seems to miss that focus;

The idea that EVS (although it certainly can be improved under many aspects) is a failure that obviously ignores its recent success of increasingly positive trend in number of volunteers involved in the most recent years (2014 – 8000, 2015 – 9000);

Incoherence between the goal of getting closer to the so called millennials digital immersive life and thinking it can be done by setting up a database to enroll upon personal initiative;

Rather confusing system based on a sharing of the same platform by the volunteering strand and the job opportunities luring youngsters offered in the other strand;

A strongly unbalanced distribution of applicants in terms of country of origin, strictly linked to the above point showing already that over one third of young people enrolling in ESC comes only from a couple of countries where youth unemployment is higher (the so-called PIGS countries) which will have a certain impact on the program’s functioning and, most of all, on the whole idea of European solidarity and EUropean citizenship;

A striking change in the relationship and cooperation with the neighbouring countries outside EU that see their equal opportunities in accessing a program for the mobility of young volunteers in both directions across our external borders abruptly undermined.

As an association and a community of trainers involved in international youth work training and, for some of us, in the specific EVS training cycle, we cannot but express our concern on the way this game-changing decisions have been taken and on the short sighted choice of substituting from the ground a program that could have been reformed and improved but still carried a patrimony of history and knowledge that will be mostly lost if the above questions will get no answers.

Further development of the matter should take in consideration a closer and deeper consultation with all stakeholders involved in order to ensure that the achievements and lessons learnt do not get lost. Our organisation is ready to contribute to any further discussions on this topic and to share the specific point of view and experience of the trainers directly involved at any stage in the EVS training cycle.

testimony by Nik Paddison about Bridges for Trainers and the Guild

The most recent edition of the biennial “Bridges for Trainers” conference took place in late 2016 in Vienna, Austria. It allowed for more than 130 stakeholders in the field of European youth work training, especially trainers, to gather, share practices, network, and discuss current developments. The focus of the meeting was put on the political dimension of European youth work training.

Nik Paddison, a freelance trainer from UK with residence in Montenegro, participated and provides us with some of his insights:

Gather and meet

The end of November saw the 2nd Bridges for Trainers event take place in Vienna, Austria. More than 130 youth work trainers, National Agency staff, SALTO people, and representatives of the major institutions gathered together to discuss trainer issues and related subjects. The main focus of the event was the introduction of the 7th International Trainer Competence: Integrating a political Dimension into the Trainers Work.

group work, a certain Mr. Taylor casually spying in

While the main focus was on the political competence of a trainers work, there was another important aspect of this biennial event, that of a space provided for European level trainers and their colleagues to gather and meet.

Competence framework

Marco Frimberger (NA AT) and Udo Teichmann (SALTO T&C RC) tête-à-tête highlighting the history of the European Training Strategy (ETS)

Two years ago, I attended the first Bridges for Trainers event in Bonn, Germany, where the initial Competence Framework for trainers was being introduced. The introduction of the Competence Framework felt like a big step towards the recognition of trainers in this European youth field. There was a lot of discussion on how this framework could be used to support trainers both personally and in their professional development. Much of this was stated in the context of National Agency pools and of the different SALTO teams of trainers. The discussions were framed around how these different bodies could work to support the trainers and how teams of trainers who work together on a regular basis can work with each other to support each other’s development.

Pools versus independence

As an independent freelance trainer, I do not have such systems or at least I have a very limited version of this. I rarely work with the same person twice, maybe once a year for some of the organisations I go back to on a regular basis. I do have support networks and am part of different pools of trainers for different European youth networks and organisations, and am a member of the Council of Europe Pool. I am probably better off than many others in our field in terms of the amount of support I can access. However, at the end of the meeting in Bonn I made a statement asking the organisers to remember that not all trainers have such support and that many of us are independent freelancers.

no one has the right to obey

This year at the Bridges for Trainers I met quite a lot of other trainers who are independents, who had been selected by various National Agencies or supported to attend by a SALTO. I felt that there was a lot more awareness from the organisers this time that we are not all in these Erasmus+ teams and pools. I don’t say any of this as a criticism, the reality is there are these pools, they should be there, they are necessary, and not everyone can be in them. The fact that there was more recognition of the diversity of trainers in our field I really appreciated.

learning island provided by the IYWT Guild

office X-mas party for freelancers

Bridges felt like a place for European level trainers – regardless of status, position or membership, it was a place that shared current issues, approaches, difficulties and frustrations – as well as a place to learn with peers. It was not the main or official part of the Bridges for Trainers, but the opportunity to be there and to be among people who do more or less the same job is already a huge support and should not be underestimated. The moments of drinking a glass of wine or beer or playing a Ukulele, not even talking about being a trainer, are just as important as the sessions focussing on our competence development.

There are not many opportunities for many trainers to meet on a regular basis. Even if we are connected on Facebook and other social medias, it is not the same as face to face meeting. For sure there were moments of tensions, arguments, and disagreements. But knowing you are a part of something bigger, that is important and reviving and encouraging. As Anita Silva said at one of the dinners during Bridges, “this is the closest a freelance trainer can come to having an office Christmas party”.

an independent supportive community …

Sources of support

What I want to highlight at the end of this blog piece is that the Guild is providing another source of support to trainers. Regardless of whether we are full time independent or part of one pool or another, the Guild offers a form of shared identity and a sense of belonging. The Guild cannot offer regular meetings for large numbers of trainers and that is not its purpose. For me it is a place to share discussions, concerns, issues, new approaches, latest P/political perspectives, to promote and represent trainers to the big institutions, and to further the recognition of our profession. It is a place for me to know I am part of something bigger than just me, my laptop and the next training course I am designing for an organisation somewhere…

About Nik …

Nik has a background as a youth worker from the UK. He is a full time freelance trainer, conducting training of trainers, youth workers, leaders, volunteers and activists in the European youth field. He also works as a writer, consultant, copy editor and wearer of odd-socks. He loves developing educational games, activities, theories and approaches related to the youth field in the context of non-formal learning.

These days he is living by the sea in Montenegro and trying to live a more Mediterranean lifestyle but that North European mentality keeps getting in the way! Having long breakfasts with a book in the sun, growing herbs (the legal variety) and playing board games are his main hobbies when at home.

pictures by Giselve Evrard Markovic

Strategic plan, open space and reflection

On the morning of the final day Buzz informed the participants that the agenda had been slighted changed. The morning would be given over to conversations about the draft strategic plan for the Guild which is in development, with the afternoon being for open space discussions and time for reflection on the week as whole.

Discussing the strategic plan

The participants split into four groups to discuss the strategic plan and in particular two of the goals within it…

  1. To contribute to the professional growth of trainers and promoting quality of the educational activities implemented by the Guild members
  2. To strengthen the professional position of youth work trainers on European and neighbouring countries’ level
Getting strategic

Getting strategic

The groups were also asked to discuss other objectives which might not fit within these two goals. The groups kept a note of their conversations to share back to the steering committee and have their views fed into the ongoing development of the strategic plan.

Open space conversation

Following the strategic plan session the participants were invited to propose conversations to take place over two open space sessions. Some of the conversations were to be focused on existing working groups within the Guild while others were more general.

The open space sessions were…

  • Membership working group – for those already involved in this working group to continue their discussions about the membership process and requirements.
  • Human resources working group – for anyone to get involved in conversations about the newly created human resources working group.
  • Trainers path – for participants interested in creating a digital version of the path to becoming a trainer which can then be used as an online resource.
  • Communications working group – for existing members of the working group and anyone who wanted to contribute to the conversation about how the Guild manages its communications.
  • Video tutorials – to support the development of the new KA2 application and create a prototype video tutorial for trainers.
  • Steering committee – for the new steering committee to meet to discuss the outcomes of the strategic plan session this morning and plan their actions going forward.
  • Trainers survey – to look at how the results of the trainers survey that the Guild carried out earlier in the year can be further utilised and shared with the wider trainer community.
  • Mobility tool – to discuss the shared issues with the Mobility Tool so these can be fed back as part of the consultation on the issues trainers have with the tool.
  • The way to membership – for those interested in becoming members to speak with existing members to find out more about the path to becoming a member of the Guild.

Each of the groups was responsible for capturing their out discussions and sharing this at a later date.

Hitting the target

Hitting the target

Reflection and closing

The final session of the seminar was led by Tommy and Kirsten, giving a space for reflection on the week and closing the seminar. The participants were invited to get into pairs and go on short walk with one person reflecting and the other supporting and prompting, then swapping roles at the half way point. Tommy asked them to consider three things during their walk…

  • Learning
  • Expectations
  • What stood out – the ‘aha moment’

On returning from their walk participants were asked to mark themselves on a target for each of the three considerations, showing how close they were to ‘hitting the target’ through the seminar week. Finally, the participants were asked to show how close they felt they were to the Guild in a physical target drawn out on the ground in rope.

Following the final evaluation the participants began saying their goodbyes and enjoying an evening of celebration together before making their way home.