These are Cities of Learning
Cities of Learning online platform transforms a city into a learning ecosystem to facilitate open, accessible and inclusive learning opportunities for all. Any organisation that offers educational opportunities can register and publish activities on the platform. Organisers can create unique learning pathways by adding together several activities into a learning playlist. Every completed activity has a digital badge that verifies learning experiences, skills and achievements.
Young people’s need for personal and professional growth has transcended the walls of classrooms and lecture rooms a long time ago. So, how do they learn today? They learn at the computer or phone screen, they learn outside, they learn from each other, they learn in solitude, they learn in groups, they learn by doing and they learn by watching others doing. Today, learning happens everywhere, so how can we make that every learning counts?
Now we can map, deliver and recognise diverse learning opportunities for young people in our cities
Technology enables Cities of Learning
We came together with eight youth work organisations and public institutions from Germany, Spain, Lithuania, The Netherlands and France to create a sustainable youth-oriented online solution. Now we can map, deliver and recognise diverse learning opportunities for young people in our cities and invite new partners to join our platform and network. Cities of Learning platform offers the following key functions:
Learning organisers can publish their activities on the platform making them visible on a map. Learners can find and join activities by using the search bar, a filter, or simply discover something unexpectedly. Activities are categorised by interests or skills.
Learning organisers can offer thematic learning pathways, we call them ‘learning playlists’ that are a set of activities organised into offline and online experiences. Organisers can choose optional and mandatory activities and set badge issuing criteria. Learners can start playlists and access activities and resources to engage into personalised learning pathways.
Digital Open Badges:
Every activity and playlist on the platform has one or more digital badges. Badges are there to signify participation, skills, learning and achievements. A learning organiser can issue badges to a learner via email or by giving a QR code. Badges can require evidence submission and verification by peers or organisers. The platform uses Open Badges technology.
Skills recognition in Cities of Learning
Digital solutions like geolocation, personalised learning pathways and digital badges transform cities into thriving ecosystems where learning is related to real life, focusing on the broad set of skills that are needed for personal well-being, employability and civic life.
The platform enables organisers to connect activities and badges with skills from the European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO) database.
Such connections make it easier to transfer skills and achievements across various contexts of education and learning: formal, non-formal, in-company training, prior learning. Organisations and institutions that use the platform can access data and analytics about learning and impact. The data from the platform shows that most popular skills included in the activities offered on the platform are related to personal development, social interaction, communication, reflection, creative thinking, active listening, teamwork, patience, attentiveness
Connections make it easier to transfer skills and achievements
Youth co-design Cities of Learning
We have involved young people since the very beginning of developing the platform for Cities of Learning. Young people responded to online surveys about their needs and ways of learning. They shared how they use technology for learning, by taking part in participatory workshops to test developments of the platform, to collect feedback from young people, and co-designe learning playlists.
Locally and internationally partners of Cities of Learning involve young people in the following activities:
Partners of Cities of Learning implement activities and communication campaigns reaching out to young people, learning providers and important stakeholders in our cities. We carry on with international networking activities between partners from Cities of Learning
Values driving Cities of Learning
Cities of Learning promote open, accessible and inclusive learning opportunities for all. We operate guided by the following set of values and principles:
Inclusiveness – we strive to create opportunities for diverse learners and learning providers
Openness – we promote open experience sharing and collaboration between partners locally and internationally
Diversity in learning – we encourage various learning activities ranging from public and informal spaces to non-formal or formal learning as well as learning online.
Open Recognition – we value various achievements and education acquired through life. We use open badges allowing us to recognise and value diverse learning.
Democracy and respect for human rights – our platform and learning opportunities provided should be in line with the main principles of democracy and demonstrate respect for human rights.
Innovation – we strive to make use of the internet and the newest technologies to respond to the emerging challenges and opportunities in the 21st century.
Join Cities of Learning
Cities of Learning is a growing network of partner organisations and cities in Europe and beyond. At the time of writing this article we have 14 cities and regions actively using the platform and running City or Region of Learning in their territory.
During the first half a year of using the platform there were more than 1500 activities offered that learners joined more than 5000 times. 250 registered organisers created more than 120 learning playlists and issued more than 1500 badges.
Youth work organisations can start using the global version of the platform and cooperate with their city municipality or city-level organisation to launch a localised version of the platform. We have created Cities of Learning StarterKit to support new partners becoming a City or Region of Learning.
by Nerijus Kriauciunas & Sandra van de Kraak (2020)
Nerijus Kriauciunas is co-founder of Badgecraft and international trainer committed to developing digital solutions that serve the needs of learners and those supporting learning.
Sandra van de Kraak is an international youth worker and trainer, passionate in supporting young people to recognise their learning in the non-formal education.
all Photos & Video © Cities of Learning