Who had the idea for this project and why?
Dr Jan Barnes: It has been recognised through research in Europe, indeed globally that the world has changed. In addition, for future generations to engage with the workforce and indeed have the confidence and resilience to succeed in this brave new world, then we need to develop new skills. This was recognised with the Entrecomp framework published in 2016, which highlighted and recognised these skills. Skills like Creativity and innovation, collaboration with others, having the resilience to put these skills into action and motivate yourself and others. Having a literacy in finance for example. This project builds on that research and the findings from the EntreComp framework, and could be argued as a next logical step.
Entrecomp Edu is not about the skills per se, but about assisting educators to develop these skills in their learners. The team recognised that there are countless pressures on educators, no matter what country those educators work in, there are countless government dictates that educators should improve skill sets in their learners, however they do not necessarily give the educators the tools to do this. In light of this a network Entrepreneurial educators from all over Europe have come together to design a framework that will help the educators in this challenge. Speaking for Wales where I am in teacher education, many educators already carry out pedagogies that already develop some of these skill sets, but may not recognise that this is what they do; we want to help with this.
What does the project want to achieve?
As I say, the project is about helping educators developing entrepreneurial skills in their learners. The EntreComp framework identifies skills and competencies including putting personal skills into action, using resources and developing ideas and opportunities. EntreCompEdu is about developing a professional learning pathway for educators so they can recognise and develop their own teaching styles to develop these in their learners. However, and I believe this is very important; it is about working with educators, not imposing practice on educators. The project should allow educators to recognise their own good practice and develop those areas, which motivate them.
Why are the partners coming together for this project?
Each of the partners are bringing together unique talents crucial to the success of the project.
The partners include specialists from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David or UWTSD, from Wales, who have responsibility for the management of the project and the development of the framework itself. The project members from UWTSD have expertise for management of such projects and expertise not only of entrepreneurial education, but also of initial teacher training; with a professional partnership will enable the rollout of the professional learning system.
The project also has input from Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland. Finland has an EE already embedded within its education system, as such they have developed an online self-assessment system to help support their teachers they will be using this as a foundation to develop a similar online questionnaire to feed into the professional learning. In order to this they will be collaborating with MeAnalytics, a small Swedish company who have considerable expertise in the development of learning processes in education and employment through innovative, research-based and user-friendly IT solutions. Their innovative products and services are based on leading Swedish research in the field and extensive practical experience with development in the public and private sectors. Moreover, I believe together the partners will develop; a really innovative and sustainable product to support educators.
In order to bring about a successful professional learning system we are also lucky to have partners from Vrije Universiteit Brussels, who have considerable expertise in this field of study.
We also have partners in the field of communication, who will be disseminating our news and progress together with developing a website and repository of materials, these experts are Bantani and the European Business Summit both of which are based in Brussels. In addition we have partners from Innogate Europe based in Spain, Materahub based in Italy, and GO! Onderwijs Antwerp who will not only be contributing as advisors but will also be involved with recruiting educators and schools to trial the framework and professional learning. This is to ensure that whatever we ultimately develop is fit for purpose. Lastly, but probably most importantly we have National Centre for Development of Innovations & Entrepreneurial Learning, Macedonia, who will be evaluating not only the product but also the project.
As you can see, we have been gathering expertise from all over Europe in order to take this project forward.
Who benefits from this project and why?
There are a number of different people who benefit, let us start with the educators.
Research of teachers who are already using entrepreneurial pedagogies, where creativity, innovation and having the courage to enable learners to take some control of their learning has already shown that the learners are more engaged, are able to articulate their learning and most importantly transfer their skills across the subjects they are studying. With these sorts of skills amongst your learners educators are able to facilitate learning and reap the benefits.
Society, society has citizens who are resilient, who are innovative and able to contribute well to employment, culture and the world around them. They have the skills, which can push commerce forward and contribute to learning organisations.
The learner is equipped for the changes in the world that we can only imagine. Explosions in technology, particularly digital technology, has meant that we live our lives differently. Social media connects us on a global basis; working practices are flexible. Everything is immediate; everything is connected. We live within a global network, indeed innovation means many things we once believed would only ever exist in the movies or in science fiction are becoming fact. Driverless cars; artificial intelligence, video communications with the other side of the world.
To enable us to take this “brave new world” and make a success of it we need to transform ourselves to be innovative and adaptable to change. We need to be able to question and challenge our philosophies and be willing to think and react in new and different ways to the opportunities now available to every one of us.
From your perspective as teacher training, what are you most excited about?
I have always taught my students that as educators we are educating our next generation to operate and live in a world, which is still on the drawing board, a world that is yet to be invented. The revolution of change has not yet finished, new opportunities are waiting. The world is becoming increasingly entrepreneurial and innovative. This being the case, education has to match that innovation. Further, this creative revolution is self-propelling, as we adapt out pedagogies to enable these skills to be developed, the skills will become more self-evident in society, and then it is logical to presume that change will not just continue, but increase. That being said, these skills become even more important.
Welsh education is currently undergoing massive change from early years education right up to primary , secondary and beyond. The goal of the Welsh government is to develop citizens of Wales who are:
- Ambitious, capable learners setting themselves high standards and seek and enjoy challenge as they build up a body of knowledge and have the skills to connect and apply that knowledge in different context. Learners who are questioning and enjoy solving problems and can communicate effectively in different forms and settings and are ready to learn throughout their lives
- Enterprising, creative contributors who can connect and apply their knowledge and skills to create ideas. Who can think creatively to reframe and solve problems and identify and grasp opportunities & take measured risks who are ready to play a full part in life and work
- Ethical, informed citizens who find, evaluate and use evidence in forming views who engage with contemporary issues based upon their knowledge and values; who understand and exercise their human and democratic responsibilities and rights; who understand and consider the impact of their actions when making choices and show their commitment to the sustainability of the planet
- Healthy, confident individuals who have secure values and are establishing their spiritual and ethical beliefs – are building their mental and emotional well-being by developing confidence, resilience and empathy and are ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.
As I describe the aims of the new Curriculum for Wales I cannot envisage bringing this about without developing the skills inherent to EntreComp. Any major educational change is both daunting and enormously challenging, but the prospect of helping developing teachers to support this sort of curriculum is incredibly exciting.