Validation and Competence Oriented Learning

blinc was founded in Marseille 2005 as Cooperative under German law as a spin-off from a project within the former e-learning programme. Its incubator for a three years period was a SOCRATES project called “Active Citizenship Training” in which we developed a system which aimed at measuring the impact of informal learning on active citizenship. In 2007 we came up with the first prototype model which was applicable to all kinds of competences – not only domain specific, but also social, personal and organisational competences. In 2009 we named the system LEVEL5 since it is based on a taxonomy which describes competences on five levels and three dimensions (knowledge, skills and attitudes). Ever since, the LEVEL5-system and its taxonomy have become the cornerstones of the following developments. Up to 2020 the system was perfected in more than 200 micro-learning and 50 European funded projects – at first for competence validation purpose but from 2010 increasingly also as planning tool for innovative learning and counselling processes.

Learning Technologies and Blended Learning

In parallel blinc further developed innovative e-learning systems based on open source technologies.

In the first years we focused on asynchronous systems, namely learning management system (moodle) and e-Portfolio (mahara) which we customise and contextualise in cooperation with our European expert partners to create for instance mobile learning technologies or validation software (the LEVEL5 software).

Since 2010 we combine our asynchronous tools with synchronous online conferencing and workshop systems (like zoom since 2015).

In 2019 we reached a third dimension of digital learning by introducing online collaboration tools to expand the potential of these technologies and to create joint development spaces for our digital design thinking, entrepreneurship and business development courses and offers. In this connection we currently set up digital incubators for alternative carbon (charcoal) products in North-West Europe.

However, whilst technology has changed rapidly, we observed in our European projects and especially in formal education institutes that there remains a distinct lack of adequate didactic blended learning competences. These educational or coaching competences are necessary to explore the full potential of the new learning technologies. Digital learning offers great opportunities and we have been promoting blended learning since the beginning of the millennium. We are aware that it is a challenge to deploy digital learning in a way that it promotes and enriches human learning. In most cases, however, it is not the technology but an old-fashioned and poor didactic design which limits the successful delivery of blended learning.

A high quality, digital learning and coaching design has to be needs driven, constructive and collaborative to encourage learners to start and continue learning on higher competence levels

From Didactics to Mathetics

Most people are familiar with the term “Didactics” in well-structured teaching arrangements. Hopefully each one of us remembers at least one brilliant teacher or coach who delivered excellent trainings at a high didactic quality.

In future, however, we will not only need competent teachers and trainers but also competent learners.

Factual knowledge is retrievable everywhere on earth (provided a reasonable internet connection) which means that “teaching factual knowledge” in the old-fashioned way is not the best idea to create successful and exciting learning settings. Teachers, trainers and consultants must understand that learning (as knowledge creation) is a constructive process and we have to transform this into appropriate training and learning concepts.

Hence, we should view teaching and learning as two sides of the same coin- but this is not at all a new idea.
Already Comenius, who developed the concept of “Didactics” as the “Art of Teaching” also coined the term “Mathetics” as the “Art of Learning” in the middle of the 17
th century.

Mathetics is an educational concept that fits like no other in today’s world because it shifts the focus from the teacher/trainer to the learner. In the third decade of the Millennium our societies are facing fundamental changes which will also affect our professional and educational lives. Mathetics, as a way to facilitate self-learning, may become a key approach to teaching and learning in 2030. (we wrote these sentences in late 2019 – probably 5 months later Corona gave us anther very strong argument on the necessity to create new ways of learning, teaching and training) …

In its projects the blinc community has always promoted user-centred and demand driven learning, training and consulting, which is very much in line with the Mathetics concept. Two inventions led us to re-focus on Mathetics as concept which is probably more up-to-date then ever since its creation in the 17th century: The latest developments in Neuroscience and the upcoming Design Thinking methodology.

Neuroscience research in recent years has clearly proven that the affective (emotional and non-cognitive) dimension of learning is of utmost importance for the learning process. Feelings, attitudes and values are crucial for learning, especially for the development of social and personal competences – which we consciously promote and validate with LEVEL5. This affective dimension is one cornerstone for a learner centred (“mathetical”) and demand driven development offered in our COL&V approach.

A second development is the introduction of Design Thinking approaches, tools and instruments in business development and (slowly but steadily) also in education. We realised in a number of large-scale business-academia projects that students and staff members in CPD perform better if we only induce and accompany their individual and team processes and let them work and develop individually or in self-organised groups. The more meaningful the tasks, the more self-sustainable they are and the more serious we take them as collaborators the better their results will be.

In a nutshell:

Related to personal learning our mathetical approach means more “support and navigation” on the individual leaning pathway and less pre-determined content and programmed learning.

In collaborative learning we aim at innovation and team development, combining competence-oriented learning and validation with design thinking approaches and state-of-the-art learning technologies.

Mathetics – the art of learning – requires a competence-oriented learning and training approach. It is aiming for self-development and empowerment of the learners rather than their formal qualification and on the support of team processes rather than on competitive individual performances.

In 2016, in the framework of a number of R&D projects we decided to bundle our practice-research activities which promote a learner centred education under the label “MATHETICS”.