Rising to a difficult challenge: the European School of Volunteering

I’ve recently been very impressed by some free courses offered by the online European School of Volunteering (EVS), a collaboration between Spanish, Romanian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Greek and Italian organizations that was established as part of the 2011 Year of Volunteering. The task of producing multi-lingual courses that are applicable across the wide range of 3rd sector contexts found in European countries presents quite a challenge. The attractive, high quality free learning materials produced by EVS are therefore a particularly remarkable achievement, showing what can be achieved through collaborative working.

EVS currently offers 23 free online courses delivered through a Moodle VLE (virtual learning environment). All courses are provided in English, and many are available in additional European languages. Although there’s lots of material to download I’m not sure about the copyright position of the courses and can’t see a Creative Commons logo anywhere. Do any readers know more about this?
I’ve enrolled on three courses in order to review them for this blog:
  • Fundraising
  • Communication techniques and skills
  • New technologies for senior citizens

The course objectives and content are summarised below.

Fundraising

Course objectives: To enable the students to identify, locate and take advantage of these sources of funding, knowing how to use the most appropriate techniques and processes as well as the latest trends in fundraising. The modules are:

  1. Fundraising and Fundraiser
  2. Planning, Design and Implementation of a Fundraising Program
  3. Techniques for Increasing Fundraising
  4. Evaluation

Communication techniques and skills

Course objectives: To ensure that the volunteer acquires the skills necessary in order to communicate correctly with the beneficiaries of their activity, encouraging assertiveness, empathy and feedback. The modules are:
  1. Concept of Communication
  2. Verbal Communication
  3. Non Verbal Communication

New technologies for senior citizens

Course objectives: Ageing populations pose major economic, budgetary and social challenges. New technologies, addressing solutions for distant monitoring services are a social necessity and a field of great interest for the world of volunteering. The modules are:
  1. Ageing Population (2 Hours).
  2. New Technologies for Assisted-Independent Living (10 Hours)
  3. Application and Case Studies (4 Hours)
The courses were very informative, well structured and straightforward to follow. They come with the full range of Moodle features – a tutor, study calendar, module content, forums, graded quizzes and assignments – offering an engaging way to learn about important aspects of 3rd sector work. I can’t see a way to download a whole course package for offline study so if you visit the EVS website, perhaps you could check this out and report back via this blog.
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Two good OER guides

Our July 2011 survey findings indicated a high level of interest in the potential benefits of OERs for the voluntary sector, with many trainers suggesting that they would consider using them if dedicated training or mentoring were made available. To that end, I have drawn up a proposal for up-skilling VCS trainers to use OERs, involving an intensive one-week training course plus 3 months of individual mentoring. I am now exploring potential ways of funding the activity and I’ll report back on anything promising. Please let me know of any funding ideas you have!

If you’d like to learn more about OERs in the meantime, here are two good free resources that I’d recommend:

7 things you should know about Open Educational Resources by Educause, 2010. This handy 2-page guide covers all the essentials. There’s a copy attached here (7ThingsOERs) and it is also available as a free download from http://www.educause.edu/Resources/7ThingsYouShouldKnowAboutOpenE/205913

A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER), Prepared by Neil Butcher for the Commonwealth of Learning & UNESCO, July 2011. An up-to-date and comprehensive publication at 133 pages, available as a free download from http://www.col.org/resources/publications/Pages/detail.aspx?PID=357, but please note this is a 4Mb download.

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