About this Toolkit

The innovative teaching and training activities Dynamic Toolkit collects a wide range of teaching and training activities and methods, which develop soft skills needed on labour market co-designed with companies and universities professionals.

Dynamic Toolkit is organised as an open online tool with downloadable and searchable
items.

The language of the Dynamic Toolkit is English, but some of the listed resources can have references to the local languages.

Terminology

The eLene4Life soft/transversal skills proposed definition

The definition of what is meant by “soft skills” or “transversal” or “essential” skills has been heavily debated not only within this specific project, but also in the research field in in general. eLene4work, the predecessor of the actual project,  chose the ModEs Project’s Taxonomy (2012):

“Soft Skills represent a dynamic combination of cognitive and meta-cognitive skills, interpersonal, intellectual and practical skills. Soft skills help people to adapt and behave positively so that they incan deal effectively with the challenges of their professional and everyday life” (from page 67 of the ModEs project report

eLene4work also developed a framework of soft skills mostly addressed at exploring the transition between university and the labour market.

The eLene4Life Active Learning proposed definition

Active learning refers to a broad range of teaching strategies which engage students or trainees as active participants in their learning. Typically, these strategies involve learners working together during class, but may also involve individual work and/or reflection, as well as group work outside the classroom. The focus is on how to learn rather than what to learn, placing the learner at the heart of the process. Active learning can be on a spectrum of learner and teacher control of the learning process and learning environment.

The main characteristic of active learning is that students are engaged in activities which involve more than just listening and note-taking (e.g. reading, discussing, writing).

One or more of the following should be present to fully exploit the potential of active learning:

  • Less emphasis is placed on transmitting information and more on developing students’ skills.
  • Students are engaged in the (co)creation of new knowledge based on their previous knowledge and socio-cultural context.
  • Students are involved in higher-order thinking (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, critical thinking, problem-solving, metacognition and reflexivity).
  • Greater emphasis is placed on students’ exploration of their own attitudes and values.
  • Teaching approaches to support active learning range from short, simple activities like journal writing, problem solving and paired discussions, to more complex activities such as case studies, debating, role playing, team-based problem solving, collaborative game-based learning and project-based learning.

Guidelines

  1. Focusing the soft skills curriculum – It’s fundamental to focus it on the target group, to frame the needs and requirements of student’s later professional life.
  2. Learning at the workplace – Simulating or adopting practices that are as similar as possible to the real situations in the daily work practices is extremely useful to improve the students’ soft skills.
  3. Creating teamwork situations – If in large groups, split them into smaller ones in order to create a team that can work in parallel.
  4. Adopting problem-based learning / Learning by Doing – It could be the most useful approach, based on real issues where outcomes could have value for learners.
  5. Making Learners Drive Learning – Explain the benefits of active and experiential learning and involve them in the design of the active learning practices.
  6. Choosing the right methodology according to the context – In order to develop some skills and behavior during studies, it would be necessary to require certain behaviors during them (e.g. in the last two years), showing which methods or particular approaches would work best.
  7. Using Digital Resources – Quick (and often free/open source) apps or softwares are useful to support virtual workgroups training, testing, gaming and more.
  8. Debriefing and providing feedback after any active experience – This is something that is often lacking in the HE context, where the focus is on assessments of knowledge.
  9. Share expectations and allocate time – It is important to dedicate time to explain effectively to students the active learning activities the course foresees, teachers’ expectations, course learning outcomes, and the evaluation criteria students will be faced with.
  10. Re-shaping the role of teachers and moving it to a more mentor/coach style – This can be considered the constant agreement from nearly all the interviewees. Teachers have to become facilitators of knowledge and learning. This is a need of society. Improving their digital skills is also a priority.

Digital tools to be used in Active Learning

As in every application field of this innovative and in-developing world, digital tools are complementary to methodologies. They are recommended not specifically to learn, but to work in a collaborative and exchanging way. In this context, online tools have been mentioned that can improve the collaboration between people.

When it comes to ‘traditional’ eLearning in general terms, we identified two different approaches: some believing in its potentials, tending to use LMS and blended modality. Some interviewees, instead, were very critical about it: it is recognised that eLearning can be useful, but outside of this context, because it was felt that nothing is better than actual work-based tasks with mentor supervision.

The following list can be considered a set of potentially available digital resources suitable to support soft skills training in a corporate context, whose use can/should be transferred in the HE context.

Extremely common tools such as the whole Adobe suite, or the Microsoft one, are not included here. Also, social networks (Facebook, Linkedin Learning) or common instant messaging (MSN, Skype, etc…) are not included here.

Our Project Objective

eLene4Life supports curriculum innovation in higher education (HE) through the development of active learning approaches for transversal skills, with the ultimate aim of improving students’ employability.

 

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This project has been funded by Erasmus + programme of the European Union.

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Disclaimer

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

This project No. 2018-1-FR01-KA203-047829 has been funded by Erasmus + programme of the European Union.

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