Validation of non formal and informal learning


Validation: a process of confirmation by an authorized body that an individual has acquired learning outcomes measured against a relevant standard (Council of the EU, 2012) It is about making visible the diverse and rich learning of individuals and attributing value to the learning of individuals irrespective of the context in which this learning took place. Its purpose is to produce proof of learning, potentially to be exchanged into future learning and/or work.

Four phases of validation of an individual’s learning outcomes:

  • identification: of knowledge, skills and competence acquired. It is important for the individuals’ self-awareness. It is a methodological challenge. It is supported in some countries by the use of standarized ICT tools allowing self-assessment. It often involves advisers and counselors that help the candidates explore the tools at their disposition. Ready made solutions can fail to identify particular skills and competencies.
  • documentation: as in provision of evidence. Building of portfolio/work samples/dossier
  • assessment: the stage in which an individual’s learning outcomes are compared against specific reference points and/or standards. The phase depends on the reference point. Assessment tools need to be able to capture each individual and the context in which learning took place. (individual specifity)
  • certification: commonly the award of a formal qualification, sometimes a license. The value of the certificate or qualification depends on the legitimacy of the awarding body or authority

A person not interested in acquiring a formal qualification should be able to opt for a solution giving more emphasis to identification and documentation phases. Since validation has been
found to influence positively individuals’ self-awareness and self-esteem, it should be about individual choice: arrangements must be designed to allow the individual to opt for the most cost-efficient solutions, possibly for limited documentation rather than full, formal certification.

Validation and open educational resources (OERs)

It acknowledges the rapid expansion of learning opportunities through OERs, thus digitized materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and free learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research. Validation process requires that learning outcomes must be carefully described for OERs as well as methods for assessing and testing them.

Validation Tools

  • Tools for extracting evidence: tests and examinations, dialogue or conversational methods, declarative methods, observations, simulations, evidence extracted from work or other practice.
  • Tools for presenting evidence: CVs and individual statement of competences, third party reports, portfolios



CEDEFOP, European guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning, Cedefop reference series 104, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2015

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Connected Learning


A research synthesis report of the Connected Learning Research Network


This report is a synthesis of ongoing research, design, and implementation of an approach to education called “connected learning.” It advocates for broadened access to learning that is socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity. Connected learning is realized when a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement. This model is based on evidence that the most resilient, adaptive, and effective learning involves individual interest as well as social support to overcome adversity and provide recognition.

First Published January 2013

Written by: Mizuko Ito, Kris Gutiérrez, Sonia Livingstone, Bill Penuel, Jean Rhodes, Katie Salen, Juliet Schor, Julian Sefton-Green, S. Craig Watkins
With contributions
from: Shaondell Black, Neta Kliger-Vilenchik, Dilan Mahendran, C.J. Pascoe, Sangita Shresthova

Available here

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