In this blog, reflections from the launch are of EPALE as a new movement for adult learning which is regarded as a key human success factor for the portal.
Torhild Slåtto, Director Flexible Education Norway and guest at the EPALE launch
The ambition comes across loud and clear: the new EU portal EPALE is set out to become THE most important point of reference for professionals working in the field of adult learning in Europe. The portal was launched with drums and whistles in Brussels mid-April in the presence of more than 200 delegates from all thirty countries involved.
EPALE reads Electronic Platform Adult Learning Europe. The acronym is somewhat problematic in multilingual Europe. Quite a few pronounce it as we would in Norwegian phonetics, e-p-a-l-e, some turn to the more English pronunciation i-peil, while others prefer to cut the last «e» and end up with i-pal.
EU has the muscles to act when something is up. A bunch of people have been working to prepare the grounds for the portal, choose technology as well as structure, and publish the initial doses of content. But it is only now it seriously begins. Now is the time for the national EPALE-people «to sell» the idea and convince organizations and individuals to come up with new content. The Norwegian EPALE responsibility has been given to Vox.
A big plus from such a pan-European, multilingual giant portal, is the opportunity to develop sharing cultures like the ones we find in digital communities. Key note speaker at the conference Alan Tuckett phrased it in his own way: «if you don’t show off, nobody will ever steal your ideas». Unless you tell people what you are working on, no one will ever get the chance to steal your ideas, and we will not be able to feed further development through sharing.
To give away ideas and experiences and at the same time pick up new ideas and knowledge is a winning concept on paper. I suspect quite a bit of searching will be necessary when the EPALE portal grows wide and deep on a broad set of adult learning topics. Nevertheless, it will provide much better chances for relevant hits than in an open Google search.
However, the objections to a new giant portal are lurking in our minds. Haven’t we seen portals come and go, popular once on the air, but fast falling on usage? Other initiatives never got to be launched. They stranded on lack of maintenance, structure and level of activity.
I have a simple reflection which points to something more human than EU investments, and that’s enthusiasm. Both the central staff behind EPALE and the national coordinators show strong enthusiasm for adult learning. During the launch conference they eagerly demonstrated what activities they had initiated at national level. Provided they can uphold this enthusiasm, there is good hope for such a «joint venture».
Demand for more competence, in digital and many other skill areas as well as facilitation of better and more learning, rests heavily on the shoulders of Europe. More sharing and more innovation are necessary for Europe to cope with unemployment and crisis.
Will a portal for professional content, debate and sharing contribute in the big picture? My opinion is yes, and I am cheering for the enthusiasts.