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Feasibility of an Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe

DG Education and Culture 4 May 2012

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Feasibility of an Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


DG Education and Culture

A report submitted by GHK in association with

Technopolis Limited Danish Technological Institute 3s Unternehmensberatung GmbH


Date: 4 May 2012

Feasibility of EPALE

Feasibility of EPALE

Contents
Executive summary ........................................................................................................ 4
Approach to the study.............................................................................................................................. 4 Potential users views .............................................................................................................................. 5 Key messages from the experience of other similar websites ................................................................ 5 Assessment of proposed features and functions .................................................................................... 7 Assessment of approaches ..................................................................................................................... 8 Conclusions ............................................................................................................................................. 8

1
1.1 1.2 1.3

Introduction......................................................................................................12
This study............................................................................................................................... 13 Method ................................................................................................................................... 14 Structure of this report............................................................................................................ 18

2
2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8

Potential users views .......................................................................................19


Features/content .................................................................................................................... 19 Functions................................................................................................................................ 23 Participation / contribution...................................................................................................... 25 Languages ............................................................................................................................. 26 Online Events/Training........................................................................................................... 27 Dissemination / Use of social media ...................................................................................... 28 Need and rationale for a platform .......................................................................................... 30 Key messages emerging........................................................................................................ 30

3
3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5

Learning from the experience of other websites............................................. 32


Other platforms ...................................................................................................................... 32 General platform characteristics ............................................................................................ 44 Usage and value of features and functionalities .................................................................... 50 Dissemination and communication ........................................................................................ 51 Key messages........................................................................................................................ 54

4
4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4

Assessment of features and functionalities......................................................57


Assessment of features.......................................................................................................... 57 Assessment of functionalities................................................................................................. 66 Assessment of languages ...................................................................................................... 74 Key messages........................................................................................................................ 77

5
5.1 5.2 5.3

Assessment of approaches............................................................................... 79
Development and management............................................................................................. 79 Dissemination......................................................................................................................... 84 Key messages........................................................................................................................ 85

6
6.1 6.2 6.3

Conclusions...................................................................................................... 86
What is the case for EPALE................................................................................................... 86 What are the broad options.................................................................................................... 87 Way ahead ............................................................................................................................. 89

Annex 1 Annex 2 Annex 3 Annex 4 Annex 5

Glossary of Technical Terms................................................................. 93 Online Survey........................................................................................ 95 Survey: Detailed Analysis Tables........................................................ 102 Summary of Information about Other Platforms .............................. 105 Pros and Cons of 5 Content Management Systems (CMS) ................. 112

Feasibility of EPALE

Executive summary
Background to the study The European Union (EU) has aimed to increase the participation of adults in lifelong learning and education. It has set a target of raising average participation across the EU to 15% by 2020 from an average of 9.5% in 2008. The European Agenda for Adult Learning was renewed in 2011, in recognition of the contribution that can be made by adult learning to enabling adults to improve their prospects in a changing labour market and their contribution to society1. The renewed Agenda identifies the following priority areas for the period 2012 to 2014:

Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality; Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training; Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship through adult learning; Enhancing the creativity and innovation of adults and their learning environment; and Improving the knowledge base on adult learning and monitoring the adult education sector.

The Grundtvig sub-programme of the EUs Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) aims to support the achievement of the target for adult participation in lifelong learning through providing more and better learning opportunities to adults and particularly to: improve the quality and amount of co-operation between adult education organisations; develop innovative adult education and management practices, and encourage widespread implementation; and support innovative ICT-based educational content, services and practices2:. As a consequence the Grundtvig sub-programmes activities are contributing to creating a European area of adult education, driving innovation and transferring knowledge and expertise in the field of teaching adult learners, and raising participation. For the EUs programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport for the period from 2014 to 2020, the Commission has proposed to establish an Erasmus for All programme3. This is designed to strengthen lifelong learning and support Member States to modernise their education and training systems. In particular it proposes a greater emphasis on cooperation for innovation, good practice in adult learning and an IT platform for adult learning for peer learning and exchange of good practice for a greatly enlarged group of potential beneficiaries than events and mobility programmes can achieve. It is also clear in the current and future framework for lifelong learning that further progress is sought across the EU towards good quality non-vocational adult education which encourages participation, enables adults to continue learning and developing their skills, and enables social inclusion. It is also clear that to achieve this, learning from Member States should be shared through exchanges, products, cooperation and collaboration. An Electronic Platform for Adult Education (EPALE) could therefore be expected to:

Help to develop a culture of lifelong learning by making adult education more attractive, accessible and effective; Support the process of building a European adult learning community by providing good quality information about policy and practice and learning products for mutual learning from the range of providers of non-vocational adult education; Enhance and speed up the process of building closer cooperation, networking and exchanges of information and people that currently largely take place through workshops and events;

Council of the European Union 16743/11 draft Council resolution on a renewed European agenda for adult learning 2 Grundtvig: practical learning for adults: http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learningprogramme/doc86_en.htm 3 Erasmus for All: the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport. EC Communication from the Commission to the European parliament COM (2011) 787 final

Feasibility of EPALE 4

Capitalize on the results of Grundtvig projects, products and activities and those funded by other European , national, regional and local sources both public and private by disseminating them more widely, in particular evidence of best practice to address specific problems in adult learning such as around participation and the quality of adult learning; and Support the process for developing as well as implementing European adult learning policies.

GHK Consulting was commissioned in August 2011 to carry out a feasibility assessment and cost analysis of EPALE to identify the most useful features and functionalities of EPALE and the costs and benefits of such features and functionalities; consider the models for providing EPALE and associated costs and the approaches to disseminating information about EPALE; and provide estimates of the potential costs to establish, promote and maintain EPALE. This was with a view to shaping any commissioning of the development of a platform.

Approach to the study


The feasibility study drew on:

Interviews and assessments of 11 existing websites with similar objectives to identify feasibility of features and functions, costs, management arrangements and challenges; Consultation with potential users with a short on-line survey which had 573 responses representing the range of potential users from 33 countries; In depth interviews with representatives of different potential users from a range of countries (15); A discussion at a Grundtvig National Agencies meeting; Cost utility assessments of the features, functions, development, management arrangements, dissemination and languages options; and An assessment of various scenarios for development of EPALE with the broad implications for costs and staffing

Potential users views


The survey findings and stakeholder interviews suggest that many stakeholders hope that EPALE could raise the profile of the sector and be a one stop shop or springboard to the sectors information resources. But it needs a clear reason to be a tool that the potential users would use. While most respondents are generally very positive about the suggested content of EPALE (around 70-80% for each feature), a smaller proportion (15-20%) suggest they would not use it because there are other websites available. While generally supportive, several stakeholders cautioned that it runs the risk of being all things to all men without a clear function and being too focused on EU funded activities. About three quarters of respondents indicate that they would use each of the features suggested but many cautioned that the content would need to be identifiable (well-tagged) and searchable and linked to other platforms. Respondents have more varied views on the functions suggested with much higher proportions indicating that a calendar of events, resources for staff training, and a tool to find partners in other countries would be more useful than a members community and a discussion forum, for example. Adult education providers are slightly less interested in adult education policy and more interested in calendars of events and staff training resources. The National Agencies and government bodies are more likely to have information from other sources and need links and some resources less than adult education providers. Respondents would be much more willing to undertake participative activities that required less time commitments, such as uploading event information and joining a partner finding tool (over 80%) than translating content (under 40%) or uploading lesson plans and other learning tools (under 60%) from which they would not personally gain. There is considerable interest in on-line events and training even if they are only in English; though this is a lower proportion than for most of the suggested functions that respondents would find useful/very useful (under 60%). There are mixed views about the extent of content available in EU languages. Some strongly believe that English would be adequate especially if plain English guidance were applied; others that all EU languages are needed if the platform is to engage adult education providers in Eastern and Southern Europe. This appears to depend on the content and functions; with perhaps greater need for multiFeasibility of EPALE 5

lingual provision for good practice information and for partner finding tools than for discussion forums and information for policy makers. Email newsletters are used by three-quarters of respondents and many would prefer this for keeping up to date with the platforms content and functions. Some have suggested targeted newsletters as well for specific areas of adult learning. There are very mixed views on other social media tools but less contention over RSS feeds than Facebook for example.

Key messages from the experience of other similar websites


General approach Useful learning for establishing EPALE appears to be that having a clear set of purposes (expected outputs and outcomes linked to increasing target users knowledge, skills and abilities) and a menu of content and functions to achieve these is more likely to focus attention and lead to successful development. Establishing ownership at the outset is critical for development and re-tendering as well as ensuring that resources and materials which are available on other websites are signposted. Initial and continuing developments Useful learning for setting up EPALE appears to be:

A few have had short set up contracts but most with wider ambitions have had initial contracts for several years (3-5 years) to set up/launch within a year and continue development with management activities; few have done this in-house; Costs of development range from 10-40,000 to 100K-1million but the scale is clearly linked to the ambitions and when initial development merges with management and maintenance; Some have been developed incrementally but many have been designed to service a potential fixed range of purposes and functions linked to these (and re-designed periodically). Contracts require flexibility to enable evolution of functions and content; Making the decision about whether the website should be multi-lingual early on is important as it is difficult to add a language functionality at a later stage. Adding an additional language on a website that is already multilingual is not as problematic; and The chosen Content Management System should be open source and straightforward to use but the final choice should reflect the uses of the platform including the languages available.

Other useful learning for the process of development appears to be:

Potential users can test and provide feedback on the website as a whole, as well as for each new feature. Testers should represent the demographic of the target group; this should include staff of small adult education providers, older workers and staff with limited experience of online portals; Building in means of monitoring, such as counting downloads of resources, should be done at the outset so that outputs can be measured and evaluated; A Web Accessibility Initiative Level A accessibility requirement should be met at the outset; and EPALE could potentially use the LRE resource hosting platform rather than create one from scratch.

Maintenance and management Useful learning for EPALE appears to be that most other platforms have included maintenance and management with continuing development and have flexible contracts (3-6 years) to enable priorities to be agreed between client and contractor on a regular basis. Costs of maintenance and management are not always distinguished from other related activities (such as dissemination, organisation of events, developing content, editing/ reviewing new content, organisation of training activities and delivery of training) but it is not generally believed to be necessary to separate them contractually. Functions tend to increase management costs more than features though both need active management if they are to be useful to large numbers of target users. Feasibility of EPALE 6

Active management ranges from developing and commissioning new material to exploiting content (editing and disseminating) and targeting potential users. Most have specified these additional activities partly to ensure that content is up to date and functionality is enhanced and partly to make the content relevant and useful or to increase and maintain take up. Costs range from 250K to several millions a year but these seem to be related to scale and the extent of roles and responsibilities. Several have networks as well as a contractor with the network members (in Member States) required to do local dissemination and to produce local material. Most have contracted out the work but a few have in-house teams undertaking some of the active dissemination and updating of content, for example, in addition to contract management; one has several contractors with different responsibilities but acknowledges that this requires coordination. Some successfully use panels or groups of users to check new materials and propose content. Features and functions Useful learning for EPALEs potential features and functions appears to be that a critical mass of users is needed for some functions, such as partner tools and discussion forums, to be viable. Discussion forums can generally only flourish when a website has become established or has developed a community of users who have established relationships at events or visits. The various school partner finding tools support the creation of virtual professional networks and exchanges by enabling the sharing of information and resources. Many functions enable a legacy from events, exchanges and visits to be built because they will bring in other users of the knowledge and understanding gained. Content such as materials for teaching and good practice need to have search functions and ought to have editorial controls and quality standards if they are to be useful. Discussion forums, online communities and ask an expert functions need active management too if they are to be used and provided resources for other users. Some features and functions are already available through other means (such as E-partnership space) or existing websites (such as Infonet). Some features are available on websites in some Member States and in some languages. Examples of national websites offering resources for teachers are the Norwegian Agency for Lifelong Learning http://www.vox.no and the Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres http://www.vhs.or.at. Dissemination Useful learning for EPALEs potential features and functions appears to be that a have to use or must use feature can increase usage though neither necessarily bring users to all other features and functions. This needs to be supplemented by search engine optimisation (SEO) and active dissemination. Most of the platforms demonstrate that active management and dissemination increase use and can significantly increase take up of features/functions such as downloadable teaching materials, partner finding tools and discussion forums. Some activities bring in users, such as regular e-newsletters and RSS feeds. Rewards and quality marks for active participation are appreciated and may support active contributions from users. There are mixed views about registering and restricting access and having open access; some of the most successful have open access. Languages The experience of other platforms tells us that the languages available for resources bring in new users but also restrict users to the languages they can work in. While the use of plain English will help (which then requires editorial control and guidance), some features, such as resources, benefit considerably from being translated. The cost of translation depends on the scale of translation required; those providing material in six or more languages only translate the material which is centrally generated or for some features/functions. This can be supplemented by translation on request and machine translation software availability.

Assessment of proposed features and functions


The assessment indicates that EPALE could significantly contribute to some of the key aims of the adult learning agenda and the proposed Erasmus for All programme, especially to improve the quality and extent of cooperation, widen the beneficiaries of resources produced and to strengthen the sector Feasibility of EPALE 7

by supporting innovative better quality teaching. It could also drive transferring knowledge and expertise in the adult education field for both teaching and raising participation and achievement both by enhancing and expanding the opportunities for exchanges and sharing for mutual learning and collaboration. Principally because some of the features and functions could be expected to have a greater impact than others and make a more significant contribution to the aims and targets of the adult learning agenda and the Commissions future programme, the highest priorities should be:

Good practice on adult education policy; Partner finding tool; Resources for teaching / teachers; Resources for staff training; Calendar of events; Learning opportunities for staff; and On-line training / e-learning space.

The following would only be secondary priorities: Good practice on delivering adult education; Resources for managers; Catalogue of useful links; Funding and awards information; On-line members community; and E-partnership space.

And the following should not necessarily be considered for EPALE: adult education news, library of documents, discussion forum, and Ask an Expert, unless they provided value to any of the highest priority features and functions by increasing traffic to the platform or providing resources to users. The highest priority features and functions would benefit from the following arrangements for languages:

Professional translation in 25 languages: Good practice on adult education policy Learning opportunities for staff Summaries of resources for teaching and staff training Machine translation: Partner finding tool Calendar of events English only: On-line training events / e-learning space.

Assessment of approaches
The assessment of development and management approaches suggests that most of the desired features and many of the functions for EPALE can be delivered through the development management and maintenance (DMM) option. Adding resource support and development (RSD) allows for the creation, moderation and production of new material and events so that the website can evolve to offer a core service rather than function as a depository of material and information created elsewhere. This has the potential of attracting new users to the site; as well as generating return traffic from existing users which would be necessary for the platform to ensure a critical mass of users. The addition of network support (NS) would allow EPALE to directly engage with the target audience in their own country and in their own language and therefore increase the likelihood of community functions being taken up. Creating a source of exclusive content, SEO and targeted e-newsletters are likely to be the most effective ways of attracting visitors to the site at relatively low cost. In relation to the priorities for EPALE and language provision suggested above, EPALE would require DMM and RSD in the first instance to create an adult education learning community and ensure the functions were effectively used and met users needs. A RSD would also ensure that dissemination could include targeted e-newsletters which should be one of the priorities for dissemination. NS would Feasibility of EPALE 8

be a necessary enhancement in some Member States to promote and enable use of resources and a partner finding tool.

Conclusions
What is the case for EPALE? It is clear that EPALE could play a key role in transferring innovative and well tested practices in teaching and training in adult learning to strengthen the adult learning sector across Europe and create a wider learning community for mutual benefits. It could provide a sustainable network for dissemination and the exploitation of knowledge and understanding to a much wider range of beneficiaries. It would be feasible to establish the platform since the features and functions have been developed elsewhere and it is evident that learning can be drawn on to ensure they are developed to meet the adult learning communitys needs. The table below adapts a PEST analysis to summarise the findings which support the case. The case for EPALE
Policy relevance The Agenda for Adult Learning includes raising the quality of teaching and learning in adult education; increasing the participation of adults in learning Erasmus for All could expect an IT support platform to provide opportunities for peer learning exchange, training and open resources, and enlarging the group of beneficiaries of partner activities and learning events Opportunity to spread resources and practice to less developed adult education providers to increase availability of innovative teaching and ways to increase participation in adult learning especially for the low skilled and older people Provides for open educational resources Social benefits Very high proportions of potential beneficiaries believe they would use features and functions Recognition by many potential beneficiaries that it could address needs for training and better teaching materials Gaps in current electronic resources for adult learning which it could fill, especially for teaching resources Difficulties with current resources to retrieve good practice and legacy materials Economically effective Functions such as downloadable resources and shared space for e-partners attract users who would otherwise not participate in sharing and using new materials because of the cost New resources obtained by practitioners and policy makers at less cost than developing them themselves Tools to enable cooperation and sharing provide virtual mobility at low cost Opportunity to exploit the legacy of resources and materials from Grundtvig and other programmes Learning available about the development of tools by other platforms with features and functions planned for EPALE Technically feasible Similar platforms are operational and have similar features and functions Lessons can be learned from the experience of other platforms about what works Language translation can be carried out for features and functions that would benefit from being multi-lingual

As a consequence the development of a platform should be supported because it:

Directly contributes to fulfilling many of the ambitions of the Agenda for Adult Learning; Fills a gap in what is generally available to increase the knowledge, understanding, skills and competencies of adult learning providers; This is recognised by the majority of potential users;

Feasibility of EPALE 9

Provides cost effective means to increase sharing and use of information and resources; Could create a learning community across Europe for adult learning managers and practitioners in particular with the remit to transfer and share resources which could raise the quality of teaching, enhance participation, and encourage effective investment in adult learning; and It is not a high risk in terms of technical requirements.

What are the broad options? The broad options are more about different scales of development than mutually exclusive choices between different features and functions because the assessment points to features and functions which should be a greater priority than others. The features and functions to be developed in turn have implications for the management and maintenance arrangements necessary as well as the dissemination and language requirements. The first scenario focuses on the highest priority features and functions, the second scenario a wider range of higher priority features and functions; and the third scenario brings in some which are a lesser priority. In grouping the package of features and functions in each scenario, key considerations have been: Providing content which will provide potential users a reason to visit the website; Reflecting on the need to provide resources and partnering opportunities when the Grundtvig programme comes to an end in 2014; Reflecting on the assessments which highlighted the features and functions that were the highest priority; Considering the views of beneficiaries and other platform owners about the features and functions most likely to make a difference, contribute to the agenda for adult learning, and fill a gap in what is available; and Building a critical mass of users to enable a partner finding tool to be useful.

As a consequence the first scenario groups the features and functions most likely to contribute to the planned programme for adult learning and have an impact on its key aims. The associated management and maintenance, dissemination and languages proposals for each scenario reflect: The degree of need for active management and dissemination; The limited extent users are likely to be active participants and the wish to exploit resources and materials that already exist; The indication that multi-lingualism (25 languages) will encourage the use of shared resources for teaching and training; and The criticality of raising awareness and generating traffic if the e-partner finding tool is to draw in users across the Member States.

Additionally, we assumed that the website would:

Be built using a CMS which can support content in many languages; Comply with at least the A level WAI accessibility standard but aim for Triple A compliance; Be suitably coded so that it can be accessible on a range of devices; Have effective security and personal data safety provisions in place; and Include a how to section which would offer step-by-step guidance to users on how they can participate in the various tools.

There are opportunities for collaboration with existing websites and their functions. For example, instead of creating a new database of learning resources EPALE may wish to engage in a partnership Feasibility of EPALE 10

with LRE or with Open Education Resources4 so that adult education material is uploaded onto their existing database. This may result in cost savings and offer the possibility of a larger, worldwide audience for the material. However, it might also mean that adult education material is lost on these larger databases among the large number of other resources that are available5. The estimated costs are based around the costs of other platforms with adjustments to take account of the scale of EPALE proposed compared to these. This is not an exact approach to costing but should indicate the relative scale of different scenarios and their components. It should also be noted that:

Some of the annual costs (2014 onwards) could start before the launch of the platform; for example the National Support network should be established before the website is launched; There will be contract management costs falling on the Commission as well as a considerable cost to lead and support development in the first two years. The former have not been estimated; and Staffing estimates for RSD and NS have led the costing.

In considering the scenarios the Commission should balance costs against budget and what package of features and functions will achieve its ambitions from 2014 onwards. The highest priority scenario includes features and functions which should have the biggest impact on the aims of the Agenda for Adult Learning. Other platforms suggest that the creation of EPALE can be achieved by 2014. Way ahead Once the Commission has considered the business case made for EPALE and the features and functions for development in the first stage if it is to go ahead, the Commission should consider drawing on the lessons of other platforms particularly their experience in developing and delivering similar features and functions and the challenges that have arisen in making them effective. It should also make decisions about the related packages of management and maintenance, dissemination and languages as set out in the scenarios above and whether any opportunities for collaboration should be explored.

http://www.oercommons.org For example, Open Education Resources filters material in its database by post-secondary grade which covers more than adult learning.
5

Feasibility of EPALE 11

Introduction
The European Union aims to increase the participation of adults in lifelong learning and education. It has set a target of raising average participation across the EU to 15% by 2020 from an average of 9.5% in 2008. The Commission has acknowledged in its Europe 2020 strategy that lifelong learning and skills are a key element of the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs and tackling the economic crisis, especially for lower skilled and older workers. As a consequence there have been commitments to increase participation in and raise the quality of adult learning and a recognition that adult learners could benefit from innovative methods for teaching and learning and more comprehensive learning opportunities. The European Agenda for Adult Learning was renewed in 2011, in recognition of the contribution that can be made by adult learning in enabling adults to improve their ability to adapt to changes in the labour market and society6. The renewed Agenda identifies the following priority areas for the period 2012 to 2014:

Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality; Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training; Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship through adult learning; Enhancing the creativity and innovation of adults and their learning environment; and Improving the knowledge base on adult learning and monitoring the adult education sector.

The Grundtvig sub-programme of the EUs Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) aims to support the achievement of the above target through providing more and better learning opportunities to adults and tackling problems associated with Europes ageing population. Grundtvig specifically aims to7:

Increase the number of people in adult education to 25,000 by 2013, and improve the quality of their experience, whether at home or abroad; Improve conditions for mobility so that at least 7,000 people a year can benefit from adult education abroad up to 2013; Improve the quality and amount of co-operation between adult education organisations; Develop innovative adult education and management practices, and encourage widespread implementation; Ensure that people on the margins of society have access to adult education, especially older people and those who left education without basic qualifications; and Support innovative ICT-based educational content, services and practices.

The Grundtvig sub-programmes activities are contributing to creating a European area of adult education, driving innovation and transferring knowledge and expertise in the field of teaching adult learners, and raising participation. For the EUs programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport for the period from 2014 to 2020, the Commission has proposed to establish an Erasmus for All programme8. This is designed to strengthen lifelong learning and support Member States to modernise their education and training systems. In particular it proposes a greater emphasis on cooperation
6

Council of the European Union 16743/11 draft Council resolution on a renewed European agenda for adult learning 7 Grundtvig: practical learning for adults: http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learningprogramme/doc86_en.htm 8 Erasmus for All: the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport. EC Communication from the Commission to the European parliament COM (2011) 787 final

Feasibility of EPALE 12

for innovation, good practice in adult learning and an IT platform for adult learning for peer learning and exchange of good practice for a greatly enlarged group of potential beneficiaries than events and mobility programmes can achieve. It is clear in the current and future framework for lifelong learning that further progress is sought across the EU towards good quality non-vocational adult education which encourages participation, enables adults to continue learning and developing their skills and enables social inclusion. It is also clear that to achieve this, learning from Member States should be shared through exchanges, products, cooperation and collaboration. Consultations on the future programme in relation to adult learning point to9:

The particular importance of transferring innovative projects to strengthen the adult learning sector; The need for institutional networks which could strengthen learning exchanges between the more developed and the underdeveloped areas of the EU in relation to adult learning provision; and The relatively high importance of supporting sustainable networks to disseminate and exploit good practice in adult learning and to support peer learning activities.

An Electronic Platform for Adult Education (EPALE) could therefore be expected to:

Help to develop a culture of lifelong learning by making adult education more attractive, accessible and effective; Support the process of building a European adult learning community by providing good quality information about policy and practice and learning products for mutual learning from the range of providers of non-vocational adult education; Enhance and speed up the process of building closer cooperation, networking and exchanges of information and people that currently largely take place through workshops and events; Capitalize on the results of Grundtvig projects, products and activities and those funded by Member States by disseminating them more widely, in particular evidence of best practice to address specific problems in adult learning such as around participation and the quality of adult learning; and Support the process for developing as well as implementing European adult learning policies.

1.1

This study
GHK Consulting was commissioned in August 2011 to carry out a feasibility assessment and cost analysis of a possible Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe (EPALE). The feasibility assessment is expected to:

Identify the most useful features and functionalities of EPALE; Identify the costs and benefits of such features and functionalities; Consider the models for providing EPALE and associated costs; Consider the approaches to disseminating information about EPALE; and Provide estimates of the potential costs to establish, promote and maintain EPALE.

This is with a view to shaping any commissioning of the development of a platform. The Commission provided some initial consideration of potential features and functionalities and in discussion identified that EPALE must be interactive (allowing users to contribute in
9

Preparation of a new programme on education and training (LLP) post 2014: results of the public consultation undertaken by GHK for DGEAC (2011); EAEA Action plan follow up paper (2011)

Feasibility of EPALE 13

some way), dynamic (kept up to date) and appeal to a range of people (adult learning teachers and managers, researchers, policy makers). The following were felt to be priorities:

A platform in all European languages; A source of practical materials for adult learning teachers which could be downloaded; An opportunity for e-twinning and exchange of information; and Features that will encourage use by practitioners (possibly practitioner led content on good practice or a calendar of events with rewards/incentives for contributors).

It was agreed that the feasibility study would:

Take the initial consideration about features and functionalities and their rationale further with a survey and telephone interviews of a range of potential types of user across the EU; Draw on the experience of similar websites established to identify actual costs and models used for setting up, dissemination and management (both maintenance and further development); consider what works and what is most cost effective; and identify what might be used to inform the development of EPALE; Also draw on the experience of similar websites to test out the rationale for features and functionalities and the subsequent usage/feedback from users; Develop a range of broad options and choices for EPALEs features and functionalities and EPALEs development and management which can be narrowed down; and Develop and use a cost utility assessment tool to compare these options and choices.

1.2
1.2.1

Method
Each of the main components is described briefly below. Learning from existing platforms From a review of a long list of 28 platforms, a sample of 11 case study websites was selected to investigate in greater detail. These were chosen on the basis of similarities with EPALEs aims, initial range of features and functionalities, types of user, and the availability of information on development and management but with some different arrangements for management and development. The platforms are listed below in Table 1.1. Table 1.1 Sample of Websites for in-depth analysis and critical review
Online Community Features Dissemination of good practice / learning products 9 Management systems (different types) E-platform + National Resource Centres European resource centre + national agencies 23 national correspondents E-platform only 9 E-platform + partnership 9 Multiple Languages Community of Users / Active member contribution 9

Etwinning.net

9 (including on TwinSpace)

Salto-youth.net

European Infonet Adult Education CORDIS British Council Schools online 9 9

Feasibility of EPALE 14

Online Community Features

Dissemination of good practice / learning products

Management systems (different types) support

Multiple Languages

Community of Users / Active member contribution

Scientix network

E-platform + annual conference E-platform + central resource centre (products & events) E-platform only

iNET (International Networking for Educational Transformation) elearning europa Learning Resource Exchange Adult Learning Australia

9 9

E-platform only (provider controls content) E-platform + webinars + members area Teaching material + community activity

Possibly through Webinar feature

Teachers TV

In addition to looking critically at the websites and reviewing the content and functionalities, members of the team interviewed the site owners and/or the managing agents about their creation and management, their purposes and usage, the effectiveness of their functionalities, the reasons for their choices and the costs of development and management. This has enabled the study to:

Identify and list all functionalities and tools offered on similar platforms and assess their pros and cons in terms of EPALEs aims as well as feasibility, technology and cost; Review management arrangements as well as other possible activities and gather information on the cost and resources required for each; Identify good practice/examplar features in terms of content, features, management arrangements and communications; and Understand the process and challenges faced when creating a good product and setting up a new e-platform and identify lessons from established websites experiences.

While the interviews have usefully supplemented use and review of the sites, it was not possible to secure interviews with iNET and Teachers TV, who did not wish to participate in our research. Ten interviews were completed in total, which included a mixture of owners and managers. Interviewees from British Council Schools and Adult Learning Australia were not prepared to provide information about costs and estimates provided in terms of numbers of staff, time required for various functions and budgets have to be treated with some caution because they are for websites which may not be directly comparable with EPALE and they are only a small sample. As will be discussed in Chapter 3, many websites examined are delivered through a contract which includes several other requirements beyond developing, maintaining and managing the dynamic and static elements of the website. These, for example, include producing research and other reports and material, organising training, providing helpdesks for users, organising events and conferences and undertaking on-line and off-line dissemination and communication activities. It was not Feasibility of EPALE 15

usually possible for websites to provide detailed information on any itemised costs, such as the development of specific functions and features. 1.2.2 Consulting potential users To gain a wider view of the need for EPALE, potential end users were consulted through:

A short on-line survey distributed through Grundtvig National Agencies and the contacts held in DG EACs database of adult learning organisations. Respondents were asked to indicate the most useful features, their value to their work and the work of other potential users, and what contribution they would make to content and interactive features. The survey is included in Annex 1. This has been analysed by type of user; In depth interviews of different potential users in a range of countries covering needs, key gaps in electronic information within the adult education sector, the priorities among the proposed features and functionalities, views on specific content (training materials, news, languages), and maintenance requirements. The sample is set out in Table 1.2 below; A discussion at a National Agencies meeting in Brussels.

Table 1.2 Interviewees


Type of User EAEA Representative National Adult Education Association or National Council of Adult Education (or similar body) Academic / Researcher National Policy Maker (Education Ministry) No. of Interviews 2 1 Interviewee organisations (Country) EAEA (UK) (AT) NIACE (UK)

1 2

EUCEN (AT) Department of Education and Science, Further Education Section (IE) General Secretariat of Adult Education (GR) Instituto Beni Culturali (IT) Commune de Ferrara (IT) ECORYS (UK) Foundation for the Development of the Education System (PL) Alden Biesen (BE) Kriminalvarden / Prison and Probation Administration/Service (SE) Hordaland County Adult Education (NO) E.N.T.E.R Network (AT) EACEA (LT)

Regional / Local Policy Maker Grundtvig National Agency

2 2

Adult Education Provider

EACEA (Executive Agency) Total

1 15

There were 573 responses to the survey. Table 1.3 shows the responses by country of origin (as indicated by respondents). Responses were received from 33 countries; all LLP countries except Estonia, the spread across Europe suggesting it is broadly representative. The largest number of responses came from Belgium which included a relatively large number (13) of national and local policy makers though there were relatively good responses from most of the larger countries too (Germany, France, and UK with 35 or more responses each and Italy with 29).

Feasibility of EPALE 16

Table 1.3 Survey Responses by Country of Origin


Country Austria Belgium Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Israel Italy Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Turkey United Kingdom No Response Total No. of Responses 17 53 9 13 9 6 15 0 13 35 51 22 8 3 26 2 29 15 2 5 13 9 26 11 12 17 15 5 4 19 30 1 6 35 37 573 % of all responses 3% 9% 2% 2% 2% 1% 3% 0% 2% 6% 9% 4% 1% 1% 5% 0% 5% 3% 0% 1% 2% 2% 5% 2% 2% 3% 3% 1% 1% 3% 5% 0% 1% 6% 6% 100%

Table 1.4 below shows the type of respondents (respondents could select more than one type). Almost two thirds of responders indicated that they are providers of adult education, the main group of users envisaged for EPALE. A large number of respondents described their type as other, reflecting the range and diversity of stakeholders involved in adult Feasibility of EPALE 17

education. These organisations include national and European umbrella bodies in education and/or representing a particular group (e.g. national organisation for senior citizens), consultancies and evaluators, cultural organisations, museums and libraries and employment and welfare organisations. Table 1.4 Survey Responses by Role
Type of Provider Provider of Adult Education National or Local Authority Responsible for Adult Education LLP National Agency Body providing Guidance about learning and/or careers No. of % of Responses Total 368 72 16 72 64% 13% 3% 13% 16% 1% 13%

Higher Education Institution (Research in the field of Adult Education) 93 Media / Press Other 8 72

It was recognised that respondents could be tempted to indicate that all the potential features and functionalities would be useful so in the survey and interviews respondents were asked to indicate gaps, priorities and the extent of usefulness to their role. 1.2.3 Assessment A systematic assessment of costs, utility and risks was carried out drawing on the information obtained from the case study platforms, survey and interviews. This included an assessment of the features and functional options: considering each of these against the aims of the Grundtvig programme, the availability of alternatives, the value to potential target end users, the facility of achieving an effective tool, and the relative costs of development and management. To draw conclusions a rating system was devised to help to indicate priorities. It also included similar assessments of: Development and management arrangements (three broad models identified); Dissemination options (a menu of methods); and Languages (four potential models identified).

Because the development and management arrangements, dissemination and languages are influenced by choices over features and functions, the assessment of these narrowed down the options to provide several models/scenarios for the development proposal and costs.

1.3

Structure of this report


The rest of this report is as follows:

Chapter 2 presents potential users views on the need for EPALE and its potential features and functionalities based on an analysis of the survey and interview responses in the main; Chapter 3 presents the learning from other platforms experience about developing and maintaining such a platform effectively and ensuring it is effectively used; Chapter 4 contains an assessment of the features and functionalities; Chapter 5 contains an assessment of development, management and dissemination options; and Chapter 6 brings together the findings to address the key questions posed for this feasibility study and proposes the broad options and their implications. 18

Feasibility of EPALE

Feasibility of EPALE 19

Potential users views


In this chapter potential users views are presented and analysed drawing on the responses to the e-survey, the stakeholder interviews and the comments of National Agencies.

2.1

Features/content
Of the suggestions made about content, around three quarters of the survey respondents indicated they would use each of them because they could not find them elsewhere; around a quarter would not (Table 2.1 below). The breakdown of responses by type of provider is presented in Table A3.1 to Table A3.8 in Annex 3. The main differences are:

20% indicated that they found information on funding available elsewhere; 8% indicated that they do not need information on learning opportunities or good practice on adult education policies; A greater share of higher education/ research institutions (86%) and national/local authorities (78%) than education providers (76%) indicated that good practice and case studies on adult education policy would be useful to them; Almost a third of LLP National Agencies (27%) and over a fifth of national/local authorities (22%) indicated that they could find information about news elsewhere, compared to 14% across all responses; Information about learning opportunities for staff would be useful to a greater share of adult education providers (76%) compared to all responses (72%); A library of documents and a catalogue of useful links / bookmarks in adult education would be useful to the media/press (100% for both) and LLP national agencies (91% for both); fewer national/local authorities would find a document library (62%) or links catalogue (64%) useful.

Responses may reflect the level of knowledge of where such content can be currently found (National Agencies, Infonet). Comments were broadly that: Content must be easy to identify and find. This could be achieved through a clear structure of categories provided in drop down menus, through tag clouds (as in the example presented in Figure 2.1 below), though a powerful search function or, ideally, through all of these. Figure 2.1 Image of the data.gov.uk tag cloud

Feasibility of EPALE 20

Interviewees feel strongly that the platform must not become a depository of information or a complicated database (along the lines of EVE) where material is deposited and then forever lost behind complex search forms that fail to yield results when there are spelling mistakes, for example. The idea of a depository was felt to be a Web 2.0 concept which belongs to the previous decades. The platform should reflect the next generation which is open and directs users to other websites and sources (through links). The content must not reproduce material or tools that already exist. Over the years, both European-funded initiatives10 and national initiatives have created a wealth of tools and materials. One interviewee explained I keep coming across material in [my language] produced in [another country] that we didnt know about here. This must be true with other countries who share languages. It was suggested that if the platform is developed it should invest resources in the development stages in collecting, indexing, tagging with keywords and uploading the material or links to currently available material, so that it is not lost. The content would be restricted if it only drew on the LLP funded priorities. Adult learning activities are funded not only through the LLP and DG EAC but also through other DGs such as EMPL (through ESF), HOME (migration), SANCO (consumer initiatives) and ENV (environmental initiatives). Currently it is difficult to find information about projects that are not funded by the EU. Content must not necessarily be organised in a way to reflect EU funding streams. The distinction between informal adult education and vocational adult education is becoming increasingly blurred and therefore potentially unhelpful to learning providers and learners, as well as national policy makers.

Examples include materials produced by the EAEA, ERA, LLP Thematic Monitoring and Peer Learning Activities.

10

Feasibility of EPALE 21

Table 2.1 Potential Users Views on Type of Content


Survey Responses to Would your organisation use a European Electronic Platform to find information on the following?, percentage of total Content Information from Qualitative Interviews and Open Survey responses Yes - I can't find this information anywhere else I don't think so I can find the information I need somewhere else No - I don't need this information / it is not of interest to me

No response

Need to be practical examples that other providers can apply to their own situation Queries about their usefulness: we have been producing and collecting case studies for many years for European-funded projects. But I have to ask, who reads them? What do they do with them? I dont know how effective they are in disseminating good practice? Concerns about the selection of good practice: I think all projects should be presented. Not just the good ones. Others might want to learn from mistakes and not replicate what has already been tried. Also, how do you choose? You dont want to create an exclusive VIP lounge just for the good projects

Good practice and case studies on the delivery of adult education in European countries

79%

14%

4%

2%

Good practice and case studies on adult education policy in European countries

Summaries of new developments in and good practice in different countries would be useful to policy makers and representative bodies National Agencies usually provide this information.

76%

14%

8%

2%

Information on funding available and awards

Information about non-LLP opportunities is hard to access. Platform could be used as a forum where the AE sector could make suggestions about future funding areas

73%

20%

4%

3%

News on adult education in European countries

Infonet currently provides this function. The service was valued by its users

76%

14%

5%

4%

Feasibility of EPALE 22

Survey Responses to Would your organisation use a European Electronic Platform to find information on the following?, percentage of total Content Information from Qualitative Interviews and Open Survey responses Yes - I can't find this information anywhere else I don't think so I can find the information I need somewhere else No - I don't need this information / it is not of interest to me

No response

Should allow users to filter / search for events that interest them Calendar of Events in the field of adult education Quality control required (for example some NAs are more permissive about the types of events they advertise compared to others) Would this replace the Comenius and Grundtvig In-service Training Database? If so, then it could be redesigned to make searching easier If it will not replace the existing database then a link to the current resource will suffice do not replicate what is already been created Needs to be properly tagged and searchable. Library of documents on adult education Catalogue of useful links / bookmarks on adult education Library not just of documents but also of links to useful documents or tools (see below). Links to useful documents or tools should be integrated in the library of documents. Do not create separate index for links. 75% 17% 6% 2% 75% 13% 7% 4%

Learning opportunities for staff in European countries

72%

15%

8%

4%

79%

14%

4%

3%

Feasibility of EPALE 23

2.2

Functions
In the main, stakeholders were positive about all the functions proposed to them. Comments on each function were broadly that: Partner-finding tool: this was the function that most stakeholders mentioned spontaneously as a current gap that an EPALE may fill. Some said that no such tools exist while others said that there are a number of such tools but they do not work very well. They indicated that elements which contribute to a useful partner-finding tool include: very good filtering and searching functions, up-to-date information and well-defined subject areas. Calendar of Events: Interviewees mentioned that there are other calendars of events available and that EPALE should look to bring information together. Not all types of events would be of interest to everyone with too much information or too much irrelevant information reducing the usefulness of the calendar. Therefore the ability to filter, search and personalise the calendar would be valued by stakeholders. ePartnership Shared Space: some interviewees could identify potential that may arise from using this function, such as improving the quality of partnerships and reducing costs by eliminating the need for travel. Others, however, expressed concerns about virtual partnerships because they believe that successful partnerships require some degree of face to face contact. Simplicity and ease of use was seen as an important ingredient in encouraging take-up of this function. eLearning Space / Virtual Classrooms: these were described as being increasingly popular in adult education and becoming increasingly important because of the need to reduced travel costs. Providing such resources for free was suggested to potentially be a good selling point to attract users to EPALE. Downloadable resources: some interviewees mentioned examples of resources they are aware of created through European funding which have been lost to the sector because they are not readily available or because it is not easy to find them. They explained that it would be useful for EPALE to invest some time in collecting and categorising these resources in order to make them available. This was seen to be a more effective use of resources than EPALE creating new resources from scratch. Discussion Forums: some scepticism was expressed around discussion forums. Several stakeholders told us of their experiences with discussion forums provided by their own organisations or as part of a project they participated in which were that forums require a high degree of moderation. This is especially true if they are meant to provide accurate information and advice: one national agency reported that considerable resources are required to correct inaccuracies and wrong information posted on forums (for example around eligibility rules on funding). Furthermore, discussion forums often require active animation and encouragement activities in the form of the moderator posting questions, answering questions and responding to comments and setting up polls and other features. In addition to the functions listed above, several stakeholders suggested that a Pre and Post Event Tool would be useful. This tool would enable attendees of events to register and meet prior to the event, download preparatory material and then share learning and other material with event participants. They believed that such a function would enhance the quality of the event itself and improve dissemination. Some Grundtvig and other European funded projects currently provide such pre and post event networking, through their own websites or by creating a Facebook group or event11. However, there is no established tool or software used for this function at the moment and therefore this presents an opportunity for EPALE. It was further suggested that this function should be integrated with the calendar of events, although online discussions between attendees should remain in a private space and viewable only by other attendees.

Some participants prefer not to become members of Facebook and therefore do not use these functions when offered.

11

Feasibility of EPALE 24

Survey respondents have similar views (Table 2.2). As with the content fewer than 10% indicated that any of the proposed functions would not be useful to them. However there are differences in the extent that they would find different functions useful with between a half and three-quarters of respondents indicating some functions to be useful/very useful and between 15% and 28% indicating some functions to be not very/not useful. This is clearer when the ratios of percentages very useful/useful and not very/not useful are compared. This shows a ratio of over 4:1 for the calendar of events, over 3:1 for the resources for staff training, and over 2.5:1 for the partner finding tool and shared space but a ratio of a less than 1.5:1 for the members community and the discussion forum. Analysis by type of provider shows considerable differences in the usefulness of functions because of their organisations role. More specifically:

A greater share of adult education providers and higher education / research organisations would value a calendar of events and resources for staff training, compared to other types of users; 81% of higher education / research organisations described a partnership tool as useful or very useful, compared to 71% of all respondents; 82% of LLP National Agencies rate an ePartnership Shared tool to be useful or very useful, compared to 57% across all responses; an equally large share of LLP National Agencies give the same rating to an eLearning Space tool.

Table 2.2 Answers to How useful would this feature be to your organisation?, percentage of total.
Very useful -I would use it a lot, it would help me do my job better Value ratio (sum of columns 1 and 2 divided by sum of columns 3 and 4)

Function Calendar of events in the field of adult education Downloadable Resources for Teachers (such as lesson plans, course material, videos etc) Tool to find Partners in other countries Resources for staff training Downloadable Resources for Managers (such as on recruiting learners, bidding for funding etc) ePartnership Shared Online Space (for sharing resources

Useful - I would use it regularly, it would be a benefit to my work

Not very useful - I might use it occasionally but it is not critical to my work

Not useful - I will never use this feature

I don't know how useful this will No be response

4.3 39% 38% 15% 3% 3% 2% 2.2

38% 35% 34%

27% 36% 36%

21% 21% 17%

8% 4% 6%

4% 3% 4%

3% 2.8 1% 3.0 2% 2.4

32%

32%

18%

9%

6%

3% 2.5

30%

33%

18%

7%

9%

3%

Feasibility of EPALE 25

Function with partners) "Ask an Expert" feature with user comments and searchable lists of previous responses eLearning Space / Virtual Classroom Online Members Community Discussion Forum

Very useful -I would use it a lot, it would help me do my job better

Useful - I would use it regularly, it would be a benefit to my work

Not very useful - I might use it occasionally but it is not critical to my work

Not useful - I will never use this feature

I don't know how useful this will No be response

Value ratio (sum of columns 1 and 2 divided by sum of columns 3 and 4)

2.3

27% 26% 23% 21%

37% 31% 28% 28%

20% 19% 28% 28%

6% 13% 9% 11%

8% 8% 9% 8%

3% 1.8 3% 1.4 4% 3% 1.3

Source: GHK Online Survey

2.3

Participation / contribution
Stakeholders interviewed were hesitant about the extent of either their or others active involvement in such a platform. Most said I will wait and have a look at the platform before deciding what to share. Survey respondents were more positive about undertaking participative actions that require limited time commitment, such as uploading information about events, joining a partnerfinding tool and creating a profile in a secure community (Table 2.3). Fewer potential users stated that they would be willing to contribute to more time-consuming activities, such as uploading case studies and lesson plans. Translating content from or to their own language was the least likely participative action, although nearly 4 out of 10 respondents were still willing to do this. When compared to responses about functional usefulness the proportions who would actively participate do not all match up. Higher proportions say they would upload information about events and a profile for partner finding, for example, much lower for sharing lesson plans and other learning tools. LLP National Agencies were most willing to upload information about events with 91% indicating that they would do so. National/local policy makers were less willing to undertake any type of participative action proposed. Table 2.3 Answers to Please tell us whether you would be willing to do the following, percentage of total
Participative Actions Upload information about events you are organising Upload a profile of your organisation in a partner-finding tool Become a member of a secure community and create a profile Answer a question on a discussion forum Ask a question on a discussion forum Yes 84% 81% 75% 68% 68% No 13% 15% 22% 27% 27% No Response 3% 4% 3% 5% 5% Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%

Feasibility of EPALE 26

Participative Actions Make comments and submit feedback on news, articles, tools etc Create content such as news articles or case studies of your activities or policy developments in your country Use virtual classrooms / eLearning Space Upload photos and videos from your activities Upload and share lesson plans and other learning tools Translate content to your own language (from English or another language) Source: GHK Online Survey

Yes 65% 63% 60% 57% 57% 38%

No 30% 32% 35% 36% 37% 55%

No Response 5% 5% 5% 6% 6% 6%

Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%

Key factors influencing participation and contribution were time availability and what they would get out of it. As one interviewee explained people will not be logging on to this platform every day, several times a day. They will log on when they need information. You cannot expect it to replace Facebook or email. A survey respondent stated This electronic platform shouldn't add to our workload, require a permanent vigilance or overwhelm our inboxes. Potential participants clearly need a rationale to undertake an action and participate. Some organisations will grasp the opportunity to advertise their events and activities because they will gain from increased attendance at their events and boost their profile.

2.4

Languages
Stakeholders interviewed had mixed views about the languages in which the platform should be provided. Some told us that they believed that it should only be provided in English. Reasons for this include: Most people have a working knowledge of English; Multi-lingual websites are confusing and off-putting; Multi-lingual websites are slow to load and cumbersome to navigate; Translation takes time and is costly.

Many indicated that if English is used it can be more easily used if content is written in plain English and there is clear guidance on this. For content aimed at national policy makers and pan-European networks / representative organisations (such as EAEA, EPEA etc) it was broadly agreed that English would meet the needs of most users. Providing other content in French, German and Spanish was thought to cover the needs of the majority of users. However, for content aimed at adult education providers, some interviewees strongly supported the view that this should be provided in all or as many languages as possible. They explained that many providers in their countries and partners that they have met in other countries, especially from Eastern and Southern Europe, do not have adequate proficiency in English. Some may be able to navigate a website in English but would be unable or unwilling to digest complex information about policy or funding in English or to understand and translate materials for teaching and training. This view appears to be broadly confirmed by the answers provided to the online survey. We asked respondents in our e-survey to rank from 1 (most useful) to 10 (least useful) which features from a list would be most helpful if they were available in their own language. The results are presented in Table 2.4 below. These suggest that users mostly need to access text in their own language if it is lengthy and requires in-depth understanding of context and detail, such as case studies, resources for teaching and information about funding. They can assess text in English or another common language that is shorter, such as calendar entries and discussion forum contributions. Feasibility of EPALE 27

The differences between the actual average ranking scores are relatively small. But those with average rank scores of around 4 (good practice and case studies in adult education delivery and a partner finding tool) can be distinguished from those with an average ranking score of over 6 (ask an expert, discussion forum and calendar of events) in Table 2.4 below. The most significant differences between types of potential users are:

More AE providers have given high ratings to accessing downloadable resources for managers and teachers and resources for staff training in their own language, compared to other types of potential users; Higher education / research organisation and national/local authorities have given higher ratings to accessing good practice and case studies in both the delivery and practice of AE in their own language, compared to other types of potential users.

Table 2.4 Ranking of answers to which of the following features would be most helpful if provided in your own language?
Feature / Function Good practice and case studies on the delivery of adult education in European countries Tool to find Partners in other countries Information on funding available and awards Resources for staff training Good practice and case studies on adult education policy in European countries Downloadable Resources for Teachers (such as lesson plans, course material, videos etc) Downloadable Resources for Managers (such as on recruiting learners, bidding for funding etc) News on adult education in European countries "Ask an Expert" feature with user comments and searchable lists of previous responses Calendar of events in the field of adult education Discussion Forum Source: GHK Online Survey, 2011 Average Score 3.98 4.07 4.57 4.63 4.77 5.21 5.21 5.34 6.33 6.47 6.77 Overall rank (most useful to least useful) 1 2 3 4 5 6= 6= 8 9 10 11

2.5

Online Events/Training
Table 2.5 below shows that the majority of respondents to the online survey would be interested in participating in on-line events and training organised by EPALE. Only 14% would only do so if they were available in their own language (these respondents came from across 24 different countries thus not indicating any particular need for the provision of some languages over others). Table 2.5 Answers to would your organisation be interested in participating in online events and training organised through a European Electronic Platform for Adult Education?
Response Yes, even if they are only available in English Yes, but only if they are available in my language No No. of Responses 334 82 32 Percentage of total 58% 14% 6%

Feasibility of EPALE 28

Response I don't know No response Total Source: GHK Online Survey, 2011

No. of Responses 122 3 573

Percentage of total 21% 1% 100%

Reasons provided by those who indicated that they were not interested were:

I do not need it (12) Lack of time (10) Lack of agreement from my manager (1) Lack of IT resources (2) Concern about the quality of the training (2) Prefer face-to-face contact (2)

The topic/content of the training is the most common factor which would attract potential users to online training and events (Table 2.6) followed by the low cost. In the open response to this question, potential users listed a large number of topics that would be of interest to them. These ranged from clarification sessions about the filling in of funding applications and forms, to pedagogical theories and methods such as group management and conflict theory, to specific areas of learning such as arts and crafts and sustainable building techniques. Table 2.6 Answers to "what key factors would make online training and events attractive to you"
Factor A topic that interested me Free / low cost To network with other participants To learn from other participants Length and timing of event Source: GHK Online Survey, 2011 No. of Responses 460 370 294 257 210

Other factors to make such events attractive identified include:

2.6

High quality / delivered by good experts; Provision of certification / recognition for CPD; Clear objectives and demonstrable applications to my work; Technology and software used should be easily accessible by all (including for those with slow internet connections and low specification technologies); Technological support especially if something goes wrong during the training session.

Dissemination / Use of social media


Potential users identified Grundtvig National Agencies as well as other national bodies, such as government ministries or adult education agencies, as their key sources of information and engagement with other adult education providers and the sector more widely. Some are felt to be good sources of information and also have good ways to promote the availability of new information. Most stakeholders felt that the Commission would have to invest in dissemination at the outset because people working in AE dont feel a connection with things going on at the European level. To address this, the platform will have to work very hard to promote the website. This could perhaps mean advertising and requiring proactive promotion by National

Feasibility of EPALE 29

Agencies (such as through creating local content, summarising policy developments and providing training and support to potential users of the platform). Most organisations and staff in the adult education sector rely on e-newsletters for keeping up to date with news and updates (Table 2.7). Many told us that they believe that welltargeted focused newsletters are also the best way to communicate with the sector because they remind users that the platform exists. Furthermore, well-written newsletters provide summaries of news items and allow people to access further information on the platform itself through a hyperlink. They suggested that newsletters on different topics should be produced (for example, on developments in adult literacy and numeracy or on migrant education) on a regular basis. Social media are not so widely used though Facebook and Linkedin are used by over a third of the survey respondents. Some stakeholders explained that their organisations are trying to use social media to advertise events and for post-event sharing of learning between participants, but that it is usually younger colleagues that use them. Some respondents and interviewees expressed very strong opinions against the use of commercially closed platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ because they believe that a public platform should only use open source or open code tools. Others did not wish to mix their personal lives with the work lives by using Facebook for work. Facebook is seen by some to distract users from the main platform, rather than attract more users to it. Beyond newsletters, there appears to be more potential to use RSS feeds to disseminate news and updates. Guidance and/or training for adult education providers on how to effectively use social media for the purpose of promoting their work and/or engaging learners was identified as being a useful service that EPALE could potentially provide, however. Table 2.7 Answers to Question on tools for dissemination used and preferred
Tick the box if you would use any of the following to receive news and updates from a European Adult Learning Platform 33% 18% 16% 27% 16%

Social Media Tool

Tick the box if you currently use any of the following to receive news or updates 79% 43% 34% 22% 19%

I don't know 4% 24% 29% 32% 36%

Email newsletter Facebook LinkedIn RSS feed (news and blog aggregator) Twitter Calendar Synchronisation tool (such as Ical) Other Delicious Stumbleupon

13% 5% 5% 2%

23% 5% 9% 7%

35% 42% 50% 53%

Source: GHK Online Survey

Feasibility of EPALE 30

2.7

Need and rationale for a platform


As the responses to the survey show, the majority of respondents are generally positive about the concept of a pan-European platform for the adult learning sector. This is supported by the stakeholders in the main. This is because:

Perceived low visibility of the adult education sector: it could help to raise the profile of the sector within government at all levels; Large diversity of providers in the sector: it could provide an opportunity to bring the many different providers and other stakeholders together in one place; Many organisations across Europe do not currently participate in or benefit from European-funded initiatives: it could provide a means of engaging them and supporting them beyond formal project funding structures; Capacity building required for the sector to contribute more to up-skilling adults: it could improve knowledge and skills of educators and other staff including the use of ICT and elearning as well as sharing teaching practices; Information about adult education and for the sector is available but is not found in one place: it could become a one stop shop for finding everything, or a springboard for finding out more.

A few have some reservations about its development. This includes:

The availability of some content on another platform: some respondents and interviewees mentioned other websites (such as Adam, Eve, European Shared Treasure, Infonet, KSLLL and Facebook) which they believed provided some of the needs proposed for EPALE; Too general: there is no need for a website that offers everything but specialises in nothing; instead smaller websites that gathered resources and offered support to educators in specific fields (such as consumer education, environmental education etc) or for particular target groups (such as disabled people, migrants, prisoners etc) would be a better solution; Too EU-centric: some respondents fear that a Commission product would only reflect EU priorities, funding opportunities and funded activities; Lack of capacity in the sector: some respondents, especially from Southern and Eastern European countries, suggest that adult education providers would not be able to access such a platform because they lack technical skills and knowledge, including language skills. One interviewee stated some providers I know in my country dont know how to switch on a computer.

It was emphasised by many interviewees that with a multitude of information sources currently available on the internet, there must be a clear rationale for the platform. Interviewees told us that an answer as to why should I visit this website? needs to be immediately obvious to anyone who accesses the front page.

2.8

Key messages emerging


The survey findings suggest that:

Many stakeholders hope that EPALE could raise the profile of the sector and be a one stop shop or springboard to the sectors information resources but it needs a clear reason to be a tool that the potential users would use; While a substantial majority of respondents are generally positive about the suggested content of EPALE, a smaller proportion (around 15-20%) suggest that they would not use it because other sources are available. A few stakeholders have cautioned that it runs the risk of being all things to all men unless it has clear functions and being too focused on EU funded activities;

Feasibility of EPALE 31

About three quarters of respondents indicate that they would use each of the features suggested but many cautioned that the content would need to be identifiable (welltagged) and searchable and linked to other platforms; Respondents have more varied views on the functions suggested with much higher proportions indicating that a calendar of events, resources for staff training, and a tool to find partners in other countries would be more useful than a members community and a discussion forum, for example; A function to enable event attendees to share material with other participants before and after was suggested by quite a few respondents which could be part of a calendar of events function; Adult education providers are slightly less interested in adult education policy and more interested in calendars of events and staff training resources; The National Agencies and government bodies are more likely to have information from other sources and need links and some resources less than adult education providers; National Agencies are significantly less interested in epartnership shared space and learning space than adult education providers; Respondents would be much more willing to undertake participative activities that required less time commitments, such as uploading event information and joining a partner finding tool (over 80%) than translating content (under 40%) or uploading lesson plans and other learning tools (under 60%) from which they would not personally gain; There are mixed views about the extent of content available in EU languages. Some strongly believe that English would be adequate especially if plain English guidance were applied; others that all EU languages are needed if the platform is to engage adult education providers in Eastern and Southern Europe. This appears to depend on the content and functions; with perhaps greater need for multi-lingual provision for good practice information and for partner finding tools than for discussion forums and information for policy makers; There is considerable interest in on-line events and training even if they are only in English; though this is a lower proportion than for most of the suggested functions that respondents would find useful/very useful (under 60%); As with other content and functions, this would have to be delivered in a way to attract users; Email newsletters are used by three-quarters of respondents and many would prefer this for keeping up to date with the platforms content and functions. Some have suggested targeted newsletters as well for specific areas of adult learning; There are very mixed views on other social media tools but less contention over RSS feeds than Facebook for example.

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Learning from the experience of other websites


In this chapter what has been learnt from the experience of other websites is described and assessed. It draws on the critical review of 11 established websites with platform functionalities and some similar aims to EPALE and the interviews of website owners and managing agents about their development, management and impact, including the costs and challenges. It also draws on the interviews of potential users where they made comments on the development and implementation of platforms from their experience.

3.1

Other platforms
Most of the websites reviewed did not start life as web entities. They are the on-line faces of organisations or projects so they are one of the activities that facilitate and enable the dissemination of knowledge, understanding and skills. These cannot always be disentangled in relation to costs and resourcing. In this section there is a brief overview of each of the platforms. The standard information collected on these platforms is summarised in a table in Annex 4.

3.1.1

eTwinning.net eTwinning.net began as an action within the eLearning programme following a request of the EU Council in Barcelona in 2002 for EU resources to be directed to facilitating networking between schools. Initially, the website focused on enabling schools to find a partner to carry out an eTwinning project online and to communicate information arising from these projects. With the emergence of the social internet, the eTwinning action and website has evolved to place greater emphasis on other networking opportunities beyond projects. Teachers create a profile on the eTwinning portal to become members of the eTwinning community. Once they are members they can access the eTwinning desktop which allows the member to search for partners and participate in groups of teachers with similar interests and share resources. If teachers choose to set-up a project then they are allocated a TwinSpace and a Project Diary. These tools help the managers of the projects with the setup of the project, with sharing documents and learning resources and with communicating through chat or messages. TwinSpace also allows students to participate through a pupils corner where pupils can post messages to students in other schools (the post boards are viewable by teachers). Projects have the option of becoming public which makes their work viewable on the internet to anyone. Projects have to be approved by the eTwinning National Support Service (NSS) and receive a label of recognition if they have received approval. Projects can also apply to their NSS for quality marks and prizes. The best, prize winning projects from across Europe participate in an annual eTwinning camp. In addition to the above functions, members can download and rate resources (such as kits and modules) developed by the eTwinning team which provide pedagogical tools to enable eTwinning projects. Members can also upload and share learning resources from eTwinning to the Learning Resource Exchange website via a widget and participate in Learning Events which are short, intensive training events on a variety of topics. They usually require 4-5 days of intensive online activity followed by 4-5 days of reflection and personal work which are completed in the learners own time. Members can apply for events, participate in the online activities and download resources through a function called LearningLab. The development of the central eTwinning.net website was undertaken by a contractor, European Schoolnet, chosen through an open call for tender. The first contract ran between 2004 and 2007. It was renewed, with the same contractor, in 2007. The annual cost of the contract is 1 million per year, of which the cost of maintaining the website is approximately 250,000. The Commission has formal meetings with the contractor five times a year, although ad hoc communication is more frequent than that. The work programme for the contractor is determined annually. However there is enough flexibility within the contract to allow work to respond to needs/requirements of the Commission, the NSS network and users themselves.

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This contract does not just involve the further development and maintenance of the website but also the provision of a range of services to support the implementation of the eTwinning action. The range of services includes: coordinating the NSS network, developing pedagogical content (such as kits and modules for projects), offering a helpdesk service to teachers participating in eTwinning, organising and designing teacher training (including online learning events but also professional development workshops), communication and promotions (such as organising conferences, camps and prizes) and undertaking monitoring activities (such as selecting and identifying good practice). The other activities create content to showcase on the website and bring users to the website. In addition to the central support contract, the Commission also part-funds the NSS network. The NSS network members help teachers and schools in their countries to participate in eTwinning and deliver activities such as training, help and support, and communications and engagement. NSS also approves members and projects applications to ensure that they are real teachers in real schools. Some NSS members maintain their own websites and produce their own pedagogical and other material and reports. NSSs actively encourage and train (hand hold) teachers to participate in eTwinning and, according to the Commission, are key elements in the success of the action. The overall budget for NSS is 9 million a year of which approximately 80% is EU-funding, with national ministries providing 20% of costs. The website owner explained that the success of eTwinning was unexpected. When the action was first conceived in 2002, many believed that teachers/schools would not participate in activities that did not involve receiving a grant or funding. In reality, the opposite has been achieved with the eTwinning website receiving between 20,000 and 30,000 hits a day and the number of registered users multiplying by 1.7 every year. From the website owners experience, teachers are willing to participate because they can see both pedagogical benefits (language, ICT, geography, subject-specific skills) and benefits from participating in a transnational initiative adding to the status of the school. Teachers are more likely to participate in countries where the NSS is particularly active, where there is enthusiasm for European projects, where the teacher population is young (and therefore willing to engage with ICT) and where the school system allows teachers the time and flexibility to participate in initiatives beyond delivering a core curriculum through traditional lessons. Based on the experience of eTwinning, the website owner believed that an electronic platform for the adult education sector could also become popular. However, key differences between the target groups may make the EPALE venture more challenging: school teachers are a well-defined group compared to adult educators. It is relatively easy for NSS to verify the identities of prospective members in their countries whereas it may be more difficult for adult education. Similarly, schools understand what other schools in a different country do the differences in structures of adult learning may be too great for networking to work. Finally, the website owners were surprised at how much school teachers have responded to non-monetary award systems of prizes and quality marks. 3.1.2 SALTO-YOUTH SALTO-YOUTH is a network of eight Resource Centres (RCs) supporting the youth work funded by the Commissions Youth in Action programme. SALTO stands for Support, Advanced Learning and Training Opportunities. There are four thematic SALTO RCs (on cultural diversity, training and cooperation, inclusion, and participation) which produce resources (reports, documents) and undertake activities to build capacity in the youth sector and raise the quality of learning. There are three regional SALTO RCs whose role is to run activities (such as training), promote participation in these activities and enable organisations and individuals in the sector to participate and gain access to European support. The eighth SALTO RC (called Information) works behind the scenes to support the network by maintaining the SALTO intranet and facilitating sharing of internal information. While the SALTO-YOUTH network started life in 2000, a website for the entire network (rather than individual SALTOs) was launched in 2004 to be the online presence for SALTOs. It initially served as a depository of the documents, reports, tools and good practice produced by the SALTOs as well as a medium for advertising events, training opportunities Feasibility of EPALE 34

and disseminating news and funding opportunity information. It has recently (in 2011) evolved to offer more dynamic functions because it was felt that the previous website did not offer the users sufficient opportunities for interaction. Now, as described below, a personal dashboard and a partner finding tool has been added to allow users to participate, network and showcase their projects, tools and skills. The website was developed and is led by the SALTO Training and Cooperation RC, which is provided by the German NA for the Youth in Action programme. The German NA commissioned a web development company to undertake initial development of the website and to host it on a secure server. There is a specified staff member at SALTO Training and Cooperation who is responsible for taking decisions about technical issues at the set-up and maintenance phase he is advised by a working group of staff from other SALTO RCs. Each Salto RC is responsible for developing and uploading content for the website for their own sections. For example, SALTO Inclusion RC is responsible for developing content for the Inclusion section of the website. Responsibilities for specific features are split between the RCs; for example SALTO Information RC is responsible for the Otlas partner finding tool while the SALTO South and Eastern Europe RC is responsible for the good practice database. Up to 25 staff across the network have a licence to upload content to the website. It is estimated that 2 or 3 full-time equivalent staff work on the website. The yearly cost of hosting the website is approximately 2,160 and the cost of the CMS for 25 staff is 9,600. Additional costs (such as development of databases, design, new / more secure programme coding) are decided on a yearly basis; web engineers are contracted by the hour for these tasks. The Commission works closely with the SALTOs and provides suggestions and feedback about the website; however the relationship is informal rather than contractual. As such, very few resources are needed from the Commissions side to manage the website. For the Commission, the SALTO website represents an example of what can be achieved with little money. Functions currently available on the SALTO website are:

SALTO Publications: repository of documents produced by the eight SALTOS, SALTO network reports and evaluation reports; European Training Calendar: users can search for a training event and registered users can offer a training event; Toolbox for Training: repository of training tools, registered users can upload their own tools, rate other tools and make comments ; Good Practice Projects Database: users can search for projects by priority theme, keyword, partner country (including a map) and project type; Otlas Partner Finding Tool: users can search for potential partners by location, programme action or keyword; organisations can also register and share their own profile; Trainers Online for Youth (TOY): online community for youth trainers; trainers upload a profile which includes a description of what services they can offer.

All the above are supported by MySALTO, a personal dashboard for registered users. Once a user becomes a member they can use MySALTO to upload a profile on Otlas, upload tools, make training offers and upload a profile on TOY. While these tools are very new12, they are already proving popular amongst users: there are 1665 organisations registered on Otlas and 150 trainers registered on TOY. The website as whole receives over 1,000,000 hits a year. 3.1.3 ELearningEuropa.info ElearningEuropa.info aims to increase and improve the use of IT in the classroom and especially of e-learning. It is owned by the Commission as part of DG EACs, Skills and
Otlas was developed and launched last year by SALTO Information RC through a contract with a website development company. It is still being tested. It is estimated that the cost of development was under 10,000.
12

Feasibility of EPALE 35

Qualifications Unit. The website was launched in 2003 and was developed by PAU Education, after winning an open call for tender. The initial contract ran from 2003 to 2008 and included development of the website, its content and its features and management and maintenance for five years. In 2008, the contract was retendered for another five years and was again won by PAU. The second contract required updating the website to include up-todate dynamic functions such as an on-line community. The reason for this development was to make the website more user-centred by providing tools for participation, sharing and discussion. Functions currently available on ElearningEuropa.info are:

Repositories of articles, news and resources; ranging from academic to practical summaries, users can browse, filter by area of interest or search by tag word, they can also provide a rating; Database of projects: users can filter by country, programme and area of interest or search by tag word, they can also provide a rating it is not a depository of best or good practice; European event agenda: users can filter by country, city and area of interest, search by tag word and provide a rating; TV Channel: Collection of videos about ICT and education provided through links to video hosting sites (such as YouTube and vimeo); Communities (Discussion Forum): Internet forum with discussions around themes, areas of interest projects, events etc; People tool: Users can upload a profile which includes a short description, country, profession and personal website. Members are awarded kudos points according to their activities in contributing to discussion forums, suggesting new materials and rating content. The aim of this tool is serve as a professional network rather than a formal partner finding tool; Blogs: Registered users can write a short blog post for uploading onto this section of the website; Elearning Papers13: digital journal on ICT in education across Europe.

Elearning papers is an on-line journal published five times a year. It is the most popular feature of the website. It includes an editorial, articles, interviews and/or reviews. Quality assurance for elearning papers is organised in the same way as other academic journals: there is an editorial board made up of experts in the field and the EC project officer. All are volunteers and are appointed for a year. Existing members of the editorial board may suggest new members, usually well-known experts in the field and with a view to providing a balance of expertise on the topics covered. The EC project officer has a final say in approving the composition of the board. The editorial board chooses topics for each issue, issues a call for papers on that issue and then selects the best articles for inclusion based on a peer review assessment (peer reviewers may be members of the editorial board or external peer-reviewers). The review criteria are:

Innovation level: Does the article offer a landmark contribution to the field Connection with call for papers: Does the article reflect the topic expressed in the call? Content: Is the article an excellent, significant piece of research? Presentation: Is the article prepared for publication according to academic standards?

Registered users can shape the content of the website by proposing a new article, news item, resource, project, event, video or blog post through submitting a short online form. The editorial board has established some guidelines on selection of content: that is to focus on the material covering the range of topics of interest to elearningeuropa.info. The database of projects is not a selection of best or even good practice but aims to give users access to a wide selection of what is available regarding ICT education in Europe.

13

www.elearningpapers.eu

Feasibility of EPALE 36

The overall value of PAUs current contract is 300,000 a year, which includes the cost of developing new features. In terms of staff, the PAU team has 9 some of whom are part time. The Commission estimates that one officer spends about 3% of their time managing this contract though this would be significantly greater during re-tendering. PAUs contract includes not only website-related development and maintenance costs but also includes producing e-learning reports and papers (estimated 40% of time) and undertaking on-line and off-line dissemination and communication activities (estimated 60% of time). Elearningeuropa.info features a particularly strong discussion forum community tool with many subgroups and discussion threads which are very well used. The largest online group has 800 members. Both the owner and manager of the website believed that the level of activity in these groups is related to the strong off-line relationships that individuals in these communities have developed. The most actively supported communities have grown out of EU-funded initiatives which continue their lives on the internet. The owner explained It is not the technology or the technicalities of the portal that make it work but the communities behind it. And that requires communities that are engaged and interested and that it is not easy...it has taken years to build up. The website manager further explained that the dissemination team spend considerable time in making people engaged and interested. For example, they actively promote the on-line community at events so that participants make the connection between the on-line and off-line activity. They also make personal contact with users who make suggestions about content to encourage them to further contribute to the website and to the community forums. 3.1.4 European Infonet European Infonet AE was a Grundtvig network which aimed to provide information about current developments in adult education from European countries and at the EU level. It is managed by Akademie Klausenhof and maintains a network of around 25 correspondents who contribute articles, news items, interviews and other content. Funding for Infonet ended in September 2011, since when it has only maintained a basic information service. The initial perceived target audience for the website was editors of educational publications. The idea was to allow people with an interest in education, as well as journalism and editing, to share information and to keep updated with what was happening in other countries. The target group changed over time because people with a general interest in adult education visited the website. As such, both the layout and the content of the website were redesigned to make it more friendly and readable by the general public. The original website was coded by an external contractor in 2005. The cost for this was about 25,000. Initial set-up also required the work of two people from an in-house team, both spending approximately a third of their time on this. Tasks completed in house included developing content and undertaking some of the technical set-up. The owner/manager investigated commissioning all the hosting to an external contractor but decided against this because the cost (500 per month for the duration of the project) was too high for the projects budget. Maintenance of the website is now done in-house by Akademie Klausenhof: one employee devotes about a third of their time to editing and adding content, managing the network of experts/authors, responding to queries and tweaking basic aspects of the website design. The exception to this is security for which the coordinator pays an external contractor 30 a month. Content is developed by a network of authors/experts: the cost of author fees is about 10,000 a year. Other than the website content described above, the only other features provided by Infonet are a downloadable newsletter and a (static) database of European journals on adult education. A discussion forum was initially trialled but it was discontinued because there was very low usage. Website statistics show that the website attracts around 4,000 unique visitors a month, the majority of which come through search engines. Around 10% of these are extensive users who are experts in the field. There are 4,500 subscribers to the newsletter and each newsletter is downloaded around 30,000 times a year. Infonet was well known among the Feasibility of EPALE 37

stakeholders interviewed and was mentioned by respondents to the online survey. Users told us that European Infonet fulfilled its aims well; namely providing news and information about policy developments in Europe and at a European level. 3.1.5 Learning Resource Exchange Learning Resource Exchange (LRE) is, according to the website coordinator, not a portal but infrastructure for the repository of content. The aim of the website is to showcase the digital learning resources created by Ministries of Education and other content providers/developers (regions, municipalities and other educational content and tools providers from both the public and private sectors) and share these with users in different countries. The LRE website is controlled by EUN Partnership aisbl, the legal name for European Schoolnet. European Schoolnet is a network of 30 Ministries of Education in Europe and beyond. LRE was developed by European Schoolnet and its supporting Ministries of Education as a result of work in a number of Commission-funded projects (particularly CELEBRATE, CALIBRATE and MELT). This resulted in the launch of the LRE as a publicly available service in December 2008. Parts of the service, for example the activity around determining the characteristics of digital learning tools which can travel well, are now funded through Commission-funded projects eQNET and ASPECT. The content has changed over time as different providers have come on board or left the initiative whether providers participate is largely driven by the requirements of the funding streams secured. There are currently ten paying members who provide content. LRE was initially managed by the European Schoolnet Steering Committee, where the Ministries-Members are represented. Since 2010, a LRE Subcommittee was set-up to define the strategy and operational rules of the LRE and to manage its ongoing development. The Subcommittee allows content providers other than Ministries to have a say. The LRE Subcommittee has a agreed a set of regulations14 which guide the responsibilities of both European Schoolnet and the content providers. The initial website design was undertaken by an external contractor and cost 12,000. LRE also invested 100,000 upfront in reusable website architecture and 10,000 for translation software. The ongoing maintenance costs are low: each month a total of 6 to 9 working days are spent on the website (divided between three team members). This includes security, moderation and maintenance. Due to the initial investment in reusable architecture, the team can use their in-house skills to make any changes to the website that are required without returning to the external contractor. LRE also invested in automated translation software at the point of website design. This is discussed in more detail in section 3.2.7. LRE does not create or host its own digital resources. Instead, it provides links to resources hosted on developers and content providers websites. It is up to the content providers to ensure that the content meets the needs of schools and school teachers the LREs role is to ensure that users can easily access this content. A key task for the maintenance team is to test that the links to the providers content work. This task is part of the responsibility of the software engineer (who works part-time for LRE). The main functions/features offered by LRE are: Depository of digital learning resources: these include both downloadable resources and online resources; some of the resources are hosted on LRE but the majority are linked to providers websites. It can be searched by keyword, country, subject area and content provided. There is also a tag cloud. Users can make comments about learning resources (although very few choose to do so); Discussion forum: where users can have discussions (it only has 27 posts and is therefore not well used);
14

http://lreforschools.eun.org/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=10970&folderId=12073&name=DLFE-201.pdf

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Member profile: Users who register can tag, rate and social bookmark resources. They can also create a public profile which allows other members to follow them and get an update on their preferences. The member profile section could theoretically be used as a partnership finding tool (although it was not created for this purpose).

Because the website is to showcase content created by different providers the success of the website is not judged by the content of the resources (this is out of the platforms control) but by the use of downloaded material. The extent of this is not currently measured. Most traffic to the website comes from Google and the origin of users is related to the languages in which the content is provided. For example, there was an increase in visits from Brazilian users when the Portuguese ministry joined the initiative and Portuguese content was made available. LRE does not undertake any dissemination or advertising activities. It also does not have a strategy to increase visits or numbers of downloads. 3.1.6 Scientix Scientix.eu aims to share good practice and know-how in science education across the European Union. It collects teaching materials and research reports from European science education projects financed by the European Union under the 6th and 7th Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development (DG RTD), DG EAC and various national initiatives. The target audience is teachers, researchers, parents and anyone with an interest in science education. The Scientix project started in 2009 and the website was launched later that year. DG RTD is the owner of the website. It is managed by European Schoolnet who won the open call for tender to deliver the service, develop the website, maintain and manage it. An external subcontractor was commissioned to undertake the initial design and set-up of the website itself. The one-off cost for this was between 30,000 and 40,000. Usability of the website was tested by a teacher panel. They were paid to review content material and help with local dissemination. Testing usability with teachers showed that teachers are not very used to websites: this led to website design that is straight-forward and simple to understand by the user and for guidance to be provided for every function available. The budget for the project overall is 1.6million over 3 years which includes managing and maintaining the website, organising conferences, workshops, presentations and online courses, undertaking dissemination activities and liaising with the translators and the teacher panel. Estimated break-down of the costs over the 3 years are: just under 1million for staff (a team of 3 full-time staff, others on ad-hoc basis and the fee for the teachers panel), approximately 300,000 for conferences, approximately 350,000 for translation and around 30,000 for advertising, communication and dissemination. Functions/features currently available on Scientix.net are: Depository of projects: can be filtered by country, topic, target groups, programme, start year and end year; Depository of resources: Divided into teaching materials, reports library, and training courses. These can be filtered by subject, language and age range. It is also possible to perform a keyword search. Users can also request a translation of the resource in their own language (this is discussed further in 3.2.7); News: contains the Scientix newsletter, as well as other news such as on World Teachers Day; EU contest for Young Scientists; Space Scoop Camp 2011; Conference: summary of and photos from the latest Scientix European Conference; Calendar of events listed by date. There is also a list where one can also filter by country, topic, type of event, target groups and language; Community: users can fill in their profiles as well as contact information. Users can add other users as friends who can then see when they are online and chat to (instant messenger function). There are currently 1099 users; Discussion forum: registered users can discuss science education topics (currently 109 posts across 35 categories); Moodle (Virtual Learning Environment): registered users can participate in on-line training courses and add their own training course. Feasibility of EPALE 39

Scientix collects and distributes information about past and present science education projects carried out in Europe. Priority is given to projects funded by the European Commission but other publicly funded projects are also accepted. Projects must provide accurate information about project goals, research and results. Preferably they also provide links to public reports; any resources are displayed in the resources section. The website managers recognise that the discussion forums are not as popular as they would like. It requires active animation / engagement from the team, for which they do not have the resources. Similarly, the instant message function is not widely used; the current user group will not engage with online chat unless they have met in real life. A user survey and feedback from the teacher panel has shown that users want more teacher generated content. The website manager appreciates that the current website is top down, rather than community led. The current contract does not enable teacher-led content. However, there are thoughts to include this in the new contract to be commissioned in 2012. 3.1.7 CORDIS The Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) aims to facilitate transfer of knowledge and information between European researchers and among the European research community. It is owned and managed by DG RTD. CORDIS principally aims to:

Facilitate participation in European research and take-up activities; and Improve exploitation of research results with an emphasis on sectors crucial to Europe's competitiveness.

The website has been operational since 1990 and has recently undergone an upgrade to include a partners space. Features and functions currently available on CORDIS are:

Information about news, events and funding; Depository of projects: results, reports and stories about projects funded by DG RTD (all projects funded by the latest research frameworks and previous research programmes since 1990 are included in this depository); Partner finding: allows registered members to browse a database and search for research partners. Following a recent upgrade, users can now add researchers as friends and write comments on their public profile; Go local: filters the site to show news, projects and researchers active in your country.

The recent upgrade to the partner finding tool has increased the popularity of the tool: there are now 6,000 users compared to 3,000 before the change. CORDIS receives about 150,000 unique visitors a month, measured by IP address. At the time of interview they had received 2.9million visits in 2011 and expected 3million by the end of the year. The figure for pages consulted was 21million. The website is managed and monitored by the DG RTD publication unit who employ an internal team of 16 staff. They also commission five separate sub-contractors to deliver services related to the website. The overall budget for CORDIS is 7.9million per year which covers all five contracts. Keeping the website up-to-date is outsourced to a contractor who executes the core teams editorial decisions. Assessment and moderation of dynamic content is handled by both the internal team and a sub-contractor. In practice, the internal team quality assure and sub-edit dynamic content to ensure that there is no commercial activity and then pass on the content to the sub-contractor for uploading. The website owner estimated that the budget is broken down as follows:

40% on developing editorial content, which includes translation costs of 500,000 per year; 25% on project management, overheads and intrusion testing; 35% on software (ongoing license fees) and hosting charges.

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The development of the partners social networking platform is estimated to have cost approximately 500,000. This included 300,000 for start-up costs which went directly to a sub-contractor and the costs of initial and ongoing testing. There are other costs which are absorbed by the DG RTD budget, such as for dissemination and events. In the past, the website was managed and updated by a single contractor (rather than the five contractors used presently). The website owners moved to this arrangement of multiple contractors because they felt that the single-contractor arrangement suffered from lack of transparency and concerns about quality. As everything was included in the single-contract, the owners were not able to ensure that every aspect required by the contract was taking place and that the contractor was not cutting corners. The present arrangement allows the owners to parcel out different aspects in distinct, smaller contracts. This has eliminated reliance on a single-contractor. It also enables the owners to terminate or not renew contracts with particular providers if there are concerns about quality this was not as easy with a single-contractor. It has also made monitoring of each contract easier for the owners; although managing and coordinating the five different contractors requires more time from the central team. Similarly, while not renewing a contract (or the threat of not renewing) with an established contractor helps in driving up quality, it also requires additional resources from the central team in planning for the handover between contractors to ensure that there is no delay in resumption of service as usual. The website owners describe public procurement pressures as one of the biggest constraints they face. There is pressure to award contracts to the lowest price bid, even though they would often prefer paying more for a better service. They advise reducing costs and reliance on contractors by hosting EPALE on Commission servers (which allows drawing on internal support) and by developing IT expertise in house if possible. 3.1.8 iNet iNET (International Networking for Educational Transformation) aims to support schools to transform education through the sharing of best practice and innovation. It is owned and managed by The School Network, the Specialists Schools and Academies Trust which is an independent, not-for-profit organisation based in the UK. iNET was launched in 2004 and is a membership organisation with over 5,600 members in 35 countries, including most secondary schools in England. Member schools have to pay a joining fee to access the content of the website, as well as other features of the service. The membership fee depends on which country the school is based in and the school size. The standard fee for a school in 2010/11 was 175 although this is higher for secondary schools in England (as they can access a greater range of materials and support). Functions available on the iNet website are:

Partner finding tool: allows users to find and communicate with other schools in the network and organise a variety of educational activities for their students; Calendar of events: information about real world events such as one day workshops and seminars delivering training to teachers and international conferences on particular themes; Educator online conferences: Teachers, school leaders and academics are invited to submit presentations and case studies these may be written papers, audio or video presentations. Subjects have included practical case studies, such as describing the development of a drop-in health facility, and more theoretical subjects such as students as agents of democratic renewal in Chile.15; Student online conferences: Like the educator conferences, these centre on materials submitted in advance by participants in this case written pieces, pictures, presentations, videos or audio recordings to explain their point of view about teaching and learning and their role as a global citizen. Subjects have included digital literacy,

15

A full list of past conferences can be found here: http://www.ssat-inet.net/en-gb/resources/pages/olc.aspx

Feasibility of EPALE 41

students as global entrepreneurs and climate change as well as more informal topics such as what do you do for fun?16 Depository of publications: reports on education themes; Snapshots of projects: highlighting innovative education projects around the world; Case study archives: highlighting good practice in schools around the world, users are able to submit their own case studies; Opportunities for student collaboration: iNET organise worldwide competitions and online conferences to allow students to develop an understanding of other cultures and contexts. These include online debates about global citizenship and the role of ICT in education and life, a digital art competition and virtual gallery, a website building competition and a student voice (how can students have a say in their education).

In addition to the services available on the website, iNET produce a range of publication reports, deliver online and offline conferences for teachers and students, training activities for teachers and organise study tours to learn from educational practices in other countries. There are additional charges for participating in these activities. It was not possible to interview the owners and/or managers of iNET. As a result no information was collected about the costs and the relative usage of the features offered by the website. 3.1.9 TES TES.co.uk is the website of the Times Education Supplement (TES). TES is a weekly magazine published in the UK since 1910. It was initially published by The Times newspaper, however the magazine, website and brand is now owned by a private equity company. TES is a trusted brand among teachers in the UK and has a readership of about 400,000. It advertises itself as the largest network of teachers in the world. The website was established in 1997 and was re-launched in 2007 to take its current form. Material on the website is organised under four headings: jobs, teaching resources, forums and TES magazine. The TES forums are a very active feature of the website. There are over 1.7 million registered users worldwide with around 1,500 made in the last 24 hours at the time of writing. Forums are organised by subject area, education stage, role (such as teacher, library, finance administrator) and include dedicated areas on careers and lifestyle (topics include cookery, sport, health, pregnancy). There is also a special area of the forum which allows users to ask an expert on topics such as job seeking, managing behaviour and teacher training. The Teaching Resources section currently includes over 130,000 learning materials including lesson plans, games, teaching ideas and worksheets. These are aimed at school level and are divided into early years, primary school, secondary school, whole school and special educational needs. There is no material for adult learning. They are free for any registered user. Registered users can also upload their own resource material. TES also has agreements with 140 content partners, ranging from Unicef to Google. Partners agree to provide links to their content on the TES resource database. Teacher TV videos are also included in these resources. These are a selection of TV programmes commissioned by the UK Department for Education to raise educational standards in schools. Users can browse resources by educational stage, subject area and type of resource. They can also search for resources, save their searches, save their favourite resources, adapt resources and follow education providers that interest them. TES Resources also applies a popular tag to those resources that have been accessed many times. Some users become members of TES social panels. Social Panels are made up of users/ teachers from the online community who volunteer their time to undertake social panel activities. Each social panel focuses on a specific subject and school phase; for example Secondary School History or Primary School Maths. Larger Social Panels such as TES
16

A full list of past conferences can be found here: http://www.ssat-inet.net/engb/onlineconferences/studentonlineconferences/Pages/Past-student-conferences.aspx

Feasibility of EPALE 42

Secondary English 17 have around 20 members. Other social panels, such as Secondary Citizenship, only have about 5-10 members. Members to the social panel are recruited informally through posts in the relevant community discussion forums. A particularly active member of the forum may be asked by the TES Content Manager (a professional staff member) to head a group and seek volunteers. The Social Panel members then review teaching and learning material shared by teachers on TES Resources and apply a recommend label to those which they decide are the best Essentially this is a form of peerreview. Additionally, members of the panel have the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions on the structure and content of the TES website, the magazine and newsletter. TES refused to participate in our research and it was not possible to capture information about the websites development and management processes and costs. 3.1.10 Adult Learning Australia Ala.asn.au is the online presence of Adult Learning Australia (ALA), a not-for-profit organisation that represents and serves the adult and community education sector in Australia. ALA is funded by the Australian Ministry of Education, through membership feed and revenues from projects and subscriptions. The target audience of the website is everyone involved in adult learning including learners, teachers, community providers and learning organisations throughout Australia. The current website was developed in 2005 to replace a previous website which was felt to be too static. The aim of the re-design was to create a website which allowed user participation and quicker dissemination of information. OSKY, a computer consultancy company based in Canberra, was commissioned to undertake the redesign. OSKY has continued to be employed on a monthly retainer to maintain the technical aspects of the website and improve the design (so that it remains up to date) since then. Day-to-day maintenance of the content is undertaken by ALA staff members: there is a simple and straight-forward content management system (CMS) which allows any ALA staff member (even those without any technical knowledge) to upload or change material to the appropriate section of the website. The process of developing the website took about six months. At this point, OSKY worked closely with ALA to ensure that the final product fitted the needs and expectations of ALA. OSKY held focus groups and workshops with ALA staff and potential users to explore what features/functions were really needed and, once the website was developed, to test the websites usability among users. The website offers four entry points for each type of user: learner, community education provider, adult learning professional and learning organisation and communities. The learners section allows users to search for courses and to download learning resources. The other two entry points offer an introductory text which is tailored to each group and then links to sections of the website. These links are the same for both groups (although the order in which they are presented differs slightly). The linked sections are: Australian Journal of Adult Learning, Quest magazine (quarterly magazine on lifelong learning), policy and representation (information about), learning tools and resources and professional development (providing links to three other websites rather than a repository). Fee-paying members of ALA can participate in webinars. The webinars are popular and allow members to ask questions and discuss issues with the trainer and other participants through a chat bar. To develop and deliver the webinars ALA uses external (paid) contractors or volunteers. Often academics, students and policy makers are keen to promote their activities so deliver content voluntarily without charge to ALA. Additionally, they have also purchased webinars from a US-based company called LERN18. LERN arranges the delivery at a time to suit Australian-based learners. Two staff members are involved in the management of webinars: one person offers technical support for one day a week while

17 18

www.tes.co.uk/tesenglishteaching http://lern.org/edctr/upcoming_online/upcoming_online.cfm

Feasibility of EPALE 43

another person spends about a day every two weeks on administrative tasks such as arranging bookings. In addition to webinars aimed at learning providers and staff, ALA provides webinars directly targeted to adult learners. These include the Broadband for Seniors projects which trains older people in ICT skills through a network of 2000 kiosks across Australia. Two individuals are employed on this project: one person spends half a week delivering webinars while another person is employed for half a week to put the webinars together. The webinars are delivered through a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) using software called Elluminate. The website manager commented that the software seems very robust to us and user friendly, but also added that they understand that other software has been developed recently that may offer similar advantages. In addition to the main website, a micro-site was created to allow members to use a forum, create a blog, share information and post questions. The micro-site is moderated by ALA. It is not heavily used the website contractor explained that there does not seem to be any appetite for these functions. ALA and OSKY were not able to provide information about the costs of developing and maintaining the website. 3.1.11 British Council Schools Online The British Council Schools Online website aims to enhance and support partnerships between schools and teachers in the UK and in developing countries. It is owned and managed by the British Council, the UKs international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. The British Council project manager explained that the website is intended to enhance and support a range of training activities which are delivered on-the-ground in the UK and in developing countries. Staff delivering these activities encourage participants to continue the relationships they have developed on-line through the interactive components of the website (forum, project space). They believe that personal contact encourages people to use the interactive tools: they invested considerable time and effort to build a critical mass of active users at the outset of the project. The initiative is still in its early stages: they do not yet know whether the initial work invested will be enough to sustain the on-line activity or whether they will need to continue engaging and animating users through real world contact. The website was launched in its current format at the beginning of 2011 and combines functions from three previous websites. The website was designed with users in developing countries in mind. As such, they ensure that the website loads quickly and that downloadable material is as light as possible so that users with slow internet connections are not prohibited from accessing these. They plan to develop a low bandwidth version of the website in the future. Features and functions provided by the current website are:

Information and guidance: this is mainly aimed at UK teachers, it includes how-to guides on setting up an international project, a template partnership agreement and advice on forming a partnership safely; information about international school awards and funding is also provided; Partnership finding tool: registered schools can search for other schools on the database; schools need to apply to register and the website manager contacts the applicant to check that the school exists before accepting the registration; Project space: where partner schools can share messages, discussions, documents, videos, photos and other materials; all the material is kept in one location so that any teacher from the partnership schools can access it; Discussion forum: both UK and non-UK teachers who are registered with the website can participate in discussions.

The website has 60,000 registered users in total. In October 2011 it had 52,000 visits, 36,000 of which were unique and 300,000 page views. The majority of users are from the UK (28%); 8.3% from the US (which is slightly surprising because the site is not geared towards the US), then (in order) India, Turkey and Bangladesh. They observe little correlation Feasibility of EPALE 44

between website usage and content provided in other languages: translated content is provided for those countries which tend to have poor internet access, or are not part of communities for which there is a culture of online engagement and therefore use of translated content is limited. Interviewees from British Council Schools Online were not able to provide information about costs and resources expended for the development of the website or required for its maintenance.

3.2

General platform characteristics


In this section some of the considerations about basic issues for platform development are discussed.

3.2.1

System architecture Most website owners did not have in-depth knowledge or preference for a particular type of website architecture. However, some lessons can be learned from their experiences about the considerations for selecting a content management system (CMS):

Ease of use of CMS: for websites, such as Infonet, where a small in-house team is responsible for maintaining the website it is important to have a CMS that is easy and straightforward to use. LRE have recently adopted Life Ray, after difficulties with using other systems (ColdFusion and JSF). They have found that they can now easily edit content and create new web pages while keeping the same menus, images and colour schemes. This allows the website to be updated more frequently without confusing users as the interface looks the same. Open source software: Several interviewees mentioned the benefits of choosing a CMS that is open source (such as Life Ray or Drupal). Open source software allows developers from all over the world to use and improve the code. As such, they are more likely to stay up to date with the latest changes in technology and are cheaper or free to use. Furthermore, it allows the owner of the website more flexibility as it does not tie the website to one software provider and makes retendering to new contractors easier. However, finding experienced developers for open source software may be more difficult and/or costly than with a licensed product. Fit for purpose: Some CMSs are better suited than others to support multilingualism and dynamic content and applications. CORDIS, for example, uses open source software Life Ray which allows a website to support a suite of applications, such as blogs, instant messaging and message boards. Similarly, Elearningeuropa.info use Drupal because of its ability to support content in many languages.

Our website-development experts have identified five CMSs which can offer strong support to multilingualism. We present the pros and cons of each in Annex 5. 3.2.2 Interoperability Most websites examined try to ensure that information is accessible to those using the most popular browsers in the marketplace. As a consequence, some do not work with older browsers, such as older versions of Internet Explorer, and some owners/managers admitted that they had not fully tested their platforms for non-Microsoft operating systems, such as Macintosh and Linux. Few, such as CORDIS, have developed versions for mobile users, although not all functions are available on these versions. Websites will now need to take into account the various types of devices that users may use to access them. Below is a list of factors that should be taken into account when developing for various devices:

Desktop PCs Monitor sizes may vary from 15 to 23 inches. Depending on monitor capabilities screen resolutions can vary from 800 x 600 to 2048 x 1536. The life span of a PC can be several years which may mean that some users are using older browsers.

Feasibility of EPALE 45

Smart Phones Screen sizes can often vary from 2 to 5 inches. Web browsers on these devices tend to be fairly modern due to the products having a shorter life span of 1 to 2 years. Common browsers used on these devices include Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari and FireFox. The use of Macromedia Flash is not recommended as support for this technology is varying. The speed of web pages should be taken into consideration as these devices are often used in low bandwidth environments. Tablet Devices Screen sizes vary from 7 to 11 inches, usually to a fixed resolution. The use of Macromedia Flash is not recommended as support for this technology is varying. Websites should be designed to allow for touch sensitivity. and take into account the dynamic keyboard layout. Due to their practicality these devices are becoming popular learning aids. Laptops, Net-books, Ultra-books - These devices can vary in screen size from 8 to 17 inches with varying resolutions. Ultra-books may also have very similar characteristics as Tablet devices. TV Internet TV is an emerging technology and is currently going through a phase of convergence. The current use of this method will be limited and is somewhat unknown, however such factors should not be ignored when developing a new platform.

The website architecture and coding can help improve the array of devices and platforms a modern website has to support. This includes the use of W3C compliant code and using modern HTML5 coding standards. However, the Europa Information Provider Guide (IPG) does not mention the use of HTML5 as its preferred coding standard. As such it is recommended that DG EAC communicates with Europa before launching a procurement process. 3.2.3 Accessibility The Web Accessibility Initiatives (WAI) encourages the use of the AAA grading scale to measure the accessibility of a website. Triple A compliance is the highest compliance grade. Complying with each level (A, AA, AAA) is based on meeting various coding criteria, ranging from page layout, use of colours, to input devices used by the end user. Ultimately a website should aim to adhere to the highest WAI standard of AAA, particularly if the website is offering a public service. However, achieving this may result in higher costs. Examples of where added costs may occur are:

The design of the website requires greater attention, encouraging the use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for presentation; Complying to higher levels of accessibility can sometimes make a website less visually appealing. Designer can sometimes find it challenging to keep a website text based and can opt to use more aesthetically pleasing methods of presentation; The use of less accessible programming techniques such as JavaScript can give a website a less polished feel; Websites can often be populated by Content Management Systems (CMS) by content providers that do not have a technical understanding of accessibility. Often the code generated by CMSs can find it difficult to adhere to AAA levels. Thus the design of the website may comply to AAA standards but when populated with content it does not.

A website should aim to build in Accessibility from its conception rather than trying to bolt it on once the website has been built. Taking this approach can reduce the development overhead and costs. Only the British Council Schools website reported testing for compatibility with screenreaders for the visually impaired. They are currently considering installing a browse aloud function to help users with visual impairments. Compliance with the Web Accessibility Initiatives (WAI) guidelines to Level A was a requirement for elearningeuropa.info and eTwinning.net in their calls for tender. The specification for elearningeuropa.info required the creation of a text-only version of the website. However, this does not seem to have materialised. The British Council Schools website is currently developing a text only version to enable users with low internet connections (such as those in developing countries) to access content more easily. Feasibility of EPALE 46

3.2.4

Search Many website owners and managers identified search to be a challenging aspect of their websites. Website owners report that searching is the key problem reported by users. Users dont know what stuff we have and this partly emerges from the difficulty in classifying content. Users become frustrated when their searches yield too few or too many results or when the results are not what they are looking for. This may be because the search function available is not deep enough: it only searches names of documents rather than their content. It may also only search particular sections of the website; such as only the repository of documents rather than the news section. A key problem of current websites used by the Commission to showcase good practice (such as European Shared Treasure or Eve) is that search functions work best when the user already knows the name of the project they are looking for. It works less well when they are interested in a topic, for example migrant education, but do not have prior knowledge of what European projects have been funded in that area. Many have had to improve the tools they have to make content searchable. For example, CORDIS offers a comprehensive search facility (by filter, by category and a professional search) which allows use of Boolean operators (AND/OR) in a user-friendly way. The software used for the search function is Autonomy Enterprise (which offers the option of indexing multi-media such as video and audio files). Examples of good practice for search include:

Tag based search: Elearningeuropa.info recently redesigned their website and included a search function that uses a system of key word tags. This allows users to collectively view different types of information under the same tag category rather than browsing through different sections of the website to access it. The websites tag cloud, as demonstrated in Figure 3.1, gives an indication to users of what the most popular searches are and therefore what other material is available on the website that may be of interest to them. Image of Elearningeuropa.infos Tag Cloud

Figure 3.1

Map-based search: eTwinnings and CORDIS19 allow search for partners, projects and results and by country and/or by region using a map. These give users a more visual representation of ongoing activities.

19

CORDIS is currently offering this function in a beta test version.

Feasibility of EPALE 47

Saved searches: CORDIS allows users to save their search and automatically receive email notifications when the website has been updated with information which would be relevant to their search. LRE plan to offer this function soon.

3.2.5

Personal data and privacy Stakeholders expressed concerns about having an open access process for registering on an on-line community or partner finding tool. The following issues were identified:

Commercial organisations may register on the portal in order to spam forums and other members; Commercial organisations may put themselves forward as partners in order to gain financially from participating in projects even though they are not providers of adult education; The diverse nature of the adult learning sector means that there are difficulties verifying whether an organisation is an adult education provider when funding applications are received by Grundtvig National Agencies. It would be difficult for a platform contractor to verify organisations.

Making members of a community feel secure about their privacy when participating in an online platform was identified as a key factor in the success of eTwinning.net. In order to register on the platform, interested teachers/schools must submit a registration application which is then vetted by the national eTwinning support service team. This ensures that the only members of eTwinning are other schools / other school teachers. Similarly, British Council Schools verifies every registration by contacting the education institution to check that they exist. Until the registration is approved, the registree can access content on the site (such as downloadable material) but cannot participate on the forums or contact partners. Other platforms have adopted more open approaches to registration. There is no verification on SALTO Youth, either on the Otlas partner-finding tool or on the Trainers Online for Youth tool. This is also true for elearningeuropa.info and Scientix. While Salto and elearningeuropa.info allow visitors to browse the directories of members without the need to become members, Scientix requires registration first. All these websites have said that their communities have high numbers of registered users and continue to receive registrations every month. For example, elearningeuropa.info has 38,000 registered users with 50 new users registering every month. Other elements of good practice in protecting data and privacy include: Guidance notices on Privacy and Use and Collection of Data and identifying a data controller. For example, within the CORDIS platform there are different notices for the platform itself20, the Participant Portal21 and the Electronic Proposal Submission Service22; CAPTCHA tests (which tests whether the response comes from a human or a computer) in registration forms and comment forms; Spam filter and catcher tools for forums, blog posts and news stories (which analyse texts to block spammers)23; Monitoring forums by platform management staff because spam tools cannot capture everything; Encoding of email addresses so that they cannot be captured by spam bots.

20 21

http://cordis.europa.eu/guidance/legal-notices_en.html http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/appmanager/participants/portal 22 https://www.epssfp7.org/epss/download2s;jsessionid=5cf9e423bf110a9bb74776f6dd115a26ebc7b2df289ae0dbffe69c15caa3475f. e38Qbx8Mbh0PbO0Lay0?downType=helpF&fileType=SSPS 23 Such as the Mollom module, http://mollom.com/

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3.2.6

Security For most platforms reviewed, website security and testing is included as part of the maintenance contract. Practice around this varies; some undertake proactive intrusion testing by trying to hack into the website while for others this is limited to ensuring firewalls are in place. The content of these websites is not considered to attract threats from hackers and interviewees suggested that this would also be the case for EPALE. There are no direct security threats that should affect an Adult Education website. However common web threats such as SQL injections, cross site scripting, denial of service and brute force attacks should be tested for. It is also advised to keep the use of unnecessary cookies to a minimum, and only use cookies that are deemed strictly necessary by the website. The European Cookie Directive introduced in May 2011 requires a website to prompt users when non vital cookies are used, this includes Google Analytics or equivalent statistics packages that might use cookies.

3.2.7

Languages All EU languages ETwinning.net offers the most comprehensive multilingual service. The website architecture and (most) of the website content is available in 25 languages (all LLP participating countries official languages including Maltese). Owners of the platform considered this decision carefully mainly because they feared that it would be very expensive. However, they decided to invest in this languages-max option because they believed that their target group (school teachers) would not be confident in participating in anything serious in a language other than their mother tongue. The most popular languages in which the website is accessed are ES and PL, closely followed by RO and TR. These results partly reflect how active national support points are in each country and partly how much interest there is from teachers in seeking on-line partnerships. Website owners believe that these statistics justify their decision to invest in a multi-lingual platform because they can serve the needs of their user groups. eTwinning.net has a contract with European Schoolnet for the cost of the central support services function, which includes translation into 25 languages of all content produced centrally (except reports) but not of material produced by national support services or generated by users. The contractor employs or has sub-contracts with professional translators. The cost for translation is 82,000 a year. Adding an additional language to the service would cost 9,00024. Elearningeuropa.info offers its website architecture and web page information in 22 languages. However, news and uploaded material are predominantly available in the language in which they were initially uploaded (mostly English, some in French and some in other languages). The contractor, PAU Education, makes video content available in several languages. However, this was not the case for the videos we tested. The decision to offer these languages was made by the Commission on the basis that the website is not for experts. It must be translated. The cost for translations is 60,000 a year. Key EU languages The CORDIS website is available in six languages (DE, EN, ES, FR, IT, PL). This includes the architecture, news items and information on most web pages. However, research reports available in their depositories are almost exclusively in English because English has become the international language of the research community. CORDIS decided to use the six most commonly used languages in the EU because beyond these there are diminishing returns in additional coverage.

24

The call for tender (Reference No EACEA/2007/2012 required a quotation for the cost of adding an additional language to the portal.

Feasibility of EPALE 49

Similarly, Scientix also offers website architecture and webpage in the same six languages. Dynamic content, such as comments in the forums are not translated. Downloadable resources, such as education tools, are available initially in the language in which they have been uploaded. However, the user can request that the tool is translated in any of the 22 EU official languages, as shown in Figure 3.2 below. Scientix has a list of freelance translators, in addition to limited in-house translation capacity (used to quickly translate short texts to the six languages). Translation by freelancers usually takes a week. The budget for translations is 350,000 for a 3 year period, or 116,667 a year. Figure 3.2 Screenshot from Scientix.eu

Machine translations An alternative to paying for a formal translation and proofreading service is to use a Machine Translator, such as the Google Translate and Microsoft Translator25 widgets. These tools automatically translate text into several world languages. Learning Resource Exchange (LRE) uses the SYSTRAN machine translator software to offer content in eleven languages (EN, DE, ES, FR, IT, NL, PT, CS, FI, LT and NO). The choice of languages is largely related to what languages the software can support as not all 22 EU languages are available through SYSTRAN. Translation includes all architecture, web pages and tags. News feeds and downloadable tools (such as videos and learning tools) remain in the language in which they are uploaded. LREs licence for SYSTRAN costs 10,000 for eight languages. The benefit of using Machine Translation tools is that the translation is not costly and is automatic. However, the translation produced does not result in perfect translations; sentences are often not grammatically correct and/or the meaning is not always what was intended by the original author. This is particularly true for long pieces of text. This may make the website look unprofessional and may annoy users reading badly-written text in their mother tongue. LRE explain that they do not pretend that the translation is perfect, users accept inaccuracies as they are able to comprehend the meaning of machinetranslated text. One stakeholder with experience of using Machine Translation tools, explained that these tools work best when the original text is written in short sentences and in plain English, with jargon avoided. It was suggested that any professional contributors to the platform should receive training in writing for websites in plain English26. If appropriate, guidance on how to write effectively in plain English/other language should be provided to lay contributors. English only

25 26

http://www.microsofttranslator.com/
For example, such as courses provided by the Plain English Campaign http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/

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The other websites examined provided content only in English. For some, there was no obvious rationale to provide translations as their target group is an English speaking audience (e.g. Adult Learning Australia and TES). Content on Infonet-ae.eu is only available in English. This decision was made after a trial offering 10 languages. During the trial, the website owners found that the translation was too costly, the quality of translation was variable and it was difficult for the editorial board to quality control content in many languages. They decided to opt for a high quality product in one language.

3.3

Usage and value of features and functionalities


Interviews and desk reviews of the platforms revealed the following issues and lessons about features and functions: Partner finding tool: SALTO-YOUTH.net has recently introduced a partner finding tool which appears to be well used to date. Each user/organisation can create a short profile to showcase their interests: it provides more information than a simple directory and is seen to promote partnership by allowing potential partners to select more effectively. However, managers and owners of other platforms advised that EPALE should provide simple and clearly written guidance to users such as a step-by-step how to guide in order to encourage usage. For example, the eTwinning General Guidance document27 includes step-by-step guidance on creating a profile. For most websites reviewed, the partner finding tool is integrated with the online community (and therefore further learning on this function is discussed below). Online community: The experiences of CORDIS, LRE and SALTO-YOUTH suggest that users are generally willing to create profiles and share information about themselves and their organisations. Interviewees suggested that the growing popularity of social networking websites such as Facebook means that the general population is now increasingly familiar and comfortable with using such tools. However, as with discussion forums, online communities are strongest were they are a continuation of offline / real life events such as training events (eTwinning, British Councils Schools), conferences (Scientix, CORDIS) and other events (such as eTwinning camps). Many websites have considerable offline networks, based in member states which engage with beneficiaries locally by organising offline events, delivering face-to-face training and producing locally-relevant content (such as the SALTO regional centres and the eTwinning national support network). Nonetheless, some websites take active measures to promote participation in their on-line community by offering rewards (Elearningeuropa.info offers kudos points) or by organising prize competitions (such as eTwinning.net). Discussion forum: eLearningeuropa.info has an active discussion forum (and accompanying online community). However, the websites owners were keen to point out that the high level of activity is directly related to offline activities that are organised elsewhere and from ongoing animation and dissemination activities from the websites team. Infonet tried to provide a discussion forum but it was removed because of low usage. Similarly, Scientix recognise that the use of their discussion forums is low because it is not actively managed. Online discussions do not happen organically: they need human resources behind them. Downloadable Resources (good practice, funding and awards, resources for teachers and managers, training materials): Some websites such as eTwinning, SALTO and British Council Schools create and present their own resources. Producing these resources are part of the core functions of the managing organisations which in some cases preceded the website. Other websites, such as LRE, Scientix and TES collect and aggregate links to resources created by other organisations and in many cases are hosted elsewhere. Both options require active management and categorisation of resources to ensure that a user can easily find what is relevant to them (rather than be presented with too much irrelevant information). LRE allow users to comment about resources (although very few choose to do

27

http://resources.eun.org/etwinning/80/eTwinning_GENERAL_GUIDELINES_2010_EN.pdf

Feasibility of EPALE 51

so) while TES uses a select panel of teachers to rate resources and apply a recommended tag to those highly rated. E-partnership space: eTwinning provides this function (Twinspace) for its users. It appears to be well-used; although partners do use other tools to share documents (such as email). Twinspace provides a framework or template which partners can use to set-up their virtual partnership; ensuring that all partners have access to the same information and creating a visual presence or tangible (virtual) product. It allows different users (such as different teachers in the same school) to access the partnership without relying on a lead teacher. This improves the sustainability of the partnership: expertise is shared among different teachers (not just the language teacher who usually tends to lead on such partnership) and reduces the risk of the partnership ending if the lead teacher leaves the school. However, some interviewees warned against creating a tool that already exists. As an alternative, one interviewee suggested that EPALE could encourage users to collaborate in groups using established tools (such a Yahoo or Google group) and provide guides and guidance on how this could be done. Online Training sessions / eLearning Space: eTwinning and Adult Learning Australia both provide online e-training. These are seen to be effective ways of providing short and structured sessions on specific topics of learning. Both websites use VLE software that allows learners to ask questions to the trainer and to other learners. Ask an Expert: Of the websites reviewed, only TES.co.uk offered an Ask an Expert function. This function is integrated within the discussion forum section. TES refused to participate in our research so we were not able to gather information about how this function is organised and managed. However, GHK knows from experience of providing this function for other websites (European Migration Network) that providing this function for an audience of experts is relatively easy and straightforward to provide once a network of experts has been identified.

3.4

Dissemination and communication


In this section the main ways to effectively increase use of different key features and functions and how social media integration can bolster use (or not) are considered.

3.4.1

Increasing usage The platforms reviewed have used different ways to successfully attract and retain users, which could be considered for EPALE. These include:

Information control: CORDIS has 2.9million visits a year, with 150,000 unique visitors a month. This is partly because DG RTD has held until recently a monopoly on information about calls for proposals from 1987 so every researcher interested in European research funding had to visit CORDIS for this information. This information is no longer provided by CORDIS; however many users continue to use the platform because it has become established in the research community. Similarly, TES has captured the teacher market by establishing itself as the most complete database of teacher-related job adverts. Contractual requirement: several stakeholders suggested that using EPALE should be a contractual requirement for all organisations receiving or applying for European funding. This could take many forms, such as requiring that membership of the community is an eligibility requirement or requiring that final products or reports are uploaded on to the platforms. Interviewees suggested that if EPALE becomes compulsory then other requirements, such as using European Shared Treasure are dropped to avoid duplication and reduce unnecessary burden on providers. Search engine optimisation (SEO): these are techniques used to improve the visibility of a website in search engines28. The aim is to improve the ranking of a website or

SEO techniques aim to improve the rank of a website within a search engines search algorithm. This will result in the website appearing earlier

28

Feasibility of EPALE 52

webpage in search results. Some platforms reviewed have used SEO because they recognise the high percentage of traffic which originates from search engines. Networks and Partners: Elearning Europa has a series of media partners who promote the website and host their logo on their websites. Scientix network could see scope for collaboration with the new EPALE portal because they identified that the target audience for the two websites may overlap. E-newsletters: these can disseminate content and draw users to the website by providing information directly to a users inbox. They serve as a reminder to users that the website exists (even if they have not visited in a while). Elearning Europa, for example produces a monthly newsletter in 33 languages. The website owners acknowledge that this is costly (although they were not able to identify the exact cost). However they believe that it is important to have it as it disseminates information, even if readers to the newsletter to do visit the website itself. Some websites, such as the Cedefop website, produce several newsletters focusing on different aspects of their work and allow users to select which ones they subscribe to, according to their interests. RSS feeds: like newsletters RSS feeds deliver news and the latest information from a website directly to the user, without the user having to visit the site itself. RSS feeds automatically create notifications as the new items are posted to the website. They do not, therefore, require any additional resources from the website team as (unlike newsletters) do not require editing or designing. Real world activities: many of the websites reviewed draw users by undertaking faceto-face activities in the real world. These range from ongoing training and events relating to building the capacity of their target user group (such as by eTwinning, SALTO, British Council Schools On-line) to annual conferences (such as the one organised by Scientix). These are seen to be particular important for the interactive/social functions to work as users do not seem to spontaneously engage in online/virtual relationships and networking without a prior face-to-face meeting. Reward systems: eTwinning and elearningEuropa both employ reward systems to encourage participation and improve quality of online user-generated products. For eTwinning this takes the form of quality marks and competitions with prizes for the best eTwinning projects, which can be displayed on the projects space. The very best projects are rewarded by participation in a conference, however the website owners have found that their user group (school teachers) do respond to non-financial rewards as well (quality marks). ElearningEuropa use kudos points to reward active contributors. It does not penalise non-active contributors (by restricting access to content if you have not accumulated enough points for example). These systems appear to appeal to the user group even though there are no financial benefits to be had from gaining kudos points.

3.4.2

Social media The platforms reviewed generally do not have a coherent social media strategy. As such, use of social media appears to be opportunistic and its impact is not well understood. The extent of social media engagement is set out in Table 3.1 below. Table 3.1 Social media
Website eTwinning Newsletter Facebook Twitter RSS Other Youtube How to videos Yes Yes Yes Yes popular Search results updates to your inbox

CORDIS

LRE Scientix X

X Partly

X X

X X

Feasibility of EPALE 53

Website SALTO TES iNET Infonet Elearning europa ALA

Newsletter X

Facebook X

Twitter X

RSS

Other Social Bookmarking Social bookmarking

X X X X X X X Sharing LinkedIn Youtube channel (not used) Vimeo

British Council

A key problem with the use of social media is replicating the content in alternative form and potentially diverting users away from the platform, rather than drawing people in. This may be particularly true of Facebook. One stakeholder interviewed believed this would definitely be the case if EPALE created a Facebook page: information displayed on a Facebook page would not add any value to the information already available on EPALE itself. For example, any discussions / conversations that could take place on a Facebook page discussion board could feasibly take place within a EPALE discussion forum. Platforms such as Scientix and British Council Schools use Facebook selectively, for example to raise awareness of events. However, the LRE owner believes that Facebook is a more effective medium than advertising (the LRE Facebook page has 104 likes). Twitter is seen as a quick and inexpensive way to communicate quickly to the user group. Its short, text format ensures that content does not distract from the main portal. CORDIS has benefitted from its established large user group and has quickly gained 1,579 followers on Twitter even though it had only made 87 tweets at the time (October 2011). A dedicated staff member in the DG RTD marketing unit is tasked with managing the CORDIS Facebook and twitter accounts it was estimated that they spent 10% of their time on these activities. Other websites use social bookmarking to enable users to share content on external social media platforms, through incorporating sharing widgets. Social bookmarking boosts the platforms visibility among a users online social network. For example, the SALTO Youth Partners Finding Tool allows users to like it on Facebook. This action will then appear on the users Facebook page and be visible to their friends and followers. These friends may in turn, be inspired to find out more about this and visit the SALTO website themselves. TES allows users to share its videos and other content via email, Twitter or Facebook using a sharing widget from Addthis.com. This particular widget supports a large number of social media platforms. This means that the host platform can integrate with almost all social media platforms without committing to those that are currently popular (not picking a winner) and not excluding those that are popular only in certain countries29.

For example, Xing is currently primary popular among business users in Germany, Austria and Switzerland while Badoo is popular in Spain, Italy, France and Latin America.

29

Feasibility of EPALE 54

Figure 3.3 Examples of social bookmarking sharing widget style

3.5
3.5.1

Key messages
General approach Useful learning for establishing EPALE appears to be:


3.5.2

Having a clear set of purposes (expected outputs and outcomes linked to increasing target users knowledge, skills and abilities) and a menu of content and functions to achieve these is more likely to focus attention and lead to successful development; Establishing ownership at the outset is critical for development and re-tendering; and Not duplicating resources and materials which are available on other websites which can be signposted.

Initial and continuing developments The experience of other platforms tells us a little about the costs for development as well as development considerations in relation to contracting and the creation of specific features and functionalities. Useful learning for setting up EPALE appears to be:

A few have had short set up contracts but most with wider ambitions have had initial contracts for several years (3-5 years) to set up/launch within a year and continue development with management activities; few have done this in-house; Costs of development range from 10-40,000 to 100K-1million but the scale is clearly linked to the ambitions and when initial development merges with management and maintenance; One has clearly been a bottom-up development which has ensured some more immediate response to users. It has also meant that funding is not specifically allocated to the platform but to a range of objectives; others have been closely steered by the Commission and other government clients; Some have been incremental but many have been designed to service a potential fixed range of purposes and functions linked to these (and re-designed periodically). Contracts require flexibility to enable evolution of functions and content; Making the decision about whether the website should be multi-lingual early on is important as it is difficult to add a language functionality at a later stage. Adding an additional language on a website that is already multilingual is not as problematic; and The chosen CMS should be straightforward to use but the final choice should reflect the uses of the platform including the languages available30.

Other useful learning for the process of development appears to be:

DG EAC should discuss website architecture with DG DIGIT as we understand that DG DIGIT has a strong preference for using content management system Documentum for the set-up of their websites.

30

Feasibility of EPALE 55


3.5.3

Potential users can test and provide feedback on the website as a whole, as well as for each new feature; Testers should represent the demographic of the target group; this should include staff of small adult education providers, older workers and staff with limited experience of online portals; Build in means of monitoring, such as counting downloads of resources, at the outset so that outputs can be measured and evaluated; A WAI Level A accessibility requirement should be met at the outset; and EPALE could potentially use the LRE resource hosting platform rather than create one from scratch.

Maintenance and management The experience of other platforms tells us a little about the costs for maintenance and management as well as considerations in relation to contracting and specifying these activities. Useful learning for EPALE appears to be:

Most have included maintenance and management with continuing development and have flexible contracts (3-6 years) to enable priorities to be agreed between client and contractor on a regular basis; Costs of maintenance and management are not always distinguished from other related activities (such as dissemination, organisation of events, developing content, editing/ reviewing new content, organisation of training activities and delivery of training) but it is not generally believed to be necessary to separate them contractually; Functions tend to increase management costs more than features though both need active management if they are to be useful to large numbers of target users. Active management ranges from developing and commissioning new material to exploiting content (editing and disseminating) and targeting potential users; Most have specified these additional activities partly to ensure that content is up to date and functionality is enhanced and partly to make the content relevant and useful or to increase and maintain take up; Costs range from 250K to several millions a year but these seem to be related to scale and the extent of roles and responsibilities; Several have networks as well as a contractor with the network members (in Member States) required to do local dissemination and to produce local material; Most have contracted out the work but a few have in-house teams undertaking some of the active dissemination and updating of content, for example, in addition to contract management; one has several contractors with different responsibilities but acknowledges that this requires coordination; and Some successfully use panels or groups of users to check new materials and propose content.

3.5.4

Features and functions The experience of other platforms tells us a little about the development and management of specific features and functionalities. Useful learning for EPALEs potential features and functions appears to be:

A critical mass of users is needed for some functions, such as partner tools and discussion forums, to be viable. Discussion forums can generally only flourish when a website has become established or has developed a community of users who have established relationships at events or visits; Feasibility of EPALE 56

The various school partner finding tools support the creation of virtual professional networks and exchanges by enabling the sharing of information and resources; Many functions enable a legacy from events, exchanges and visits to be built because they will bring in other users of the knowledge and understanding gained; Content such as materials for teaching and good practice need to have search functions and ought to have editorial controls and quality standards if they are to be useful; Discussion forums, online communities and ask an expert functions need active management too if they are to be used and provided resources for other users; Some features and functions are already available through other means (such as Epartnership space) or existing websites (such as Infonet); and Some features are available on websites in some Member States and in some languages. Examples of national websites offering resources for teachers are the Norwegian Agency for Lifelong Learning http://www.vox.no and the Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres http://www.vhs.or.at.

3.5.5

Dissemination The experience of other platforms tells us a little about the effective means to inform and engage users in a platform and in using specific functions. Useful learning for EPALEs potential features and functions appears to be:

A have to use or must use feature can increase usage though neither necessarily bring users to all other features and functions; This needs to be supplemented by SEO and active dissemination. Most of the platforms demonstrate that active management and dissemination increase use and can significantly increase take up of features/functions such as downloadable teaching materials, partner finding tools and discussion forums; Some activities bring in users, such as regular e-newsletters and RSS feeds; Rewards and quality marks for active participation are appreciated and may support active contributions from users; and There are mixed views about registering and restricting access and having open access; some of the most successful have open access.


3.5.6

Languages The experience of other platforms tells us that:

The languages available for resources bring in new users but also restrict users to the languages they can work in; While the use of plain English will help (which then requires editorial control and guidance), some features, such as resources, benefit considerably from being translated; The cost of translation depends on the scale of translation required; those providing material in six or more languages only translate the material which is centrally generated or for some features/functions; and This can be supplemented by translation on request and machine translation software availability.

Feasibility of EPALE 57

Assessment of features and functionalities


In this chapter there is a systematic assessment of each of the potential features and functionalities of the proposed platform and a consideration of languages. The following guidance was used to rate each of the features/functions (High/Medium/Low): Contribution: this is the extent they contribute to the likely future Commissions programme aims and targets through the knowledge, skills and abilities they would be expected to increase. Gap: this is the extent that there is not suitable electronic information available across the Member States. Target groups: this is the extent that all the target groups will make use of the information or function; it should indicate if there is greater value to specific groups. Achievement: this takes into consideration the ease of development (tried and tested) and the ability to make it work effectively learning from others practice (HIGH is therefore the easiest to achieve). Cost of development: this should reflect difficulty to achieve an effective resource; if it can be achieved by linkage to an existing function/feature then the costs will be lower. As a guide LOW is under 100K euro; MEDIUM 100-500K; HIGH over 500K. Net cost of management and maintenance: this is the cost to achieve an effective resource on an annual basis netted by any savings achievable elsewhere; costs should include dissemination; LOW, MEDIUM AND HIGH as above. Overall rating: a judgement of the average rating for columns 1-4/columns 5-6.

4.1

Assessment of features
Tables 4.1 has an assessment of each of the potential features. It is clear that some features could have a relatively bigger contribution to the aims and objectives of the Commissions future programme for adult learning and the achievement of EU2020 than others, such as news and a library of documents. Good practice in the delivery of adult learning and information about events and learning opportunities should increase the number of beneficiaries by widening audiences and increasing the sharing of good practice that should be expected to enhance the quality of teaching in adult learning. By and large the features proposed can be found from other sources at least in some Member States. Some though are more likely to fill a bigger gap in potential users knowledge than others because of what is currently available and how accessible it is. Information on funding and awards is already available and accessible whereas some information on good practice is available but not accessible. Other information, such as about events, is only available in some countries. Some features could have a higher value to target groups than others. The highest in terms of range of groups and size of groups would be good practice in the delivery of adult learning and the calendar of events. There is a low rating for a library of documents and good practice on adult education policy because it is less likely to be widely used. Most of the features could be developed to meet needs with little risk though the ability of several to work effectively would be dependent on the design and extent of management support provided. These include good practice in the development of adult learning and the news and calendar features. Development costs are generally not high for features. The exception is probably the library of documents. Management and maintenance would be relatively higher for some such as good practice, because they need tagging, moderation and translation to be effectively used.

Feasibility of EPALE 58

Table 4.1 Assessment of Features


Feature Type Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme High: potential to improve the quality and efficiency of adult education and lifelong learning system and to adopt new and effective practices and systems High: potential to contribution to policy dialogue and mutual learning and support to open method of coordination ; potential to improve knowledge base and monitoring in the AE sector Gap in electronic information being filled Potential value to target groups of user Likeliness of successfully achieving value/filling gap Cost of development Net cost for management and maintenance Overall rating of impact and resource Rating consideration

Good practice on the delivery of adult education

High: no other comprehensive and definitive source of information (although national bodies provide for some countries but not all)

High: most valuable to learning providers.

Medium: collecting examples of practice is straightforward; assessing what is best, what can travel well and communicating practice effectively is challenging. Medium: reporting practice is straightforward; assessing what is best, what can travel well and communicating practice effectively is challenging.

Low: cost of assembling a network of experts is low; low technical costs (requires effective search and tagging function).

Medium: most effective if content is provided professionally translated this is costly.

High - Medium

Rating for the most effective option of provision in all languages.

Good practice on adult education policy

Medium: Infonet partly provided this service up to September 2011; some information also available through EPEA and other organisations.

High: most useful to policymakers, representative organisations and researchers/ academics.

Low: Low setup and technical costs (requires effective search and tagging function).

Low: Infonets experience suggests that system of reporters can provide this at low cost.

High - Low

Infonets experience suggests that provision in many languages is not essential.

Feasibility of EPALE 59

Feature Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme Medium: should enable learning providers (and potentially teaching staff and learners) to access opportunities

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Likeliness of successfully achieving value/filling gap

Cost of development

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideration

Funding and awards information

Medium: NAs currently provide this information effectively to existing network of contacts; gap for AE may be higher under Erasmus for All

Medium: most useful for learning providers.

Medium: Information can be easily provided and communicated; requires collection of information from EC, national and other sources.

Low: Low startup and technical costs. RSS feed should be integrated (this is not costly).

Low: collation Medium Medium and communication of information is easy to achieve once the information sources have been identified; NAs currently provide information in home languages. Low: Infonets experience suggests that system of reporters can provide this at low cost. Medium - Low

Least valued feature in online survey. Integrated RSS feed would improve effectiveness.

Adult education news

Low: Not essential in meeting programme aims but could be useful in raising profile of AE.

Medium: Infonet (until September 2011) and some national websites provide this information.

Medium: useful to some extent - for all identified target groups.

Medium: identifying what news is most interesting to the audience is challenging.

Low: Low startup and technical costs. RSS feed should be integrated (this is not costly).

Integrated RSS feed would improve effectiveness.

Feasibility of EPALE 60

Feature Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme High: potential to improve quality and efficiency of education and training through facilitating mobility of staff, policy makers and other stakeholders. High: potential improvement quality and capacity of adult learning sector workforce leading to improvements in quality and efficiency.

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Likeliness of successfully achieving value/filling gap

Cost of development

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideration

Calendar of events

Medium: information provided through other websites however it is spread between too many locations.

High: useful to all identified target groups; most useful feature to learning providers in survey.

Medium: challenging to overcome risk of providing too much or too little information.

Low: Low setup and technical costs (requires effective system of search/tag; ical facility incorporated).

Medium: some coordination costs; some moderation costs required if users are allowed to upload/suggest own events.

Medium - Low

Translation not essential for this feature. Most valued feature in online survey.

Learning opportunities for staff in European countries

Medium: Comenius/Grun dtvig Training Database and NAs provide limited information already this is difficult to navigate at the moment.

High: most useful to learning providers (as identified in survey).

Medium: EPALE would raise visibility / awareness of opportunities (although some information already presented elsewhere)

Low: Low setup and technical costs (design needs to improve on current Training Database)

Medium: Low maintenance costs; some moderation costs required if users can upload own events; some translation costs.

High - Medium

Assumed that content will be translated and therefore carry translation costs.

Feasibility of EPALE 61

Feature Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme Low: no direct contribution to agenda or programme; possibility of indirect contribution e.g. documents for policymakers.

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Likeliness of successfully achieving value/filling gap

Cost of development

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideration

Library of documents on adult education

Medium: users requiring this information most likely to use internet search engines to identify exact information; no comprehensive database exists. Medium: no comprehensive database currently exists; users likely to find required information through internet search engines.

Low: of some value but users actively seeking information likely to find it through internet search engines.

Medium: providing this feature is not challenging to achieve.

Medium: considerable resources required initially to populate library and categorize, low technical costs (effective search and tag facility required). Low: some initial start-up costs; Low technical costs.

Low: some maintenance costs; some management / moderation costs required if users can upload own resources.

Low - Medium

Assumed no translation costs - cost would be Higher if each document was to be translated.

Catalogue of useful links / bookmarks on adult education

Low: no direct contribution to agenda or programme; possibility of indirect contribution e.g. documents for policymakers.

Medium: potential value to all target groups.

Medium: catalogue can easily be provided.

Low: some ongoing maintenance of links required.

Medium - Low

Potential contribution to aims may be improved if links focused on programme target groups (e.g. education of those at the margins, ICT based activities etc)

Feasibility of EPALE 62

Feature Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme High: potential to improve the quality and efficiency of adult education and lifelong learning system and to adopt new and effective practices and systems

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Likeliness of successfully achieving value/filling gap

Cost of development

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideration

Feature Type

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Likeliness of successfully achieving value/filling gap

Cost of development

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideratio n

Good practice on the delivery of adult education

High: no other comprehensive and definitive source of information (although national bodies provide for some countries but not all)

High: most valuable to learning providers.

Medium: collecting examples of practice is straightforward; assessing what is best, what can travel well and communicating practice effectively is challenging.

Low: cost of assembling a network of experts is low; low technical costs (requires effective search and tagging function).

Medium: most effective if content is provided professionally translated this is costly.

High - Medium

Rating for the most effective option of provision in all languages.

Feasibility of EPALE 63

Feature Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme High: potential to contribution to policy dialogue and mutual learning and support to open method of coordination ; potential to improve knowledge base and monitoring in the AE sector Medium: should enable learning providers (and potentially teaching staff and learners) to access opportunities

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Likeliness of successfully achieving value/filling gap

Cost of development

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideration

Good practice on adult education policy

Medium: Infonet partly provided this service up to September 2011; some information also available through EPEA and other organisations.

High: most useful to policymakers, representative organisations and researchers/ academics.

Medium: reporting practice is straightforward; assessing what is best, what can travel well and communicating practice effectively is challenging.

Low: Low setup and technical costs (requires effective search and tagging function).

Low: Infonets experience suggests that system of reporters can provide this at low cost.

High - Low

Infonets experience suggests that provision in many languages is not essential.

Funding and awards information

Medium: NAs currently provide this information effectively to existing network of contacts; gap for AE may be higher under Erasmus for All

Medium: most useful for learning providers.

Medium: Information can be easily provided and communicated; requires collection of information from EC, national and other sources.

Low: Low startup and technical costs. RSS feed should be integrated (this is not costly).

Low: collation Medium Medium and communication of information is easy to achieve once the information sources have been identified; NAs currently provide information in home languages.

Least valued feature in online survey. Integrated RSS feed would improve effectiveness.

Feasibility of EPALE 64

Feature Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme Low: Not essential in meeting programme aims but could be useful in raising profile of AE. High: potential to improve quality and efficiency of education and training through facilitating mobility of staff, policy makers and other stakeholders.

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Likeliness of successfully achieving value/filling gap

Cost of development

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideration

Adult education news

Medium: Infonet (until September 2011) and some national websites provide this information. Medium: information provided through other websites however it is spread between too many locations.

Medium: useful to some extent - for all identified target groups.

Medium: identifying what news is most interesting to the audience is challenging.

Low: Low startup and technical costs. RSS feed should be integrated (this is not costly).

Low: Infonets experience suggests that system of reporters can provide this at low cost.

Medium - Low

Integrated RSS feed would improve effectiveness.

Calendar of events

High: useful to all identified target groups; most useful feature to learning providers in survey.

Medium: challenging to overcome risk of providing too much or too little information.

Low: Low setup and technical costs (requires effective system of search/tag; ical facility incorporated).

Medium: some coordination costs; some moderation costs required if users are allowed to upload/suggest own events.

High - Low

Translation not essential for this feature. Most valued feature in online survey.

Feasibility of EPALE 65

Feature Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme High: potential improvement quality and capacity of adult learning sector workforce leading to improvements in quality and efficiency. Low: no direct contribution to agenda or programme; possibility of indirect contribution e.g. documents for policymakers.

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Likeliness of successfully achieving value/filling gap

Cost of development

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideration

Learning opportunities for staff in European countries

Medium: Comenius/Grun dtvig Training Database and NAs provide limited information already this is difficult to navigate at the moment. Medium: users requiring this information most likely to use internet search engines to identify exact information; no comprehensive database exists.

High: most useful to learning providers (as identified in survey).

Medium: EPALE would raise visibility / awareness of opportunities (although some information already presented elsewhere) Medium: providing this feature is not challenging to achieve.

Low: Low setup and technical costs (design needs to improve on current Training Database)

Medium: Low maintenance costs; some moderation costs required if users can upload own events; some translation costs. Low: some maintenance costs; some management / moderation costs required if users can upload own resources.

High - Medium

Assumed that content will be translated and therefore carry translation costs.

Library of documents on adult education

Low: of some value but users actively seeking information likely to find it through internet search engines.

Medium: considerable resources required initially to populate library and categorize, low technical costs (effective search and tag facility required).

Low - Medium

Assumed no translation costs - cost would be Higher if each document was to be translated.

Feasibility of EPALE 66

Feature Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme Low: no direct contribution to agenda or programme; possibility of indirect contribution e.g. documents for policymakers.

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Likeliness of successfully achieving value/filling gap

Cost of development

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideration

Catalogue of useful links / bookmarks on adult education

Medium: no comprehensive database currently exists; users likely to find required information through internet search engines.

Medium: potential value to all target groups.

Medium: catalogue can easily be provided.

Low: some initial start-up costs; Low technical costs.

Low: some ongoing maintenance of links required.

Medium - Low

Potential contribution to aims may be improved if links focused on programme target groups (e.g. education of those at the margins, ICT based activities etc)

Feasibility of EPALE 67

As a consequence the assessment suggests that most of the features are low cost/low risk except a library of documents. Most though would have a relatively low impact. The exceptions are the calendar, learning opportunities for staff and the selection of good practice on policy and the delivery of adult education. This indicates that a website which is not interactive will not have a significant impact though it would be easier and less costly to develop and maintain. It also indicates that to have a greater impact the costs of maintaining some of these features would be greater.

4.2

Assessment of functionalities
Table 4.2 below has an assessment of each of the potential functions. It is clear that some functions could have a relatively bigger contribution to the Commissions future programme for adult learning. Resources for teaching and managing adult education and on-line training should contribute to enhancing the quality of teaching and enlarging the potential beneficiaries of resources to widen innovation in formal and non-formal learning. Epartnering tool should help to broaden the scope of partnerships and cooperation in developing innovation and good practice if the experience of the schools tool is any guide to inspire such activities. Functions like discussion forums and Ask an Expert are less likely to have any such direct or widespread impact. By and large none of the functions are widely available or accessible across Member States for adult learning. But there are greater gaps in relation to some than others. For example, there is no partner finding tool or resources for teaching and staff training except in a few countries, nor an on-line members community. Some functions could have a higher value to target groups than others. This is particularly evident with the partner finding tool, resources and the on-line training sessions. A discussion forum and on-line members community would have a low value because the benefits are not so clear to adult learning providers and policy makers. All of the functions can be developed to meet needs with little risk though the ability of functions, such as the partner finding tool, resources and on-line training resources to have an effective impact would be more challenging. These as the experience of other platforms shows would require good design and management support to tag and moderate material, provide translations and , in the case of the partner finding tool, a critical mass of users. Development costs are higher than for features. Save for the discussion forum and ask an expert they are each over 100K. Management and maintenance costs are also relatively higher because teaching and training resources and a partner finding tool need to have active management (moderation, dissemination and translation). As a consequence, the assessment suggests that several of the low cost functions would have lower impacts, such as the discussion forum and ask an expert. Those with the higher impacts tend to have higher costs: partner finding tool, resources for teachers and staff training, and training sessions/e-learning. In between are the e-partnership spaces, resources for managers and the online members community which have relatively high costs but lower impacts.

Feasibility of EPALE 68

Feasibility of EPALE 69

Table 4.2 Assessment of Functions


Function Type Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme High: key to encouraging cooperation and partnerships for innovation and good practices, key in enabling the adult education sector to engage and participate in virtual mobility. Gap in electronic information being filled Potential value to target groups of user Cost of Likeliness of successfully development achieving value/filling gap Net cost for management and maintenance Overall rating of impact and resource Rating consideratio n

Partner finding tool

High: some NAs and other large organisations have their own databases but they are out of date and not comprehensive.

High: most useful to learning providers; also valued by NAs because will make their current roles easier.

Medium: requires critical mass of organisations signing-up to encourage sustained use of tool.

Medium: CORDISs experience suggests technical costs may be around 300,000; dissemination commitment required (to encourage critical mass of users to create profile at early stage); SALTO estimates under 10,000.

Medium: cost of maintenance, moderation and dissemination (active encouragement of users to create profile) likely to require considerable resources.

High Medium

Function will fill significant gap.

Feasibility of EPALE 70

Function Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme High: very useful in enabling adopting of innovation and good practice to improve the quality and efficiency of AE education and training; resources on particular topics could aid promoting of equity, social cohesion and active citizenship. High: very useful in enabling adopting of innovation and good practice to improve the quality and efficiency of AE education and training;

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Cost of Likeliness of successfully development achieving value/filling gap

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideratio n

Resources for teaching / teachers

High: some material available through national ministries and other national bodies in some countries but provision not comprehensive; some material available on Open Educational Resources but hard to find. Medium: some material already available elsewhere through Grundtvig networks and, in some countries, through national bodies.

High: most useful to learning providers.

Medium: risk that adult learning teachers will not take up resources due to lack of language skills, technical capacity or time constraints.

Medium: initial commitment of resources required to collect and categorize existing material; cost of translation high; cost of subtitling technology for videos may be required.

Medium: ongoing cost of translation high; some moderation costs if users can upload own material and/or comment; some dissemination costs if users are to be encouraged to post own material.

High Medium

Most effective if provided in all languages. Cost is higher if EPALE is to commission / develop own resources rather than collect and disseminate existing resources.

Resources for managers

High: most useful to learning providers.

Medium: need to be pitched at appropriate level; language and technical capacity may be an issue.

Medium: initial commitment of resources required to collect and categorize existing material; cost of translation high.

Medium: ongoing cost of translation high; some moderation costs if users can upload own material and/or comment; some dissemination costs if users are to be encouraged to post own material.

Medium Medium

Cost is higher if EPALE is to commission / develop own resources rather than collect and disseminate existing resources.

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Function Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme High: potential improvement quality and capacity of adult learning sector workforce leading to improvements in quality and efficiency.

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Cost of Likeliness of successfully development achieving value/filling gap

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideratio n

Resources for staff training

High: some provision by national bodies and through LLP funded activities; no definitive and/or comprehensive source of this material exists currently.

High: most useful to learning providers.

Medium: risk that adult learning teachers will not take up resources due to lack of language skills, technical capacity or time constraints.

Medium: initial commitment of resources required to collect and categorize existing material; cost of translation high.

Medium: ongoing cost of translation high; some moderation costs if users can upload own material and/or comment; some dissemination costs if users are to be encouraged to post own material. Low: resources needed to encourage users to participate; some moderation costs.

High Medium

Cost is higher if EPALE is to commission / develop own resources rather than collect and disseminate existing resources.

Discussion forum

Low: may be useful in encouraging cooperation about learning providers; unlikely to lead to formation of new sustainable or strategic partnerships.

Medium: some opportunities available currently through some LLP project websites and informal networks such as Facebook groups.

Low: survey responses gave the lowest rating least required feature according to esurvey.

Low: other platforms experiences suggest that forums require resources for animation and prior face-to-face contact to be effective.

Low: low technical costs; initial dissemination costs required but these are likely to be low.

Low - Low

Received low rating in online survey. Likeliness of achieving value could be improved if resources are devoted to encourage users to participate in the forum.

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Function Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme Medium: some potential in encouraging cooperation and partnerships for innovation and good practices, potential to enable AE sector to engage in virtual mobility Low: some potential to encourage take up of innovative and best practice and improve the quality and efficiency of the sector.

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Cost of Likeliness of successfully development achieving value/filling gap

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideratio n

Online members community

High: no definitive online community for the sector (some activity on Facebook but scattered).

Low: unclear what benefits participation would bring to users directly (rather to the community as a whole).

Medium: Risk that users will not participate; participation could be promoted through events, prizes and competitions.

Medium: Dissemination commitment required (to encourage critical mass of users to create profile at early stage)

Medium: cost of maintenance, moderation and dissemination (active encouragement to participate) likely to require considerable resources. Medium: ongoing maintenance and management costs; some translation costs; dissemination required if function is to be widely used.

Medium Medium

Received low rating in online survey. Requires active management and encouragement of user group to work.

Ask an Expert

Medium: some advice on available in some countries through national bodies and on various internet sites.

Medium: potential value to all user groups (however, experts should be targeted to specific user group needs)

Low: providing this information is not challenging to achieve, risk that users will not engage with the feature.

Low: some initial costs to establish network of experts; low technical costs.

Medium Medium

Service should be clearly targeted.

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Function Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme High: key in encouraging cooperation and partnerships for innovation and good practices, key in enabling the adult education sector to engage and participate in virtual mobility.

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Cost of Likeliness of successfully development achieving value/filling gap

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideratio n

EPartnership Space

Medium: function itself already provided through other sources (e.g. Yahoo / Google groups and or email) however not tailored for use of adult learning providers.

Medium: most valuable to learning providers who participate in LLP funded activities in the first instance; potential value to learning providers if virtual partnerships are enabled.

Low: works in schools through eTwinning (but dependent on extensive network of offline resource such as national support network) however lower technical capacity and opportunities in AE; will not work spontaneously.

Medium: considerable resources required creating userfriendly shared space, testing it and providing guidance to users; incorporating translation technology may increase cost.

Medium: ongoing support to users likely to be required; some dissemination costs will be needed to encourage takeup.

Medium Medium

Costs will be higher if the aim of this function is to enable virtual partnerships such as those set up in schools through eTwinning, as this may require direct dissemination and training (handholding)of adult education staff in each country.

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Function Type

Contribution to European Agenda for Adult Learning and Erasmus for All programme High: potential to encourage take up of innovative and best practice and improve the quality and efficiency of the sector, potential to improve knowledge base in AE, useful in enabling AE sector to participate in virtual mobility.

Gap in electronic information being filled

Potential value to target groups of user

Cost of Likeliness of successfully development achieving value/filling gap

Net cost for management and maintenance

Overall rating of impact and resource

Rating consideratio n

Online Training sessions / Elearning Space / Virtual Classroom

Medium: some e-training available through other sources such as existing and old Grundtvig projects, national initiatives and private providers of CPD for adult learning staff.

High: high potential value to all target groups (especially for staff who cannot commit time and funds to face-to-face training).

Medium: risk of low take-up because of lack of technical capacity in the AE sector.

Medium: cost of technical set-up high, testing required to ensure e-training session works for users; investment in automating translation should be considered.

Medium: ongoing costs of developing and delivering etraining; ongoing costs of promotion and dissemination of training events considerable.

High Medium

Cost of obtaining Moodle Virtual Learning Environment license unknown.

Feasibility of EPALE 75

4.3

Assessment of languages
Table 4.3 and Table 4.4 below have an assessment of the options for language provision. Each of the features and functions is considered against the impact on reaching the target group intended to arrive at a rating. Generally the costs and impacts rise for each feature or function as the number of languages increases. It is clear that some features have a significantly lower impact if they are only available in English than if they are available in the six major languages or 25 languages. This includes good practice in the delivery of adult learning and information on funding and awards. For some features there are fewer significant gains with the availability of other languages, such as the calendar of events and for some there are fewer significant gains in having the 25 languages professionally translated, such as adult education news, because this would introduce delays and short pieces of information would not bring large benefits if translated. With the functions too, it is clear that the availability of information in more languages will increase impacts because it will enable resources to be shared and used across language barriers. This is clear from the survey and the experience of other platforms; but it will be costly. With functions such as a discussion forum or ask an expert, English would be more practical. Table 4.3 Assessment of Language Options - Features

Feature

English only

Six Major Languages (EN, FR, DE, ES, PL, IT) Medium: large share of learning providers able to use feature likely to miss many who only speak smaller languages. High: likely to be effectively used by large majority of target audience.

25 Languages: Automated Machine Translation Medium: content meaning may be lost by machine translation reducing usefulness.

25 Languages: Professional Translation High: identified to be the most important feature to have in own language in the survey; relatively easy to arrange translation of coherent sections of text. High: complete coverage of potential audience; relatively easy to arrange translation of coherent sections of text. High: information in own language rated highly in survey; translations already available through NAs.

Good practice on the delivery of adult education

Low: target audience (learning providers) unlikely to benefit because of nature of content (complex, nuanced, lengthy text). Medium: target audience (policy makers, academics, researchers) likely to be able to use feature. Low: majority of target audience (learning providers) unlikely to benefit because of nature of content (complex, nuanced, detail text).

Good practice on adult education policy

Medium: content meaning may be lost by machine translation reducing potential use of feature. Medium: content meaning (complexity, details) may be lost by machine translation reducing usefulness.

Funding and awards information

Medium: target audiences in smaller countries (learning providers) unlikely to benefit; translations already likely to be provided by NAs. Medium: greater coverage of target audience; added complexity of arranging translations.

Adult education Medium: short, news ephemeral information in English likely to be adequate for majority of target audience.

High: short, ephemeral information meaning likely to be adequately translated for the purpose.

Medium: complete coverage for user group; length of time required to arrange translations may mean that news becomes old news.

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Calendar of events

Medium: short, ephemeral information target audience likely to be able to understand broad meaning and use information. Medium: most opportunities likely to require knowledge of other language, usually EN. Medium: Documents provided in English or original language in which they are written complex content may not be useful to target audience.

High: greater coverage of target audience; may be complicated and cumbersome to arrange and manage translation of very short pieces of text. High: most opportunities likely to require knowledge of other language; likely to meet needs of target audience. Medium: majority of users likely to use feature high costs of translating all documents).

High: short, ephemeral information meaning likely to be adequately translated for the purpose; needs to be incorporated in the design of feature. High: automated translation likely to enhance usage by target group.

Medium: complete coverage; may be complicated and cumbersome to arrange and manage translation of very short pieces of text. High: complete coverage; complexity of management system depends on format of information. Medium: complete coverage; cost and complexity of translating all documents likely to be very costly.

Learning opportunities for staff in European countries Library of documents on adult education

Medium: content meaning (complexity, details) may be lost by machine translation reducing usefulness although mother tongue readers should be able to ascertain key points of text. Medium: content meaning (complexity, details) may be lost by machine translation reducing usefulness although mother tongue readers should be able to ascertain key points of text. Still requires resources to produce summary. High: Only website infrastructure requires translating, this is easy to achieve.

Summary of document and link to document in original language (Library of documents)

Medium: Although summary will be more accessible than fulldocument it is likely that many users will not be able to access complex content. Requires resources to produce summary.

High: Majority of users likely to use feature requires resource to read document and produce summary.

High: lower cost than providing translation of entire document, likely to be sufficient for most users. Requires resource to produce summary.

Catalogue of useful links / bookmarks on adult education

Medium: majority of users should be able to access bookmarks (which will not be translated in all languages).

High: Only website infrastructure requires translating, this is easy to achieve.

High: Only website infrastructure requires translating, this is easy to achieve.

Table 4.4 Assessment of Language Options - Functions


Function English only Six Major Languages (EN, FR, DE, ES, PL, IT) Low: greater coverage; may be complicated and cumbersome to arrange and manage translation of very short pieces of text / dynamic content. 25 Languages: Automated Machine Translation High: rated as most important function to be provided in own language in survey, automated translation could render meaning of short text useful for the purpose of the jobs; needs to be incorporated into design of tool. 25 Languages: Professional Translation Medium: complete coverage; may be complicated and cumbersome to arrange and manage translation of very short pieces of text.

Partner finding tool

Medium: survey users indicate that this is function this most useful in their own language; however nature of content (short text) should allow most users to navigate and use to some extent.

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Function

English only

Six Major Languages (EN, FR, DE, ES, PL, IT) Medium: majority of users likely to use feature high costs of translating all resources. High: Summary of resources offered in 6 languages (Could be further enhanced with request for translations as offered by Scientix).

25 Languages: Automated Machine Translation Medium: content meaning (complexity, details) may be lost by machine translation reducing usefulness although mother tongue readers should be able to ascertain key points of text.

25 Languages: Professional Translation Medium: complete coverage; cost and complexity of translating all resources likely to be very costly. Medium: summary of resources is provided in all languages - lower cost of translation but requires someone to produce summary. (Could be further enhanced with request for translations as offered by Scientix). Medium: complete coverage; cost and complexity of translating all resources likely to be very costly.

Resources for teaching / teachers

Medium: Resources provided in English or original language in which they are written complex content may not be useful to target audience.

Resources for managers

Medium: Resources provided in English or original language in which they are written complex content may not be useful to target audience.

Medium: majority of users likely to use feature high costs of translating all resources.

Medium: content meaning (complexity, details) may be lost by machine translation reducing usefulness although mother tongue readers should be able to ascertain key points of text. Medium: content meaning (complexity, details) may be lost by machine translation reducing usefulness although mother tongue readers should be able to ascertain key points of text. Medium: this option may enhance experience for those with weaker language skills. Unclear whether technology for this is available / works. Medium: this option may enhance experience for those with weaker language skills. Unclear whether technology for this is available / works.

Resources for staff training

Medium: Resources provided in English or original language in which they are written complex content may not be useful to target audience.

Medium: majority of users likely to use feature high costs of translating all resources.

Medium: complete coverage; cost and complexity of translating all resources likely to be very costly.

Discussion forum

High: identified as least helpful function to be provided in own language; multilingualism on forums may stifle discussion rather than promote it and create language silos. High: multilingualism may stifle interactions rather than promote them and create language silos.

Low: greater coverage; may be complicated and cumbersome to arrange and manage translation of very short pieces of text / dynamic content. Low: greater coverage; may be complicated and cumbersome to arrange and manage translation of very short pieces of text / dynamic content.

Low: complete coverage; may be complicated and cumbersome to arrange and manage translation of very short pieces of text / dynamic content. Low: complete coverage; may be complicated and cumbersome to arrange and manage translation of very short pieces of text / dynamic content.

Online members community

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Function

English only

Six Major Languages (EN, FR, DE, ES, PL, IT) High: greater share of users will be able to access information; relatively easy to arrange translation. High: helpful to encourage use of tools and not difficult to achieve.

25 Languages: Automated Machine Translation High: experience enhanced by provision of this option; allows speakers of less popular languages to access information. Low: looks unprofessional / cost savings do not out way benefits.

25 Languages: Professional Translation High: complete coverage; relatively easy to arrange translation.

Ask an Expert

Medium: not identified as a priority to be provided in own language in survey; majority of users should be able to access information. Medium: majority of potential users/learners likely to communicate in English should meet needs of most users. Not applicable users generate own content in language of their choice

EPartnership Space and Elearning Space: Website architecture only EPartnership Space: partnergenerated content only

High: translation of function architecture only (one off rather than ongoing cost): helpful to encourage use of tool and not difficult to achieve. Low: translation of all user generated content is too complex and expensive.

Low: translation of all user generated content is too complex and expensive. Low: delivery of training in six/many languages simultaneously: very complex and expensive to achieve.

Medium: capacity within tool for automated translation may make epartnerships easier and encourage use. Medium: facility to translate documents and text (e.g. questions by other learners) in own language may enhance learning experience for those with weaker language skills. Unclear whether technology for this is available / works.

Online Training sessions / Elearning Space / Virtual Classroom: Delivery of Training only

Medium: only 14% survey respondents would participate in etraining only in their own language 58% would definitely participate even if they are only in English. This option should meet need of majority of users.

Low: delivery of training in all languages simultaneously: very complex and expensive to achieve.

As a consequence, the assessment suggests that for some functions to be used by their intended users across Member States higher cost options need to be considered. This is particularly the case with information on: good practice on adult education delivery and policy; funding opportunities; and learning opportunities for staff. For some functions and features, such as the library of documents and the selection of resources, there is a case for investing in translation of the website architecture and in providing summaries of these in all languages. The usefulness of these could be further enhanced by offering a system of ondemand translation (as offered by Scientix). Machine translation provides the best option for other functions (such as the partner finding tool and the calendar).

4.4

Key messages
The assessment indicates that EPALE could significantly contribute to some of the key aims of the adult learning agenda and the proposed Erasmus for All programme, especially to improve the quality and extent of cooperation, widen the beneficiaries of resources produced and to strengthen the sector by supporting innovative better quality teaching. It could also drive transferring knowledge and expertise in the adult education field for both teaching and raising participation and achievement both by enhancing and by expanding the opportunities for exchanges and sharing for mutual learning and collaboration. Principally because some of the features and functions could be expected to have a greater impact than others and make a more significant contribution to the aims and targets of the

Feasibility of EPALE 79

adult learning agenda and the Commissions future programme, the highest priorities should be:

Good practice on adult education policy; Partner finding tool; Resources for teaching / teachers; Resources for staff training; Calendar of events; Learning opportunities for staff; and On-line training / e-learning space.

The following would only be secondary priorities: Good practice on delivering adult education; Resources for managers; Catalogue of useful links; Funding and awards information; On-line members community; and E-partnership space.

And the following should not necessarily be considered for EPALE: adult education news, library of documents, discussion forum, and Ask an Expert, unless they provided value to any of the highest priority features and functions by increasing traffic to the platform or providing resources to users. The highest priority features and functions would benefit from the following arrangements for languages:

Professional translation in 25 languages: Good practice on adult education policy Learning opportunities for staff Summaries of resources for teaching and staff training Machine translation: Partner finding tool Calendar of events English only: On-line training events / e-learning space.

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Assessment of approaches
In this chapter there is a systematic assessment of the approaches for development and management and the choices about dissemination approaches for establishing an effective EPALE drawing on the interviews of those responsible for other similar platforms.

5.1

Development and management


By and large platforms are developed and managed by third parties though a few have in house staff who undertake more than contract management such as monitoring and appraising contractors work. These include staff to undertake some promotion and creation/updating of information. Development and management activities generally fall into one of three groups. These are described below though these would vary depending on the features and functions selected for EPALE. Development management and maintenance (DMM):

Design of website layout (at set up stage); Establish and maintain navigation; Check usability and use; seek user feedback; Any registration service Create and upload website content; Update redundant content; Collation and categorisation of resources and uploading onto database with search function; Manage partner-finding tool database; Manage delivery of webinars/online training (delivery likely to be provided by external contractors); Maintain calendar of events and search function; Promotion of website through web advertising or links to similar websites; Production of newsletter; Manage social media presence (e.g. Facebook group or Twitter account); Manage and moderating forums and other user-generated content; Support users with technical problems remotely (though email or feedback forms) and provide help desk; User training and guidance; Manage network of translators and uploading translated content (if multi-lingualism is supported).

Resource support and development (RSD):

In-house knowledge/expertise in education and adult education and/or virtual partnerships; Production of publications and reports (e.g. research on a specific theme such as prisoner education); Production of specialized newsletters (focusing on particular communities within adult education, e.g. basic skills, prisons, environment etc) Identification and production of educational and partnership material (e.g. lesson plans, teaching materials for virtual cooperation between adult education groups); Assessing good and best practice examples, producing case studies, assessing learning tools; Organisation of European events (e.g. report launches, conferences) or other dissemination and engagement activities (e.g European/worldwide competitions); Organisation of training (both webinars and offline), including developing training content;

Feasibility of EPALE 81

Promotion of website through participation in stakeholders conferences and other events; campaigns.

Network support (NS):

Local presence (in each country or in regions) by establishing a physical office or creating a National Agency (awarded through an open procurement process); Offer support to users through the provision of a helpline; Design and delivery of face-to-face training to potential users on how to access the website; Production of locally-relevant publications (e.g. local newsletter, reports); Organise local events (e.g. conferences) or other dissemination/engagement activities (e.g. competitions for the best shared space); Production of locally-relevant content for the website (e.g. policy update from country/region, interviews with national stakeholders, case studies from local practice, uploading of local events on central calendar, maintenance of local page on website); Promotion of website and its activities through participation in local events, press releases and media engagement; Promotion of website through engaging with local social media (e.g. posts on national group Facebook page); Translation activities.

As a consequence the options are more about the scale of activity than the division of activities between client and contractor and there are three broad options which are used by platforms based on the groups of activities described above; though there are choices then about the extent that single or several contractors are used. The broad options are: Development, management and maintenance (DMM): this could be a single central contractor with the expectation that the platforms features and functions are operational and effective. This would require administration, such as registering users, mediating discussion forums and quality assuring downloadable materials, the scope and scale of which would depend on the features and functions selected and the extent of administration required. DMM and resource support and development (RSD): this adds responsibility for developing and organising activities outside the platform which would also contribute to the platforms broad objectives and provide material for the websites users. This could include organising events which would provide new materials for non-attendees or encourage new users after the event, and/or organising competitions and searches for materials to be available for downloading, for example. This can make up for the limited contribution which users could be reasonably expected to make. DMM, RSD and network support (NS): this adds responsibility for network support which would supplement centralised DMM and RSD probably with a presence in each Member State. This could be training in use, translation, delegated quality assurance, and obtaining new materials. This could ensure wider participation across Member States and ensure dissemination and support was targeted to meet different Member States needs. In all options dissemination activities can be included in the requirements; indeed NS is mainly about dissemination activities. A broad assessment of each option is set out in Table 5.1 below. Because the cost of the options is plainly very different and the scope of each option depends on the choices of content, functions and dissemination activities, the assessment focuses on how each option would affect the effective development and delivery of these. In broad terms:

DMM would develop operational features and functions. Provided that development is enhanced to cover a range of management and administration activities, it should ensure that potential features and functions go some way to meet potential users needs (user support, highlighting popular good practice downloads, coordination of forums and calendars), the platform is promoted to attract users, and some material is translated. 82

Feasibility of EPALE

RSD could significantly enhance the effectiveness and impact of many of the features and functions as well as the extent of dissemination and support the language availability needed by some functions. This is needed to: Review and moderate submitted material; Identify/classify material, such as resources and good practice; Produce newsletters, especially targeted and more sophisticated dissemination tools; Provide e-training; Create material and encourage users with off-line activities; and Quality assure translated material NS could provide a further enhancement with more focused dissemination and active identification, collection and translation of resources.

As a consequence, the assessment suggests that most of the desired features and many of the functions for EPALE can be delivered through the DMM option. An RSD allows for the creation, moderation and production of new material and events so that the website can evolve to offer a core service rather than function as a depository of material and information created elsewhere. This has the potential of attracting new users to the site; as well as generating return traffic from existing users. This is vital for many of the potential functions. The addition of NS would allow EPALE to directly engage with the target audience in their own country and in their own language and therefore increase the likelihood of community functions being taken up. This would not be needed until the platform is established.

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Table 5.1 Assessment of Development and Management Options


Broad options DMM Achievement of effective features All features can be effectively provided through DMM model. Extent of content available dependent on resources committed to the contract. DMM may be able to compile examples of good practice but may not have capacity / ability to critically review material. Achievement of effective functions Ability to provide links and possibly quality assure downloadable resources for teachers, teaching and management. Ability to effectively provide partner finding tools, online members community and E-partnership space. Could also offer some support to users on using the features above however ability to actively encourage use and animate community tool may be limited. Sufficient ability to coordinate Ask and Expert function. Some moderation of discussion forums (but this may not be possible in all languages). Ability to create own resources for teachers, teaching and management. Enhanced capability to provide links to, critically review and possibly translate other providers resources. Ability to organise and deliver etraining events and activities on an e-learning space. Offline events described above (and features) offers opportunity to create / engage with community of users and encourage use of online community function. Enhanced ability to offer Ask an Expert function, as RES could provide internal expertise. Achievement of effective dissemination Achievement of effective multi-lingual requirements Activities that could be achieved effectively are: Exclusive content SEO and link ups Targeted advertising (mostly at LLP and European level) Targeted newsletters RSS feeds Some social media (such as social bookmarking) All the above would be provided centrally. Professional translation of static content in either the major European languages or all 25 languages could be incorporated in the DMM contract. Translation of dynamic content could also be included in the contract, but would be costly. Use of automated translation could enhance linguistic offer without associated cost implications. Translation of resources such as pedagogical material through DDM may not reach appropriate quality standards. RES products would add to translation requirements (more reports and event notices to translate). RES team may be able to quality assure translated learning material.

DMM and RSD

Enhanced ability to produce research reports, critically review compilations of good practice and guidance documents.

An RES would enhance the dissemination activities listed above through the production of publications, events and other activities as these are likely to generate traffic and interest in EPALE. It is likely that the RES would particularly be able to enhance the newsletter(s) because they would be able to draw from internal knowledge and expertise about AE methodologies. An RES would also have the capacity and knowledge to effectively achieve the following activities: Quality marks Social media (specific engagement such as Twitter)

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Broad options DMM, RSD and NS

Achievement of effective features Ability to provide content and encourage users to provide content for all features from the member state (e.g. production of case studies, production of summary of news and policy developments, uploading of events onto EPALE calendar).

Achievement of effective functions Ability to tailor resources to local needs. Ability to organise and deliver on-line and off-line events and training activities. Ability to animate, encourage and support adult education organisations on the ground to use functions such as online member community.

Achievement of effective dissemination Achievement of effective multi-lingual requirements Enhanced dissemination activities (all listed above) by enabling these to be specifically targeted to the requirements of the adult education sectors in the member state. Through NS, EPALE could raise awareness of its activities undertake local advertising, participate in events organised in member states and join localised Facebook groups. More likely to achieve the engagement in EPALE of those adult education organisations and staff that are not currently engaged in LLP-funded activities through the NAs. Enhancement of EPALEs language offer through: - Providing translations of material (resource/newsletters etc) - Providing support to users of the website in their mother tongue via email, telephone or face-to-face - Delivering dissemination activities (online and offline) in mother tongue, such as organising local Quality Mark competitions. - Delivering training (online and offline) in mother tongue

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5.2

Dissemination
Active management is as important as active dissemination in encouraging larger volumes of users and active users who will participate in interactive functions. For EPALE, active dissemination could include providing exclusive content or functionality, SEO and links to other platforms, targeted paid advertising, targeted e-newsletters and RSS feeds, rewards and quality marks, and social media links. In Table 5.2 below each of these is considered against the potential scale of use by target users and costs using a High/Medium/Low rating. It shows that dissemination activities are necessary to increase traffic and use of potential features and functions. Exclusive content would direct users to EPALE and potentially attract users to other content and functions. E-newsletters can achieve similar effects though it helps if they are targeted and have a known on-line market. SEO should not be neglected because many people use a search engine not a site search. Some activities would have lower impacts but could be significant supplementary dissemination activities, such as RSS feeds, other social media and rewards. The costs of rewards and quality marks would be relatively higher than other dissemination activities with lower returns though they might be useful for specific functions such as teaching resources. Table 5.2 Assessment of Dissemination Activities
Activity Scale of Potential Traffic / Hits Costs Overall assessment (Scale and inverse of costs) High Potential EPALE activity

Exclusive content or functionality

High: routing every Grundtvig applicant through EPALE would create guaranteed audience. High: many interviewees and survey respondents reported using search engines to find what they need. SEO would harness search result clicks. Medium: raises awareness amongst those already active in European projects. Unknown: Effectiveness of Google AdWords or other paid online advertising for target group not known. High: potential users and other websites report that this is an effective way of disseminating information and generating returning traffic.

Low: requires simple webpage to host downloadable forms some additional costs in Low: has become standard practice in developing websites; websites reviewed do not report high costs. Low: requires investment in initial link-up; no technology requirements. Low: Google AdWords allows setting of maximum budget so costs can be kept under control. Low: requires editor / editorial teams.

Application forms (downloadable or online) Partner-finding tool Whole website Many languages

SEO

High

Link-ups with other websites / activities Targeted (paid) advertising

Medium

Whole website

Unknown

Whole website Many languages

Targeted enewsletters

High

Whole website Different (thematic) sections of the website

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Activity

Scale of Potential Traffic / Hits

Costs

Overall assessment (Scale and inverse of costs) Medium

Potential EPALE activity

RSS feeds

Medium: used by some potential users / some websites report that it is effective

Low: technology itself is not costly requires uploading of (interesting) syndicated content. Medium: partly incorporated in development cost of online members community; requires testing of reward system Medium: requires either internal team or panel of experts to judge / assess contributions. Low: requires team member to be responsible for social media strategy.

News and Articles Funding and Awards Updates Reports (potentially) Blogs (potentially) Online Members Community

Rewards

Medium: other websites report that these are effective in encouraging participation among similar target user groups.

Low

Quality marks

Medium: other websites report that these provide useful guidance to users

Low

Resources uploaded by users Virtual Partnerships and their products Events Online Training News Funding and Awards updates

Social media Medium: used by some potential users; used by similar websites with mixed results; risk of diverting hits away from EPALE to other website.

Medium

As a consequence this assessment suggests that creating a source of exclusive content, SEO and targeted newsletters are likely to be the most effective methods in terms of potential to attract visitors to the site and low costs. Most dissemination activities suggested do not carry high costs in themselves, however many rely on one or two staff members in a RSD function contributing to this activity for a few days every month.

5.3

Key messages
The assessment suggests that most of the desired features and many of the functions for EPALE can be delivered through the DMM option. An RSD allows for the creation, moderation and production of new material and events so that the website can evolve to offer a core service rather than function as a depository of material and information created elsewhere. This has the potential of attracting new users to the site; as well as generating return traffic from existing users which would be necessary for the platform to ensure a critical mass of users. The addition of NS would allow EPALE to directly engage with the target audience in their own country and in their own language and therefore increase the likelihood of community functions being taken up. Creating a source of exclusive content, SEO and targeted e-newsletters are likely to be the most effective ways of attracting visitors to the site at relatively low cost. In relation to the priorities for EPALE and language provision suggested in the conclusions to chapter 4 EPALE would require DMM and RSD in the first instance to create an adult education learning community and ensure the functions were effectively used and met users needs. A RSD would also ensure that dissemination could include targeted e-newsletters which should be one of the priorities for dissemination. NS would be a necessary enhancement in some Member States to promote and enable use of resources and a partner finding tool.

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Conclusions
The Commission expected the study to:

Identify the most useful features and functionalities of EPALE; Identify the costs and benefits of such features and functionalities; Consider the models for providing EPALE and associated costs; Consider the approaches to disseminating information about EPALE; and Provide estimates of the potential costs to establish, promote and maintain EPALE.

The material set out in chapters 2 to 5 identify the most useful features and functions and the cost benefits of each as well as the approaches to dissemination and management and maintenance and the relative costs of these. In this final chapter the models for providing EPALE are set out and considered. In this chapter there is therefore a consideration of the key findings in chapters 2 and 3 against the Commissions initial expectations of EPALE and the agenda for adult learning, as well as the proposed programme of Erasmus for All. This is drawn together to make the case for an EPALE. The findings of chapters 4 and 5 are then drawn on to set out some broad options for EPALE with indications of costs over the next few years and the likely contributions they can make to the Commissions agenda for adult learning.

6.1

What is the case for EPALE


At the outset it was considered likely that EPALE could: Support the process of building a European adult learning community by providing good quality information about policy and practice and learning products from the range of providers of non-vocational adult education; Enhance and speed up the process of building closer cooperation, networking and exchanges of information and people that currently largely take place through workshops and events; Capitalize on the results of Grundtvig projects, products and activities and those funded by Member States by disseminating them more widely, in particular evidence of best practice to address specific problems in adult learning; and Support the process for developing as well as implementing European adult learning policies.

It is clear that it could play a key role in transferring innovative and well tested practices in teaching and training in adult learning to strengthen the adult learning sector across Europe and create a wider learning community for mutual benefits. It could provide a sustainable network for dissemination and the exploitation of knowledge and understanding to a much wider range of beneficiaries. It would be feasible to establish the platform since the features and functions have been developed elsewhere and it is evident that learning can be drawn on to ensure they are developed to meet the adult learning communitys needs. Table 6.1 below adapts a PEST analysis to summarise the findings which support the case.

Feasibility of EPALE 88

Table 6.1 The case for EPALE


Policy relevance The Agenda for Adult Learning includes raising the quality of teaching and learning in adult education; increasing the participation of adults in learning Erasmus for All could expect an IT support platform to provide opportunities for peer learning exchange, training and open resources, and enlarging the group of beneficiaries of partner activities and learning events Opportunity to spread resources and practice to less developed adult education providers to increase availability of innovative teaching and ways to increase participation in adult learning especially for the low skilled and older people Provides for open educational resources Social benefits Very high proportions of potential beneficiaries believe they would use features and functions Recognition by many potential beneficiaries that it could address needs for training and better teaching materials Gaps in current electronic resources for adult learning which it could fill, especially for teaching resources Difficulties with current resources to retrieve good practice and legacy materials Economically effective Functions such as downloadable resources and shared space for e-partners attract users who would otherwise not participate in sharing and using new materials because of the cost New resources obtained by practitioners and policy makers at less cost than developing them themselves Tools to enable cooperation and sharing provide virtual mobility at low cost Opportunity to exploit the legacy of resources and materials from Grundtvig and other programmes Learning available about the development of tools by other platforms with features and functions planned for EPALE Technically feasible Similar platforms are operational and have similar features and functions Lessons can be learned from the experience of other platforms about what works Language translation can be carried out for features and functions that would benefit from being multi-lingual

As a consequence the development of a platform should be supported because it:

Directly contributes to fulfilling many of the ambitions of the Agenda for Adult Learning; Fills a gap in what is generally available to increase the knowledge, understanding, skills and competencies of adult learning providers; This is recognised by the majority of potential users; Provides cost effective means to increase sharing and use of information and resources; Could create a learning community across Europe for adult learning managers and practitioners in particular with the remit to transfer and share resources which could raise the quality of teaching, enhance participation, and encourage effective investment in adult learning; and It is not a high risk in terms of technical requirements.

6.2

What are the broad options


The broad options are more about different scales of development than mutually exclusive choices between different features and functions because the assessment points to features and functions which should be a greater priority than others. The features and functions to be developed in turn have implications for the management and maintenance arrangements necessary as well as the dissemination and language requirements.

Feasibility of EPALE 89

Table 6.2 below therefore sets out the requirements and estimated costs for three scenarios. The first focuses on the highest priority features and functions, the second a wider range of higher priority features and functions; the third brings in some which are a lesser priority. In grouping the package of features and functions in each option, key considerations have been: Providing content which will provide potential users a reason to visit the website; Reflecting on the need to provide resources and partnering opportunities when the Grundtvig programme comes to an end in 2014; Reflecting on the assessments in chapter 4 which highlighted the features and functions that were the highest priority; Considering the views of beneficiaries and other platform owners about the features and functions most likely to make a difference, contribute to the agenda for adult learning, and fill a gap in what is available; and Building a critical mass of users to enable a partner finding tool to be useful.

As a consequence the first scenario groups the features and functions most likely to contribute to the planned programme for adult learning and have an impact on its key aims. The associated management and maintenance, dissemination and languages proposals for each option reflect: The degree of need for active management and dissemination; The limited extent users are likely to be active participants and the wish to exploit resources and materials that already exist; The indication that multi-lingualism (25 languages) will encourage the use of shared resources for teaching and training; and The criticality of raising awareness and generating traffic if the e-partner finding tool is to draw in users across the Member States.

Additionally, we assumed that the website would:

Be built using a CMS which can support content in many languages; Comply with at least the A level WAI accessibility standard but aim for Triple A compliance; Be suitably coded so that it can be accessible on a range of devices; Have effective security and personal data safety provisions in place; and Include a how to section which would offer step-by-step guidance to users on how they can participate in the various tools.

There are opportunities for collaboration with existing websites and their functions which we have not included in our assumptions. For example, instead of creating a new database of learning resources EPALE may wish to engage in a partnership with LRE or with Open Education Resources31 so that adult education material is uploaded onto their existing database. This may result in cost savings and offer the possibility of a larger, worldwide audience for the material. However, it might also mean that adult education material is lost on these larger databases among the large number of other resources that are available32. As a consequence the estimated costs are based around the costs of other platforms with adjustments to take account of the scale of EPALE proposed compared to these. This is not

http://www.oercommons.org For example, Open Education Resources filters material in its database by post-secondary grade which covers more than adult learning.
32

31

Feasibility of EPALE 90

an exact approach to costing but should indicate the relative scale of different scenarios and their components. It should also be noted that:

Some of the annual costs (2014 onwards) could start before the launch of the platform; for example the National Support network should be established before the website is launched; There will be contract management costs falling on the Commission as well as a considerable cost to lead and support development in the first two years. The former have not been estimated; and Staffing estimates for RSD and NS have led the costing.

In considering the scenarios the Commission should balance costs against budget and what package of features and functions will achieve its ambitions from 2014 onwards. The highest priority scenario includes features and functions which should have the biggest impact on the aims of the Agenda for Adult Learning. Other platforms suggest that the creation of EPALE can be achieved by 2014.

6.3

Way ahead
Once the Commission has considered the business case made for EPALE and the features and functions for development in the first stage if it is to go ahead, the Commission should consider drawing on the lessons of other platforms particularly their experience in developing and delivering similar features and functions and the challenges that have arisen in making them effective some of which are drawn out in section 3.1. It should also make decisions about the related packages of management and maintenance, dissemination and languages as set out in the scenarios above and whether any opportunities for collaboration should be explored.

Feasibility of EPALE 91

Table 6.2 Scenarios for Development


Package of features and functions Highest priority Good practice on AE delivery Good practice on AE policy Learning Opportunities for staff Partner-finding tool / Online Member Community (integrated) Resources for teachers/teaching Resources for staff training Calendar Language requirements 25 languages for website architecture (including architecture functions) 25 languages professional translation for good practice on delivery and resources for teaching / staff training At least 6 languages for good practice on policy Dissemination requirements Newsletter Social bookmarking SEO RSS feed (calendar + learning opportunities) Networks and partners Reward systems through online member community Management and support requirements Costs 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2013 Annual costs 2014 and 2015 Website only (DMM): 60k - 150k (2-3 staff + software licenses ) Small RSD (3/4 people + network of translators): 150k to 250k NS: Up to 3m (2 people + overheads)

DMM + RSD + NS Website is the most architecture: effective option 150k to 500k depending on cost DMM only could of partner tool / provide these community (team activities but of 3-10 staff) probably could not provide Development of assessment of content: good practice 50k (basic upload of material Network of collected) to translators in 25 200k languages a (categorisation necessity and assessment) (team of 1-4 staff)

Commission time related to monitoring and Testing: panel of strategic goal potential users setting some (est. 10-20k for work on arranging dissemination managing may be required feedback process) in first years. (staff included in above + potential user time) Significant Commission staff team at set-up stage,

Feasibility of EPALE 92

Package of features and functions

Language requirements

Dissemination requirements

Management and support requirements

Costs 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2013 procurement, deciding on layout, content etc (team of 2-3 parttime staff)

Annual costs 2014 and 2015

High and highest priority

As above plus: Funding and Awards Resources for Managers Online training

As above plus: At least 6 languages for resources for managers English-only for training (plus automated translation with virtual classroom environment if possible)

As above plus:

DMM + NS + more substantial RSS feed (funding RSD would be the & new training) most effective option to deliver (Real life online training dissemination events if NS is established)

As above plus: Cost of Online Training / VLE / Moodle licence Cost of developing initial training offer (team of 2 staff)

Website only (DMM): 60k - 150k (2-3 staff + software licences) Larger RSD (5/6 people + network of translators): 250k to 350k NS: Up to 3m (2 people + overheads) Commission time related to monitoring and strategic goal setting some work on dissemination may be required in first years

Medium, high and highest priority

As above plus: AE News

As above plus: Summary of items in library in 25

Real-life training on how to use partnership space (as offered by

DMM + RSD + NS: would be the most effective option in order to

Cost of developing epartnership space (team of 1

Cost of NS likely to be higher (up to 4.5) because of need to provide

Feasibility of EPALE 93

Package of features and functions Catalogue of links Library of documents Epartnership Space

Language requirements languages Automated translation (if possible) for Epartnership space

Dissemination requirements eTwinning.net)

Management and support requirements improve participation in interactive features across countries

Costs 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2013 2 staff) Cost of coding additional database for library of documents (team of two staff)

Annual costs 2014 and 2015 more support to potential users of epartnership space (similar to training provided by etwinning)

Feasibility of EPALE 94

Annex 1 Glossary of Technical Terms


Accessibility: Accessibility in the context of a Web site is the degree to which that Web site is usable by people with disabilities. Blog: short for web log, a personal journal published on the web consisting of discrete entries (called posts) typically displayed in reverse chronological order so that the most recent post appears first. Brute force attack: also known as exhaustive key search, is the strategy of systematically checking all possible keys until the correct key is found to enter an encryption system. CAPTCHA: part of a web form that attempts to ensure that the person filling out the form is indeed a person, and not a computer. The goal of a CAPTCHA is to reduce the amount of spam received. The term CAPTCHA is trademarked by Carnegie Mellon University and stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart. Chat bar: tool bar where web users can engage in instant text-based communication. ColdFusion: a website application for rapid development and maintenance most often used for data driven sites; can handle SMS and instant messaging. Content Management System (CMS): A tool for managing content, usually on a Web site, that separates the design, interactivity, and content from one another to make it easier for content authors to provide content. Cookies: A cookie on the web is a line of text that is saved to a computer's hard drive that can be accessed and written by websites. Cross-site scripting (XSS): A type of computer security vulnerability typically found in Web applications that enables attackers to inject client-side script into Web pages viewed by other users. CPD: Continuing professional development, learning by which people maintain their knowledge and skills related to their professional lives. Denial of service attack: An attempt to make a computer or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Documentum: is content management system, which allows a virtually endless repository of documents to be build. It can be used to create a website. It is used by large companies and organisations as content can be shared across the organisation easily. Drupal: a free software package that allows easy organisation, management and publication of web content. It is maintained and developed by a community of users and requires no programming skills; some user concerns about usability and backward compatibility. eLearning Space: page and functions on a website that allows user to participate in eLearning. Google Adwords: words specified on the Google Advertising service which lead to the generation of targeted advertisements on a wide range of websites Instant message: real time direct text-based chatting communication between two or more people on personal computers or other devices. Intrusion testing: Also know as penetration or pen testing, a method of evaluating the security of a computer system or network by simulating an attack from malicious outsiders (who do not have an authorized means of accessing the organization's systems) and malicious insiders (who have some level of authorized access). IP address: The numerical designation of a computer attached to the Internet. Java Server Faces (JSF): a web development application designed to simplify the development and integration of web-based user interfaces. Liferay: a free and open source portal written in Java to power websites; the portal enables users to set up website features. Microsite: individual web page or a small cluster (around 1 to 7) of pages which are meant to function as a discreet entity within an existing website or to complement an offline activity. Feasibility of EPALE 95

Moodle: a type of VLE (see below). Open source software: is computer software that is available in source code form, the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a free software license that permits users to study, change, improve and at times also to distribute the software. Personal Dashboard: Web page that displays key information about every function of the website where the user has participated; RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed: Content from one website produced on another website, It allows readers of the website to stay informed easily about changes on that website because the information is collected in a standard format and is readable by many different types of RSS tools and RSS readers. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un- search results. Social bookmarking: A method for Internet users to organize, store, manage and search for bookmarks of resources online. Spam bot: An automated computer program designed to assist in the sending of spam. Spam bots usually create fake accounts and send spam using them, although it would be obvious that a spam bot is sending it. Some spam bots, however, can crack passwords and send spam using other people's accounts. SQL injections: a form of attack to the security of a website by inputting code in a web form to get a badly designed website to perform operations on the database (often to dump the database content to the attacker) other than the usual operations as intended by the designer. Tag cloud: Also known as word cloud or weighted list is a visual representation for text data, typically used to depict keyword metadata (tags) on websites, or to visualize free form text. Virtual Learning Environment (VLE): an education system based on the Web that models conventional real-world education by integrating a set of equivalent virtual concepts for tests, homework, classes, classrooms, and the like, and perhaps even museums and other external academic resources. Web 2.0: a term associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing, usercentric design and collaboration. Webinars: seminars or conferences that occur online to allow events to be shared with remote locations. Widget: a generic type of software application comprising portable code intended for one or more different software platforms.

Feasibility of EPALE 96

Annex 2 Online Survey

An Electronic Platform for Adult Education in Europe


This survey is about your views on an Electronic Platform for Adult Education in Europe. The European Commission - DG Education and Culture has asked GHK Consulting Ltd, a research organisation, to undertake this survey and other work to find out whether an Electronic Platform would be feasible and what features are most needed. This survey has 15 questions and should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete. For any questions or if you have any technical problems, please contact GHK Consulting at adulteducationsurvey@ghkint.com or contact Stephanie Charalambous at +44 20 7611 1106. We are happy to receive responses to open questions in your own language. Thank you for your time. Your contribution is greatly valued.

Please let us know:

1.
Your Name: Name of your Organisation: Job role:

____________________________________________________________ _______________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ _______________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ _______________________________________

2.

Your Country (select one):

Austria Belgium Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France FYROM Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Latvia

Feasibility of EPALE 97

Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Turkey United Kingdom Other

If other please state:

_______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________

3.

How would you describe your organisation's role (select all that apply):

Provider of Adult Education National or Local Authority responsible for Adult Education Policy LLP National Agency Body providing Guidance about learning and/or careers Higher Education Institution (Research in the field of Adult Education) Media / Press Other

3.aIf you clicked 'provider of adult education' please indicate which type:
School Further Education College University / Higher Education Institution Community or voluntary group Municipal / Local Authority Adult Education
indicate which type:

Workers Education Organisation Provider of Vocational Education and Training Private or independent training provider Other

3.bIf you clicked 'National or Local Authority responsible for Adult Education Policy', please

National Ministry Regional / Federal Ministry

Municipal / Local Authority Other

3.c

If other please describe:

________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________


Feasibility of EPALE 98

Useful Features
4.
Would your organisation use a European Electronic Platform to find information on the following? (select one answer per row) Yes - I can't find this No - I don't need this I don't think so - I can information information / it is not of find the information I anywhere else interest to me need somewhere else
Good practice and case studies on the delivery of adult education in European countries Good practice and case studies on adult education policy in European countries Information on funding available and awards News on adult education in European countries Calendar of Events in the field of adult education Learning opportunities for staff in European countries Library of documents on adult education Catalogue of useful links / bookmarks on adult education

5.

How useful would this feature be to your organisation? (select one answer per row) Very useful - I Useful - I would Not very useful - I Not useful - I don't would use it a use it regularly, it might use it I will never know how lot, it would would be a occasionally but it is use this useful help me do my benefit to my not critical to my feature this will job better work work be
Tool to find Partners in other countries Downloadable Resources for Teachers (such as lesson plans, course material, videos etc) Downloadable Resources for Managers (such as on recruiting learners, bidding for funding etc) Resources for staff training Discussion Forum Online Member's community "Ask an Expert" feature with user comments and searchable lists of previous responses eLearning Space / Virtual Classroom ePartnership Shared Online Space (for sharing resources with partners) Calendar of events in the field of adult education

Feasibility of EPALE 99

Useful Features (continued)


6.Please rank from 1 (most useful) to 10 (least useful) which of the following features would be
most helpful if provided in your own language? You can only use each number once. 1 - Most 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 - Least useful useful
Downloadable Resources for Teachers (such as lesson plans, course material, videos etc) Downloadable Resources for Managers (such as on recruiting learners, bidding for funding etc) Resources for staff training Good practice and case studies on the delivery of adult education in European countries Good practice and case studies on adult education policy in European countries Information on funding available and awards News on adult education in European countries Discussion Forum "Ask an Expert" feature with user comments and searchable lists of previous responses Calendar of events in the field of Adult Education

Online Events
7.
Would your organisation be interested in participating in online events and training organised through a European Electronic Platform for Adult Education? (select one)

Yes, even if they are only available in English Yes, but only if they are available in my language No I don't know

7.aIf your answer is no, please explain why not (select all that apply)

Lack of time Lack of agreement from my manager / hierarchy I do not need it Other

7.b If other, please specify

Feasibility of EPALE 100

________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ___________________

8.

What would be key factors in making these events attractive to you? (select all that apply)

Free / low cost Length and timing of event A topic that interested me To learn from other participants To network with other participants

9.

Please list any other factors which would make these events attractive to you in the box below:

________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________

Your contribution
In this section we want to find out whether you have the time and resources to actively contribute to an Electronic Platform

10.Please tell us whether you would be willing to do any of the following:


Yes No
Become a member of a secure community and create a profile Make comments and submit feedback on news, articles, tools etc Upload information about events you are organising Ask a question on a discussion forum Answer a question on a discussion forum Upload a profile of your organisation in a partner-finding tool Use virtual classrooms / eLearning Space Upload and share lesson plans and other learning tools Upload photos and videos from your activities Create content such as news articles or case studies of your activities or policy developments in your country Translate content to your own language (from English or another language)

11. Is there anything else you would like to be able to do with an Electronic Platform?

Feasibility of EPALE 101

________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ _________________________

News and Updates about Adult Education


12.
Tick the box if you currently Tick the box if you would use any of use any of the following to the following to receive news and receive news or updates updates from a European Adult Learning Platform
Email newsletter RSS feed (news and blog aggregator) Calendar Synchronisation tool (such as Ical) Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Delicious Stumbleupon Other

I don't know

12.1 If other, please specify:


______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________

Your Comments
13. Are there any other comments you would like to make?
________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ _________________________ DG Education and Culture and GHK Consulting may wish to contact you again by email or telephone to find out more about your views on adult education. If you are happy for us to contact you please complete the following (optional):
Feasibility of EPALE 102

14.

Email:

_____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

15.

Telephone number (including country code and area code):

_____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

Thank you for your time. Please click 'submit' to send your answers to GHK.

Feasibility of EPALE 103

Annex 3 Survey: Detailed Analysis Tables


A3.1 Breakdown of Responses to Question Would your organisation use a European Electronic Platform to find information on the following?
Table A3.1
Response Higher Education Institution

Responses by Provider type for option: Good practice and case studies on the delivery of adult education in European countries
LLP National Agency Media / Press National or Local Authority Responsible for Adult Education 78% 4% 10% Provider of Adult Education No Response Total (All responses)

Yes No I dont think so No response Total

79% 0% 19%

73% 0% 18%

100% 0% 0%

80% 5% 13%

77% 3% 18%

79% 4% 14%

2% 100%

9% 100%

0% 100%

8% 100%

2% 100%

2% 100%

2% 100%

Table A3.2
Response Higher Education Institution

Responses by Provider type for option: Good practice and case studies on adult education policy in European countries
LLP National Agency Media / Press National or Local Authority Responsible for Adult Education 78% 2% 12% Provider of Adult Education No Response Total (All responses)

Yes No I dont think so No response Total

86% 0% 14%

82% 0% 18%

100% 0% 0%

76% 9% 14%

71% 11% 17%

76% 8% 14%

0% 100%

0% 100%

0% 100%

8% 100%

1% 100%

1% 100%

2% 100%

Table A3.3
Response Higher Education Institution

Responses by Provider type for option: Information on funding available and awards
LLP National Agency Media / Press National or Local Authority Responsible for Adult Education 64% 10% 16% Provider of Adult Education No Response Total (All responses)

Yes No I dont think so

76% 7% 17%

36% 0% 45%

100% 0% 0%

75% 4% 18%

69% 2% 25%

73% 4% 20%

Feasibility of EPALE 104

Response

Higher Education Institution

LLP National Agency

Media / Press

National or Local Authority Responsible for Adult Education

Provider of Adult Education

No Response

Total (All responses)

No response Total

0% 100%

18% 100%

0% 100%

10% 100%

2% 100%

4% 100%

3% 100%

Table A3.4
Response Higher Education Institution

Responses by Provider type for option: News on adult education in European countries
LLP National Agency Media / Press National or Local Authority Responsible for Adult Education 64% 2% 22% Provider of Adult Education No Response Total (All responses)

Yes No I dont think so No response Total

76% 5% 17%

64% 0% 27%

100% 0% 0%

78% 6% 12%

76% 6% 17%

76% 5% 14%

2% 100%

9% 100%

0% 100%

12% 100%

4% 100%

1% 100%

4% 100%

Table A3.5
Response Higher Education Institution

Responses by Provider type for option: Calendar of Events in the field of adult education
LLP National Agency Media / Press National or Local Authority Responsible for Adult Education 64% 4% 20% Provider of Adult Education No Response Total (All responses)

Yes No I dont think so No response Total

76% 7% 14%

73% 0% 18%

0% 100% 0%

78% 7% 11%

73% 8% 17%

75% 7% 13%

2% 100%

9% 100%

0% 100%

12% 100%

4% 100%

2% 100%

4% 100%

Table A3.6

Responses by Provider type for option: Learning opportunities for staff in European countries

Feasibility of EPALE 105

Response

Higher Education Institution

LLP National Agency

Media / Press

National or Local Authority Responsible for Adult Education 62% 14% 14%

Provider of Adult Education

No Response

Total (All responses)

Yes No I dont think so No response Total

69% 10% 17%

64% 0% 27%

0% 100% 0%

76% 7% 14%

66% 12% 18%

72% 8% 15%

5% 100%

9% 100%

0% 100%

10% 100%

4% 100%

4% 100%

4% 100%

Table A3.7
Response Higher Education Institution

Responses by Provider type for option: Library of documents on adult education


LLP National Agency Media / Press National or Local Authority Responsible for Adult Education 62% 6% 24% Provider of Adult Education No Response Total (All responses)

Yes No I dont think so No response Total

76% 7% 17%

91% 0% 0%

100% 0% 0%

77% 6% 16%

74% 5% 19%

75% 6% 17%

0% 100%

9% 100%

0% 100%

8% 100%

1% 100%

2% 100%

2% 100%

Table A3.8
Response Higher Education Institution

Responses by Provider type for option: Catalogue of useful links / bookmarks on adult education
LLP National Agency Media / Press National or Local Authority Responsible for Adult Education 64% 4% 22% Provider of Adult Education No Response Total (All responses)

Yes No I dont think so No response Total

79% 0% 19%

91% 0% 0%

100% 0% 0%

82% 4% 13%

77% 8% 14%

79% 4% 14%

2% 100%

9% 100%

0% 100%

10% 100%

2% 100%

1% 100%

3% 100%

Feasibility of EPALE 106

Annex 4 Summary of Information about Other Platforms


Status Name Key Dates / Developmen t Contractual Arrangements Set-up Maintenance Numbers of Users / Visitors Quality Assurance Systems / Case Study selection Contractor provides QA. Case study selection and good practice compilation is included in the contract terms of reference.

Cost Owner: DG EAC Contractor: European Schoolsnet Etwinning.net First conceived in 2002 First contract: 2004 2007 Second contract: 2007 2013 European Schoolnet is the sole contractor for set-up, management and development. Set-up costs not available

Staff Set-up staff requirements not available

Cost Per Year Cost of website is approximately: 250,000 Overall cost of contract: 1m for central services and 9m for national support centres

Staff European Schoolsnet Team. Commission impact to monitor work of contractors and provide strategic direction. Visits per day: 20,000 to 30,000 Number of users multiplied by 1.7 every year

Feasibility of EPALE 107

Status Name

Key Dates / Developmen t

Contractual Arrangements

Set-up

Maintenance

Numbers of Users / Visitors

Quality Assurance Systems / Case Study selection SALTO Easterrn Europe and Caucasus RC manages the good practice database. Individuals can make suggestions of good practice examples through emailing this SALTO directly.

Cost Owner: DG EAC SALTO Training and Cooperation Resource Centre (RC) takes lead on managing website Each SALTO responsible for developing and uploading content to their own sections. SALTOs share responsibility for specific functions: e.g. SALTO Information RC is responsible for developing and maintaining OTLAS website. Programme started life in 2000 Website launched in 2004 Dynamic functions added in 2011 The German NA is the contract holder for SALTO Training and Cooperation RC which is the SALTO that leads on the website. The German NA holds hold a contract with a web company for server (which only hosts German NA, SALTO and Youthpass websites) and for CMS license and web development. No figure for initial set-up available Estimate for develop ment of OTLAS database : under 10,000

Staff SALTO Training and Cooperation staff member led on development ; took most of decisions about technical aspects with advice from working group of colleagues from all SALTOs.

Cost Per Year Server costs 2,160 approx per year (secure hosting) Content Management License for 25 staff costs 9,600 Additional ad-hoc costs based on year plan (e.g. design, coding) paid by the hour

Staff Estimated about 2 or 3 full-time staff across all SALTOS to develop content, administer network, manage databases etc. Commission not usually involved at all in development Visits per day : 4,000 in 2011, 3,600 in 2010, 3,400 in 2009 Downloads per day: 3,000 in 2011, 1,600 in 2010, 1,300 in 2009

Feasibility of EPALE 108

Salto-youth.net

Status Name

Key Dates / Developmen t

Contractual Arrangements

Set-up

Maintenance

Numbers of Users / Visitors

Quality Assurance Systems / Case Study selection There is an editorial board, who review the documents submitted to the website once they have been translated into English. Content is only uploaded by the project manager, after it has been approved by the board.

Cost Grundtvig Network Owner/ Manager: Akademie Klausenhof Set up in 2005 Funding ended in 2011 Akademie Klausenhof is solely responsible for the set-up and management of the website. He pays a contractor for security, and contracted an expert for the coding when initially setting up the website Other than the staffing costs (next cell) there was a one off cost of 20,000 to 25,000 for coding

Staff 1/3 FTE for project manager, 1/3 FTE for a colleague with good technical knowledge of setting up a website

Cost Per Year Security - 30 / month Translation - 10,000 / year (roughly 100 per document) Writing authors fees 10,000 / year

Staff 1/3 FTE for project manager 4,000 unique visitors to the website / month. 4,500 people subscribe to the newsletter. Outside of this subscribers each newsletter is downloaded from the site 30,000 / year 2.9million visits, expect 3m by end of year. 150,000 unique visitors a month (IP address).

European Infonet Owner/ manager: DG RTD Contractors: 5 different contractors

Website operational since 1990 Partners social networking programme a recent development

Five contractors, handling: editorial policy, enforcing moderation of dynamic content, maintenance of website

Launche d 1990 so impossib le to estimate Set up cost of Partners social networkin g= 300,000

Launched 1990 so impossible to estimate

7.9million per year including all five contracts

16 staff on the internal DG RTD team plus 5 contractors (about 50 staff in these teams in total)

Editorial decisions handled by one contactor policy of dynamic content management handled internally No selection: criteria: all projects funded under FP7are presented

Feasibility of EPALE 109

CORDIS

Status Name

Key Dates / Developmen t

Contractual Arrangements

Set-up

Maintenance

Numbers of Users / Visitors

Quality Assurance Systems / Case Study selection No information little user generated content.

Cost Owner/manager: British Council Launched in its current form in 2011: taken over from three legacy websites. British Council Schools team owns website and develops content. No informati on provided.

Staff Information not available.

Cost Per Year No information provided.

Staff Information not available. Total registered users: 60,000 October 2011 stats: 52,000 visits, 36,000 of which were unique 300,000 page views 4,000 unique users visiting. Over 1,000 members two years (1,000 was contracted requirement) Site usage unavailable. 5,600 members in 35 countries including most secondary schools in England

British Council Schools Owner. DG RTD Managed by European Schoolnet

Project started in 2009 and website launched later same year

Subcontractor commissioned for initial design and set-up of website

3040,000

Sub contractor

1.6m over 3 years. No estimate for website

3 full-time, others on adhoc basis plus teachers panel.

Scientix

One staff member spends 100% time on Scientix content, teacher panel provide testing and advice on features, users can rate resources through 5star system. Not available

Owner / Mgr: The School Network

Launched in 2004

Not able to find this information

Informati on not available.

Information not available.

Information not available.

Information not available.

Feasibility of EPALE 110

iNET

Status Name

Key Dates / Developmen t

Contractual Arrangements

Set-up

Maintenance

Numbers of Users / Visitors

Quality Assurance Systems / Case Study selection Elearning papers is an online journal with an editorial board of experts in the field and a peer review evaluation process. Depository of projects does not select good or best practice.

Cost Owner: DG EAC Manager: PAU Education Launched in 2003. New contract in 2008: introduction of new dynamic functions such as the online community. PAU won first contract for 2003 2008. PAU won second contract for 2008 2013. Develop ment costs not available costs for new features (post 2008) included in the maintena nce cost.

Staff Information not available.

Cost Per Year 300,000 per year, including management, developing of new features, e-learning reports and papers and organisation of online and offline events and dissemination activities.

Staff PAU employs 9 staff on this contract some part time. 60% of time spent on content (papers/reports) and 40% on dissemination/e vents EU Commission project manager estimates that she spends 3% of her time on managing. - 40,000 visits per month - 50 new members each month - 31,000 newsletter subscribers - Biggest online community has 800 members Elearning papers is the most popular feature

Feasibility of EPALE 111

elearning europa

Status Name

Key Dates / Developmen t

Contractual Arrangements

Set-up

Maintenance

Numbers of Users / Visitors

Quality Assurance Systems / Case Study selection There is a subcommittee of European schools, who act as quality assurance for the content. This is because the content is provided by external providers, in many languages. No quality assurance of automated translation.

Cost Website is controlled by EUN Partnership aisbl, the legal name for European Schoolnet. European Schoolnet is European Schoolnet is a network of 30 Ministries of Education. Some research-type activities, such as identifying content that travels-well funded through EU funded projects, e.g. eQNet and ASPECT. Learning Resource Exchange Public website set-up in 2008. Website was legacy of EUfunded projects in sharing digital content (particularly CELEBRATE, CALIBRATE and MELT). LRE Subcommittee of the European Schoolnet responsible for managing website. Content providers provide content LRE Regulations define copyright and technical issues around sharing of content. Subcontracto rs for website design 12,000 Subcontracto r for impleme ntation of website 100,000 (this is because buying reusable content is more expensiv e up front). Translati on: Systran software 10,000 for translatio n into eight language s.

Staff The website set-up was subcontracted (see previous cell)

Cost Per Year All website maintenance costs are staffing costs (see next cell).

Staff 2-3 days working time of 3 staff members per month (webmaster, content control and system infrastructure). This includes security, moderation and maintenance of the website The website receives a couple of thousand visitors /day (although this varies a lot less on the weekend). Downloads cannot be measured because the website links to partner websites.

Feasibility of EPALE 112

Status Name

Key Dates / Developmen t

Contractual Arrangements

Set-up

Maintenance

Numbers of Users / Visitors

Quality Assurance Systems / Case Study selection Quality assurance of content is ALAs responsibility. Very little user generated content so minimal moderation required.

Cost Adult Learning Australia (ALA) a Government funded organisation. OSKY (private website developers) were contracted to rebuild the website and offer technical support. 2005 OSKY asked to build on previous ALA site. Updated website and added web based payment system for members and automated tracking system. OSKY have been offering constant support since then. Web interface of Times Education Supplement (TES), a weekly magazine. TES magazine has been published in the UK since 1909. ALA owns the website and is responsible for the content. OSKY rebuilt the website, and provides technical support to ALA. OSKY do not provide day to day management services, or moderation services for the website. Not available.

Staff A team of 4 5, not working full time on the website, for around 6 months.

Cost Per Year Not available.

Staff OSKY support is decided on an annual basis, and varies, but the best estimate is a couple of days support / month. The value of the worker (fees) depends on the type of support required. ALA staff are responsible for developing content and maintaining / moderating website through a CMS. Not available. OSKY have set up a system where ALA can collect data on the number of visitors, but they do not collect that information directly so could not provide this information.

Adult Learning Australia

Private company.

Not available.

Not available.

Not available.

Not available.

Feasibility of EPALE 113

TES

Active users of the online community can volunteer to participate in social panels for their subject. Social panels apply recommend label to best resources.

Annex 5 Pros and Cons of 5 Content Management Systems (CMS)


Pros Drupal www.drupal.org Open Source PHP-Based Cons

No software licensing cost Adding features is as easy as plugging in one of over 10k community provided modules. Drupal's placeless content architecture lets you reuse content freely without worrying about synchronization or content duplication. Multi-Lingual Capabilities with strong developer/multi-lingual support community The administrative and delivery screens are fully theme-able to allow for a userfriendly experience for both end-users, content contributors, and administrators.

Due to nature of open source products, finding experienced developers can be more difficult and/or costly than with a licensed product Major version upgrades do not provide backwards compatibility

Umbraco www.umbraco.com Open Source .NET-based

No software licensing cost Large European network of certified integration partners Multi-Lingual Capabilities Simple, customizable content editing tools

Due to nature of open source products, finding experienced developers can be more difficult and/or costly than with a licensed product

Ektron- www.ektron.com Licensed .Net-based

Robust Multi-Lingual Capabilities Easy and intuitive user interface for non-technical content authors Rich Social Networking and Community Building tool set Provider model for integration with other platforms (Omniture, Web Trends, Google Analytics, SalesForce, etc)

Additional functionality licensed by module, increasing costs Some customers report frequent updates, as well as some challenges with customer support

Adobe www.adobe.com Licensed Java-based

Easy to use, web-based contributor interface with in-context page editing with a large number of pre-build contribution components Integration with Adobe Test & Target and Site Catalyst for managing visitors' web experience through targeting, multivariant testing, and analytics reporting.

Additional functionality licensed by module, increasing costs Java Resources required for extending the platform (More expensive than .Net or PHP resources) Designed to run in a multi-tier environment (Additional hardware and licensing costs required)

Feasibility of EPALE 114

Includes several extensible workflows out-of-the-box (including translation) with visual workflow editor interface Multi-Site Manager (MSM) and Language Manager options available for managing translated and localized versions of websites

Sitecore www.sitecore.net Licensed .NET-based

Integrated Analytics platform for tracking visitor behaviour Robust Multi-Channel Customer Engagement Platform

Additional functionality licensed by module, increasing costs It has been suggested that the user interface is not as user friendly as other competitive systems

Feasibility of EPALE 115