by Krzysztof Pielaszek (EVS coordinator; Semper Avanti)
“Lifelong learning” is the phrase that everyone working with EVS volunteers hears all the time. Volunteers are learning and developing themselves by work. Coordinators, supervisors, organization’s employees and local volunteers are learning by working with them and for them. But not always it is easy for us to understand what is happening with us and what kind of skills someone developed during the whole process. Of course, there is a Youthpass but sometimes you need also something else. Like Open Badges.
I first heard about them in September 2016. In Semper Avanti we just have started to work with new group of Long-Term EVS volunteers. They were very enthusiastic and passionate about what they are planning to do in Poland. We were discussing about Key Competences and ways to achieve goals that our volunteers proposed. But I was wondering which tool to use to make them understand the process. To make them reflect on their development. And then I heard about Open Badges.
They were reminding some of us the scout’s reward system and some viewed them as something more video game related so we gave them a try. And after many months I can write that we are pretty happy about them.
Beginnings were difficult. Not all the volunteers understood why we wanted to use them. But after some months we started to create badges that were reflecting their own projects and achievements. We also introduced them to mentors and our workers. And it was — in many ways — successful operation.
The key to proper implementation of them was to include everyone into the process. Everything needed to be evaluated, individualized and explained. But in the end Open Badges helped us to understand more what happens with our volunteers (and us) and them to understand what they are learning every day (and with them — their coordinators). We discovered that they can be a powerful tool but as with every tool you need to work a bit on its implementation.
After many months of working with Open Badges, I can really recommend them to you. And believe me — you don’t want to miss this opportunity.