The challenge of virtual mobility in Scuola Centrale Formazione

The 2020 saw the unforeseeable halt of learning mobility, one of the most powerful and impactful tools promoted by the Erasmus Plus programme to foster the personal and professional growth of learners.

At the end of the “first wave” of the emergency an indication arrived from the European Commission inviting the Erasmus Plus National Agencies to promote the integration of virtual mobility in the KA1 projects.

But what is virtual mobility? What are the models to be inspired? And how can an authentic learning process be guaranteed?

One possible answer is Virtual Exchanges!

The Virtual Exchange is a learning model based on the principle of “engagement with difference”, cultural, ethnic, religious, linguistic, political and social differences, through peer-to-peer comparison, the support of a neutral facilitation and the technologies.

When SCF first heard about the initiative Erasmus Virtual Exchange, we knew that it was aimed at young people mainly from the higher education context, but the methodological foundations and the idea that it would be possible to engage in in-depth discussions on issues related to one’s own culture, even virtually, seemed to us to be a winning idea that could, at least partially, replace or complement the experience of geographical mobility.

Thus, in 2020 SCF decided to implement an adaptation of the model to make it usable for very young people in the context of vocational training.

In the VET year 2020-2021 SCF promotes 9 virtual exchanges of learners on a bilateral (2 countries) or trilateral (3 countries) basis with the involvement of 6 Italian VET centres (Fondazione Opera Monte Grappa, Fomal Bologna, CFP Pavoni Montagnana, AFGP Remedello, IRFIP, CFP Artigianelli Fermo), 6 foreign partners (ANFA, Biotechnical College Ljubljana, Koning Willelm 1 College, Keuda, Istitut Camps Blancs, Masinska Skola) and more than 200 pupils from Italy, Spain, France, Holland, Slovenia, Finland, Serbia.

The model designed for VET in its adaptation it has found 2 possible ways:

– The exchange model of “intercultural” nature more based on the comparison between the cultural contexts of reference (history, tradition, food, leisure, etc…)
– The “professional” model of exchange more based on technical contents linked to work contexts. The profiles tested so far are kitchen, bar, electricity, automotive.

Over the course of the experiments, the model was adapted to:

– involve class groups, thus working with “large” groups in an inclusive approach;
– create a virtual comparison space for practising a foreign language in a reality context by means of tasks;
– create a learning space that has the learners at its centre, through small challenges and the development of digital products (e-books, videos);
– to intercept the professional dimension from an intercultural and confrontational angle, which is what happens in geographical mobility with internship or training experiences abroad.
– obtain, at least for the Italian beneficiaries, full recognition within the formal learning paths and in the Erasmus mobility projects promoted by SCF, although the nature of the exchanges is entirely virtual.

From an initial analysis of the short-term impacts of these experiences, in addition to the improvement of language skills, the trainers highlight significant results in terms of soft skills: ability to collaborate, to settle differences and establish relationships of knowledge and friendship; ability to plan the time available and carry out the assigned task, acquiring greater personal autonomy.

For 2021/22, and with a view to enhancing this experience even when the pandemic will be less pressing, Scuola Centrale Formazione intends to strengthen the Virtual Exchanges within the framework of a Blended Model, integrating periods of virtual exchange with moments of geographical mobility.

To know more visit the website at this link.