http://virqual.up.pt/sites/default/files/fourseasons_logo.pngVIRQUAL newsletter is now available for you to read. You can download it here and distribute it to your colleagues.
VIRQUAL is implementing all the tasks scheduled for its final year. Since January 2011 the project done many activities, such as: organising two webinars (one in April on “Virtual Mobility” and another in May on “Learning Outcomes and Assessment”);
drafting and testing the handbook for integrating Virtual Mobility and EQF; attended various events (including the IMS Global
Learning Conference 2011 in USA, where the project was awarded a prize); etc.
TASK 1 – Guide for Virtual Mobility

VIRQUAL has prepared a draft version of a guide or handbook. This guide intends to provide a general introduction to the topic of virtual mobility (VM) in Europe, contributing to Higher and Continuing Education Institutions which offer e‐Learning courses to implement Virtual Mobility in the framework of the European Higher Education Area. The main aim is to help establishing a common understanding on possible organizational, pedagogical and technical approaches to the implementation of Virtual Mobility within the European Qualification Framework.
It intends to be a step‐by‐step guide that may be used by students, course developers or Institutions, to help them to achieve Virtual Mobility in a diversity of scenarios. When referring to Virtual Mobility in the context of the European Qualification Framework, we are aiming at extending the current Erasmus experience by intensive use of ICT. Virtual Mobility lacks several components of the physical mobility, of course, but can offer other dimensions, including different learning pathways, creation of virtual communities, collaborative projects, and international cooperation with a lower investment.
The consortium has collected 13 Case Studies from 8 different countries and that have used the guide and its annexes with real courses offered at present. In general the feedback received from the testers is that the document is useful but some changes and improvements must be done.
TASK 2 – Elearning and EQF

Task 2 has collected and analysed comprehensive data of the EQF implementation in Europe, compiling 32 country reports on EQF/NQF implementation, at levels 5 to 8. The report also includes the situation of e‐learning in what concerns legislation and practice in each of the 32 countries. For the model, the information will be presented in a format that allows for quick overview of the situation in a given country or comparison between different countries. This tool intends to contribute to the identification of potential obstacles and facilitators in Virtual Mobility scenarios that may include one or more countries. The information gathered constitutes the legal framework, at National and European level, that should be considered in Virtual Mobility situations.
TASK 3 – Global architecture of intended learning outputs

Task 3 developed tools and strategies to define, describe, write and assess Learning Outcomes. These tools help teachers and course developers to define the individual Learning Outcomes but that also to relate them to the correspondent modules and levels of the EQF Framework. The tool consists of a web‐database, structured accordingly to the EQF levels and types of LOs and that uses other classification systems like ISCED code and ERASMUS subject code for better definition of LOs. The development of this tool was complex and included several intermediate tests with real users to achieve a version that is complete but not over‐descriptive. The main idea behind this work is that clear LOs are essential to achieve academic mobility, physical or virtual, to achieve transparency in Education and recognition. However, writing high quality LOs is not an easy task, not even for experienced teachers. This task intends to provide tools that facilitate the process but also, wants to provide examples, best practices that will guide other teachers in the process of defining, describing and assessing LOs. These examples as well as the templates will be compiled in the repository www.learning‐outcome.net. This part of the model plays a crucial role in the achievement of Virtual Mobility. It defines what students are intended to learn and this should be fundamental for an informed decision when choosing a course to attend. Also, a clear statement of the Intended Learning Outcomes will provide the basis for the definition of assessment strategies, contributing for the whole education process.
See also VIRQUAL newsletter 4.