Author: Stefanie Ollenburg, Freie Universität Berlin, Institut Future

Throughout the EU project beFORE attending events, to discuss e-learning and its many facets, already had generated much inspirational input. Therefore, the beFORE team from Freie Universität Berlin was excited to attend and this year present the beFORE project at the annual meetup for supporters and partners of Kiron Open Higher Education gGmbH. The non-profit organization uses online education to support migrants to learn the German language and to enroll in institutions of higher education. This year the partner event was titled “Digital Innovation for International Education”.

With the annual meetups Kiron thanks all their supporters and initiates an active knowledge exchange in the field of higher education and online services. The presentations and workshops this year ranged from how the administrative information exchange can be improved for international students, how strategic partnerships for online-educational organizations are needed, how policy making in higher education strategies need support and how to deal with the challenges to link digital innovation and internationalization. And this year the beFORE team was asked to present and hold a short workshop. As an EU Erasmus+ Alliance project it combines research on future-oriented entrepreneurship and its practical application as an open-access e-learning platform.

The Freie team reported on the current status of the beFORE projects and the structure and content offered on the e-learning platform. But we were also able to use the project as an example to review the challenges of online education especially in the area of competence building for future-orientation and Futures Literacy. In a discussion the challenges the flexible structure posse for the learners by being able to choose and assemble their own learning path. The topics within a lesson are self-contained learning units that relate to one other. But the lessons do not need to be taken in a specific order. Until now this assumes that learners are highly intrinsically motivated to learn about the basics of Futures Studies and Foresight, their methods and implementations. This can be very enticing to students, who have great interest in the matter. For others is may be a challenge especially because the platform at this point has no mentoring, no assessment of the learning success, and no accreditation.  

To get feedback from the audience at the event on how to improve such educational offers, we held a short workshop using the creative Disney method. It is used as a structured process to think through an aspect from three different mind-sets: the dreamer and visionary who ideates without limitation; the maker who plans the practical solution; the critic who looks deeper to find critical issues.

We setup three stations and cycling every 7 minutes in small groups the participants discussed in the particular mind-set their ideas, concepts, or critics. The method helped to cluster the responses that were examined on the premise of: How can knowledge and competences acquired in a flexible e-learning structure be assessed?

Even though there was very little time the results were interesting for the beFORE project to  take a closer look at. For example:

  • The dreamer ideas were such as assessment via gamification and badges (micro-credentials) as well as AI-facilitation.
  • The maker ideas planned a peer2peer assessment system as well as a webinar to test knowledge and further practical ideas.
  • The critics pointed that an assessment of competences in general is difficult as well as the contradiction between interaction of learners and flexibility, which can obstruct a growing community.

Many aspects, ideas, and issues that were discussed may need to be evaluated to flow into the beFORE project. Yet, the participants were intrigued by the material the platform compiles and the large knowledge base that is now offered as open access. In the discussions and in the workshop at the Kiron event it became clear that assessment and motivation need to be addressed in any extension of course development to fulfill even better the project’s objective: make knowledge available to support the realization of the future-oriented entrepreneurship.

further information on the event please go here: