During HECOS implementation as a project and as a network its methodological approaches were based on a set of assumptions related to Non-Formal Education, Experiential Learning (Beard, Wilson, 2002), Key Competences (Rieckmann, 2012) and Learning to Learn. Non-formal learning and education “have been indisputably established as key priorities within the European institutions’ policies and program” (COE, 2012:2). Building on this priority there has been an effort to establish common elements of non-formal education approaches (COE, 2009). Following non-formal learning and education features HECOS approach to training envisions a learning path which links individual and social learning; fosters symmetrical teaching/learning relations; is participatory and learner-centered, holistic and process-oriented, close to real-life concerns, experiential and oriented to learning-by-doing, voluntary, uses intercultural exchanges and encounters as learning devices, and aims above all to convey and practice the values and skills of democratic life (COE, 2012:4-6).

Experiential Learning can be defined as a “person-focused, supported approach to individual, group, or organizational development, which engages the young or adult learner, using the elements of action, reflection, and transfer” (Beard, Wilson, 2002). Building on participants former experiences, each person within the group should be guided by the facilitators to engage in effective learning exercises following a four-step cycle called the Experiential Learning Cycle (David Kolb,1984): 1) Concrete Experience; 2) Observation and reflection; 3) Forming Abstract Concepts; 4) Testing in new situations. Within the HECOS training of Experiential Learning Cycle the first step should allow participants to experience a new situation or to reinterpret an existing experience. The second step should guide participants to remember, describe and understand the experience from first step. In step 3 participants are invited to reflect on their experience looking for patterns and overall conclusions and its links to the “real world”. Finally in step 4 participants have the chance to find ways to apply conclusions to the world around them and their personal lives (David Kolb, 1984). This step has crucial relevance for learning consolidations and can trigger new learning cycles.

According to Rieckmann (2012: 128) “The fundamental reorientations and transformations in terms of sustainable development require a far-reaching change of consciousness in individuals and thus the development of competencies to contribute to a (more) sustainable future.” The basic goals of Hecos - that are “a sustainable way of living and working” by “offering training opportunities on skills, attitudes and knowledge” - bring added attention to the methodological approaches of the training paths proposed. The Modules and activities suggested were developed by taking into consideration a set of learning outcomes related to skills, attitudes and knowledge which will promote Key Competences Development.

Learning to Learn is one of the Key Competences for Lifelong Learning within the European Union and the Common European Framework . Learning to Learn is framed in the individual dimension of learning recognition. “‘Learning to learn’ is the ability to pursue and persist in learning, to organize one's own learning, involving an effective management of time and information, both individually and in groups. This competence includes awareness of one's learning process and needs, identifying available opportunities, and the ability to overcome obstacles in order to learn successfully.” (2006/962/EC) From the methodological perspective non-formal and informal trainings are built on the assumption that each participant should be protagonist of one’s own learning process. The HECOS for Ethics experience should encourage participants’ autonomy. By fostering participants’ motivation and confidence: “Individuals should be able to dedicate time to learning autonomously and with self-discipline, but also to work collaboratively as part of the learning process, draw the benefits from a heterogeneous group, and to share what they have learnt.”(2006/962/EC).

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