1 dieBerater UnternehmensberatungsGmbH (AUSTRIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN13 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 3923-3932
ISBN: 978-84-616-3822-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Promoting active-ageing senior volunteering activities is important for the development and preservation of capacities in later life. Given the demographic trend and the increasing number of elderly people in Europe, it is even more crucial to create opportunities for elderly to stay active. Involving a larger number of seniors in voluntary work might turn out to be a major tool in active ageing strategies. With 2012 being the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between generations, the EU project RIVER addresses the invaluable effect senior volunteering has on our societies.
Senior volunteering brings generations together and creates benefits for both - the volunteers and the organisations involved. Volunteer settings provide new learning opportunities and contribute to ones well-being and private life balance. Senior volunteering as a way of informal learning provides organisations with volunteers who have acquired extensive knowledge and experience over a lifetime period.
Senior volunteering plays a key role in our society and demands exposure and recognition. Yet reliable and convincing methodologies for the assessment and validation of the impact and outcomes of senior volunteering are missing.
RIVER, a Grundtvig project funded by the European Commission for Lifelong Learning with its team consisting of partners from Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Finland aims at making learning outcomes of senior volunteering visible and thus add to senior volunteers’ motivation and sense of achievement. To reach this aim, a tailor-made competence assessment system is developed and tested.
A special methodology for assessing and validating competences acquired in informal learning settings – the LEVEL5 system – is adapted to the specific requirements of the volunteering sector. The LEVEL5 approach is a model to assess, evidence and validate the cognitive, activity related and affective competence development of learners in informal and non-formal learning contexts. The effects of informal learning can be displayed through the development of competence (e.g. empowerment, improvement of “soft” skills, activity level, self esteem, attitudes towards other groups, civic knowledge etc.).
In RIVER the LEVEL5 system is transformed into a comprehensive methodology for
• defining personal aims of senior volunteering activities
• planning them accordingly
• evaluating their impact on senior volunteers and on the beneficiaries of volunteering activities

The main target groups of the RIVER project are:
• Adult education organisations which already work with senior learners or may work with them in the future
• Voluntary organisations which organise senior volunteering activities
• Umbrella organisations of the two mentioned types of institutions which can act as multipliers
• Decision-makers in local, national and European authorities which (might) provide funding for senior volunteering
• The final beneficiaries of the RIVER project activities are senior volunteers.
Close cooperation with volunteering organisations and networks ensures the practical approach of the project. From December 2012 until May 2013 the validation methodology is tested in concrete but also very different volunteering situations. The main focus is on the validation of competences that promote intergenerational cooperation and learning.
Lifelong learning, informal learning, senior volunteering, validation, competence development.