I. Traina1, M. Betti1, R. Duvekot2

1University of Bologna, Alma Mater Studiorum (ITALY)
2Inholland University (NETHERLANDS)
Lifelong Learning (LLL), most notably the importance of improving and maximizing the capacity to design, organize and implement lifelong learning curricula, is at the heart of the project "Transatlantic Lifelong Learning: Rebalancing Relations (TRALL)” . This paper is a reflection on the mid-term results of the project, which has been running for 2 years since 2011. It is funded by the EU Programme ALFA III that aims at promoting higher education in Latin America (LA) as a means to contribute to the economic and social development of the region.

The project addresses the program-priorities on strengthening social cohesion between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and society through reinforcing the linkages between universities and their stakeholders (business, authorities, civil society, etc), and by developing measures at regional level to promote equitable access to HEIs.

Planned activities in the project already realized, refer to the implementation of prototype models for lifelong learning curricula, raising awareness of LLL-perspectives through consultation of relevant stakeholders (social partners, enterprises, 3rd sector, etc.), competence-based curricula-design including a system of credit recognition, assessment and accreditation. Other important activities carried out, concern the definition of an e-learning strategy and the elaboration of a system of procedures and tools safe-guarding quality assurance and peer-assessment of the learning processes.

Reflecting on the results of the project so far brings up the following observations:
- the meaning of LLL in EU and LA, especially in its function of supporting social and economic progress needs to be based on a thorough benchmark and analysis of existing learning cultures in both continents.
- lessons learned about the lack of a systematic use of the notion of competences, mark important learning experiences. Methods for the recognition of prior learning outcomes and credits as transferable units are important innovative aspects in the framework of the project.
- these lessons also stress the relevance of engaging in pilots for developing and testing a model for the recognition of learning outcomes (prior: formal, informal and non-formal) that focuses more on learner's needs and local contexts than on the content of courses and training pathways.
- the merits have been proven of the elaboration of an effective methodology for cooperation between EU and LA for supporting initiatives as ALCUE (Common Area of Higher Education between EU, LA and the Caribbean for the creation of an environment for bilateral and multilateral cooperation in higher education systems) and the EU-LA and Caribbean Summit (Madrid, May 18th 2010).
- it is vital to design a project management infrastructure that is capable of coordinating the high level of complexity when building up transatlantic cooperation and knowledge exchange between heterogeneous partners in a diversity of learning cultures. From this arises the awareness that the multi-dimensional features of language, methodology & didactics, laws, educational systems, socio-cultural paradigms have great impact on the diversity of LLL-strategies in both continents. This awareness led to adopting a bottom-up approach in addressing the challenges met in rebalancing Transatlantic relations between EU and LA in higher education.