Goodbye and hello!
The EPICA Initiative, a strategic partnership between Europe and Africa to co-design an innovative and scalable ePortfolio to improve the quality, visibility and availability of new skills, has now come to its official end when the project comes to a close at the end of December 2020. The initiative, which was co-funded by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, was launched in January 2018 by the following consortium partners: The African Virtual University, ICDE, ICWE, Makerere University, Maseno University, MyDocumenta, the Open University of Catalunya and the Open University of Tanzania.
EPICA participates in the OEB 2020 Conference Edul@b
This year the OEB Conference took place from the 30th of November to the 4th of December with a focus on “Shaping the future of learning”. Marcelo Maina, Lourdes Guàrdia, Federica Mancini and Derek Clougher, members of the Edul@ab team at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, presented ‘EPICA: Showcase Students Employability Skills using an ePortfolio’ on the 4th of December in the new virtual format adopted for this year’s conference.
EPICA Final Conference
The final international EPICA Conference was held virtually on Thursday, December 10. Over 400 participants from around the world attended this lively event which was held under the overarching theme “Increasing University Graduates' Employability Chances through the Use of an Innovative ePortfolio - The Epica Initiative“. The aim of this final conference was to highlight the highly innovative work and results of the EPICA Initiative focusing on its relevance and implications for local uptake, implementation and sustainability.
EPICA INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH - Torunn Gjelsvik
My role as Secretary General is to lead the daily operations of ICDE, which are carried out by our small secretariat in Oslo, Norway. This includes the day to day management and all legal and financial matters of the association in accordance with the policies defined by the Board and the mission and aims stated in the ICDE Constitution.
THE EPICA PILOT IN OPEN UNIVERSITY OF CATALONIA, SPAIN
In the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), the pilot was implemented in the Education and ICT Master (e-learning) programme. The selection of this programme for the pilot was based on its relevance within and outside the university, its digital education focus, and the diversified profile of participants. UOC is an asynchronous fully online university with a specific distributed teaching model so the pilot was delivered 100% online on the UOC virtual campus.
THE EPICA PILOT IN OPEN UNIVERSITY OF TANZANIA
OUT implemented the pilot in five Bachelor programmes: Bachelor of Science in ICT, Social Work, Accounting, Educational Psychology, and Laws. However, five postgraduate students from Accounting showed major interest in the project and participated too. The ePortfolio was added as an additional independent activity to each of the programmes as it was integrated throughout the academic year and not from its beginning.
THE EPICA PILOT IN MAKERERE UNIVERSITY, UGANDA
The pilot was implemented in a course called ¨Research Methodology & Design¨ given in the programme of Bachelor´s in Commerce. This programme was selected as it already existed on the LMS and was designed in a learner-centred and competence-based format. In addition, the lecturers giving this course were skilful and early adopters. The pilot was incorporated in this course as a part of the programme through linking it to one of the activities already present which involves selecting curricular evidence.
THE EPICA PILOT IN MASENO UNIVERSITY, KENYA
Maseno University chose to implement the Pilot in five courses of the following schools: Business and Economics, Education, Computing and Informatics, Mathematics, and Arts and Social Sciences. Maseno´s selection ensured a variation of schools and courses to be represented in the pilot. The pilot was integrated into all these courses in order not to give the students the impression of having additional work.
THE EPICA PILOT
Since the launch of the EPICA project in January 2018, the EPICA Consortium has been collaborating to co-design the ePortfolio developed by MyDocumenta to adapt it to the requirements of the end-user communities in the participating countries. The activities undertaken were addressed to foster innovative solutions supporting the transition between higher education and the workplace, the use of micro-credentials for employability, and the articulation of employability skills to prospective employers. The universities taking part in the pilot are Makerere University in Uganda (MAK), Maseno University in Kenya (MU), Open University of Tanzania in Tanzania (OUT) and Open University of Catalonia in Spain (UOC).
My experience as a student with the EPICA ePortfolio
As we all know, there are pros and cons to everything including the web portals we use. Firstly, the EPICA ePortfolio was designed for various purposes. These include accessibility to notes, to act as an assignment platform, for discussions and also forums. On a scale of one to five I would rate it at four in terms of how effortlessly the ePortfolio works, because it is easy to navigate and has no complicated procedures.
Public and private external funding opportunities for the EPICA ePortfolio project
On average in Sub-Saharan areas, between 75 to 80% of HEI institutions (universities, colleges of commerce, technical colleges, and several specialised training institutes) are private. This fact alone brings a completely different approach to the commercialisation compared with the same types of institutions in Europe.
The Release of EPICA Employability Skills Kit
EPICA, a strategic partnership for the co-design of an innovative and scalable ePortfolio ecosystem to improve the quality and visibility of employability skills, aims to connect universities and businesses in Europe and in Africa for the purpose of decreasing the gap between what education offers and what the market demands. Ensuring a successful transition between higher education and work in addition to providing career-ending students opportunities to showcase their employability skills to prospective employers are the main pedagogical innovations that EPICA project brings to the educational system. To assist in the execution of these innovations, the EPICA team is pleased to announce the launching of the EPICA Employability Skills Kit; a set of resources to support and guide different stakeholders participating in the EPICA pilot or new institutions aiming to implement the suggested methodological approach and integrating EPICA ePortfolio.
INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH - Mr. Albert Nsengiyumva
We hear a lot about the skills gap between university graduates and the labour market. What would you say are the main contributing factors that lead to this disparity? The demand of new skills in the labour market change much faster than the capacity of universities to quickly adapt its programmes to respond to the labour market demands. And this is particularly true with the digitalisation as part of the so-called 4IR.
The Covid-19 Pandemic: Ugandan Students Opt for Online Studying
As the covid-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, many schools and institutions of higher learning have been directed to close. In Makerere university, while the other students were all joy and merry over the much needed break from the mid semester stress, final year students who were looking forward to May 2020 as their last month of being at compass are stranded with the directive.
EPICA Pilot: The Maseno University Teachers’ Experience
Over the years, writing a leading CV that would give one a competitive edge over other candidates for a job search has become increasingly difficult, particularly in an environment like Kenya where the job market has been shrinking as job seekers increase in leaps and bounds. Still, employers have incessantly decried the disconnect between the skills that students list in their CVs and their actual performance upon recruitment. This scenario has left institutions of higher learning with a need to regularly change their programmes to meet the market demands, and the industry with the need to devise innovative ways of recruitment. All these have yielded little.
Significance of an ePortfolio to an Employer in this 21st Century
The value of an employee to an employer should be the ability to perform as expected to achieve the organizational goals set. It is always a complicated situation whereby an employer needs to ably confirm the true knowledge and skills set possessed by the would-be employee. The employer needs to ascertain whether the provided details on the curriculum vitae (CV) are true abilities and skills of a particular individual and that they suit the employment. On several occasions, it has been found that what is documented on the CV are not the right skill set of the individual. This has led to a cry from the industry indicating that graduates of today do not meet the requirements of the industry and cannot practically perform as per what is detailed on their CV. The urge from the industry has been how can they better interpret the potential employee knowledge and skill set possessed without too much hassle. There are increasing questions from industry players on whether the ePortfolio could be the answer to their impediment. The industry is looking for employees based on evidence of well-developed employability practical skills but not the grades attained from class that may not reflect the true abilities.
EPICA ePortfolio Pilot Launch at the Open University of Tanzania as one of the Partner Universities
Since 2018, Open University of Tanzania (OUT) together with other partners have been working on a 3-year EPICA ePortfolio project (2018 - 2020) with a goal to co-design an innovative and scalable ePortfolio ecosystem to improve the quality and visibility of skills under co-funding of the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.
EPICA: The Student Perspective
October 2018 is when we and other students of Makerere University were blessed to be part of the EPICA project. The ePortfolio, in particular the EPICA ePortfolio developed by MyDocumenta, is a platform where one can display their competences in various skills such as communication skills, accounting, marketing, and team work among others. The ePortfolio has, and still is, preparing us to be workers of the 21st century and beyond by enabling us to acquire 21st century skills.
EPICA at OEB 2019, The Global Leading Conference & Exhibition on Technology-Supported Learning and Training
On Friday November 29th, the EPICA Initiative had the opportunity to be presented at OEB Global & Learning Technologies Conference in Berlin. It was a real privilege to have the chance to present the last developments of EPICA to such a high-level expert audience. The project was presented by Rebecca Stromeyer, CEO of ICWE and Founder of eLearning Africa, Germany. In a highly interactive session specifically dedicated to the EPICA project and after almost 2 years since the start of the project, the session had a short introduction about the specific goals of the project
Report on EPICA Project Team's Participation at the eLearning Africa 2019 Conference Held in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
The 14th eLearning Africa 2019 Conference was held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from the 23rd – 25th October 2019 at the Sofitel Abidjan Ivoire Hotel. The EPICA project was allocated a stand/booth by the organisers at the entrance of the Auditorium where the main events such as the Plenary sessions and the eLearning Africa debate took place. The EPICA project team was represented during this year’s eLearning Africa by the following partners; Jean-Baptiste Milon (ICDE), Snorre Qveim (ICDE), Michael Opiyoh (MU), Richard Kajumbula (MAK) and Edephonce Nfuka (OUT).
EPICA at ICDE World Conference
The EPICA Project was presented at the 28th ICDE World Conference held in November 2019 in Dublin, Ireland. The 28th ICDE World Conference on Online Learning in Dublin is one of the largest and most prestigious international conferences in the area. The conference theme of “Transforming Lives and Societies” anchors the growth of new models of open, online and digital learning in a number of big questions and the wider context of the Sustainable Development Goals.
E-Portfolios as an E-Assessment Method in MOOCs. Insights from the Open Virtual Mobility Project.
Several concepts, tools and technologies have been used in online courses to assess learning outcomes. Assessment in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has focused on supporting learning and achievement, and has included assessment aimed at course completion, tracking learner behaviour and predicting learning outcomes as well as certification of specific skills and knowledge gained from a MOOC (Chauhan, 2014).
EPICA Initiative - A Strategic Alliance between Africa and Europe to make Student Competences in the Work Field More Visible
The UOC (Open University of Catalonia) hosted the fourth international meeting of the EPICA Initiative H2020 project on 10 – 11 July 2019. This meeting focused on the Strategic Association for the co-design of an innovative and scalable ePortfolio ecosystem to improve the quality and visibility of skills. This effort is a new step in this strategic alliance between Africa and Europe to make the skills of students in the labour market more visible.
Interview of the Month : Edephonce Ngemera Nfuka
We hear a lot about skills gaps between university graduates and the labour market. What would you say are the main contributing factors that lead to this disparity? Well, the skills gap between university graduates and the labour market is a daunting issue in our society. There are thousands of recent graduates ready to work, but business needs skills that these graduates never got. These graduates end up experiencing a difficult college-to-work transition, and in some cases, businesses are unable to find suitable candidates for their positions.
What Counts as Learning: Open Digital Badges for New Opportunities
Open digital badges have gained traction since 2011 because they meet needs not currently being met, not only for learners ranging from Kindergarten through college, but for lifelong learners transitioning from one career to another, or for employees staying current with their careers. The patchwork way our learning is currently recognized means that many of our abilities are unevenly recognized or not recognized at all. A veteran who is expert in military logistics must go back to school to get credentials demonstrating proficiency when her skills may surpass what required courses offer. For many learners, acquiring traditional credentials has become more important than the competency, mastery, and proficiency they are intended to represent.
Developing a Competency Framework
Linking Company Objectives and Personal Performance You're probably familiar with the phrase "what gets measured gets done." Defining and measuring effectiveness – especially the performance of workers – is a critical part of your job as a manager. The question is: how do you define the skills, behaviours, and attitudes that workers need to perform their roles effectively? How do you know they're qualified for the job? In other words, how do you know what to measure?
African Union Commission (AUC) Skills Initiative for Africa funding – Call for proposals for Funding Window I
Skills Initiative for Africa (SIFA) is an initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC) supported by the German Government to strengthen occupational prospects of young people in Africa. SIFA finances skills development projects in several African countries. Projects should contribute to employment-oriented skills development and vocation training for young people.
An Insight into ePortfolios
We share with you this month a very useful and interesting article from the Centre for Teaching Excellence, at the University of Waterloo, which explains clearly and in few words what an ePortfolio means. For all details: https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/educational-technologies/all/eportfolios
ICDE, Leader of the Strategic European-African partnership, EPICA Initiative
Since 2018, ICDE has been the lead partner and coordinator of a Horizon 2020 project named EPICA. The full project name is “Strategic partnership for the co-design of an innovative and scalable e-portfolio ecosystem to improve the quality and visibility of skills”. ICDE, as a global connector for online and open quality lifelong learning, has made strong investments in this strategic European-African partnership. The project strives to bring together businesses, organisations and universities in both Europe and Africa to design an innovative, scalable e-portfolio in order to improve the quality, visibility and availability of new skills.
The interview of the Month : Michael Opiyoh, MASENO University
Michael Z. Opiyoh, PhD in Computer Science Candidate, Msc. Computer Science, Bsc. Computer Science, is currently the Project Coordinator of EPICA Project at Maseno University. He is the Head of Technical Services at the eCampus of Maseno University in Kenya. This role entails coordinating, planning and supervising technical team to ensure that the eCampus students achieve effective learning outcomes. Apart from the full time role at the eCampus, Michael is also a Part-time Lecturer in the Department of Information Technology at Maseno University and Moi University where he teaches undergraduate common IT courses and Bsc. IT courses respectively.
EPICA was presented at the Stakeholder Meeting on Digital Education
The EPICA project was presented at the Stakeholder Meeting on Digital Education that convened 10-11 December 2018 in Luxembourg. The event was organized by the European Commission, with the aim to gather information on the ongoing projects on digital education, focusing in particular on the lessons learned and the future vision from the project perspective. The session was chaired by Rehana Schwinninger-Ladak, Head of Unit, Unit G.2, DG CNECT, Interactive Technologies, Digital for Culture and Education. Among the participants were Anne Bajart, Deputy Head of Unit and Project Officers Alina Senn, Stefanie Hille, and Marcel Watelet.
Working toward digital credentials as a type of universal currency
Qualification, skill, and competency recognition, just like learning assessment and non-formal learning validation in the past, are important aspects of both continuous professional development and the up- and re-skilling of existing workforce. What’s making credential recognition both significant and challenging is that with physical mobility being mainstream in education as well as employment, and the acquisition of essential digital and soft skills often being the result of non-formal learning events and experiences, people expect to be able to have their qualifications, achievements, and work experiences widely acknowledged.
Skills Assessment Tool with collaborative Leverage
In an increasingly fast-paced ecosystem, employability constitute several variables that make a candidate standout – a diverse amalgamation of creativity, communication and entrepreneurial skills; all these are becoming more and more important for businesses looking to hire. Companies no longer seeks out one-dimensional employees who have ‘tunnel’ expertise/skills.
The interview of the Month: Bakary Diallo, Ph.D, Rector of the African Virtual University
We hear a lot about skills gaps in regard to university graduates and the labour market. What would you say are the main contributing factors that lead to this disparity? There are two. The first is the gap between university programmes and needs of the labour market. Universities that are not currently doing so should review their programmes by adopting innovative practices such as micro-credentials or badges, students’ analytics, ePortfolios, and skills needed for the 21st century. They should do this in collaboration with employers. The second factor is related to what is being termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the new skills sets that come with it. This is quite a new phenomenon, and it will take some time for universities to be able set up programmes and train graduates with the right skills.
Supported by the European Commission (EC) and African Union Commission (AUC), IST-Africa is a strategic collaboration between IIMC (Ireland) and Ministries and National Councils responsible for Information Society, ICT and Innovation Adoption, Policy and Research in 18 African Countries. On Wednesday 05 December 2018 IST-Africa had a networking session to bring together key stakeholders currently involved in technology enabled research and innovation activities across Africa and to share lessons learnt and opportunities identified based on Horizon 2020 funded projects involving Africa. During this networking session, EPICA Initiative was mentioned as one of the Innovation Actions of H2020 projects focused on African Research Challenges. Click here for more details.