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Non-formal learning is learning that has been acquired in addition or alternatively to formal learning. In some cases, it is also structured according to educational and training arrangements, but more flexible. It usually takes place in community-based settings, the workplace and through the activities of civil society organisations. Through the recognition, validation and accreditation process, non-formal learning can also lead to qualifications and other recognitions.
Access resource, available in English, French, SpanishThe UNESCO Guidelines for the Recognition, Validation and Accreditation of the Outcomes of Non-formal and Informal Learning were developed to facilitate recognition, validation and accreditation (RVA) of all learning outcomes, particularly those of non-formal and informal learning. UNESCO Member States also committed themselves to establishing recognition frameworks to develop and improve RVA principles and mechanisms.
Acquisition of knowledge, know-how, information, values, skills and competences in the framework of planned activities – in terms of learning objectives, time or resources – where some form of learning support is present (e.g. student-teacher/trainer relationships).
Cedefop; Council of the European Union, 2012
Access resource, available in English, French, Italian, PortugueseThis multilingual glossary (provided in a multitude of European languages) defines a selection of key terms used in European education and training policy. It is a revised and expanded version of the “Terminology of European education and training policy – A selection of 130 key terms” (2014). It considers new priorities of European Union policy, mainly concerning skills intelligence and employment. New definitions have been developed in collaboration with the experts of Cedefop’s departments VET and Skills and VET and Qualifications.
Learning that takes place through a program of instruction but does not usually lead to the attainment of a formal qualification or award, for example, in-house professional development programs conducted in the workplace.
Access resource, available in EnglishThis glossary is a compilation of Australian vocational education and training (VET) terms and acronyms. It includes both current and historical terms, concepts, acronyms and other abbreviations found in Australian VET research, policy and data.
Planned learning activities, not explicitly designated as learning, towards the achievement of a qualification or part qualification; often associated with learning that results in improved workplace practice.
Access resource, available in EnglishThis standard glossary of terms defines and clarifies the core terminology relating to the development and implementation of the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
Non-formal learning is the “concept on which there is the least consensus” (OECD, n.d.) and lies somewhere between formal and informal learning. Hence it makes sense to take a brief look at two broadly accepted definitions of the latter two terms. Formal learning is learning that occurs in an organised and structured environment and is explicitly designated as learning (in terms of objectives, time or resources). It is intentional from the learner’s point of view and typically leads to validation and certification (Cedefop, 2008). Typical examples are learning that takes place within the initial education and training system or workplace training arranged by the employer (Werquin & Patrick, 2010). Informal learning is learning that results from daily activities related to work, family or leisure. It is not organised or structured in terms of objectives, time or learning support. It is in most cases unintentional from the learner’s perspective (Cedefop, 2008). There is also a definition of non-formal learning by Cedefop (2014), which is "learning embedded in planning activities not explicitly designated as learning (in terms of learning objectives, learning time or learning support). Non-formal learning is intentional form the learners' point of view.… Non-formal learning outcomes may be validated and may lead to certification.
Access resource, available in EnglishThe OpenCred study is part of the OpenEdu Project, carried out by DG JRC IPTS on behalf of DG EAC. It supports the 2013 European Commission's Communication 'Opening up education: Innovative teaching and Learning for All through New Technologies and Open Educational Resources1.