On December 7th and 8th the Conventus project about a learning system for cooperatives was officially begun with a kick-off meeting in Kemi, Finland. This project is supported by the EU general directorate for Education and Culture in the form of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency. The objective of the project is to create greater understanding and knowledge of the situation of the cooperatives in Europe among the co-operators themselves, so as to strengthen their self-esteem and cooperative identity and entrepreneurial skills. This will be done through international and national meetings to learn and develop together with new contacts, using for example ICT to facilitate and give added value to the meetings. The new skills that are required for the cooperative enterprise require updating the cooperative competences to assure a better match with labour market needs, to contribute to new job creation and to address the changes in society (new categories of disadvantaged people, such as the young and the elderly that are particularly affected by unemployment).
The Conventus project idea is based on previous experience in the training of cooperative members, during a Leonardo project, SKILLS. In that project it became obvious that people working in cooperatives would benefit from learning from each other and that ICT (eLearning) is a good tool for community learning.
In several eLearning projects run by the Lead Partner it has been proven that adult people prefer eLearning as it is not tied to time or place, but also that face-to-face meetings can be of great importance to support the learning process. Hence, the combination of study visits with e-meetings and online project environments in the project.
The kick-off meeting of Conventus went very well, as most partners know each other from previous projects and have confidence in eachother’s abilities and expertise. The kick-off session encompassed two days and included a visit to a local cooperative and a Finnish Christmas lunch, which was enjoyed as the snow fell outside: