The aim of this task is to collect information from training providers in the participating countries and beyond, regarding the provision of IT-supported lifelong learning, including blended learning to employees of SMEs and micro-enterprises or self-employed persons in rural areas, including the unemployed. The information collected will build the “provision section” of the Observatory, and will supply the basic material for the inventory of “best practice” examples.
The survey design is based on an initial stage of desk research, using to a large extent the bibliography collected and analysed at the initial stages of the project, followed by the definition of the variables to be measured, the sampling design and the type of the survey tools to be used. The survey methodology includes further steps as follows:
a. Drawing the sample. The first step is to establish an appropriate sampling base at national level, consisting of institutions offering IT-supported training to members of SMEs and micro-enterprises, as well as the unemployed, outside urban areas. For this purpose, published information on VET providers from the public, private and third sectors was sought; and the interviews conducted in the context of the review of policies and practices of IT-supported lifelong learning were utilised, to compile a wide sampling base. The next step is to draw an appropriate sample, on the basis of a number of criteria, such as: target trainees (e.g. employees in SMEs or micro-enterprises, unemployed), geographical areas of training delivery (rural, urban), sector, subjects offered. A sample of 50-150 institutions is envisaged, according to the size of the country.
b. Approaching the sample via an electronic questionnaire, delivered through the website for on-line completion. The questionnaire is designed and piloted by the leading partner of this task, and then was made available to the other partners for translation to their own national languages and use. Effort was made to design a questionnaire that is not too long and it is easy to fill in, so that a maximum of responses is achieved. The questionnaire is mostly structured, with pre-coded answers, and contains questions on methods and location of training delivery; purpose of training; content of training; context of training; place of training in the process of the “employment career“ of the employee or the unemployed; tools and resources used for IT delivery; qualifications available to trainees; quality assurance processes; support by teachers and tutors; course completion rates (and drop out rates, accordingly); trainee statistics.
c. Selecting a sub-sample on the basis of the responses received by the initial sample, for in-depth study. The sub-sample is envisaged to include 10-15 institutions, according to the size of the country, which was approached on location by a researcher and a face-to-face interview was conducted on the basis of an open interview schedule, with the director or the senior manager responsible for educational methods and results. The interview sought to collect the necessary qualitative information that allowed the national researchers to build “case studies” of institutions offering best practice in the field of IT-supported continuing VET/lifelong learning.
d. Delivering the structured questionnaire to the membership of EFVET across the EU and to other training institutions that have been identified through European databanks.
e. Producing a common design for the analysis of results for all partners. For the structured questionnaire, tables and cross-tabulations were included in the analysis and the presentation of results, taking into account the comparative nature of the research across several countries and the needs of the target groups of the project for information and reference materials. For the cases studies, a common structure was agreed among the partners and the length of the case study report was specified.
f. Writing the seven national reports, according to a common structure, specified by a list of contents and a list of tables and figures (Hungary, Poland, Greece, Finland, UK, Spain and Germany). Each national report includes the case-study reports in an appendix.
g. Writing the transnational report that concerns training organisations outside the 7 participating countries.
**Please note that by contributing to the online surveys your organisation will become a member of the Observatory network.