The background report comprises key results from a series of interviews, conducted with actors and stakeholders of European Communities of Practice

A fundamental condition for the building of successful CoPs is a good understanding of the internal and external conditions of the functioning of CoPs. In order to create a stable knowledge base for all following project activities, the partnership conducted desk and field research on the current situation of CoPs, which have emerged from the LLL program (including a series of interviews with CoP users). The aim was to make visible pathways of development, intervention schemes, tools used etc. in order to learn from the lesson. The results and findings were documented in a joint background report, which is available from the DISCUSS project website: In the interviews we applied a "storytelling" approach, which should support the identification and analysis of criticial incidents, appearing in those Communities of Practice. The sample of critical incidents later on was analyzed with regard to their meaning for personal development, the evolution of skills and competences, the social relationships of the community members, and the long-term impact they may have on the professional careers of the actors involved. The research revealed the critical success factors of those communities, and delivered good practice towards the building of the DISCUSS online communities.


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  • DISCUSS background report on communities of practice


Theoretical foundation and roadmap towards building Online Communities of Practice on Lifelong Learning

We would like to thank Lesley Doyle, Glasgow University, for developing a theoretical framework and roadmap towards the formation of DISCUSS starter Coommunities of Practice.

DISCUSS is designed to support lifelong learning communities of practice around the themes that project members and other interested individuals and organisations themselves identify as important for their work. However, to provide the Platform with an initial focus, the first CoPs are built around five thematic areas each of which reflects a strategic priority or topic of the European Lifelong Learning programme. Those themes are: 1) validation of lifelong learning; 2) improving the quality of adult education by promoting social and economic cohesion through improved adult learning outcomes 3) Creativity and innovation, including intergenerational learning, learning for senior citizens and family learning 4) Improving quality assurance systems in VET and 5) development of basic skills and the "transversal key competences" of reinforcing key competences, such as digital competence, and bridging the worlds of education and work.

The initial themes were selected along with the criteria of connectivity, complementarity and potential for cross-program synergies. In other words, whilst each of the project communities of practice coming under the theme could begin as a virtual community of practice in its own right, there is the facility for each to either grow and absorb others or join with them and become to become what might be called a ‘meta-thematic’ virtual community of practice. For example, the validation of informal learning has been made into a cross-cutting theme to make it a fundamental part of every aspect of the LLL program. Users are connected through this theme. The theme is integral also to “quality assurance in education & training“, and the drive to discuss "ensuring the quality of IFL validation“. In order to prepare for the take-off of the initial CoPs an open consultation of stakeholders and other projects will be conducted.

A 12-step process was outlined as a working example of moving from a CoP to a ‘starter’ VCoP with a project working to the theme of improving the quality of adult education by promoting social and economic cohesion through improved adult learning outcomes with potential for cross-programme synergies. The project is looking to link with other similar projects as a VCoP for development and sustainability of the project’s aims after its completion.


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  • DISCUSS roadmap

  • DISCUSS VCoP formation en

  • DISCUSS design principles


Expansive Learning Approach

Enabling learning across projects and domains. Our learning approach.

A fundamental question to our project was, how DISCUSS could support learning across projects, working in different domains or under different thematic strands of European education & training programs. Different to previous program generations, projects increasingly are supposed to actively collaborate on the overarching strategy of building a “European area of lifelong learning“ and the development of concrete applications for the policy instruments associated with this strategic goal.

In order to systematically approach this new condition, in-depth investigations were undertaken into the learning process of CoPs. On the background of the research findings it can be argued, that VCoPs will need to learn about each other and their ‘boundaries’, involve themselves in ‘knotworking’ to work through difficulties and use their third spaces to create their own new collectively focused ‘shared objects’ for new activities created through expansive learning. And, DISCUSS can play a crucial role for the VCoPs in facilitating successful boundary crossing. It does this by creating, developing and propagating appropriate tools and helping the VCoPs employ them. In this way, DISCUSS facilitates the expansive learning in which the VCoP members will need to engage if they are to cohere, develop and sustain themselves.


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  • DISCUSS expansive learning approach


First newsletter

Read our first newsletter, and learn more about past and ongoing project activities.

The first newsletter comprises general project information and updates on past and ongoing project activities. Moreover, the partnership has decided to include in every newsletter interesting information on actual developments in Lifelong Learning around Europe.


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  • Newsletter1_Discuss_project


Second newsletter

The second newsletter comprises information on the second partner meeting in Athens and findings from the expert interviews.


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  • newsletter2 mockup


Third newsletter

The 3rd newsletter comprises information on the 3rd and 4th partner meetings in Dublin, Ireland and Riga, Latvia.


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  • discuss newsletter 3


Fourth newsletter

The 4th newsletter comprises information on the final DISCUSS conference in Munich, Germany.


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  • newsletter 4




  • DISCUSS brochure



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This project is funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.