Posts Tagged Accreditation,

Focusing on the future of our project:

There is nothing better to focus the mind more than an imminent presentation to a room full of tourism experts tomorrow in the Netherlands.  I have my presentation prepared and I am looking forward to sharing our network and project work with the participants of the meeting tomorrow in Van Hall Larenstein – University of Applied Sciences.

This opportunity has arisen as our project partner; Europees Centrum voor Eco en Agro Toerisme Nederland (ECEAT) has been proactive is seeking to develop a common approach to rural tourism training within the Netherlands. 

De Barendonk estate near Beers

Project partners experience the best of rural tourism in the Netherlands

Our last Leonardo partnership project meeting was held in early December 2010 and I am glad to report that our project has acheived another milestone.  Our Romanian partners confirmed that our ‘train the trainers’ programme has been their national accreditation body.  This is the third country in the EU which has accreditated our training programme which has been jointly developed by all the partners in accordance with the European Qualifications Framework. 

The Romanian partners from the Centre for Tourism Training, Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj have taken the process a whole step further.  They have used the common sylabus we have agreed upon within the project and developed the module for implementation in the Romanian language this year.  This is beyond the expectations of what we aimed to acheive and is testament to the commitment of all partners who have worked on this project.

We have been fortunate to work with partners who understand the ethos of rural tourism and the importance of highlighting examples of best practice in this sector.  At each of our project meetings we experienced excellent standards of service, food and hospitality within the rural tourism facilities that we stayed.  This was particularly evident at our last meeting “Landgoed de Barendonk” farm where we well looked after by our host Elisabeth Hermanussen and her family.

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Successful Meeting in Bulgaria

It is almost one week ago since we had our 5th partners meeting in Gurguliat, Bulgaria.  We stayed in a rural hotel in Gurguliat village which is approximately 60 kilometres north west of Sofia where we were treated to excellent hospitality and array of locally grown food produce.

In brief, I would like to report the success of our meeting which has resulted in our Bulgarian partners acheiving accreditation through their national certification agency NAVET and as a team we agreed a common syllabus for the delivery of our ‘train the trainer’ programme in rural entrepreneurship.

Successful meeting for Leonardo Partnership Project

Partnership achieves Accreditation in Bulgaria

This was our 5th meeting as a Leonardo Partnership project. As a cumulation of acheiving accreditation in Ireland at the last meeting and in Bulgaria at this meeting our project team left with a positive feeling.  More details about our meeting will follow in my next blog post.

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RTITN General Assembly 2010

The last RTITN General Assembly meeting was held in September 2007 in Hungary.  This planned meeting will help to re-establish the focus of the network and hopefully find ways for increased cooperation between all members.  We have received interest from a number of members in relation to our General Assembly meeting which will be held in the Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Ireland on the 26th and 27th May. 

The invitation is open to all current members to attend this meeting. I have outlined some of the activities that have been planned as part of our General Assembly below.  This meeting is being organised to coincide with our Leonardo Partnership project meeting and further details about the costs for members will be sent by email early next week. 

Draft GA Agenda:

Wednesday 26th May

7.00 to 11.15   Arrive Dublin Airport

11.30               Depart Dublin Airport by coach to Athlone

13.00               Arrive Athlone Institute of Technology (www.ait.ie) where lunch will be served.

13.30 – 14.30   RTITN Board Meeting meeting

13.45               Tour of Athlone Institute of Technology’s Tourism, catering and hospitality department

 14.30 – 17.30  General Assembly meeting: details will be sent to members via email.

 Note: All members are requested to submit any proposals in respect of new project ideas for inclusion in our workplan / training plan in advance of our GA meeting.

Thursday 27th May

 9.00 to 13.00                Training Workshop

–          Examples of andragogy tools in practice based on the theme of PART-RTi ‘Train the Trainers’ programme

–          Interactive training workshop which will be delivered by trainers from 3 RTITN member countries

–          The workshop will be include open discussion about adult training techniques across EU and other member countries (more info on workshop)

13.00             Lunch

14.00             Leonardo Project Partners attend academic standards and quality committee to defend accreditation of ‘Rural Tourism – Trainer the Trainer Course’

15.00 – 16.00   Official Launch of RTITN’s Accreditation of the ‘Rural Tourism – Train the Trainer Course’

We are inviting all RTITN member country Ambassadors who are based in Ireland to attend this launch and we hope to entice a senior Irish Government Minister to launch this training course.

17.00   River Cruise on Shannon followed by dinner

It has taken some time to finalise details for our General Assembly and this could not have been down without the support of Athlone Institute of Technology.  This is an excellent opportunity for our network to grow and re-focus our plans for the future.

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Partners Meeting 3 – Bavaria

Our project had its third partners meeting on the 26th and 27th January 2010 in Freising, Munich, Germany.  Our meeting was hosted by our colleagues from the Bavarian State Research Centre of Agriculture and the meeting was held in the most wonderful setting of Kardinal-Dopfner-Haus in the town of Freising.

Our Bavarian colleagues provided us with an insight in to the operations of the Bavarian State Research Center of Agriculture and how their training systems are implimented.  Their Director Dr. Viktoria Lofner-Meir presented an overview of the Research Centers work on the first day of our meeting. This was complimented by a workshop facilitated by Mr. Pablo Asensio the following day on how the ‘train the trainer’ course could be intergrated into their training systems.

"Pablo Asensio gets everyones attention"

Now I have your attention!

It is a rewarding experience to work on a Leonardo project and step outside of your normal comfort zone to work with colleagues on a EU wide basis.  The project has jumped forward with a more defined timeframe of what will be achieved by certain dates thoughout 2010.  Alot of work was undertaken by each of the partners since our last meeting with a view to seeking accreditation for our train the trainers programme.  Each of the partners filled in the gaps in respect of how the accreditation system for vocational education training is managed in their countries. 

Athlone Institute of Technology led the majority of the interactions at this meeting and focussed all partners on the agreement of Irish accreditation template.  Indepth discussions on this topic issued and a rough draft was agreed.  It was clear that this accreditation template was a work in progress document and further input will be required from all partners before the end of March 2010.  Our aim for May 2010 is to have our train the trainers course gain accreditation through the Higher Education & Training Awards Council in Ireland.  This will require significant effort from all partners and we are confident of achiving this aim.

As the lead partner, I was looking for ways to improve our partners communication and maintain an up-to-date record of all partners contributions to our work in progress.  Thanks to Sean Connell from AIT we have brought all partners in to the 21st century through Google.docs.  His workshop which was held during our meeting was a challenge, espeicially as the google default kept bringing some of us to the German version.  Everybody enjoyed it and found it worthwhile.  Its just a case of getting everyone to use it now.

Partners are introduced to Google.docs by Sean

Clear timeframes for delivery of our project aims have been established by 3 of the possible 4 partners involved in seeking accreditation.  In summary, the project is progressing at a pace which is much faster than I would have envisaged after the first meeting held last October!

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Project Partners second meeting in Romania

The second meeting of the PART-RTi Leonardo Partnership Project was held on the 10th and 11th of December 2009 in rural Translyvania, Romania.  Our meeting was held in the beautiful rural location of Sâncraiu (Kalotaszentkirály) village, approximately 50 kilometres West of the Cluj-Napoca city.  We were well looked after by our host Mr. István Vincze-Kecskés who offered us excellent hospitality in the village. 

During the festive holiday period time is devoted to family and other activites are forgotten for a few weeks and that included this blog!  It is the begining of a new decade and within our project partnership we are fast approaching our next project meeting in Bavaria.  So the time has come to update this blog and I am delighted to report that our 2nd meeting was a success.  Collectively all of our project partners have become familiar with the project objectives and are working towards our agreed goals.

Rural Tourism Partners meet in Translyvania, Romania

Partners discussing national accreditation systems in Europe

Whilst this was our second meeting we were still getting to know each other and were clarifying the project objectives.  It is a priviledge to have the opportuity to work with a diverse group of professionals from accross Europe in the field of rural tourism.  At each meeting there are always new challenges and it is not easy to come to an agreement on certain tasks.  These challenges are presented in the form of communication difficulties through the language of our project which is English.  Those of us for whom English is our first language have to keep reminding ourselves to slow down and ensure our points are being understood.  There are always a few new faces at each meeting and this presents another challenge in trying to maintain the focus of the project on track.

During the meeting, we gained knowledge from each other on how the accreditation systems of each of the partner country operates.  There are many similarities and some obstacles to overcome, but we all agreed that we would work as a team towards the development of a common syllabi.  Our aim is to have our rural tourism ‘train the trainer’ programme acheiving national accreditation standard in each of the partner countries. 

The main priority for the partners for the next meeting is to reach a consensus on the Irish accreditation template which has been led by Kevin McLoughlin from Athlone Institute of Technology.  In addition, we will be agreeing the timeframe for accreditation delivery in each of the partner countries over the coming year and half of our project.

2nd Meeting Group Picture of Partners in Romania

Project Partner Countries include Bulgaria, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and Romania

We are now at the stage where we will be inviting national and international silent partners to participate in our project.  We are seeking further guidance from international experts and wish to raise awareness about our project among those involved in Vocational Education Training and organisations who promote high standards in tourism training.  We will be sending out emails over the coming weeks, but if you have an interest in our work please post a comment here.

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Project partners first meeting in Ireland

On the 1st of October our Leonardo Partnership project got underway with the first of a two day meeting, held in a local rural tourism visitor attraction; Bear Essentials in County Cavan.  One of our main objectives initially was to become familiar with the partners, organisations and with the project which will we deliver over the next two years.

First meeting of Leonardo Partnership Project

First meeting of Leonardo Partnership Project

Within our partnership project we have a diverse group of partners which represent training institutions, agricultural colleges, ecotourism, rural development and the guesthouse accommodation sector.  The common objectives of the partnership is the development of a sustainable rural tourism sector across the EU and in particular the countries which we represent including; Bulgaria, Germany, Netherlands, Romania and Ireland.  We all have a commitment to achieve this through the accreditation of our Rural Tourism International – Train the Trainers programme.

Following our initial introductions, Anke Morgonroth the proprietor of Bear Essentials and a rural tourism trainer delivered a short workshop which helped us to focus on the competencies of a rural tourism trainer and a rural tourism entrepreneur.  This was a worthwhile activity which was engaging, creative and provided some insight in to andragogy.

Kevin McLoughlin introduces partners to Irish accreditation system

Kevin McLoughlin introduces partners to Irish accreditation system

This was followed by a presentation by Kevin McLoughlin from Athlone Institute of Technology on the National Qualifications Framework in Ireland, the European Credit Transfer System, Recognition of Prior Learning and the assessment system.  This created a high level of discussion among the partners as we started to prepare the ground work for our project. 

The second day of our meeting was held in a rural guesthouse based in County Monaghan where we continued with our meeting agenda.  I was happy at the end of our meeting as each of the partners had clarified their roles within the project and we all agreed that we must support each other through regular communication to ensure the success of our project.

Partners delighted to have project support from Polar bear as a 'silent partner' ???

Partners delighted to have project support from 'Knut' the polar bear as our first 'silent partner'

This is the first step in achieving our project aims, objectives and building a strong project team. Watch this space for further updates and opportunities for ‘silent partners’ to become involved in our project and we are looking forward to our next meeting planned for early December.

We would like to here comments from RTITN members or any other individual involved in the rural tourism sector.

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Leonardo Partnership kick off meeting

We are busy making final arrangements for our Leonardo Partnership project which will kick off next week on the 1st October and we are looking forward to welcoming our partners to both counties Cavan and Monaghan.  We are excited about the prospects of getting work underway to acheive our aim of gaining accrediatation for our rural tourism train the trainers programme.

In addition, we are also making final plans for the Leonardo da Vinci contact seminar which will commence in Malahide, Dublin on the evening of the 27th September 2009.  We are impressed with the wide range of organisation coming from througout Europe and indeed within Ireland.

I am looking forward to meeting with all potential partners and i hope you enjoy your visit to Ireland.

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