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Developing competences for natural and cultural heritage conservation through ECHOE
When visiting heritage sites the classic approach of a guide usually is a “one way transfer of information”. Also heritage education usually focuses on one learning level only: knowledge.  A more complete and in ... read more.

Education for Heritage – Outdoor Education
ECHOE is an international education project, co-funded by the LLP-Grundtvig action. In ECHOE the project partners seek to combine heritage education and outdoor education into an effective blend for adult learning. The project offers material and methods ... read more.

Education for Heritage – Outdoor Education
ECHOE is an international education project, co-funded by the LLP-Grundtvig action. In ECHOE the project partners seek to combine heritage education and outdoor education into an effective blend for adult learning. The project offers material and methods to help adult educators and heritage guides use a built and natural heritage environment as a non-formal learning context for developing a broad pallet of competences.
Most of the time heritage education programmes for adults are carried out in a touristic context or in a classroom by direct knowledge transfer from the ‘guide’ or the educator. Outdoor education programmes on the other hand usually comprise more sportive activities, environmental issues and team building. By blending these two methods, ECHOE wants to exploit different open cultural environments to become better and easier teaching and learning media. The participant is actively involved in the process and learns about the subject by adding his/her personal, social and cultural background and his/her experiences and set of values. 
The ECHOE project mainly addresses cultural & heritage professionals, adult educators and other professionals dealing with adults in a heritage context: tourist groups and individuals, families, teachers accompanying pupils, senior citizens, teambuilding groups (company personal), adults interested in architecture and nature, walkers/hikers ...
A competence driven approach to heritage and outdoor education
Initial formal education is no longer sufficient for a person to live and work in this rapidly changing society and work environment in present Europe. Additional training, continuous training, adult education, non-formal learning and informal learning are all elements in the concept of Lifelong Learning. The shift to non-formal and informal learning offers great opportunities to heritage sites and outdoor contexts to step into this Lifelong Learning process.
When visiting heritage sites the classic ‘guide approach’ usually is a “one way transfer of knowledge”. The tourist guide wants to pass on his knowledge to his audience under the best circumstances, without asking any participation/exchange of any kind from his audience. Adults taking part in a heritage activity are not necessarily focussed on acquiring knowledge. However, this doesn’t mean that these adults are not open to learning. A competence driven approach to heritage and outdoor learning has the main advantage that people work in a less schools and more pleasant way on developing competences contributing to personal and social development that are relevant in other situations in everyday life. This is a good basis for Lifelong Learning.

Heritage/outdoor learning and competences
The use of heritage as a means to develop key competences for lifelong learning is an example of a multidisciplinary, holistic approach to learning. By including also the outdoor component, the ECHOE approach emphasizes the integration of content generated by the significance of heritage, the process of working together in an open air context and the interactive valorisation of experience as a vehicle for learning. In a general way, we can state that the combination of heritage and outdoor education contributes to the development of all key competences.
Heritage education:

  1. Promotes the development of language skills: mother tongue and foreign languages are elements of our cultural heritage and also the vehicle for reflecting and communicating about our heritage.
  2. Promotes skills and knowledge on science and technology: our cultural heritage also consists of the technologies as developed by mankind throughout its existence.
  3. Stimulates digital competences, addressed during the research and/or presentation stage.
  4. Adds to the development of personal and social skills: interpersonal, intercultural, social and civic competences have their roots in our heritage.
  5. Promotes entrepreneurship. Learning becomes a journey of initiative, of discovery and of dealing with things and people.
  6. Makes us become aware of our cultural values, beliefs and perceptions. It stimulates cultural expression, adding the creative and the imaginative qualities to learning.
  7. Offers the ideal context for learners to create their own learning paths while approaching heritage from the angle they choose by using the means they choose.
  8. Enhances citizenship awareness and identity by making people discover the cultural, historical… past of their nation and increases the sense of belonging to a group or culture.

Adding outdoor activities to heritage education makes the learners develop even more competences. Outdoor education contributes to the acquisition of team work competences, entrepreneurship (initiative taking), critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-taking, risk assessment, sustainability-awareness, environmental awareness and social competences.

Social integration & communication

The ECHOE team shares the belief that heritage & outdoor education involves a group activity, giving a unique value to the competences resulting from it. Collaborating and communicating in heritage & outdoor education improves the appreciation and enjoyment of heritage because it’s a shared experience. The cohesion of the group can be stronger outdoors, the members of the group participate positively to reach a common goal and value other people’s contributions and skills as a source of richness. Teamwork combined with self-expression is essential to the development of creative skills. While communicating in an ECHOE context, participants come to express themselves creatively in a social context, which generates a positive attitude in the sense of group acceptance and respect for cultural diversity.

Social integration & communication via a heritage/outdoor context is relevant to adult education mainly because it characterizes the way in which adults learn: the social context is an essential factor to facilitate learning. Moreover, cultural heritage sites represent the social communication of a public place and its appearance and destiny affect the communities around them. Thus, the audience can be highly motivated to involve in ECHOE activities because adults do care about the development of their community and are sensitive to its heritage. They are oriented towards a better knowledge and understanding of it and consider communication and involvement very important.

An ECHOE approach to heritage not only contributes to competence development and social integration but can also have an impact on people’s position towards heritage conservation, sustainability issues and health issues. The ECHOE material also goes into these elements of adult learning.