laboratories forREcoveryand deepening of Learning Or Aimed at Deconstructive/transitional approaches to students’ vocational guidance
The Re-Load stems from the successful ESF-ROP-funded action-research initiative carried out in Lombardy between 2005 and 2007: NETWORKING FOR EDUCATIONAL AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING SUCCESS. ORGANIZATIONAL MODELS, TOOLS AND METHODOLOGIES –(Regional Operating Programme. Ob.3, Action C1). The outcome of the initiative was the acronymed “LARSA” labs: “Laboratori di Approfondimento, Recupero e Sviluppo degli apprendimenti” (Laboratories for further developing, consolidating, enhancing and re-triggering  learning processes in 14-to-18 year-olders).

The initiative was labeled as “best practice” and the Re-Load Project aims now at adapting and  transfering such practice to Italian Regions other than Lombardy and to other EU Countries through a transnational partnership.
The action-research-based initiative includes two basic components:
  1. a toolkit for action-research through which the LARSA model and its applications were designed to be implemented in networks of career-oriented, vocational and academic environments (comprehensive and vocational education). Lab-based activities were designed to be carried out in a multi-player networked educational system where teachers and trainiers from general education, vocational training and labour market cooperate together to design and manage 4 different models of LARSA.
  1. a set of lab-based experiences (LARSA). (Laboratories for further developing, consolidating, enhancing and re-triggering learning processes in 14-to-18 year-olders). The LARSA labs also provide tools, methods and strategies to prevent early school-leaving and extra coaching or additional tutorship to underachievers.
The organization of the LARSA models is flexible enough as to meet the needs of the ever-growing challenges the educational systems are facing now, in the so/called liquid society. The challenges the traditional world of education and vocational training have been facing for quite a while do pertain - on one hand - to the re-distribution of responsibility and commitment between the different institutional entities in the architectural design of the educational system as a whole and - on the other hand - to the ability of the systems to catch up with innovation in terms of provision of more sophisticated solutions to enhance teaching/learning processes and understand cognitive styles.
The LARSA models - which were monitored, assessed and analyzed in the action-research process, before being actually implemented - developed as a result of integration between secondary schools and vocational schools and institutions. The LARSA therefore:
A)      easied learners’ transition from one curriculum to another in the same system and from school to workplace.
B)       Made it possible for learners not only to get a custom-tailored curriculum, but also to receive continuous career-counseling aimed at lowering the risk of dropping out and easing school-to-job transition.
The Action-research activity which produced the LARSA model based on the integration and networking of academic education and vocational training schools/agencies, allowed to analyze a number of experiences carried out in different local contexts and to draw a classification of LARSA into four basic types:
-         Labs designed to help underachievers or low-achievers to develop key competences and skills
This type of lab includes sets of remedial activities targeted to the cognitively vulnerable or dropouts, who need to develop Lisbon Key-competences 1-2-3).
-         Labs designed to further enhance learning in specific knowledge areas (Approfondimenti)
This type of lab includes sets of activities designed to help high-achievers and intellectually endowed learners to further investigate into their favourite knowledge areas, through challenging problem-solving experiences.
-         Labs designed to help “switchers” to move from one study program to a different one
This type of lab includes activities where career-counseling and vocational guidance are overrepresented in order to provide adequate background prior to induction to a new program.
-         “De-structuring” Labs designed to help mentally, relationally and culturally vulnerable learners to acquire basic skills and key competences, also in terms of compliance with the so-called horizontal principles and issues in LLP Leonardo.

Phases of the ReLoad Project
The Re/Load project will develop in three phases.

Goals – main activities
Phase ONE
comparative study analysis of the situations which characterize the different territorial contexts focusing the attention on the analysis of good practices related to: integration between school and employment/labour market; personalization of vocational training pathways in the phases of transition from school to active and working life as activated in the different contexts.
Phase TWO
adaptation and implementation of products.
On the basis of the conclusions drawn from the comparison of contexts at partnership level, the products will undergo adaptation in terms of : CONTENT – LANGUAGE – METHODOLOGY – TECHNOLOGY
1)      contents adaptation: content exemplifications will be extended to knowledge  and vocational areas other than the areas of the original good Practice and innovative tools will be designed for enhancing key-competences acquisition.
2)      linguistic adaptation: all the project products/outcomes and results will be translated in the partners’ languages
3)      methodological adaptation:
this will include strategies aimed at raising awareness in educators and trainers in vocational education and labour market about the need to reflect on the value of topics and models described in the project.
4)      technological adaptation: this will be carried out through the planning and implementation of web-based modules to be hosted and integrated in the LARSA portal (URL: to be linked to a number of national and transnational institutional websites (ISFOL, ANSAS etc ).
Transfer and trial of the final product in a series of Educational and Vocational Training institutions based in the partners’ Countries.
The final product includes a trial (tryout) of the LARSA model as defined in organizational terms. In other words the LARSA model, appropriately adapted, is tried out, with special emphasis on: distance-learning,  remedial work and deepening of learning. The focus is on:
- deep integration between competencies, abilities and knowledge so as to link together praxis and theory, aiming at educating people integrally.
- training of teachers and educators on how to tackle themes and operate models presented in the project.
- theory testing through empirical data and real-life  experiment; application of hands-on-based experience to different contexts.
- integrating learning paths with different curricula and different learning experiences, while at the same time providing a solid framework for credit transfer and validation across learning experiences.
- accompanying measures and career guidance programs for the benefit of youth in transition from school to job and active life.