Main objectives of the project

To allow those in SMEs to become more entrepreneurial the project aims to develop workplace research skills. The project has five objectives:

Objective 1: Develop a learning methodology and accredited curriculum to support the development of  practice based research skills (intellectual output 1).
This work package will examine the future workplace and its implications for SMEs. It will identify the future skills needs of these companies and identify what transversal skills will be required to ensure success in future business. From this the project will develop an accredited curriculum to allow companies to develop these skills.  The programme will be entitled: Smart Research as a 21st Century Skill for Business.  This curriculum will be accredited following a pilot period.

The work package will also identify how research skills and inquiry-based learning can be used to develop these skills. It will examine pedagogical best practice in adopting such approaches.  From this it will develop a learning methodology to leverage from research skills and inquiry-based approaches to satisfy future SME needs.

Published output: A report on the pedagogical approaches for teaching workplace research skills has will be published.  It will summarise the findings of the work package including a practice based research curriculum and learning methodology for teaching this in a workplace environment.

Objective 2: Develop a level 8 specialist diploma in practice based research to teach workplace research skills to employees of SMEs (Intellectual Output 2).
This work package will develop learning material to allow employees in SMEs to become more entrepreneurial.  The modules will be based on the needs analysis conducted during the proposal stage and the analysis of future workplace and emerging skills needs.  The programme will include four modules which will be based on developing practical workplace research skills and will allow those in SMEs to foster an entrepreneurial mind-set. The modules will be developed for online delivery and will be translated into English, Lithuanian, German, Spanish and Romanian.

Published output: The text-based learning material for all four modules will be made available on the project website. Any video-based learning material will also be made available on the project ICT platform.

Objective 3: Develop ICT tools to support the mentoring and development of research skills in SMEs (IO3).
This work package will develop a learning platform that will allow learners in SMEs to complete and collaborate on workplace research projects.  It will guide learners through the research process, offer collaborative tools and brainstorming facilities. This will be done by developing a suite of Moodle plug ins that allow the software to be modular. The tutor can choose the software plugin they require depending on the curriculum requirements and will allow the project results to be applied to a variety of contexts

Published output: An ICT Platform for the deployment of the learning material.

Objective 4: Pilot the learning methodology, learning material and ICT platform with 100 SME learners throughout Europe (Intellectual Output 4)
This work package will demonstrate how workplace practical research skills can be used to develop the entrepreneurial capability of an SME and improve the competitiveness of an SME. Employees of SMEs will be recruited to take part in the programme Smart Research as a 21st Century Skill for Business. Learners will be supported to complete the programme using the learning material developed in IO2, a tutor and the ICT platform developed in IO3.

To test the ability of the project to develop the relevant skills learners will undertake a pre and post assessment of their entrepreneurial capacity. In addition, learners will be asked to measure a competitive aspect of their company relevant to the research project being under taken prior taking the course and do a comparative analysis of this post programme.

Learner satisfaction for the programme will also be measured post programme. This will be done by disseminating a survey to all learners and completing a content analysis of their reflective diaries.

Published output: A summary report of the pilot results and findings will be made available.

Objective 5: Transfer the methodology to other sectors and VET programs (Intellectual Output 5)
This work package will identify how research skills can be developed in different sectors and educational contexts.  It will explore how research skills can be integrated into existing entrepreneurial programs. To do this it will interview SMEs in various sectors regarding how they applied the research skills. It will also conduct a content analysis of existing entrepreneurship programs and interview VET providers about how research skills can be integrated. From this it will develop a report to guide VET providers and SMEs on how to develop research skills in learners in their organisations.

Published output: A report entitled ‘Integrating practical research skills into entrepreneurship education’ will be made available.