What is non-formal education? 

The following information is to provide a context to the YouTrain video tutorials.

Non-formal education, or non-formal learning, is often distinguished between other types of education and learning, namely formal education and informal learning.Let’s take a look at definitions according to the joint document by the European Union and the Council of Europe, Pathways

Non-formal learning and education, understood as learning outside institutionalcontexts (out-of-school) is the key activity, but also the key competence of youth work. Non-formal learning/education in youth work is often structured, based on learning objectives, learning time and specific learning support and it is intentional. It typically does not lead to certification, but in an increasing number of cases, certificates are delivered, leading to better recognition of the individual learning outcome.  

Non-formal education contributes to acquiring life-long learning competencies: literacy, languages (multilingual competence), mathematical competence and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), digital competence, persona, social and learning to learn competence, citizenship competence, entrepreneurship, cultural awareness and expression.

For understanding the principles and approaches of non-formal education, please watch the introduction video with Yuliya

The role of trainers

Taking into account the principles and approaches of non-formal education, it requires a different role of an educator.  Not like teachers or university professors that often teach in a frontal way, trainers aim to use the resource of the group rather than being the «one and only» expert.  Trainers create a certain space where experimentation and reflection is encouraged, and that it’s safe and challenging at the same time – and this is what we need for learning.

For a deeper understanding of the role of a trainer, please watch the introduction video with Snezana

Developing the training

When it comes to developing the training activity, there are several points to get clarity with, before the actual start:

  • What is the aim of a learning activity, what competencies it will develop, and what would be the change on participants after?
  • Who are the participants of the training, what are their needs, motivation, backgrounds, preferences?
  • What are the reality and context of the training activity, for example in terms of the expectations and culture of the embedding institution (if there is one), the materials and resources at disposition, space and conditions, what other learning activities are before, after or parallel?
  • In case you work in a team, what are the profiles, preferences and competencies of your colleagues? And finally, also yourself, what are you competences, preferences, needs etc

Having clarity on these points you can break down your training activity into objectives and main blocks and then chose methods accordingly.


For more tips on developing a training and choosing appropriate methods, as well as recommendations on how to develop as a trainer, please watch video with MarCus.

Types of methods

In YouTrain project we’ve grouped methods in 5 categories

Energizers, name games and introduction activities

This type of methods supports the process of breaking the ice between participants

Getting familiar with names

Profiles and backgrounds

Creating a more friendly atmosphere inside the group.

Team-building, group dynamics and outdoor activities

These methods support creating team spirit inside the group by overcoming a common challenge

to develop and communicate better so that they can work in harmony

Simulation exercises and role plays

These methods function as learning tools for teams and groups or individuals as they “play” online

or face to face

Learners take on different roles, assuming a profile of a character or personality, and interact and participate in diverse and complex learning settings

Discussions, debates and group work

Great way to exchange ideas, improve knowledge, reasoning skills and understanding of the viewpoints of others

Allow everyone to express themselves in the most comfortable way for them

Debriefing, evaluation, assessment and closing methods

Reflection is important in any training because it completes the cycle of learning, integrating and assessing the learning outcomes of the session, day or training

Evaluate and assess different aspects of training activity

closure to a group process including expressing appreciation and saying goodbye to each other

Facilitating the training

Experiential learning is a key approach in non-formal education. Debriefing is a crucial part to help participants to learn from the experience. Debriefing is a reflection after the experience, guided by trainer, and it requires specific competencies.

For better understanding David Kolb’s learning cycle, how experiential learning is organised in training and how we process the experience, please watch our video with Sergio.

And in this video you’ll find specific methods to organise reflection on learning during the training course

Evaluating the training

Evaluation is an important part to understand if the learners reached their learning objectives, and if  the learning process was effective. So the learners can recognize their achievements, and we can better plan our next activities. 

For introduction to evaluation in training please watch our video with Jan


And here you’ll find specific methods how to evaluate Individual and group learning

Professional development of trainers

Competencies of trainers and 360 degree appraisal.Check out the ETS competence model for trainers working on international level. There are 7 areas of competencies important for trainer to develop:

  1. Understanding and facilitating individual and group learning processes
  2. Learning to learn
  3. Designing educational programmes
  4. Cooperating successfully in teams
  5. Communicating meaningfully with others
  6. Intercultural competence
  7. Being civically engaged

You can assess your competencies and collect feedback on your performance as a trainer in the specific platform called Appraisal

Apart from reading literature and attending events, there are methods that could be useful in daily work: learning trios, job shadowing, intervision, mentorship and supervision.Intervision Intervision is a method that provides feedback and opinion from your peer colleague trainers on particular case of your work. Intervision is quite easy to organise in a daily context, if you can gather your trainer colleagues for a meeting (offline or online). You can watch our video tutorial how to implement intervision method on a face-to-face meeting.


Trainings and other educational activities for trainersThere are trainings of trainers, trainer skills workshops and other support activities for trainers within ETS framework. There is a conference for trainers called Bridges for Trainers, that is held once every 2 years. You may also find useful another conference –  ToolFair, that is held annually. This event is aimed not only on trainers, but on youth workers, youth leaders, etc., and is focused on exchange of innovative methods and practices in youth work. You can find open calls in the European Training Calendar

You may also check educational activities organised by the Youth Department of the Council of Europe.

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