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Cross-pollination through exchange of good practices

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Ecett is a European learning network initiated by therapeutic communities and open to all human centered occupations. Thanks to financial support of EU, it has developed an avant-garde learning method (MECETT) based on the transfer of the Journeymen apprenticeship tradition combined with e-learning and reinvented for lifelong learning in any kind of trade. The main results of this specific modality of short internships abroad (2 to 10 days) is improvement of motivation, repositories of good practices and innovations after return. The success rate of the learning outcomes is very high (about 90%) and the perspectives of future developments are huge.

Cross-pollination through exchange of good practice

The new business needs  

“Human centered occupations” are facing, as many other occupations, a great complexity in their core business, constant new challenges in their environment, a questioning on their cost-benefit ratio and a cruel lack of academic training concerning the new challenges that emerge constantly. Faced with this, many teams find themselves isolated and remain with their nose in the grindstone, there is a loss of quality, their members grow tired and this explains a lot of burnouts, blocked situations in organizations, and eventually bankruptcies.

The questions posed by these teams are “are there solutions?”, “where do they exist?” and “how could we observe them? ”The response consists of several main principles:

  1. Lifelong learning

2 Observation of good practices on the spot is more relevant than beautiful theories

3 Measuring the impact of these practices on the service users

4 Work with study and research services

5  Innovate, share, and disseminate these good practices.


 A learning network based on exchange of practices

Ecett (1) is a network for ongoing learning through exchange of good practices. It includes over 1,000 internship places distributed in more than 20 countries in Europe. It was initiated by organisations specialized in addiction (2)  but is now open to other sectors.The learning method MECETT (3) is based on the journeymen apprenticeship model used by the guilds, since the Middle-Age, for training in manual trades. The trainees of Ecett are professionals, supported by their Ecett help desk, who want to learn through meeting their peers abroad on very specific topics. The help desks manage the communication between trainees and hosts for the good matching between demand (training needs of learners) and internship supply (expertise of hosts).

The MECETT learning method synthesizes learning through the journeymen approach and through an e-learning platform managed by our Italian partner (Ceis-Formazione). This platform, which is specially designed for MECETT, encompasses three databases:

1 The host organizations with their respective expertise

2 The profiles of all learners having already done Ecett internships.

3 The repository of ‘good practices’ written by learners on the hosts they’ve visited.

This platform includes the questionnaires related to the individual “travel file” for those wishing to undertake a MECETT course. This tool allows each learner to build by himself his internship project, with the support of the MECETT procedures and of the help desks in order to maximize the chances of positive impact after the return home. This platform also enables the various help desks to know at any time the progress of each individual process and to have real-time statistics about trainees satisfaction in order to monitor the quality of the learning system.

(1) Ecett : “European Companionship in Education, Training by Travel” ;

(2) Organizations represented in the Ecett Steering Committee : Trempoline (Belgium), Solidarnost (Bulgaria), Magdalena (Czech Republic), CEID (France), Argo and Kethea (Greece), Coolmine TC (Ireland), Ceis-Formazione and Centro du Solidarietà Don Mario Picchi (Italy), MONAR (Poland), Proyecto Hombre (Spain) and Phoenix-Futures (United Kingdom).

(3) MECETT : the learning method created by Ecett.

Cross-pollination of good practices

The Ecett knowledge exchanges in some numbers:

  • three main professional areas: addictions, social work and youth.
  • 15 help desks working for over 20 countries
  • over 1,000 internship places distributed in Europe.
  • over 650 trainees (since 2007)
  • over 350 good practices published on the e-learning platform.
  • Since 2015, the innovations introduced by former trainees at their work place are registered by help desks (in function of their capacity).
  • In total, more than 2.000 people collaborated since 2006 for making Ecett and MECETT a success story: staff members and managers of the sending and host organizations, researchers at universities, high schools, the Ecett team, etc.
  • the support of the EU (Leonardo da Vinci) for the development of the MECETT learning method has been about €1.000.000 from 2006 to 2011.

Measurement of the MECETT results

The learners responses on the e-learning platform help to permanently monitor the average success rate of internships and to check testimonials and comments of each. This appraisal system shows that:

  • 87% of the students achieved the learning objectives established before leaving
  • 85% of them believe that it is possible to make concrete changes in their workplace after the internship.
  • 92% of the trainees consider that the cost-benefit ratio of the internship is positive.
  • similar success rates are observed among the managers of the trainees (surveys conducted during the Leonardo da Vinci project at the hosts and the employers of the interns).

Another study was conducted in 2011, contacting 20 former trainees three years after their internship.

  • 90% of them said that their way of thinking and talking had changed following their internship.
  • 85% of them said that their way of working had changed.

Since 2007, more than 650 trainees experimented Ecett and have have written over 350 good practices in the areas of addictions, social work and youth.  The professional sectors gradually extend from human centered occupations to other occupations because the MECETT method can be provided to all types of businesses. Mobility travel grants (Erasmus+) are requested by the helpdesks and distributed to trainees for the funding of their travel costs. The sustainability of Ecett-Networks NGO is linked to the return of organizational costs covered by the Mobility grants. In 2012, the company “Ecethos” has been created for selling and customizing the MECETT learning method to public and to commercial companies. The benefits of “Ecethos” will help to pursue the development of MECETT in the sectors of non profit associations.

Testimonials of managers and trainees:


Bea Wheeler, local Director to the region of London, Phoenix-Futures (Great Britain)

About her staff participating in internships Ecett

“Over the past three years, part of my staff traveled to Dublin, Portugal, Czech Republic and Belgium. What marked me, in terms of personnel management, was mainly to handle the excitement and enthusiasm of those who returned from the Ecett courses!

These personnel returned to England filled with new experiences, perspectives and ideas on how we can better organize our offer of treatment. Ecett gives staff the opportunity to discover a completely different way of healing, in a different cultural context. But they earn far more than that: they come back telling me how aftercare and knowledge of the local environment are important to the users of services in Belgium, at which point the opportunity for staff to give feedback and develop service works well at the Portugal, or how the use of ‘games’ allows users to talk about their trauma in the Czech Republic.

Ecett encourages our staff to take leadership and to implement their new perspectives in our services in order to improve them, and this gave amazing results! Today, women released from Holloway prison leave with an information kit on the support they can find in their local community, Pentonville prison staff can now report ways to improve services and to innovate and our ‘families’ service of Islington begins to use sandboxes as a game tool to communicate between parents and children. The value provided by Ecett to our services is indefinite, not only by offering to our staff of new experiences, but by allowing us to learn about other countries and cultures of the ways to interact and to handle the processing. And it does not stop there: our staff has built friendships with his peers abroad allowing them to continue to share ideas and improve their practice after the end of their travel Ecett. I enjoyed seeing my staff participate in Ecett and more the richness of the experiences that they have brought with them and they were able to share with their colleagues and users of our service.

Marie Chauveau CEID Bordeaux (France)

after an internship at Proyecto Hombre in Palma de Mallorca, Spain:

“Ecett is a wonderful project to accept change. It stimulates the change of mentality, it is useful to open up to new ideas and to have fewer preconceptions which impede to imagine new solutions or a new program.” 

Transfer of the Journeymen model to the new learning needs

The learning method MECETT (1) is a “reinvention” of the learning model of the Journeymen apprenticeship. It was created by Ecett-Networks NGO which is a vast network of organizations which mutually open their doors so that their employees can exchange good practices and strengthen their skills.

The tradition of the Journeymen dates back to the Middle-Age, when there were no vocational schools and when trades (construction, cabinetmaking, etc.) organized the training of their apprentices by a long learning journey on various sites in Europe. This tradition still exists in France where the association “Les Compagnons du Devoir” manages the training of almost ten thousand journeymen apprentices in France, in Europe and in the world.

In 2004, therapeutic communities for drug addicts have formed the Ecett learning network, on the model of the journeymen, to train their staff by the exchange of good practices. From 2006 to 2011, the European Union widely supported this project (in the framework of Leonardo da Vinci) in order to describe the learning process and to measure the effects. Ten countries have participated in this project as well as the universities of Ghent (Belgium), Provence (France) and Bologna (Italy). The result of this work is a “reinvention” of the concept of the Journeymen and its transfer into human centered occupations : prevention and recovery of addictions, social work, youth, etc…

A copernican revolution

The classic training design is based on the initiative of teachers (experts) who organize a course and define the content as well as the place and time where learners can participate in these courses. This approach is appropriate in 80% of cases, except when new challenges emerge constantly, or if the issues focus is very specific to a minority of users, or when these courses are facing a lack of financial means to organize them. These are the situations where the “Journeymen approach” becomes a cutting-edge solution. Indeed, the tradition of the Journeymen and Guilds does more with learning (which is personalized) than with collective training. In this case, the main actor of learning becomes the learner and no more the expert. Some pro-active learners will turn to the Journeymen learning method if it allows them to get in touch with some targeted experts among a wide network of available experts. MECETT allows them to organize high level learning, in a short time and a personalized way which produces new knowledge that will be capitalized in the form of good practices that will be validated and included in repositories and may then be taught in a classical training framework.

Thanks to the support of the European Union and to the international partnership, Ecett has developed a very structured and efficient learning process which is shared by all partners of the network. This process consists of four steps:

  1. Preparation of the internship: learners complete the online questionnaires concerning their profile and their specific learning objectives.
  2. Organization of the training course: the Ecett help desk questions the network organizations to find which ones provide the relevant expertise for the specific learning objectives. It shall inform the candidate trainee who comes then in contact with its future host to resolve the logistical details, the planning as well as the financial aspects of the internship.
  3. Feedback of the training: after the internship, each learner answers, online, to the evaluation questionnaires, writes four main ideas to be shared with own team as well as the good practice observed at its host organization.
  4. Impact of learning: after having been validated, the good practices are published in an online repository of good practices and innovations emerge on the learners workplace.

The particularity of the MECETT version of journeymen approach is the flexibility of the practicalities:

  1. everyone can start a two days internship (“A”) in a small group…
  2. … pursue the following year by a “B” course for deepening of one to two weeks…
  3. … then fill in by another “C” course for three good practices observed in three other countries …
  4. and finally embark on a “D” internship for a formalized innovation at his workplace. This innovation will be his “masterpiece” which will make him an “Ecett Journeyman”, with voting rights in the General Assembly of Ecett-Networks NGO.

(1) MECETT : the learning method created by Ecett and based on the journeymen model.

The secret of the MECETT “black box”:

The MECETT courses effectiveness rate has been the subject of studies carried out by the universities of Ghent and Aix-en-Provence. These show that more than 87% of trainees report having achieved their learning goals and 97% of them consider the MECETT method as excellent. The reason for this success has been revealed by the Department of Ergology of the University of Aix-en-Provence which observed 15 interns, 24/24, and noted what was happening during their internship. It appears that the originality and richness of these short internships is the integration of eight learning modalities throughout the internship path:

Listenig & dialogue

1) official introduction and overview (usually by the manager of host organization)

2) specific exchange with staff members (peers) on the field

3) participation in team meetings.

4) visiting workplaces and participation in professional activities.


5) silent observation of certain activities.


6) dialogue and feedback between trainees

7) debriefing with the hosts (the last day)

8) completing the questions of their travel file

The entanglement of these eight modalities is what allows trainees to retain up to 90% of what they have seen and heard during the few days of their internship (see “memorization pyramid” of Martin and Savary).

Feedback, innovation and dissemination after the return

Upon their return from internship, learners complete their internship assessment as well as ‘4 main ideas’ that they identified and the good practice that they have chosen to describe. They then share these main ideas and good practice with their manager and team who may then decide to take inspiration from this internship report to improve their own service and to innovate. But good practices will also be published in an online repository of good practices (after validation) and be shared by the trainees with other professionals in workshops for good practice exchange that are organized by the helpdesks. They then receive an Ecett certificate which joins the virtual “schoolbag” of each Ecett trainee. All these internship impacts (good practices, innovations, testimonials, etc.) are broadcasted in and out of the organizations through the blogs of students, through Facebook, Twitter, Ecett website and Newsletters. The outcomes and assessments can also be forwarded to the funders of the travel costs.