WHAT IS TUNING?
Three definitions encompass most of the reality of Tuning:
- Tuning is a project for the universities and by the universities.
- Tuning is a network of communities of learners.
- Tuning is a methodology for designing and implementing degree programmes.
Tuning as a Project
Tuning as a project has a background and a context. It was born out of the needs which emerged in 1999 with the Bologna Declaration. Two of these were the need for the mutual recognition of periods of study abroad and of degree qualifications. The result became very visible: a project by and from universities which focused on an intercultural system for developing outcomes-based, student-centred and competence-based learning.
Although Tuning was developed as a project to meet the concrete needs of a region and was never intended to be broader in scope, many regions found an important value in adopting and adapting it to their contexts and needs. Its strength lies in the fact that while the methodology is a useful tool, the aims and objectives of projects are authentic to particular regions. It has developed further into a powerful instrument of understanding and cooperation between regions across the world; it is a way of reaching global consensus beginning from the institution, the country and the region.
In this context, the different regions of the world feel drawn to become part of the project or to launch parallel processes of searching for recognition, identifying relevance and building quality in higher education, starting from the needs and choices of their students, academic staff, employers, social organizations and diverse relevant groups.
Tuning as a Network of Communities of Learners
A useful way of understanding Tuning is as a network of interconnected communities of practitioners and learners who reflect, debate and elaborate instruments and share the results. They are academic experts, gathered around a discipline or theme within the conscious context of building mutual trust and confidence. They work in international, intercultural groups, respecting the autonomy of co-participants at the institutional, country and regional level and generously sharing knowledge and experiences. They work in an organized system according to regional needs, remaining focused on accountability and goal-centeredness by articulating and evaluating clear aims, objectives and outcomes at every step of the way.
Tuning as a Methodology
Tuning is a methodology with clearly designed steps but with a dynamic perspective that allows for adaptation to different contexts. The methodology has a clear objective: to build compatible and comparable descriptions of degrees that are relevant to society and that are intensively focused on maintaining and improving quality. This methodology explicitly calls for the process to value and preserve diversity coming from the traditions of each country. These requirements demand a collaborative methodology, based on a consensus being developed by experts from backgrounds as varied as possible.
These experts are expected to have the capacity to understand the negotiable and non-negotiable geographical realities as much as they must understand essential elements of the discipline and the degrees themselves. The Tuning methodology has four lines of work which help to organize discussion in specific subject areas: identifying relevant generic and subject specific competences and elaborating a meta-profile for the subject area; exploring how a mutually agreed cumulative credit system can facilitate student mobility; exchanging good practices in approaches and techniques in teaching learning and assessment; and finally exploring how quality assurance frameworks can be used at programme level to enhance student learning.