I’m currently studying for a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. It’s been a fascinating course for many reasons, partly for the content but partly because of the delivery and assessment methods the course employs.
I wanted to share a little of my experiences here – and reflect on why it works so well for the learners. It is my full intention to borrow heavily from the approach for learning I’m currently designing for the workplace.
The overall approach is a flipped classroom. Reading, watching and consuming content done in your own time. The face to face classroom element was about exploration, debate and discussion. Learning together, not side by side.
For my most recent module, the assignments were submitted in blog form (my joy was unconfined). They were posted over on Medium, tagged to the course. The reading list for this year’s students included the blogs written by the previous cohort. Next year’s students will read ours. We were encouraged to reference and build on the ideas of past learners. Working out loud for the win. I wrote about my own approach to open learning and MOOCs. In the spirit of openness I’ve included the links if you’re interested (they haven’t been marked yet, just so you know). I’m currently designing some new learning and I’m planning to include this approach as a final reflection piece for the learners. It brings together the benefits of personal reflection and sharing learning experiences and ideas with others.
Much of the pre course reading was provided online via Medium. Instead of doing your pre-reading alone and bringing your notes along to the classroom learners were encouraged to reflect online first, open for all to see. These ideas where then developed later, together.
There was encouragement to use social media tools to enhance learning. The course used a wide range of tech tools. Padlet, Popplet, Camtasia, podcasts, video. We were also encouraged to undertake some MOOCs alongside the primary course content, with specific recommendations made by the course tutors. There were minimum requirements for the learning, but how much or how little you interacted with outside of these requirements was in the gift of the learner. There was a great deal of signposting to content – but nothing compulsory. There were deadlines, but much of the pace of learning was within your control too.
Recognising that most of the learners on the programme had busy day jobs, there was no formal requirement that you would make the face to face lectures. Everything was recorded and available online afterwards. No fancy film crew required, most of it was done by simple tech.
Finally, when it comes to assessment, there was plenty of freedom. You could choose to do the standard essay format, or pitch something you felt was more you. For my first assessment I wrote the first three chapters of an e-book that I intend to complete when the course has finished, which will be made available to new colleagues as part of their induction. For another module, I submitted a storyboard and a screencast – this is now about to become an in-house MOOC. The aim was to centre your research and assignments within your own areas of interest and work at the organisation – and then most importantly, do something with it. We’ve all been on a training course that uses hypothetical case studies that lack context, or established an action learning set that quickly died out. Letting students direct and focus their learning to their specific interests has led to real action across the cohort – surely the aim of all learning programmes.
I’ve experienced plenty of learning over the years. I’ve done full time study, part time study and distance learning. I’ve attended lectures, undertaken role plays, completed e-learning and written essays. In terms of experience, this has been by far the best – and the one where I have most fully transferred the learning into practice. It’s improved the day job – and that should always be our aim.
Learning with the learner at the heart.