Monthly Archives: November 2008

UVAC conference York, 13th – 14th November

This has been a well run conference: 11am – 6pm Thursday & 9am Friday until 12.30pm – a sensible schedule that allows for people to attend the whole event.

Richard and I did a uvac-idibl-presentation slot that wnt down well, lots of commanality with the Middlesex Work-based learning approach as described by Alan Durrant Head of Work Based Learning, School of Arts & Education.

The biggest impression that I am taking away is of the development of a two tier market growing up. Numerous examples of large employers working with Universities to develop bespoke courses – lots of resource required for this not to mention the challenge of curriculum set in aspic.

I suppose it takes us back to one of the core ideas behind Ultraversity & now IDIBL and that is trusting in the ability of the learner to negotiate the curriculum (focus of their inquiry) with the University in line with their needs and the needs of their employer.

Perhaps this is the clear blue water between us and other work-based approaches:
– one is high overhead negotiations with individual employers for particular groups of workers developing a prescribed curriculum that matches exactly what an employer defines;
– the other is a generically defined process curriculum that allows for personalisation through the design of individual inquiries focused on improving work-practice.

Universities should offer ‘pick and mix’ degrees, says report

Some good suggestions in this report by Paul Ramsden, the chief executive of the Higher Education Academy:

Universities should offer ‘pick and mix’ degrees, says report:

- build up qualifications from modules taken at different times in several universities
– make it easier to switch between full-time and part-time study, possibly by making students pay for each module they complete rather than a whole programme of study
– the curriculum they offer must become more flexible and treat part-time students more fairly
– The system as it is at the moment does not give proper credit to people who do part of a degree
– Ramsden recommends more general undergraduate degrees, such as those in the US and Australia, that would help graduates “contribute to the world of the future” rather than prepare them for academia

Universities should offer 'pick and mix' degrees, says report

Some good suggestions in this report by Paul Ramsden, the chief executive of the Higher Education Academy:

Universities should offer ‘pick and mix’ degrees, says report:

- build up qualifications from modules taken at different times in several universities
– make it easier to switch between full-time and part-time study, possibly by making students pay for each module they complete rather than a whole programme of study
– the curriculum they offer must become more flexible and treat part-time students more fairly
– The system as it is at the moment does not give proper credit to people who do part of a degree
– Ramsden recommends more general undergraduate degrees, such as those in the US and Australia, that would help graduates “contribute to the world of the future” rather than prepare them for academia

UK universities should take online lead

UK universities should take online lead:

“UK universities should push to become world leaders in online higher education, ministers will say tomorrow, despite the failure of the UK e-University four years ago.

The universities secretary, John Denham, is likely to call not for a revival of the UKeU, which collapsed in 2004, but to develop a “global Open University in the UK”.”

That seems like an ambitious proposal, however when you read more detail…

“But it lags behind in generating and making available high-quality modern online learning and teaching resources.

The report by Prof Sir Ron Cooke, chairman of the UK universities’ Joint Information Systems Committee, suggests creating centres of expertise in educational technology and e-teaching through clusters of institutions, with comprehensive staff and student training.

Learning resources should be grouped together, coordinated nationally and provided freely, he will say.”

I can’t help but think that it is another naive proposal to spend money (through Sir Ron’s JISC of course) and see no reason why it would work better than the UK e-University, the 74 CETLs, or the Lifelong Learning Networks at making a significant positive sector wide impact.

I thought that the false division between those working in “educational technology and e-teaching” and ‘other’ teaching was a thing of the past. Instead, this proposal appears to further entrench an unhelpful divide rather than see learners as having diverse and changing needs that can’t be pigeonholed simply to meet the world views of others.