The ‘father’ of Pattern Languages is the architect Christopher Alexander. In the 1970’s he became concerned about the way in which the design process of living spaces had changed from one whereby those who live and use the buildings, streets, parks, etc. were primarily responsible for their design to one dominated by architects, town planners, and other professionals. He developed the idea of a structured template where:
Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice. (Alexander et al., 1977)
For Alexander, the process of writing patterns democratises decision making about buildings and spaces as it also communicates ideas clearly to non professionals about a design thereby allowing wider society to input int the decision making process.
These ideas have inspired the development of Pedagogical Patterns, although in this context there is little evidence of the aims of those capturing patterns to have learners as a part of the conversation.
The pattern below is a response to demand to develop an online module that can be mapped against the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) for Higher education.
a. Archetypal example of the pattern: an inquiry based approach to improving personal work practices and organisational performance.
b. Pattern context: this pattern fits within a larger collection of patterns around supporting online learning and in particular work focussed learning using inquiry based methods.
c. Essence of the problem: how to support academics in partner institutions around the world achieve Recognised Tutor Status which equates to Associate Fellow of the HEA.
d. Body of the problem: in order to assure the quality of teaching on franchised and accredited programmes, the host Higher Education Institution needs to have confidence that the teaching and resulting learner experience is comparable to that experienced by students on home delivered programmes. This applies to multiple different contexts and needs of academics, and is essentially about delivering sustainable CPD opportunities.
e. The solution: use inquiry based approaches where students find out about their own work context, identify opportunities and issues and devise individual plans to bring about improvements. To absorb the high variety of students and their work contexts, use portfolio assessment and learning outcomes & assessment criteria that are capability focussed rather than subject or discipline. As much as possible, design activities where students interact with and support each other sharing their ideas and approaches reducing the demand on the tutor. This approach is theoretical underpinned by the concept of variety as explain in the Viable Systems Model (Stafford Beer, 1985).
f. Diagram solution: the solution below is supported through a VLE with a specific learning design.