Working on conceptualising the Ultraversity model and have taken a Venn diagram approach to try and encapsulate the major components and show how they interrelate. Like many models, it is an over-simplification and has flaws.
NB Ultraversity is a research project that offers a full time, undergraduate, workplace, research degree that is wholly online. The programme is 2 years old, has approximately 300 undergraduate students registered at Anglia Polytechnic University in the UK and will have its first small cohort graduating in 2005.
However, I wanted to encapsulate how the model works and then move on to explore (in a following Blog) what the characteristics of a ‘Balanced Learner’ might be that enables them to make the Ultraversity model work for them.
In Ultraversity, our pathway document aims can be simplified to three key elements:
– development of researcher critical thinking skills (evaluation, creativity, analysis, etc…..)
– development of what might be called EQ skills (critical self awareness, building interpersonal relationships, initiate positive change, etc….)
– subject knowledge and understanding (not just theoretical or propositional knowledge, but the ability to apply what has been learned)
At the heart of this model is the learner who is responsible for driving this personalised experience with the help of a learning facilitator (tutor/lecturer). The above model can also be seen as a representation of how we se the ICT technology supporting the learner in connecting with others and allowing them to express and evaluate their thoughts both internally and externally with different audiences.
This is the workplace and is where researchers undertake their research. It is important to recognize the pool of expertise that resides to a greater or lesser extent in their workplace. It is also important to understand that by developing the cognitive tools such as reflective practice and critical thinking skills researchers are able to define their subject and domain of expertise.
These are made possible by the technology and encompass the communities of Ultraversity researchers (students), invited guest experts, learning facilitators, and a technical and administrative team. This is of course only part of the equation as researchers can access the â€˜globalâ€™ online community through Blogs, email, forums, etc.
The learner captures their knowledge in e-portfolios and in some instances in hard copy. There is an important distinction to be made between that which is captured for the purpose of assessment and that which forms part of the portfolio of learning where a researcher may reflect, collect artifacts, or store feedback that they have been given.