I have just spent a couple of days with Lesley (Ultralab), and John and Chris from Bournemouth University â€“ Centre for Excellence in Media Practice) fleshing out how the Ultraversity model will be adapted for Bournemouthâ€™s proposed MA in Digital Creativity.
What impressed me was how clearly the team at Bournemouth could articulate why the â€˜traditionalâ€™ approach to Masters level education is destined to dwindle and decline. Media practice is one of the fastest moving professional disciplines that there are where employability depends upon keeping up-to-date with the cutting edge technology, development and production processes, as well as the creative heartbeat of the industry.
Given all of the above, and it applies to many professions to a greater or lesser extent, why would anyone chose to place their careers on hold for 12 months becoming out of touch with what is happening in their profession and into the bargain exchanging a good income for tens of thousands of pounds of debt?
The approach being developed at Bournemouth from the experience of Ultralabâ€™s Ultraversityproject is an online, workplace degree using action research methodology and critical reflection as its approach to learning. That is professionalâ€™s using authentic workplace problems and issues as a focus for their studies. Implicit in this approach is a recognition that students must design their own learning, identifying what is relevant to them in their own professional work context.
This approach to learning is made possible through the development of an online learning community of inquiry where students, learning facilitators, and expert witnesses come together to discuss their practice, share their experience and ideas to help students arrive at innovative solutions to real issues.
In our discussions about the proposed programme and, the significant points that came to the surface were:
– Be technologically agile, adopting open source, and free web services technology â€“ donâ€™t be bound into a Universities preferred â€˜monolithicâ€™ proprietary system
– focussing technical capacity on developing tools to empower students to use web services – aggregate RSS feeds, compile e-portfolio
– develop module intended learning outcomes that cut to the heart of what is intended
– ensure the programme will enable students to fit it into their â€˜rhythmâ€™ of their workplace demands
– develop an approaches to assessment that values the product as well as the process â€“ outputs are important, and so is the knowing why and how to
– employers need organisational innovators â€“ critical thinking, collaborative working, self awareness, and interpersonal skills promote this