Interview with Carnegie Leaders in Learning Director

A couple of days ago I interviewed Margaret about using the Carnegie Leaders in Learning cohort as our first pilot group for the PC3 project. I will be doing this with key staff members of each cohort prior to their initial induction onto the PC3 module. The aim of the interview was to construct two comparative scenarios. The first depicting the types of learners and their progress on the course as it stands now, prior to the personalisation route being introduced. The second was a bit of future gazing about how they perceived their learners would progress through the new personalised route, and the types of difficulties or enhancements this would bring. These will be presented in due course when I have finished the analysis. However, as this first interview was with a member of the PC3 team, it also brought up some things that maybe of interest during the development of the PC3 module and the integration of students into the personalised process.

Coaches are going to be the first port of call when difficulties arise, as well as directing learners to other university resources. For this they will all need some shared resource space that has best or most effective key contacts for the various facilities. This maybe something that is developed as shared experience, but we may want to start thinking about putting together an initial pack.

Once the PC3 module has been completed by the students they will, hopefully, be moving on to other modules that they have chosen and negotiated with their coach and the module tutor. There are several things that need to be roughly in place before this can happen smoothly. We will need to form a protocol for contacting modules students are interested in, some formal documentation on the negotiated time scales and assessments (type of learning contract with the module leader?). Some form of briefing for tutors taking on students that are being coached, with a view to defining the coach’s purpose, responsibilities and limitations. This may also include some help and advice on how best to integrate incoming students, partially once we have had experience of possible difficulties that can arise.

Another area we discussed was that of peer support. This is an area of much debate in academia with those who advocate that it is essential to successful learning and those that feel it is supportive but not always necessary. There are many examples of successful learning in isolation. However for PC3 we decided that providing a social space for our learners, to use as they see fit, will be part of the supportive process. With the first pilot group they will be entering the personalised route as a single cohort and will most likely progress as such. Some of the difficulties around peer support may not necessarily be immediately obvious during the first group. For later groups that may become more fragmented as they progress it might be an idea to enable them to invite students not on the personalised route, but who they are associating with within modules, into their social space. This way as a student moves from module to module they develop a group of personalised peers around them.

One of the main benefits to potential students taking this coached route, is their ability to organise their time to suit them. From our perspective this means making sure enough material is pre-prepared for students to access as and when they need to. One of the scenarios Margret highlighted during our interview was allowing students to access recorded lectures. This is something we must create a process for, particularly for modules taken after the initial PC3 module and those that are outside the Carnegie faculty. How we are going to do this I’m not quite sure at the moment, but I do know that during discussions with the CETL ALiC team about podcasting, many lecturers wanted to have the opportunity to edit the material rather than record and publicise. Will have to see if this preference has changed, but it is the editing that takes time and training, and maybe a barrier to this process. Food for thought?

All in all a good discussion and I’m currently writing up the scenarios from this. Still working on the best way to represent them, but should come to me soon.