Designing Education for Competence: An update from front-line
Last year, I went in search of serendipity. It was part recovery - my previous stab at entrepreneurship not having worked out - and part exploration - of living unexpectedly. So, I took on something quite contrary to my nature: I bottled my natural inclinations to experiment and took on a process-oriented role. I decided to live on the other side of the fence, right in the middle of employer-land.
If I needed confidence back, there was nothing better than this. Not only doing something hands on was therapeutic, but also that employers and employer organisations readily appreciate online practice-based education is an important validation of the key ideas I endlessly talk about.
For example, I am now more convinced than ever that universities are not preparing the students for the world of work because most courses follow an implicit academic structure and academic expectations. And, while this may have 'input' from the employers and even odd internships, it is not the curriculum itself but the experience that needs to change. The attempts of the universities to fiddle with the curriculum, without changing the methods of delivery, assessment and engagement, are bound to fail. Rather, the whole university experience should be rejigged to resemble work, or at least an idealised version of work (for example, enabling safe spaces and communities, one thing Higher Ed does well).
These and other things changed my ideas about education in one fundamental way. I have been speaking about blended learning ever since 2010, but my ideas were only a copy of the click-and-mortar ideas fashionable in retail. I conceived blended learning as a mix of online content consumption and classroom-based support. This project allowed me to see that the classroom-based support is really redundant, as this also focuses on content, which the users are quite capable of doing themselves. Instead, a far more profitable blend is learning and work, alongside human interactions with Tutors, Mentors and Peers online. This is the model I helped construct in my project, where 'blend' follows a 70:20:10 model (or thereabout, I followed the fad in labelling it), combining practical work, interactions and content consumption in that proportion.