Within an inquiry led work-based programme learners undertake a journey which has at least three separate stake-holders. The learning individual, the Higher Education Institution and the workplace organisation (of the individual learner).
Unlike many types of work based learning under the inquiry based approach the link between the HEI and the workplace is not direct. The learner is a liaising agent in-between the two institutions. Other forms of work based learning involve negotiation and liaisons between the HEI and employer such that the educational experience is the product of prepared alignment.
Under the inquiry based approach, where individuals take highly personalised pathways, no direct link is made between the two orgnisations, rather instead the individual through process aligns the players.
Some examples :
Ethically the experience must:
Satisfy HEI ethics guidance
Satisfy the moral learner
Satisfy workplace policies
For the research topic decisions must:
Fulfil the learning outcomes of the module (HEI)
Fulfil the interests and learning objectives of the learner (learner)
Work in harmony with the organisational goals (or at least not contradict them) (workplace)
At a more micro level of inquiry the factors play out too …
For the methods used in inquiry
Work towards the achievement of module requirements and meeting learning outcomes (HEI)
Satisfy the personal development and research objectives of the individual (learner)
Must be manageable, non-intrusive, appropriate and workable in context (workplace)
Reading about good practice for the facilitation of problem based learning much advice relates to face to face situations and situations, where problems are presented to learners instead of them being learner defined. Some additional pointsfor facilitation of PBL or inquiry based learning ……
– Student centred facilitation does not equate with teacher inaction, online facilitators need to be pro-active in seeking to assist learners to make appropriate study designs and to undertake their research thereafter.
– When learners are defining their own problem or issue to research, clear parameters are needed before the design process begins. The parameters ensure that assessment is possible (for example learning outcomes). These parameters should be explored with learners before negotiation.
– Prepare strategies for dealing with negotiation difficulties : Facilitator group work or panels can provide a useful source of consistency for handling negotiation.
– The design of PBL needs to be gradually sequentially scaffolded. Learners may benefit from making decisions about their learning choices in a gradual or staged way (rather than to make having all decisions at once). For example decissions may be made first about broad topic, then methodology, then the design of learning outcomes or activities. The task of designing learning may be overwhelming if not staged or scaffolded. As learners become increasingly skilled, independent and confident in design the scaffolding may become less prominent. The sequential, unfolding of learning design prevents a scattershot approach to learning design whereby learners make choices which do not necessarily support each other. Sequenced scaffolding ensures decision making is informed at every moment in the process.
– A-synchronous technology can be used to enable thoughtful negotiation.
– Facilitated community can generate support, cross-pollination and criticality between learners and provide a social dimension to PBL/inquiry based learning (and in so doing prevent isolation too).
Google “distributed teams: ac.uk” and Ultralab is the top hit, the items below in the list are writing about ‘distance’ learning and distributed teams etc. but they don’t practice this themselves. Ironically whole departments in other Universities have fixed office based teams. Ultralab in its organisation is living out the practice it seeks to spread. It uses the practices that it espouses. So many distributed or e-learning departments seem to be working from a central location, Ultralab’s full time, permanent living out of distributed learning, distributed research and online community puts the team in a hugely advantageous position to empathise with, understand and develop delightful learning online. I am not setting out to criticise interpretations of distributed working practice, but I do feel like authentic practitioner voices are missing from the discussion.