EMBEDDING A CULTURE OF LEARNING IN THE WORKPLACE: PARTNERSHIPS IN DESIGINING HIGHER EDUCATION USING COMPETENCES
Skills for Health (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:In the UK Health Sector there is an ongoing debate on the incorporation of competences to define Higher Skills education. There is much interest in developing education that is flexible and meets the needs of all the key stakeholders, employers, employees (as students), the service in general and professional and regulatory bodies. Part of the essence of this has been the roles of these key stakeholders in defining the “need” and those who develop the education to underpin and serve it. How can accreditation of small packages of learning be married to the culture in Higher Education of major programmes of study leading to full awards? The UK Health Sector Skills Council (Skills for Health) has a Higher Education strategy written and led by the author of this presentation. This sets out to test and evaluate how the key stakeholders can form effective partnerships. Partnerships to encompass flexible educational pathways that meet all of these needs for flexibility, transferability, fitness for purpose/practice and widening participation through the use of competences merged with traditional Higher Education values. 14 sites have been established to study how these developments can be managed. Many of these sites are now halfway through their work and many have reached the point where awards have been developed and they are now either recruiting or about to recruit students. Key to this is that our ompetences of themselves are not levelled but are clustered to define fitness to practice related to employer indentified relevant functions in a role (fitness for purpose). These combine to form a commissioning specification of roles within the workforce that together form educational pathways to which the educational providers can then identify the necessary levels of the education that is required. The relationship of stakeholder roles and actions has been termed the Learning Design Principles. A further key to this process is that a common language is adopted in which to articulate educational needs, and widening participation becomes evident as the educational pathway is defined. A key aspect is that common Higher Education concepts are not broken but refined and it becomes possible to develop awards with multiple exit and entry points in terms of qualifications on the way to larger qualifications. Modules within these, because they serve a role, can become focussed on roles rather than subject, and this means that the cognitive aspects of the education can be more closely aligned to the practical application. Adults learn best when knowledge and skills are presented together and they can see the application of the knowledge immediately. Building education pathways in this way also results in modules at all levels becoming available for existing practitioners to develop and update their skills and this allows for recognition of both breadth and depth of knowledge and skills. Employees can gain skills in small elements of leaning that can be defined along the pathway. They can then apply this in the workplace, while the learner is still progressing to a full award. This is being evaluated through 14 demonstration sites across the UK focussing on education primarily at the Further and Higher Education interface and/or negotiated learning and Continuous Professional Development. Evaluation is qualitative with theme analysis from learning dairies and records of events/meetings as a form of extended case study.
Keywords: health education, innovation, competences, learning design principles, commissioning, learning.