EXTENSIBILITY – VALIDATION OF WORKPLACE LEARNING IN HIGHER EDUCATION – EXAMPLES AND CONSIDERATIONS
The importance of effective curriculum design and development in structuring and supporting learners in their knowledge attainment has been outlined in the writings of Tyler (1949) which supports the approach adopted in European Higher Education stemming from the 1999 Bologna Declaration (European Commission , 2009). These structures are assisted in part by national and European qualification frameworks and the Dublin descriptors which are explicit of the variances in knowledge, skill and competence as one progresses in higher education and training. In addition, the inclusion of learning outcomes and programme objectives in the development of comprehensive curricula has been linked to the product model of curriculum development.
Informal learning is defined as learning gained through in-house training, non-accredited courses where the outcomes is known in advance but there is no associated academic credit.
This paper outlines the approaches adopted by Cork Institute of Technology in considering informal learning from the workplace in curriculum design, development, delivery and assessment of academic programmes. This is considered in terms of recognising how learning happens and the structures which need to exist to build an effective system for the growth and development of incorporating workplace learning and future needs.
The paper includes a discussion around the necessary frameworks identified by Cork Institute of Technology which support the development of a more informed curriculum design quality assurance cycle. This cycle seeks to incorporate flexibility into the design to facilitate individual learning pathways and specialisations, whilst maintaining academic rigour, higher learning and workplace needs.
The approach adopted by CIT as outlined in this paper provides examples of how the incorporation of flexibility without compromising quality assurance in curriculum design and development can deliver outcomes more aligned to the needs of graduates and the workplace.