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Open, online CPD: supporting different modes of study

Matt Cornock, Online CPD Coordinator at the National STEM Learning Centre writes about supporting different modes of study and designing online courses with extended availability in mind.

Online CPD courses from the National STEM Learning Centre encourage learners to actively participate, explore ideas together and take the time to reflect on their practice. An increasing number of learners are joining later, into the extended availability period, and are not able to draw upon our expert educators and mentor support. From our research, we’ve found that these learners are less likely to contribute to course discussions and so are missing out on a valuable learning process for professional development.

To address this, we’ve embedded a number of approaches which enable late starters to draw upon the social learning experience. For example, mentor video diaries and educator recordings help learners find their way through the course discussions, highlighting key learning points and issues within specific contexts that may resonate with them. We also convey the value of active learning with tasks that learners can do independently, such as self-audits, reflective writing and practice-based activities.

The flexibility of online CPD empowers our learners to decide how and when they study. We are open about when our mentors are available, to allow learners to choose what form of study they wish to engage with. Whilst learners could join the next mentor-supported run, they may choose to take a course together with colleagues to draw upon an immediate, offline, peer network. It’s clear that our course designs should continually evolve and be flexible, so that all our learners feel supported in their development journey.

Further details in: Engagement in MOOCs by pre-prepared vs just-in-time learners

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