A group of staff arrived from North Herts College on Thursday 3rd July so that we could embark upon a collaboration. The aim of getting together is so that we can work to share good practice with one another. Staff from Reading College had visited North Herts a couple of years ago and came back with ideas for learning companies and other curriculum developments. North Herts visited us recently with a view to sharing ideas about technology and CPD.
The day began with some speed dating so that staff could begin to become familiar with one another.
North Herts and curriculum
North Herts introduced some of their approaches to curriculum design, based around the idea of a T shaped learner; with a breadth of capabilities and qualities. They also have the strive towards an ‘expert student’ at the heart of their curriculum. These expert students have thinking, entrepreneurial and social skills aplenty.
The units of their curriculum can be planned in a range of ways: Whole College, Whole academy, Whole curriculum area, Online, Cross-curriculum and English and maths. Tutorials are placed around the outside to support these units.
We felt highly envious of their ‘innovation hub’ and their plans for staff to audition to gain entry into it.
I loved the way in which one of their key aims is to provide ‘once in a lifetime opportunities’ for learners. It’s outside of the qualification they’ll gain. What else can we provide them with?
With project based learning, both Colleges agreed that the most common concern was where do the assessments go in among all those ‘experiences’? They said the mistake they made to begin with was the fact they began with assessment. They would advise planning the experience and the assessments will go in afterwards. It does take careful planning to get something like this right.
Paul Emberlin and Google
Through Google, the students have far more opportunities to direct what they want to learn, when and how.
Looking back over their statistics from last year’s intake, they had 100% achievement, 100% progression and 60% of their students have achieved a first in their first year of University.They feel that Google, and the skills it helped to develop, played a strong part in this success.
Google is used for flipping learning in that class discussions take place on the community or in Google documents prior to the lesson. Google forms are used on their course and as a result, across the College, for ongoing student feedback.
Last year, a student created a Google+ community and they took the lead from her in terms of its structure, layout and the type of content being shared.
The presentations were followed by plenty of time for sharing good practice with colleagues from respective departments. Areas were visited and ideas were discussed and dissected.
All staff left by being invited to a Google+ community and were asked to share their future targets for collaboration and innovation. We even had leftover Teaching and Learning Takeaway materials from #ReadTL14 for them to take!
There are things to be learnt from each side and hopefully this meeting was merely the first in a longer working relationship.