Monday, June 20, 2011

Learner pathways: it's more about the journey, less about the destination

I’d like to talk more about learner pathways and our Vision 2015 goal to become a learner pathway institution.

As you can tell, I’m passionate about this topic! I'm a public post-secondary educator who believes learning should be available to anyone who desires it. And I’m devoted to flexible learner pathways, because that’s the real world.

In my last post, I said that learner pathways means that a person can start post-secondary education somewhere, and go wherever they wish, by following a pathway of their choosing.

This means that we should accept learners where they are, help them imagine the possibilities, and facilitate their journey. It’s their pathway, not ours.

Douglas College has already come a long way towards becoming a learner pathway institution, and I believe that we’re poised to achieve excellence.

Students bring many assets to the table. As a learner pathway institution, we'll try to accept as much of their previous learning as we can, remove as many barriers as possible, and minimize time-wasting.

We’ll bring more flexibility to programs that currently operate as prescribed, stand-alone, single tracks. We’ll continue to re-structure, in order to create multiple pathways with multiple points of entry and exit. We’ll do more to facilitate transitions and laddering between programs – our own programs as well as programs at other institutions.

It’s a vision of quality education that is more learner-centred. It’s more about the journey, and less about the destination.

Going to university or college is about so much more than earning a certain credential, or learning a narrow set of skills. It’s about exploring who you are, what you want to know and how you want to make a contribution to the world.

As part of that exploration, a learner might take multiple courses, and follow multiple pathways. They might say: this one works for me, this is what I want. Or they might say: that was interesting, but I don’t think I’m headed any further in that direction.

A change of direction or a change of pathway is normal. The question is, did learning occur during that exploration? If so, great.

There are certain areas of knowledge as well as general skills, attributes and attitudes that we expect our grads to leave with, including literacy, numeracy, critical thinking and communication skills. These skills are needed for personal growth, for employment and for citizenship.

I think you can learn these skills through a multiplicity of different courses. Do you learn critical thinking in English Lit? Sure. In mathematics? Yes.

And this is the logic for the idea of a "foundation year", which is an idea with serious potential as we move forward. A foundation year is an attractive concept because it will immediately open up multiple pathways for students, compared to prescribed programs which limit students’ options from day one.

You’ll be hearing more about the idea of a foundation year from VP Academic Kathy Denton soon.


1 comment:

  1. I'm not any educator but just a mature student and I think the learner pathways idea and plan is excellent! Two thumbs up!!