October 16, 2005

Early reflections (continued)

Writing about web page go.warwick.acuk/eee

The first module in the EEE programme has finished. Practices and Principles of Excellence (PPE) deals with the concepts that underpin the European Excellence Model.

The students on this course have risen to the challenge of a different style of learning. The module has run over 2 weeks instead of the usual one. Instead of lectures, the students have tackled seven team projects that collectively enable them to achieve the learning objectives of the module. Rather than attend lectures they have worked together to explore the PPE website and the library to answer the questions set. Thus, they have achieved learning through discovery and synthesis.

In the early days of the module, one of the students asked how this differed from a distance learning course. Although PPE encourages the use of the web through the PPE site, forums and blogs, there have been a number of student designated seminars and an interactive presentation from an external speaker. The total contact time with staff on this module has been about 27 hours, so hardly distance learning.

So has this module worked? My view is an unqualified yes. In the space of two weeks the students are able to work together in teams and they discuss the subject matter as though they were at the end of their modules, not the start. I have been most impressed with the quality of thought behind their presentations on their projects. They are clearly engaging with the material and not learning by rote.

I am sure that they have worked harder than expected at the beginning of the course, but equally I feel sure that as they hone the skills that they develop during these early weeks, they will become increasingly effective and they should start their major project with a greater degree of confidence than if they had been learning through lectures.

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