Exams damage learning, legal advice for colleges and MOOCs

May 10, 2014 by

A business blogger provides insights into professional development for colleges and a professor argues that exams stop students thinking critically

Are exams in colleges holding back students?

Frank Coffield, a professor at the Institute of Education, has been interviewing students at further education and sixth-form colleges about their learning experiences. In this piece, he talks about how he believes students have come to associate learning not with growing self-confidence and a sense of achievement, but with stress and self-disgust.

He writes: “The pressures on students to obtain the best possible grades have become so intense that they feel forced to resort to ingesting large amounts of information and then, in government-induced bouts of vomiting, otherwise known as national tests, they spew it out.

“Groups of students can be found in colleges discussing topics about which they don’t have sufficient knowledge to form opinions and so their learning remains shallow. We offer young people so-called ‘transferable’ skills and then discover they need to be in command of a body of knowledge before they can be either critical or creative.”

Coffield has published a book based on his research called Beyond Bulimic Learning: Improving teaching in Further Education in which he discusses his findings and makes suggestions for effective interventions.

You can read the full post on the Institute of Education blog.

How colleges can keep ahead of trends with technology

Jeremy Jurgens, the managing director of the World Economic Forum, talks about how technology can help business leaders stay on top of trends that are emerging on the edge of their industry or are crossing over from a different sector altogether. It’s an interesting article that offers some thought-provoking ideas for colleges.

Jurgens focuses on the opportunities massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer company executives. He writes: “Most discussions of MOOCs focus on their disruption of the higher education sector by offering students from around the world free access to lectures and course materials. Much less attention has been paid to the implications for lifelong learning, including in the corporate sector, though these are just as profound.

“Online platforms for education have the potential to revolutionize the idea of continuous learning for executives. The MOOC model is ripe for adaptation to deliver structured courses to business leaders, helping them to think about potentially transformational combinations of ideas at the periphery of their industries.”

He then goes on to talk about The Forum Academy, which has been launched by the World Economic Forum as a space for the professional development of leaders. You can read the full piece on the Ideas Laboratory.

The learner experience and the law: what colleges need to know

The relationship colleges have with learners is changing. Further education loans, along with an expansion into employer-funded provision and higher education, has shifted colleges towards more of a customer-supplier model. There’s also now much more competition for students and social media is making any reactions to the teaching they receive far more public. For these reasons, the 157 Group and SGH Martineau LLP have written a guide to the legal framework that governs colleges’ relationships with learners.

The first topic covered is advertising. One of the questions the document asks colleges to consider is whether descriptions about courses or the college contain any “puff” – and whether such statements are meant to be contractually binding.

The guide also covers misrepresentation and where colleges stand with their work abroad, for example with foreign recruitment agents.

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via Exams damage learning, legal advice for colleges and MOOCs | Education | Guardian Professional.

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