Promoting Flexible Learning through negotiation

McGinty, Lorraine (2011) Promoting Flexible Learning through negotiation. [Conference Proceedings]


In 2009 UCD launched Irelands first taught postgraduate programme operating according to a negotiated learning (NL) model. While some Universities have demonstrated the effectiveness of the NL model, no European University offers a negotiated programme of learning with anything near to the breadth of flexibility covered by the taught MSc in Computer Science by Negotiated Learning.The NL programme is aimed primarily at: (1) individual students with specific workplace & continuing professional development needs, and/or (2) cohorts of students who wish to specialise in a specific area of computer science (i.e. the programme may be negotiated with a specific industry sector or on behalf of a specific group of students).Importantly, the programme is very different from the traditional “structured” postgraduate programme where students tend to have very restricted choice (if any) and are often required to take some modules that have no relevance to critical areas where they have specific learning requirements. In contrast, NL students undergo a very detailed assessment of their training-needs and individual student negotiated learning contracts are carefully customised with each student across >80 module offerings. Module offerings range from programming Java/C/C++/Ruby/Python to Data Mining, Bioinformatics and complementary modules in related disciplines(e.g. Entrepreneurship, Mathematics, Engineering, etc.). This paper describes how a programme of learning is formulated from the bottom up that carefully maps individual student skill requirements to very specific learning outcomes in view of their thematic specialisation. In addition to taking taught modules each student is required to undertake significant research practicum specific to the focus of their specialisation.This paper also highlights how the programme provider (i.e. the UCD School of Computer Science & Informatics) is developing the programme further through the establishment of learning-contacts across other Schools, Colleges and Research Centers throughout UCD. In addition, opportunties and limitations related to the cross-institution implementation of this innovative learning model are presented following a pilot sudy carried out with DCU during the academic year ‘09/’10.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL 4th Annual Conference (Cork) 2010 Flexible Learning Conference Proceedings_sm.pdf]
NAIRTL 4th Annual Conference (Cork) 2010 Flexible Learning Conference Proceedings_sm.pdf

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