Friday, 19 December 2008


Yesterday I wrote about CPD and how it can fit in with what a university should be doing. I was also thinking about what Schank had said about delivery and the best way of delivering CPD. So these are some other jottings.

What is the use of CPD?

CPD reaches the students that other teaching cannot reach. Many people want to get out of education and start earning as soon as they can, but later they find that they do not have the knowledge or skills that they need and so CPD is the best opportunity to reach these people. It also has great benefits for the university. We would like to believe that those who stay on to do PhDs are the best of the best but we do lose real talent in the graduates who want to earn a living. Amongst them might be brighter stars than those who do continue, and so this is a way of reaching out and finding them. Not all great undergraduates make great PhD students and not all great PhD students were amazing undergraduates (Einstein for example). So a second chance to spot talent is always good especially when they will have built up a wealth of real-world experience.

Bite-size Learning

If you are going to get something out there and get industry interested you have to break it down into nice tasty bite sized pieces. Industry want results and they want to know that the course that they have paid for is going to give them returns. They cannot afford to have employees away for long periods at a time. So it is important to make courses timely, short and relevant. It is better to have them take many little bites than try and force them to eat the entire 4 course meal.

Just-in Time Courses

This is an idea of Schank's that relates to the bite sized learning and making the courses relevant. If you want someone to remember something then teach them when they need to know it and when they are going to use it. A course on statistics will only be remembered if you are going to use those statistics straight away. So as well as making it bite–sized we have to orientate the bites to fit with what people are going to need the course for. I know that the only time I learn something well is when I want to know something new and I go and research it – find the papers and the textbooks and read then so I can carry out a specific task. This is what we have to mimic when we are teaching, to make it student relevant.

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