Realising Co-generaTive Benefitspaul | June 20, 2011
This assembly was held on Friday 17th June 2011 at the Aston Conference Centre, Birmingham and attended by around 20 people.
The Co-generative Toolkit can be accessed at http://www.pebblepad.co.uk/CogenT and presentations will be available at (tbc). Sheila MacNeil (CETIS) has collated some to the tweets from the day available at http://storify.com/sheilmcn/CogenT -workshop and written a blog post linking this toolikit with the work of the Curriculum Design Programme http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/sheilamacneill/2011/06/23/understanding-creating-and-using-learning-outcomes/.
Phil Gravestock (University of Gloucestershire) gave an overview of the Co-generative Toolkit and the rationale for use. They realised the use of language with employers was an issue so they developed the tool to assist with the dialogue with employers when developing a work based learning course. The institutional validation process however required “academic” language to be used which resulted in conflicting use of language. Discussion with QAA made it clear that they could use a more employer friendly language provided it could be mapped back to an academic level statement. Hence the CogenT tool was developed. They hoped to use the toolkit to address issues such as employers understanding of levelling – i.e. that in a degree not everything was at the final level (6) but earlier modules were at lower levels.
Rather than creating new words they used some existing qualification frameworks and extracted the verbs and level descriptors, from level 3 (pre-HE) top Level 8 (Masters). In discussions users commented that some words are missing from the existing frameworks, so these can be added but the national occupational standards may fill the gaps.
The tool provides several views to allow users to explore key words and level descriptors
- · A list view of verbs
- · A cloud view of the verbs
- · Blooms taxonomy view (for academics developing learning outcomes)
Another part tool developed some tasks and designs that mapped to the outcomes to allow learners to gather evidence to be help in their “learning environment”.
The tool was designed to collate examples of learning outcomes and designs but people are not recording their final outcomes even though they are using the tool. This might work if it was integrated into the design process within institutions, so some integration with the Learning Design Programme would be good at some stage.
The tool can now filter by qualification framework or search specifically with words, descriptors or level. A set of applications were also developed using the CogenT data, called “Describability” (http://www.pebblepad.co.uk/describability/) they include some applications to make it easier for academics or learners (including a skills questionnaire) to use.
There is also an administrative backend to the tool to allow it to be made institutionally specific, so an institution can have a framework with specific vocabulary to that institution. Currently there is only one instance of the tool. There is an option to have an institutional administrator who can provide authoring accounts.
Participants were then given the opportunity to explore the tool and discuss uses with other participants.
This was followed by some themed presentations from institutions who had piloted the CogenT toolkit.
Beverly Leeds (University of Central Lancashire) presented on how they had used the toolkit for curriculum development at Lancashire Business School. In the TELSTAR project they spoke to 50 employers and found similar issues around language differences. They were developing a personalised programme for learners to meet the need of the employer. They also used CogenT to rephrase the wording in their APEL tool for students to build an initial APEL claim.
They started using it for the validation of WBL programmes in Professional Practice, prior and negotiated learning. They were developing learning outcomes that could be used to do prior and negotiated courses for individual learners. This allowed them to put course together quicker and get it validated. When questioned at the validation panel on level they were able to reference back to the CogenT tool to show the level and the qualification framework they had used. The validation panel were satisfied and commended what they had done.
Another use was with a Webfolio in PebblePad to supports student making an APEL claim. Students used the “Describablity” tool to interpret the generic learning outcomes, explore the meaning of words and rewrite them in the context of their own practice for APEL and similar for negotiated learning outcomes. Students are also able to use the tool to interpret their assessments. Students are being encouraged to work with their employer to develop a negotiated assessment and are using the tool to help them understand what is required. Employer’s suggested it could also be useful for them when writing reports from the annual appraisal.
The tool has also been used by academics to review and develop modules. Feedback has suggested that it saves time and helps to ensure the learning outcomes are at the right level. They are also using it to support the writing of assessments. New academics are being introduced to CogenT during the PGCertHE.
Sue Lewis (WVLLN) presented how she had been using the toolkit to raise student aspirations to take HE level courses. The Lifepilot web site (http://www.life-pilot.co.uk/ ) encourages students to enter HE. They used CogenT to support students to develop aspirations for HE level courses, by looking at how the vocabulary could be used to help them describe their skills and aspirations.
Using a cut down list of 23 words, at level 3, 4 or higher, reflecting the skills HE courses expected. Participants were recruited adults through Union Learn in several organisations, with low levels of qualifications (mainly GCSE level) and mature students, mostly 40+. A supportive process was developed, a preparatory stage that used the Lifepilot web site tool, “build your profile”, that involved series of questions describing skills and experience and a profile questionnaire. The profile answers were mapped to CogenT words and analysed to see where they were demonstrating higher level skills (words). This was followed by a guidance interview to go through the skills mapping from the profile questionnaire and discuss work and personal experiences in relation to skills areas, providing feedback on the results and how they could use the data, including for an APEL claim.
Feedback was positive, participants found the process useful, would have liked to spend more time on it, but the results useful. It raised aspirations to undertake an HE level course. Employers saw an overlap with tools and frameworks they used.
Raising awareness increases self confidence of adults, bridging the gap. Since the research one has applied for and HE course and several have recommended the tools and process to others. The main barriers to HE are time and work pressures.
The WVLNN have agreed to fund a 1 yr project to continue developing the online process, train and support union reps in work place to support people through the process.
Kelly Edwards (University of Wales Newport) presented on how they had used CogenT to support Employer Engagement. They have been supporting work based learning in the Heads of the Valleys, through standalone 10 credit modules in business and IT, either in house or small groups. They are now developing a foundation degree through EU finding.
To pilot the CogenT toolkit they sought employers to participate in a research project and arranged two meetings with employers in manufacturing. The first wanted a course more relevant to their business, around conflict management training, production staff conflicting with design staff. The second to raise skills levels across employees to level 4, a programme to improve communication s internally and externally (multi nationals). They used the cloud view and vocabulary builder to work with employers to generate curriculum. The main benefit was it focussed time to explore the requirements with the employer and making it clear from the outset.
Employers found it useful as it brought the issues to the start of the planning process and also to build a case to convince their senior management of the benefits of the learning. The toolkit raised awareness of the types of training and level available. In one case it changed what they were originally looking for into a focus around communication and a need for a level 5 courses as well.
The process took time but early intervention saved time later (and gets it right). This was an initial pilot and they are learning more how to make effective use of the CogenT tools to support employer engagement.
Deena Ingham (University of Bedfordshire) presented how they had used the CogenT toolkit to explore the student experience. Students (especially internationally) found it useful for understanding the key words, and many didn’t appreciate the difference in descriptors at different levels. They wanted to see it integrated into the VLE and to show all levels, as learners. They found the “Describablity” tool was easier to use
They have looked at a variety of uses from understanding assessments to writing graduate impact statements for the HEAR or how to map learning outcomes and articulate what they have done relevant to the employer. The conclusion was that it was useful as a student tool to articulate skills/capabilities for employers, etc. and could be used by PALS to support other students.
Conclusions and Discussion
The CogenT tools set out to support employer engagement but has been found to have a much wider set of applications and be useful for students, employers and academics. This led to a discussion on what is CogenT. The following was given as a definition of what perhaps it should be: a set of data (i.e. definitions of level descriptors collated for all qualification frameworks and sectors), a developer toolkit (with APIs) and a set of applications aimed at different users.
A pathway for development stills needs to be secured but CogenT has demonstrated an important requirement, developed a wide range of applications and a foundation in Pebble Learning.