IBLC11-Abstract-Adult students as agents of change – Case Open University studies
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13 May 2011
Author: Mrs Anitta Ruuska
Background: The objective of this paper is to describe the results of systematic development of the basic studies in health management sciences (26 ECTS) at the Open University of the University of Eastern Finland. These studies have been developed by using blended learning and counselling methods. The students were between the ages of 30 and 55 and had different kinds of vocational degrees in health care. Blended learning and counselling methods enabled these professionals to study independently at any time and anywhere along with work. This report of the learning results is based on an analysis of e-learning diaries (n=81).
Findings: Based on our analysis, e-learning turned out to be a significant form of social activity and learning. The adult students were willing to use virtual channels of communication for discussion, feedback and counselling. First of all, they attached a great value to communication with their colleagues. They discussed experiences and good practices of working life broadly. Consequently, their understanding of the diversity of working life was broadened.
In addition, the adult students of health care constructed their professional identity by using blended learning and counselling methods. Firstly, they became increasingly aware of their own knowledge and presumptions in the context of working life. Secondly, their empowerment as employees and managers was noticed. This involved the improved confidence and ability to understand and manage change as part of dynamic working life. The students were capable of searching for evidence-based knowledge to support their practical problem solving. They were able to apply theory to practice and became critical employees who rethink practices and phenomena in the health care sector. These kinds of employees act as change agents in workplaces. These encouraging results are relevant to the development of educational opportunities for adult students.
Keywords: adult student, blended learning and counselling, constructing professional identity