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Louise O'Farrell My dream: Learning design project proposal”

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Louise O'Farrell
14 January 2013

Louise O’Farrell: <Learning Design for use in literacy and numeracy education programmes mandated by Government Welfare to Work Projects


Your situation (context)

Prior to starting my studies with the OU, I was and Adviser for Jobcentreplus, where I worked with the long-term unemployed, many of whom had low levels of literacy and numeracy. As part of their mandated work programme, these individuals would be referred to education programmes to address their lack of skills. Even though these courses are mandated, and claimant’s could suffer financial penalties for failure to attend or participate, many are reluctant to be referred, and levels of engagement with course materials are low. I believe introducing technological elements would enhance the learning process and increase engagement leading to higher success rates. Example

Engagement and attendance levels drop dramatically in the early weeks of the course, which is a critical time for students as the foundation literacy and numeracy skills are being taught. How can students be encouraged to remain in the course at this stage?

The change you would like to see (challenge)

If learners engage more with the learning material in front of them, they will improve their levels of literacy and numeracy at a faster rate and there would be fewer repeat students on the course. Example

Introducing technologically enhanced materials to teach foundation skills, moving away from all lessons being facilitator led, to self-study and collaborative learning

How you might go about bringing that change

What is your pedagogical approach? Which technologies will you use to implement it, and how?

Collaborative learning and self-study are successful methods of teaching literacy and numeracy skills.  Many of these learners immediately disconnect with the concept of schooling, due to poor attendance or negative experiences when younger, as they feel they have no control over their own environment. With the students driving their learning experience, rather than being led through the course materials by a teacher in a traditional format, students have control over the pace of learning, and the technological aspects will capture the attention of students far more than conventional teaching methods.

The British Council have multiple interactive websites with exercises that individuals or groups can complete in a light-hearted and engaging way without the need for excessive intervention by a teacher.

I intend to research similar sites for adult learners, so I can develop similar embedded content for self-study and collaboration, and continuous assessment which meets the criteria set out by governmental learning frameworks, but without the negative perceptions associated with tests and exams many of these learners hold.

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