An innovative supported distance learning approach to motorsport industry employee education and upskilling

Martin, Keith and Meechan, Michael (2010). An innovative supported distance learning approach to motorsport industry employee education and upskilling. In: Brookes Learning and Teaching Conference 2010, 25 Jun 2010, Oxford, UK.


An often justified contention in industry is that educational courses are developed by academics steered by their institutional expertise rather than by market need, and validated by academic peer review, not industry critique. Also course time frames make it difficult for work-based learners to study, especially those with the time pressures associated with motorsport. Work-based employer-supported learning does appeal as key to retain and upskill employees, increase staff motivation, and improve company competitiveness, but this has proved a challenge for providers of traditional courses.
This paper outlines the development of a new, flexibly-delivered part-time distance learning Masters degree in Motorsport Engineering and Management directed towards those in the industry. This HEIF-2 funded Motorsport CPD programme has been developed by the School of Technology-based Motorsport Knowledge Exchange (MKE) project - itself the largest and longest-running HEIF-funded project in the University, and resonates with conference themes. First, it has involved strategic collaborations with the industry and its stakeholders to evolve and review course content, complemented by other key partnerships with external academia. Secondly, the programme development team has involved multi-disciplinary staff, both academic and non-academic, to produce the high-quality course materials in relatively rapid timeframes. Third, work-based learners and busy professionals have been the target market. Finally, the course employs cutting-edge learning techniques to address the needs of learners at a distance from the University.
The course development process was an innovative response to the plethora of committees, panels, and Government initiatives aimed at protecting and developing the motorsport industry as a world-class engineering resource, vitally-important for UK GDP. The MKE has been commended internally during recent MSc validation, and externally by HEFCE. HEFCE’s consultants considered the project a model of best practice in the fields of employer engagement and industry-focused, market-driven flexible course development, worthy of case study for wider dissemination.

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