Delivering analytical science e-learning in the workplace

Velasco, Maria and Williams, Ruth (2009). Delivering analytical science e-learning in the workplace. In: EuroAnalysis 2009, 6-10 Sep 2009, Innsbruck, Austria.



The Open University (OU) is well known for the delivery of world class distance education. From 2010, the OU will offer a distance learning course to train analytical scientists in their workplace. The course Analytical Science in Practice is delivered primarily over the web with supporting text material. This work-based course, developed in collaboration with the UK water industry, complements existing practical skills, developing understanding of the science underpinning analytical work. Students will learn information technology skills necessary to operate effectively in the modern workplace, and the numerical skills to carry out the calculations required in their job with accuracy and confidence. The course explains the regulations and science for safe working, enabling students to become safer practitioners. Considerable emphasis is given to developing basic laboratory operations and techniques using video clips and interactive assessment. Effective teamwork and communication are vital in an analytical laboratory and the course will help improve an individual’s proficiency in these areas. Finally, problem-solving skills are developed, alongside learning how to make evidence-based decisions.

The course forms part of a new Foundation Degree in Analytical Sciences, developed to meet needs of staff already employed in analytical laboratories and to enhance the skills base of the workforce. The degree is interdisciplinary in approach with opportunities for specialisation in chemistry or biology.
The Foundation Degree combines work-based and supported open learning. Responsibility for learning is shared between the employer and The OU. The OU provides study materials and tutorial support and manages the assessment procedures, while the employer substantially manages the work-based learning on the programme. The OU is able to offer support in training staff identified as practice assessors. The student remains in employment while they study.

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