Ensuring travel broadens minds: a suitable case for Learning Design?

O'Sullivan, Catherine and O'Sullivan, Terry (2019). Ensuring travel broadens minds: a suitable case for Learning Design? In: Open Impact Conference, 13-14 Dec 2019, Kampala, Uganda.

URL: http://business-school.open.ac.uk/sites/business-s...


O’Sullivan (2018, p. 283) advocates ‘an ability to continue to learn, both from your own experience and from the good practice of others’ as a strategy for professional development in cultural organisations, using a case study of international exchange visits. Yet in spite of their popularity, there is little systematic evaluation of such exchanges. The lack of an evidence base for improving practice in cultural and educational exchange visits threatens their continued justification in a resource-constrained environment. It threatens to leave barriers to participation intact through lack of analysis (Gastinger, 2011; O’Sullivan and Flecknoe, 2000), and perpetuates the danger of transferring inappropriate educational paradigms and cultural ideologies through unexamined practices (Cramp, 2016: Fallon and Paquette, 2015; Maranzan et al, 2013; Martin and Griffiths, 2012). On the other hand, evidence-based improvements in the effectiveness of cultural and educational exchanges would strengthen the case for widening participation (MacInnes et al, 2019) and increase their value to international educational development (British Council, 2018). As a learning tool, international exchange visits should be amenable to the same quality enhancement processes used for other educational materials. The UK Open University has embraced Learning Design (Cross, et al., 2012) as a methodology for the design and continuous improvement of its courses. Learning Design theory analyses courses into generic activities centred on learner needs and experience. Designs can be tested, reused and refined as appropriate in the light of evidence from learning analytics (Rientes and Toetenel, 2016; O’Sullivan and O’Sullivan, 2018). Drawing on literature and case studies, we propose that applying the principles of Learning Design to planning exchange visits will help prevent some of the identified practical and ideological problems. Furthermore, we argue that incorporating elements of distance learning around the exchange visit will improve and enrich the value of this kind of professional development.

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