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Effective Learning Pathways

Written by Increase Committee Chair David Burke

It was exciting to be part of the Effective Learning Pathways training track team at the 2022 Increase Conference along with Tim Green, Qaiser Julius and Anneta Vysotskaya.

Forty-two people from 19 different countries attended the track. The room buzzed with conversation over three 90-minute sessions.

Our prayer was that participants would:

  • be excited about the importance and value of designing context-suited pathways

  • know and understand what effective learning pathways are - along with knowing some different ways of designing, implementing and using existing pathways, and gaining knowledge of some resources to use in this task

  • be able to design and implement a process to evaluate, enhance and design effective learning pathways for their context

  • connect with like-minded people who are designing, evaluating and improving their effective learning pathways

The three sessions were designed to build on one another towards these goals.

An underlying premise in this track is that every educational activity has learning pathways. However, these may not be effective. They may not be consciously held. They also may not have been reviewed for some time. We wanted people to leave this track aware of learning pathways and with some insights and tools to help make them more effective.

In session 1 we:

  • watched a short video on the nature of effective learning pathways

  • reflected on our own individual learning pathway in the Christian faith

  • listened to a summary on the evaluation and revision of effective learning pathways

  • described and evaluated a learning pathway with which we are presently involved

This gave a foundation of ideas that were used in the other two sessions. Session 2 introduced four quite different case studies in learning pathways. Participants analysed these using questions that had been introduced in session 1:

  • What are the learning goals?

  • Who are the learners?

  • What is the context?

  • What is being taught?

  • Who teaches?

  • How is learning structured and delivered?

We also used several scenarios for discussion suggesting the participants identify an effective learning pathway for one of the case studies. The goal of these studies was to build skills in using effective learning pathways and stretch participants’ thinking beyond their own context.

Session 3 was designed to apply the lessons of previous sessions. Participants worked in groups to:

  • practice skills of effective learning pathway evaluation and design - case studies used a simple design model that included and applied the questions above

  • start work on effective learning pathway evaluation and design within their own context, done in context-specific groups - our hope was that this work would be continued as participants returned to their context

It was exciting to see participants grasp ideas and start building skills. This was especially so in session 3, when these skills and ideas had a very applied expression.

A lovely side-benefit was to see groups of people working together in table discussions and tasks. This serves the Increase values of teamwork and collaboration and certainly added to the momentum of the sessions.

As noted, session 1 included an exercise of people reviewing their own personal learning pathway. That produced some surprises, as many realised some gaps that needed attention.

The next steps are up to participants. We believe that there is no effective learning pathway that is so good or so bad that it cannot be improved with work. Some of our existing Theological Education by Extension / TEE programmes may not have been reviewed for many years. We hope that the insights and skills of this track motivate and enable that review. We also hope that people starting on effective learning pathway design have confidence to say 'We can do this' and 'This is important'.

Click here to go to the 2022 Conference page where there are links to Effective Learning Pathways resources.

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