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Changing the way the game is played: transforming postgraduate curriculum praxis and workplace capabilities

  • Project leader(s): Martin ReynoldsRay Ison
  • Theme: Other
  • Faculty: STEM
  • Status: Current
  • Dates: May 2018 to December 2021

Research question: what are the opportunities and challenges for re-visioning the role of postgraduate distance learning provision and curriculum design in shifting from a conventional emphasis on developing ‘competencies’ based on learning outcomes (playing ‘the game’ better) towards  enhancing ‘capabilities’ thereby creating innovative space for redefining occupational, professional, and social roles and practices amongst stakeholders in the workplace (changing the way ‘the game’ is played)?

The inquiry would have three objectives, all centred on using the experiences of developing the postgraduate systems thinking in practice (STiP) suite of qualifications at the OU as a case study:

  1. To explore systemic governance issues of curriculum design and implementation in relation to supporting part-time postgraduate study for enhancing workplace capabilities
  2. To develop a learning system associated with progressing a new Trailblazer Level 7 apprenticeship standard involving multiple stakeholders including employers and professional bodies as well as other HEI providers
  3. To leverage experiences of the L7 apprenticeship for postgraduate curriculum design and implementation

This research inquiry will focus in the first instance on the successful provision of postgraduate studies in Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP) at The Open University. Against a backdrop of four significant developments during the course of the inquiry, viz: (i) the development of an Employer Trailblazer Committee (for a Level 7 Apprenticeship Standard for the Systems Thinking Practitioner) initiated through ‘managing for emergence’ by the OU; (ii) reporting of the outcomes of an earlier research initiative given support by the STEM Faculty and arising from previous eSTEeM work (described below); (iii) OU support for the renewal of two core STiP modules (TU811 and TU812) for 2020 in support of renewal of the core PG STiP curriculum and (iv) investment by the OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) in a programme of research and case study development around systems thinking in the public sector -

A systemic inquiry associated with these four developments provides a unique opportunity for tracking the experiences of curriculum development in the context of significant institutional changes and challenges presented for distance learning organisations.  Opportunities exist for reconfiguring relationships with employers, alumni, professional bodies, associate lecturers (who may be associated with previous named stakeholder groups), and providers of training and HE outside of the OU.  Together these initiatives can be understood as the design of new ‘learning systems’ but it is unclear that this conceptualisation is widespread, or that arrangements and institutional arrangements will be conducive to effecting the desired capabilities of work-based professionals. This proposed eSTEeM project will critically examine how these reconfigurations are played out and what opportunities present themselves for developing innovative space(s) for new curriculum development.

Related Resources: 
PDF icon Martin Reynolds and Ray Ison.pdf203 KB

Project poster.