London Gifted & Talented – a learning community that works

by | Mar 21, 2008 | Articles

London Gifted and Talented were e-learning award winners for project team of the year in the public sector. They developed effective learning networks to support some of the busiest and difficult to reach learners in the workplace – teachers!

London Gifted & talented have the responsibility of providing resources and education to teachers that equips them to challenge talented young people in their schools

One participant said “Over the years I have attended many courses and been involved in lots of distance learning, but I can honestly say this has been the most valuable and worthwhile learning experience I have been involved in for a long time.”

The case study describes in detail the nine key elements behind the success of their learning communities.

  1. Blend

Blend  on-line collaboration with face-to-face events; specifically start programmes with face to face events. If that is not possible use a virtual classroom for synchronous meeting.

2 Lead by example

Tutors set good examples in use of the on-line facilities as well as content knowledge and learning skills; the opportunity for setting that example is in meetings (either face-to-face or synchronous virtual events) where learners can be shown how to use on-line discussion tools and be encouraged to blog, post comments and get over the hurdle of initial participation.

3 Gain Committment

Gain commitment not just between tutor and learner but between learners. Learners agree to share their experiences. The meetings are the time to do that; where learners promise to try out new ideas and share their experiences, promise to each other as well as the tutor.

  1. Actively Guide

Tutors actively lead and focus discussions. They are “guides on the side” rather than “ages on the stage”. They are well supported by simple but accurate administration.

5 Keep Focus

Each discussion has a tightly defined purpose. The tutor ensures that the interactions between learners ‘keep to the point’. Keeping focus heightens the sense of purpose.

  1. Keep it short

Each forum lasts for no more than ten or twelve weeks. The temptation with e-learning and self study is to minimise the time spent each week by spreading content over a longer period of time. The experience of training teachers in London to teach gifted children is the reverse. Short intense periods of activity work best.

  1. Ensure Relevance

Ensure all activities and discussions are directly relevant to the job. Relevance to work is one factor that has surfaced repeatedly in the Towards Maturity research and case studies. For engagement in learning communities it is essential that learners realise early on that the activities that learners participate in are part of their normal day to day job; the only extra work is typing in their experiences into the discussion threads and blogs; in return getting the lessons and experiences of everyone else, a twenty fold return on their input.

  1. Give Expert Input

Providing expert input at different stages of learner’s development. Learners value expert input, the “sage on the stage”. At an early stage of the learning community more input is needed but tutors reduce and modify their input as learners become more confident changing their roles to that of encouragement rather than tutoring.

  1. Ensure Accessibility (at all times)

Websites must be accessible. All learning communities should be available to all so compliance to accessibility guidelines is mandatory. The website should always be available and error free. Functionality should be straightforward and consistent.

Download the study for more detail.

London Gifted and Talented will also be taking part in the e-Learning Network event on Building Learning Communities on the 18th of April – click here for more detail

This article was originally created by the Work based e-learning project at e-skills UK and is reproduced with kind permission.

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