|[ Teaching and Learning Forum 2001 ] [ Proceedings Contents ]|
In responding to these challenges individual schools face strategic decisions about their own responses to the burgeoning options for technologically mediated delivery. To a large degree, in the Australian context, schools have faced these decisions "alone". The decisions they make are strategic decisions about the change process they themselves engage with. The decision by some schools to engage with technologically mediated learning delivery implies that the school will embark on a major learning journey itself.
Organisational learning then supports the organisation's purpose, is shared among its members and the outcomes in the form of organisational knowledge and process become embedded in the systems and culture of the organisation (Snyder & Cummings, 1998).
In Figure 1 below an outline of the organisational learning cycle is derived:
Figure 1. Derived from Snyder & Cummings (1998) and Crossan, Lane & White (1999)
Crossan et al argue that organisational learning is multilevel (individual, group/team and organisation) and these must be linked through social processes and actions. This is illustrated in Table 1 below.
|Crossan et al
|Snyder et al (1998)
embed in the organisation
Crossan et al point out that cognition and action are interrelated in organisational learning, a position supported in alternative learning frameworks such as action learning. For example, Revans notes "learning is best achieved by people with similar problems working together as 'comrades in adversity' " (see Mumford 1997, p4).
In the interrelation of cognition and action, context is important. Crossan et al emphasise "communities of practice" (1999, p7). Brown and Duguid (1996) argue that the "central issue in learning (in the workplace) is becoming a practitioner not learning about practice" (p69); they make a strong case, based on a series of case studies, for the central place of context in learning.
Thus, learning in the context of the work place necessarily involves practice and is facilitated by "a community of practice" where interaction both stimulates and authenticates that learning.
This case study encompasses the processes of learning associated with the School's response to the potential of the Internet as a medium to facilitate learning.
The approach taken is to look first at the documentary record held by the School to determine the "documented history" of the development. A focus group was then held with staff involved in the process. The objective of the focus group was to identify what, for the professionals involved, were the key steps in the process, in a retrospective analysis and without access to the historical record. The focus group also asked staff to outline the impact they perceived on their professional practice.
|December 1997||School Retreat - Subject, scan the environment for new developments, thus surfaced Internet facilitated learning.
How could the school take advantage of this competitively?
|Issues surfaced were:||Classroom contact - what (if any) is the unique value to learning of classroom contact with the academic?
Internet facilitated learning - what can be developed to replicate what is important in the classroom? Are there Internet activities which have an advantage over classroom activities.
What is important for/to our students?
Action 1: brainstormed a list of generic outcomes which staff felt were dependent on classroom facilitated interaction.
Action 2: reconvene to look at classroom interaction in relation to the MBA.
|March 1998:||Reconvened meeting - one staff member proposed a review of what the graduating MBA "would look like" as a starting point to any analysis of online and face to face delivery.|
The dialogue established among practitioners in this case led to individual recognition; "pattern identification/solution possibilities".
|December 1998:||School Retreat - School made decision to apply for a Curtin Learning Effectiveness Alliances Program (LEAP) grant to assist move its MBA Course to mixed mode with an online component. School won the LEAP Grant for this purpose, January 1999.|
|March 1999:||Centre for Educational Advancement facilitated workshop to discuss the LEAP project. Presenters discussed outcomes and reinforced the position the School had come to that learning outcomes the MBA graduate would manifest as a result of learning at GSB will provide guidance for developing a mixed mode delivery.|
|March 25:||Facilitated school workshop with Rob Baker, designed specifically to develop 'outcomes', identified preliminary list of 5 'desired' learning outcomes.
Action: Working group established to further review.
|May/June:||Revised "generic learning outcomes" distributed and feedback collected.|
|August:||Workshop to finalise generic learning outcomes;|
Matrix developed to look at where in the course these were already covered, determine gaps, etc.
|March/May 2000:||Pace of unit development for the mixed mode program picked up. Noted by one academic that despite the work done on generic outcomes and the matrix, the published MBA learning objectives and unit learning objectives were unchanged. Outcomes were not yet integrated in staff practice.|
|May 10, 2000:||Learning Outcomes Workshop facilitated by education expert. Theory relating to the use of "learning outcomes" to guide content and assessment discussed. Demonstrated the approach using work of another area. Literature provided to staff.
Action: Existing 5 outcomes refined and expanded to 6.
|May/June 2000:||Working Party refined and circulated the outcomes Learning Outcomes use to develop the specific outcomes for Economic Analysis and Asian Economies 550. Demonstrated need for a seventh knowledge related outcome.|
|Staff Meeting July 2000:||Staff meeting discussion relating to finalised list of outcomes. Seventh outcome relating to knowledge acquisition added.|
|July 2000:||At a staff workshop integration of outcomes with the teaching/learning program was demonstrated using the work of one staff member on one unit (Economics Analysis and Asian Economies 550). This demonstration showed how outcomes would be reflected in assessment criteria and in the management of class contact and on line learning facilitation. It was agreed at this workshop that the outcomes would be included in the Schools unit outline template and hence all unit outlines.|
|August 2000:||Icons were developed for each outcome (7 in all); learning outcomes incorporated into the flexible learning website as they relate to the course as well as the unit outline templates.|
|November 2000:||Workshop - Director of Master of Leadership and management (MLM) requests to workshop learning outcomes for the MLM; brainstorming using technology (work ongoing).|
|Trigger:||A definite trigger for the development was identified by the focus group as occurring in December 1997 in a brainstorm session; the group identified and put a value on face to face classroom interaction. It was noted that Professor Whiteley raised prior learning and asked us to identify what the GSB "value added".|
The next point recognised was a 1999 Staff seminar with Centre for Educational Advancement (CEA) staff following the success of the LEAP application. Staff recalled that this covered a range of educational theory (including Bloom's taxonomy) and "sensitised us to the need to develop outcomes".
Staff recalled that there was then a subsequent staff seminar. This presentation deliberately avoided description of alternatives and a new paradigm was presented. Rob Baker presented the School of Education 'outcomes' as information. "At this time we had committed to 'outcomes' for the MBA (May 10, 2000).
The staff recalled this was followed by a "session in the strategic decision laboratory" and involved three iterations "to get the MBA outcomes list". It was noted that when Margaret Nowak applied the "outcomes" to a specific unit and suggested a gap appeared at the application phase, viz "knowledge outcomes", that was when we "reviewed and finalised" seven overarching outcomes.
|Adoption:||"Leap pushed it along, made it happen".|
The interpretation phase for those staff involved clearly focussed around a seminar which advanced a number of aspects of educational theory as background to a strategic move to mixed mode learning.
Integration appears to have commenced subsequently at the point where "a new paradigm was presented" and continued in the following iterations.
Implementation for the group can be interpreted as occurring at around the point where a trial on one unit led to modification. At this point the outcomes were an integrated part of the organisation product.
Weick and Westley argue "learning moments and spaces tend not to be obvious precisely because they retain vestiges of order, routine and expected exploitation ... what keeps them from being nothing but business as usual ... is the uncovering of forgotten meaning, hints at flaws or limits in current practice" (1996 p450/1). The experience of this case study accords with a process which is 'unplanned' and opportunistic.
How do staff perceive practice has been impacted?
The regime as it is experienced by students has been changed as a result; for example, reassessment of the value of closed book exams has occurred and questioning of the volume of material delivered is now important in staff decision making.
However two other important issues raised by staff can be summarised as:
Crossan, M. M., Lane, H. W. & White, R. E. (1999). An organisational learning framework: From intuition to institution. Academy of Management Review, 24(3) pp522-537.
Mumford, A. (1997). Action learning as a vehicle for learning. In Mumford, A. (Ed), Action Learning at Work. Gower, London, pp3-24.
Snyder-William, M. & Cummings-Thomas, G. (1998). Organisation learning disorders: Conceptual model and intervention hypotheses. Human Relations, 51(7), 873-895.
Spady, W. G. (1994). Choosing outcomes of significant. Educational Leadership, 51(6), 18-23.
Weick, K. E. & Westley, F. (1996). Organisational learning: Affirming an oxymoron. In Clegg, S. R., Hardy, C. & Nord, W. R. (Eds), Handbook of Organisational Studies. Sage Publications, London.
|Authors: Professor Margaret Nowak|
Director, Graduate School of Business
Dr Rick Ladyshewsky
Please cite as: Nowak, M. and Ladyshewsky, R. (2001). Implementing an outcomes approach to postgraduate learning: An organisational learning framework. In A. Herrmann and M. M. Kulski (Eds), Expanding Horizons in Teaching and Learning. Proceedings of the 10th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 7-9 February 2001. Perth: Curtin University of Technology. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2001/nowak.html