There are three strands that support learning on my modules this year. The first is experiential-based learning that is founded on the belief that learning can be accelerated if it takes place in an environment that is as true-to-life and critical as possible. This involves a lot of problem solving, reflective analysis and producing media that goes out to an actual audience. This is combined with a detailed analysis of the production issues that students are engaging with using Project Management systems and techniques to promote collaboration, team-building and a systematic approach to the development of radio and media content for DemonFM. The third strand is the use of blogging for reflexive assessment. This is based on the DMU Commons blogging system which I trailed in my classes last year, but which I now want to step-up and really promote as a tool for effective learning.
The great thing about the DMU Commons system is that it is Open Source, and is therefore supported by a community of like-minded developers who see it as their priority to enhance a wide range of skills and capabilities, rather than locking things into a narrow and expensive proprietory system. The DMU Commons system uses WordPress, and enables students and staff from across DMU to set-up and manage their own blog site. This can be customised and stylised in many different ways. Users get to choose from a number of different themes so that the can include personalised pictures, backgrounds and formatting to. I’m trying to encourage learners to take ownership of their blogs and to make them as personal to themselves as possible, and even to use them as a way to present themselves as industry professionals.
If each blog is set with a category RSS feed for Radio, then the blogs that the learners produce and tag with this category will be aggregated into the Radio Production blog site. This then gives us a central point for learners to read about what other team members are doing, and for the module team to be able to promote this work with the wider world. Blogging is a very useful way of developing reflexive skills and to present oneself as a professional and capable producer. This, so the theory goes, is a way of accelerating the learning process so that graduates are able to exhibit a level of skill and capability that gets them started straight away in the radio or media industries.
DMU Commons is an inspired approach to de-centered learning. It encourages collaboration, participation, reflection and – most importantly – action in a real environment.