Learn Practical Skills by Home Study: Distance Education IS Practical - more than most people realise!
Workshops may normally be something you attend in person; with the purpose of gaining some very practical knowledge and skills, relevant to the subject which you are studying.
This course achieves much the same as what you would achieve by physically attending a workshop in a face to face situation; but without needing to travel.
By using tried and proven educational techniques combined with modern technology; it is possible for you to be guided through a series of learning experiences by our academic staff; to achieve the same general outcomes that would normally be achieved in attended workshops.
Our three workshop modules were originally developed in the mid 1990's, as generic courses to provide practical learning that would compliment any discipline. Curriculum documents were written and accredited at the time. The three workshop courses which we offer today, have been developed so as to meet all of the requirements originally specified in those curriculum documents.
PBL is an abbreviation for "Problem Based Learning".
Problem-based learning has been defined as: “A learning method based on using problems as a starting point for acquisition and integration of new knowledge.”
Problem Based Learning is a learning methodology that was originally developed in USA universities; and is now commonly used in some university courses -particularly in medicine; but also in horticulture and other disciplines. This school began using PBL in 2004, basing it's methodology on documentation from and discussions with staff from a number of universities.
We experimented with and modified the PBL concept to create our own approach which worked successfully with distance education.
PBL projects have been developed in a way that satisfies the requirements set down by the curriculum documentation for these modules; but also in a way that can be achieved from wherever you live, without travelling to attend face to face workshops.
There are 3 lessons, each involving a PBL project, as follows:
1. Workplace Tools, Equipment and Materials
This covers; identifying and describing the operation of tools and equipment used in the workplace; routine maintenance of tools and equipment; and identifying and comparing materials used in the workplace; using different materials to perform workplace tasks.
2. Workplace Skills
This covers: determining key practical skills in the workplace; identifying and comparing commonly-performed workplace tasks; determining acceptable standards for workplace tasks; implementing techniques for improving workplace efficiency.
3. Workplace Safety
This covers: identifying health and safety risks in the workplace; complying with industry WH&S standards; developing safety guidelines for handling dangerous items.
What Does a Project Look Like (Example)
A typical project involves investigating and solving a "hypothetical" problem.
The project involves working a part of a team. Commonly, this team may involve yourself, a friend or colleague (who volunteers aq little time to work with you) and your tutor or a member of our staff; who interacts with you over the internet, or perhaps by phone.
While a team may be involved, you will be the one doing most of the work. The other team members may be contributing as little as an hour or two over the course of the project.
A typical problem to be solved might be:
You have been given a three-month contract to upgrade and expand the operations of a small business. The business normally employs three staff:
- A manager
- An office assistant
- A technician
The manager’s position is currently vacant as the previous manager left at short notice. You will be temporarily filling this role during your three-month contract.
After making an initial assessment of the workplace, you realise that essential equipment and tools for the businesses operation are outmoded and will hamper the planned expansion. You decide to purchase or lease the necessary items, but firstly you must justify your acquisitions to the owner of the business.
To do this, you will need to do the following:
- Determine the range of tools, equipment and materials commonly used in the workplace in your industry.
- Compare the tools, equipment and materials in terms of availability, cost, suitability to use in your workplace, ease of use, maintenance and storage requirements.
You will then need to prepare a proposal for the business owner that explains or justifies the items you wish to acquire for your workplace. As part of your proposal, you will need to physically demonstrate the use of one item each that the office assistant and the technician will commonly use in the workplace. For example, if you are basing your project on a nursery business, you might choose to demonstrate how to use a software package and a grafting knife.
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