Bridging the gap between aims and objectives for business clients and academic course planners in 'linked' learning projects

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
DS 69: Proceedings of E and PDE 2011, the 13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, 2011, pp. 64 - 70
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Creating learning experiences for students in higher education that have a basis in real world practice provide the opportunity for 'significant' learning. In addition 'linked' learning projects help business partners to understand the graduate attributes that are being developed on university courses and provide an opportunity to influence that development. Innovative practice, fostered in the safety of a learning environment, can emerge through positive collaboration between real world clients and university teams and there is the added benefit of contributing to professional development for academics in maintaining currency. This paper reviews the characteristics of 'linked' learning projects from knowledge based, restrictive and didactic learning scenarios to significant learning, participatory action research projects based on current teaching and learning theory and describes the aims, outcomes and challenges for lecturers and clients. Specific examples of 'linked' learning projects are provided in relation to the students, the academics and the business clients and the outcomes considered in terms of meeting expectations, quality of the learning experience (in line with current theory) and management issues. Conflicting aims and objectives are highlighted and recommendations for bridging potential gaps between the partners' understanding and expectations are suggested. These provide starting points for an understanding of the drivers for learning for projects that will potentially reduce disappointment for clients and students and stressful organisational difficulties for lecturers. The aim is to contribute to positive, significant learning experiences that enhance the collaborative relationship between business and university partners.
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