Educating the Educators – OU and Cisco partnership as part of the Institute of Coding: 11500+ and counting

Educating Educators - CISCO Inverview

By Dr Patricia Charlton

I started working on the institute of coding project back in September of 2018. An ambitious project, with many OU colleagues contributing to reaching a diverse range of learners, reshaping access to and the delivery of learning about digital skills.  Key to the success of the project has been the work and contribution of two colleagues, Dr Andrew Smith (Senior Lecturer at the OU) and Nuno Guarda (Head of Corporate Affairs, Cisco UK & Ireland)

In 2019 Andrew and Nuno reported on the successful delivery to over 5000+ learners that had joined on the short courses as part of the educating the educators initiative of the IoC. As illustrated in the video below, their story has a longer history that includes the innovative thinking and engagement and the difference that they have made.

The story of broad engagement with teaching and learning the educators and why this has been successful puts into context the importance of the right type of partnerships and working with these partnerships to develop and support relevant learning of practical skills. The partnerships have enabled ‘practical learning experimentation and opportunities to learn important skills that they [students/learners] might not have been given access to’. The conversation between Andrew and Nuno explain the value and scaling up of the resources and online opportunities the project has provided. As Nuno explains ‘the multiplier effect’ and the opportunities for all.

The multiplier effect and scaling up: note 5000+ reached in October 2019

The outreach into various teacher based social media communities we have seen teacher participation increase. We are also seeing more educational organisations engage and opt to become Cisco academies – accessing the content for themselves and their students (for free). We have seen our Cisco community grow from 142 to 169 organisations in 2019 (and is now over 260 in 2021). Many joining as a result of this engagement.  Furthermore, the employability impact as of 2019 has been significant as” 80% of those interviewed from completing their career courses have either gone to a new job or promotion…”.

Impact of Educating the Educator courses

As 2021 starts with the continuing many challenges we have all faced in 2020, I wanted to share with you this amazing story of innovation and success of levelling up digital skills on a large scale.  The video interviews were created in October 2019. Since then the OU and Cisco partnership as part of the Institute of Coding project has gone from strength to strength.

It is worth noting that our approach to learning engagement, which is core practice in the delivery of not just these short courses, but more widely across the OU for motivation is the concept of authenticity. This is the engagement of authentic learning for the learner. In this particular case the authenticity provides immediate ‘usefulness’. What the learner has already learned can be used as immediate delivery to their learners. Another pedagogical principle related to this concept of authenticity for this type of delivery is ‘instrumentalisation’. The process of “instrumententalising” that of taking ownership of materials and adopting and adapting and repurposing the artifacts into ‘instruments’ was the capacity building approach of teachers for scaling up.  Further, key observation of the success that can be considered in terms of this teaching and learning platform and resources is being underpinned, developed and supported by Cisco (Netacad). This provides key motivation for learners, as this directly links as useful learning skills. However, the value of the Cisco (Netacad) goes beyond ‘valued employability skills’ development and recognition (e.g., they can go on doing certificates etc. and progress further if they would like to – note some of the certificates do come at an extra cost but these are optional and where possible the certificates have been heavily discounted). The resources are set up to support broader critical problem solving and learning rather than focussing on just one particular tool. This supports the vision of lifelong learning and digital skills development for the future that Cisco, OU and the Institute of Coding aims to achieve.

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