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The Learning Revolution, Distance Learning and its Application to a Global Poultry Industry (A UK perspective)

Temperton Fellowship Report 11: The so-called 'Learning Revolution', its associated technology and the application to learning in poultry-related studies. The concepts of online and distance learning and their application to education in general are discussed, and the potential application to poultry education in the UK and worldwide is considered.

Year of Publication2003

The UK Government has promoted a notion of a Learning Revolution. This vision includes a specification for increased number of learners in Higher Education. To meet this target, the Government is also making provision for widened access. The Government's view for Higher education is for an increase in foundation degree provision. There is little evidence that funding levels will increase significantly for Higher Education establishments, since it is proposed that Further Education institutes can evolve to meet the potential growth. Also, the Government has put a great deal of faith in lifelong learning, with access to learning through the workplace, not particularly from the traditional places of learning. This approach relies heavily on some elements of computer-based learning. Distance learning and on-line learning are often promoted to enable this vision to be realised. Many Universities and Higher education establishments are turning to computer-based learning and student management. The development of online teaching and learning packages is relatively new, but many are appreciating that this approach has many advantages, and may be of increasing importance to teaching and learning in the future. A significant advantage is that learning material is easily available for a greater proportion of the population. For example, people in employment can access (and study) such material in a way that best fits their own lifestyle. Learning material is going to be accessible and available from several outlets (e.g. CDROM, e-mail and Learning Centres). The challenge to existing Higher Education providers is to adapt to serve this more flexible approach to learning. Significant problems, such as the verification of remote assessment, will have to be overcome, not ignored! Despite the problems that exist, there are some significant opportunities to develop courses for the global community. This could provide a significant income stream for those providers that are successful. The costs of development of distance learning material are not insignificant. Therefore the potential demand for the material must be determined before any courses are developed. Collaboration between HE institutes can spread the development costs. If there is international collaboration, the course material may better serve an international market. Problems of ownership and intellectual property rights would need to be overcome. In a poultrymeat industry that is increasingly relying on global supplies, distance learning provides an opportunity for the training of the work force with remote access. For both the egg and meat industries there is the opportunity for further training of staff within the work force. This can provide better-trained staff or more educated staff for the future. There is also the opportunity for the individual within the industry to enhance his or her skills with a view towards further promotion. A move towards online or distance learning in poultry-related studies can ensure that existing further and higher education establishments can continue to provide poultry courses. In general the number of students electing to study only poultry-related courses, at Higher Education establishments, has diminished in the past two decades. Such a decline is unsustainable. Without an influx of distance learners it is probable that institutes offering poultry studies will continue to reduce provision. Harper Adams is rising to the challenge by creating a Rural Knowledge Exchange to support the UK poultry industry. The aim is to turn knowledge in to relevant skills and to ensure that research supports the UK poultry industry. Also HAUC is providing certificates which allow previous experience and company training programmes to be considered. The value of these allows learners to gain accredited prior learning for up to half of the course. This allows the UK poultry industry to take full advantage of the Learning Revolution to strengthen the position of poultry industry and prepare it for the future.

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Supporting the development of the national rural economy.

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