Learning beyond the curriculum: PLE and the development of soft-skills
Aresta, Mónica and Pedro, Luís and Moreira, António and Santos, Carlos (2011) Learning beyond the curriculum: PLE and the development of soft-skills. pp. 1-6. In: Proceedings of the The PLE Conference 2011, 10th - 12th July 2011, Southampton, UK.
In a connected world where information is available at any time and place, learners adopt a more proactive approach to learning, no longer looking at Education Institutions as the only place where they can learn. When the knowledge economy demands for new types of learners – people able to solve problems and create solutions in a just-in-time basis –, Higher Education Institutions must look at their students as active participants, fostering the development of skills that go beyond the curriculum and recognizing learning as a social process that occurs in and outside the institution walls. In order to analyse how students, institution and employers see and value the existence of soft-skills (e.g. communication and collaboration skills, teamwork, online presence) and how they can be fostered in an institutionally supported Personal Learning Environment (PLE), a case study is being developed at University of Aveiro aiming to analyse students’ online presence; to identify which soft-skills are more valued by students, University and the market; to study how those skills can be fostered through an institutional supported PLE and expressed in an institutional supported platform; to afford the importance of an institutional online platform in scaffolding the construction of the learners’ and institution’s digital identity; and to evaluate the importance (for students, the University and the market) of the existence of an institutional online presence. Data will be collected through in-depth interviews made to students from a Master Degree course (n=13), institutional representatives (n=3) and a professional from a Job and Recruitment agency (n=1), and through questionnaires applied to students. Although still in an early stage, preliminary data reveals that students are using the institutional supported PLE to meet their learning needs and to build a more formal but more conscious online presence and to reveal the existence of skills valued by the marketplace. In a new and connected world where students, institutions and companies face a reality different from the one they are familiar with, this case study can bring some light on how students build their online identity in a social platform provided by the Higher Education Institution they choose as students.
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