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THEME: Learning Circles

Newsletter September 2020: Project Digital Competences through Learning Circles is about to launch at SDU

Starting this October, learning circles will be a part of the competence development of teachers at SDU. Therefore, the focus of September Month’s newsletter is on the Project Digital Competences through Learning Circles, which studies the effect of a cooperative and practice-oriented competence development through so-called Learning Circles.

Project Digital Competences through Learning Circles studies the effect of a cooperative and practice-oriented competence development course through so-called learning circles. The goal of the project is to strengthen teacher’s digital competences. A learning circle consists of a group of 5 teachers + a facilitator, who all take part in an 8-week, action-based course. The course includes self-study of a digital resource platform, synchronous meetings, and testing of the acquired skills in the participants’ own practice. In the first phase of the project, 2 learning circles with 5 teachers in each will be conducted. In total, 13 learning circle courses will be completed at SDU from 2020 to 2022.

In cooperation with UCL and UCN, SDU has been granted funds from the Ministry of Higher Education and Science for the project, which supports the national action plan ”Digitale kompetencer og digital læring – national handlingsplan for de videregående uddannelser” (Digital competences and digital learning – national action plan for higher education). The goal of the competence development course is to improve teachers’ IT-didactic competences in order for them to be more qualified in including and using digital technologies in their teaching. Upskilling teachers’ IT-didactic competences is also meant to contribute to the development of students’ digital competences, enabling them to understand, use and be critical of digital technologies and the potential benefits and dilemmas which digitalisation causes.

Until now, Project Digital Competences through Learning Circles has been in the development phase. However, in week 43 the project is launched with 2 learning circles at SDU. The participants will be assistant professors from SDU's Lecturer Training Programme, who have volunteered for the project.

The learning circle course is tailor-made to support practice-oriented digital competence development

Each learning circle involves 5 assistant professors and a facilitator, who go through an 8-week learning course. The 2 learning circles at SDU are facilitated by Sara Kvist, special consultant in pedagogical development and e-learning at The Faculty of Engineering, along with Pernille Stenkil Hansen, senior e-learning advisor at SDUUP. Throughout the course, the participants will have access to a digital learning platform, which is a col-lection of resources on digital teaching forms and developments within digitalisation. The platform has been developed in cooperation with contributors from SDU, UCL and UCN.

The assistant professors meet with the facilitator once a week to share their findings, reflect on what they have studied in the resource collection, and develop ways of teaching based on the digital resources, they have been presented with. Between each meeting, the participants are expected to study the resource collection and consider didactically how they can use what they have read in their teaching. Focus is put on the participants’ own teaching practice, since the learning circles are meant to be as practice oriented as possible.

The project is a cooperation between SDU, UCL and UCN

The project has been developed and will be conducted in close cooperation with UCL and UCN. UCN supervises the project and has been the driving force behind the development of the learning circle concept along with the teaching of the facilitators from each institution. UCL has been responsible for developing the resource platform used in the learning circles, while SDU has been the main contributor of content to the platform. You can read about some of the content in this month’s themed article about the resource platform.

The project stages, follow-up research and future prospects

Project Digital Competences through Learning Circles consists of 3 stages. The first stage, the development of the course, is just about complete. Thus, we are ready to begin the second stage of the project at SDU in October. The second stage is the pilot period, which will last until August 2022. During the pilot period, 3 rounds of learning circles will be conducted. After each round, more content is produced for the digital resource collection. Whereas the first pilot round will be conducted locally at each participating organization, the second and third round will contain both learning circles between institutions and new subject areas. The goal is, that at the end of the project about 25 learning resources with a broad appeal for the digital resource platform will have been developed, and that each institution has completed 13 learning circles in total. The third stage of the project is the collection and presentation of the project’s results.

Throughout the pilot period, follow-up research will be carried out with the goal of covering all the key take-aways of the project, and researching how the learning circles have facilitated the participants’ learning. These takeaways are gathered in order to develop the method as the project is going on, but also in order to document the method of learning circles, as SDU, UCL and UCN are interested in possibly implementing learning circles as a more permanent part of the competence development at the institutions. Furthermore, going forward, the digital resource platform will not only be available for use by the participants of the learning circles, but also by other interested parties at the institutions.

Themed article: Learning circles - the pedagogical and theoretical background.

Read about the pedagogical and theoretical background for the project, and how the Learning Circles can facilitate learning

Read the article

Themed article: Resource Collection: An Important Source of Knowledge on Digital Technologies

Get an introduction to the digital resource platform, which the participants of the project will use as a starting point for their learning during the Learning Circles.

Read the article

Editing was completed: 30.09.2020