It has been a good month since I last touched base – I recently took the Module 6 and 7 exams hence the short blogging hiatus. All the same, I’m back like a bad rash!
In other news, congratulations to President Barack Obama on securing a 2nd term in office and best wishes to our American brothers and sisters for the coming four (4) years.
On a local front, ULSM distance learners will have noted that the University launched a new support system in August 2012 known as PASS i.e. Peer Assisted Support System. Although this is a new initiative for Leicester, it has been in use in several universities worldwide. Those in the UK that currently support the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) system include but are not limited to:
v Bournemouth University
v University College London
v University of the West of England
v Oxford Brookes University
v Plymouth University
v University of Bradford
v University of Glasgow
v University of Liverpool
v University of Bath
v Kingston University
v Northumbria University
v University of Hull
v Queen Mary College of University of London
v Goldsmith College of University of London
v University of Dundee
In summary, PASS is a voluntary scheme that fosters cross-year support for students, between students and by students on the same course. PASS facilitates and encourages students to actively support one another through informal multimedia channels of communication under clear guidelines governing the management and running of the system.
The main role of PASS is to help students adjust quickly to the rigours and demands of university life in addition to acquiring a clear and objective view of course direction and expectations. PASS also aims to develop student capacity for independent learning and study skills to meet the requirements of higher education. Through PASS, students can enhance their understanding of their course content as well as the subject matter of their chosen field of study through collaborative group discussions thus enabling them prepare better for assessed work and examinations. Finally – and perhaps a tertiary benefit – students are offered the unique opportunity to network for posterity purposes in their various professional and career pursuits.
While I’ve enumerated the ‘tangible’ benefits of PASS, the ‘intangible’ benefits are of as much importance such as increased cohesion of the learning group, reassurance about study concerns and increased confidence in participating students. PASS also offers several benefits to students and staff involved at all levels.
Having described what PASS is, it is equally important to insist that it is not a formal mode of teaching and neither does it marginalize ‘weak’ or ‘problem’ students because it is aimed at encouraging full participation by the student body. PASS is not a means of decreasing existing lecture-student contact but rather augmenting existing learning and support channels at Leicester. Finally, PASS is not another social environment for chatting akin to Facebook, GTalk, Twitter etc. but is rather designed as a learning support system for focused, academic discourse.
For further information on PASS at Leicester, you can visit the intranet on (http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/management/distancelearning/PASS). This site explains what PASS is all about, outlines the limits of the system as well as the responsibilities of parties to the interaction system.
Additionally, you could seek further information on other PAL systems from the following links:
Capstick, S., Fleming, H., and Hurne, J. (2004 ) Implementing Peer Assisted Learning in Higher Education: The experience of a new university and a model for the achievement of a mainstream programme
Capstick, S. and Fleming, H. (2004) The Learning Environment of Peer Assisted Learning
Here’s wishing you well in your studies!
NB: Referenced in part from the University of Bournemouth PAL website.