Speaking at the online session, CEO and head of Learning at EtonX Catherine Whitaker suggested that adapting the skill base students require to access academic higher education programs will need reforms in the exam system.
“When schools are still funnelling people into a knowledge-based test at the end of year, obviously a lot of the wonderful things that we [are] talking about, don’t always happen because that is not how they’re judged,” she said.
“The work around reimagining assessment for me is the biggest piece here, because when you free schools up to think more broadly and to be more creative, then I think you can introduce the kind of programs more readily that leads to what universities and employers are looking for.”
Head of Learning Development at King’s College London in the UK, Eleanor Parker said that the “service education” the institution offers is focused on “the way we engage with curriculum and students more generally”. And cultural competency is key, she added.
“Irrespective of some of those other academic literacies, I think giving students the competencies to engage critically but supportively and respectfully with each other is really important to their learning experience and their broader educational experience,” Parker said.
Manager of International Recruitment, Americas, Middle East and Africa at The University of British Columbia in Canada, Jake Howard, detailed the UBC Global Leadership program for 15-18 year olds.
“Our program started out as a summer program only, so it was two weeks long, and offering three different sessions… with different themes or streams,” she said.
“The idea is really to give them a taste of what life would be like as a UBC student over those two weeks. They live on campus, all the classes are taught by our professors, they have access to all our facilities… but also grow those skills outside of academics, like being away from home for the first time, being independent.
“They get put in groups to work together to work towards a capstone project, and having to navigate that group work at a higher level,” she said.
“We really do see a benefit for a summers program, not necessarily that a UBC Global Leader would come back to UBC for an undergrad, but it does really prepare them for any universities or college afterwards.”
Pam Turnbull, director of Teaching and Learning at Rosedale International Education in Canada said that, as an organisation founded on partnerships, Rosedale has asked students to “think outside the box” as it has designed its curriculum.
“We wanted to move beyond those pathways to look at what else we can do”
“Usually what often happens is that K-12 schools will partner with a university for a pathway type of program, but we wanted to move beyond those pathways to look at what else we can do,” she said.
A major project with Vancouver Film School saw the partners co-develop high school courses in media arts to be able to offer courses around the world, ending up with both owning IP in the program.
“In other areas what we have been doing is reaching out to universities to ask if we can learn from them, for example with the University of Waterloo’s outreach program from the mathematics department, they came in and did a professional development session for our teachers and curriculum designers in helping us to understand what are they doing around higher order thinking in their math program, around real world problem solving and what can we learn from them.
“We [want to] share all this information and great research that [they] are doing and bring it down a level to high school so that those students can be more prepared.”