Course | Transformative Learning Online: Building & Facilitating Nurturing Learning Environments

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One of teaching’s key objectives is to nurture students’ growth into active and informed citizens and changemakers, equipped with knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable them to creatively and critically respond to the complex challenges of our times. Yet many of our teaching practices in the realm of higher education are outdated, too often focusing narrowly on cultivating cognitive-based learning and excluding the development of socio-emotional skills and empowerment for action.

It is essential, therefore, for those of us in higher education to seriously re-examine the limitations of our current teaching methodologies and techniques and to work toward expanding our pedagogical horizons and tools. And now more than ever, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have come to recognise the real urgency in expanding our pedagogical awareness and techniques so that we can facilitate our students’ learning in online and blended learning environments in times of significant instability and physical isolation affecting our students’ mental health, learning capacity and motivation.

We recognise that we need to teach in ways that recognise our students (and ourselves) as fully human beings (physical, emotional and reflective) and build on these in ways we’ve not done as much in the past.

From November 2020 to April 2021, Wageningen University (WUR) educators from a range of fields will be taking the Transformative Learning Online training course led by adult education specialist Neza Krek and supported by WUR’s Transformative Learning Hub, co-organised by Anke de Vrieze (RSO) and Meghann Ormond (GEO).

The course has been specially developed within the scope of WUR’s Staff Professionalisation Fund, which provides funding for pedagogical training initiatives that are not currently offered by the University. Members of the four Centre for Space, Place and Society (CSPS) chairgroups (Jessica de Koning (RSO), Meghann Ormond (GEO), Elisabet Rasch (SDC) and Caro-Lynn Verbaan (HSO)) jointly applied for this funding which will enable 20 educators to participate in a six-month fully online programme comprising a set of half-day-long training sessions, group coaching circles and peer support opportunities — all in the service of supporting participants’ development of nurturing online learning environments for their students.

We’ll be posting regular updates about our discoveries and progress with the course on the CSPS blog — so stay tuned!

By the end of the course, participants will: 

  • Have
    • an understanding of their own definition of teaching they want to pursue in the future
    • a deeper understanding of the transformative learning competences and how to develop them further in their own practice
    • the resources and the support to create their own style of facilitating online learning environments
    • the courage and self-confidence to try out new ways of teaching online 
  • Know how to
    • design a facilitated learning lesson with a transformative component
    • facilitate online learning
    • create a learning community online
    • build a safe space online
    • engage students and colleagues online
    • support students who engage beyond their academic work and need support with their emotional engagement in the issues they study about
    • create a ‘chatter on the hallway’ feeling and experience online 
  • Experience
    • engagement, a community, trust, and fun learning in an online learning environment
    • support to implement their learnings in their teaching practices
    • engaging blended learning
    • that teaching online can give them energy and not the opposite