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Master Learning Sciences

Based on its experience in the development of course materials, the Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies has developed a Master programme Learning Sciences.

The master programme looks at education from the point of view of the educational design. Students learn to analyze educational problems and to develop and implement solutions, taking into account the conditions within the organization and the theoretical insights. Students get acquainted with the most recent developments in the field of educational technology and learn how and when they can be used in their educational design. During the programme they work on at least two large educational projects, if possible related to their own working practice. Apart from that they develop their competencies in the field of counselling and projectmanagement.

The Master programme Learning Sciences consists of ten courses of 4.3 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) and a thesis of 17 ECTS making a total of 60. The focus on the Masters course is on the design of active learning. The course is completed by a thesis.

Active learning

There is a great deal to be learned about education. Points to consider are: how it is organised; the role it plays in society and business; and even the role it plays in a persons life. Another point, obvious though it may be, is that the goal of education is that the learner actually learns something. Moreover, education can take place in a wide variety of settings, such as at school or at work. It can be organised formally or informally, in which case it takes place spontaneously as the occasion arises or as the necessity is felt.

An essential feature of all these educational activities is to facilitate learning. Learning cannot be forced upon anyone, neither can it be exacted from the learner on command. This is the crux of the matter. Students must be willing to learn and they must be prepared to take the initiative. This do-it-yourself principle implies that the more active the students are in their learning, that is the increasing number of different activities they undertake in mastering a skill, the better the result will be.

The learning environment is essential

Active learning and the do-it-yourself approach do not mean that a student has to learn all alone, that the role of the teacher disappears or is reduced to the level of process support. They rather imply that an environment has to be designed so that different partners and learning resources, and the different content, roles and tasks which the student is required to master are clearly specified to optimise the learning outcomes. This environment should be carefully designed, as should the educational approach to be used. This presents the intention behind the Masters programme Learning Sciences regarding both the learning goal and the work forms applied in a nutshell.

A design perspective

The Master programme Learning Sciences is determined by the perspective of the educational designer. Thus each learning experience (whether organised or informal), each lesson, course or programme is given considerable thought in advance. Key questions are: What kind of students are involved? Where are they? What do they know? Which skills do they have? Which skills do they not have? What do we want to attain? What is our educational concept? How do we translate this concept into teaching or training? What kinds of groups should be formed? What kinds of communications do we have at our disposal? Which tools do we have? What is expected of the teachers? How are we going to proceed?

The challenge is to create a coherent whole of all these elements, observe the applicable boundary conditions, and at the same time not overlook any single element. The intention of the resulting design should be to inspire the learners to active learning. The educational designers have to employ their knowledge of content areas as diverse as:

  • Theories of learning: learning is the ultimate goal.
  • Instruction theories: how to instruct which kinds of knowledge and skills.
  • Communication theories: how to send messages effectively so that they can be best received by others.
  • Systems theories: do-it-yourself is not the same as do-it-all-alone. Teaching and learning take place in interaction with others, incorporated in an organisation. This whole can be conceived as a system and should be studied and approached as such.

Clearly, educational design is multi-disciplinary. Problems are approached from different perspectives and theories are integrated into one solution.

Some practical examples

The following are examples of the kinds of problems a graduate from the Master programme Learning Sciences might be confronted with:

  • Our teacher training college wants to create a study landscape. How can this be achieved?
  • We had the idea of letting students do an integrating project. Which factors should we take into account to ensure its success?
  • The most recent implementation of government innovation policy was no more than a moderate success. How can this be improved?
  • The learning resources we use in this vocational college at the lower skills levels are far too demanding. What can be done about it?
  • How can we achieve lifelong learning in our organisation?

All these questions may concern formal education. They may also have a bearing on teaching and learning in organisations. They look quite straightforward, but it is most likely that the solution to these problems starts with establishing the real problem underlying the questions.

Competencies: knowledge and academic skills

The Master programme Learning Sciences is an academic training course. After completion, it will enable you to analyse educational problems and develop and implement solutions. You will learn to take the boundary conditions that apply to the organisation in which the problem occurs into account using the theoretical insight you gather on the course. The programme will acquaint you with the most recent developments in supporting technologies. One application project and one masters project will give you ample opportunity to further develop your competencies in this field. In addition, you will develop your competency in consultation and project management.

Supervisory Board

Prof.dr. Wim Jochems, Prof.dr. Paul Kirschner, Prof.dr. Rob Koper, Prof.dr. Jeroen van Merriƫnboer, dr. Wim Westera.

Management Team

Prof.dr. Els Boshuizen (Dean of Studies), dr. George Moerkerke, drs. John van der Baaren and Marion Timmermans.

Further information

About the Master programme Learning Sciences : actiefleren@ou.nl

At this moment the programme is only available in Dutch.