"Deeper, more challenging courses and experiences will often deliver more transformative, longer lasting and more memorable outcomes for participants." Steve Charter Permaculture Educator
They can be a way that people really remember you. However, they do need really skilled and experienced people to deliver and hold them well, and the right kind of facilities and set-up, so be careful about diving into such things unless you are sure of your team and who you are working with.
In terms of the financial model for courses and events, this may not always be possible, but if you can provide some very affordable courses and activities, or accommodation, and some that are at a higher price which bring you a good and reliable income (hosting eco-weddings can be one way to fit this slot, if you have the right team to manage that very important day!) that’s probably going to help keep your finances in good order.
Creating great Learning Pathways for your audiences, and for you and your team
What is a learning pathway?
A learning pathway is the route taken by a learner through a range of learning activities which allows them to develop their competencies progressively (their understanding, knowledge, skills and attitudes). The Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design is a great example of a learning pathway - the many benefits of which are described in this permaculture Diploma learners feedback video. The journey to get to the Diploma is the most critical part of the learning pathway, because it’s the starting point! It might start with a fairly simple online course like Foundations of Permaculture, or a teacher supported online course like Growing Food in Small Spaces or Think Like a Tree.
Learning pathways enable you to develop, strengthen and enrich the competencies (skills, knowledge, experience, attitudes) to do a particular thing well, or a set of things well.
With a learning pathway, rather than a fixed course of learning, the control of choice moves to the learner, and away from the tutor. The learning pathway represents the steps that are taken from the initial ideas of the desire to learn, through which they develop their theoretical understanding and practical experience over time. Whilst this may sound very linear, in the fields of learning we are considering here, a ‘messy’ learning pathway , with various loops and changes of course, is often more likely - and is increasingly recognised as being likely to embed the learning more deeply, and be more of a transformative and deeper experience for the learner.
A transformative learning pathway is a route taken by a learner that generally leads to a fundamental shift in their perspective, sense of self and greater confidence or clarity about their purpose and direction. In this sense, often a learning pathway is as much about your inner development as it is about developing any specific practical skills or expert knowledge.
Messy learning can be compared to a jumbled-up tangled string which meets itself several times at different angles. When you are forced to look at something at different angles, your perception is strengthened. Each angle reinforces your understanding of it. Messy learning is relevant for both those people who are active members of a learning and demonstration centre team, and for those who participate in learning programmes offered by those centres, particularly the more extended or in depth learning experiences.
Problem-based learning / Project-based learning (PBL) revolves around the practice of reflection, is common in many fields, and can be seen as having 3 defining characteristics (Dickson and Barr, 2019):
- presenting learners with (large) authentic projects i.e. community climate action projects, or a physical project such as building an outdoor learning structure
- enabling them to independently learn necessary concepts, practices or ‘realities from the field’
- enabling them to learn while working in groups i.e. as they implement their community climate action or structure building projects together as a group.
Three aspects of the character and value of project-based learning are:
- learners are presented with real-world situations and genuine needs for which a solution is required, which obviously carries different responsibilities to theoretical or academic learning situations
- the projects enable them to explore, design and plan for optimising the potential (of people, places) that can arise from those projects
- the projects enable them to learn in groups about how to optimise their own potential as well as the potential of the projects