Earlier this year, the GDST launched a partnership with FutureLearn, one of the world’s biggest MOOC (massive open online course) providers, to produce free, online CPD courses for teachers.
The first course, ‘Girls’ Education: teaching strategies that develop resilience, confidence and collaboration’ started on 21 November 2016. Run by Professor John West-Burnham and GDST Assistant Director of Education, Cathy Walter, the course attracted over 3,000 UK participants, among the 8,000 who signed up worldwide.
The course examines the significant factors that influence girls’ learning experiences, in particular strategies that develop character in a way that supports academic success in school and professional success in their future careers.
It builds on the premise that the behaviours the education system rewards – studying, careful preparation, patient climbing from one level to the next – seem to give women an advantage academically. Yet in the world of work, people hire and promote based on character as much as on formal qualifications.
Different aspects of ‘girl-friendly’ pedagogy are examined with a particular focus on approaches that develop and promote character traits such as independence, resilience, collaborative working, problem solving and confidence.
These approaches include:
Learners joining the course have the opportunity to watch videos, debate key issues and read articles. At every step of the course, there is also the opportunity to post comments online and engage with fellow students.
Welcoming the partnership, the GDST’s Head of Creative Teaching and Learning, Cat Scutt, said:
“We are really excited to be the first school group to be accepted as partners by FutureLearn. In a world where technology is increasingly at the centre of the learning experience of school students, we are keen to embrace the opportunities afforded by online learning for teachers on a massive scale. FutureLearn provides the ideal platform for this, giving us a huge opportunity to cement ourselves as leaders in innovation and teacher development.”
Simon Nelson, Chief Executive of FutureLearn, said:
“It gives us great pleasure to add GDST to our learning establishment's partnerships. We are looking forward to working with them to deliver the unique benefits of the international collaborative social learning environment offered by FutureLearn which encourages teachers from all over the world to share their questions and thoughts, and allows them to grow together to get the best results for their students.”
Effective Pedagogies for Girls' Learning research report
Gender issues have been a focus for many educational research studies in recent decades, sparked by the differential responses of girls and boys to schooling. Differential retention rates, an apparent gender gap in achievement between girls and boys, subject choices at GCSE and A Level, access rates to University, have all been scrutinised, with ambivalent outcomes.
The GDST has published a research review focusing on one aspect of this gender debate: effective pedagogies for girls' learning.