Participative, Blended and Networked Learning: Meeting Educational Needs in Australia’s Rangelands
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AbstractThis paper reports on the key elements and outcomes of a national educational initiative designed to meet identified learner preferences and stakeholder expectations of the knowledge and skills needed by ranchers, extension officers, Landcare and Natural Resource Management facilitators/advisors for future success in Australia’s rangelands. At the outset, research into the market for learning in rural and remote Australia was conducted. This led to the recognition that the existing courses available to this group did not meet the learning requirements of people living and working in the Rangelands in relation to current and emerging economic, environmental and social issues. This understanding led to the implementation of a participative curriculum design process. One of the strengths of the participative approach is the focus on relevance both in content and in approaches to teaching and learning. This process engaged a range of informal and formal networks that captured and shared experiential and scientific knowledge, and has been critical to the participation and retention of mature-age learners. Additionally, this approach also led to the development of a range of flexible blended learning environments aimed at meeting the complex needs of this group. An outcome of this approach is the significant economic, environmental and social outcomes documented for this program for both the learners, and the stakeholders engaged in the curriculum and course development processes.