Susana Neto, Jeff Camkin
Through a methodology framed around building a learning process that departs from the experience and expectations of the participants, the module Water and Agricultural Landscapes (WATR7800) is delivered yearly in Perth as part of the IWC International Master of Integrated Water Management. The main objective is to support the participants in ‘back-casting’ from their individual targets/objectives and to build a learning process that will support them to understand, filter and incorporate each session (inputs from lessons, class discussions or other improved knowledge originated by exposure to the sessions) into his/her own learning objectives. To accomplish this we start by identifying each individual’s expectation and their field of particular interest. From these personal interests and learning objectives, the collective needs of the group also emerge. Through a process of ‘filtering’ through the different learning activities (lectures, class work, field trips etc) and by using an individual register of what is more relevant from his/her own perspective and future objectives, each student is invited to participate daily in some kind of group daily reflective exercise and to pursue this further through individual consolidation. This process, illustrated in the Learning Diagram, aims to effectively support progress along the course sessions with a critical personal view that will reinforce the capacity of each participant to improve knowledge towards their personal learning objective and future professional / career development.
Here is what some recent course participants have to say about WATR7800:
- “The intensive module is remembered as the most effective use of time with maximum knowledge gained in the shortest period. Writing of this report/essay was like remembering and formulating the key knowledge/insights gained, which are most relevant to ones future works…” (Karma, Bhutan)
- “The WATR7800 course has exposed a key area of interest in my learning, particularly the possible links between the mining and agriculture industries and how they can contribute to a solution to food and water security.” (Dayjil, Australia)
- “Although farming systems and environmental conditions are very different, the Perth intensive provided a wealth of transferable knowledge highly applicable to my case study in Canterbury.” (Kyle, New Zealand)
- “The three workshops conducted during the module facilitated a process that encouraged new perspectives and knowledge, reflection, and refinement of the participants’ case studies. The workshops guided participants through peer discussions concerning different challenges faced by each participant’s case study area.” (Anna, Australia)
- “Learning process reflection: Better organization of ideas through frameworks given in workshops. Importance to allocate time to reflect. Importance of networking. This reflection was an opportunity to see the importance to build a network to have different perspectives of a complex problem to solve it, learn new things and avoid past mistakes. Discussions about issues with peers to have other perspectives. Continuing learning process.” (Tehiana, Tahiti)