In April, I will be over in Malta & Gozo for 8 days ‘teaching’ on the EU/MTA supported ADVANCE Tourism Programme – a major three year management development initiative for the Malta/Gozo tourism and hospitality industry aimed at ‘developing leaders for change and innovation in tourism’. Moving into the 3rd Intake, approximately 1,500 senior and middle level managers will have participated in the Programme. Delivered by a team of International and Local experts, ADVANCE Tourism covers topics such as Tourism and Hospitality Strategy, Customer Management & Social Media, Leadership, People Management, Marketing, Finance, Sustainable Tourism and others.
I use the term ‘teaching’ in a very loose way. ADVANCE Tourism has emerged as a very good example of the new approaches (pedagogy) required in Higher Education and Management Development discussed in our three recent posts on this topic – see Higher Education Interrupted.
For each of the Core and Elective Modules on the Programme, participants attend a one day intensive workshop. However, their overall Programme commitment is much more than this. There is a major experiential learning aspect to ADVANCE Tourism. Participants are expected to apply the lessons learned during workshops to their own tourism, hospitality or related business. A hybrid assessment procedure is used comprising workshop attendance and participation; applied in-company learning; development of a personal learning portfolio; additional CPD hours; mentoring and so on.
One of the most exciting aspects of ADVANCE Tourism is the e-Learning and Online Professional Networking Community set up to support the Programme. As well as being the focal point for all Programme communications and logistics e.g. registration, timetables, FAQs etc, there is a major crowdsourced learning component. Sub-groups and communities have been set up by the Progamme Management Team for each Core and Elective module. Led by the expert responsible for each module, programme participants are expected to actively contribute to each group by asking questions, making comments, stimulating debate, posting links to relevant articles, videos etc for the benefit of all. Participants also have the ability to set up their own sub-groups covering additional areas of common interest and many have been set up.
The ADVANCE Tourism e-Learning Community has been built using the Ning Platform. Development costs have been insignificant given the level of functionality provided. Active participation in the Online Community is an important part of the assessment process, with the best performing ‘students’ being eligible to take part in an overseas study visit lasting one week.
A screen shot of the Online Community and the wide range of self-help groups set up is shown below. You can get a better feel for how it operates by visiting the site at www.advance-tourism.com. (Please Note: access to group content is restricted to those formally registered on the Programme but the rest of the site is open).
The Programme Management Team have been delighted with the enthusiasm and commitment to the Online Community shown by the majority of Programme participants – a great example of crowdsourced learning in practice. It is very likely that the community will continue even after the formal end of the ADVANCE Programme, leaving a lasting legacy for life-long learning in Malta/Gozo tourism and hospitality.
As usual, comments and feedback are very welcome. We are also very interested in hearing about other successful initiatives in this area.