Universidad de La Laguna and Destiny

We did a Q&A session last week with Dr. Jorge Martín-Gutiérrez, University Professor-Researcher in the Department of Projects and Techniques in Architecture and Engineering at Universidad de La Laguna. The University based in Tenerife, Spain, are involved in using the Destiny MOOCs to enhance learning and improving transversal skills in the travel and tourism sector.

Why do University of La Laguna  want to become a partner in the Destiny MOOC project?

The Universidad de La Laguna (ULL) is interested in this project because it deals with providing transversal skills to workseekers.

For ULL students this type of training is vital as the course curricula places emphasis on students developing these skills over the course of their degree programs. However, the reality is that most degrees face time constraints and for this reason most academic staff make the decision to teach content that focuses on developing professional competencies and leave aside transversal competencies.

This project will provide individuals with training in skills and capacities that are not covered in university. Furthermore, this training can also be used by public and private entities to provide their staff with training in transversal competencies.

What is going to be the role of La Laguna within this project? 

The Universidad de La Laguna has analysed the needs of businesses in the tourism sector regarding staff. Via a series of surveys and interviews with directors of human resource, businesses were asked to specify the capacities that staff should possess in order to perform their duties efficiently.

  • Data was gathered at a national level (Spain) and a local level (the Canary Islands).
  • The ULL focused on the tourism sector as it is one of the sectors responsible for providing the most amount of employment in Spain, and especially the Canary Islands.

It was then possible to identify where businesses believed there to be a lack of training: transversal competencies. Once identified, a methodology was designed to teach these competencies online using MOOCs in order to reach the largest number of individuals possible.

The ULL designed a MOOC lasting 4 weeks that was then reduced to 3 weeks following a review of the goals of the pilot project. The competencies covered in the MOOC are as follows:

  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Friendliness and Enthusiasm
  • Teamwork and Leadership Skills

The Universidad de La Laguna has ample experience in creating MOOCs. For this reason, its main task was to train other Destiny partners and share best practices so that each partner was able to understand the steps involved in creating a MOOC from start to finish and the different technology available. In other words, the ULL provided information on MOOC creation that covered both the technical and pedagogical aspects of creating MOOCs. In addition, the ULL set up the e-learning platform that would be used to host the MOOCs created as part of the Destiny Project.

How do you think that technology is changing the way young people learn?

For many adolescents it has become commonplace to use YouTube video tutorials to find answers to questions or to develop strategies on how to complete videogames for example. In fact, there are video tutorials for almost everything. From this trend, a new type of learning has emerged that is based on short video tutorials. We believe that this has given rise to a new type of educational model that will be widely used until supplanted by future advances that remain unforeseen for the time being.

This type of training is incredibly convenient as it can be used at any time of day or night from anywhere in the world using a computer or portable devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops. Furthermore, it is delivered in bite-sized pieces in the form of “video-pills”. Just as a pill from your doctor helps alleviate a problem, so these video “pills” help address a problem, that being a gap in knowledge. These videos and the methodology used help individuals adopt Best Practice measures in the workplace.

What are your best hopes for the project?

Our hope is that large companies such as the Hilton Hotels or Melia Hotel trust in these MOOCs and use them to offer training to their staff, allowing them to develop transversal competencies as and when necessary. The ideal scenario would be for them to use our MOOC platform to deliver online training to their staff, no matter where they may be based globally.

How is the project progressing?

The project will be completed according to schedule on September 30th 2017, which is when the Destiny Project ends.

All our MOOCs have been built and we have run two pilot projects with university students and with staff working in local businesses.

The first pilot run enabled us to obtain feedback from students and improve the MOOC and our methodology. The second pilot was run using the refined methodology that resolved the problems initially encountered by participants in the first run.

We also designed and ran a Study Club that involved the collaboration of professionals from the tourism sector. Each week, every Tuesday, a professional would hold a video conference with participants, interacting with them, answering questions, and explaining what is expected of them in different job positions. Each week, academic staff would also hold a video conference to help students who wish to focus on learning the competencies needed for a specific job. The teacher would provide targeted advice and personalised attention helping the student to develop a study pathway that would enable them identify suitable courses relating to their chosen speciality.

Have their been any significant events that have shaped the project or introduced it to academics?

  • Businesses indicate that work-seekers possess certain professional skills and competencies, but they lack certain fundamental transversal skills and competencies, such enthusiasm, friendliness, verbal communication, teamwork, problem-solving, teamwork, etc.)
  • The ULL MOOCs, which provided transversal competencies training, saw dramatically greater rates of attendance and completion that normally encountered in MOOCs. The participation rate stood at 90% and the completion rate stood at 70%.

What’s the next step for La Laguna and Destiny?

In September we will be running an event and inviting companies to participate in the project. The goal is to encourage them to create the MOOCs they believe their staff, and individuals working in the tourism sector, need, and share them on the platform.

Our hope is that this platform becomes the gateway to the transversal competencies needed in the workplace.

 

 

 

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