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E-Learning case study: Implementing a management skills project

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Mystery Practitioner
An ‘original approach’ to e-learning was required for this management skills project dealing with higher education for early years professionals. Nik Kellingley explains his e-learning strategies and the business benefits.


The European Enhancement of Early Years Management Skills (EEEYMS) Project was made possible by Leonardo funding. It began in October 2003 and will finish in October 2006.

The project was commissioned to develop an e-learning approach to higher education for early years professionals, particularly managers.

It is a partnership of organisations from across Europe; including Liverpool Hope University as lead partner, the National Day Nurseries Association, the Professional Association of Nursery Nurses, Virtech Ltd and the Bulgarian Teleworking Association (Bulgaria), KTV (Finland), AVANS University (Netherlands), and the University of Bremen (Germany).

In order for this to be successful the project had to take an original approach to e-learning within the sector because of the following factors:

  • Existing e-learning materials were more ‘e-reading’ than e-learning.
  • The ‘click and drag’ approach of existing e-learning materials was not suitable for a degree level programme.
  • The sector itself is ‘high touch/low tech’ and therefore the computing skills of the learners would need developing along with their early years skills.

With no template to work from the partners took an approach which focused on the learner’s needs whilst meeting the rigorous academic standards required for graduate study:

  • The online pedagogy (learning) was to be problem based learning (PBL).
  • Lectures and study materials were to be delivered either online or on CD-ROM to allow for the differing levels of internet access and availability across Europe.
  • The learning was to enable collaboration and project working between groups of students in a virtual environment.
  • And where students could access a level of support equivalent to that offered while physically attending a university.

With this in mind the materials were developed for delivery as part of a certificate in Early Years Management studies to be delivered by Liverpool Hope University, and equivalent materials were to be incorporated into study programmes at Avans University and the University of Sofia. These materials included:

  • PowerPoint presentations including video lectures and the lecture notes, so that students had full access to university level teaching.
  • Collaborative exercises which were to be worked on by virtual teams using the virtual learning environment provided by Liverpool Hope – the virtual learning environment facilitated work by giving access to online tutor support and other learners through both ‘chat rooms’ and ‘forums (bulletin boards)’.
  • Problem based learning materials designed to develop the learners ability to analyse and interpret information and to encourage them to broaden their understanding of the material beyond the scope of the taught material.

The programme has been very successful and the first group of students to complete the certificate will do so in July 2006 and an award ceremony followed by a conference to disseminate the programme outcomes and the effect of e-learning in this manner will be held in Derby in September.

Learning Points

There have been several lessons learned from the project that could be of benefit to other sectors and e-learning projects in the future:

  • E-learning cohorts have reported an increase in self confidence and self esteem greater than that gained from previous face to face learning experiences.
  • Students have felt that the virtual learning environment has enhanced their ability to rationally debate around points of interest and that this was easier in a virtual environment where they could consider their responses before making them.
  • Students felt that (24 hour) online support with respect to IT as well as the course gave them increased confidence with the use of IT though very few experienced major IT problems once they had begun the course.
  • The face to face induction to the course enabled students to feel confident in taking the first steps of immersing themselves in a virtual learning environment.
  • Access to lectures online and re-access them as necessary gives many benefits over the face-to-face environment.

A final benefit of the project and the European funding associated with it has been the creation of a Euro Child Network which offers the opportunity for childcare providers across Europe to share their best practice and engage with each other in finding common solutions to issues.

If you would like any further information on joining the Euro Child Network please contact, Nik Kellingley, Project Manager for the National Day Nurseries Association on (0870) 774 4244 or email Nik Kellingley

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