National Teaching Fellow 2009
Pam Shakespeare has worked for thirty years on courses and packs reaching over 75,000 learners. One key problem in developing practice-based distance learning has fascinated and concerned her throughout her career. The problem is this – if you don’t know anything about someone’s life and experience, how can you help them use it for learning and develop a relationship with them?
In an effort to deal with this conundrum Pam spends much of her time building an array of learning frameworks for distance learning, to help learners use their experience to develop their knowledge and identity as practitioners. All learners have experience they can use and re-work as resource for their learning. Pam uses the term experiential capital for this and focuses on making sure learners feel that they are having a conversation about their lives, not just being talked to. She is a recent winner of an OU teaching award for this work.
Pam is a principal and past director of the Practice Based Professional Learning CETL where she is involved in innovative work extending well beyond her own practice background of health and social care into teaching and business as well exploratory work with external colleagues on commonalities in reflective practice between arts students and student nurses.
Pam’s research is in keeping with this set of interests too. How can we describe practice, and importantly how can learners describe practice so that they come to see their own accounts of practice as a legitimate resource for their learning? In health and social care this is really important. And recently a student in the new OU Pre-Registration Nursing Programme which Pam directed from 2002-04 showed very clearly what happens when analysing experience is used successfully as a resource for practice: “I really enjoyed this programme … and if I come across a problem now I do not always accept the immediate instincts but now look beyond them for reasons. It has taught me how to look at things from different angles and assess differently”.
Professor of Practice Based Open Learning, Faculty of Health and Social Care
The Open University