Study Group innovation in education delivery shortlisted for international award

19 May 2021
Posted by Study Group

Study Group innovation in education delivery shortlisted for international award

Study Group has been shortlisted for the international education PIE Awards in the Progressive Education Delivery category.

The Progressive Education Delivery award recognises “education programmes that have innovated how they teach and who they reach, that are unique, successful in their approach to teaching, and focused on the student’s life journey in the 21st century” and are selected by a panel of education experts drawn from across the world.

The judges were particularly impressed by Study Group education innovation in China. According to Study Group CEO Emma Lancaster:

“At a time of major restrictions on travel, Study Group’s China team has modelled how an in-depth and trusting relationship with students and an understanding of their needs, challenges and aspirations drives rapid but lasting innovation in education delivery.

"Innovation was driven by the dramatic change in circumstances faced by Chinese students due to COVID-19 and related travel restrictions, but more importantly by the experiences and challenges faced by students and their own thoughts about how they needed to access support and learning.

“Beyond rapid adjustments made to provide teaching and support online using conventional measures, an exceptionally close and trusting connection between the Study Group team based in China and Chinese students either just beginning their programmes or having returned to China from their overseas Study Centres, highlighted a number of key themes where new forms of support and models of delivery were needed to respond to the lived experience of students."

Through 24/7 engagement with students on Study Group WeChat groups and via numerous personal interactions, Study Group identified opportunities using channels already known to learners to overcome study and social isolation through local study hubs, curated social interaction, new models of delivery, in-country employability and psychological support.

These new initiatives have radically shifted the mode and approach of Study Group’s education delivery to one of co-created blended learning shaped by students themselves. This demonstrates students own capacity to form their learning environment in ways that meet their needs and aspirations to progress to their chosen degrees but also build the networks and confidence crucial to future success.

The Study Group team in China initiated a range of ‘listen and respond’ innovations related to education, well-being, employability support and developing a strong peer network. These draw on channels and providers familiar to students including with via Airbnb, WeChat, WeWork and FESCO:

  • A Shanghai-based study hub for students progressing to the University of Sydney in partnership with the Shanghai Institute of Technology. Students study at the Remote Learning Centre while living on campus, participating in social activities organised by Study Group Student Ambassadors.
  • Co-working spaces in China for Study Group students through WeWork so learners can meet to form important social networks, while able to login in to learn remotely away from their house.
  • Offline social and network-building activities via Airbnb in Chengdu, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Activities twice a month in different cities to enable more students to get together.
  • Partnering FESCO (Foreign Enterprise Service Corporation) to offer students internship, volunteering and employment opportunities to gain work experience and acquire skills to boost CVs and future employment prospects. FESCO works with over 40,000 companies.
  • Responding to the specific difficulties of students prohibited from travelling to pursue their studies and uncertainty about when in-person study might resume, through dedicated mental health support sessions with psychologists on dealing with anxiety and concerns about life and study.
  • English corner - a weekly webinar hosted with a British tutor to help students practice English-speaking and understand British culture and traditions. English Corner has been running for over five months with 170 regular students attending.

Emma Lancaster also noted the impact of these student-led changes on the quality of learning and student engagement:

“Students’ learning is dependent not only on the delivery of content but on their ability to interrogate, practice and recall, to build confidence as learners with their peers and to secure personalised opportunities to take what they are learning into the wider world and to apply it.

“These student-led innovations tackle each of these areas in the circumstances in which Chinese students find themselves and in which separation, isolation and being passive recipients of education could have threatened.”

The announcement of the PIE Award winners will take place at an Awards Dinner at the Guildhall in London, UK, in September.

The full PIEoneer awards 2021 shortlist is available here

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