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The future is self-paced, customisable, online learning

By Professor David Oglethorpe
“The traditional model of undertaking university learning and expecting it to last throughout your career is no more. Instead, we’re talking about self-paced, flexible, customisable lifelong learning – about upskilling, reskilling, and uncovering new pathways that weren’t available before.” 


In this article Professor David Oglethorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean of 
Cranfield School of Management, introduces the new Global Online Stackable Programmes.


‘On-demand’ education

We know from our work with businesses, and from the influential research being conducted by our academics, that workplaces, work practices, and the make-up of the workforce are changing faster than ever before. The way people want and need to learn is also changing as a result.

Shifting societal trends, economic pressures and the impact of unexpected disruptions like the coronavirus pandemic are presenting new challenges in how businesses engage and retain talent, how they manage their workforce, and how work itself is done.

New skills are required, and the expectations of how people want to work, learn and reach their career goals are changing.

The ability or desire to join an industry or an organisation and work their way up over many years of their career is no longer the norm for most people.

Individuals want to be able to choose what they learn, when they learn it, and how far they want to take it. They want access to affordable micro-credentials that they can pick and choose from as they please. Importantly, they want to personalise their learning and for it to be relevant and applicable to challenges they face in their personal and professional lives at any particular time.


Learn. Your way.

At Cranfield, we wanted to create a programme of learning that would be more accessible to people working today.

Work and life are busier than ever, and it can be challenging to take time out to complete a traditional learning or development programme, even if you do it part-time.

We wanted to create something that was accessible regardless of what level of education you may have attained in the past. If you haven’t engaged in higher education before, you can start learning without any prior qualifications and build up your expertise. You only need classroom-level English to get started.

Alternatively, you might want to broaden your knowledge of a particular topic, or you might have a challenge coming up and need to upskill yourself quickly.


Self-paced, customisable online learning

To this end, we have developed our Global Online Stackable Programmes.

This portfolio of online, accessible, flexible, self-paced learning courses enables people to choose what they want to learn, when they want to learn it, how in-depth they want to delve into the subject matter, and what they want to do with their learning.

People can step in and out as they need to and have the option – if they wish – to build up their learning over a period of three-to-five years towards postgraduate qualifications including a master’s degree.

With our Global Online Stackable Programmes you can build to the level of education you want. You can upskill and reskill on subjects as and when you need to, rather than having to commit to a year-long course.

Organisations’ learning and development teams also benefit from the flexibility that comes with being able to tailor development to the needs of individual employees, purchasing only what they need to progress.

With bite-sized modules of self-paced learning accessible on a pay-as-you-go basis from wherever and whenever you want to learn, and buildable all the way up to an MSc in Business and Management, we believe our Global Online Stackable Programmes represent the future of learning and development.


The Cranfield difference

Cranfield is not a traditional university. We’re postgraduate and post-experience only, so we’re used to delivering education to people already in careers. People turn to us to do postgraduate degrees or short course learning all the way through their lives, so we are already specialists in lifelong learning.

In that way, this new portfolio isn’t a huge departure from the norm for us – it’s simply an extension further into the digital world.

Often, when you see online learning, it can be very spoon-fed, or organised in a way that doesn’t take you anywhere. If it does lead to a qualification, it isn’t a university-level qualification.

By choosing to study with Cranfield, learners benefit from the world-leading research being conducted at a globally-recognised and internationally-accredited business school. We are among the top 1% of business schools in the world in holding triple accreditation from our industry bodies, and we are renowned for our close links to business and industry.

With our Global Online Stackable Programmes, people can engage in self-paced, lifelong learning in a way that suits them, gaining access to first-class teaching from industry leaders and academics who are among the world’s finest in their respective fields. And they can come out at the end of it – if they want – with a recognisable qualification from a world-leading business school.

I think that’s really exciting.



To discover more about the Global Online Stackable Programmes:

Visit www.cranfield.ac.uk/learnyourway

Email OnlineStackables@cranfield.ac.uk




Professor David Oglethorpe is the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Cranfield's School of Management.  He is also Chair in Environmental Sustainability and trained as an environmental and natural resource economist. Before joining Cranfield University in September 2019, David served as Dean at Sheffield University Management School for six years. David’s research has focused on the creation of, and demand for, externalities of production, principally food, taking a quantitative, operational research and mathematical modelling approach. He has been an external examiner for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at several leading Universities, is a regular member of Peer Review Teams for AACSB and EQUIS and is the only UK Dean on AACSB's global Continuous Improvement Review Committee.  


Tags: article, online learning

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