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Innovation in education: How Le Cordon Bleu Australia is creating value for students

World Innovation and Creativity Day

Innovation is widely recognised by the business community as a key source of success. It is generally understood as the creation of new resources or the enhancement of existing ones to generate value. In celebration of World Creativity and Innovation Day this month, Head of School of Business Julien Marechal discusses how Le Cordon Bleu Australia continually strives to innovate - from course structure to student experience and beyond.

Innovation is as crucial in education as in any other industry. Leading education providers are continuously looking for ways to create more value for learners. When Le Cordon Bleu Australia developed its new suite of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, it implemented a number of innovations in course design and created value for students by designing its courses differently. A case in point is the use of credit points in structuring course progression, as introduced by LCBA Executive Dean, Professor Alan Bowen-James.

Credit points are allocated to units to reflect the volume of learning gained in completing a given unit. For LCBA, credit points are the basic currency for student admission, progression and course completion. LCBA developed a framework where credit points take a prominent place in guiding student progression. We determined what the graduates should be able to do upon completion of their chosen course (in higher education parlance, a set of ‘course learning outcomes’) and then used credit points to answer the following question: how can we give students the knowledge and skills articulated in course learning outcomes?

The traditional answer to this question consists in setting a defined sequence of units that culminates in the attainment of course learning outcomes. However, this solution only provides one way of achieving the course learning outcomes and discounts the needs and experience of individual learners as well as the changing, localised requirements of industry. LCBA wanted to give more flexibility and options, and increase opportunities for learners, going beyond what the traditional approach is able to offer.

This simple innovation in structuring course progression according to credit points rather than pre-determined units creates a dynamic nexus between individual and industry needs.

The extra value for learners generated by this innovation consists in opening the curriculum to student choice from the first day of their studies based on their interests, priorities, qualifications, skills and experience. Our courses provide different paths to the same course learning outcomes with equal rigor based on the amount of learning accumulated rather than a defined list of units: students may progress to certain categories of units when they have completed a given amount of credit points (rather than have passed this or that unit). For example, students are deemed to be ready to undertake work-integrated learning units when they reach a certain number of credit points. This allows students to select those units that will give them targeted knowledge and skills to excel during their placement. Beyond giving more options, flexibility and opportunities to learners, this approach also provides a dynamic response to industry’s fast-changing, circumstantial needs: students will acquire a particular combination of knowledge and skills depending on the actual role and market they intend to work in.

This simple innovation in structuring course progression according to credit points rather than pre-determined units creates a dynamic nexus between individual and industry needs. It also opens up course design processes to student feedback in a new way: LCBA will be attentive to learners’ creativity in selecting new, successful paths to achieving course learning outcomes that best support their individual needs. These new progressions may then be recommended to commencing students based on their own goals. This is only one among many incremental improvements that LCBA has implemented to create more value for learners; and, as for any leading business, this innovation will not be the last.

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