A collaboration between CISM, the Faculty of Business and Law, and Enterprise Support is creating new learning opportunities for staff in Small Businesses. The Project is called KUBIS, (Kingston University Business Interaction with SMEs) and is headed up by Cate Thomas.
Funded by a HEFCE SDF Employer Engagement grant, KUBIS uses the custom built online social networking environment, KubiSpace, as the platform for a workbased learning course.
Like One Community, KubiSpace is partly built using Elgg technologies. It also has a content management capabilities, built on Drupal, which lecturers use as the hub for e-learning activities. The ‘spokes’ of these activities then extend out to the Online Social Networking area, where students use blogs, wikis, noticeboards, walls and other elements to communicate and carry out assignments. Students have an online personalised portfolio, where they keep their work, and share it with anyone they choose. They may wish to keep it private, share it with their tutors, with selected fellow students, or make it completely public – it’s up to them.
Both the course and KubiSpace are designed to be learner centred, and learners are encouraged to join and form online Communities of Practice outside the University. These may be with people their sector in the UK and internationally, so they will be able to learn from global best practice.
Learners are provided with tools which help them locate, evaluate, manipulate, create and share online resources, in informed, creative and sophisticated ways. This means that they are able to attain a high level of knowledge management skills and information literacy.
The KUBIS Course is a Foundation Degree in Business Process Development, which is tailored to the needs of staff working in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). The course is by Learning Agreement. This means that p to seventy per cent of the curriculum can be independent work based project, where learners decisde what they need to learn and write their own outcomes, activities and assessments – with the help and agreement of their tutors and employers.
KubiSpace enables students to be able to make links between their workbased learning activities and more formalise learning without having to attend the University. As these students are mature learners, juggling work and family responsibilities, this flexibility is important to them.
Designed in collaboration with industry stakeholders the course is designed to offer SMEs the kind of Business Process Improvement education they want, whilst providing a way into Higher Education for mature learners who may not otherwise be able to take time off to access University education.