In a context of a fast changing and competitive job market, adapting the training program becomes a must for better preparing students for their professional life and their employability. A new pedagogical approach has been implemented in order to have more consistency between education and training.
«oPenh», an innovative learning & training program
“Only if we refine their capacities for judgment, critical thinking, analysis and collaboration, will we offer students a gateway for a future professional life” says John Munger, Passerelles numériques Cambodia general manager
In October 2016, PN Cambodia launched its renewed training program called “oPenh”, which aims at improving the learning quality and thus improving students’ soft and hard skills. The new curriculum stands on 3 main pillars: students skillset, organization and pedagogy.
The students skillset aims at strenghthening their generalist fundamentals before introducing IT topics and boosting soft skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and creativity.
A modular organization was adopted and it consists of 3 modules which goes from generalistic knowledge to IT specialization so that the students can benefit from stronger funadamentals and a postponed IT specialization ending up with an internhsip. The Internhsip is a key component of PN training program. We want not only to educate students but to prepare them for their working lives after school through experience-based learning. It is also an excellent way to prepare for the transition from the classroom to the workplace. The external relations department ensures to make partnerships with local companies in order to facilitate students integration through organizing companies visits and getting them familiar with their future positions.As for pedagogy, it is now more oriented towards active learning through continuous assessment and project-based learning experimentations. Student-centered classrooms include students in planning, implementation, and assessments. Involving the learners in these decisions will place more work on them, which can be a good thing. Trainers are trying to change their leadership style from directive to consultative — from “Do as I say” to “Based on your needs, let’s co-develop and implement a plan of action.”
Seakliv Lor, English teacher: « I am teaching the Learning to Learn module. This module encourages students to be more self-confident and autonomous English speakers. I noticed that they are keen to study as well as being very motivated. Students will for sure benefit from this new curriculum as it aims at improving their English proficiency and hence meet companies’ requirements. »
One of the main novelties in oPenh, is the implementation of an intensive English program during the first five weeks of the program. Courses focus on reading, writing, listening, speaking, and pronunciation taught by our English teachers as well as native English speakers. Class sizes are kept small and instruction is interactive, giving our students the opportunity to receive individualized attention, collaborate with one another, and optimize their learning. oPenh module 1 aims to equip students with a solid non-technical skills base. Thus, the first five weeks are only dedicated to the English and Education support. Then new subjects are gradually introduced like: Learning to Learn, Math and Logic (emphasis on logical thinking) and basic IT literacy. With the skills acquired during the 1st module, students are better equipped to begin their technical learning journey with Modules 2 & 3
Some improvements were also undertaken by the education department to help better implement the new program ”oPenh”. The two-year pedagogical progression starts by developing the students’self-awareness leading them to world oppenness and critical thinking while embracing PN values which are crucial for their personal development. Workshops, conferences, and projects are conducted by the education team as well as with the help and expertise of external partners. Various topics are covered such as self-management, Cambodian history, ASEAN community and intimate subjects such as relationships, gender and sexuality. All these efforts attempt to provide a consistent curriculum which ensures students’social and cognitive development.
A new learning environement
oPenh is also about re-thinking the learning environment to make it more stimulating and challenging for students
The new library was created in 2016 as part of oPenh. Passerelles numériques Cambodia wanted to provide a cosy environment for its students where they can enjoy reading, self-learning and searching. Just after the inauguration of the library, PN Cambodia received a grant from ANZ Royal Group to create a Learning Lab. This new room encourages and supports many different types of learning. It aims at providing a well connected, large, flexible and welcoming space for PNC students to implement a learn-by-doing methodology. It will be used to teach multiple topics and soon will welcome new innovative material such as an interactive white board and a 3D printer.
Over the next few months, the Learning Lab will become a central pillar in PNC. This open environment goes in line with oPenh’s innovative teaching and learning approach which requires students to think outside of the box, solve problems, work in groups and on many projects along the two years.
Benoit Pitet, WEP training coordinator: « Modernized learning labs provide learners with authentic and engaging opportunities for learning. Engaging with authentic learning fosters skills, improves conceptual understanding, and increases motivation. Learning labs can reduce barriers to participation by providing user-friendly Web interfaces, curriculum materials and professional development for teachers. »
The ultimate goal of Passerelles numériques is to train graduates who are better prepared to take on the challenges of an increasingly fluid and demanding marketplace and this can be done only through adapting the curriculum and improving the quality of the training and adjusting it to students’ needs and companies requirements.