Benson, Lawrence, Gatecliffe, Lynda and Thurgood, Graham (1999) Human resource development using work based projects in open learning programmes in UK health care. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning (EURODL). ISSN 1027-5207

The authors have experience of working in two universities on an open learning postgraduate management certificate for first line managers from a wide range of professional backgrounds. The programme is based upon distance / open learning materials from the Open University (Open University 1993) and it is sponsored by the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom (UK). There is a recognised need within the NHS for managers who can cope with increasingly complex patterns of service delivery and rapid pace of change (Caines and Hammond 1996).

The two universities were independently accredited by the Institute Health Services Management (IHSM) as centres for the delivery of this programme. Originally it featured an examination as the summative assessment. Based on discussion with students and human resource development specialists this was replaced by a work based project designed to consolidate the student’s learning and utilising an andragogical approach (Rogers et al 1983, Knowles 1983).

This paper discusses an evaluation of the impact of project work in open learning on the individual as a manager and the health care organisation during the period 1995 to 1998. The evaluation informs the further refinement of these open learning programmes at the two universities and the national delivery of the program accredited by the IHSM.

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