Click here to download the episode.
This show veers off the path some from usual episodes as I’m here to toss a question out, as the rather long title of this episode suggests, about what you, in particular, would expect or want out of an online Permaculture Design Course.
Before getting to the student side of things, a question to the other permaculture teachers who listen to the program, as I know at least a few of you do: how would you model the online experience to meet the 72-hours of instruction, as set forth by Mollison, and considered the bare minimum standard for a PDC?
Since I mentioned wanting to put together an online PDC a few months ago, I’ve mulled over the idea of what an online PDC would look like. After putting together the show on “What to look for when looking for a PDC”, I feel I can more than deliver on the requirements outlined in that material. You know who I am, who my teachers are, their teachers, and know my understanding of permaculture curriculum in every conversation with a guest or through the topical episodes assembled from my own notes.
Based on messages received after announcing the possibility of an online PDC, the core thread of desire was about having the depth of knowledge necessary to lead to a design certificate, and that the certificate is accepted by the Permaculture community. Given my teachers, the variety of people in the community who know me, and the very public format of this website and podcast, a PDC certificate from me, Scott Mann, won’t be a problem.
Now then, for the listeners who are students of permaculture, what would you want the class to look like? Before trying to answer that kind of a big, broad question, here’s what I mean: I’ve taken several online classes and talked to friends who have as well. That pool of experiences leads to some overarching examples. In some cases, the online classes were large seminars with minimal access to the instructor, and the bulk of the course work was self-directed based on a syllabus that included all activities for the semester with what chapters to read and assignment due dates. You know, read this book, do this homework, take this test, wash, lather, and repeat until you’re done. Other classes were previous recorded lectures the students watched or listened to, and then posted to a discussion forum, with homework, and 2-3 exams. One class I took consisted of a series of small assignments that built towards a final project, with instructor feedback provided on each piece building towards the final whole.
With those kinds of thoughts in mind, I come to the following questions to fill out the discussion.
How would you want to cover the PDC material? Video lectures you can watch online? A series of PDC oriented in-depth audio to download and listen to on the go? Or would you rather read the necessary material? There’s definitely reading involved however we do this, but what portion of the course would you want covered in text?
Do you want to be graded on the material? To receive scores like you might in school to determine where your work is at and where you can improve. Or would non-scored written and/or verbal feedback on assignments be enough?
How much access would you want to the instrutor? What’s your preferred method of contact? Email? Phone? Online forum? Should I have regular office hours to call and discuss questions as they arise?
Do you want a “classical” selection of Permaculture Design Course material, as outlined in Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual? Or something up-to-date and relevant to the skills, techniques, and information available now?
I know that’s a rapid fire succession of questions coming from me, but however you found this show, you continue to listen because there’s something of value in what I do. I want to honor that value by providing a course you want to take. If the majority of the feedback presents a desire for something outside my ability to properly deliver I won’t try to put together a PDC. If, however, there is a way to make it work, then we’ll have something this year.
One piece of feedback I received during the first round of conversation is that some listeners don’t want to have to sit in front of a computer all the time to cover the material, which I can understand completely. That leads me to two paths in the road, both of which I feel can be addressed, but require different ways to make it happen.
Option 1, for those who are comfortable with more time at a computer, is to do the on-line course in a way where students can meet and interact with one another and myself, and to post projects on-line as both a proof of work and for further discussion. We get more of a teacher in the classroom experience.
Option 2, to reduce the time spent on-line, is to make the interaction more of a mentor and student relationship that relies more heavily on a project based curriculum with regular one-on-one homework, and ongoing contact between myself and the student to provide feedback via email and phone calls.
Anyway, those are my thoughts right now as I chew through the details. I’d love to hear your ideas. Begin by choosing which course you’d rather participate in, 1 – a digital classroom, 2 – mentor lead learning, and leave a note in the comments for this show, or you know the usual ways to contact me:
show (at) thepermaculturepodcast (dot) com
Until the next time, take care of the earth, your self, and each other.