Changes in Applied Learning at Glion

Paul ChappelInterview with Paul Chappel, Applied Learning Manager (Academic)

Change is taking place in Glion’s applied learning curriculum and the impact is shaking up the way faculty and students are doing things on Glion campus. To find out what is going on and what it means for our students, we went directly to Paul Chappel, a senior member of Glion faculty and beloved professor who has taken on the role of Applied Learning Manager since January 2016 to implement the new structure that better links practical courses with academic theory.

The applied learning curriculum is changing at GIHE. What’s going on?

Indeed, we are changing the Applied Learning curriculum. Right now the changes are being piloted with the students who arrived in January, and we will work to iron out the scheduling before implementing the new structure in January 2017.

It may be helpful to explain that Glion is transitioning to an academic calendar scheduled in terms, instead of semesters. Overall, this change has little impact on the courses, but it will allow more flexibility for transfers between the campuses in London and Switzerland. So we’ve adapted the applied learning structure as well.


What’s new in Applied Learning

Bascially, the change in Applied Learning means three things for the students:

New Terminology

We will now be calling practical courses that relate to professional development Applied Learning instead of Craft-Based Learning.

Meaningful Applied Learning

At Glion, students have traditionally completed 8 weeks of purely hands-on practical learning, broken into two parts: four weeks in Semester 1 and four weeks in Semester 2. Currently, on the new applied learning pilot system, students will complete a total of 16 weeks of applied learning over the applied semester plus two weeks of exams, which sounds like a lot more, but it is actually a period of combined practical and theoretical courses, not 100% practical. The applied learning is broken into 8 weeks focused on Food & Beverage, and 8 weeks focused on Rooms Division.

Closer link from practice to theory

The new applied learning system pulls together the practical and theoretical learning by pairing the practical courses with their corresponding management theory courses. So while the students are learning how to do restaurant service, they are studying restaurant administration as well, so they get a more complete vision of the different aspects of the business and how it all fits together.


What motivated these changes and what difference will they make for our students?

These academic and scheduling changes create a number of advantages for the students and correspond better to the industry needs.

More practical experience makes better managers

We had a need for students to have a greater practical experience in the early semesters and hands-on learning has always been a part of our DNA. Still, the outcome is for the students to become hospitality managers, not a chef or sommelier, and our feedback was that they become better managers if the practical experience is very sound.

Applied Learning means pairing practice with theory

Before, we had CBL delivered in blocks of 5 weeks, but there was no immediate link between what they were doing practically and the applications in management. So there was too much separation between the application and theory. We changed that approach and the name to give students a better understanding of why they are doing applied learning, and to give it more credibility and relevance in the student journey.

So Applied Learning in Food & Beverage (F&B) is now coupled with Introduction to F&B and F&B Administration.  The Rooms Division term does the same and it gives students extra maths and IT support to help them manage the financial and Excel spread sheet use.

More flexibility for transfers

Along with the strategic decision to move to a term system, we have redesigned the applied learning curriculum to align with the transfer options, so we needed to have a curriculum that was flexible to allow that. Each term has a subject focus: F&B, Rooms Division, Global Hospitality, and Business performance. Students can come in at any one point and follow the other courses throughout the terms.

Glion campus becomes the Applied Learning Centre

In this new system, Glion campus becomes the centre for applied learning, offering a simulated hotel environment. So the Glion campus is the transition that students move through on the way towards business courses. This strengthens the identity of the Glion campus as the Swiss Applied learning hotel campus, and Bulle as a business university setting.

Improving assessment outcomes

In the old system, students had tests and exams throughout the CBL, and then again in the academic courses. In this new system, we are grouping the subjects together and separating out the evaluations for the truly practical aspects, and the theoretical aspects. So, when a student is in the Applied Learning areas, they are assessed on their competencies, by observation and the testing in the practical area is more of completion of practical tasks to the required criteria, signed off by the instructors. Faculty are also freed up by this system to be more available.

Overall, it will be easier for students to make the connections. In the same week, they do the practice and the theory. Then in the tests, they have to combine an understanding of both practical and theoretical experiences to draw conclusions and answers, which brings a convergence of skills and knowledge. 

At this time, we don’t have the official course changes in the Academic Catalogue, but it’s already happening on campus. Why is that? 

Firstly, we only finalized this pilot project at the end of 2015, and secondly, because we want to try it out with a smaller winter intake, to get it started. It took a huge effort from our faculty to reorganize this new system, the amount of ownership and application in the academic and operational instructors has been great. They should get the credit for taking that ownership, they could see the benefits and they wanted to see this change come but we didn’t have the mechanics in place. So it has been a huge shift in the way we organize the courses, and we needed some space to work out the kinks. And we have made it work and the feedback so far from students has been very positive. We look forward to integrating the new applied learning permanently into the academic structure, which will be followed by the changes to the AC and materials.   

All answers came from Paul Chappel, Applied Learning Manager (Academic), and teacher of the Entrepreneurial Management course in Semester 4.




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