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Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)

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ICE is collaborating with two leading online learning providers – edX and Flatiron School – to expand access to its professional studies courses for learners across the world. ICE’s Director of Continuing Education, Dr Jim Gazzard, explains why it is more important than ever for the Institute to reach out to students.

The landscape is shifting - but ICE's mission isn't

"The Higher Education landscape is changing rapidly,” acknowledges Jim. “We want to adapt with it because part of our mission is to make sure that high quality, University of Cambridge learning is available to all. We’re continually looking to explore innovative ways of achieving that, especially in the current COVID-19 impacted world.

“Quite rightly, today’s students seek ready access to learning, affordability and the teaching quality associated with the leading providers. In this digital age, they have the opportunity to engage with that whether at home, at work or on the move. We want to make it easy for them to benefit from ICE’s portfolio, so we’re striving to take the DNA of our historic institution and fuse it with contemporary forms of education that make our courses accessible throughout the world.

“There’s a direct lineage between these partnerships and the pioneering work of our founder, James Stuart, who co-created learning programmes in collaboration with the cooperative movement, workers’ unions and others, focusing on the needs of learners. We’re adhering to the same principle today – our name and reputation are recognised markers of quality, and we can combine that with the strengths and reach of other world class organisations”

The collaborations see ICE initially offer a Writing for Performance and the Entertainment Industries MicroMasters through the edX platform and an online Data Science programme provided by Flatiron.

Uncovering exciting new writing talent

“The edX MicroMasters is a highly practical programme taught entirely online,” explains Jim. “It offers advice from expert practitioners on how to build a career in screenwriting, theatre and even video gaming, and aims to help uncover new voices in performance writing internationally – voices that might not otherwise be heard.

“edX’s not-for-profit platform offers an excellent, flexible user experience which we’re delighted to make use of, and this course holds a valuable purpose. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen the societal importance of high-quality film, television and radio. It has entertained, educated and lifted our spirits. We hope this new course will engage and inspire future writers, some of whom may aspire to study for a Master’s degree at Cambridge.”

Students can work through as many or as few of the modules as they choose, and all eight modules can be taken entirely free under the audited version. Under the chargeable and assessed option, students receive a certificate upon completion and can put the credit towards ICE’s new residential Master of Studies in Writing for Performance, should they apply and be accepted.

Helping adults engage with the knowledge economy

“Data Science is one of the fastest-growing areas across the global knowledge economy and is in high demand by employers,” says Jim. “Our programme with Flatiron School will leverage their curriculum to provide employability skills that are incredibly important for all of us as we look to the future.”

The partnership with Flatiron came about, Jim notes, thanks in part to some impressive feedback: “One of the key factors in deciding to work with them was a glowing reference we received from Yale University about their programme in collaboration with Flatiron School. Flatiron School shares our desire for quality teaching and learning, and they’re invested in ensuring the course makes a difference to both students and society.”

The introductory Data Science programme is designed for students with minimal technical background and aims to provide the practical and work relevant skills and statistics fundamentals to allow them to make use of big data across their future career paths. The course’s six online modules help learners get to grips with the Python programming language before providing practical experience of working with and evaluating real data relevant to genuine business problems.

“Given how the world is changing, learning needs to be more fluid and flexible to give adults the skills they need to be successful, when and where they need them,” believes Jim. “By widening the means of access and joining forces with accomplished experts like edX and Flatiron, ICE can offer more people the chance to be part of our global community and to engage with innovative, highly relevant learning."

Learn more

Find out more about our online Writing for Performance and Data Science courses.


This article was originally published in the Lent - Easter 2021 edition of Inside ICE.



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