All Gaia U Diploma and Degree programs follow a standard learning design pattern that has grown out of the original open source, action-learning Diploma of the PC Academy of Britain, principally designed by Gaia U founder Andrew Langford. Tested and refined over several decades, this blended-learning design combines core rhythms, patterns and elements in an elegant matrix of an appropriate amount of online studies and hands-on, action-learning, documented project work.
The Diplomas and Degrees programs are denoted by two distinct phases:
In Pre-Capstone Phase, you as an associate will generally focus on acquiring skill-flexes*. This could mean doing internships, attending workshops, seeking out mentors, taking classes, doing multiple small projects or learning skill building tools, models, and frameworks some self-directed and some recommended by your Main Advisor. The primary goal is to broaden your skills and knowledge base and cast a wide net around your areas of interest. It is also an opportunity to learn the skills of being an effective action learner and of resilient documentation.
The Capstone Phase is more heavily dedicated to applying skills. Generally, but not necessarily, a larger, more strategic project becomes the focal point of the Capstone Phase. Skill-flexes are applied and refined in the project process and Output Packet creation is honed.
Action Learning Cycles
Within each phase are one or more Action Learning Cycles (ALCs). You can think of an ALC as the equivalent of a semester or quarter in a traditional university, except with more flexibility. It basically denotes the time span for you to produce five Output Packets. An ALC always begins with an allocation of 12 In Program months (a year); however, you, the associate have the option to flex your program to unexpected life events that may occasionally interfere with your studies, or simply to manage your program by inserting Program Pause months, in essence lengthening the ALC. Each ALC can thus be extended from 12 to up to 24 months if needed or desired.
Pauses, Extensions and Acceleration
We understand that life may bring unexpected changes and we have designed a few options to assist you in completing your degree or diploma.
Pause Months offer you the ability to take a break from working on Output Packets or to catch up on your documentation work. No advising support is available during pause months unless you wish to purchase individual or multiple sessions to maintain contact with your advisor.
Extensions: If, after completing all allocated In Program months for a phase, you need more time to complete your program phase, you may arrange for extension months with appropriate additional fees.
Options for Acceleration: Under rare circumstances, an associate may petition for acceleration of their Bachelors or Masters program.
Core Concepts and Elements
The creation of our learning designs is an ongoing process of continuous improvement and response to associate feedback. There are, however, some core concepts and corresponding elements of the program that have emerged:
Foundation-Setting Online Learning
Many students arrive at Gaia U excited to engage in their action-learning program. However, we have found that setting a solid foundation in our online systems, allowing a significant process of unlearning and providing an introduction to some broad concepts, offers a much better chance of success. Thus, all Gaia U programs start with a 6-month Online Orientation that is designed to lay this solid foundation.
Project Work: Design, Implementation, and Management
After the Online Orientation is complete, you will focus on your project work. You will be creating meaningful learning and unlearning by actively working on your projects. This action-based approach allows you to focus on topics you are truly passionate about. You may live in your home community, another community, and/or travel freely as you seek out people and organizations that are allied to your project work. Project work is self-determined and self-directed (with significant mentorship). The only requirement is that the themes and actions of your projects are within the boundaries of the Gaia University ethics.
Early in your program, you will be assigned a Main Advisor who will be your guide through the process of project work and documentation. Mentorship is an essential part of the Gaia U model, and your Main Advisor will serve as your mentor in terms of accountability, brainstorming ideas, suggesting resources for you to use, articulating next steps, and staying on track with your program. Your periodic meetings (either in person or online) with him or her will help you better define, design, and implement your projects, as well as effectively manage and critically reflect on your work in the world.
Additional Learning Support
In addition to the regular support you receive from your Main Advisor you will also have access to other advisors within the Gaia U community (Skill-flex Advisors) as well as draw on specialist support from outside Gaia U. Seeking diversified learning experiences are an important aspect of any learning journey, and this design encourages you to do so.
Peer connection is an essential part of any learning journey. Building relationships with other associates will give you access to a wide range of support during your program. Sharing your projects sucesses and challenges will give you ideas for your own work or even end up in project collaborations. Additionally, giving and receiving informal peer-to-peer mentorship gives you the opportunity to receive broad feedback and engage in exciting brain-storming sessions. We highly recommend you meet frequently with your peer guild buddies and with other members of your peer support guild to develop a strong collaborative network.
The ability to effectively document your outer projects and inner processes is one of the key skills you will develop over the course of your Gaia University studies. Not only is this process of reflection and analysis beneficial to your own personal learning process, but it is also an act of service to the greater world-change community. Your online output packets (OPs) showcase both your projects and processes. After completing each output packet, you will go through a multi-layered review process.
Giving and receiving feedback from your peers and your mentors as well as performing self-assessments are important skill-flexes you will practice throughout your Gaia U program. After completing each output packet, you will perform a self-review to reflect on your capacity to meet your self-designed learning goals, a peer-review exchange to practice giving and receiving feedback, and finally a detailed review from your Main Advisor.
Additional Content Offerings
During your program, you will participate in several Gaia Radio calls, which present a series of community calls and content webinars/webcasts for which you will have the opportunity to suggest topics and guest speakers. These calls allow for you to connect with your peers and participate in conversations regarding relevant and inspiring content, often from experts in allied fields.
If you are in a multi-year program, you will begin every ALC (except the first one) with a content workshop of your choice. This will give you the chance to dive deeper into the skills and knowledge you will need to improve your projects. These may be local workshops and are selected based on your interests and in consultation with your Main Advisor. Start-of-ALC content workshops are not included in your tuition fees and are negotiated by you with the course providers.
Presenting your Work
Presenting your work allows for you to share and celebrate your accomplishments. In the middle and the end of each ALC you will have the opportunity to do a deep review of your work and practice sharing the outcomes of your learning and project work with your peers, advisors, family, and friends. These presentations are mostly done via Gaia Radio but can also be done at Gaia U Gather-In Events.
Although these are not mandatory, Gaia U team members, associates and advisory board members participate in many events of allied organizations throughout the year. Associates are encouraged to attend these gatherings to meet in person and share experiences. Events at which Gaia U will have a role are announced in the All Gaia Community Forum.
Our e-Learning Environment
The Gaia eLearning (GEL) Site
Throughout your time with Gaia University you will make frequent use of the Gaia eLearning (GEL) site – a dynamic web-based ecology powered by a collection of open source and free software.
You will need to engage with the GEL site on a regular basis as it is the primary tool for all intra-university communication and networking, resource sharing, and data transfer. Additionally, the GEL site houses all associate ePortfolios.
For this purpose, you need regular access to a stable internet connection during your program. You should expect to find a means to log onto the GEL site at least once a week to download essential news, connect to your network of colleagues and advisers, and upload your own work.
You get an ePortfolio, a social networking site inside Gaia U and more
Your designated space on the Gaia ePortfolio site is where you create and develop a personal ePortfolio of your work. Your ePortfolio is then part of an ever-expanding collection of digital documentation packages, known as output packets, in which associates chronicle the evolution of their learning journey and project outcomes. Sharing portfolio outcomes is a key part of the global collaboration and peer review process necessary for the de-marginalization of the subjugated knowledge fields in which we work. As a result of this digital documentation approach, you emerge from Gaia University with an impressive online portfolio of project work that you can share with potential clients and employers. Our graduates have found their Gaia University ePortfolios to be a significant asset as they have moved forward in their professional life. You will learn to use the digital programs during the online Orientation program. Additional tutorials are often offered in our Gaia Radio format and you can use your Learning Support budget for additional help with these programs if needed.