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Page history last edited by Stella 14 years, 6 months ago

This page is part of the Education and DiplomaGroup 'Labs' and the UnifyingPilot   

Started June'08 - Observation questionnaire

(for Chaordic Institute members: plse set up your PROFILE if u're still not a member)

Please do participate! + date + 'sign' by putting link to your profile + add questions if u have some more ..




Which countries have diploma systems?


Tomas: Britain - currently under review. The new system will be launched in September 2008 at our national convergence.

Germany has a new system based on a pattern language approach - very interesting and potentially useful for other countries/regions.

Leo: None in the Netherlands so far.

Stella, 3jan10: please see DiplomaGroup for the list of Diploma systems that we've been collectively able to get together to date - if you know of others please add there directly.



How do we maintain a common standard for diplomas?

SteveR Perhaps again by looking, as we did in France, at what one is 'given' with the Diploma, ie to be able to teach PDC's, this then means that a candidate will show a good grasp of all aspects of the syllabus; To be able to co-accredit people to their Diploma, so they need to demonstrate a capacity to do this, to be able to practice as a professional designer, so must show competence to do this. In France at the accreditation event a candidate will show not only their design work portfolio but also the plan they have developed about how they will teach a PDC. Then we rely on transparency, the events are open and the design portfolios posted on the France website and available at the Université.

Tomas: As with education in general, agreeing on a common core of subjects might be a good start. Off the top of my head: Ethics - ecological principles - Design thinking - Design projects; everything else is application of these. For PDCs and Diplomas.

Another question is - what outcomes do we expect from the diploma (PDC/other education programmes)? What do we want the students to know/ be able to do/demonstrate at the end of the programme?

Stella: By making the diploma standards very visible: portafolios on the web, here is an example (mine, experimental), and I hope our students come up with increasingly imaginative ways of presenting their work online (see PLEs)

Historically (circa 2004) the Chaordic Institute was first conceived as a jumping-off point for these, as the profile page of each permaculture designer is, effectively, their e-CV or e-portafolio if they want it to be.     If all diploma work (and why stop at diploma work..) was completely open for anyone to peruse we would get great multifunctional benefits:

  1. A self-organizing capacity for standards to adjust around some practical and de-facto (as opposed to academic and bureocratic) consensus.  And this standard will tend to raise automatically (as people's expectations of what is 'diploma standard' raise) with each new generation of diplomats, so no need to replicate the PC equivalente of bureocratic 'exam assessment boards', eventually.  We are supposed to design self-organizing systems, remember?
  2. Diploma portafolios - at their best - contain a massive wealth of permaculture information which would automatically be 'out there' (instead of hidden in some assessors' filing cabinet) and in 'real time' more or less.   The Symmetry criteria would be easily met just with this done properly (the e-portafolio would be a design in itself, and we should see increasingly brilliant forms of presenting not just pc projects but (perhaps more important still) the DESIGN PROCESS well documented.
  3. A re-design of the (current, default and typically destructo-culture setting) of wealth accumulating evermore towards the wealthy: happens with money, happens with knowledge.  In this case, diplomats only get to see the diploma portafolios being created and in so doing learn a massive amount themselves (I do diploma work mentoring and know this from experience), others (small, privilege-based groups) get to see the diploma presentations, and also learn some from that.   Why not everyone (who wants to) be invited to see all of it?  Now we can.
  4. Speed up getting to know each other's work (why wait for Conference presentations or ad-hoc PC magazines' or Blogs great articles?¿   The Chaordic Institute (CI) as a living research institute IS simply a database of what each of us is up to - as much in real time as possible (hence how to design the CI ..)


We now have plenty of communication tools with internet (+ hopefully a growing skill base in organizational design amongst us) to design for true holopticism and something usefully akin to 'participatory democracy'.  We already have a great peer-assessment method (at least in theory) in place for diploma standards in Europe (two diplomats oversee portafolio creation, group of permacuture designers co-evaluate final diploma presentation), now it can be amplified massively, if we wish. 

Leo: As I understand it PC Diploma work can be undertaken in a number of fields. Teaching is one of them. I love the open self-organising approach of CPI. The usual rituals of academia and certification surely have a value, not least of confirming and propping up the status of the certifying body ;-) CPI looks to be much more down to earth and I think this is more appropriate to our perma-culture. It doesn't hurt to borrow from and work with established educational and research institutes, but the proof is in 'customer satisfaction'. An ongoing and critical look at the success and appropriateness of our projects and the people involved. The 'common' standard should emerge from the open publication and assessment of our work. So in addition to publishing portfolios perhaps there should also be room for testimonials and reviews?




Should we have a common standard for diplomas?

SteveR To keep up the good reputation of PmC worldwide and to be able to promote and distribute it even further, a common standard would seem essential. Again we would need to find a way of doing and discussing this that also includes those who cannot or will not travel to International and Continental conferences, again these can be far too exclusive for a system based on them to be satisfactory.

Tomas: If not common, at the very least compatible. It seems likely that a diploma system in (random example) Malawi will look quite different from one in the US or the Czech Republic. As long as someone who did her diploma in Malawi can go on to teach US students to standards that the Czechs are happy with, there's no problem with that.

Stella: good question!  I think yes, but it should be an evolving and self-organizing standard with attractor placed at "the best in PC design to date".  We should consciously aim at students getting better than their teachers (obvious perhaps but infact all sorts of invisible / unconscious checks are in place to attempt to stop that).  The overall common standard should be that it's open for perusal.   I´ve employed people for permaculture projects and quickly learned (painfully!) to not be impressed with their paper credentials but at what they'd actually done in their lives.  I think any employers (apart from local authorities perhaps) learn that eventually.   That's why e-portafolios are getting so popular, and even university standards are changing so drastically (eg. Bologna plan in Europe).    Practical experience is what counts ultimately and in permaculture it should be even more so (not what you 'know': unless we want to risk pc becoming an academic subject).

Leo: As Diploma work is likely to be very diverse, common standards would have to be at a fairly high level of abstraction. Probably more to do with the quality of the process, degree of progress and development then with absolute, objective(?) and easy to measure criteria. I'd rather see integrity as a standard then good reputation, although integrity can of course be a reason for the good reputation of permaculture :-) Integrity is an intrinsic property that emerges from the interaction between the person and local situation and practice. The common factor is possibly how appropriate the responses of the Diploma holder are to those local situations and practices are. Like Stella notes: there is no substitute for experience!



Thanks for proposing these questions Tomas, I´ve added numbers for easier answering - hope other chip in.  Stella


What are the yields of the permaculture diploma for the individual student?


Stella feb09 - (firstly to clarify I´ve some practical experience of the British System and am currently promoting the new NodoEspiral Spanish system because I think it improves on current systems - see DipEU for details of both).   Mainly I see the PC Diploma process as offering the student a good supported action-learning process as s/he progresses with designs with the company and feedback of colleagues on same path + tutors occasionally giving feedback and direction.  Also one gets to celebrate personal progress and learning with one's community, and a public recognition of a new milestone reached when s/he has achieved the Diploma.  Also a qualification in terms of reference of ability (this can be very important for some people in some countries, varies greatly).  This last one being very shaky however as there is currently no way of seeing what the standard actually is.


What are the yields for the international permaculture community as a whole?


Stella feb09 - Very little under the current systems: A) the handful of colleagues who see the work in progress and / or the Diploma celebration (I´ve seen and lived this in the British System) get to learn some interesting new stuff (especially if the work is innovative).  But as long as diploma portafolios then stay hidden in some DipPerm's filing cabinet gathering dust, much of the possible yield is totally lost.   Also, B) as long as there is no standards checks, the word 'Diploma' can remain quite meaningless in reality (unless you're fortunate enough to be one of the few people 'in the know') and so we don´t even achieve a credible qualification (which - with very little but co-ordinated work) could become an international credible qualification, without massive bureocracy.



How can we improve these yields?


Stella feb09 - By publishing the design portafolios on the web.  In Spain we're promoting keeping web-based portafolios because this way the yields are multiplied many times:  in teaching permaculture, in making possible many fertile connections (eg. between people working on similar stuff), in showing the great variety of work that permaculture designers do, in advancing research - less likely to re-invent wheels, etc.   But especially, with this added and essential transparency, we can collectively SEE what the standards / levels of current diploma-awarding bodies are - which is an essential pre-cursor or having any dialogue (and later possible agreement) about diploma standards.   Language IS a barrier but increasingly there are multi-lingual permaculture designers (who could feed-back across cultures and languages) and also web-based free translation software to help with this.



What processes have the diploma systems got developed for student support?


Stella feb09 - So far in the new spanish system we have a 3 day short introductory course (explaining the whole process), and an international diploma-students support group (by email).  Students are expected to set up their own local and 'flesh and blood' support groups.  Tutors (and other students) feedback on portafolio material whenever student asks (which is very easy to do as the portafolio is accessible by internet: these can be wikis, websites, blogs, sent documents, publicly available or with restricted access - eg. password).   We also helped create this PermacultureInstitute wiki where students can put their profiles which serve as the 'index and introduction page' to their web-based portafolio.  



What processes have the diploma systems got developed for tutor support?


Stella feb09 - Weak point of the system.  Our tutors support each other (emotionally and intellectually) and this works well but could be a lot better if we managed to change the 'everyone for himself' culture we seem to have mostly created amongs PC teachers in our (national as well as international) networks.  Other great source of (moral and intellectual) support is the great enthusiasm and admirable work from of our best students, which are the ones who end up wanting to do the Diploma and share their work and process.  It is very important however that the time and skill put in by tutors is supported financially (materially) also, and to this end we are wanting to co-ordinate at International (or at least European) level to agree Diploma processes and fees.  This was going well to some extent with the German and British systems as they had clear pricing policies which we were trying to adjust to, but then the French system came in recently with (what appears to be) a no-charge system .. which rather stopped us in our tracks (being our neighbours and not that distant linguistically and culturally either): until we understand better how they propose to make the system sustainable (without sacrificing the tutors) we are hesitant to finalize a cost structure for our system -  believing that 'the competition of the free market' is not an intelligent road to go down in any permaculture design of this kind, and that maybe they have something we can learn from and improve our design with.




How is the quality of the diploma guaranteed in different systems?


Stella feb09 - so far, it isn't, in any system (as far as I know): it is the tutor's word that the students are up to standard.  And the tutor's CVs aren't (mostly) even publically available (or at least they are not easy to cross-reference to the students Diploma accreditation): this at least is something that the Chaordic Institute could (and does, already, to a certain extent) easily facilitate.

Making the portafolios available for anyone to see, easily, on the web, would be a way to guarantee the quality of the diploma in each (and eventually across) different systems.



How/ where can interested people access diploma students’ documentation?


Stella feb09 - so far, they can´t (realistically speaking) unless you´re 'someone in the know', close friends with the tutors who issued the diploma, or know the student who gained the diploma.  

Eg. (concrete examples of the difficulties): I´m on friendly terms with several British tutors who support diploma students but (even if they had permission to show the diploma work by the student) I am never physically close enough to actually see the portafolios - which I assume they would let me see if I asked.   On the other hand, I asked Bill Mollison if I could see the (very many) diploma files he had stored on site when I visited his farm in january09, and although he stated various times in a surprised tone that 'they are all there and nobody's ever asked me to see them', I was not allowed to see one of them (the question was avoided in different ways until it became clear to me that he had no wish for me to see the files and so I stopped insisting).





Any other comments / questions about diplomas? (not covered above)


















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