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One-year Individualised Action Research Vehicle

Individualised Applied Professional Studies: For Building an Independent and Networked Business and Practice

Introduction: What follows is the framework for an individualised degree programme, which is based on the “Antioch University Individualised MA in Psychology”; which I studied for as a student; and whose primary educational contribution was to create an accreditation framework for working across centres of excellence; and achieve this via the learner creating their own temporary action learning organisation.

As such, Antioch University introduced a model for an Action-Learning Virtual Organisation in the pre-internet era. Since then, Denis Roberts has been working with the design of various forms of virtual organisation; and across three technological eras (see track record).

Most recently, Denis has formed The Networking Firm School of Professional Business Practice for sole practitioners to develop fully independent and interdependent practices; and virtual firms; in which they are working to full to capacity on solely premium tasks (that only they and they alone are in a position to deliver); and have progressed beyond the niche and tailored delivery to deliver totally unique and individualised services to each and every client on a fully one-to-one basis.

The function of the Individualised Degree Programme is to use action research as an intensive hothouse experience to deepen, broaden and accelerate the learning process.

Individualised Degree Programme:


a) For the individual consultant and entrepreneur to identify their vocational goals and create their own individualised business and degree plan – coupled with a temporary action learning organisation for building their own Independent Networked Business and Practice to embody their vocational goals.

b) For The Networking Firm to tie in with the wider Professional Development Association / Middlesex University Institute for Work Based Learning set of postgraduate programmes (Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma, MA, MSc); and eventually produce our own corporate programme. Initially, modules accredited to the programme will expand the current Professional / Academic / Personal Development Framework to expand into an entrepreneurial and business education that expands the framework into Professional / Business / Organisational / Academic / Personal / Leadership education, training and development; and equips the sole practitioner to compete at the leading edge of Internet technology.

Methodology: Self-managed vocational and organisational action learning; where the individual has responsibility for designing every aspect of their learning process; and where the learning contract will intermediate accreditation that is fundamentally based on self-assessment and self-awareness; and where the design, actualisation and review of an individualised business and degree plan forms the formal manifestation of the process.

Key Elements of the learning process:

1. Identify Vocation:

Learner selects and works with strategic mentor / action research supervisor to:

a) Identify life goal; and what it is that the learner does best; and loves doing most; and is where they are likely to be of most service.

b) Next, translate that goal into a career path; and, in turn, identify the key steps and destination goal that will mark success along that path for both the programme and accompanying action research.

2. Create Individualised Business and Degree Plan: This process involves embedding the key steps and destination goal for both the programme and action research in a formal individualised business and degree plan; which falls into three distinct phases:

a) Planning Phase

b) Actualisation Phase

c) Review and Self-Evaluation Phase

3. Planning Phase: During this phase the learner will:

a) Select their Mentor/Action Research Supervisor for the programme and project as a whole

b) Devise the individualised business and degree plan:

i) Choose a research topic that will best deliver their destination goal

ii) Identify at least six core values / principles that underpin learning / action / service

iii) Articulate vision / mission / key goals in terms of core values / principles

iv) Operationalise process in the form of an action learning project plan

v) Establish a mix of modes of learning that reflect a blend of:

- business / academic / professional practice elements

- interdisciplinary study across 3 fields i.e. if training as a strategic consultant, these might include philosophy / politics / economics to build the necessary strategic thinking skills

vi) Decide on / negotiate / agree specific criteria of evaluation for each mode of learning

4. Create Temporary Action Learning Organisation: For each area of learning cherry-pick teaching and action learning organisation staff from sources of excellence:

a) Teaching staff will include specialist mentors / supervisors / tutors selected from within the Institute for Work Based Learning / across centres of excellence / across The Networking Firm and strategic partners network of experts

b) Together with strategic mentor / action research supervisor negotiate learning contract with each individual / organisation and agree module design

c) This will result in the creation of a temporary action learning organisation for the duration of the action research / degree; and which will examine its own behaviour as it occurs in the here and now; and across the following organisational boundaries: one-to-one; small group; group; inter-group; and organisation.

d) A two tier organisation will be created and involve deciding on / negotiating / agreeing a top-level degree committee – who, in turn, will interface and intermediate accreditation process within broader Institute for Work Based Learning accreditation framework.

5. Actualisation Phase: Work and learning carried out according to plan.

6. Mid-Point Review: Followed by any appropriate re-calibration following learning to date.

7. Outputs: As a core output each student will be expected to produce a book or full blow film / video; and ideally a film of the book. To be in a position to demonstrate the necessary authority and expertise in a social and business mass individualised marketing media environment, a book or film represents a key entry point.

8. Review Phase: Assessment for each element of the programme will involve a negotiated self-assessment, which combines elements of self-assessment; joint-assessment with mentor / supervisor / tutor; and overall degree committee assessment according to the learning contract and against previously agreed criteria of evaluation.

As such, the programme will embody, live and teach a business model for the fully independent virtual firm… and in which the individual and sole trader forms the fundamental business unit … and will achieve this through individualised learning – and through each individual action research project leading to a thriving and focused individualised business; fully leveraging the power of social and business mass individualised marketing media.

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