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Educational tool that makes learning AWESOME

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Fotios Vasileiou is a Senior Lecturer in Events Management, Programme Leader in Events and Entertainment, and Founder of the OSAM/Awesome teaching tool. He developed OSAM/Awesome in March 2015 as a way of maximising student engagement while learning, and supporting their transition from study into their chosen career paths.

Since rolling out the model across four College programmes, Fotios has seen a rise in the number of students securing jobs in their chosen profession. Areas include the fashion and marketing industries. He is now working to roll OSAM/Awesome out to more GSM London programmes over the next couple of months, and collaborating further with UK and overseas universities to introduce the method.   In this month’s focus on the intranet, Fotios explains how OSAM/Awesome works, why it is delivering results and how more staff and students can get on board.

OSAM/Awesome is a teaching and learning method that maximises student engagement in their chosen programme of study and helps to embed them directly in the industry of their profession. It relies on matching academic learning with practical experience that aims to deepen students’ industry know-how. This tool helps to boost their effectiveness while studying, increase student satisfaction with their programmes, and raises success rates in finding jobs and enhancing career networks. Inspiration for developing the tool came from my teaching experiences at other universities and my desire to encourage students to enjoy their studies and achieve success.

I have taught extensively at other universities and focussed my PhD studies on the era after the abolishment of slavery in 19th century. I looked back at progressive ideas, during that time, where there was a move towards educating not only the rich but all people. At the time, those students with knowledge and expertise were encouraged to pass on their skills and teach novices and in the same way, OSAM/Awesome encourages students further on in their academic learning to pass on their knowledge to students are the beginning of their academic journey.

Meaning behind the name

OSAM stands for Ownership, Strengths, Application, and Motivation (OSAM) and refers to all the qualities students need to turn an idea into a living and breathing initiative. This evolutionary process is reflected in the second half of the name Awesome, which uses the acronym OSAM but builds on it with the additional letters ‘w’, ‘e’ and ‘e’. ‘W’ refers to the collective working partnership of students, teachers and industry. The first ‘e’ refers to student engagement and the last ‘e’ refers to evolution.

It is rather like when a child learns to write. Initially he/she spells a word as he/she hears it – (OSAM) – but once at school understanding of the correct spelling and deeper understanding builds (Awesome).

Currently, OSAM/Awesome is applied in the marketing and events departments, and recently in some Digital Innovation and Creative Enterprise (DICE) programmes. Every programme is structured to include a team of volunteers comprising teachers, GSM London graduates, students and successful professionals from the relevant industries. Together, this team use their expertise to develop projects from the ideas stage to a fully-fledged event.

Students become teachers

An important facet to OSAM/Awesome is that students are not treated as students anymore but become professionals in implementing the project. This culture shift helps to boost student confidence as well as establishing and enhancing their professional networks. OSAM/Awesome works within an active community, adapting to the specific needs within each academic programme and industry. They meet the external examiner of the studies, and they suggest ideas for their studies.

Currently, team members are involved in creating an annual carnival in Greenford through a partnership with Ealing Council. OSAM/Awesome team members have engaged expertise in the marketing, events and creative industries departments to bring together all the elements (marketing, social media, events management) needed to create a carnival. The event is due to take place on the 8th July to celebrate diversity of talents and cultures in the local area and across London.

Since OSAM/Awesome was launched in 2015, just over 50% of the 35 students using the approach have acquired jobs in their specialist fields following graduation with the remainder securing internships. Ten students gained awards in national UK competitions including such competitions as the British Association of Festivals and Arts where GSM London students.

The approach has helped to make life-changing differences to the lives of some students. One such example is a single mother of two who had not considered returning to education but through OSAM/Awesome gained first-hand experience managing events and was eventually offered a position in France. Students are better prepared for the real world and are ready to work with others in industry because studying at GSM London is not just about having a degree. It is also about the journey they took to get there.

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