Team Learning (blog)

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Dr Georgiana Els (Ciuchete) – Lincoln International Business School – Senior Lecturer – Staff Profile

Department of Marketing Tourism and Languages, postgraduate module ‘Personal Professional Development’ (TOU9166M)


In order to foster a postgraduate community where flexibility, creativity and innovation are key, Dr Georgiana Els has implemented the use of team learning in a postgraduate module on Personal Professional Development (TOU9166M) where students are coached through the module and degree.


The module is designed around the Team Academy (TA) principles (See resources section for more information) where Georgiana’s role, as a coach, is to facilitate students’ abilities to self-manage and take responsibility of their own learning and development. In this approach, there is no traditional teaching nor PowerPoint slides, students set their own individual goals by designing an Individual Learning Contract, which is shared within the team and assessed according to individual progress and development. In this way, learners are participants in the process and the coach’s role is to facilitate learning in a non-directive manner.

I feel being cared for as a person not just a student. The decisions made in the creation of the module feel like they have been made with great care to the good of the students.”

(TOU9166M student, 2020)

With the move to online learning, the coaching sessions were scheduled synchronously on Bb Collaborate Ultra as the tools and methods previously used (face to face) had to be adapted to an online environment. While the power of communication and collaboration in online coaching sessions cannot equal the human interaction face to face, a high level of engagement was achieved.

Outcomes and benefits

Learnings from 2020/21:

Below you can find a list of elements relating to my experiences and what I will keep doing, what I want to do more of and what I should do less of to make this work more effectively.

Keep doing

  • Creating a Learning contract (qualitative, personal learning plan)
  • Use a training notebook (learning diary)
  • Get students to generate a portfolio
  • Team coaching session (using dialogue as a main tool)  
  • Students to write book reviews
  • Reflections
  • Check-ins/ Check-outs
  • #healthchecks

Doing more of

  • Encouraging students to turn cameras on and microphones when speaking
  • Continue the thematic sessions (e.g. bring in favourite drink, wear a hat, bring a book which has impacted you, etc.) worked well in responding to previous point as students were more prone to switch camera on
  • Break-out rooms where all members participate
  • Games
  • Peer-feedback
  • Collaborations with other universities and students (a Birth Giving organised in collaboration with BGU)
  • Having a dedicated space (e.g., the Concept Suite – enables interaction and provides a sense of belonging).

Doing less of

  • Holding hands – while at the start of the module, the coach is in the middle of the circle of coaching, it needs to be part of the circle by Term B and outside the circle by the end of the term when students become independent learners.

Outcome of 2022/21: In the chaos of the lockdown, my team of students supported each other and made sure each member of their team strived. The support and collaboration they have demonstrated at an academic and personal level showed the power of their team! We have all learned what it means to be equipped for high levels of uncertainty and having to strive in an ever fast-changing climate by practicing:

Image text: Empathy, Active Listening, Social Awareness, Sharing Experience
Image text: Empathy, Active Listening, Social Awareness, Sharing Experience


What is Team Academy?

The Team Academy (Tiimiakatemia) is a philosophy advanced in Finland by Johannes Partanen which developed starting with 1993 and is based on three main principles:

(1) Learning means developing personal, behavioural and hard skills;

(2) Learning requires taking real responsibility for real businesses;

(3) Learning takes place at an individual, team and community level.

Team Academy is now spread across the globe and while the model is following the same philosophy and principles, it has also adapted and taken the shape and forms of the local environments.