Monday, July 20, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Design School Philosophy/Aims

I have located the design school philosophy and aims document in the student handbook.
As the design school covers 4 degree subjects and 3 certificate subjects it is quite a broad document, however there are some words appropriate to flexible learning.
"To facilitate learning by design students in a creative, flexible and collaborative environment within a culture that promotes and supports design driven entrepreneurial opportunities."
"To equip students with the tools, techniques and competence, required to work in their chosen career path within the extremely broad field of professional design."
"Designers need to be broad based and with some understanding of other specialisations."
"A designed product may be a physical object, (two or three dimensional), a non-physical (virtual) object which may be represented in the physical world or, it may be a service. Design in this context is based on the needs of users. Design education is about facilitating the designer’s ability to match a product or service to those needs."

All the above statements support flexible learning and teaching in an ever changing design environment, where the product dictates the manner in which the design and product must be produced.
As a team the staff in the design school try to:-
Speak Responsibly.
Listen Generously.
Honour Diversity.

Friday, May 29, 2009


audio about flexible uses in design
Cyndy and myself discuss our thoughts about flexible teaching and learning which affect us directly.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Me and my culture.

Culture n. state of manners, taste, and intellectual development at a time or place.
manners:- Im English, so think it polite to remember my "p's and q's" (please and thankyou) when in company and to respect my elders.
taste:- I love curry (the now the most commonly cooked dish in England), I've travelled some of Europe but not enough and believe that any exposure to new cultures and countries can only add to life experiences.
Intellectual development:-Born in Luton which is a cultually diverse city then spent my adult life living and working in Dunstable.
Married in the historic Priory of St Peter I emigrated with my family nearly 6 years ago and have been with OP for 5 of those.I started teaching p/t 1 year ago and finding the whole experience extremely rewarding while a huge learning curve.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kaplan Uni..........smooth advertising

I watched the video..........great marketing and very smooth but I disagree with the thought that we should just throw out the old traditional ways of teaching and go on-line. They didn't mention anything about the content of courses. Guess it's just an advert to get potential students to enquire.
Also watched Merroly Penman and Ken Wysocki. Real teachers changing their teaching deliveries. Great stuff. Did notice that Merrloy talked about post grad students which would indicate they all had a good prior knowledge on the subject being taught. Ken also mentioned that when his content had been loaded it took no more time than a traditional paper based course to update. Both v. flexible and definitely learner centred.
Question:- motivation and prior learning, how important are they to make an online course successful?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Phil Ker and flexible learning @ otago Polytechnic.

Phil Ker started out by asking why flexible learning should be practiced at Otago Polytechnic?
Phil's primary reason is to enable us at Otago Polytechnic to engage with more learners, as Flexible learning uses strategies to enhance the process of teaching and learning.
Phil had three key topics:-Access, Learner Autonomy and Cost Efficiencies.

Access:-If access is made easy for students, it will encourage them to start and then continue to study. Phil would like Otago Polytechnic to be a regional provider of education as well as serving Dunedin. Central has a full suite of programmes run on flexible times and locations, with even the most remote student being only 30mins away from a study centre. Vet nursing have over the last three years changed from a traditional paper based, distance course to online. There are also the Community Learning Centres offering very flexible study times and flexible pace. The Hospitality staff in Tennyson street have worked hard on transferring video's onto Ipods for their student to use as reference. An amazing resource for the students and anyone else who wished to go to their site on you tube. Absolutely no excuses from the catering students as to why they haven't practised their techniques as access is 24/7 for them.
These examples show that flexibility in access to education will create learner centred learning environments. It also shows that an easy way to make access flexible is to go online with courses.
This brings us to the topic of technology.
Does flexible learning mean online learning? I think not. Phil also mentions it is a misunderstanding he encounters. For the computer natives amongst us (I am not) it is easy to access the multitude of educational organizations offering online courses and negotiate the new technology, however as Bronwyn points out, a blended delivery can have many teaching strategies and learning qualities.
Learner Autonomy
This is a hot topic, raised at the Elluminate sessions aswel. For flexible learning to be successful, students need access to course content/resources and the motivation to learn. A blended delivery may involve paper based and online course content, social networking sites, Elluminate sessions, workshops and lectures. Phil suggests the teacher would become a facilitator or curator helping students with content and resources but with regular, formative feedback. I think quality and regular feedback enhances the learning process for most students allowing them to build on their experiences. Phil would like to move away from summitive assessment. However in the cases of Industry Standard or Health and Safety Standards being met a formative assessment or exam is sometimes necessary for building a scaffold on which to deepen knowledge. I do believe that prior learning is significant in offering flexible or distance courses and CAPL are a needed resource in recognizing experiences and qualifications. The student needs to keep motivated with clear expectations from their learning, which can be tricky in our modern world with all it's responsibilities of families, jobs and life in general.
Cost Efficiencies.
Michelle questioned whether students would still get value for the money they were spending on learning, if the deliveries were blended towards the on-line variety and not so much face to face. Phil pointed out that most flexible courses are front loaded with much time spent in the design and loading of a course but if this makes the delivery more efficient then the students are still getting value for money. Phil would like to move towards courses where the student has flexible options about how course content and assessments are delivered and received, making the facilitation of a course efficient.
Flexible Learning is a good move for the future and I'm sure the students will vote with their enrolments whether the teachers/facilitators are doing a good job.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Not quite Blackpool Illuminations.............

but the Elluminate conference definitely helped my understanding of "flexible" learning and ignited a few light bulbs in my head.
I jumped in a bit quick (regrettably) with useless info at the start but have gone back and listened to the recording again. A few thoughts sprang into my mind..........
I understand flexible learning is a great new aspect that can be embraced into our teaching methods but feel that a few key factors are needed to make it work:-
Students may need prior learning to be using the same contextual language as tutor or have a basic knowledge of subject.
Both students and tutors need access to and be able to use same technology/equipment, e.g. video conferencing/blogs/email/. (exactly what we're doing now, thank you Bronwyn and Leigh)
Agreed time/method for assessments and feedback's.
Workshops may be needed.
I have a few questions:-
I'm a fan of constructivism and try to incorporate it in my teaching........would it work with distance/flexible/open course ware?
Scale ability? With the content I'm teaching, scale is a factor. As is H&S.
Economic factors.........are we only targeting those who have the equipment/technology? (individuals and learning centres)
Motivation? Dave McQuillan questioned this at the Elluminate session. How to motivate and ignite passion for a subject from a distance?
I know flexible/distance learning can be a success as with our graduate student last year and I hope it will enrich nad enable my teaching.
please comment.