Thursday, November 19, 2009

Constructing Courses - Development Ideas 3

This is the third Blog in which I am attempting to meet the criteria for Task 3 - Develop Ideas.
Unfortunately for me developing ideas is such an open ended task I have found it very difficult to limit myself and keep it focused.

I have didcussed my program focusing on Course 1 - The Values Base in the following table . In the first column I critically review the current: learning outcomes, course content, learning and teaching activities and assessments. In the second and third column I discuss proposed changes over 2010 and 2011 exploring changes to learning objects and new media and activities I intend to use.

In short, I intend to change the delivery of my program for 2011 from the current compulsory face to face attendance one full day per week to an online delivery format with optional face to face workshops for 2 hours a week. My intention is to make the delivery of my program as flexible as possible. My plan includes everything from researching stakeholder reactions to this proposal, to reviewing my program document, attending moodle training and developing online learning packages. Although I have retained my focus on the big pictured, I have discussed changes for 2010 which will help build towards the implementation of my new program in 2011. For example, I am reducing classroom time from 6 hours to four hours and adding 2 hours of computer labs per day. I think being in a lab with students while I still have them on campus will help iron out some of the problems I might experience with distance teaching. I intend to get students using the lab sessions to prepare for the following weeks class, to experiment with strategies for building relationships using online media and to complete course assessment work. I have discussed these ideas in more depth in the plan linked above, in the previous two blogs and in my flexible learning plan.

An aspect which I have not discussed elsewhere is that in addition to making my course as flexible as possible, I want to replicate in as much as is possible, the warmth and passion and energy of the face to face environment in my online teaching and learning packages. I think the key to this is in taking care not to become to sterile in online presentation style and maintaining a presence through audio's and video's. I want to get really comfortable with using webcam and video media and I'd love to figure out how to have a powerpoint and a video of me talking playing at the same time. I think photo's and also getting the students using webcams will be really important.

Resources and training needs that will be required to implement my program are outlined in the following table . I have not identified costs because there is no special equipment required to implement my changes that I do not already have. I do believe that setting up and implementing my program, both in terms of the changes planned for next year and the more substantial changes planned for 2009 will take considerable time and effort and .2 of my time has been set aside in preparation for this.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Constructing Courses - Development Ideas 2

In both my flexible learning course and in constructing courses to enhance student learning I have focused on the big picture choosing to discuss the changes that I want to make to my overall program. I want to divert for a time and speak about one course in particular which needs to be changed for next year. This is the first course in my program and the only course I teach which I have not yet put online. All my other courses are on blackboard and I have developed online resources for these. Over 2010 I intend to take the next step in terms of developing these into online learning packages which I see as part of my overall program review and big picture plan. I need to take that first step for my first course and this is certainly a pressing task in my overall plan.

The first course is called ‘The Values Course’ and aims to increase student’s awareness of self, awareness of others and ultimately to increase their ability to work respectfully across cultures. Working respectfully across cultures requires some skills but is more importantly about being aware of ones own values in order that these are not imposed on others. The specific unit standard based learning outcomes linked to this course include:

  • Demonstrate self awareness for working with mental health consumers/tangata whai ora
  • Demonstrate awareness of own values and cultural identity and possible implications for practice.
  • Describe knowledge of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the implications for contemporary practice as mental health support workers.
  • Describe knowledge of at least two Pacific peoples and the implications for contemporary practice as mental health support workers.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of group and team work theory, group functions and group skills and participate effectively in group or team work.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of integrating knowledge, skills and values in Mental Health support Work.

The course is currently delivered face to face. I combine self awareness and group work unit standards with aspects of unit standards related to working with whanau, working with pacific cultures, Treaty of Waitangi, and Recovery competencies. The course is unit standard light relative to the other courses but the teaching content is significant and much time in the first term is consumed by orientation and administrative issues. I am happy with the content although I intend to move teaching about the Treaty itself into Term Two where the focus is on policy, legislation and application. I struggle with the lack of contact time and constantly feel frustrated that I am unable to cover all that I would like to cover. I look forward to alleviating the pressure by adding more on line components to this course.

In 2009 I have set up blackboard and built up resources for all the courses I teach except this one. I didn’t set it up for this one because I traditionally have a high number of students who are not computer literate and I just could not see how to incorporate computer training into the first terms program which is already packed. I can’t just extend the contact days because many of my students are being released from work to attend. Workplaces can’t afford to cover staff for additional days so I have to work with what I have. I scheduled the computer training for the beginning of term 2 which was okay except it gave some students an opportunity to feel hard done by. I think there is something to be said for starting as you mean to go on and I really want to start 2010 with an expectation that students will need to be computer literate.

My plan is to schedule regular computer lab sessions throughout term 1 and to develop online teaching packages aimed at scaffolding students into confident computer use whilst also meeting course requirements. If the labs are scheduled as part of course time, I can be there to get a sense of confidence and competence levels. In addition I will make it compulsory for students who have no computing background to complete the computing basics course in their own time. Unfortunately I just don’t have enough contact time to incorporate it into their program.

I have the students for a three day orientation, then one day a week for the remaining six days of term one. I incorporate self awareness teaching into the three orientation days. We focus here on individual characteristics and needs. Students complete a range of personality and learning style surveys and evaluate themselves against the recovery competencies. They write a short piece critically evaluating the surveys in relation to the relevance they have for them. This is aimed at getting them to start thinking critically about material they are given. They also collate all the information and use this to write a one page profile summarising their characteristics and needs. They share their characteristics and needs in groups and collate these to create a group profile outlining the group’s characteristics and needs. They then share the group profile with the whole class and together we use the group profiles to create a class contract. This all occurs in the three orientation days alongside all the usual orientation activities. I am really happy with this activity. It stimulates some fantastic discussion, gets students excited, contributes significantly to the building of our learning community and can be broken into small chunks to fit around the various compulsory orientation activities. I currently give students hard copies of the surveys but this would be a great task for the students to access on line.

There does tend to be some difficulties with logging on, related to unpaid fees, technical difficulties and incomplete enrolments in the first couple of weeks so any online tasks during this period would need to be designed in such a way as to be accessible to all students.

I use the class contract to introduce group work theory and the group work assessment task. The group work objective is to create a poster depicting different ethnic and culture groups and subgroups in New Zealand and to present this to class on the final day of term. The group need to work through a guided group work process establishing a group work contract, recording minutes, clarifying the objective, identifying vision, goal and tasks and finally writing up a reflection on the process. This is presented as a formal written report.

I usually spend one day on the group work theory aspect but this does not allow the students time to adequately apply group work process and this is evidenced in a lack of depth in this part of their assessment. I am happy with the learning activities and the assessment but would like to spend more time playing with group work process. Shifting the Treaty teaching to term two will enable this.

I spend one day on culture and values, two and a half days on the Tikanga Maori and the Treaty, one day on Pacific cultures and half a day on presenting posters. The content is rushed but this will be greatly enhanced by focusing on Tikanga rather than the Treaty and by utilising online resources. This material is currently assessed in a workbook format where students provide short factual answers. The workbooks are very tedious for students and me but ensure that I meet all the unit standard requirements. I want to shift all work book material to either the reflective journal or to online self assessed quizzes but I will need to check that these will meet moderation requirements and I will need to learn how to use them.

Students also learn basic mihimihi and waiata during this time and are orally assessed on these. It seems to work so I will maintain this in 2010 then review again.

Finally the students are expected to begin working on self awareness tasks in their own time. Self awareness tasks are presented in a journal. This year I made it compulsory to submit the journal for feedback mid term, each term but not compulsory to complete the tasks. This was an excellent move as it allows students to pace themselves according to their own safety needs.

The self awareness tasks require the student to dig deep in terms of their family and ancestral experiences and values and the impact of these on their work in mental health. I never have enough time to cover the material related to family experiences and values as adequately as I’d like and this lacking is evident in the quality of reflection on related aspects in their journal. The principles and policy informing family/whanau participation is explored in term two and it has just occurred to me that I could cover this material here in addition to developing an online learning package for this material.

I am using the term ‘learning package’ when I am referring to more than just providing on line resources or lecture notes. Reflecting on what I mean by this, I am talking about my teaching plan written up and presented online in such a way as to be accessible to students and to provide a similar quality to the learning as I aim for in my face to face teaching. I like to present information in small chunks and use a range of discussion based, reading or interactive activities aimed at supporting students to consolidate their learning. I have been looking at some beautiful courses colleagues have developed using Exe. This is definitely the right tool for what I want to do but I will need to learn to use it which is primarily about setting aside some time. I also need to learn to use Moodle.

On or off line, I think content delivery should be lively, fun, varied and as interactive as possible. I think lecturer presence is really important in online courses and I’ve been thinking about ways to create that presence most effectively. Check out this site for my ideal. I really love this website but I imagine it is hugely expensive to create something like this.

I do think E-lluminate is a likely possibility and I really must get my head around it but I don’t think it’s the only way. I think a mixture of chatty informal webcam recordings, more formal videoed lectures, audios on powerpoint and regular feedback, emails and phone calls are also useful tools for creating lecturer presence in online courses. These are things I can already do which adds to their appeal but I would like to develop more skill and confidence in using video or DVD camera’s.

I would also eventually like to be able to make more adventurous instructional films but there are some pretty good resources online to tide me over in the first instance.

In my next blog I’ll get a bit more focused on the specifics of my plan.

Constructing Courses - Development Ideas 1

My intention here is to discuss the things which I think are most important in constructing a course that enhances student learning.


Flexibility in teaching and learning is about designing a program which recognises that students have diverse needs and finding ways to cater to those needs. Diverse needs may include different:

  • learning styles and information processing preferences
  • characteristics and support needs
  • ethnic or cultural backgrounds
  • experiences in general and specifically in relation to education
  • starting points in terms of course content and academic skills
  • skill sets, strengths, risks and abilities
  • practical needs in terms of availability and study time preference

Flexibility does not mean online learning but may include online learning as one means of increasing flexibility. Online learning potentially increases flexibility by enhancing accessibility.


Accessibility is not just about being able to access material from off campus in a tangible or physical sense, it is about individual students being able to access, comprehend and engage with course or topic material in a way that makes sense to them. “The essential ingredient for improving student engagement is the creation of a context for learning where the students are able to bring their own culturally generated ways of knowing and learning (Bishop & Berryman, 2006, p5).Regardless of whether the forum is on line or in the classroom, a teacher’s responsibility in my opinion is to make information accessible to students in order to facilitate learning. It is absolutely not to shovel information at students though this approach may be called for occasionally. I do believe that a more structured approach is required when students have no base knowledge of a topic and are new to learning. A little bit of theory provided in lecture format may only result in superficial learning but it provides a base upon which each student can build. Without the theory as a starting point, I do believe that many students flail around feeling stupid and inadequate.

For some students accessibility may mean breaking down the key ideas of a theory into language that targets the particular ethnic or cultural make-up of an individual student or student group. For other students it may mean providing them with a list of primary or secondary readings so that they can break it down for themselves.

Accessibility may mean incorporating material or theories into the program or adapting the program according to the ethnic makeup of the group. It may require bringing in peer support tutors to work with individuals, linking students with voice activated soft ware, learning some key words in another language, running additional tutorial sessions, making material visually appealing, holding lots of discussion groups, doing lots of role plays, including audio’s on power points, providing a glossary of lingo, encouraging the use of dictionaries, goal setting and contracting with individual students, meeting the family, eating together and so on.

Accessibility may also be about ensuring that students have the technical skills required to complete a course. Technical skills may include: basic literacy, research and comprehension skills, essay and report writing skills as well as all the skills required for online learning.

I don’t think that making a course more accessible is as complex as it may sound. It need only include:

  • A power point with visuals that uses inclusive language and breaks down the key ideas.
  • If the course is delivered online, I think the power point should include audio and some live action footage of the lecturer being animated and enthusiastic.
  • A discussion based task
  • An interactive or group based activity
  • Two or Three key readings or links selected so as to be accessible to everyone (and cover different ethnic or cultural perspectives)
  • An assessment that gives options: Write an essay, or create a poster, or create a power point
  • Clear and fair marking criteria
  • Links to online technical support
  • Knowledge of the various supports available at polytechnic for students and a willingness to link students to these supports and work alongside them.
  • Additional (non-compulsory) reading for enthusiasts
  • A shared lunch or some other shared activity once a term
  • Knowledge of your students and a relationship with them

Building Quality Relationships

Constructing a course that enhances student learning is hugely dependant on building quality relationships. How can a teacher enhance their students learning if they don’t know who their students are.The relationship between teacher and individual student is hugely important in meeting student needs but the quality of the relationship that evolves between the students in any particular group is also hugely important.

I think we are privileged in human service education to have program content that enables the building of relationships to this extent but the ability to build effective, supportive relationships is also the primary tool of our trade so it is in part about practising what we preach or modelling what we teach. The importance of relationship in human service courses is perhaps the single most important argument against an imbalance of online learning relative to face to face. Communication in most cultures is something like 90% non-verbal. Tone of voice, facial expression, body language, non verbal minimal encourages and attentiveness provide cues that can sometimes convey a lot more than words.

I do think that increased online learning will pose a particular challenge for maintaining the emphasis on relationships in human service education. That said, I also think that online learning allows for some intimacy and safety in communication that takes time to build in face to face relationships and that this may counteract the loss of non-verbal cues. I also think that online communication allows people the opportunity to express a whole thought in a way that classroom and interpersonal interaction doesn’t due to interruptions and distractions and that this also has potential in terms of individuals getting to know each other – a kind of forced attentiveness.

I recognise that building relationships with students is a luxury afforded in a small course like mine but I also think it’s worth considering the moral and philosophical value of workshop based teaching in small groups. From my perspective that’s what polytechnics do that Universities don’t. It is our point of difference and it seems to be largely why students in our school choose to study here.

Building relationships, getting to know students and students getting to know each need not be labour intensive, particularly in social service courses where we can utilise the learning outcomes and content.

Learning Outcomes

I believe it is really important to focus on learning outcomes and what it is you want students to walk away with and I believe this is critically important when working with unit standards. I have seen that there is a tendency in unit standard based programs to teach each unit standard as a course in itself and to focus on the learning outcomes of each course rather than on the learning outcomes of the program as a whole. This was certainly my approach in my original document and something I would like to change as part of my program review.

Trying to articulate evolving thoughts about overall outcomes will take some time but off the top of my head, I would like the students to walk away from this program:

  • able to build respectful recovery based, cross-cultural relationships with consumers and their families
  • self directed, confident and empowered by knowledge of the industry and knowledge of how to access what they don’t already know
  • self aware and able to critically reflect on their practice
  • healthy, balanced, self and environment nurturing sustainable practitioners

These really are the outcomes that inform what I choose to include and how I choose to include it. This is my ideal. Clearly being a unit standard based course there are specific learning outcomes which I am bound to and which inform the course content and teaching strategies but it is good to have an overall vision.

Structuring Topics or Courses Logically to Foster Deeper Learning

The National Certificate in Mental Health Support Work is a unit standard based course that comes jam packed with things the students have to know. From my perspective there is far too much content and this detracts from the opportunity to learn. I have worked very hard over my four years of coordinating and teaching this program to integrate and streamline the material so that it flows logically, best utilises the minimal contact time I have with the students and fosters the deepest learning experience possible. I still have a way to go with this and a need to let go a little of my tendency to be pedantic.

So far my journey has involved chopping up the unit standards and teaching them across courses rather than teaching unit standard by unit standard. I utilise unit standards and aspects of unit standards that foster a developing awareness of self and others to focus on building relationships in term one. In term two I focus on all the policy and legislation relevant for working in mental health. In term three the focus is on theory, models and skills for mental health support work and in term four the focus is on application in a practice context.

It is so thrilling when students in term 4 are making links between the relationships they are building with clients and the relationship building process they experienced in Term one. As a teacher I get to see and feel my students make the connections, shift from surface to deep and consolidate their learning. This is very exciting. In my view the way a course is structured in terms of topics or content and how you order or layer or build material is critical in enhancing the student’s learning experience.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lacking Intuition or a Schema?

I've got my tool bar back. It took my husband coming home and suggesting that I try accessing my blog using a different internet explorer. It worked but it left me thinking as I do frequently about my learning style and my learning needs and those of my students. Using technology is often described as intuitive - some people are naturally good at it - but are they or they just practiced users or practiced in skills that are relevant.

I wonder what skill sets people who are described as intuitive in this field have. I expect someone's done some research on that. It would be worth looking at in the context of the course - constructing courses to enhance student learning - and in the context of the drive for more online learning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Where's the damn toolbar gone?

Here I am back on my blog, excited to be here, finally have some time. I'm rearing to go, lots of things to say, lots of links I want to make and pictures to add but I get here and my blogs got no toolbar. I've been sitting here for the last 40 minutes trying to figure out where my toolbar has gone. Does anyone know where my tool bar might be??? I've looked in help, I've turned off and come back in, I've highligted everything there is to highlight. There is a wee note down the bottom about shortcuts and I've looked there but it doesn't give me everything I need.

I do have my font box and I can obviously write but nothing else and since the topic of this blog is shifting from Flexible learning to Constructing courses to enhance student learning, I really want access to the things that I think enhance learning.

oh well. Perhaps I'll go do some stuff in good old dependable word and copy and paste it in then go through the tedious process of deleting all the garbage to make it compatible. Ho Hum!

Friday, July 3, 2009

My Flexible Learning Plan

My Flexible Learning Plan

Flexible Plan on Power Point


The National Certificate in Mental Health Support Work is a unit standard based programme worth 122 credits. The course runs over the 34 contact weeks of the standard academic year. Students attend classes one day per week so there are 34 contact days in total. There are four courses corresponding to four terms broadly dealing with: self and cultural awareness; legislation and policy; theories, models and practice skills and finally developing a recovery based framework for practice. Unit standards are integrated throughout the courses and assessments are designed to meet unit standard requirements whilst being accessible, manageable and fun for students.

Historically the majority of students attending this course have done so while working full time in mental health support roles. These students access the course as professional development and are encouraged and in some situations financially supported by their employers. These students have additional motivation to complete the course in the form of a $2000 grant paid in full when they complete the course.

In the past two years there has been a shift in this tradition so that in 2009 nearly 50% of my students are not working in mental health. This trend looks set to continue in the current economic and political climate as organisations are less able to support staff to access the course and the industry is less transient. Employees are holding on to their jobs meaning that there are less new staff needing to complete the training. This in itself would not be a problem as the programme could just make a shift to more general promotion and aim to attract students from the wider pool however there tends to be a high drop out rate for students who are not working in mental health in this course.

I believe that the high drop out rate is attributable to two primary causes. The first is that students not working in mental health may select this course because they believe that it's one day delivery format makes it an easy option when in fact the exact opposite is true. The second and related issue is that the demands this course places on students in terms of independent time and work commitment are too high for students who don't have some grounding in mental health.

Consequently there are some significant sustainability issues for the certificate programme and several options as I see it;

  • Stop running the programme altogether
  • Merge it with the Certificate in Human Services and make mental health a specialty
  • Shift to a blended online and block delivery format

Even with diminishing numbers the programme is relatively profitable. It employs me at .6 and I have several guest lecturers through out the year but employment costs are relatively low . The one day delivery format means minimum cost in terms of additional resources. While the programme continues to be promoted within the mental health industry and supported with a grant it will continue to be profitable even with relatively few students so it would be foolish to discontinue offering it.

Merging it with the mental health certificate would probably be the easiest option but evidence from the diploma programme indicates that this may reduce accessibility for people working in mental health. Both the local certificate and diploma are run as full-time contact courses.

Shifting to a blended online and block delivery format is the most useful strategy and my flexible learning plan is based on this ideal solution.

The Plan

My Flexible Learning Plan is to restructure the delivery of this programme so that it is more accessible to;

  • Distance students
  • People working night shifts
  • Parents and care givers
  • Students with literacy issues and other learning support needs
  • Students who want to self pace

The purpose of this restructuring is to increase numbers generally, widen the potential pool of students already working in mental health and to provide a more supportive programme for students whose learning needs are not supported in the current high intensity format.

The Delivery will be restructured as follows;


Retain four courses and maintain status quo re each course as prerequisite for the next.


Retain status quo regarding delivery of one guided course per term within NZ academic year


Increase flexibility re start and finish dates of each course – no set times


Increase flexibility re study times – no set times


Use of Elluminate to record joint sessions to increase flexible access


Standardise the number of weeks in each course and adjust content to match (8 or 9 weeks for each course)


Reduce contact from the current 36 days to 16 days. 5 day block in the first and third terms and 3 day blocks in the second and fourth terms


Move current course material from blackboard to Moodle


Modify lesson plans and resources for online environment in line with flexible learning ideas (see previous bog)


Modify assessments for online environments in line with flexible learning ideas (see previous blog) and as follows;

Self Awareness Journal

Experiment with using Google docs shared between student and facilitator. This tool will enable a more formative approach while protecting students privacy rights and keeping them safe.

Course Workbooks

Convert worksheet based tasks to quiz format for pre and post topic self evaluations. Convert all other workbook material to Blog format. Use blog as day to day facilitating tool.

Collage/posters and Presentations

Retain in face to face blocks or convert to online presentation formats. Pamphlets; Use publisher.

Essay and Report

Retain as they are.

Group Work

Google groups or a moodle equivalent and collaborative google docs

Resources and Support required to carry out this Plan

I can’t see that my plan needs particular resources other than for me to have a little more skill, knowledge and rather more time. I don’t intend to create any fabulous resources other than those I can create with the technology that is readily available to me primarily because there are already so many wonderful resources freely available on line. I anticipate building the online course up over several years just as I have done with my face to face programme.

Resources Required

Where will I access this


Advice regarding organisational requirements that need to be met in order to make a programme change this significant.

Sally Pairman


Information regarding the student experience of block contact sessions and how these work best in terms of financing and accommodation needs, length and timing

Colleagues including;

Mid Wives



Cert in Health Studies


Upskilling me

EDC staff and community learning centre



Dianne Begg

Amber’s Questions Revisited

Amber’s questions

My Response

Could she start the course immediately?

Yes she could

Could she do it on line in her own time and from her own home?

Yes she could

Could she access resources online?

Yes she could. Everything she needed and more was available

Could she leave at 2.30 in order to be home by three for her children?

Not an issue as she was going to access the course on line but there are some block courses which will run for full days . Did she think she would be able to organise some childcare for those? If not, perhaps we could give the students training in childcare a practice session!

Did I provide any additional support?

I explained that there are lots of course specific support resources on line as part of the programme and that she could email or ring me anytime. Also that if she need additional support I could link her to the online or face to face support services at provided at Poly.

How would I cater to her learning needs and to her learning style?

I explained that there are a range of learning activities and assessments built into the programme that cater to differentlearning styles and needs

Since she had to come to class would there be plenty of opportunity for social interaction?

Not an issue as she didn’t have to come to class but since the bulk of the day to day material would be delivered and processed on blogs there was plenty of opportunity to engage in social interaction with other students. Also the contact days would involve a lot of social time.

Amber was delighted with the responses I gave to her questions and signed up on the spot!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Ideas For Flexible Learning

Drawing on the ideas expressed and explored in my blog, I have come up with three summary sheets that capture flexible things I have always done in my teaching, flexible things I have added since starting this course and flexible things I intend to do. I include examples of flexible learning that my ideas draw on, outline the fit between my ideas and Otago Polytechnics strategic direction and discuss the considerations, risks and concerns that will need to be resolved before implementing my flexible learning plan.

Flexible Things I have Always Done

  • Considered and attended to learning styles and individual characteristics and needs in overall presentation of content. I use a variety of lecture, film, discussion, research, activity, reading, case studies and experiential methods in delivery of course content.
  • Delivered material in such a way as to minimalise exclusion.
  • Attended to culture, characteristics and related needs by adapting course material, case studies, examples and assessments to fit with the cultural make up and characteristics of the group.
  • Providing a range of assessments catering to different preferences. I have experimented with encouraging students to develop their own assessments and I have adapted assessments to meet the needs of individual students.
  • Attending to learning support and extension needs of students by providing options for more or less tutorial support and options for more or less independent study
  • Changed the course timetable to better cater to parents and giving student choice re staying for late afternoon sessions
  • Providing a full time course in one contact day per week enabling flexibility around work and family commitments.
  • Developing accessible lecture notes, handouts and topic summaries and making these available to students in a variety of print sizes depending on needs.
  • Scaffolding as required building towards higher expectations and more complex assessment work as the year progresses.
  • Providing clear course books, assessments and assessment due dates and a fairly structured program but I am fairly casual with extensions trusting that students will complete work when they can.

Flexible Things I have Added Since Starting this Course

  • Using blackboard and power point. Online resources have enabled much more flexibility in terms of the resources that I am able to provide for students.
  • I have had all my students attend the computing training and set up additional support and sessions for those who need it.
  • I use a lot more technology in the classroom and am now much more able to utilise excellent online sites which enhance my teaching and delivery and inspire students.
  • I now provide lecture notes in colourful presentation format, in a printable version and in note taking version so that students have options as to how they use this material.
  • I still provide hard copies for students who require this.
  • My power points set the material out so that it is succinct, accessible and provides students with essential information.
  • I provide links to additional sites and are gathering links to more relevant and interactive sites for students who like to play.
  • I provide an 'Additional Resources for Enthusiasts' folder with each topic and continue to add links to interesting articles, and relevant documents, policy and legislation. I make it clear that this folder is over and above course expectations but encourage students to look - many do.
  • I encourage students to contribute material they find to these folders too (currently via emailing it to me but I know there is a less labour intensive way)
  • I am encouraging students to use lap tops in the class room.
  • I have encouraged a student who was otherwise going to have to drop out to continue working through the material and communicate with me by email since the material was now nearly all available on line. She has wanted to be apologetic but I have been able to reassure her that she is helping me become more flexible. This arrangement is working well and I have a second student who needs to leave Dunedin and we have agreed to the same plan. So far I have just been depositing resources but this is encouraging me to move more towards incorporating lesson plans.
  • Increased variety in assessment I am now giving students the option of presenting assessments on line. In a recent assessment in my Level 4 class students working in groups could choose to do posters or power points. Three groups did poster and two did power points.
  • In my level 6 class students used power point to present legislation and leading up to this we all had a session with community computing learning how to use PP 2007. They went on to create collaborative google docs. I had no idea what I was doing but we all figured this out together which was mutually empowering and probably one of my best experiences of teaching ever.
  • Increased technology has increased opportunities to get students to share their work with one another and this enhances the whole teaching and learning experience all round.
  • I have also started to write more flexibility into assessments so that rather than accommodating students who struggle to present material in a specific way, I am working towards providing students with more choice regarding how they present and to a certain extent what they present. I still feel somewhat restricted by unit standards but think I am considerably more creative in my integration of these than some.

Flexible Things I Intend to Do!

  • Optional audio clips for all power point presentations
  • Optional audio clips for essential readings
  • Key words and terms linked to a thesaurus or a course based glossary of terms and optional audio clips with these.
  • Pre and post topic interactive quizzes/self evaluation survey's that are marked automatically and provide evidence of student having met course/unit standard learning outcomes. If students pass these at the beginning of a topic they could choose to skip the topic, identify their own learning outcomes to enhance overall learning on the topic or focus on one particular area or gap.
  • Increased range of interactive activities, games and or structured and guided lesson plans rather than just resources for each topic.
  • Second life based assessed activity - this could be great for demonstrating interpersonal skills
  • More creative assessment options for online
  • Capture the sense of connection and human interaction experienced in face to face setting - use of video introductions at the outset of each term and encouraged ongoing use. Use of blogging in plain English type information video's
  • More student directed learning / less spoon feeding and information shovelling
  • Remove the stress point from assessments as much as possible.
  • More peer and self evaluation, more collaborative assessment including collaborating with the teacher.
  • More use of online strategies that enable students to collaborate on course resources and content
  • More flexibility in assessments from the outset
  • Shift to 'Learning Facilitator rather than teacher or lecturer
  • Less summative and more formative assessment - blogging and google docs good for this
  • More emphasis on Journal tasks
  • More use of online discussion groups set up around group assessment tasks

Examples of Flexible Learning That My Plan Draws On

1) This Flexible Learning course
2) My Current Programme
3) Massage Course
4) Mid Wife Course
5) Occupational Therapy Course

Fit between my Flexible Learning Plan and Otago Polytechnic's strategic Direction

Otago Polytechnic's strategic direction in terms of flexible learning can be summed up as; 'accessability, learner autonomy and cost efficiency' . My plan is in synch with this stategic direction.

Considerations, Risks and Concerns

1) Upskilling me - I still haven't done an elluminate session, I haven't learnt to use moodle, I'm not comfortable with video, film and sound equipment and there is a lot I have to learn. But I'm not in fear of the technology anymore and I'm also not afraid of learning alongside students as I go. That said, I'd want to keep use of technology fairly basic at the outset

2) Personal sense of grief re loss of regular face to face sessions with my students. I find this group of students particularly rewarding to work with and will miss the contact.

3) Concerned about how to replicate my passion and enthusiasm on line as I think these qualities motivate and energise students. How to make it fun for everyone.

4) Concerned about how to get enough creativity and variety into online assessments and teaching - variety is the spice of life!

5) A little concerned that the course may not actually prove accessible to students in an online forum. Many are adamamant they would not want this format

6) Some concerns about timing of this change and related organisational requirements. Do I need to rewrite my programme document first and have it go through the academic approval process? Do I need to wait another year since prospectus has already gone out? Can I afford to wait another year in terms of my course sustainability?

7) How much time to reasonably and realistically expect from students completing the course on line and how to get this right

8) How do distance students afford contact blocks? Where do they stay? Are costs incorporated into fees or are they seperate.

9) How am I going to find the time to do this on top of my existing workload.