Wednesday, 21 March 2012

I korero maua ko Ron i te "What is Flexible Learning?" - Ron and Gina talked about...

 Ron and I caught up last week to progress this activity, but we were both distracted with news of down South. So we thought we'ld leave it, and catch up via email- here is where we got to...

From: Ron Bull
Sent: Monday, 19 March 2012 9:47 a.m.
To: Gina Huakau
Subject: RE: FL course - Activity 2

Kia ora Gina.

I feel the same about the possibilities and the responsibilities of flexible learning.

Having taught in the University context for years I became both used to and wary of the efficacy of the face to face, one to many, I talk and you listen approach to teaching.

The initial premise of flexible learning being focused on outcomes based on student needs (not denying external and associated political issues associated with same) is sound and I believe the right direction that tertiary education should be heading.  From my business days I would see this as a move towards a consumer focused model: we are looking now at the needs of the consumer.  This bring to mind to other catch words from my old days, 'effective and efficient' management of time and resources.

Time will tell if the move towards flexible learning strategies produces better outcomes, one would suppose this to be the case.  Therefore this approach may meet the 'effective' test.

But how 'efficient' is the implementation of these strategies.

Nagging at the back of my mind is what price do lecturing staff have to pay to deliver this type of learning.

I find this analogous to the rise of technology in the workplace specifically the use of cell phones.  These were touted as being wonderful new devices that would free us from our desks and allow for flexibility within the workplace.  One could argue, and many have, that the workplace has now expanded to include our private space, physical and chronological.

Looking at how I teach now as opposed to within the University context, I would describe myself as being semi flexible, I use a variety of media to make my point: face to face lectures, Moodle including PowerPoint presentations, embedded videos audio recordings of the lectures, audio on top of PowerPoint, adobe connect as well as individual meetings, e-mail correspondence etc.  I know that I still have much to learn to make my teaching practice more effective.

My point is that I am now reproducing my face to face lectures in at least two other formats in the quest to become an effective flexible educator.   Given other pressures of expectation within the institution and the sector generally (e.g. PBRF), along with external obligations, where would my break-even point be?  At what point would the balance between effective and efficient tip one way or the other?

The need to be more flexible in the way we teach how we conduct learning experiences is important if we are want to meet the needs of those consuming our product (students), but this must be balanced with efficiency measures to ensure educators and associated staff are not overburdened with the weight of expectation that would cause negative impact on other tasks within either the academy, our private space or both.

Just some thoughts.


-----Original Message-----
From: Gina Huakau
Sent: Saturday, 17 March 2012 4:16 p.m.
To: Ron Bull
Subject: FL course - Activity 2
Importance: High

Kia ora Ron.

Here are the 4 questions re: FL- I've posted some thinking below... G

    What does the term Flexible Learning mean to you?

Lots of work! Lol. Flexible learning means to me greater choices for both how students learn and how I facilitate a course.
Helping students achieve a learning outcome/skill is no longer confined to one mode of delivery.

    Why is it necessary to use a more flexible approach in your work?

Because we have to, there is now so much literature (not to mention education statistics) that show if we don't get to grips with offering viable and multiple pathways to learning- we again have another generation who miss out on an opportunity.
Having a more flexible approach in our mahi is way more interesting too.

    What do you need to explore to help this happen?

I need some IT gurus to help me get a fat ethernet cable between Waikato and Otago so the class can interact more with each other!
Be great to work more with OT colleagues to look at cross-overs so we can have a better flexible approach between courses (we've started this)

    What goals do you have for using Flexible Learning in your work?

Better engagement with students- especially North Island cohort.
Increased opportunities for students to interact with the course and get more from it.



  1. Hi Gina, apart from thinking about flexibility of communication and content delivery, have you thought about how else we could be enrolment dates...access to courses...assessment? cheers Sarah

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  3. Hi Sarah, from what I understand there is no flexibility in enrolment dates or access to this course as it's part of the Bachelor programme for OT. There is some flexilibility in the delivery, but still fairly restricted. For example I am told each year how many F2F hours I have and how many self directed hours. I then juggle my course to fit this criteria. One year I was given no F2F hours. After feedback from studnets I was able to make a case, and the following year I was allocated some F2F hours, so there is some flexibility between years. There is also some flexibility in terms of assessment dates. I changed my major assessment so it was due earlier than the students' other assessments from other papers. From feedback it seems that students appreciated this - well after the fact of course! Thanks Gina