Monday, 5 March 2012

Tēnā koutou katoa, 
my name is Gina Huakau and currently I coordinate a paper for the School of Occupational Therapy called ‘Social Anthropology for Occupational Therapists’ (SAOT). The paper is a first year paper, and is part of the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (OT) Degree programme. I am one of three staff in the School who are not Occupational Therapists (OTs) but instead we offer a specific set of skills/expertise that support the OT undergraduate programme. (My background is in Anthropology, Education, Research and Community Development).

Last year, due to the redevelopment of the OT Bachelor Programme it was announced that SAOT will merge with another first year paper, ‘Concepts in Health’ (CIH) in 2013. I think Flexible Learning will help myself (and possibly the other course coordinator) keep our focus on students' learning and present options we may not have thought of as we begin the journey of developing a new approach to these subject areas. Our group of students are also located in different areas, the WINTEC campus in Hamilton, and in Otago so there is a logistical (and at times tecnological) challenge of having to teach one class but across two campuses. 

(See: Bron Marshall for link to image and recipie- yum yum)

One of the biggest challenges has been to (positively!) make the best of what we've got (hence the image above). Like all staff, there are times where we'ld like to employ a range of teaching methods and/or activites/interactions with students but we are unable to do so (ie because we are unable to replicate the activity in Hamilton and it becomes an equity issue, or the technology- ie video link to Hamilton- has not been successful so students have disengaged from this option as a learning tool). There have been some great successes however, including the development of stronger online component of the paper as well as maintaining critical face to face activities which have both received strong and positive feedback from students.

Kai pai to wiki, have a great week
Na, Gina


  1. Great to meet you online Gina. Yes it must be a challenge to cater to the two different groups in different locations. Hopefully this course will give you some ideas to explore. Your example illustrates how technology solutions need to be versatile enough to ensure access is enhanced not inhibited. Students will only spend so long battling before giving up in frustration. One of the signs of digital information literacy is the ability and confidence to persevere in spite of the barriers. However, to build this confidence initial access does need to be relatively easy.

    As you say the blend of online and face-to-face is ideal and certainly preferred by students for their learning.

    Have you any examples of the types of activities you would like to do with both groups of students?

    1. We have activities we do now such as hui and also in class activities as well as iindependent or group activities. At the moment the only activity we have as a whole class across both campuses is via the discussion forums.
      I think the main barrier (for me) at the moment is not knowing future staffing, for example if someone else is going to teach this paper in Wintec- then I can plan around this, but if not, then we are going to have to either look at techonological options such as VC for some lectures, and independent online learning for the rest. So just waiting to hear what the department thinks is best long term, and then we can look at what options we can explore in terms of delivery fo the paper this year and then again next year when it is merged with Concepts in Health...

  2. Hi Gina,

    Just a quick Note that may be of interest to you- I am trying to be flexible in a few weeks- I have scheduled all Hamilton OT yr 3 's to go into the town Wintec campus to a lecture hall that has video conferencing facilities so we can do a link with Penelope for a new course in yr 3 - PP3. This is just the intro session but it will be interesting to see how it works. As there are 7 staff now teaching on the 1 course in 4 blocks, it is important that all students get the same info on the expectations and assessments.
    I have sat in Wintec Rotokauri campus VC room (all on my own!) and talked to the year 3's in Dunedin last year- bit daunting as first time I had 'seen' them all! I am fearful of using adobe connect with students for linking up until the system settles down. That could be another barrier for students.
    I'll let you know how this goes as I hear that the OT school in Dunedin is getting a VC unit soon...


    1. Thanks Jayne for this- Be great to hear how this went and I must ask Pen too wehn I see her next because I've only heard staff's frustration so far but that is only in regard to staff meetings...

  3. Hi Gina, just wanted to second what Bron's difficult being flexible when you haven't the tools to do so. What aspects of flexibility do you wish to explore other than teaching tools/delivery?

    1. I'm not sure to be honest. As the course has been developed over the past 2 years from solely online to blended the feedback I got from students so far is positive in terms of the different pathways students can have in interacting with the course. I think to strengthen this- it will be good to offer more options in regard to having students participate in an activity (either online or F2F) but also receive more opportunities for individual and/or group feedback as they go through the course. Of course this has to be balanced within the logistics of the course. I've been told that the time allocated for assessment per student (which includes individual feedback I give students in discussion forums) is budgetted around 1 hour per student for the whole course... so this is something I'm trying to work out as we have to manage marking loads... hmmm still a work in progress I think!