Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Draft Presentation of my FL plan

Kia ora koutou

Congratulations on nearly finishing!

I've separated my draft presentation of my FL plan into 3 parts.

You can choose which you want to watch and as the links connect to swf files you can skip through any material. The files do contain sound but they are fine just to read through as well so if you don't like the beats - you can mute it. I do let you know when there is actual audio clips (there are 3 interviews in total with other learners). Also they take a couple minutes to load...

 Here's a summary...

1. Introduction- looks at my understanding of FL (3 minutes). see LINK

2. Part 2 discusses how key learning theories, concepts (such as Cultural Sensitivity) and organisational policies/strategies continue to shape FL in my course (4 minutes). see LINK

3. I look at one learning approach and discuss how access, equity, diversity, inclusivity, sustainability & open education factors can shape flexible learning specific to this context. (NOTE: the presentation is 5 minutes- but there are 2 interviews worth listening to for about 5 minutes also -your choice!). see LINK

I am presenting next Monday and any feedback is welcome.
In my presentation I intend to pick a few key slides from the above presentations so I can keep to time...
Thanks Gina

PS here are the url details to cut and paste into your browser if the links above are not working....

1. INTRO:                               http://swfcabin.com/open/1340121532
2. KEY CONCEPTS:             http://www.swfcabin.com/open/1340122766
3. EXAMPLE:                        http://www.swfcabin.com/open/1340123101

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Activity 12: Tertiary Education Strategy

How do your ideas for flexible learning, and those of your organisation or consultancy fit (or not) with the TES for NZ? 

To tell you the truth I preferred the other activity for this part- but maybe that’s because I survived 10 years working for the Ministry…  The TES is a broad overview with the aim of causing change at a systems level which ‘trickles’ down to communities, groups, individuals. My focus in teaching is a ground up approach that focusses on an individual’s learning, and then goes out to groups, communities, systems. Although they are part of the same education picture- this difference in approach isn’t always easy to translate amongst the two. The other area that is hard to tackle is that the TES obviously is politically motivated to encourage societal change (for the best?), whereas an organisation’s strategy needs to be robust enough to endure political intent and maintain future focus, as obviously a government’s focus changes over time (or more to the point government and Ministers change over time!). So that is the other reason that I am more motivated to look at OP’s strategy... and see how it’s placed.

In broad terms, yes my education philosophy supports the expectations outlined in the TES for the tertiary sector . In terms of how FL can be used to support these ideas, there has been some amazing innovative practices going on across the education sector to draw from -from Homework centres, to Computers in Home projects, and more recently with innovative practices in Christchurch – the disappointing part in this however is that sometimes the funding has been locked within ‘trials’ and it seems to be increasingly difficult to get innovative approaches shifted into operational funding. 

So I would say that ‘yes’ my ideas for FL could fit with the TES’s broad statements, but the practical reality of how these ideas are implemented  takes a bit more effort to align with the TES. For example, there is a major focus on the retention of Maori and Pasifika students in tertiary education in the TES. I’m really lucky that in my course there is key learning in both of these 'focus' areas- but I have little influence how OP or OT attracts and supports Maori and/or Pasifika students into my course. Therefore in meeting TES goal of retention and course completion among Maori and Pasifika my course on one hand would look strong (last year this was 100%), but actual student numbers are very small- less than 10% in my class identified as Maori and I had no Pasifika students in 2011. Is it fair my course seems   potentially more ‘viable’ in regard to meeting one of the major TES goals when in reality the numbers of students entering the course is still low compared with population rates?  

I was also interested in your comment Bronwyn “The tertiary education sector is highly competitive, and now that funding is shrinking even further organisations are scrabbling for a slice of the pie. Is Flexible Learning the answer?” 

I too have heard FL being promoted as a $$$ saving option –as learners are given a wide range of choices to access knowledge and skills, which means that you can mitigate some operational costs such as lecture theatres etc.  But it is very difficult to define true cost-saving given that there are a lot of hidden dollars in the tertiary sector picture. (For example with staff marking time, costs to individual learners for own IT equipment, internet usage etc). I remember at OP staff inductions with HR it was relayed to new staff that having a blended approach has helped saved the institution money- which I believe is true- but I also know staff who have left because of burn-out issues (not just at OP but across the sector as a whole), and I wonder how ‘actuals’ are calculated into this mix of determining cost? 

What do you need to include in your plan to fit with the TES for NZ?
I think the most important action I can take is to continue to offer quality teaching of which FL is part of this picutre. Obviously this is a core intent of our learners, but If I can maintain and grow my quality teaching practice, then my students aren’t going to drop out (and therefore I can help meet TES’s focus on student retention).

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Activity 11- Indigenous Learners

How can you include examples of New Zealand's indigenous culture in the design of your eLearning courses - language, society, history, political issues etc.?

My whole course is based on building cultural understanding and capacity amongst students and it looks indepth at our indigenous culture and historical contexts that shape Aotearoa to what it is today. This includes offering:
  •  Face to face workshops and tutorials
  • Guest speakers
  • Moodle packages- Exe, voice over powerpoint, key links (TED, YouTube and to other references) readings, discussion forums 
  •  Key text book and readings 
  •  Noho Marae for 2 days
  •  Interaction/conversation opportunities with Manawhenua specific to their area

What approaches can you utilise to meet the needs of indigenous learners?

I think it’s important to first understand who indigenous learners are. Indigenous learners to me, means Māori, because we are teaching in the context of Aotearoa. This term also means to me Iwi- and it’s important to understand the differences between these two terms and how they are applied and why.

I use a variety of approaches to enhance ako across all my learners. In terms of Māori learners specifically, I offer the opportunity for Māori students to identify and express themselves as Māori, I pronounce their names correctly and learn what they are prepared to share about their whakapapa through the ritual of mihi. This is the beginning of building relationships between kaiako and tauira which is sustained throughout the course period. I also take the responsibility of responding to any ‘hard’ issues (for example one module we talk about is the Springbok tour and racism). The issues and debates are facilitated by me, and not directed at any persons. This is important to maintain respect while challenging each other about ideas.

Outline any experiences you have had working with indigenous learners.

Heaps! This is a weird question to me, it’s like asking have I had any experience teaching Pakeha students?  I’ve been lucky enough to have worked throughout the education system from developing policy in the Ministry of Education, right through to ECE- so it’s a bit hard not to come across indigenous learners really. My own whanau have given me some good experience too!

What were some of the challenges that you and the learners faced?

We always face challenges as educators and sometimes they can be daily. In terms of Māori specifically, I think it’s coming up with strategies that best support Māori learner needs. This may involve a range of support not traditionally offered in a tertiary setting, for example offering support in researching whakapapa. Most iwi have information online, so sometimes it’s about linking them up with Student Support services at OP so they can support them to connect with their iwi/hapu/whaanu.

The other challenge is not buying into the deficit model. I think the SimPa project at OP was a good example of this where it celebrates the innovative and creative practice of Māori in collaborative research. SimPa wa a project whereby manawhenua in collaboration with OP’s IT department created a virtual Pa site- an application whereby people could see what the Pa site of Kati Huirapa ki te Puketeraki looked like before colonisation.

I think by having clear expectations and clear communication go a long way in getting good results for students and facilitators.

How did this affect their learning?

Knowing who your learners are; is really important to me so I’ve built this into my course in the first couple of workshops and tutorials. It also gives students a chance to get to know each other better. It surprises me that although students have been together in the first semester, they comment that until they go away on their noho marae, until they have to formally introduce themselves in the context of mihi, they didn’t know each other as a class. This building of relationships affects their learning by offering them a sustainable force that they can use especially in the following years when they go on placement for longer periods of time and as the Bachelor programme becomes more demanding.

Activity Ten - Sustainability…

I really enjoyed the YouTube clip by Sir Ken Robinson . The only criticism I have is the title- ‘Do Schools kill creativity’- I think needs to be expanded to –‘Is our education system killing creativity?’
Ken speaks about how our public school system is a protracted entity to produce university or tertiary sector entrants and graduates, and I tend to agree- but it’s not because this is wrong per se, but because this goal is becoming increasingly narrow in determining the ‘only’ pathway  for students post-compulsory.

If you want to watch another interesting YouTube clip on the NZ education system then check out this:  Natural Standards. PLEASE NOTE it’s totally politically biased- but very interesting all the same, especially watching it after Ken’s talk.

So for me sustainability involves a multi-level approach that recognises the inter-connectedness between systems, people, and communities.  It also involves responsibility in that our actions do impact on others and it’s working out how to minimise harm, and accentuate the positive.

If I start with sustainability as a person, for me it’s about recognising who the learners are in my class and acknowledge that they are part of the bigger picture (They may have family, job, other course commitments beyond my course). One of the key changes I made to my course last year was to re-design the assessment schedule so they were due at different times to  assessments in other papers. Most assessments in year 1 OT were due at the end of the year, but by adjusting the assessment schedule in this paper, this meant that the work ‘peak’ in the SAOT paper did not clash with work ‘peaks’ in other papers. The feedback from students last year strongly supported this change.

 I found the reading on how to calculate assessments interesting, especially when it came to estimating reading times. I think having a flexible approach here, i.e. not just readings, but also posting links needs to be factored into the time consideration as what I realised is that it may be quicker to do a short reading, than to watch a 20minute video link… So although it’s good to offer students flexible options, I think it would be also helpful to outline the time factor so students can make an informed choice when picking reference material.

The other sustainability factor that I think I need to consider, is that the course as a whole needs to be sustainable within the department, as well as for individual staff who are teaching it. The OT department has now identified a staff member who can teach this course in Wintec which is great, as it provides more ‘sustainability’ to this course over time, as well having continuity for students and department.

The “system” is also another important factor when it comes to sustainability. If the system that wraps around this course (Moodle, Administration and IT support, HR, Management etc.) fails in some way, the whole course can be jeopardised as many parts are now inter-linked. Another system I have to think about is how this course impacts specifically in regard to certain groups of people - for exmaple local iwi when we go to marae, other OT professionals, when students are on placement, etc.

How my course impacts on the environment is also a concern too. This involves thinking about the use of resources, for example do students need to hand in hard copies of assignments, or can they all be submitted electronically? As students participate in noho marae- this is another good example where we are constantly thinking of ways to minimise waste and energy use- as there is nothing like shared living to highlight a resource issue!

Activity Nine- Technologies

Technology… I must say I have had my fair share of it this year! This year my job at Uni required me to do a course that involved making a VLOG (Video-Log) to explore developing a digital ethnographic account of a piece of research that I had conducted. It was a really interesting paper- but I had to quickly get comfortable with I-Movie software and also a Flip camera which I hadn’t used before.  I found this experience really rewarding as it reminded me what it’s like to not only learn about a subject area, but also to master new technology which became increasingly important as my assessment was tied to the ‘production’ of my  ideas through this trend technology.

The experience also made me think about the course I teach at OP, and how I could integrate technology into a learning activity. 

I would like to introduce trend technology to an existing activity where we use discussion forums currently.  Basically I ask students to reflect on learning that we do as a class, and then apply this learning to their OT placement setting. When they do this they have to reflect on what they can observe and how this relates to what they have learnt in class and through our Moodle packages. Students’ ideas are expressed individually in a discussion forum but last year we had some ‘back n forth’ discussion which I would like to encourage more. 

I would like to offer the opportunity for students to post ideas in other ways such as via recordings- either audio (could also include picutres) or via videos uploaded to YouTube.

In brief the key learnings would be:
  • To apply key concepts discussed each week in class and through Moodle resources and relate these  to the placement that students are on.
  • Reflections can be made in writing on the discussion board, or via audio recordings uploaded to Moodle, or via Vlogs uploaded to Youtube- with links detailed in the discussion forum
Recordings can be made via students’ own equipment such as their personal phones or cameras, but the OT department has gear that can be booked including audio devices and Ipads that students can access.

The main reason to have a flexible approach in this activity is to encourage students to have a go at taking a key concept and seeing how this relates to ‘reality’ of what they are observing at an OT placement. It’s also a great way for students to learn from each other, for example if a student is struggling with a concept, they can have a look at another student’s posts to see what they are observing and reflecting about. 

Finally by offering students the opportunity to reflect in a medium that they feel most comfortable with this should mean that better learning can be achieved. Some students are worried about what they ‘write’ in a discussion forum but are more comfortable ‘telling’ their story, and vice versa. At the end of the day it’s not how the information is shared, but what experiences students are communicating about with the class as a whole.

The information online is also a great reference tool as each discussion forum’s topic relates to an assessment that students have to complete at the end of the course.

Activity Eight- Theory

The theoretical approach I have chosen is constructivist theory where in its broadest description
“… is the theory that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_%28learning_theory%29).

I have found this theory useful as it recognises that the learner brings capacity, that the learner constructs meaning through experience, and that interaction plays a key part in developing ideas.
However, given that the majority of students that I teach are generally novices to not only Social Anthropology but also to Occupational Therapy, my application of constructivist theory also has a caveat with it in that I have developed some set guidelines to help students work through this course. I provide support structures in class and via Moodle to offer a framework for their thinking as they begin to explore SA.  Some of these structures are quite set and they step students through a certain activity- with the aim of the students participating more independently towards the end of the course.

Criticisms of a purely constructivist approach for novice learners have claimed that teaching/learning should encourage “…cognitive activity rather than behavioural activity, instructional guidance rather than pure discovery, and curricular focus rather than unstructured exploration”.  (Meyer, 2004 P.14). Meyer goes on to argue that it is important to focus on theory-based research which explains how people learn (Meyer, 2004. P.18). Recently, there has been some in-depth research looking at this theme of best evidence (in determining positive learning outcomes for students) within a New Zealand context in the compulsory education sector. 

One particular piece of influential research has been the ‘Best Evidence Synthesis’ by Timperley, Wilson, Barrar and Fung (2007) and ‘Te Kotahitanga’  by Bishop, Berryman, Cavanagh and Teddy (2009) which focuses on the educational disparities faced by Māori. These both have had a major influence and provide the backbone of recent education policy changes developed by the Ministry of Education including ‘Ka Hikitia’ and also the redevelopment of the Pasifika Education Plan.

A key outcome from Bishop’s work is the focus on the relationship between teacher and student and how this directly impacts on learning outcomes for students. Although this research is within the compulsory sector, the demand for quality relationships between students and ‘lectures/facilitators’ and how this determines education outcomes will also be a challenge for the post-compulsory sector. The post-compulsory sector will have to think of innovative ways to realise this and blended learning certainly plays a part in addressing this, as well as understanding the learning needs of students and facilitators in a post-compulsory setting.

Activity 7- OER - To share or not to share...

I must say I found this really interesting. I had a very 'surface' idea of waht OER was all about. Of course I found out more on the wiki link that Brownwyn referred to and on Wikipedia. The main ideas that stood out for me is sharing, collaboration and accessibility. I enjoyed reading Fiona's post and her comments about 'midwifery junction', it also showed me the delicate balance of having an 'open methodology' but having to restrict it to midwives in order to manage risk (unwanted media attention). In defining OER - it definitely is a philosophy that I can see would be challenging for some and I can't help but compare this with my work I do at University (whereby no academic files are networked and only you have accesss to your own files via your own computer) compared to here at OP where  there seems to be more opportunities to collaborate.

In terms of what strategies I could use, I haven't put anything online before to openly share and at first I was unsure about 'ownership'- which I know is not part of the philosophy of OER. After reading 'Open Education Practices: A User Guide for Organisations' it was great to learn about how the development of OP's IP and Maori IP came to be developed and how OER is central to this thinking in the policies. Although I haven't put anything online before- I have mentioned before in other posts that I'm part of a group of educators here in Dunedin and we swap lectures- but we also swap resources too. We especially do this when running workshops but I'm not sure how 'open' this is, as it's a group that we've known each other a long time and we haven't been asked to extend this invitation.

I posed the question 'To share or not to share'- as I wanted to note that although in principal I believe that open education resources and philosophies are important for teaching and learning, I think it's also important that I fully understsnd the implications involved about sharing resources- especially when they have been developed by a group of people or could effect others in some way.

The quote below from 'Open Education Practices: A User Guide for Organisations' highlighted to me the complexity involved when talking about knowledge, guardianship, and ownership across cultures;

To ensure the values of New Zealand’s Maori are protected, and to accommodate a different concept of ownership, a Maori IP Policy was developed in consultation with the local Maori Ngai Tahu law office. Broadly speaking, the Polytechnic’s role in this area is one of guardianship of Maori IP and knowledge. The concept of guardianship has also been extended to students’ IP.

In thinking about this and with some of the resources I have helped to develop, I would have to dedicate some hard thinking and discussion if they are mine to share?

Activity 6: Planning: BLOG versus BIOGRAPHIES

Hi everyone,
Had an interesting discussion about ‘Blogs versus biographies’ as we begin to ‘nut out’ the details for the merging of  Social Anthropology and Concepts in Health papers - in Occupational Therapy.
We had a face to face meeting that involved me, Alexa (course coordinator for Concepts in Health), Karen – Bachelors coordinator and Merrolee – Academic Leader Postgraduate Programme. One area we discussed is the logistics of fitting these two papers together. Alexa pointed out that students in her course read a biography to gain an in-depth understanding of people living with disabilities and work on this throughout the semester. We are still unsure how this part of the course can work in the new merged course so we started to suggest some alternative ways to engage students in the area of disabilities. Merrolee later emailed us all about using blogs….

From: Merrolee Penman
Sent: Friday, 18 May 2012 10:19 a.m.
To: Alexa Andrew; Gina Huakau; Karen Blackwood
Subject: blogs versus biographies

Hi guys
I know that the biography was an important way of helping students to gain insights into people living with health issues.. I wondered whether it is also useful to start thinking about blogs… as these also give real insight into the daily issues of living with a disability…
Here is an example a Uni of Salford student had found for her first year viva..
If you want to check what she says on FB KB…  here is the link:
look at recent posts and Clare Murphy Jackson!

Merrolee Penman, MA(Educ), DipTeach(Tert), NZROT
Academic Leader Postgraduate Programmes
School of Occupational Therapy
Otago Polytechnic

From: Alexa Andrew
Sent: Monday, 21 May 2012 9:08 a.m.
To: Merrolee Penman; Gina Huakau; Karen Blackwood
Subject: RE: blogs versus biographies

Hi Merrolee,
Thanks for the thought but there are a couple of other reasons I don’t want to go the technology way – most people don’t read well on a computer screen but more importantly I think being forced to read a book is really good for the students – most of them enjoy the experience and the indepth insite they get from a book and it reminds them of an important leisure activity that most do not participate in. Alexa

RE: blogs versus biographies
Merrolee Penman
Sent:            Monday, 21 May 2012 9:10 a.m.
To:                Alexa Andrew; Gina Huakau; Karen Blackwood

True.. . but they can’t engage with the biographer.. whereas (and this would mean they would need to be checked too to ensure it was a blog with sufficient depth and perhaps history of postings).. they can with a blogger.. so they in theory could be asking the blogger to perhaps expand on an experience etc… 
 It was just a thought really as you have to look at the number of undirected supervised hours and the time it takes to read a biography 

It’s an interesting point as both the book and blogs have strengths and I wonder if we can look at a more flexible approach by offering different options for students to gain in-depth perspective/understanding of people living with disabilities?

Overall I think the ‘big’ picture is coming together for the merged courses, however we do need some time to sit down and work out details. Both Alexa and myself have recently re-written both of our courses- so now is the opportune time to re-visit and see what works and what doesn’t. We have been allocated some time in Semester 2 to do this, but realistically it probably won’t happen for another couple of months due to our teaching commitments during this time. I’m sure Karen will be keeping us on task!