Tuesday, 5 June 2012

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!

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