Designing for Flexible Learning Practice

Start & Finish Dates: 14 February to 22 June 2007

Facilitators: Leigh Blackall - leighblackall[AT]gmail[DOT]com

Bronwyn Hegarty -,

Terry Marler -

Phone: 0800 762 786 ext 8360

SMS Code: LT702001-06.01 Total Learning Hours: 100


Welcome to Designing for Flexible Learning Practice. A range of flexible methods will be used to provide content, activities, communication and assessment. The course will include three scheduled face-to-face workshops (dates and times listed on the online course), and some short optional workshops for technical skills (dates and times to be negotiated) as well as online virtual classroom sessions (dates and times to be negotiated).


To enhance the understanding of flexible teaching and learning principles and processes, and their application to the design of flexible learning practices.

Learning Outcomes

At the successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Discuss principles and processes of flexible teaching and learning to facilitate culture sensitive adult learning;

2. Critique the design and application of existing flexible teaching and learning options in relation to the literature;

3. Analyse and evaluate challenges that arise in the design of flexible learning environments;

4. Explore and justify the strategies for the development of flexible learning environments;

5. Create and evaluate a plan for the implementation of a flexible learning experience.


Content will include some or all of the following items, depending on the students’ interests:

  1. Description and models of flexible teaching and learning (situated, problem-based, scenario-based, action learning, open and distance, resource-based, distributed, networked), association with learning theories - constructivist versus behaviourist, experiential.

  2. Why it is an option, history, present practices, future need, policy and procedures, governing issues (MoE, institutional strategy), current research. Align with adult learning theories, learning styles/preferences. Factors to consider - lifelong learning and continuing education, learning communities.

  3. Examples of case studies from the literature and in use in the educational sector (New Zealand; Tangata Whenua and Pasifica, Australia and international) – what works, what doesn’t – investigate design options and elements associated with quality (interactivity, engagement, authenticity) and guidelines in use.

  4. Overview of issues - workload, learner needs and support (physical, technical, access, psychological, lifestyle, geographical, commitments), staff support and staff development. Cultural considerations and alignment with the Treaty of Waitangi. Global factors.

  5. Exposure to strategies currently in use in the sector, motivation, communication, feedback, self-paced and self-directed options, engagement, interactivity, relevance of the learning options, overview of technology solutions (e-learning), investigation of learner need, support services, library options.

  6. Development of a framework, application of design, creation of a plan and process - choice of learning situation, project planning. Evaluate and peer review plans.


There are
four assessment activities that will help the facilitators to gauge your participation and learning in this course. Some people may need technical assistance with aspects of the assessment activities, therefore, weekly workshops will be offered. Please talk to the facilitators about the options.

  1. 20/100 - Learning weblog. For this assignment you will be asked to keep a record of the what, how and why of your learning about flexible learning and teaching; this will be ongoing throughout the course.

  • To do this you will be asked to keep a written record online, which you can use later as a website for your teaching - you may also like to keep written, pictorial, audio and video records as well.

  • You can discuss with the facilitators whether you make all or part of your weblog private –

  • to yourself only,

  • and/or available to the class and your facilitators ,

  • or public.

  • The weblog will need to include references for material you have been reading and exploring, and evidence of how you have gone about planning for flexible learning in your workplace.

  • Use the Hegarty Reflective Framework and Template, with which you have been provided, as a guide to how you can record your learning.

Due date: submit this assignment at the end of the course - 22 June 2007

  1. 20/100 – Teaching resource. For this assignment you will need to develop materials for teaching others a skill. The resource may be for use in a class – face-to-face, blended, online, or it could inform colleagues.

  • You will need to outline and discuss your ideas with the class and with the facilitators.

  • You will be assisted to scope and prepare a plan for creating the resource.

  • The resource could be a text-based handout, or an audio recording with an expert, a slide presentation, a screen recording of a particular piece of computer software, a video on how to use some form of hardware or how to interact in class; or anything else you think is useful.

  • Announce and publish the resource through your web log and via the agreed communication channel.

Due date: aim to have this resource completed by the eighth week of the course.

  1. 10/100 - Reference list. This is an assignment which will be ongoing throughout the course.

  • You will be shown how to use and maintain http://del.ici.ous – a social bookmarking facility on the web – to search for, share and store material you will need for flexible learning.

  • Write brief notes in del.ici.ous about the usefulness of each resource.

  • You will be shown how to set up this list in the second week of the course.

Due date: submit this assignment at the end of the course - 22 June 2007

  1. 50/100 - Flexible learning plan. All the other assignments lead into this final assignment which is a plan for how you intend to introduce flexibility into a course or programme in your work area. The facilitators will assist you with design ideas and will help you to develop your plan.

  • Use the Flexible Learning Scope template to record your initial design ideas. Your scope will need to include the following items:

  • a profile of student characteristics both at enrolment and on completion (learner profile and graduate profile, respectively)

  • issues and considerations and solutions to address these.

    • For example, not all students will have access to broadband, therefore one solution may be to provide material online and on CDROM.

  • strategies and methods you intend to use, to create a flexible learning experience.

    • For example, students may be asked to take digital photos of plants in the Botanic Gardens and prepare an identification chart for an assessment. This could replace a formal lecture.

  • Gather feedback from your peers on your draft flexible learning scope.

  • Modify your scope as necessary.

Due date: Aim to have your draft Flexible learning plan available by the 12th week of the course. The final flexible learning plan is due on the end date of the course – 22 June 2007.

Note: Your draft plan should be discussed with your Head of Department and other members of your department if possible.

Attendance Requirements

Attendance is not a requirement for successful completion.

Completion requirements

To achieve a pass for this course, participants must successfully complete all assessments.

Recommended Reading - links to these resources have been added to the online classroom.

  • Anderson, Terry (2005). Social software: Bridging the gap between independent and collaborative learning. ODLAA conference proceedings, Breaking down Boundaries, Adelaide, Australia. Available at:

  • Anderson, T. & Elloumi, F. (Eds) (2003). Theory and practice of online learning. Canada: Athabasca University. Available at:

  • Blackall, L. (2005). Teach and Learn Online.

  • Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2002). Flexible learning in a digital world, experiences and expectations. London: Kogan Page.

  • Downes, S. Audio recordings, in particular - the eLearning 2.0 series.

  • Ellis, A., Torokfalvy, P. and Carswell. L. (1998). A development strategy for subjects delivered in flexible mode. ASCILITE conference proceedings, Flexibility the next wave? University of Wollongong. Available at:

  • Hegarty, B. (2004). The Impact of Technology on the Quality of Teaching and Learning in Tertiary Institutions: Literature Review. Project completed as part of the requirements for a Doctorate in Education, University of Wollongong, NSW.

  • Jonassen, D. (1998). Designing constructivist learning environments. In C.M. Reigeluth (ed.) Instructional Theories and Models, Mahwah, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum.

  • Lockwood, F., & Gooley, A.(Eds.). (2001). Innovation in open & distance learning. London: Kogan Page.

  • Marler, T. (2005). Strategies to enhance synergies between online learning communities and communities of practice. ODLAA conference proceedings, Breaking down Boundaries, Adelaide, Australia. Available at:

  • Reushle, S., Dorman, M., Evans, P., Kirkwood, J., McDonald, J., and Worden, J. (1999). Critical elements: Design for online teaching. Proceedings of ASCILITE99. Available at:

  • Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism - A learning theory for a digital age.

  • Sloan, R. & Thompson, M. (2005). 8 Minute Movie - Evolving Personalised Media Construct (EPIC) -


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