Some excellent activity this week and it is great to see some of you "talking" to each other. Hopefully, the next two weeks will give you all some space to do some more exploring and reflecting in your blogs.

in this week's post, has provided a good overview of part-time, block and blended options taking us back to1914 seems so long ago does it not? It is good to read your historical overview of where Otago Polytechnic has been and where it is going. I wonder, how does "cramming" courses into a longer academic year - across semesters and summer schools perhaps, or by offering intensive block courses benefit learners?

Do we do this to get a certain amount of content across to them in a specified time frame, or to help them explore and create knowledge for themselves? My feeling is that it is for the former purpose. Content and facts to meet industry standards are mandatory. But where is the time allowance for thinking and synthesizing and sharing ideas with others?

Part-time often means students are juggling other responsibilities. I wonder how can we help people enjoy learning through true flexibility?

is sailing in more settled waters this week and mentions the golden fleece of Fl and the long awaited collaboration with another organisation. Athena like others has mentioned the debate proposed by the oracle Yochai Benkler, and she is interested in the benefits of collaboration. It would be good to hear about the ways this might work.

also mentions plans for collaborative flexible learning in her post, and like Megan's example the project is between midwifery education providers. There is a very good list of arguments for and against open access. For example, "losing control of the material" may not be a good thing, and "opening up the learning opportunities". Carolyn uses a very good example from Harvard university to illustrate her points and demonstrates a clear argument for open learning.

Alli in her post, has compiled some definitions about this week's topic, and written a good critique relating several items to her work. She mentions that open learning is, "another term for flexible (any where, any time, any place, anybody." The points Alli made reminded me how difficult it is in business and government regulated models of education, to provide "open learning". One aspect of open learning means education which you can start and finish when it suits. This is very hard to do when people have to enrol and conform to organisational time frames and enrolment systems. It can also mean free entry education where pre-requisites are not required.

It is good to see that RPL is an area Alli will be able to incorporate into her "training package design and assessment" because "60% of the participants have received little formal training".

Chef (Dunedin)
in this week's post reports on some reading he has been doing about the benefits of open courseware, and states, "using open sources as resource helps flexible learning and student-centered learning.." With respect to open and networked education - I wonder why this philosophy will help "flexible learning and student-centered learning"?

Chef @ polycrom has been doing some thinking around distance and online learning this week. And came to some conclusions about how he could be "more flexible to the idea about distance learning and practical sessions". There is also some great information about problem-based learning to "chew over". Watch chef's space to see what emerges in his design plan.

Pen has some great examples from her discipline and a good critique of the pitfalls. It is a great pity that libraries haven't caught up with the idea that distance for some is not just about geographical location. It seems as if the innovative staff who offer distance programmes before an organisation is fully on board with it, have to battle constantly to get support from the basic services. The occupational therapy dept seems to be very caring towards students and has found some very workable solutions and leapt over the hurdles as you will find out when you read Pen's post.

Susan has made a very good observation about the design of a course and teacher presence in this week's post. I love the new word she has created- "wordverificationnavigationloopsusernamepasswordID" to describe some of the fish hooks which online connectivity can impale itself on. The idea of several levels of interaction in a course such as this is also worth exploring.

Susan's post previously is a good critique of the usefulness of technologies in teaching and learning. She mentions from the reading by Ellis et al, (2006) - "conceptions of blended learning that emphasize technological media at the expense of student learning, tend to be associated with using media to deliver information or to even replace some responsibilities of being a teacher."

For this example, use of 50 min videos in class springs to mind. Teachers are often guilty of this and leave the class to watch while they go away and catch up on admin.

How much better the learning experience would be for students if they were given several short video clips to critique, and a set of questions to ponder and discuss amongest a group. Or if the teacher remained in the classroom and played short sections of the video - then got groups to discuss the item using pre-prepared questions - if the teacher did this all the way through and then summarised the discussions at the end, the learning opportunity would be magnified 20 fold.

Susan has asked some excellent questions and one is: "How do the facilitators think they teach through the emphasis on technological media in their design?"

This leads me to reply that the predominantly online format has been chosen for DFLP due to the current trends in education for web-based resources and social networking as a means of interaction. In this age of digital information and the need for high level literacy and self-efficacy (belief in one's ability & confidence), it is essential that DFLP models innovative strategies for online learning and interaction.

If staff in the tertiary sector are unable to meet the requirements of the Digital Strategy in NZ for online content, confidence and connection with communities, business and government then this will have far reaching effects for NZ's potential in the global economy. See:

On the website you can - "View the Draft Digital Strategy 2.0 online and participate in the online discussions provided at the end of each section, or participate in the digital strategy wiki where you can make suggested edits and add comments."

Submissions close 5pm Monday 12 May.


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