hmm, Week 9 was a bit of a hick up our end sorry. So if you've been up to speed with us and were attempting week 9 this past week then you have no doubt been a bit confused. Everything is in order now. The problem was thatright up until Wednesday last week we were adjusting the course wiki as confirmation of Dr Mann's talk was still being finalised. Unfortunately, we forgot that we had already copied and pasted instructions to the blog earlier in the week! So those of you who have been using the course blog to obtain instructions were out of the loop. In future, I think we will simply link to the course wiki to announce instructions so that this blog doesn't risk neglect like that and we end up putting different instructions out there. We're sorry about that mistake.

Thankfully only 2 people have posted responses to week 9 on Sustainability, and those responses have been understandably brief. Sustainability is of course an important consideration when designing for flexible learning, so I hope people will be willing to have another go. The recording of Dr Mann's talk is well worth listening to.

We are basically trying to get people to take a very broad view of sustainability, through consideration of the triple bottom lines: ecological, economic and social sustainability. From those bottom lines we are asking you to build up and relate them into your plans. How does social sustainability relate to your plan? It might be that by making your course open access, you are helping society become more easily educated in your field and so that might be having a positive affect of a sustained improvement of society. It might be through considering the holistic impact of the professions you are teaching for that you help develop practitioners that are able to have a positive ecological and economic impact in a wider range of areas in their work - this is certainly something Sam Mann talks about.

Once again, sorry for the muck up our end. We will in future be pointing to the wiki instead of copying instructions to here, just in case we have to be making last minute changes.

So, what's been happening in the participant blogs this week?

Athena on the Odyssey has a post in for week 6 earlier this week. It seems that the winds have been calm the past few weeks and the Odyssey may be lagging in the water a bit. But the reports coming in remain rich. This week Athena is exploring open education and informal learning, and has discovered a correlation with free trade:

However, what I have noticed is that when offerings are made (especially to the gods) the omens are often good and trade goes well, and sometimes with abundance. New trade networks are established and information is shared and new merchandise, tools and ways of doing things are acquired.
What I am noticing more and more in Athena's posts is the creative use of hypertext. To the untrained eye hypertext writing reads like unfinished sentences, but to the experienced reader there are levels of depth in those blue underlines that offer more insights for those willing to click. It is a sort of remix efficiency, offering readers the option to skim and get the general ideas, or click and get more in depth ideas. It is also an efficient use of the writer's time as it doesn't waist it rewriting what has already been said, but can (if done well) demonstrate suitable levels of thinking and understanding. As a result, Athena's writing is short and concise for both the writer and the reader, but offering windows into new areas for both to consider. Many people criticise this form of inquiry as shallow and problematic. I disagree with this and think it hints of luddite thinking. Hypertext writing points to a new way of communication and so perhaps a new way of understanding.

Midwikied over at Fled: Flexible Learning Education Design has 2 new posts in this week. Midwikied is taking a wonder again - which is great to see, and is bringing back new topics for us to think about. Her most recent post on Learning Management Systems vs Web Based Resources can easily relate to our week 8 topic of the modern Interent. In this post Midwikied weighs up the benefits and limitations of Learning Management Systems against the benefits and limitations of conducting education on the open Internet (like we are doing in this course). It is a balanced and thought provoking post and well worth considering if you are operating with an LMS.

An earlier post from Midwikied looks at instructional learning and socially constructed learning and how they relate to her teaching philosophy. Another valuable read that will I think become significant in the development of her flexible learning plan.

It is great to see Midwikied willing to take her engagement in this course to such a level.

Alli is someone who has made an attempt on this week's To do.. and although there was some confusion on what was supposed to be happening, and Alli has not yet listened to Dr Mann's talk, she has posted ideas and considerations that certainly relate to the economic and social bottom lines of sustainability. In particular I think this stands out most of all:
The design and therefore the designer needs to be ‘transparent’ to ensure the content is legal, credible and is set at the required level covering the correct content. Designers need to be accountable and responsible for the information they are disseminating. Content needs to be regularly reviewed and altered if necessary to ensure what is being delivered is still relevant and accurate. The transparent aspect ensures tat students who complete the course are set comparable objectives and assessments and therefore the resulting ‘qualification’ will be consistent regardless of where, when, who, why or how a participant studied.
Alli at Polytech Week 9.

I think there is a potentially strong connection between Alli's word's here and Midiwikied's words about Learning Management Systems. The things Alli is talking to imply considerable demands on any one individual. There are however levels of efficiency that smart use of the contemporary Internet can afford many of the things Alli points to. I think it would be a valuable discussion to have, and I hope Midwikied will follow it up with what she might see in the connection.

Chef in the Flexible Frying Pan also notes similar issues relating to economic and social sustainability with his scan of John Casey and Pam Wilson's article A practical guide to providing flexible. learning in further and higher education. (Note the hyperlink there Chef? You might find it useful to link the image you have used to that link). So there's a 3 way conversation to be had. What does the contemporary Internet offer us in terms of shared workloads, transparency, accuracy through peer review, accessibility etc. How do these things affect sustainability exactly? Are there ways we could engage with the Internet better so as to afford us more sustainable workloads AND study loads?

Kristi Carpenter is still in the game and has updated with weeks 3 and 4. In week 3 Kristi mentions that she is interested in how the secondary school sector is preparing people for more self directed learning. I wonder if anyone in the group can help her with that inquiry. Certainly there are lots of secondary school teachers who are blogging their work and reflecting on that same question. Derek Wenmoth would likely be a person who would point you in the right direction, as would Artichoke. Both of these NZ educational bloggers work with teachers around New Zealand and as a result have a pretty good over view of the secondary sector especially.

And that concludes our week 9 round up. It would be good to see more hypertext referencing going on, and if you are going to question something (which we want to see) that you go somewhere towards attempting an initial answer with references and hyperlinks. Haul out those Internet research skills (or practice them) and engage. Engage in commenting, cross referencing and extending your communicative networks. The Internet (our main library in this course) is not static - you must get in there and ask, discuss, bring out what it is you are looking for.


  1. DerekW said...

    Hi Leigh and student group...
    looks like a really interesting course - lots of worthwhile areas of study emerging.
    I noted the reference to my name re the way secondary schools are preparing students for self directed learning. Leigh is right, there are a number of excellent individuals out there doing all sorts of creating and imaginative things that will be benefiting students in this way - and the idea of browsing their blogs is an excellent one for getting close to the action with those at the chalkface (so to speak).

    I'd have to confess, however, that at a systemic level the picture is far more grim. Most student's experiences involve courses that are full of compromises in terms of effective pedagogy over meeting the requirements for NCEA assessment. The frequently identified barriers of timetable, subject silos and subject specialist teachers all mitigate against the conditions that work effectively towards creating independent learners.

    This is where the appropriate and imaginitive use of an LMS system (or course wiki, blog or prototype page etc) is one way of breaking this barrier (certainly of timetables and teacher dominance) and opening up the opportunity for students to engage in their learning both individually or as a member of a team/group to complete a study that they may have more determination over in terms of topic, theme, timing, content, resources, outcomes, evidence for assessment etc. This is where I've probably seen the most effective work taking place - both in terms of impact for students, and in terms of the potential scalability and sustainability. The skills students learn by working in these environments are transferrable across any number of subject areas, and will enable them to continue as learners long after they leave school. Of course, the simple fact that they use an LMS (or similar) alone won't do the trick. The teacher is still quite vital in this in terms of designing the learning experience and ensuring students are developing the skills they require to be successful in this sort of environment.

    Good luck with the course!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.| Header image by Leigh Blackall | Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.