Last week we had a very interesting presentation by the Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic, Phil Ker. He stimulated some lively discussion about flexible learning strategy, and gave us some examples of his own involvement in creating flexible courses. You can tap into the recorded Elluminate session to hear for yourself. Also available are audio recordings of this session. The regular CE update is now posted on an organisational blog.
So who has been posting about organisational flexible learning so far?
Ali mentions in her weekly post how strategic statements are all well and good, but unless attitudes can be changed, flexibility will be very hard to implement in her organisation.

Watch this space for more posts about organisations and flexible learning. The Otago Polytechnic Profile document has plenty of information about the organisation's strategic direction for FL.

Some people are not posting weekly, but are still doing the readings and exploring their interests. It is okay to combine several topics in one post, and Susan did this very well around access and equity and cultural diversity which you will discover as you read further.

Several people already have definite ideas for a flexible learning development plan (listed at the end of this post - apologies if I have missed anyone) and others are still dabbling.

Posts on other topics
has written some important points about access and equity in his post for this topic. Namely ways in which he can assist his students to access eLearning. For example, organise for translation of digital media into other languages, particularly important for students who have recently arrived in New Zealand. Open platforms are a great facility for developing materials with language translation. For example, Wikipedia, Wikiversity, Wikibooks and WikiEducator all provide this service to varyng degrees. Check out the sites to see the range of languages that are available including the multilingual hub on Wikiversity. Plus the wiki platform provides a dynamic space for you to keep your material current.

It was also heartening to see that the Disabilities Service presentation by Pam McBride at Otago Polytechnic has been informative. Chef is now aware of the need to ensure that both online and hard copy materials easy to read for people with sight impairment.

Chef@Polycrom has also posted about cultural diversity recently, and his account of a tricky situation around race-based scholarships illustrates that it is not always easy to keep the punters happy. What is fair and equitable for one person, may be seen as disadvantageous to another. I am really enjoying reading Chef's stories, and I really like the way he is applying his learning to his experiences in hospitality.

I wonder has anyone else had similar experiences?

Susan has written about cultural diversity and access and equity in one post. There is an interesting tip for finding about others' beliefs in the classroom which Susan heard about in Kate Timms presentation on cultural diversity. I like the way, Susan is applying her thinking to design for flexibility, and she gives us an excellent example about the "western classical music tradition" which caters to a minority, yet it is globally very powerful.

Susan's most recent post about disability, diversity, access or exclusion provides us with some information about "sustainable practices from ...Otago Polytechnic Strategic Plans"(Graduate profile, learners' needs etc), as well as a critique about Universal instructional Design. For example, social inequity can impact on learners leading to a natural disadvantage which is compounded by disability and exclusion for other reasons. Check out the Bob Dylan video clip as well which alludes to "the direct connection between materialism and social justice and cultural issues". Good listening and an illustration of how music in a refreshing way to teach literacy (also mentioned by Susan).

Susan asks, "Is online learning an inducement for someone who has already has somehow have fallen through the gap. . .".

On the surface we might not think so, because online learning often necessitates some sort of skill in being a self-directed learner. However, if the learning is more relevant for the student, then it has more chance of engaging and interesting them. I am sure people working in Youth skills and Foundation Learning would have opinions about this.

There is some good discussion about the impact of modular learning on students - are we turning them into dependent and passive learners by doing this?

Also Susan has some good ideas for how to gather information about the needs of the learners right from the outset. For example, their skill set on entry into programmes. I believe that this is being done to some extent, now that Otago Polytechnic has a policy for open entry, perhaps the staff in the Foundation Learning programme will know.

At then end of this post, Susan asks "What is the logical conclusion for sustainability via strategic goal setting as the Otago Polytechnic has been doing. I wonder." She would love your opinions about this am sure.

Annalynn has recently put up two great posts in response to the following questions:
Week Four post.

  • How can distance, correspondence and/or online learning create flexible learning opportunities in your context? Response One.
This post is great because it is in the context of Annalynn's teaching practice - a "person-centred" and experiential model. She describes some of the issues for the programme now that it is moving towards degree level, and states, "Most respected counselling training programmes emphasise the importance of an interactive social context on a frequent basis so as to enhance trainee learning". The dilemma for AnnaLynn is how to find some creative ways to offer distance learning, so that her students can learn to "be with" clients by experiencing some situations for themselves e.g. conflict resolution, and at the same time maintain confidentiality when discussing topics in groups.

My suggestions were: One way to do this would be via web-conferencing and/or telephone conferencing. Video conferencing using Otago Schools is also a solution. Web-conferencing via Elluminate requires access to a computer, but the Community learning centres in Alexandra, Queenstown, Wanaka and Cromwell are available to all OP students. All options would enable social interaction, and confidentiality could be maintained.

Asynchronous discussion, perhaps in the form of weekly activities, on a closed discussion board such as Blackboard, is another option. Each discussion topic could counts towards a final piece of work, and could be discussed online and then written about in more depth in a subject journal which requires a weekly entry. The framework would encourage their entries to include ideas from others in the class and references to the literature.

Week 5 response.
  • My impressions of a historical context for flexible learning generally.
  • How does flexible learning exist today and where it is headed in the future?
As you will read, a lot of effort has gone into this post. Annalynn has written a wonderful critique of "Beaumie Kim’s review of social constructivism", and Crotty (1998) in her discussion of constructivism and constructionism theories. Some excellent links to the material she is writing about as well. Well worth a look.

I wonder do you agree do we all learn best in a social context and when we are able to construct our own knowledge?

More plans are appearing
has posted her plan for bringing fundamental mathematical skills to her class using a variety of tools and communication methods. Some interesting assessment ideas including the use of blogs.

Sustain Fashion has been reasonably quiet for several reasons and is now back. She has posted some initial ideas for a plan and would love some feedback from the class. Her plan will integrate a research project and includes the use of blogs and reflective writing.

Ali has had her plan up for a while now so make sure you take the time to give her some feedback.

Flexible frying has posted some initial ideas for his plan.

Several other people have mentioned ideas in various posts, but have not pulled them together into a plan as yet. It is all very interesting seeing your ideas evolve. The recent poll about the usefulness of the presentations was not well enough represented to give the facilitators any useful information, so we are still in the dark about your preferences. Perhaps next time.


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.