Image: The first daffodil 2009 by bronwynannh

The three weeks allocated for the recent topic - Examples of Flexible Learning - have flown by and spring is now with us. It has been great to see people managing to get to the class meetings both face-to-face and online. The online class discussion last Wednesday evening about examples of flexible learning was very interesting. We talked about different situations where flexible learning principles have been used to develop and enhance four areas of teaching and learning: content; communication; activities and assessment. You can watch and listen to the Elluminate recording about Examples of Flexible Learning, and read the summary about it on Bronwyn's blog - now available.

So who has been busy recording what they are thinking and doing on their blogs?

Everyone has got as far as the introduction, and some of you have added your responses to the orientation exercise about your teaching, and others have written a story about one of your students and their flexible learning needs. It is time to get moving, everyone or you wont make the end of November deadline. So to help you get going please have a look at what some of the others have done by clicking the links in my summary, and don't be shy to post your thoughts and responses to the tasks. If you feel you are lagging behind and need help to get back on track please get in touch with Bronwyn - 0800 762 786 ext 8360 or Jennifer - 0800100052.

Adain has written to his blog a very realistic and interesting account of the teaching and learning situation for him and his students. He has made some very good suggestions and I particularly like: "Perhaps getting students to help in locating and sharing more resources could lighten the load?" As Adain is looking for a survey for checking out students' level of skill with technology use, I have given access to an online survey which you can all potentially modify and use for your students to find out about their computer use, skills and confidence. Please let me know if you need editing access. It is good that Adain is planning to add in a bit of flexibility and to take it gradual rather than trying to do it all at once.

Katy has written about her teaching practice and her post got me very motivated to respond. I love the way she explained how she is sitting with her students and adding in "sprinkles of ..." from time to time. It conjures up a lovely picture of a delicious icecream cone with chocolate sprinkles or hundreds and thousands on top. Her goals are evident of a teacher/facilitator who is passionate about her vocation.

Hellie has written a wonderful story about Gertie which has some very salient aspects, particularly, as Jennifer mentions, whether G has the ability to be organised in her self-directed study. The theme in Helen's story also illustrates some of the issues with accessing online course material. It seems ironical that Gertie chose Dunedin so she could get the on-campus experience rather than stay in Hamilton and study online. And here she is having to do quite a bit of work online. I hope the online aspects of her study are also complemented in a balanced way with the f2f she wanted, otherwise she may end up taking to the "drink" for solace. :(

Do people think if Gertie had the skills to download materials for offline use - put them on a laptop or USB stick or CD, would this help, or is this something her course lecturers should be obliged to make available? What do you all think? Feel free to discuss on here by adding a comment or send your thoughts to the email forum. Remember to subscribe first at:
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Ella has written about Jack "whirling like a lonely cinder" in cyberspace. It looks like some form of online learning is the only option for Jack due to his geographical needs and also his professional role. Or is it? Some of the issues definitely come under the umbrella of access and equity. I love the bit about flexibility with assignments and how this could be demotivating. :)

Interesting that Ella mentions that "Jack has limited imagination". Possibly he has untapped potential so with the right approach this could be unlocked which could be very motivating. How could she do this I wonder? Also as Jennifer mentions Ella could investigate some multimodal resources as a way to offset the online access issues. What do people think about this? Adain has added some suggestions as well so see if you agree with his comments and add your own.

Steve has written an excellent critique about his Reading around Flexible Learning, and brought some more resources to the table for us to consider about design and development of flexible learning. I really like the way he has compared information from them with one of the course readings - Flexible learning: it’s not just about distance (Collis & Moonen, 2001). Steve makes an excellent point that constraints at the grass roots, when you are introducing flexibility into the classroom, are very closely linked to organisational structures. For example, the time which people have available to develop innovative ways of teaching and learning, the reward systems and support for lecturers with educational design and introducing new technologies etc. If organisational support is not readily available for staff, it can make the whole process even more challenging. See if you agree with what Steve has written about this topic of organisational structure and see what he has found.

Concept mapping

I have suggested concept mapping for both Katy and Hellie to try with students, if they are not already doing this. It is a useful tool for students to use as it helps them connect the dots and encourages deeper learning and reflection. I love concept mapping or mindmapping because it is practical and you can get a better sense of where you are going. You can also get really creative with colour and shapes.

Here is an excellent article - CONCEPT MAPPING AND THE RESEARCH PROCESS - helping students research information and get to a deeper level of learning. It has practical examples to explain the process. If people want to take paper-based concept mapping to a digital level - CMAP is easy to use and a free download:


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