A beginning is only the start of a journey to another beginning by katerha

It is a pleasure to welcome you all to the Flexible Learning course. I am your facilitator (Bronwyn Hegarty), with roles as a principal lecturer in tertiary teacher education and coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Learning and Teaching.  I am located at CapableNZ, Otago Polytechnic. All information about the course - schedule, class sessions, topics, and assessments - is on the course website. So make sure you bookmark this so you can make it your first point of call.

So what will I be doing on this blog?
Announcements and reminders about the activities will come out on here fortnightly or as things come up. I will also post regular summaries about the wonderful work you are going to be doing in each of the topics.  I will add the link to these posts on the Moodle discussion forum. So expect lots of  accolades as I showcase your ideas. Reading the summaries will give you a quick look into what others in the class are doing and save you hunting around on their portfolios.

So what are you letting yourselves in for? 
What is this flexible learning phenomenon? Well... people will tell you it is about anywhere, anytime, anyhow, teaching and learning. Really it is about offering a variety of options so that people can access learning experiences that suit their requirements. During the course you will develop a definition of flexible learning in your specific teaching context. To do this you need to think about the characteristics of your learners and what makes them tick, or not. You will need to consider not only their learning styles and level of ability in an educational setting but also where they sit socially, economically, technologically and in terms of their confidence to tackle new experiences.  So we will be looking at the factors that can make learning easier to access and finding solutions for the barriers that your learners might need to overcome. For example, having to come to campus may cause all sorts of issues financially and socially for some students. Can you think what these might be for people in your classes?

Five dimensions of Flexibility
Our starting point is to look at the five dimensions of flexibility - Time, Content, Instructional Approaches and Resources, Entry Requirements and Delivery and Logistics. We are using a very useful resource by Casey and Wilson(2005) - details are on the course website. One of the activities is to work out where your teaching sits on the Flexibility Continuum. How flexible are you really?

Five Dimensions of Flexibility (image from: Rennie, 2007)

First on-site class
The first face-to-face class session went very well on Friday. Hats off to the enthusiastic group who gave up a wonderful sunny day to sit inside and discuss a wide range of topics about flexible learning - I had a ball, and loved hearing about the different areas of teaching (engineering, nursing and design), and the interesting variety of students that you have in your classes. Hopefully, these stories will start to appear in the Learning Portfolios. Several people had a session later in the afternoon with Helen Lindsay and Peter Brook. Helen is from the Learning Centre and told the class about the support that she can provide with academic writing and technologies - so make sure you make an appointment early to talk about the support you are needing. Peter Brook talked about how he is using blogs in teaching and got several of the class up and running with a blog - fabulous stuff.

I am really looking forward to hearing from the rest of you about your areas of teaching, and to have lots more discussions with you all about flexible learning.


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