The Meerkats say Nah!
Lots of activity to report on, and such creative ideas so I am breaking my summary into two parts, otherwise the post will be far too long. I have chosen an image of Meerkats to represent the theme of inquiry whch is coming through in your posts. Aren't they such curious alert little creatures.

Cat has written a very funny piece about the wonderful flexibility offered by the Vet Nursing school. Can you beat these strategies in your programmes or courses? It makes me want to do the courses just so I can play with the animals.

Lisa M's post demonstrates that she has considered a variety of ways to support inclusive teaching. Check out the Cone of Learning about passive versus active learning. The diagram prompts us to think about the importance of offering choice to students to encourage deeper learning. Who would be happy with 10% engagement when 90% is possible? Lisa believes that: "... everyone learns and comprehends at a different pace. No 2 students are the same." Two questions spring to mind for me from her post.

  • Do you agree that peer support is important for Lisa's students? 
  • What strategies could she use to encourage peer support and address the diversity in her learners?
Jayne has discussed some options that might challenge access to online materials. To access the OT programme students need to purchase a computer and broadband access, but I have suggested providing materials and activities that students could download on to a smartphone or ipad - they will only need access to a wifi network which could be free in their local area - cafes and libraries, campuses. She has some good initial ideas for introducing flexibility. Any suggestions for tools or strategies that she could use with her students to get them to interact in groups?

Fifi has shared an excellent example of truly student-centred learning obtained when she interviewed a colleague. See if you can spot the flexibility in the approaches she describes. In a later post about access and equity, she also discusses some of the factors impinging on students' learning, and mentions: " More flexibility brings with it more independence but also the need for more self-direction and more self-motivation. These traits are not automatic in many learners."

Interaction could be key to the approach Lisa takes when designing her plan for flexibility - see what you think about Lisa's post with her ideas and goal for flexibility, and if you can give her any suggestions. Read on to her latest post and you will find that her goal may be changing.

Laurie is interested in using blogs with third year nursing students. See the example that she is basing some of her ideas on, and the reasons for using blogs with her students. Perhaps you can contribute to the suggestion I put forward about addressing confidentiality issues. Also, Laurie in the most recent post has discussed the links between the theoretical basis for her teaching - relational capacity, and the practicalities of learning - networked learning. Is she on the right track?

Bend it like learners makes an excellent point - "flexibility gives us the opportunity to take control of our own learning at a time and place that suits our busy lives" is so true. This fits with the findings of a 2012 article called The relationship between flexible and self-regulated learning in open and distance universities. The authors discuss the connections between self-regulated learning and the dimensions of flexibility, including learning styles, and also flexibility of teacher contact, time management and content. Their research concluded that SR learning and flexibility are strongly connected. How do you think their ideas fit with the models used in your courses?

Nick has posted several interesting examples of flexibility in a project-based learning environment. He may be feeling a little lonely out there, unless some of you give him encouragement for the great flexible teaching he is already doing. What do you think about the dimensions of flexibility described in the post about the block course - could additional strategies be used? You may be interested in this 2003 report: The project method in vocational training.One of the factors they claim is important relates to self-directed learning. How do you currently support and guide students to become good at doing this?

Maari has provided us with lots of ideas to ponder and debate about providing access for the diverse groups she teaches. Check out her comment about a situation where open discussion would be very inappropriate. The later post shows two examples she developed using the flexibility grid, and a discussion about when flexibility must have limits. See what you think and please do give Maari some feedback on her ideas.


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