Sunday, May 17, 2009

Designing for flexible learning practice: Final Comments, Feedback & Self Reflection

Well this has taken some time to get back to - a review of the contents of this blog, with comments and feedback and self reflection on the course and personal learning outcomes.
General comments would be this course has allowed me a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunites around flexible teaching and learning practice. I have had to relook at my own and others' practice with regard to the variety of topics explored and discussed as part of the course. Meaningful insights into the areas of access & equity and cultural diversity have allowed me an increased awareness while questioning previously held ideas about open access. I have an increased appreciation of the use of online teaching and learning resources and have begun to realise how I can apply this within my own teaching practice.
I had difficulty with access myself in terms of time and physical constraints and learned first hand what "flexible" education really means. The technology itself was a struggle at the beginning and was in fact a barrier to my learning experience until I got the hang of working and communicating online in a way that was meaningful to me - another first hand experience with the flexi learning environment. On reflection I believe having to experience the frustrations of learning new technologies, ways of working and engaging with new ideas all at once gave me an appreciation of what many students might go through. However, a face to face workshop in order to learn how to use the technology before the course started would have been highly useful and would have saved me many nights of frustration. I believe this would have resulted in engagement with the actual course content at an earlier and higher level. Those students entering the course with good internet, blogging skills are certainly at an advantage.
All in all this has been a valuable experience that has culminated in a plan for incorporating a more open access content/context within one of my own courses, alongside a much greater understanding of the challenges facing educators in the future. As technology and communication becomes more and more sophisticated it is essential that we as educators have the resources and support to keep up with the changing needs of our students. The importance of institutional buy in and support for new technologies with an open mind to flexi delivery is essential in the success of programme/course development. An awareness of the support systems and possible funding available has been another valuable insight from the course.
There are many examples of flexi teaching and learning within Otago Polytechnic that make perfect sense within the current economic climate, examples that could be utilised across all programmes.
Initiatives for sharing information and reducing duplication will be essential to the ongoing maintainence and success of polytechnic programmes. This sharing of information (I believe) can best be implemented through flexible teaching and learning practices including open access and online delivery. Essential will be the ongoing encouragement of staff (and students) to share their ideas and initiatives with others.
Looking forward to further opportunites.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Final Flexible Learning Plan

My final flexible learning plan is complete. Im certain there will be ongoing updates and improvements to make as the plan is implemented. All feedback is appreciated.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Flexible Learning Plan Draft: self - evaluation

Well have finally completed the Draft plan and the slidecast is published on slideshare - link as per previous post. Next step is to respond to feedback and complete a final plan. The slidecast, being the first I have done, is rather "clunky" and somewhat repetitive. It does however outline ideas for my final Flexible Learning Development Plan - this plan will now be presented as a written plan/proposal for the redevelopment of the FDS4 Production Block. More concise information and detail is required and on advise will be aimed more at the audience - this being key staff and perhaps students who will be involved with the course.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Draft Flexible Teaching & Learning Plan

My draft Flexible Teaching and Learning Plan presentation is complete - the focus is on redeveloping an exisitng course FDS4 (Fashion Design Studio 4) Production Block. This course has a theoretical component currently delivered face to face via lecture/powerpoint presentation. There is the potential to engage with students beyond the classroom and with graduates and industry. A community of teaching and learning could be established encouraging life long learners and 2-way teaching and learning opportunites. I have published the power point to slideshare but am struggling with converting audio files to mp3 format so I can upload these. Need to get some help as all efforts to do this myself have been unsuccessful.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Planning for educational resource development

Thanks Leigh for your comments about funding and wiki books. I had not fully considered the possibility of OER (open educational resources) but think this is a great idea now I have read a bit more about it.
I am slowly working on the plan of attack and presentation of this resource development idea - I see the need for an accessible sustainable design tool/model available to both students and designers working within industry. Building on ideas from Thomas & van Kopplen (2005) from RMIT and van Kopplen's LIDA (low impact design approach) & “Fashion Design/Production Loop”. (page 6,7). This prompt and reflective tool enables students to make good/sound ethical and sustainable choices throughout the design process and the supply chain.
In my quest to create a design "sustain-ability" (Fry 1999 pg viii) resource tool I will begin within fashion design. Future intentions include creating a model that can be adapted by other disciplines and used by students and industry based designers. It is essential that the resource I develop although informed by Anthea van Kopplen's extensive research and development is a stand alone project. However on saying this I believe it would be beneficial (prudent) to approach Anthea van Kopplen with my project/resource development plan. Consulting and/or collaborating with experts within this area will be a crucial part of the development of this resource. Liaison within the fashion & design industries will further ensure currency. Developing the actual resource will require input from others including funding, education and IT support as well as design for print. This resource development is to be tied into my ongoing research into the most effective teaching and learning strategies for sustainable design education.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Funding support for flexible learning development

I recently attended the Spotlight on Teaching Colloquium at Otago University in conjunction with Otago Polytechnic. A great 2 days encouraging excellence in teaching practice.
Ako Aotearoa the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence were present and I was able to approach Bridget O'Regan, the Southern Hub coordinator about my ideas for producing a resource. The Regional Hub Project Fund has been set up "to support small projects designed to enhance tertiary teaching and learning." Applications can be made at any time for "implementation/developmental projects or to support research." I will be approaching Ako Aotearoa with a proposal next year and am very happy to be in the position of being able to develop a 'plan of attack' as part of the Flexi course. The funding could be directed toward the actual physical development of the resource: prototypes; printing costs; costs of consultation. The colloquium was an exciting event on several levels as I also discovered like minded teachers and researchers in the area of sustainability and was able to validate my own teaching and learning practices.
UNESCO has available the Beeby Fellowship - offered once a year with applications due in the November of the previous year; funding is available to research an innovative programme with a focus on enhanced practice and student learning. The Fellow is required to prepare a book or resource based on the innovation. This could be an opportunity for 2010 and the $25,000 + expenses would cover a leave of absence from the Polytechnic to research and develop a resource further.
Another possible area for funding is the Otago Polytechnic's Teaching Innovation Fund - this could be utilised in the same manner as the Ako Aotearoa funding for development (including further research) of the actual resource. I am keen to develop a resource and teaching & learning tool that helps direct fashion designers toward making the best sustainable decisions possible within their practice and/or business initiatives.

Flexi learning in educational organisations

Otago Polytechnic has developed an extremely thorough charter/strategic plan: outlining in detail philosophies specific to the needs of staff and students/stakeholders alike. In particular there is a focus on excellence and development of teaching and learning. Flexible teaching and learning is an obvious focus too - the second paragraph of the Introduction of the charter (pg1) makes a statement about engagement with diverse stakeholders regardless of location. This is a theme throughout the charter and is included in the Vision "The flexibility of our delivery and our willingness to accommodate the specific learning aspirations of students through individualised and cross disciplinary programmes of learning." (pg2)
Such statements as " accessibility for all learners"; "valuing diversity" ; ''personalised programme delivery" and among the Strategic Goals (pgs 4-5)" Learning: to provide relevant, flexible and accessible learning opportunities which build capability, are stimulating and challenging and foster lifelong learning" build on this theme. Issues of equal opportunity, ethnicity, age, abilities and disability are addressed under the heading of Equity. Under 'Meeting Learner Needs' (pg 7) there is a focus on personalised learning, quality assurance, support and access. Ongoing consultation with local Iwi diverse communites and stakeholders is addressed. (pg 15)
Overall the Otago Polytechnic charter is an inclusive document highlighting the needs of a diverse group of students, staff and stakeholders. Flexible teaching and learning is in fact a focus and addressed throughout the document.
The focus for my flexi learning development plan is on the development of a teaching and learning resource related to the fashion design process/supply chain and issues of sustainablity and will need to address all the issues discussed within the Polytechnic Charter to be relevant to a diverse group of learners. This resource will need to be accessible online as well as in an easy to use hard copy format and as a CD. I would like this resource to be made available to students and industry alike and to be in a format that could be adapted for other disciplines. There is the need for funding for this development so I will be looking into AKO Aotearoa and Otago Polytechnics Teaching Innovation fund as possible sources for funding.