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.

Cultural diversity revisited

Great feedback Leigh - many really good ideas to consider in terms of language barriers, translation and teaching and learning possibilities. Agree that it is important to distinguish a student with a more personalised view and knowledge of their specific nationality rather than putting all students under the "international" umbrella. It is extremely important as you suggest that we dont "regionalise" students and have an understanding that within one particular geographical area there are many diverse cultures. I have found it helpful to encourage students to note take and reflect/design within their visual diaries in their own language - this tends to lead to a greater development of ideas - we can see they have developed these ideas without having to actually understand the written word + the student can verbally explain ideas as required. Thanks also for the comment posted by Brian UK about Esperanto - had a vague knowledge of this language and the video link was a great introduction. Certainly an international common language would be extremely valuable especially in education.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cultural Diversity

Flexible teaching and learning practice along with sustainability issues is now at the forefront of my thoughts when developing or redeveloping courses within the design school (funnily enough!) and I have begun to note more consciously how our international students manage within our programme and context as well.
We dont have many international students enrolled however most are from an Asian background with english as a second language. We have exchange students from IED design schools from Italy and currently two from Spain so the issue of language, cultural differences and understanding are ongoing.
It has recently become more clear to me that the language barrier is sometimes much greater than realised as are the actual cultural references for these students and the difficulties they have in integrating into our context. It has generally been expected and accepted by these international students that they will mostly "fit in" to our programme with support from the International Dept as required. This tends to mean these students often achieve at a lower level and the time and energy required by tutors is far greater than with regular students.
We are mostly working with conceptual and design development paradigms that are often very unfamiliar to these students and extremely hard to explain verbally. I have found visuals and examples of student work to be the best form of explaining complex ideas but have recently wondered about converting some of my PPs and resources to another language or providing other language alternatives - will investigate this further.
Modelling of best practice and making excellent examples of course requirements available is key. I have considered using other students within the class as mentors for the international students however am afraid this will put undue stress on the other students. Sometimes the mentoring process happens as a matter of course especially within group projects although the frustration of miscommunication is at times obvious. More regular formative feedback for these students would be an advantage too.
Another tool for better communication would be to have international students talk about their own experiences as part of a formal class reflection session.
Overall I can see this is an area to work on as currently I believe that many, but not all, international students appear to be at a disadvantage within our current teaching and learning contexts and delivery.


"E-learning is one important avenue for promoting greater access for all learners." (Barrie 2000)

An online article/paper fromDr Barrie O'Connor intitled 'E-learning and Students with Disabilities: From Outer Edge to Leading Edge' (see link above for full paper) has given me further insight into e-learning and in particular with reference to students with disabilites. The paper outlines the need and requirements associated with diversity, equity and access for those students with disabilites however I believe this applies to all students engaging in online e-learning.
Dr O,Connor discusses the history and current state of e-learning within an Australian context which makes it particulalrly relevant to us here in NZ. He discusses the potential for e-learning and the context in which it can be applied within higher education. A student centred learning focus (a need for some pedagogical changes), economics of online learning and speed of communication issues are outlined. Some possible solutions to problems are also outlined and the requirements of institutional support emphasised. The implications for higher education include three distinct areas:
1. universal design of curriculum - inclusive programme development and distance learning options
2. developing expertise in e-learning and techical knowhow requirement by teaching staff is essential to fascilitate online learning activities
3. issues of human rights and equal opportunities for all need to be addressed institutional wide and embedded within the institution
The principles of Universal Design are of particular interest and highlight the need for teachers to be flexible in their perceptions of what is the right environment for positive teaching and learning to take place.
In the section "new approaches to teaching" Dr O'Connor identifies the teacher as a discussion moderator for online conferencing and introduces ideas developed by Salmon (2000) who "identified five stages in the emergence of fully functioning computer mediated conferencing."
These stages included access and motivation; online socialisation; information exchange; knowledge construction and development of discussion. I personally found the five stages outlined particularly relevent to my own experiences of doing this course as these are the actual stages I have been experiencing!
Dr O'Connor discusses the importance of "embedding disability expertise across the institution" (Barrie 2000) for e-learning to be of benefit to students with disabilites with issues of accessibility being at the forefront of requirments. He concludes that e-learning has great potential for honouring diversity and "E-learning has the potential to progress people with disabilities from the outer edges of educational opportunity to the leading edge of educational innovation." (Barrie 2000)

How can issues to do with access and equity enhance and compliment my working context:
  • the issue of universal design and in particular the idea of programme design related to the environment - enviromental aspects are taken into account in regards to physical space available but how to enable students with disabilites or distance learners access to the same information - basic but essential!
  • the need for IT support and teacher expertise in the technologies being used - currently this is the biggest barrier for me as I am slowly developing knowlegde and skills with online e-learning and the possibilites - there is still resistance from both teachers and learners as a whole new set of skills is required alongside the actual learning of the course content and information.
  • embedding of expertise across the institution - Otago Polytechnic provides support and learning opportunities for both staff and students although with there only being one computer suite with specialised equipment required for overcoming disability issues this could be better - funding of course is an issue.
  • overall taking in to account both the universal and individual needs of a range of students is the key - this requires staff with the required expertise and support for the same at all levels of the institution.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Issues of disability considered

Reply to Leighs comments:
Thanks leigh - I guess I was considering the physical requirements of the technical aspects of the fashion design degree - you are right in pointing out that some students take a course for interest only or parts of courses to further knowledge rather than with the expectation of using a skill in practice. The implications for flexible teaching and learning therefore become wider ranging as you suggest, especially in the use of the internet/online learning. Will certainly consider this more within the fashion school context.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Have just accessed the Illuminate session with Pam McBride from the Disabilities Unit - here are some of my thoughts in terms of disability, access and equity and some current issues within my own area:

  • literacy issues are ongoing within both the cert and degree programmes in fashion
  • we have enlisted the help of the learning centre in developing reading and writing skills in particular for our Yr1 BDes students who all benefit from essay writing skills etc as we found that teaching staff were using up valuable studio time teaching students how to read and write to the required academic level
  • certainly open entry into cert programmes has increased the pressure on teaching staff however as mentioned by Pam the rewards of student success are a bonus
  • identifying as having a disability is a difficult thing to do for many students and I sometimes think a name change for the service might make it a more 'attractive' option!
  • physical disability is certainly an issue in CBlock where we do not have easy access to our building and the second floor except thru the carpark and the Yr3 studio - would be difficult to accommodate a person in a wheelchair for example but not impossible
  • we currently have a student with a broken arm who is unable to take part adequately in the current projects and is struggling with writing/typing an essay - I will be advocating she contacts the unit to access the Dragon software
  • we are able to be flexible within our programme in terms of managing short term disability issues such as the broken arm - this particular student can be assessed on previous work of course but can also opt to complete the requirements of the project at a later date or enlist the help of others to complete parts of the project
  • not sure how an ongoing disability would be managed within a course that does require a level of (skill) physical agility and dexterity
  • mental illness and psychological impairment seems to be a more common problem with students - this is managed through a strong staff support network and referral to the appropriate agencies
  • we have recently implemented a staff pastoral care programme where each staff member is allocated a cohort of students from each level and year group that they are 'responsible' for in terms of pastoral care - so far this system is working well, is supported by management and means an even distribution of responsibility for staff
  • I am interested in the issue of equity in terms of files on blackboard etc and will certainly pass on the need for using easy access files
  • being flexible in terms of all delivery of teaching and learning and especially in terms of access and equity is an ongoing challenge - each case requires individual assessment
  • inclusion of the student in the solutions is essential as sometimes the 'institution' makes sweeping decisions on what is best for students without fully consulting.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Issues with Flexible learning - Sustainability + NEW FLEXIBLE TEACHING AND LEARNING PLAN IDEA

Toward sustainable practitioners - Sam Mann blog - I attended a presentation from Sam Mann as part of reflecting on the Graduate profiles for the whole design department earlier in 2008. Questions asked:

1. What does it mean to be a sustainable practitioner in your field? (and what progress are you making towards this)
2. How is this understanding being reflected in your programmes (Graduate profiles, learning outcomes etc)
3. Evidence of how this is making a difference in teaching and learning.

Some answers: Use of materials is an ongoing area of concern within the fashion industry as is the ethical use of the workforce - sustainable design considers the process from conception of the idea through to the finished article/object - reference to the concept of 'cradle to cradle' (McDonough and Braungart 2003) and the 'triple bottom line' is an essential part of this process. Students within the Yr2 Bachelor of Design (Fashion) programme currently undertake a series of lectures and workshops to increase awareness of these issues and are encouraged to incorporate these ideas into their design practice.
A study of current Yr2 BDes fashion students carried out this year by Tracy Kennedy & Caroline Terpstra has highlighted the understanding and awareness of these students and possible teaching and learning methodologies that can be employed to insure our students are responsible designers of the future and capable graduates. The outcomes and recommendations from this study/paper have yet to be fully realised (need to create a link to this paper yet - any ideas of the best place to put it - would actually like to put it somewhere on this blog)

Teaching and learning of sustainability and sustainable design practice requires overall institutional 'buy in' including a willingness to fund, support and participate in initiatives. Student centred teaching and learning projects incorporating action competency that enable students to fully participate and integrate sustainable knowledge have been shown to be the most effective.


  • It is intended that the outcomes and recommendations from the study above will be put to use within the programme
  • I intend to use the knowledge gained through this study to develop a sustainable fashion business model/plan that can be utilised by students within a current course
  • There is potential for this model to be used within other courses/programmes and by industry
  • Fashion Design Studio 4 (Production Block) is a Term 4 paper at Year 2 of the BDes (Fashion) - a group project that involves students setting up a hypothetical fashion business/label and designing a range of garments for a local retailer
  • Actual local retailers are part of this project and participate as part of the market research for a group and as buyers and moderators of outcomes
  • The potential to gain industry 'buy in' is enormous
  • Students are exposed to small business and marketing materials/resources including an introduction to sustainable business practice and manufacturing
  • The current business plan will be developed further to fully incorporate sustainable practice principles and the fashion (design) outcomes will also reflect sustainable practice
  • How is this flexible? - in terms of delivery this still needs "nutted out" but I imagine incorporating an online business plan template would be a good start
  • There is the possibility of collaboration with an existing offering from Trade and Enterprise yet to be investigated:
  • The Trade and Enterprise template is extremely thorough and takes a long time to navigate in its current form something that I believe may work against its use
  • A more simple template with links that can be explored by those wanting extra information could be an alternative here
  • I will review my current teaching and learning resources for this academic year and upcoming course however a complete revamp will require time and will be fully implemented next year 2009.

Finally to answer the question: What is the equivalent transparent design for teaching and flexible learning?

- socially aware teaching and flexible learning:

  • no hidden agendas - clear directives
  • equity for all learners
  • managable workloads - time management
  • access to resources and materials
  • support services available
  • blended delivery - online and face to face

Thats all for now............................

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ive been out and about in cyberspace 17th June

Heres some feedback for fellow particpants and comments on postings.

Annalynn Wk 14 (Wk8 ) blog - The Modern Internet - adding to the dialogue around technology, barriers and poor communication tools - herein lies the dilemna and the importance of the Design Phase as outlined by Bronwyn in her interview on YouTube about Flexi learning - technology is a tool to be used to the best advantage of the students you are teaching:
Design Phase:
- content and assessment
- technology support
- what can (your) students actually use
Bronwyn if I won lotto it would be laptops for all with the full adobe suite software installed and wireless internet - these could act as personal workbooks and visual diaries and wonderful research, development and design tools. Definitely think we could do away with some of the paper war we have in design!
Leighs comments on YouTube (newly arrived at Otago Poly I presume) indicated that his experience at that time was with "networked learning online" - I believe there is definitely a place for fully integrated online networks, in particular, in programmes with motivated students - as demonstrated by both Ken Wysocki and Merroly Penman in their interviews. How then can we fully engage less motivated students to participate? - chocolate fish maybe! - as part of their assessment?
I had considered that the extra workload/time committement required ( talked about by Ken and Merroly) would perhaps dissipate as you become more proficient at using the online facilities and tools however that does not seem to be the case - guess this also depends on your own availablity & committment to students - as with all teachers boundaries need to be put in place as being available so students can"reach out at any hour" (Wysocki) does not suit everyones work practice. Equity also has to apply to the teachers!
Merroly commented on the "repackaging" of existing face to face courses considering the learning environment and what it is you are wanting to create for the distance learners. I am beginning to fully appreciate the complexities of providing online and blended programmes alongside the face to face - in terms of assessment this could be a real challenge especially in the area of fashion design as the presence of a garment and the tactility of the fabric are an essential part of the experience. Second Life already entertains many fashion brands and stores where you can purchase clothing and accessories and of course online shopping in real life is the norm now - however for us fashion "purists" the phenomenological experience of clothing requires having a garment present, and for assessment purposes being able to see the actual stitching etc may be a requirement.
Comments on Plans viewed:
Fexible Frying (Steve Ellwood)'s Flexi draft plan and the current teaching tools on YouTube were pretty inspiring - the plan being a great integration of blended learning - the music videos also taking into account issues of access and equity - no speaking required - not only does it cut out a technical stage, it adds atmosphere, makes u concentrate on the visuals and tasks and can be utilised fully by the hard of hearing.
Megan from Nutrition could consider the benefits of reflective practice as part of her plan, integrating these into tutorials and requiring students to reflect on lecture content and tutorial discussion not only on a blog but also in a reflective diary. I find this encourages attendance too as it is a requirement of assessment.
Athena's plan is wonderfully ambitious and will require committment from OT and others - linking students with lecturers and clinicians and maintaining that level of committment will be key - enabling everyone to participate; so overcoming those possible barriers outlined by Bronwyn (mentioned earlier) with excellent design - wonder if a longer timeline may be needed.
Time to do some planning of my own - doing some planning for a paper for next semester and finding myself beginning to consider more flexible delivery options and of course my "thing" sustainablity integration. Great stuff.

Start at the beginning!

Finally gearing up to not just read but actually disseminate & interpret & muse about the information on the Wiki. Have started my marathon of connecting with the course info in a more integrated way, although it will really be a sprint (something I have always been much better at anyway!).

The website has much food for thought and I have copied several of the key ideas around the need for Flexible Learning below to keep as mementos and to comment on:

1. Why Flexible Learning

Recognition of the need for and value of a flexible learning approach has been a response to a number of factors. As higher education has become more widely accessible it has needed to cater for a more diverse range of students. There has also been greater recognition of individual differences in preferred learning styes, cultural differences and gender differences, and a greater understanding of how these differences can be catered for in educational programs. I believe the recognition of the growing needs and changing face of students has been known (and recognised) for many years and within my area of teaching we have tried to cater for this changing student. The Fashion School tends to attract students from varying backgrounds including international and english as a second language students, mature first learners, multicultural, students with learning disabilities and varying skill levels to name a few but the majority of our students tend to be young women directly from or recently having left secondary education. To cater to these diverse groups we very quickly establish teacher/student relationships that allow us to understand and determine the personal and individual requirements and future aspirations of a student. This tends to happen in an ad hoc way with individual needs assessed as part of the studio environment we work in, but does allow for an individual pathway to be established in regard to "a personal design identity", this being something that is encouraged and in fact sets us apart from other fashion schools in NZ. However we have tended to cater to the needs of these students by working within the structured framework of the existing course rather than providing a "truly" flexible way of delivering content.
A demand for more flexible approaches to education and training has also emerged from the changing social context of education and the diverse needs of employers. Flexible learning is seen as a mechanism for making learning more contextualised than classroom based learning alone. The increasing pace of social change and the consequent focus on lifelong learning are further factors. Connections and relationships with the fashion industry have been rigorously maintained and is an ongoing focus for our professional body The relevance of our course to the needs of the industry is assessed through Industry based projects, moderation and work placement. There remains the opportunity to offer more courses based within an industry context and ongoing research and development projects.

Learner Centred
Underlying the practice of flexible learning is an educational philosophy that puts the learner at the centre of the learning experience. The aim of a flexible learning approach is to respond to the diverse needs of learners.
Absolutely - what can I say.
Constructivist Learning Theories
Related to this learner-centred philosophy is a view of learning as being an active and interactive process that fosters independent learning rather than a passive learning experience. Learners are engaged in a process of guided discovery and exploration that involves using what they know to learn more about what they are interested in. Learning strategies such as contextualised or situated learning, collaborative learning, team work, project-based or activity based learning, and problem based learning facilitate a process where learners construct meaning to make new knowledge relevant to them. Flexible learning approaches support such a constructivist approach to teaching and learning by offering choices in learning strategies, and access to a wide range of resources.

Constructivist learning is at the core of our philosophy - an example is a course I have developed over several years that involves a team project at year 2 of the Bachelor programme that enables students to develop their own fashion label and range of garments fit for sale (marketing & small business skills involved here) - "selling" to a local retailer and readying the garments for production in conjunction with manufacturing. Throughout the process the students are introduced to the required tools and the lecturers become the facilitators (and the learners too at times). The project is primarily student driven although I do think the assessment criteria is still too rigid and perhaps here is an opportunity for the students to have more input into their final outcomes in terms of assessment.

I have also listened to Rachel Gillies presentation of her Digital Literacy course development and will follow up by talking to her about the implementation of this into the BFA this year. I found her methodologies and development process very helpful in terms of some of the considerations I still have to make.

Read Leighs Flexi learning writings - I tend to agree with the assertations (is that a word?) that there is much resource wasting within tertiary institutions and we could look at better ways (more flexible of course!) of utilising existing resources and more creative ways of providing some services. The computer suite comment made me laugh a little - we actually have a high usage of computers/suites as many of our students are in the majority that Rachel pointed out that dont have computers or the internet at home (in their flats) + of course it is nice and warm at C Block!

Time to sign off as beginning to lose track.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

15th June - response to Leighs comments posted 9th June

Thanks Leigh - yes asking the students questions about the "flexibility" of our program is an option - perhaps it needs to be added to the 'student satisfaction surveys'. Always important to consider student needs (equity etc.) alongside the course requirements and also the requirements of the industry (in this case fashion NZ) and weigh up the significance and importance of something within a programme - we must move with the times while considering the needs of the future practitioners and the nature of the industry they are entering.

About the slow progress I am making with Assignment one (weekly blogging) - I have discussed this with Bronwyn and have considered doing a marathon catchup to meet course deadlines - however this would not occur until after the draft plan presentation. I am therefore unsure at this point (following your comments) whether to continue with the draft plan development powerpoint (slideshow) and presentation for next Friday that I have started. Can this draft plan be presented with some of the essential reading etc not completed. You are right I am concentrating on the current deadlines - perhaps I need to consider a more flexible approach so assignments can be fully developed utilising all the resources and weekly readings etc. I am finding the whole online experience a challenge. Feedback please.

15th June reflection on feedback

Thanks again Bronwyn for the valuable feedback - in light of Bronwyns comments I am considering concentrating on developing one specific resource to hopefully enhance the teaching and learning of sustainablity issues and in fact could be used in many situations.
By developing the idea of an online "place" that students can display a digital visual diary and or final design work - also could be used as a gallery space. Currently students use the visual diary/workbook as a personal space for exploration, reflection and research; development of ideas and final design outcomes. These diaries are an essential part of assessment as 'proof' of engagement with course content (notetaking, reflection, further reading, research and exploration) and process. I do not believe that the physical workbook can be replaced by an online counterpart at this stage - however possibly if students all had their own laptops it could be a reality.
Feedback from a collegue about my initial idea "good idea, as long as the technology doesn't get in the way, and it is an option for the students to showcase, not an essential method. Also, and you will laugh at this coming from me .... what about the tactility? And sometimes detail gets lost in the scanning process, need to consider that."
Could also be issues of privacy etc. - would have to be a password protected site maybe. Depends on whether it is for assessment only or as a gallery space too. Perhaps links from a Fashion School blog or website so the gallery is open and the visual diary/workbook stuff is more private.

An online space to place work would mean the students could be more discerning about the contents of their workbooks in terms of what is being viewed by others. So an extension of the workbook rather than a replacement. The ability to be able to share thoughts about any subject in a safe environment - the space could be used for critique and as part of an assessment. Could be used as a moderation tool - external moderation e.g. RMIT and of course as a distance learning tool. Still lots to nut out!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

4th June - Response to Wk12 Phil Ker illuminate session

Phils talk was "illuminating" and of course what we would expect from a forward thinking CEO. This session was actually the first time I have experienced using Illuminate and in fact I was a little impatient with the start up - understand how it works now tho.
Whilst reading the very first course reader Collins & Moonen (2001), "Flexible learning:its not just about distance", I had had a query about Institutional Policy and Otago Poly and what the general feeling about implementation was. The complex task of developing a "consenus" within an institution has been mostly answered by Phil Ker and has further enlightened me to the possibilites within this institution as well as giving support and validity to much of the teaching (pedagogy) myself and others within the fashion school are already doing. Access to resources etc is something that technology can generally overcome but creating learner autonomy is the key to the success of flexible engagement within a course I believe. Blended delivery and course content is integral to the success of a course that is trying to cater to a variety of learning styles - does the blended approach to teaching always have to include a digital component though?; Currently the courses I am involved in use both the Aquisition model (e.g.lectures) and the Participation model (e.g.workshops, critiques, projects). Perhaps it is the actual delivery in terms of variety (flexability) that is going to be the biggest challenge. We currently have a low enrollment and retention of males within the fashion school so perhaps we are not catering to their needs (could of course be that males are not so intrested in a career in the fashion industry)We have looked at the idea of the block course and do run several papers as blocks - this seems to be successful in terms of hands on aquisition of skills but is not always successful in terms of depth of knowledge gained and retained as ongoing practice is the key - depends on the length of the block. Offering ongoing top ups of information and projects by distance or online could be something to consider here.
Considering flexible assessment and flexible outcomes for students is a real challenge and an area that I am only beginning to explore. The maturity and ability of students to work independantly I believe is also a key to the success of providing flexible options in this area. We are already offering flexibility in terms of outcomes to a point within Design projects as designed outcomes are entirely up to the student, working within a brief that ensures the requirements of the course/content are met. The students work within a studio environment where the teacher is the facilitator and the timetable is based around teacher present and self directed sessions - the students decide when and how they work and how they utilise the facilities and resources available to them. As long as students are able to justify design decisions with thoughtful research based references the outcomes from Design projects are up to them. Is this flexible though? they still have to handin and present at the same time. A point to consider is that meeting deadlines is an essentail skill in the fashion industry so having strict deadlines is an important aspect of the course and in some cases a motivational tool for students!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

29th May - Plan of attack - Flexi learning plan outline

Have been considering what I want to get out of this course; an outcome that is usuable and relevant; have decided to link my Flexible Learning Plan to my current research project as mentioned in the previous post.
Heres a bit of an outline to get started with - comments/feedback would be great.
Flexi Learning Plan: outline
Aim:create a plan that incorporates and adds to current design sustainability teaching and learning at Yr 2 Bachelor of Design (Fashion)
- Diversity/flexibility of delivery and assessment
- Relates to research project - possible online learning component + surveys available online
- Possibility of building a blog for students concerned with sustainable design as a relevant resource for all design students - links to articles etc that they must respond to online.
1. Current options
2. +Flexible options
1.Face to Face Lecture series with follow up studio discussion, lectures posted on shared file or blackboard.

2. +Recorded lectures posted on blog and/or realtime lecture to distance learners - availablity online
Advantages: self paced + links to further reading etc.
Considerations: value of face to face lectures for question answer - lecturer as resource - could make email available for further questions or followup sessions.

1. Reflective writing in workbooks/Visual diaries - adds to research platform and analysis in workbook - links with design research and exploration.
2. Reflective writing (blogging)adding to discussion and feedback on other students work.
Advantages: see other students reflections (possible peer assessment;gain further insights; opportunity to discuss further; once in blog can direct students into further resources and reading.
Considerations: online component - not everyones "cup of tea"; may need to incorporate into already limited class time and/or assessment criteria to get compliance; ability of lecturers to maintain blog.

1. Integrated project - application of knowledge - knowledge put into context - currently the design projects require hands on application of knowledge in a studio setting. Application of the design process from idea thru to making of final object/garment. Strong emphasis on applied skills and industry relevance.
2. The communication component of the design project could be delivered in digital format (already applies in many cases) and placed online. Online workbook/visual diary or documentation of the process perhaps - really need to consider this in much more detail including of course assessment and relevance to industry.

So comments would be appreciated at this stage.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Flexible teaching & learning

Hiya - Tracy Kennedy here lecturer with the School of Fashion @ Otago Polytechnic - I have a special interest in the sustainable future of the fashion industry, sustainable models within the industry and the implications for fashion educators. Those visiting will soon realise that this blog has been recently set up by a newby and at this stage is very bare. I am hoping to have a blog with lots of images and discussion about sustainable issues within the fashion industry and hope to use this site as a research base in the future.

Meantime it is the start of my life as a blogger and part of the requirements for the Flexible Learning course.

So far I am a bit behind, a wee bit confused about the whole blog setup (but getting there!) and need to catch up with the rest of the students in this course. I have however been gallavanting about and have been to an International Fashion conference IFFTI in Melbourne, on a Fashion industry field trip to CHCH with our year 2 BDes Fashion students in the last 3 weeks and am about to go to the Costume & Textile conference being held over the weekend here in Dunedin, so have good excuses for being behind.

What do I want to get out of this Flexible learning course? I have already got alot out of it with the realisation at how I can utilise the blog as a teaching/learning tool within both my Design Theory and Design Communication papers - intend setting up blogs for student interaction as soon as I get a grip of the whole process myself.

8th April:ok so its now been a couple of weeks and I still havent got very far with the course requirements!However I have commenced a research project collaborating with Caroline Terpsta from design. We are working on a project (abstract at this stage) that will hopefully be accepted and a paper presented in its earliest form at the FINZ fashion educators conference in August this year and later in a more complete state at the IFFTI conference next April 2009. Focussing on a group of fashion students we are doing a study that will look at'How an educational experience can influence attitudes and raise awareness of sustainablity issues and impact on student practice.' A very tight timeframe so lots of work over the next month or so. Should be enlightening. Will catch up with the course stuff asap.