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.