Saturday, March 25, 2006

work meanderings


Its taken a while to get going on my blog. I wonder do I deserve a virtual choc fish for starting and hopefully writing something meaningful.
Source: www.bbc.co.uk

A lot has been happening at work. For a start we are lucky enough to have visits from a couple of people involved in flexible learning - Cathy Gunn (University of Auckland) and John Clayton (WINTEC - Hamilton, NZ)....more about this later.

FLUG meets Blackboard head on
I have been busy with the formation of the new and improved FLUG - a group of enthusiasts involved in flexible learning and support. With our organisational strategy of flexible teaching and learning, it was timely to change the name of the Blackboard User Group to FLUG (Flexible Learning Users Group).

We also needed to extend the group - so a bigger cross section of people involved in flexible options here could muck in and get their hands dirty.

Source: www.geoimagery.com

This way the small core of enthusiasts and people involved with the Learning Management System will have more of "a voice" in some of the changes which are happening here in our organisation. So the Bb User Group has re-birthed as FLUG.

So...what does this mean? FLUG will hopefully provide information to the newly formed Flexible ...committee about operational matters and stuff from the coal face. We also hope to assist in developing some sort of flexible learning and teaching strategy which is meaningful for our learners and staff in the organisation.

So who do we think we are...why should we have a say?
Because FLUG hopefully will represent the "real users" because it is made up mainly of people who get it. But do we?

We all know that flexible learning is a very important strategy for quality education.What gets me though is that every organisation seems to be busying themselves with the development of strategies for eLearning or flexible learning and teaching.....but what are these strategies based on?? What everyone else has been doing..or on the unique culture within an organisation? The former I believe because it is easier.

It is also easier to follow like sheep and stay with an LMS like Bb - the same as the others. It is also easier to stay with an imposition model - a model where the learners are told what they're getting rather than being asked how they want to approach teaching and learning.

The best model for a flexible learning and teaching strategy which I have seen is the one QUT (Queensland University of Technology) developed called the QUT Teaching Capabilities Framework. See overview at: http://www.library.qut.edu.au/framework/

QUT surveyed staff and students who were using the LMS (Blackboard), to find out what was important to them as both teachers and learners. The project team took their findings and using a process of wide consultation, they developed a framework. This framework now underpins how teaching and learning is offered at the university, and has informed the professional development of staff.

Unfortunately, we have not gone down this track, but have taken the route followed by many. Additionally, we have also developed a teaching qualification without developing a teaching and learning strategy first. Now staff will be indoctrinated into "a way" of teaching which may not be right for our learners...or for our environment.

We have broken the first golden rule! We didn't find out what our learners actually wanted first!

As a result, our flexible learning and teaching strategy may also not be based on actualities but on assumptions. I believe we do have time to find out what our teachers and learners actually want, what their experience is to date and what they would like to see happening.

Wont this save time in the end! We are in a good position to really do something different and lead flexible learning in a new direction.


I would really like to see us get out from behind the herd, stop the baaing and mooing and get to the green grass first...for a change.


Watch this space to find out how the flexible strategy and the teaching qual evolve.

1 comment:

Leigh Blackall said...

Great first post Bronwyn, I can see this is going to be a valuable blog. Reading through you thoughts, listening to your concerns without anything interrupting your chain of thought or ultimate pointed destination. This is going to a valuable addition to our already valuable exchanges.

I'm not sure what to think about your concerns. Of cours eit sounds right, and no doubt is right, that we need to find out what teachers and students need and want, but aren't we all guilty of not asking? Here I am rolling out a bunch of workshops on things most people at the Tech seemed to have never heard of, let alone want. The first email I got in response to the mail out was a "what is this, why do we need it?"

So, I'm certainly guilty of not asking what people want. But that doesn't stop me thinking this is what they need.

I guess the balance in all this is accepting that we are the organisation's experts, and so long as we do our best to inform people of the options and notible trends, then when we do in fact ask what people want we can trust that people at least have some idea of what is possible.

Looking forward to more insights into your thinking.

Off to the shops to buy you a choclate fish.