Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Using video for flexibility

Image: New camera :) woo by chegs on Flickr

Videos and flexible learning
In the face-to-face session today we had a bit of a discussion about creating teaching videos and how this can be included in a Flexible learning Plan. There are some great examples to look at:
If you wish to create videos for your teaching and learning and include this approach in your flexible learning plan, the emphasis is on what sort of videos you would create and why they will increase flexibility for your students' learning and for your teaching. You also need to build in time to search for material which is already avaialble on the web - Youtube, etc - a general Google search for video on your topic of choice will bring up a lot of material I am sure.

Considerations to include in your plan - remember you do not have to create them for this course just make a plan for how to create them and why you have chosen the approach and what you need to do to make it happen.

Also think about how the use of videos in your teaching and learning environment will address:
* access & equity - format of the videos and where they will be stored, who will access them and how etc,
* cultural sensitivity/diversity - learning preferences of your students, universal design etc;
* sustainability - cost of producing - resourcing, time, equipment (departmental capex can be used for development to pay a design student for example who can help with production and editing), your time - also think about the place they will be stored and how easy this is to do, ease of linking to them.

Should the videos be stored on an open website such as Youtube, or on a passworded site such as Unitube or Moodle where they are not as accessible but more secure. However they may get "locked away causing problems later on when people try and find them to reuse them. They may even end up re-creating them again. Is this sustainable in the long term?

This is just the tip of the iceberg cos there are other options as well such as vodcasting/podcasting - broadcasting video clips to which students can subscribe. They can do this if you put them on a blog or on or Youtube by subscribing to your vids. You could also create video clips on your mobile and send them directly to a web site.

The bonus is that if using video and uploading them to or Youtube, students could subscribe to your videos and download them directly from there to an ipod or other portable player for viewing in the field. How cool is that!?

a couple of vids by Leigh Blackall to look at explaining how to do this.

1. Mobile videos-Youtube, web-based editing Kaltura
2. adding videos to WikiEducator using RSS (this is how Horticulture ones are done):

Have fun and I would love to hear your ideas about using video in teaching. Or if you don't want to go that far, how about audio podcasts? ....that is another story for another day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sustainability activity - Where do we stand

anna hughes part of the Sustainability activity - where do we stand

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Online session flexible learning examples

The evening online session about examples of flexible learning provided some lively discussion. You might like to watch and listen to the Elluminate recording of the class discussion about some examples of flexible learning. Jennifer and I decided to structure the session around a four-pronged design approach - content, communication, activities and assessment. This concept is illustrated in the diagram. The Australian Flexible framework eLearning planning section in particular Designing e-learning was used to illustrate these concepts as well as our own examples. Under the Gallery of strategies there are four key tasks involved in designing and delivering courses: These are very similar to my four-pronged design approach. Often teachers tend to be content-centric whereas, in my opinion it is more important to focus on the interaction. I provided an example of using a project-based assessment I use in my teaching. There are several parts to the assessment including a project plan for evaluating an eLearning resource or course, conducting the evaluation and analysing the results, and writing the report. The assessment is all directly applicable to the context in which students are working and works well. They learn the principles of evaluation through doing the evaluation project.

The use of web-conferencing using Elluminate was an example in action of how effective synchronous online communication can be when participants are separated by geographical distances. I really liked Jennifer's description about the use of work-based assessments in vet nursing where techniques and skills are videoed when students are doing them in "real vet clinics". Then they are sent to the lecturers for marking.

I also mentioned the use of concept-mapping activities to help students reflect and link their ideas. These can be quite engaging for students who prefer visual means of expressing themselves as opposed to writing blocks of text.

If you want material purely about Flexible Learning rather than eLearning a good place to check out is: Australian Flexible Learning Framework's Flexways site

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Learning preferences - Part one

Image: Dance of the hen Diego Cupolo

Thanks so much for coming to the workshop yesterday. I really enjoyed discussing your ideas for getting students “buzzing”.

I have compiled your tips on WikiEducator - 50 ways; feel free to add to the list. You will need to create an account first.

Go to the wikieducator website:
Register an account or proceed to the tutorial on how to do this.

I will add the recording of the session to the web page as soon as I have sorted it. And guess what, the digital camera decided not to take the pic of the whiteboard properly, however, all the items are listed on the web page so apologies to those of you who prefer more visual methods. I think it was really interesting how the majority of you clustered together in the Celebrity Treasure Island Hunt for the prize as people preferring a diagrammatic map, step-by-step instructions and working in a group. The Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire will help you see the relevance of this merging of learning preferences.

Second half of the Learning preference workshop

The second part of the workshop is on Wednesday 17 September, 1205 to 1250 in H311 when we will have more discussion about learning preferences and look more in-depth at the different models for learning styles. I hope you get a chance before then to try out one of the learning styles questionnaires, with which you are not familiar. Some of the questionnaires are listed on the 50 ways website. Remember the VARK is a homegrown version of VAK. Don Clark’s webite - Learning Styles & Preferences – has a good overview of most of the learning styles.

I will continue the discussion around learning preferences on here so it will be good to get your feedback.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Flexible teaching for flexible learning

Image: Addo Elephant Park, South Africa by exfordy
This is my perspective about the type of teacher I am and the things which are important to me as a teacher, and where my experience of flexible teaching and learning is situated. The elephant is me through the looking glass - I will explain this later on.

You might like to watch this short video clip about the type of teacher I believe I am. Slightly traditional and willing to try new things, and preferring regular interaction in class and with students.

I have also prepared a video about two examples - an inflexible teacher and a very flexible teacher. The inflexible teacher - a traditional, lecturer with lots of knowledge who never changed his style of teaching over 30 years - and a very flexible teacher - one who used constructivist learning principles, negotiated learning contracts and assessments.

Here is a link to a conversation I had about 3.5 years ago about flexible learning (FL). I am now going to tackle the other parts of the orientation exercise.

I believe that FL helps me to be a better teacher in many ways. I am constantly challenged to explore new approaches to teaching and learning, use new methods to get information and concepts across to students, and this often means trying out new technologies, and teaching approaches. For example, I have been using a wiki ( for the course schedule and resources for three years now. It is a great way for students to interact online and give each other feedback, and for me to keep information up to date in a sustainable way. Most of my students study part-time and have heavy workloads so the structure helps them with their time management. I will post later on about the rest of the questions in the orientation exercise.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Flexible learning and the expression - You can bring a horse to a float but you can't make it go in or stay inside

Image: Enzo
The online class session which Sarah and Helen requested was really good. There were six of us including one of the alumni from the very first course, Tony. A couple of people did not have mics and they also managed to contribute a lot. It was great to hear about the video -ipod approach of Tony's team and how their work with video is expanding into automotive engineering and sports with their help. Their programme website with lots of neat recipes and videos is at: And there is a degree in cookery on the way.

I found the session stimulated me to speak about my past learning experiences. For example, the Diploma of Teaching in which the learning was all done through self-directed and mentored assignments. Half the 120 credits were allowed to be attributed to RPL. The oral presentation at the end was where I had to present reflections about my learning journey and my teaching framework to a panel. That was scary.

The most memorable thing for me regarding flexible learning in my past life, was in the Certificate in Clinical Teaching because a facilitator from Christchurch used to travel to Dunedin to run two and three day workshops as part of the programme. Not only was the timing of her teaching innovative, her style was flexible because it was very experiential and she facilitated our learning rather than just lecturing us. She did a mixture of presentation, activities and discussion, self-directed activities, teleconference, block courses and peer work. Her assessments were also innovative, for example, a poster was the main assessment.

Since I started working at Otago Polytechnic in 1992 as a bioscience lecturer, I have seen a huge number of changes in the type of assessments offered to students right across the polytechnic. Now it is not just essays, quizzes and exams, there are a multitude of things offered to students. There are also a huge number of ways in which teachers communicate with their students. Once upon a time, lecturers used to be aghast at the idea of emailing students and now it is a given. Some are also using texting to communicate and chat and skype as well as web and video conferencing.

I am interested to hear how participants in the Flexible learning course assess and communicate flexibly. These are very important aspects of flexible learning, and even more important than content in my opinion. What do you think?

The horse analogy and flexible learning
The title of this post has come about due to the number of hours I have spent recently helping my daughter to teach a horse to get in a float. There was a lot of work involved to get it to even enter and then a lot more to get it to stay in the float. The experience reminds me of my work at Otago Polytechnic. Perhaps this sounds a bit silly, and you are thinking what has a horse got to do with teaching at a tertiary institution? Well I can see several similarities. Let me set the scene first.

Over the years as a staff developer and educational developer, I have spent many, many hours assisting staff - academic and general - with the use of technology in the workplace. I have also taught Health Informatics to health students with the aim of up-skilling them in computing for their practice. I have also spent a lot of energy leading people to the big eLearning pond, trying to get them to dabble their toes on the edge, walk out a bit even though it was chilly and scary and then swimming with them when they decided to take the plunge. Sometimes I pushed the occasional person in, but hey I did rescue them, mostly. Some I could not catch as they swam away to distant horizons once they found their flippers. :) It's been like swimming with the dolphins - fun, scary, challenging and playful and also like swimming with the sharks - terrifying, serious, exhilarating. It is also very similar to the work required to get a scared horse to enter a float.
Image: Pond at Autumn - Teich im Herbst by Tobi_2008
Thinking back on my experiences over the last nine years, and about my experiences recently with the horse float, I realise that there is also a lot of merit in the expression, "you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink". Just as we led the horse to the float and could not get him to go in..for ages...but with some repetition, gentle and firm persuasion, guiding ropes (structure) and patience, we got him in and we got him to stay longer each time. This is much like my experiences in getting teachers to accept flexible ways of offering learning.

And to continue with the analogy of the float. Some back off before they get even close, others walk up to it and watch, others walk up, sniff and turn round, others walk right on in and stay and never leave, others walk in halfway, and some go in, back out, go back in and so on, and some only ever keep one foot on the door, always looking side to side and behind... My motto is to keep trying, so if you see me coming towards you with a horse whip I promise to be gentle.

Image: Horse floats - Tooradin by Charlie Brewer

Monday, March 23, 2009

The last few weeks

Image: Puffball puffball summer 2007 bronwynannh

Over the last few weeks I have been running close to the wind with my teaching and educational development work. The following things have been happening.
Evaluation of eLearning for Best Practice online course
The Evaluation of eLearning for Best Practice online course in its 5th week now has 18 participants, the majority of whom are pretty active bloggers so I am being kept pretty busy.
Flexible learning course
On 18 March, Leigh and I ran the first workshop for the Flexible learning course and had really good attendance face-to-face. We also connected two participants on a web conference which did not work as well as it would have with a proper mic - next time. Jacinda spoke to the group about the library facilities and is going to run a session on the 9 April 1.30-2.30 in BG1 (back room ground floor) at the Bill Robertson library - to show people how to search effectively using the online databases and Google Scholar. The library now has a snappy piece of software (can't remember th name) which connects people directly from Google Scholar to the databases available at the Bill Robertson library.

I am organising a presentation for a week's time on preparing effective blog posts for this course. I will run an experiential session on how to write effectively for a blog in this course - 2 April 1-3pm in H311. This will also be offered in an online session - 8 April 7 - 8 pm. Some sites to look at before the session:
  • 10 tips on writing a blog post
  • My PLE is like my cooky baking (PLE = personal learning environment) - a good example of a post by Sarah Stewart.
Reflective practice lectures
I have given two lectures on reflective practice to two groups of undergraduate nurses - first year and third year. They have similarities, however, the presentation to first year nurses has more detail about reflection and reflective practice. The third years gave me applause so I must have done something right. Both groups in the main were pretty responsive to the Three-Step Reflective Framework and I have modified the template for use when writing about critical incidents in the health area.

Staff Development conference
The April Staff Development conference is shaping up with several submissions for presentations. The conference website has been incorporated with the EDC events blog. We now have four streams: sustainability, self-care, teaching and learning and effective use of technology. There are still some invited speakers to be confirmed. There will be one invited speaker per theme and each will be followed by a panel of speakers under the same stream. The next phase is to check the overviews and the Presenter Working Group is on to that job, and Catherine has set up a marvellous spreadsheet to collate all the information. This will be used to create a schedule.

Apart from this I am still advising staff regarding e-portfolios and online learning as well as the other projects I have on the go. Digital Information Literacy (DIL) research project and HIV/AIDS course development with Colette Blockley.

Monday, February 23, 2009

April Staff Development Days

I am coordinating the organisation of the April Staff Development days. A lot of people have put their hands up to help and we have five working groups.

A couple of decisions to be made:
1. the name for the event - fill out poll.
2. panel following the keynote - fill out poll.

Working Groups
1. Presenters - organise sessions - topics and presenters, keynote, timetabling, information from presenters - abstract of session, reviewing & editing abstracts, objectives, technical and practical equipment requirements.
2. Publicity - brochures, email notices, information for staff, ODT .
3. Technical - data projectors, computers, smart boards, etc, - recording of sessions - audio / video, photos, room booking - location for keynote, breakout rooms, numbers.
4. Website - look and feel, content upkeep (OP website)
5. Administration - ordering equipment, photocopying, printing, expressions of interest, catering - practical equipment for sessions - WB markers, butcher paper, vivid pens etc.

It is a tight timeline, hence the orgnisation on the wiki.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Pros and cons of assessing online discussions

It was a privilege to be able to run a 40 minute session as part of the Staff Development day at Otago Polytechnic on Thursday 5 February. The title of my presentation - Pros and cons of assessing online discussions - attracted 19 hardy souls, most of whom are already using online strategies for their teaching as well as some who are venturing into the area. It was excellent to hear what sort of online discussions people were using and how they were assessing; not all were and some were in the early stages of planning their approach.
I have uploaded audio with the presentation on Myplick - Pros and cons of assessing online discussions - so people can have another listen and review the session, and also so people who could not make the session, can get catch some of the debate around the area of assessing online discussions. Extra resources and references for the session can be found on the Flexible learning wiki page. Feel free to add other material you find on the topic which you would like to share.

In my next post, I will write about my beliefs and experiences, but firstly, people might like to take 20 minutes out to view the presentation to listen to some information about the different viewpoints and examples. There are lots of things to consider before going down the 'rocky road'. It is important to make the right choice for your teaching context and to provide the best option for your students. Otherwise instead of ending up in a rolling green valley where you can lie around feeling happy, you may end up trying to scrabble out of a deep, dark cavern. its not that bad, but in the best interests of your time and the implications on your workload and that of your students, it is best to get it pretty much right first time.