April 2008

in hindsight

An innovative proposition on collaborative teaching design with so much potential. Whats happened to flexible learning design re-volution and these authors, their peers and those implementations of flexible learning design … ? in the intervening years

What we now know that they couldn’t know back then -The failure of e-learning to deliver equal access and learner centered designs. – who wants what ? …. (Collis and Moonen, 2001, p 10)

Why should we now use a learner centred design is a central question in article on application in Journal of knowledge and E-learning and Knowledge Society . These other authors , (Maria Pertonilla Penna et al 2007) are arguing the design of an e-learning interface, while it is one solution to spatial and temporal constraints, falls short of enabling more students to learn more effectively than in traditional environments. Learner centred design requires adapting the design to suit the individual learner.

This can be exhaustive, as you can imagine, and include both the environment around the work station and the day to day pressures personal preferences, learner styles and self and peer motivation to engage in the interface of online learning. Learner profile can include educational background; academic/ conceptual/cognitive/ profile, our experience base, attitudes both toward application of both the technology and attitudes to content, our expectations, our thinking and cultural socioeconomic stereotypes. That is even before determining literacy, numeracy needs, digital information literacy, technical skills and and last but not least our cultural influences. Such things, interrogated as learner centred design, provides evidence that the design promotes accurate assessment and the student outcomes are fair! Social justice issues are explicit throughout this list: people of all ages and ethnicities with literacy, numeracy needs are failing to step up to the digital information literacy plate to access educational opportunities.

Taking learner profiles to heart is a big ask. Logisitically speaking how realistic is the task to adapt learner centred profiles to course content and blended delivery … seems this could account for just how slow tertiary teachers seem to be to implement learner centred designs.

Today application of network learning across the www needs revisit the basic literacy and numeracy issues via educational planning, their software, hardware interface, web digital publication, syndicated reading services, social networks, multimdedia course design, open course delivery platforms net and the amassing of (open and electronic) access to survey evidence of the application online-learning.

For teaching professionals it could be beneficial to collaborate with the programme designers and to trial information technology design critically evaluating integration of literacy and numeracy needs. Professionally it could be disingenuous not to measure outcomes for students with literacy and numeracy needs; where we are not interrogating these mechanisms of social engineering across the internet we’re maintaining that the right to education is only for some.

What do we now know that they couldn’t know back then –so that’s it… the benefits of hindsight is really where learning begins (and ends). Every day can begin with evaluation, reflection and collaboration.



Every attempt I have made to compose a comment to leave on a weblog has expanded my consciousness and mushroomed into something bigger than I could have anticipated. Although there will always be the tension involved in divvying up ones course work time been individual interests and collective interests, peer to peer networks are one great resource. I would claim I am one of those …”students who are helping to build a professional network”, however many of my comments to DFLP blogs and others for that matter beyond never arrived. This, due to the course workload digital literacy technical issues, were either lost enroute wordverificationnavigationloopsusernamepasswordID, social fears of demonstrating my lack of mastery of these tools not to mention unfamiliarity with the course content and the particular subject at hand. …. I would be the first to admit it; there are such tangible benefits from commenting (insight derived from the becoming a collective member collaborating in a consciousness raising exercise) and the valuable questions that arrise some of which I should simply just answer in my head, and others which I will continue to interrogate, investigate and will inform my blogs about my teaching design. Considering that when I go through the motions of writing, don’t post it immediately and then and don’t come back to it, I am either giving in to my fears- or procrastination. Or trying to make more than one (?) comment …

Granted that any interactive features of the course design bring a bunch of unknowns such as commenting on course blogs has proved, can you then have prescriptive teaching gulidelines that assess a range of quality learning experiences and so include collaboration? My concern is where to be flexible and where not to be considering the amount that is unknown (include RPL in there) during the planning stages of a flexible e-learning course. Revisiting Athena’s post about reconnecting with consciousness and  with a reference to a short quote from the (Ellis, Applebee,2006) scrolls

“It (blended teaching) means getting them to do some sort of valuable learning activities without me being there in the room with them.”

Take the digital literacy across a social network environment required for participating in a DFLP blended course design. despited being valuable learning activities, can account for different levels of participation. The digital skills required to interact with peers and facilitators, keep up to date with prescriptive assignment guidelines, publish weekly in blogs and collaborate via comments, when these are also the documentaion for assessment schedules, does suggest a teachers’ still in the room with us!

For me this weeks assignment brought home to me the importance of evaluating the proportionate weighting of content delivery and student interactivity in flexible learning design. This type of analysis is appropriate to a blended teaching design in which technical media is embed in the content delivery, interactivity and assessment mechanisms.

Although limited by its size, a qualitative study into blended learning (Ellis, Steed, Applebee, 2006) analyses and discusses two distinct teacher conceptions framing their blended teaching designs and students learning outcomes

… conceptions of blended learning focusing on critical investigation of the environment that students find themselves in, and those that see technological media as one way of helping students to achieve the intended learning outcomes of course design, tend to be associated with helping students to develop new ideas and understanding. In contrast, conceptions of blended learning that emphasize technological media at the expense of student learning, tend to be associated with using media to deliver information or to even replace some responsibilities of being a teacher. Significantly, the former categories of blended learning and teaching are associated with approaches to design that influence the way teachers teach, and the latter categories of blended learning and teaching are associated with approaches to design which are not related to approaches to teaching.” (Ellis, Steed, and Applebee, 2006)

Applying their analysis to the DFLP course design raises some issues for course designs which emphasize digital information literacy– an implication being the weblog interactive interface assumes the student has the scaffolding of access, interpretation and creation.

How do the facilitators think they teach through the emphasis on technological media in their design?

Do we think we interact and are supported sufficiently through their blended technological media design?

Are participants encouraged to conduct their own critical examination of the environmental design?

spidery thing

Yes, DFLP does seem to favour the weighting of online delivery and assessment – but is this at the expense of hands on teaching and learning of the content?

So far so good, although there have been instances when interactivity is measured as technical digital media publication – weblogs. But is blogging a substitute for the value of debate, feedback in a classroom or 1-1 discussion.

This may be also be a question of learning styles. For me assimilating, processing academic content and communicating thoughts is a proirity as “the social physical and artifactual surrounding in which human cognition and human endeavor takes place.” (Fischer 2006) can be frustrated by having to multi-task – critically examing learning materials and navigating the digital technical media interface.

The digital information literacy is in its own right a discrete and challenging arena as much as it is interwoven into the interactive social networking, collaborative and assessment of flexible learning design.

My own experience of the pace of weekly course readings, postings and eluminate meetings can be at the expense of learning.

I am resolved to explore the flexibility of the DFLP assessment schedule, find out a bit more about my particular learning styles and hopefully learn to modify my objectives so my writing process becomes more manageable.

Ellis, R. A., Steed, A. F. and Applebee, A. C. (2006). Teacher conceptions of blended learning, blended teaching and associations with approaches to design. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 22(3), 312-335.

Fischer, 2006

the -past

the – present

I don’t know much detail about the history of Otago Polytechnic organisational support before 2007. This is what I understand has happened with flexible learning recently. Therre has been a web baased e-learning intiative at Otago Polytechnic from 2007. Leigh Blackall when he advertised and hosted one week per month of informal lunchtime seminars on for flexible delivery elearning – and could see this as a chance to shape history – document professional practice across Web2.0 through staff weblogs. Every month one week of lunchtimes was dedicated to , e-groups, Blogs, Wikis, Web Feeds, audio podcasting, Open source software, digital copyright/referencing, tagging, recording and editing digital video, Vlogging, Networked Learning and general discussion, … with only a core group of staff taking the opportunity to learn blogging, and Network Learning, open source resources including learning and technical support. Some of these staff were distance teaching some were staff program developers from Travel and tourism massage therapy, and others were staff enroled in Design for Flexible Learning at Otago Polytechnic. All were at this the time key players supporting each other with resources via network learning groups and blog posts.

the – future ?

tomorrow will be shaped by the hands of today – the progress of collaboration between groups of teachers and students, staff training in open source course development, free education initiatives and training. There is always cautionary tale to be told. Any organisation has to set in place the right expectations of their staff development and training, networking, designing and teaching flexible innovations to learning.- staff are supposed to use what they’re being taught. No matter how enthusiastic encouraging you might be these performance objectives have to the same as staff trainers objectives. The reality in an organisation the size of OP practitioners responses will vary wildly- ranging from individuals defensive and over protective of their patch, to over committed, teachers under acknowledged by their peers and their organisation in general, to collaborative networks between teachers and students inside and across different organisations. The bottom line is that when staff performance is rewarded that in the longer term has more positive outcomes and brings benefits to new generation teachers- and learners

and what is the logical conclusion – mm I wonder

Was it ever simple. … Before flexible design open access to education can bridge the digital divide, it at least have to begin to be effective and if staff are not rewarded for structually implementing their digital/technical skills, then it’s unlikely that they will actually continue to build on the skills and continue to explore any applications of these in their practice. Digital literacy training is part of the package of implementation and is ongoing and is already transforming our conventional student and staff teaching and learning roles.