May 2008


plastic air nz souvenir tiki

Issues with flexible learning – access, equity; Because Many aspects of a persons opinion are culturally determined- there will always be cultural differences in most groups and it is fear of difference (ignorance) that instills prejudices and hewn into racism, classism, sexism, ageism etc. Thinking about otherness in terms of us and them is downright barbaric.

Eluminate session contained a practical suggestion by Kate Timms to learn more about what there are in the way of cultural differences between people. This approach would be applicable to most course designs. One of the ways she employs to engender cultural understanding during the Treaty of Waitangi workshops, is to break group into one on one. By generating discussion in pairs there is more opportunity to spontaneously encounter in anothers culture get to know a little of what if any are their differences and similarities. This mode of inviting participants to learn on the one hand about their own cultural influences whilst simultaneously gaining mutual respect for difference is more likely to lead into mutual respect and understanding.

Flexible planning should endeavor to provide opportunities that are inclusive of diversity particularly any evidence of prior learning and goal setting, working formally or informally, independantly or collaboratively. Different ways could include designing ways to map cultural diversity with cultural congruence between students and students . . .students and teachers. . . . Flexiblity could extend to collecting evidence via student evaluation and including evaluation of course assessment, as discussed in a previous post for both learner profiles and in order to determine the future shape the content and the delivery.

“the key idea of flexibility is learner choice in different aspects of the learning experience.” So a component of my practice of Flexible design for music learning could be an incremental continuous movement over reviewing and reshaping the content etc. away from key decisions by the instructor and institution about a range learning dimensions (which were made in advance in order to design a course) towards student choice and student contribution to specify content to course providers.

It could be that and more in a music course, the cultural content, and cultural context of learning design assumes that formal instruction of one convention is based in an elitest cultural group, ie western classical music tradition. Formally this classical genre priviledges a minority of professional musicians by subsidising “certainly very little of this support is offered to the vernacular artist who generally has to endure the full rigors of the economic climate.” ( Working for the government?)

Small, Christopher, 1987. Music of the Common Tongue, Survival and Celebration in Afro-American music. Calder, London.

Now for something I got off of the list of extra resources of some footage from an Aussie mockumentary

Been to the wiki course outline week 9 link of Samuel Manns eluminate presentation -today that is. Out of this presentation and discussion sustainability is going to take participation. Are we including manageability of workloads, mandatory professional development, workbased upskilling one example comes to mind is information technology nouse and digital information literacy?!

Some feedback about the DFLP08 eluminate session with Sam Mann for a sustainablity tick that is. My observation was that going on the level eluminate participation (partly due to small group of three) meant the Eluminate software which has a clunky single directional audio connectivity could be re-envisaged resemble face-to-face discussion that would enable more participation

The key requirement contained in Otago Polytechnic’s sustainable strategy introduced in 2006 welcoming measures…that every graduate may think and act as a “sustainable practitioner”. Departmental heads identify and factor in sustainable measures triple bottom lines for teaching and learning in their faculty.

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.

Social, ecological and economic sustainability.

Higher-education learner profiles, including online, information-age, and adult learners, are changing in ways that are self perpetuating but not always socially, ecologically and economically sustainable. I want to note some of these trends and refer back to these to scope and shape my course re its flexiblity and design. The focus on the positives and negatives in some of the 32 trends affecting distance education outlined in An Informed Foundation for Strategic Planning (Howell, S. L., Williams, P. B., & Lindsay, N 2003)

Is it Ethical to confine this to bottom line analysis. What could follow

Ecological Sustainability

In terms of ecology, having been overlooked when we are considering our ecological impact of educational design on our environment, (including resources used and levels of toxic non-biodegradable waste products). Where our lines are being drawn today frames our projections and determines our genuine strategic goals and the outcome. Being on the back foot is our legacy. What if was to remain a habitual stance, inform our thinking it will follow that this will in time polarise those involved in collaborative innovative solutions. How do we envisage scope our projected goals today for future options when at the present time the bottom line for ecological sustainablity is a paper recycling policy in the corner of offices at Otago Polytechnic. A bottom line by definition is unsustainable so first things first. Bottom lines necessitate action, imply having no other option. There is no question in my mind -these actions should be priortised, however at the same time it is also important to distinguish these as remedial and plan at the same time in a proactive way to ensure there will be sustainable times ahead when there will be room to choose. This is the challenge.

In terms of flexible learning and its social sustainability we might consider issues relating to access and equity, cultural diversity, and research and education.

1. Social access and equity, cultural diversity, and research and education
Information-age learners who tend to be practical problem solvers, trial-and-error to logic, so prioritise doing over knowing. By needing to know the rationale for what they are learning, given the right conditions and support therefore more likely to become in favourable self-directed, and goal- and relevancy-oriented. Modern literacy includes not only text but also image and screen literacy, publishing work in type not handwriting, multimedia.—it involves navigating and critical evaluation of information and reassembling knowledge from disparate fragments

2. Multitasking is a way of life for information age learners, not only are they are motivated by professional advancement, external expectations, the need to better serve others, social relationships, escape or stimulation, and pure interest in the subject. Their demands include time and scheduling, money, and long-term commitment constraints.

3. Higher education out-sourcing and partnerships are increasing the need for faculty development, support, and training is growing. An EDUCAUSE publication (2002) cites Green’s survey of the role of computing and information technology in U.S. higher education, chief academic and information technology officials rated “helping faculty integrate technology into their instruction” the single most important IT issue confronting their campuses over the next two or three years.

4. Some faculty members are resisting technological course delivery. As long as distance education contributions are not considered in tenure and promotion decisions, and as long as professors have their own, traditional ways of delivering their courses, many faculty members will be reluctant to participate in online courses (Oravec, 2003).

In terms of economic sustainability we might consider our finance and accounting structures, our work loads, and cost benefits. It is an extensive and complex consideration with increasing levels of importance today

1. While their life experiences make them autonomous, staying connected is essential, and there is zero tolerance for delays. (Oblinger et al., 2001; Jones & Pritchard, 2000) Education is adopting the characteristic status of a commodity, making consumers of students and putting them in a position to shop around for the best deal (Johnstone et al., 2002; Pond, 2003; West, 1999; Dubois, 1996).

2. In the role of consumers, students do tend to feel insecure about their ability to succeed in distance learning, find instruction that matches their learning style, and have sufficient instructor contact, support services, and technology training (Dortch, 2003; Diaz, 2002; Dubois, 1996). to be able to meet the challenges in self-organized distributed learning networks for lifelong learning

3. Traditional faculty roles are shifting or “unbundling”- disaggregating faculty instructional activities and reassigning or contracting out these pedagogic bundles.

The infrastructure of advancement in digital technologies means computers double in speed decrease in cost, and high-speed network connections which also help enrich access and transfer of information, enabling collaboration via distance media and provide many benefits of networking over the face-to-face instruction.

Our huge issue of sustainability today is a humungous issue tomorrow going by ecological, economic and social trends, an extensive and complex serial variation of literacies and digital information technologies. With networking and collaborating via digital software and information sharing tools comes describing, modelling, defining and creating 2nd life, thus we can learn about the global scale of position we are in, we can inform others …. which in itself is not enough to turn things around and shift our intervention beyond the bottom line. The challenge as I see it is another catch cry -to turn adversity into advantage.

Yes I believe open and networked e-learning undermines formal education because I have more questions than answers about open and networked learning.

Steve Downes provides answers with three main principles; interactivity, relevance, useability as the nitty gritty of online networking. In this presentation he highlights how these impact our use of social networking software.

The first aspect of a personal network is interactivity. Pushing or pulling; Steve Downes advocates to pull your audiences is a more favourable approach and others will be more receptive than to someone pushing their point. People (he explains patiently) participate in a personal learning network as individuals – to do so they need to communicate the ways they learn, delineate what is relevant and appropriate, and be willing to document their own activities, offering sequential accounts regularly, either in email groups, in weblogs, bebo, myspace or facebook to name just a few. He recommends that the best way to pull the reader, communicating in an authentic voice, which makes others more receptive. The building of a social identity, given the dynamics of an online network requires giving and taking and ongoing maintenance, it is delivered by a narrator with a context, – who often includes personal details, specific experience involving personal or educational gains. A networked collaboration is an explicit objective and the desired outcome of interaction.

These new electronic  pathways bring benefits like feeling connected and becoming more readily informed can be very rewarding. They bring us into direct contact with many more teachers and other people from other professions with a passion to communicate their vision, to debate, to teach and to collaborate. To me Steve Downes demonstrates the effectiveness of online networking. His dynamic commitment to leadership is inspiring and I can see how his influence would reach communities and organisations.

For Mark Prensky there is no debate: today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach. Requiring in addition, that students are to be more critically reflective in their self assessments and of their formal learning imposes more demands on digital natives time. Which should challenge teachers as digital immigrants to carefully consider informal network learning is where less output from them can mean more input from the learner. Wikieducator is a dynamic open entry that as a collaborative educational platform for publishing open learning resources, is just one innovative network that invites student to have an input.

The internet can readily blend a deep learning in a variety of ways. The following equivalency theorem of Anderson (2003, p.5) posits that:

deep and meaningful formal learning is supported as long as one of the three forms of interaction (student–teacher; student-student; student-content) is at a high level, although more than one of these three modes will likely provide a more satisfying educational experience.

Formal learning demands a personal response and yet there are many instances learning is internalised and will never communicate, somethings are illogicall, unknowable i.e. we can all attest to the shelf life of paradigms and the fallibility of the scientific model. Knowing has always been a collaborative process, not as settled, sure, and certifiable by authorities as we were once led to believe. Formal education just happens to be one way to learn. Where we an grow individuals it is in combination of ways.

Its supporting all three of the deep and meaningful interactive educational modes. Formal learning historically has often been regarded as objective. With the advent of what Peters (2004) describes as ‘network-based distance education’ formal teaching provides access to digital media and the Internet, allows alternative forms of engaging in learning interactively. Navigating the web covers a raft of responses to online material: searching, evaluating, storing managing, and copying material across an online public forums provided by the digital delivery software (closed and open learning).

Network learning is done by both defining boundaries and crossing them. Forming and revisiting connections, relationships, dialogues and collaborations with others, some of whom are defenders of their disciplines and their familiar organising tools.

The network asks for another learning theory, one being advanced by George Siemens claiming that it is consistent with the needs of the digital age is connectivism. Connectivism is a learning theory for the digital age redefining learning so that it is reflective of social environments in which formal learning no longer comprisies the majority of learning across web 2.0, though communities of practice personal networks ane through completion of work-related tasks. Knowing -what is supplemented with knowing how to find and evaluate, in order share our expereince with each other.

Networked education promises to augment and already proves to enhance learning outcomes that will increase access to other formal education opportunities. There are important additional characteristics to critique an environmental aspects of learning. Note: there are self paced, self assessed and when theory doesn’t always give rise to practice, there are open-ended interactive forums to sound things out, get support, advice. The student, can bring a “seeing with new eyes” that serves to refresh the subjective, revise the objective and re-invigorate the collaborative pursuit of knowledge and its applications.

I have more questions than answers about open and networked learning and I believe none of us have ever been the people our education system was designed to teach.

How do I leave out the evaluation, the critic and the editor out of the authentic voice? There are publishing authors who claim that an authentic narrator should not confuse the creative muse (our first thoughts) and our editor. This is not easy as I can attest from countless attempts only to find, it is those first thoughts that inspire a censoring editor. If the objective is to evaluate and discuss academic articles, is it realsitic to have an authentic voice. Not always.

I try to imagine the addition online didactic learning networks for teachers must be like. So many have already involved email networks with members corresponding about topical subjects can involve long threads that are time consuming to follow and other social contracts like it or not need to be taken seriously like students, colleages, managers, friends, family and tall dark strangers.

In reflection one of the many challenges to optimise formal learning is to bring a focus as wide as possible when writing and also focus widely in the effort to prioritise when the online network impinges the offline networks and the day to day demands to attend to. I find this is a very tricky balancing act. Somethings got to give.

victoria wellington