DFL PLAN July 2008 (Draft)

Flexible learning design for a digital audio course


These days interactive course materials and learning resources can be readily produced using open source digital tools and shared across social networks. Open Educational Resources are free of copyright restriction and freely available on the world wide web. While the ‘volunteer approach’ to OER development is unlikely to gain much traction in the short to medium term, there is promise in the long term. Consider that in 2002, OER was a term used to denote higher educational resources in third world countries, today, 2008, digital media with attribution only CCby are available online to use and re-use, to mix and remix (mashup) and to reference and redistribute under fair-use guidelines.

Learning by active participation has traditionally been considered a key component in vocational training. The prevalence of embedding digital literacy in academic and ‘virtual’ technical courses now extends those opportunities for “learning by doing”. Collaborative media practices are making waves in mainstream educational environments and institutions. Particularly when students are involved in learning paradigms where ideas are generated in socially interactive forums, sharing resources and collaboration builds into OER multimedia projects.

The background:

Otago Polytechnic is a tertiary institute for technical, academic and vocational training accredited with nationally recognised certificates diplomas and degrees. From the outset Otago Polytechnic staff delivered blended programmes to both distance students and onsite students. Typically courses comprise distributed packages of e-learning and face to face classes, and online by way of a (closed platform) learning management systems, Blackboard and Moodle.

For over 2 years, a number of full time lecturing staff and 5 part-time programme designers across different departments have been exploring the use of wikis and personalised blogs to develop and manage a number of online courses and teaching resources to achieve greater flexibility in curriculum and distributed methods of delivery.

Intellectual Property Policy changes at Otago Polytechnic during 2007 mean staff can now assign copyright to their course resources (attribution only CCBy as is recommended). This innovation was designed so that more educators will design more flexibility into existing programmes. The strategic direction is toward embedding digital information literacy across into courses and delivering these across social networks. As more programmes adapt and convert existing course materials into digital multimedia these can be accessed as Open Education Resources.

Many people experience barriers to learning and not just in formal educational environments. Learning aurally auditory-musical-rhythmic learning styles can be overlooked as an enabling and rewarding experience for learners with diverse socioeconomic, cultural backgrounds, literacy numeracy needs intellectual, and physical disability.

The following plan is an outline for a flexible course design using open and distributed information and communication tools to teach the construction of course materials using digital audio.

General Aims and objectives:

1. open course to teach the construction of course materials using digital audio.

2. A blended delivery facilitating learner generated curriculum and content.

3. The informal/formal learners will be directed and guided through activities generated in a handbook (tutorial resources and activities accessed online from wikieducator and youtube).

Flexible Learning Objectives

Flexiblity related to time:
– starting and finishing course. Offering this course online would mean variable start and finish dates, pace, submitting assignments and feedback.

Flexiblity related to content:
– a participatory model of student generated content on sourcing, evaluating, use and reuse of material from the internet.

– extensive feedback system will result in an ongoing process of content creation and modification. refer to course outline for feedback system. The use of a wiki will accomodate this flexibility.

Flexibility of access:
– open access with informal and formal enrollement.
– Conditions of participation require basic level computing skills (archive/ file management) with some network navigation skills. Skills analysis of technological skill and fluency, digital literacy, internet literacy, vocabulary, self efficacy, confidence levels etc. Three categories are useful to analyse a learner profile to denote skill complexity and relative levels of mastery of those skills breakdown into three levels beginner, intermediate or advanced levels access, interpret, create, these are adapted from a wikieducator project in which a group of researchers at Otago Polytechnic are creating educational resources in the Commonwealth of Learning.

Flexiblity related to delivery:
Network Learning using social software open source platform makes it possible for:

– the programme portfolio to be constituted from open education resources and tutorials.
– flexible in meeting specific access and equity issues meet expectations for satisfactory means of delivery.
– Blended delivery online and in face to face group based activities on collaborative research.
– Self-instructional self-paced design of assigned resources online wikieducator and youtube tutorials delivery.
– Particpants can be self-paced and can work with peers where course materials and assessment schedules will be blended and non synchronous and can facilitate collaboration.

Flexiblity related to instructional design

Flexible Learning Methodologies:

– Participatory Design in tandem with peer collaboration in projects and group based activities promote the participatory model of flexible learning and flexible course delivery (Collis & Moonin, 2001)

– Universal Instructional Design is inclusive of cultural diversity and disability. Diversity learner profiles: skills, academic experience, learning styles, resources etc – previous experience producing digital audio editing with software (audacity, goldwave, cubase, pro-tools)

– Self-instructional Design Guidelines: applied in the development of self-instructional curriculum content; in particular constructing audio along with other media and delivering these as the course materials.

Access and equity:

“The first understanding of injustice is material, here attention to injustice focuses on unequal distribution of things like income, property ownership, access to paid work, to education and health care, leisure time and so on. The second understanding of injustice is cultural and symbolic…” (Bruch, 2003, p.94)

– a course for instructors encourages peer to peer support in core and complementary technology and provides resources to support technical training.

– student feedback and extensive course evaluation used to detemine whether expectation built into timelines and course assessment schedules are appropriate.

Cultural diversity:

Our contributions are: our commitment to education equity, realised through our ’staircasing’ philosophy, flexible delivery and commitment to provide an inclusive learning environment.

– Identify learner strengths both as an individual and in a collaborative group dynamic social network software and a static curriculum.
– Identify and gather evidence about areas to offer advice about ways to improve student and course outcomes and justification of flexible learning issues


Factors precipitating organisational changes such as declining student enrollment numbers coupled with a government reallocation of funding from “bums on seats” to student retention and graduation, all point to the need for change greater use of the internet and open access internet connectivity, more flexibility in programme frameworks, course delivery, content, and assessment and certification schedules.

Sustainabilty : Triple bottom line

Social systems: Prospective course participants include undergraduates, post graduates, staff and mature students returning to study, or entering formal studying for the first time and general public.

– Course will have synchronous events for some students to be supported when they are learning and encountering new materials and extending their use to others. Social networking software is used for dynamic asynchronous communications, and feedback and evaluation.
– course materials can be developed to be inclusive: use both core and complementary technologies that generate audiovisual resources for all economic disadvantage, disabilities, language barriers and learning disabilities.
– wikiversity has resources for other language users also see wikimedia of audiovisual resources

Ecological systems:
Reuse and fair use of open educational resources:

– model a sustainable use of technology through a design for learning that utilises connectivity and creative commons philosophy.
– observe fair use and re-use by referencing copyright guidelines by maintaining and improving on the quality when using and re-using resources with creative commons attribution.
– Indicate the type of services which already exist that compliment and/or compete with your plan.
– plan the strategic implementation of digital network literacy requires ongoing support and training.
– recognise that technological fluency and self-efficacy that has an open ended range network and generates a variety of flexible aspects to the overall design.

Economic Systems:
This design aims to address some digital literacy and technical aspects of the course present ojectives access and equity, disability and cultural differences student retention, career pathways, livelihoods .
– Develop facilities and systems which correspond with industry standards
– can be co-ordinated into module based learning
– are integrated into other courses within and beyond educational institutions
– correspond to industry based skills and qualifications which will be regenerative of livelihoods.

Existing Flexible Learning Services and relevant training

Opportunities at Otago Polytechnic: types of flexible/formal sound/design audio production modules. Fine Arts School offers an applied course in Digital Literacy application to contemporary design communication in the first year of a 3 year Bachelors of Fine Arts. Design School also offers one module in sound Design in the 2nd semester a module in a 2 year full time Interactive Multimedia Design Course. Composing Open Educational resources on wikiversity, Community Media on wikieducator

Alignment with the Polytechnic’s strategic direction:

We will continue to develop our courses for flexible delivery to facilitate learning in regional centres, in workplaces and in people’s homes (Otago Polytechnic Charter 2007 p.9).

In 2007 Otago Polytechnic senior management revised their Intellectual Property Policy. In effect, the existing All Rights Reserved default CCL was replaced by a creative commons -Some Rights Reserved – Attribution CC BY. Effectively giving staff Intellectual property ownership rights with an option to elect for some restriction.
It is to be expected that replacing an All Rights Reserved CCL default copyright with the recommended CC BY copyright will foster collaboration avoid the legalistic complications when practitioners, academics and students use re-use of digital resources that have attribution restrictions.

– To provide relevant, flexible and accessible learning opportunities which build capability, are stimulating and challenging and foster life long learning (Otago Polytechnic Charter (p.4).

Reuse and fair use of open educational resources: As part of a strategic implementation plan documenting and evaluating flexibility for on-line networks Whether this going to be enough to ensure longterm sustainablity I wonder. What will the bench marks to measure sustainable goals against.

Our contributions are: our responsiveness to our communities and to stakeholder needs, evidenced through our comprehensive programme portfolio and our flexibility in meeting expectation for alternative means of delivery (Otago Polytechnic Charter p.10).

Otago Polytechnic strategic choice is progressive both in the vision, the timing and negotiating of a creative commons Intellectual Property Policy.
There is a good deal of communication required to bring staff on board, infrastructural change required to to support recognise and renummerate staff for flexible learning innovation. Implementation implies realigning academic issues of pedagogy and effective teaching into a digital realm. The plan I have outlined attempts to outline issues of sustainablity re-using flexible online teaching and learning practices.


Australian Academic and Research Libraries 6(4), 153-168 Anderson (2003) p.5
Benkler, Y. Common Wisdom: Peer Production of Educational Resources. Wikieducator project at Otago Polytechnic

Bruch, P.L. (2003) in Interpreting and Implementing Instructional Design in Basic Writing Process. Jeanne L. Higbee. Editor. (p. 93-103)

Bruch, P.L. (2003) Training -Apprenticeship Models of Skills Instruction, in Interpreting and Implementing Instructional Design in Basic Writing Process. Jeanne L. Higbee. Editor. (p. 93-103).

Butt, Danny (2002). Reshaping Undergraduate Study in New Media. ANZCA Conference proceedings, Gold Coast. Australia.

Collis, Betty and; Moonen, Jef. (2001). Flexible learning: it’s not just about distance. In Flexible learning in a digital world. Open & Distance Learning Series. London: Kogan Page Ltd.

Composing free and open educational resources created by the Wikiversity

Introduction to Open Education course by David Wiley

Otago Polytechnic Charter (2006-2010)

Procter L. (2006) Supporting Legitimate Peripheral Participation: challenges for teaching and Learning in a first year sociology course. International Review of Modern Sociology: 32 (1)

Procter L., Wartho, R. and Anderson, M (2005) Embedding Information Literacy in the Sociology Programme at the University of Otago. Australian Academic and Research Libraries Vol 36, No. 4. (153-168).

Leigh Blackall (2007) Open Educational Resources and Practices in Scope Contemporary Research Topics; Flexible learning No.1 Nov. University of Otago Print.

Lockwood, Fred. (1998). The Design and Production of Self-Instructional Materials. The Open and Flexible Learning Series. London: Kogan Page.

The Power of Flexible Learning Design a GCTLT DFLP Course at Otago Polytechnic Research (2006-2008) project into effective strategies embedding digital networked literacy and self-efficacy for e-learning across networked learning communities.

Universal Instructional Design in a computer-based Higher Education Learning Community. edited J. Higbee.


This course plan has been developed using open source software and open educational resources.