Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Course Design Overview

The purpose of the Mathematics for health course is to facilitate students to develop comprehension, accuracy, checking methods, and retention of the necessary mathematical skills that they will need in their health professions. The four units that are currently included in the curriculum have covered the appropriate amount of the knowledge. However, from the feedback that I’ve received from students, they were having difficulty following the course book, or as they said “the book makes no sense”. It makes me wonder, how to make mathematics make SENSE??? What can I do to help students to see mathematics is more than 10 digits and a bunch of strange looking signs?

After a few weeks of research on learning theories, “Problem-based learning” caught my attention. Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered instructional strategy in which students collaboratively solve problems and reflect on their experiences. We are dealing with numbers and doing calculations on a daily basis therefore by utilising their prior knowledge and experience in mathematics so that learners can relate themselves better to the learning, hence, MAKE SENSE.

From a constructivist perspective PBL, the role of the instructor is to guide the learning process rather than provide knowledge (Hmelo-Silver & Barrows, 2006). Students need to acquire much more than a store of knowledge in the subjects that related to their future profession. The acquisition and structuring of knowledge in PBL is thought to work through the following cognitive effects (Schmidt, 1993):
• initial analysis of the problem and activation of prior knowledge through small-group discussion
• elaboration on prior knowledge and active processing of new information
• restructuring of knowledge, construction of a semantic network
• social knowledge construction
• learning in context
• stimulation of curiosity related to presentation of a relevant problem
Having the awareness of the diversity of our learners, the old fashion “chalk-and-talk” mathematical teaching style is no longer in favor. Students approach concepts, ideas, and problems differently, according to their backgrounds, experiences, studies, etc. These approaches students use are often referred to as heuristics.

Fennell and Landis’ (1994), Chapter: Number and Operation Sense in the book Windows of Opportunity: Mathematics for Students with Special Needs. Retrieved on 8 / 10 / 2009 from:

Wikipedia- Problem-based learning

Scaffolding and Achievement in Problem-Based and Inquiry Learning: A Response to Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006) Hmelo-Silver, Duncan, & Chinn. (2007). Educational Psychologist, 42(2), 99–107

BOUD D & FELETTI G (1991) The challenge of problem based learning. Kogan Page Limited.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Sunday, 6 July 2008

WK 16 Complete Assignments

Self Assessment of Learning Outcomes

a. Analysis and synthesis
b. Original thoughts
c. References, hyperlinks, attributions

WK 1 Orientation and introductions
a. -n/a-
b. -n/a-
c. -n/a-

WK 2 What is flexible learning?
a. 4
b. 4
c. 2
Leigh was really helpful and I actually took his advice to start using RSS news feed (i.e. Google reader), it’s a wonderful tool to have for this course!!!

WK 3 Why we need flexible learning
a. 4
b. 4
c. 1
Leigh’s comments really opened my mind up about FL, I was been simple minded to think FL was only done through the internet. I then read all the comments and discussions about some of the issues, so maybe I should get more credit for “respond to comments”?

WK 4 Examples of Flexible Learning - distance, correspondence, online
a. 3
b. 4
c. 3
It wasn’t successful in my area of teaching, but some improvement could be done.

WK 5 Examples of Flexible Learning - part time, block, blended
a. 5
b. 5
c. 5
I think these are great way of learning, definitely beneficial for lots of students. I was surprised no comments have been made.

WK 6 Examples of Flexible Learning - open, networked, RPL
a. 5
b. 5
c. 5
Again I think those are the great way of learning. No comments left either.

WK 7 Planning for flexible teaching and learning This post wasn’t posted until later.WK 8 Issues with flexible learning - The modern Internet
a. 3
b. 3
c. 1
There are some advantages and disadvantages of using modern internet.

WK 9 Issues with flexible learning - Sustainability
Huh...I didn’t seem to make a posting which I thought I did…

WK 10 Issues with flexible learning - access and equity
a. 4
b. 4
c. 3
FL provides more opportunities for learners

WK 11 Issues with flexible learning - Cultural diversity
a. 4
b. 5
c. 2
I came from a different culture, so I have got lots to share.

WK 12 Flexible learning in educational organizations
a. 3
b. 3
c. 1
Otago Polytechnic is really committed to FL and my developing plan should be facilitating the FL for students.

WK 13 National and International support for flexible learning development
I have not yet had a chance to seek for financial support.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Wk 12: Flexible learning in educational organizations

I was the only “brave soul” student that present at the elluminate session. By listening to Phil’s presentation and reading the strategic plan, I am convinced that the Polytech, along with its staff are committed to provide the flexibility for students. Open entry policy, variation of studying options, CAPL and EDC courses etc. we (as educator) have done everything we can to create the flexibility, but how to apply this flexibility and ensure all students will be benefiting from this flexibility scheme. When we consider the accessibility and equity of say “open entry policy”, does this policy provide the accessibility to all learners? YES… what about equity? We are asked to identify the diversity of students and yet treat them as “individual”, but how is one set of study schedules and the same course coverage make the “highly personalized program delivery” possible??

In statistics, there is a term called “maximum likelihood estimation”, that’s when you try to find a mathematical model that fits the best to random data, the composition of the model is entirely determined by how the data is distributed. This theory can be extended to education situations, we are trying to find the best “flexible” course model to fit in best with our various “students” and again, the design of “flexibility” is not up to how “flexible” we can be, students’ needs are really what we are dedicated to, they are the ones to determine when they need the “flexibility” and how “flexible” it is going to be and therefore to maximize their likelihood to be successful!

In the project that I am planning. I am not trying to modify any particular existing course, still a new kid to the block, I am quite happy to observe than criticize. Maths is not an essential paper but basic numerical skills is crucial for many courses and again with “open entry policy”, people come with all sorts of maths background and sometimes don’t necessarily met the “assumed” entrance requirement. My plan simply provides the “life jacket” for those students who are struggling with competent maths skills for their course. No particular target student group, no particular course material prepared, anyone (polytech students of course) who have any questions regarding maths or statistics or even someone has no course related questions but would like to improve their maths skills, we are happy to help out. There will be a tutorial website which has been divided into different sections; students can choose the section that they really need to practice on along with some on-line communication for urgent and specific questions. That way, students are getting the help that what they want and when they need. I think the plan I developed can really be outlined the “accessibility and equity”, “individual needs” and “highly personalized programme delivery”.

Wk 8: Issues with flexible learning - The modern Internet

Speed, skills and cost are the three things that first come to my mind.

Speed: depending on location, students may have access to high speed internet, allowing for more efficient use of video interaction or downloading larger files. But on the opposite end, people who are not in an area with access to broadband are limited to dial-up internet, hence they miss out on take full advantage of on-line learning.

Skills: students who have had adequate experience in computers and internet prior to starting a course that involves on-line learning will have beneficial advantage over those students who are computer literate. Hopefully, with the modern education system, this will become less of a problem.

Cost: the cost of high speed internet is still relatively high. So students who are on low incomes may not be able to afford it and have to rely on cheaper but slower connection. This brings us back to “speed” that I pointed out above.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Project plan

Project Name: Fundamental Mathematics Skills Revision and Development
Date: 2009
Organisation: Otgao Polytechnic Mathematics Team

  • Executive summary
    The purpose of developing such a project is to facilitate/improve the fundamental mathematics skills that can be utilized for some courses but unable to develop themselves due to lack of time and recourses. The project provides stepwise learning directions that can also be used for students, if they felt their mathematics are not up to the standard with the course.
  • Project background
    We (as the maths team at polytechnic) have been contacted by other departments numerous times before or during the course showing their frustration with their student’s lack of mathematics skill competency. But with the open entry policy and the limitation of the course arrangement, adequate mathematical skills of individual students are normally neglected (assumptions are made that all students are competent in Maths). Schools are not be able to remodel the course content to satisfy everyone’s need and with those students who are lacking the required mathematical skills may find it is difficult to keep up with the designed study pace.
  • Aims, objectives, outcomes
    Provides the mathematics services that can be supportive to students, help them to refresh/upgrade the maths skills they need and also facilitate the school making teaching of the courses less problematic.
  • Flexible learning analysis

  • What are the perceived flexible learning needs of the people that your plan is targeting?
    Give students the flexibility on “when, where, what and how” to learn maths.
  • What type of flexible learning services will you provide?
    Blended teaching style, some face-to-face help sessions, rest can be delivered via on-line.
  • enrollment;
    No enrollment necessary. The course is open to all Polytechnic students. who would like to improve their maths skills.
  • assessment;
    1. On-line quizzes;
    2. Blog writing, sharing thoughts and arise problems;
    3. Apply their maths knowledge to their related area, a research project on how important maths is in their area of study (e.g. carpentry students need to show competent skills on measurement and planning lumber purchases, eliminate as much material waste as possible etc.).

  • Indicate the type of services which already exist that compliment and/or compete with your plan.
    Develop a website that is dedicated to Mathematics Learning:
    1. Mathematical skills will be presented categorically on line. (Selecting the relevant categories in Maths that students can utilize in their area of study)
    2. Revision and exercises are also available on-line for students.

With support being provided from:
1. ”Blackboard” for discussion board, E-mail and announcement.
2. Group conferencing through MSN, Skype or Elluminate.
3. Web messenger provides an instant Q&A for urgent matters

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Wk 11: Issues with flexible learning – Cultural diversity

I have read Alli’s posting on this topic. I think she has done wonderful research. Just want to make an insignificant correction here, in Chinese “giving clock” is pronounced as “Song4 Zhong1” and it means “attend a burial ceremony”. Apart from deciding what to give to your Chinese friend for a gift, the quantity of the gift is also needed to be considered. Number “4” is regarded as the “unlucky number”, because it shares the same pronunciation as “death”, so try not to give a gift of four items.

Brought up in a completely different culture, but have spent the past 8 years studying in NZ, I don’t think I have ever felt offended from any learning material (maybe I wouldn’t say the same thing if I studied the “Political study” or “Environmental study”).

I found a website on The Penn State University named “Working with Diverse Students including Adult Learners”. It clearly defined “Diversity” and lists a few strategies on how to work with “Diverse Students”. In my Certificate in Health course, gender discrimination is obvious, so is the diversity in age. I sometimes have to protect male students from being “targeted” by their fellow the female students. Some of the older female students like to play the “Mother Hen” role in the classroom, their dominance behavior and enthusiasm of learning can be used to set as a positive example, but can be irritating for the rest of the class too.