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.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Week 10 Access and Equity

I did a bit of research; unfortunately there is not much out there. So I am just going to talk about my own point of view on “Access and Equity”. Bronwyn, Leigh and whoever is reading my blog, feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

When I first saw those two words, I thought they are the two advantages of being a flexible learner. Variable accessibility gives learners the freedom of “when, where and how” to learn. Equity gives everyone an equal chance to be educated, especially when people have other commitments that occupy most of their time and energy.

Then by looking at Australian Flexible Learning Framework on the "Access & Equity in Online Learning" project. I realized, equity can be also applied to those learners who have literacy needs or with disabilities. It makes me rethink about my project. My project design is to give the support for those tutors and students who think they need to improve/consolidate their maths knowledge. But due to the scarcity of the resources, the support weren’t always there for them. If I/we can develop this open space for these students, using a discussion board, messenger, online quizzes with answers and some animated demonstrations for problem solving. All students from Polytechnic have the access to this space and all contents will be in plain English, so will be straight forward even for ESOL students. Maybe we can develop the software that produce sound while playing the animation or read out the quiz questions for some of the students who have difficulty reading.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Wk 6: Examples of Flexible Learning - open, networked, RPL

Do you think open and networked education threatens or enhances formal education generally? Try to use evidence or references to back your statements.

In my opinion, open and networked education should not be conflicted with formal education. I agree with “midwikied” posting, I reckon by publishing articles and materials online, people can now have more accessibility and searching power to learn/share the knowledge. Libraries would only have limited collections and open from 9-11pm, but internet has unlimited capacity and access. When I was doing my undergrad degree at Uni, I paid regular visits to “University library catalogue”, “E-Journals” and “Article databases” to look for good references. Another na├»ve thought of mine was stop doing the excess amount of hard copy printing, we could be saving hundreds and thousands of trees too!!!

Education institutions are not a charity, they have got to make money from tuition to keep the place running and researchers who published the paper would like to receive a reward for all the hard work they have put into. So by publishing articles and materials online, would both the institution and the researcher’s loose income and more importantly their recognition? This question makes me think about another Leigh’s posting on the concept of “free learning, fee education”.

You can gain knowledge from reading something off the internet, but that is only surface learning, enroll with an institution under constructive instruction can facilitate active and deep learning. Gaining knowledge is really what we are looking for as the end result, but qualification is almost essential when comes to job seeking, to gain such recognition, enroll with an institution and a tuition fee can not be avoid.

Wk 5: Examples of Flexible Learning - part time, block, blended

After reading Leigh’s posting on NZ student debt is impossible to live with and a discussion between him and I, I suddenly realized the importance and looked at flexible learning from a whole new aspect. My argument was students should be living like students rather than living beyond their means, using loans to buy ipods, stereos and items that they do not need for study or living; however I ignored the fact that there is significant proportion of adult students, they have to fit their studying around other commitments such as work or family. With the sky high interest rates and food prices, they really can’t afford to give up their jobs and maybe flexible learning is their only hope.

Part time and block study gives excellent flexibility. Speaking from experience; I am a part time student of GCTLT. This course enables me study and work at the same time and as I’m new to the job, this course has become a useful tool/guidance.

I was not familiar with blended learning, Then I did some internet research (yea, I prefer doing research by sitting on the couch in my living room than going to a library!). Blended Learning is a learning process which has a powerful training solution that combines e-learning with a variety of other delivery methods for a superior learning experience or simply combines online and face-to-face approaches. I have already attempted to use blackboard and “Mathercize” as part of my teaching strategy as I mentioned in my previous postings and I believe it has been helpful and successful.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Week 4: How can distance, correspondence and/or online learning create flexible learning opportunities in your context?

We are currently teaching mathematics to one distance stream of students. 7 weeks down, we lost almost 1/3 of them. Most of them are out of town students or they are local but could not get into the normal class, distance learning seems to be their only option. As Rumble and Latchem (2004) stated that distance education has decreased as traditional campuses move to reduce costs, but it also reduces the ability to respond to individual student needs.

Design for flexible learning can be done through online learning and I am obliged by this arrangement. My timetable is extremely full Monday to Wednesday, so I normally do all my reading and blogging from Thursday on. The research we have to do or the question we have to answer for this course has no right or wrong answer; we are just speaking freely about our minds, sharing our thoughts and being supportive to each other. However, to my point of view, not all courses can be run 100% through distance or correspondence. Peters (2004) suggested that with an increasing emphasis on digitized instructional material, learning can be more autonomous and self-directed. But are the learners ready to be self-contained with their own study? Now some of the students cannot work with rigid timetables or meet the deadlines under instructor’s supervision, what is it going to be like without it?

All this time, we are doing the best we can to create this flexible learning environment to meet the student’s demands, because they have to work to cover their living costs or they have a family to look after. But what do students think about our effort? I just happened to chat to my students one day after class; they said they paid almost five grand on tuition this year. As a full time student, only 9 classes were scheduled per week. They think it is a huge rip off. Maybe polytechnic should make “flexible learning” a compulsory paper for every student too, get them out of their “spoon-fed” habit, really see how they will be benefit from being a flexible learner.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Wk 3: Why we need flexible learning

Thanks for all those comments on my previous blog. I agree with you Athena, I am really a people’s person too, don’t think I will do well by teaching in front of a 15 inch rectangle box.

Anyway, I started reading Leigh’s postings on Sunday, but I had a busy week (I’m sure this is a lame excuse ; ) because everyone is just as busy as me), haven’t had chance to update my blog. But now I have placed myself in front of the computer with a cup of tea and some marshmallow eggs……

So, do we need more flexible learning? Does flexible learning mean an equal opportunity for everyone to have the chance to get educated? Related to Leigh’s posting, “free learning, fee education”. We are here to inspire our students, to “get them into an educational setting, getting them comfortable with structured learning, helping them develop independent learning skills, and building confidence with the idea of assessment”. Q4U has done it, why can’t every other department follow? I have only been here for 5 weeks; maybe I haven’t seen it all. Somehow I don’t see how more flexible learning is going to help me to teach my students who are desperately wanting to get into nursing next year but can’t do the times table (within10) by head. As I mentioned in my previous posting, I had success getting my students to practice maths exercises on line. I feel that flexible learning would be helpful in conjunction with class learning, but when using flexible learning as the only learning tool, it may conceal its real potential. For example, My colleague is running a distance stream for mathematics (for students living outside of Dunedin). After the first day of workshop, he lost almost 1/4 of students, because he quickly went through all course contents and give instructions on how to communicate on the internet and that really beat up some of the students’ “self-esteem”. He had run two Elluminate sessions after that, hardly anyone turned up for the session and most of time, he felt like he was lecturing by himself.

What I’m trying to say is, we do have wonderful recourses on internet that we can use and we can create the second space that is outside of classroom to interact with our students. But we should not always rely on such technology, from the example I gave to you above, it does not always work for you. There is a policy to support the concept of “free learning, fee education”, most courses have a 2-3 weeks trail period, if you don’t think that is what you would like to learn within such period, you get a full refund on tuition. But when we lost people during this free learning period, we shouldn’t see it as a loss of tuition or government funding, more importantly, we might have lost someone’s confidence or someone’s chance to be successful.

Happy Easter everyone...

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Wk 2: March 10-16: What is flexible learning?

Is flexible learning a new concept or just a fancy new word for an old way of doing? (Remember to back your response up with references or evidence.)

Correspondence school has been around for years, it can be considered as a form of flexible learning. But now, flexible learning has blended with modern technologies. I have done a similar posting for my Gaining Foundation Skills for Learning and Teaching paper, where we discussed the advantages and disadvantages for "online learning". Put aside the technology difficulty, flexible learning gives students the freedom and choice on their own study. But it put teachers in a vulnerable position, less face-to-face contact; the teacher has no control of the progress. My opinion on flexible learning is we should combine the classroom and flexible learning together: setting up certain self discipline and getting instruction for the course during class time, but let students to do the exploration and extend their knowledge in their own way.

What are you already doing in your practice that you believe enables flexible learning?

I use E-mails, discussion board and announcements on internet to keep in constant communication with students. I am teaching mathematics, students are required to do lots of exercise to be proficient in mathematical calculation. My colleagues put together a thing called “Matherzise” on the internet for students to practice. Students enjoyed doing the exercise online more than the traditional pen and paper exercise.

For any of you feel your students need extra maths practice, here is the link for “Matherzise”:
Student ID number is any single digit (e.g. 0, 1, 2....) and password is "poly"

Thursday, 6 March 2008

I am here!!!

Hi everyone!

My name is Michelle. I love blogging!!! I have a blog on MySpace, but unfortunately they are mostly in Chinese, otherwise I would love to share with you!

I came from China 7 years ago. I graduated from Otgao Uni last year with a BSc double major in Pharmacology and Statistics. I am currently working as a Maths tutor/lecturer for Foundation studies (maybe some design and IT classes later).

As being new to teaching, I am looking forward to exchaging ideas and sharing thoughts with you guys.

Michelle Liu