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.