Facilitating flexible learning

Today three of us ran a workshop about facilitating flexible learning: how to give great feedback and still have a LIFE.

Overall, I think it went well. Lots of discussion and questions and people were keen to make contact at the end of the class….always a good sign.

It appears that the title and the content offered were timely. There was a big contingent from one school who have a push on to put courses online. This was excellent. They did have concerns, however, about how to get their content online. They were advised to work with the programme developers, and offered assistance to have people work alongside them, but not do it for them. The mentality is still there to get stuff on Blackboard, rather than thinking how they would like to present content and activities, and what technologies could assist.

There was some discussion about models where content is handed over to a team to create resources. Leigh made a good point about models he had seen which didn’t work and had cost lots of money. He believes it is best to start with finding resources which already exist and can be re-used…if possible. This makes a lot lof sense.

Some institutions which are heavily in to distance education – open polytechnic, UK, Athabasca university have production units but this makes sense. Open university in NZ used to do this as well, but has found it is more cost effective to enable staff to take charge of their courses and they have moved to Moodle. It would be interesting to talk to someone and find out how it is actually going.

The total number who enrolled was 13 but 3 people didn’t turn up. The group were very interested and gave positive evaluations.

I started the workshop off with an overview of facilitating online learning…well I sort of took charge of it really…we did brainstorm how we would approach it earlier in the week, but the actual content we presented was up to us individually. At the 11th hour, I felt the need to slap together some slides…too many bullet points..but for next time I will develop some concept maps.Hey I can try out CMAP.

I will try and get them done before this group finishes their online discussion. This will continue on until the end of the second week in May. Easter in the middle sort of interrupts the flow. The timing for the next workshop will be better. And hey next time we will try out Elluminate for the initial session.

People liked the different cases we presented. Merrolee had lots of practical advice and talked about how she managed the online discussion. It is good for people to hear the nitty gritty stuff from someone so experienced…well I am too. I talked about how assessment was linked in strongly to the discussions. We gave tips for managing prolific postings and motivating people to go online. I really have to do something about the amount of content in the evaluating eLearning for best practice course though…I will definitely be going with the learner-generated model for next year. hopefully i will still be teaching it then.

Leigh gave a very insightful overview of alternatives such as egroups, and how they are very useful platforms for handing over ownership of material to students….giving them something they can take away with them when they leave their 3 yr programmes…when they are locked out of the institutional platforms. Some of the OTs were very intrigued with the idea of having a community of practitioners able to remain in contact about professional issues.

It will take time but the ideas are filtering through. All we need are enthusiastic staff who act as “hotpoints” in their schools and talk about what they are doing to others. I do love running workshops with staff, and seeing the lightbulbs come on.

The next offerings will need to be a practical show and tell with staff demonstrating what they are doing. Oh when to schedule all these? We have two visiting speakers coming in May and June, Peter Mellow (AUT) on the Study Txt mobile learning project – article. Also John Milne (Massey) who is coming to work with us on the TEC eLearning guidelines an ECDF project. Exciting stuff.

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