Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts and Ideas from readings

Many ideas and thoughts and mainly questions have arisen from the readings from this course. Questions like the following:

- Where is Otago Polytechnic heading with flexible delivery? Are we going to lead the way and create a distinct flexible delivery opportunity and or just use flexible delivery as more of a conjunction to enhance traditional methods of teaching

- How do the academics within the polytechnic view the future using flexible delivery?
a) People that are against change may be concerned they will lose the quality of their papers, lack the computer skills, unable to replicate some face to face skills online
b) People may see this as an opportunity to reach more people, exciting opening for new opportunities in learning, create better independent learners

Another thought that went through my head was the importance of the use of language in marketing flexible and or online learning opportunities. As I googled the words "flexible learning, occupational therapy, pros and cons" a myriad of occuptional therapy online opportunities came up. The nature of the language and marketing came accross like an informercial on television. It felt slightly tacky and unprofessional. As an example the following from "schoolsgalore" . The title reminded me of James Bond 'Pussygalore". The phrasing "Find a school today" and "Find a programme that interests you today. Receive complementary information...." reminded me of the informercial "but wait theres more you can get a set of knives if you ring now".

What language may be ok for one culture may give another impression for a different culture. If we are looking at providing a flexible delivery service to a variety of cultures how do we cater for this?


  1. :) Great thoughts gallore!

    Regarding language.. I think its important that we DON'T use flexible learning in our information, as it suggests something different to learning for example, not to mention being a term that lacks clear meaning. Flexible learning - the way I think of it, is simply an umbrella term for a range of methods or curriculum considerations that teachers and assessors concern themselves with in order to try and better meet student needs. As far as information to a student might be concerned, it might be enough to say:

    This course can be studied part time, and at a distance, with pre assessment as an option to negotiate how much of the course is needed to be done."As an example... no use of the term flexible learning there, but the concept is driven all the way through it.

  2. As a lecturer I used to get very anxious about being 'flexible' - I couldn't break the 'rules' or time lines. Once I let go of all that 'instututional baggage', I was able to deliver a very flexible course that really met people's needs. The next stage of that course would have been to put into an open environment which would have increased its flexibility 100 times.

  3. Its very interesting you mentioned "institutional baggage" after the elluminate session I felt quite excited about the ideas flowing from the conversations. I realised how refreshing it was for me to be able to blurt out an idea that springs off the top of my head. Within the department I am working there are various layers unsaid rules and therefore baggage stemming from heirachy, ego, time constraints, financial contraints, ownership over ideas and concepts that somehow subconsciously create a constrained environment to voice ideas and be supported. I am beginning to wonder whether the flexible learning environment is a great way to dump the baggage and let ideas flow in a more supportive environment.

  4. Yes, I really enjoyed the elluminate session aswell but felt I jumped-in too quickly, eager to participate but not contributing in a beneficial way. (Our School meetings sometimes become a forum for solving problems, where we can all openly discuss suggestions/solutions/ideas, whether they're good or bad!.)
    The lightbulb pinged on for me, listening to the panel speaking about "flexible" learning and as Sarah comments above, it's all about meeting the learners needs. Phil Race uses the word "freedom" instead of flexible. Great stuff.

  5. A great post Michelle and a thought-provoking question. Yes indeedy we should be careful with our use of slang when students of a mix of cultures and languages are studying together. Academic speake can be a bit too formal but it is important to be professional and write clearly is it not? But how to keep it light and "human" under these conditions?

    You mention some sticky bits you have to deal with on a daily basis; it is certainly hard to get innovative ideas across in a challenging environment.

    You are right about feeling comfortable to express your ideas - this is so important when developing flexibility because you need to let the creative juices flow. I feel that the reason educationalists in general are still stuck on the idea that there are "magic bullets" which will revolutionise learning is because in general our insitutionalised recipe for education keeps people too afraid to be really innovative and creative. We are so tied up in rigid rules and processes that we have lost our imagination and our confidence so rely on others to tell us what to do.

    And here comes the skepticism....if we let the masses do what they wanted "all hell would break loose"...:0 Oops a swear word! Is that allowed I wonder?

  6. Thank you for those comments. Yes the pressure can be on when you are new to the teaching environment too conform to the old heads that have been in the teaching environment for a long time. I respect their knowledge but to be told I am idealistic and unrealistic can be quite damaging to feel comfortable in expressing new ideas (I did get an apology later)However I have learnt to try and grab the good out of the old system and open my mind to new ways of delivering material. My main aim is to create good holistic, creative and practical occupational therapists. My stubborness will not cower to institutionalised pressures, but there are positive ways to manipulate the system to achieve innovation and creativeness. Its just being clever about achieving it. I still have a way to go to learn what I need to know and then implement it and at the moment they are both coinciding at the same time.