Petedouglas’s Weblog

June 28, 2008

CATCH UP (Again)

Filed under: Responses to schedule — by petedouglas @ 11:25 pm

Now that my time in Rotorua is drawing to a close at the end of July, I have squeezed the clock and created extra time to catch up on this course (now there is a little pressure with timelines)

Unfortunately with restrictions on my work computer I am having to manage the best I can from “links” and reading blogs to have a better understanding of what is happening and offer some of my own opinions.

Already with my plans comments by Leigh I am looking at simplifying and looking into options of “getting it out there” but restrictions arise setting up my own web page as the information taught is the property of the Fire Service and “Throwing it out there” is a little restrictive so hence I need to negotiate with higher management to “reel in the customer”



 Otago Polytechnic history has  moved into the area of flexible learning on a gradual incline since it started out as a technical college teaching the trade subjects, including typing and secretarial support. How these courses were taught  I am unsure of, whether full-time (Mon – Fri) or part time, i.e. block courses as was the case for myself personally doing my Butchery Trade and that attendance would have been compulsory in a block course Mon-Fri. If this was not the case, as the organisation developed, there may have been a facility for part-time attendance (nights or Saturdays) which would have created some flexibility for some people, starting the transition to “Flexible Learning” with ongoing developments for the best training for students.
Now I feel the polytechnic is increasing  flexible learning for people with structured lives (work and personal) with options to learn by offering the use of the open access suites, the community learning centres, online and e learning in some courses, RPL for experience and prior learning and part-time enrolments, creating the positive learning options.
I think Otago Polytechnic has taken a large step toward flexible learning, encouraging other learning institutions to advance learning options by way of flexible learning and has advanced a lot since it was officially opened as King Edward Technical College in 1914

How I think flexible learning exists today and where I see it is heading in the future.
Where is flexible learning headed? With the advancement of technology who knows?

With the advancement of technology, what is to stop video conferencing via cell phones, watch computers etc which years ago people wouldn’t have even contemplated these options and now they are a reality and a lot of tertiary institutions  have had to run with e-learning and moved there courses online with open access as we are now seeing being ready to “take the new technological step” to retain the student. I think in a society that wants information available as we have seen with the advancement of the internet – people are looking for information and from good reputable sources. We have the ability now to talk to people via web based teleconferences, do online scenarios like role plays, exist in second life and heaps of other stuff – I think this will only continue to develop.

Personally I just hope face to face teaching/learning does not disappear completely because due to different because due to different styles of learning, some would rather have than need face to face and also for practical components of some courses. So places like Otago Polytech will be as vital in the future as they are today maintaining flexibility so qualifications can be gained in as short a time frame as possible for some students, but flexible can surely only advance and not head in a backwards direction. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for flexible learning.













Having read through the extra resources and the main article by Christine Geith

Being cautious of losing face to face teaching/learning, I think that open and networked education provides a method to advance through technology, the teaching resources for formal education. It allows for a method of education that some students may prefer rather than the traditional formal teaching. It may also allow resources to be offered as it could be a cheaper means to do this but there are a lot of students that prefer and need face to face contact with their tutor/facilitator because access may allow more people to engage in education – access and “own time” is often not the only motivator. Students need to want to learn the information so as culture i.e. age, plays a part in motivation, access alone may not always be the answer, so we need to teach the students a bit about the technology and the purpose of it and then how to use the technology to advance and enhance their learning. This might be a harder task for an older learner set in their ways of “the scary technological world” who doesn’t have the understanding and grasp of technology that a younger learner might.
We also need to think about what methods in traditional teaching work really well – if its not broken don’t fix it. My suggestion therefore is to look at how we can use methods of open learning to enhance the learning of our students to encourage and engage them more in the learning process.

After reading some blogs and browsing through some websites that others have posted found this one on Nutritian Matters blog, beneficial to myself as well, which outlined five stages in the transition towards authentic learning.



This article outlines how computers have been used in the past and more recent trends to integrate computer technology in today’s classroom.  Formerly computers were primarily used in the classroom for word-processing and for interactive games.  A move has now begun that involves the integration of computer technology into the classroom for curricular-based projects and inter-global communication.

Typically, teaching has focused on the passive learner where students are expected to learn and repeat back information.  Authentic, practically applied learning challenges students to take a more active role in their own education, as they assimilate a strong theoretical knowledge base within the context of material that they can work with in real life.

Integration of technology does not mean that more traditional educational methods become outdated; rather, technology should maximize contact between teacher and student. Evolving teacher roles from lecturer to facilitator will support the shift towards authentic learning, a shift that will be neither easy, nor quick.

Five stages are involved in making this shift towards authentic learning:

  1. Set the stage – explain why the students are using the technologies and processes
  2. Provide coaching – help others gain skills by hosting mini-clinics or by tutoring
  3. Get continual feedback – helps the teacher keep track of what’s going on in the classroom and allows for necessary adjustments
  4. Patience – learning always emerges slowly initially.
  5. Don’t expect too much – not all students will adjust to this method.

The article cautions the reader that many people expect technology to fill all the holes that traditional methods have left open, i.e. too many learning styles need to be addressed and the ones that traditional methods cannot reach may be reached by computer-mediated methods.  One must remember that with the elimination of traditional teaching methods, the teacher can disengage another set of students.  Maintaining a variety of teaching approaches when dealing with a classroom of students best addresses the needs and styles of today’s diverse classrooms, and it is up to the educator to ensure that these various methods are optimally combined.




What are some of the issues that the video, the debate and other participants in this course highlight that you think are significant in terms of what the modern internet has to offer flexible learning?


Like some others I am not as conversed with the modern internet as others and the restrictions imposed on my freedom working through a work fire wall is frustrating, then to further add to that I have only dial up at home so my relationship with the internet is a slow building one, never the less I battle on with online courses and feel well achieved upon successfully completing them and erase the previous thoughts of “Is it really worth it” YES. With the option of “discussion boards” “Wikis” “Blogs” and “Utube” to mention a few allows for support to students and anybody who wishes to, to advance the learning through modern internet, as long as research is conducted and not just one link being enough as “gospel” as many items can be posted on the net and not all is correct information, and the point needs to be made aware that there are a lot of resources to maximise the outcome of self-directed learning so use the tools well.

LMS (Learning Management System) as a world wide tool for institutions leans towards administrative purposes but with the options of MSN, face book etc, the instant response wanted by students is an option rather than waiting for posts on “Discussion Boards” etc and I do agree on the points Dalsgaard raises.


Also Downes talked about three principle of online learning

1)      Interaction, with the availability of web cam, yes it is an option and Downes mentions the fact that you can take the information you need and require than be overloaded with information that you don’t require so time maybe an advantage if you are self disciplined and motivated to learn from home rather than having to go to a lecture, which I still feel requires the motivation and self discipline to get there.

2)      Usability,k another point Downes spoke about was the learner creating your own distribution knowledge learning system to simplify the message, the learner can search, advance and organise the web to meet their needs.

The other point raised was relevance, this is an advantage of E-learning as informative knowledge can be accessed and processed when and where they want it.



  1. wow pete you are in catch up mode! I can see lots of evidence you have been doing quite a bit of reading and thinking about flexible learning. You have mentioned lots of very interesting information about the history of FL at Otago Polytechnic. We have come a long way since I did my first online teaching in 1998.

    I agree it is best to offer blended learning esp when people expect to come on-campus to face-to-face classes – however you can enhance the experience with online learning. Some good discussion on ideas around open, networked, RPL and the Modern Internet. And a timely reminder and discussion about the stages to go through when transitioning to authentic learning.

    I reckon students do appreciate prompt feedback though I am not convinced about the need for instant messaging instead of discussion forums. I use gmail so get a lot of quick questions from colleagues and students who also use it and can see me online. Skype is the same though I tend not to be logged in unless I am using it. It can get very disruptive.

    I guess that is why they call it disruptive technology. 🙂
    I have found since doing a lot of online projects and teaching that my ability to focus on reading one article has lessened. I now tend to scan quickly and have gotten really good at picking out the important stuff quickly. How about yourself?

    Comment by bronwyn hegarty — June 30, 2008 @ 3:51 am

  2. Yes, reading whole articles now seems archaic when I browse and can pick out key words. I like the opportunity for feedback and do appreciate the possibility of distractionand must say with the good tutoring recieved, the time delay for feedback is on a minimal time scale.

    Comment by petedouglas — June 30, 2008 @ 5:26 am

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