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.


May 4, 2008

Resources for DFL Plan

Filed under: DFL Plan,Responses to schedule,Uncategorized — by petedouglas @ 1:38 am

I have been looking through my own  bookmarks that I have tagged for later use to help me with my plan (Even though I have  but not many). I have also looked at others on the DFLP08 and have picked out that I have found quite valuable to this course.

Designing e-learning – Design approaches


Designing e-learning – Sample learning sequences


Technology That Enhances Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence


How Technology Enhances Howard Gardner’s Eight Intelligences


ADDIE Model – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 




All these have confirmed a lot of what we do with our Public Education courses, we facilitate, but we also get to know our students and find out their learning styles whether they be visual, audiable, reflective etc.  From when they first arrive to enrol we get their details, what it is they are wanting out of the course (the outcome)  The students learning ability , the resources and equipment we use.  How long the course takes (how many recommended hours, currently not enough. ) also their time line.  We use Performance Criterias as a check list for our students to complete as they work through the course. We have evaluations forms that each student completes after the course.

Even though I have a good concept for my plan, the more I research, the more I am wondering if I am utilising enough to put this plan into action and how far do you go, It could take quite some time. 


Filed under: DFL Plan,Responses to schedule — by petedouglas @ 1:20 am

Here is a draft of my plan for my DFLP assignment.

I feel a little unsettled about this at the moment due to being a little bit behind the 8 ball with this course, and am doubting myself as how this plan is going to be actioned whilst training here in Rotorua and this plan is for the Training I do in Dunedin.  I am hoping to use cam studio (from good advice given to me here in Rotorua from work collegues, as long as I can get it to work through the NZ Fire Service network 🙂  ) to present and make this plan, but i feel I will need a lot of patience from my facilitators to get fruiticion out of this plan.

Project Title and Department:  Teaching Fire Warden Duties and Fire Safety to Businesses and Organisations in the Otago Region.

Project Leader:   Pete Douglas

Project Goals

Background Project:

This project is to be  undertaken because I feel there is a need within the New Zealand Fire Service Public Education Department to be provided with Public Education to Staff of businesses and organisations to offer a more indepth course than an overview course.  Part of our role is to provide free Fire Safety to members of the public under the NZ Fire Services Act 1975 Part 2 Fire Safety.  Also through the vision of Otago Fire Region of the NZFS where courses are being conducted currently, continue to provide the best upto date products maintaining a customer service and maintaining the knowledge on how to sell ourselves as well as our product as a professional organisation.

To orgainise this plan i am going to look on u tube to see if there are any NZ Fire Brigades already there to give me some ideas on best how to progress with this.  I also have been talking and working with National Headquarters in Wellington for advice.  Also I will be looking at NQF units to match up some qualifications with this i.e. explain principles of fire science that we can gather the knowledge so should they wish to be assessed against that unit standard, it may be applicable.  I am also looking at making up some quizzes and exercises as well. 

Some of the plan hopefully will be presented on line, but will also need to be face to face as well.

I have been reading a fair bit of literature on designing courses and there are just so many things to be considered

a)  Course Content is designed to have easy accessibility to the staff, i.e. handouts, using blackboard, vidoe, audio.

b)  Different learning styles of each staff member, i.e. kinesthetic, Interpersonal, intrapersonal, visual, Logically minded learners.

c)   Identify delivery method, write and develope the course, sourcing correct resources etc.

d)  find out about copy right permission from resources I have obtained

e)  Is the course content culturely sensitive to all parties

f)  Is the technology compatible to different venues.

Due to the amount of research I have to do I will continue to update this plan. Time for more resarch.

April 20, 2008

Why We Need Flexible Learning

Filed under: Responses to schedule,weblog — by petedouglas @ 2:47 am

 Leigh Blackall’s articles on flexible learning

Differing views on flexible learning come to mind when I read article.  flexibility is a fantastic tool as it allows students to access information and study at their own pace I think there also needs to be some form of self discipline with the Fire Service, some pre course material is sent out in hard copy as well as information available online and self pacing is available to complete the pre course prior to attending the course itself, which usually compiles a practical component (needed for job skills in the job as a fire fighter) .  the instructor/trainer can hopefully have the relaxed thought  that the main points are covered in the pre course material and the students have a chance to discuss these prior to attending the course itself, thereby ensuring that when it comes to exams the main points have been covered and are understood, and less time is consumed on the subjects as is hopefully needed.
Cultural diversity, i.e. age, race or gender and can be a barrier to flexible learning, mainly because of the methods of education that people experienced in their learning lives. Concepts have changed from speak when spoken to, to, ask and open the mind to get clarification. This can be an issue where culture is not to question authority…

Do  we need more flexible learning options? Some would argue that there may not be enough discipline for some to get through the workload (I have days of lacking discipline myself sometimes, my time management is part of the reason, so am I badly self disciplined?) some argue it offers opportunities for students to study, work and play (maintaining a family lifestyle as well as work and study), can we have the opportunity for either/or? I think  as long as it creates a relaxed and happy enironment for the students, students will learn, in a  formal stuctured environment, whether at home, work or in the classroom, possibly reducing time to gain a qualification.

I personally believe that  recognition of previous learning that people have already undertaken is noted, and  qualifications issued with further instruction if needed on experience and RPL instead of having to re-do course complete content when it has already been achieved, alieviating the impact of “what a waste of time being here when I have already done this, why should I do this again and take so long to get this qualification?” attitude. RPL  will enables gaining the qualifications they want much faster and avoids negativity such as “This is old news. I already know this”.
The agument and debates will always be there especially as technology advances as to why we need flexible learning and how do we change to best suit the student and personally, with improving my self discipline, its a fantastic learning tool for our toolboxes, but variety must be blended to maintain a safe learning environments for all learning styles.




Flexible Learning

Filed under: Responses to schedule — by petedouglas @ 1:21 am

As I am in a tight time frame for doing things in working hours, I have now got the oportunity to do some “Flexible Learning” away from the hustle and bustle, so Flexible Learning does have its advantages 🙂 So having time, I asked myself again and reflected on previous posts, what is flexible learning and what does it mean to me personnaly?? After some more consideration,Flexible Learning is offering students the flexibilitiy to study, and learn, in their own time, hence here I am.  All students have different learning techniques and styles, so being able to study at their convenience, on their personal or work timetable, and at their own pace, puts the responsibility back on that student to learn, (A course that needs to be looked at is time management for myself). Some students struggle to learn in a sterile/stagnant environment of a class room,  therefore making it hard for the student to understand why they are failing at the course.  Some students learn better in a non-threatning environment, where they are not getting rushed through a subject by a course facilitator, teacher or trainer, whatever the learning environment may be. (who may be under pressure to get their units taught in a particular time frame.) 

On reflection of my career, i am a flexible learner tutor, for the NZ Fire Service, so I feel very privileged to work with students from all walks of life, and different kinds of learning styles, and watching them grow with confidence, on the subjects we teach, to get them into the role of a fire fighter straight of recruit course or into the role of a fire warden for those public courses I teach.

From my charasmatic in my days at school, I  like many others, have some unhappy stories (some happy ones too), I could tell about the way I was taught and the teacher by whom I was taught in a style that did not suit myself , and unfortunately this still carries on, generation after generation and I like to think I am a teacher who  is to build the students confidence up again and get them to believe in themselves, and for them to realise that we all have different learning styles and learning methods.

Some of our students are visual learners, some of them aural,some just like to look at the books and get right into it, but in the end, the outcome seems to be the same.

I occassionally get to have one on ones with our students, and believe that giving them the direction of where the course in heading, and what is required of the student, giving them the time frame of the course and then being there to facilitate for them if needed is a great way to learn, which has positive spinoffs from the students.

I do agree that when a course is on-line that you do need a considerable amount of direction from the tutor, before you begin, and have  availablability of  face to face learning and approachability as well, should the going gets tough. I think the lines of communication need to be open all the time, and have a good help system available as well.

For recruit training, we are available more or less 24/7, so should there be an issue, we are available to try and get through the issues they have, and nine times out of ten, it is just a misunderstanding or clarification required.

I feel there is always a need for a  face to face (teacher/classroom) learning, but feel its good for the teacher to go to the students some time and really get to know the students situation/life and learning styles, especially as personal knowledge can help us prime them to there best potential to be a fire fighter.


as I am always learning, I have established a delicious account for my flexible learning course.






April 13, 2008

My comments on Blended Learning

Filed under: Responses to schedule — by petedouglas @ 9:27 pm

Soory about the delay in keeping upi with the weekly postings.

After reading the paper on blended learning, I can relate this through the Fire Service training regime, that blended learning is alive and well that after the initial recruit training of classroom lectures and practical training which entitles the student to take ownership of proggression in their learning process with available help as required.

E learning is becoming more of a option for staff in the Fire Service, which reduces the time constraints of instructors.

In blended learning, I believe the Fire Service with my experience sits in the catagoey B arena, which encourages also personal achievement towards the career as well as the learning concept.

March 30, 2008

My impressions on Flexible Learning

Filed under: Responses to schedule — by petedouglas @ 10:21 pm

From my position in my role as a trainer for the Fire Service I have learnt to gauge the style of learners in my classes from audiual through to active which reminds me of my career in the learning stages through to my current position.

With the style of training that I deliver, it is a high component of practical learning so that they can take this into the role of Fire Fighter so we are limited in the field to offer the choice of styles that the students are usually comfortable with, but with more time allowances we end up with the same result, competent.  Achieving this is compromising the different learning styles as much as is allowable giving flexiblility.

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