Friday, April 25, 2008

Flexible learning today and in the future?

Poolburn dam one of my favourite places to reflect and hang. Big argument going on at present as some Auckland person wants to sudivide and put 2 huge houses on the land. This means quite a few kms of lakefront will be lost...I ask the question...should this be done and change poolburn forever!! Life changes and moves on you may argue...I guess when I think about flexible learning I feel a bit like this...Sommtimes I like to do things exactly the way I always have. It is comfortable, doesn't take a lot of time to prepare when I'm busy...I liked Bronwyns reponse to Susans excellent comments about this weeks reading in relation to DFLP (week5). How easy to just put on a 50 min video and go catch up on admin! For whose benefit? I have just finished reviewing a video on chest drains I was thinking of using in a upcoming lecture...I have been challenged to think how can I incoportate this more into the orveall lecture. (I'll keep you posted on the lecture as it evovles). I feel like Susan that this course been all on line has its challenges but I think it suits the purpose of the course. As Leigh said we must be up on digital technology in education. Some of the things i've been doing I've been thinking about doing for a while but because of time have avoided learning it. Easier to do as I always have. I see tutorials offerred such as Leigh offered last year on e learning but I always say not now later when I have time!

Having just completed my Masters and then having a baby I must admit I kept things pretty much the same in my course. However this year i have had a renewed energy and have been reviewing my lectures and tutorials with great gusto. Partly this evolved because when on clinical with students often i noted they didn't know stuff that I though I had covered so well in the lectures. In my mind I had taught it clearly and it was clear to me..obviously the message is not getting acroos as clearly as I thought in the lecture format! Teacher as teacher!

I had a quick look at the history of Otago Polytechnic. It developed because of the need for vocational training which I imagine had to be quite flexible because it was meeting the needs of the community leaders. Parttime courses were offered in the evening so people could still work , such as in apprenticships. Nursing was orginally an apprenticeship style training model and the education was offerred in blocked courses. The training moved to Polytechnics in the early 1980's to provide an increased quality of nursing education, first as a diploma and then since the 1990's a degree program. We have fought as a profession for the professional of nursing and our education of nurses to move away from the 'Drs handmaiden role'. We need to ask the question if we add more e -leaning and less lecturer contact in our curriculum will this be of benefit to our future nurses. Some nurses who trained in the older apprenticeship model still say this was a better model because they got paid and learnt on the job. With the current nursing shortage, as tertiary nursing edcuators we have to be sure the pitfalls of this style of training are remembered so this style of training doesn't get reintroduced as an answer to the nursing shortage!

I think in the future other professions will also have to think about these issues. As flexible learning is tossed about as an answer to spiralling costs of education and worker shortage we need to be sure of what will actually benefit our professions.

The article by Ellis, Steed, and Applebee(2006). I found quite interesting. Lecturers who see technological media as one way of helping students to achieve the intended learning outcomes of course design can help student develop new ideas and understanding. However they warned that some teachers may use media to deliver information and replace some responsibilities of being a teacher. The example of putting on a video is a good example of this.

Blended learning can be of the most benefit when we use technology to help students explore and make sense of the reality. This is what happens when we are on clinical and have tutorials with our students. This has always occurred as verbal discussions but this is where I am thinking scenarios online for students to work through, could add to this learning. I guess one of the barriers will always be time but I think I need to jump on the bandwagon and move into the technology era as many of my students are used to this! Maybe this is why I found the lecture format is not the most ideal teaching tool.

Thinking back on the history of Otago Polytechnic, nursing edcuation and also reading the case study practical skills for veterinary nurses I think many courses started off flexible in the way they were offerred to meet the demands of the consumer. In Polytechnics in particular this has had to continue as a lot of our educaton is in vocational skills. With the continuing changes today I think the demand for this will continue and probably increase. Otago Polytechnic recognise this need and are encouraging us all to consider how we are organising our courses to be more flexible to meet consumer demands. Technology is not going to go away and will just continue to advance. The younger generation will demand we have the skills to keep up....


R. A., Steed, A. F. and Applebee, A. C. (2006). Teacher conceptions of blended learning, blended teaching and associations with approaches to design. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 22(3), 312-335.


Bronwyn hegarty said...

A great post Raewyn. I will be very interested to find out how you "frill up" the chest drain video to help get your students engaged in the topic.

I am intrigued by your comment "With the current nursing shortage, as tertiary nursing educators we have to be sure the pitfalls of this style of training are remembered so this style of training doesn't get reintroduced as an answer to the nursing shortage!"

Having trained myself in this way, I agree because there was insufficient theory and a lot of unsafe practice. However, more workplace learning which is really well-supervised and supported by flexible packages of theoretical and practical material could be a solution.

Was it the apprentice-ship model which was at fault or the lack of theoretical support and supervision?

This could be a solution, particularly if innovative multimedia resources were utilised before students went into clinical areas or even into the clinical laboratory. For example, simulations - scenarios and computerised models they could engage with to test their techniques and knowledge.

At the moment, I feel that nursing is too heavily weighted towards the theoretical and "book learning" with too little workplace experience.

Placement experience is variable and not always ideal and I used to be disturbed by the inability of third year nursing students who came to the coronary care unit and had little confidence in even changing an IV bag.

do you think there could be a compromise in the style of nursing training offered?

Another aspect is health informatics which is hot in USA but avoided in NZ to a large extent. I used to teach a minimalistic version. How will our nurses enter the computerised world of nursing without it and how will they find out the potential of telenursing?

Is it something we should be ignoring in the digital age?

Raewyn said...

Yes Bronwyn very interesting. I would agree with you about the too much text possibly not enough clinical.However I have been thinking about setting up a lot more amination and online learning that they can access when on clinical...more about this in my plan as it develops!!!