Thursday, April 24, 2008

How can distance, correspondence and/or online learning create flexible learning opportunities in your context?

I've been doing quite a bit of reading over the last few days and catching up on my class mates blogs. It has helped me to get an idea of what people are thinking but it is not the same as been in class together. I think the advantage of been in class is the ability to dialogue then and there and have a conversation. Blogging appears to be limited in this aspect as I am often commenting after the thoughts or ideas have been presented not during the thinking process. This may be a diasdvantage of online learning, however this could also be the result of me still learning about blogging and also staying on top of the work. Student to student interaction is still occuring but in a different way (not face to face). Anderson (2003) believes as long as one of the 3 forms of interaction (student–teacher; student-student; student-content) is at a high level, deep and meaningful formal learning can still occur. Is this quality of interaction the same online compared to face to face? I am interested in my own learning as this course progresses to see if I do become more enthusiasic about online learning.

I have been reflecting on the course I coordinate in nursing which is medical/surgical nursing practice so see if we are incoporating flexible learning. We have undergone significant changes over the last 6 years in our clinical supervision model for students. Student- teacher contact was a lot higher as we spent a lot of time in clinical with them. As modern day financial constraints have become a part of our reality in nursing, the time spent in one on one contact with the students as been cut right down in an attempt to deliver our nursing programme within these constraints.

I was devastated when this first happened. I guess this was because I strongly believed in the teacher as 'the teacher'. I had less control and had to rely on Registered Nurses preceptoring our students. I wasn't too sure if this was always going to demonstrate best practice! However my belief in the 'teacher been the teacher' has been challenged as I have watched our new model of less clinical supervision evolve. I thought the students learning would suffer but I now don't believe it has. Students are producing excellent portfolio's showing they are engaging in their learning, making the links and reflecting. They reflect on the practice they see from various Registered Nurses and take a huge amount of learning from this. I'm convinced that as they go and find the information themselves, they choose what they want to learn in relation to the nursing care they have been giving. This differs from myself as the teacher giving them the information; this means they have a lot more interest in their learning.

Our tutorials which are a time of high student to student interaction, have also become a major learning opportunity for the students. As they reflect and share on their learning experiences in the clinical setting they have been learning off each other and asking questions related to what they want to know. As the facilitator, I too have increased my knowledge. I have always regarded these times as essential to help our students intergrate the theory with the practical.

Annand, D. (2007) wrote that many academics fear a sense of a loss of their craft, a dislocation for students and faculty, and a loss of control over the educative process. This causes opposition to technological change within the academy. Reading this I was challenged about me own thinking. The last couple of decades have seen huge changes in the world of work and the knowledge, skills and competencies people require in the workplace (Moran & Rumble, 1998). Edcuation facilities have been slow to change but to acommadate the growing need in the workplace for skilled, competent workers we need to change. Flexibilty for many workers is required so they can get the qualification and skills needed (often as quick as possible). This is also why assessment of prior learning as become so important. Listening to Terry Marlers talk was very helpful

Thankyou Carolyn your comments on your blog. I see many similarites between our courses and the challenges.

As my clinical time with the students is reduced I have to consider if I can still meet their needs, particurlary when they are placed out of town, which often they are now due to placement availability. Sometimes phone contact is all we have. Blogging could be immensely helpful as they could make electronic links to their articles and we could follow there progress more closely. The main constraint to this would be availabily of computers.

I am seriously thinking about setting up a course blog so students can continue to reflect and share there learning online. This would be an extension of the turorials (which work well) to include more students. I think our students who are placed in Timaru would appreciate this.

E portfolios are also something I could consider

As portfolio's are an integral part of our course putting them on line could mean less paper and another form of creatively. However I wander if this would make a lot more work for the lecturer (particulary if they are not use to e learning) and they would need to be near a computer when completing assessments. This could be a very good option though again for our out of town students if teacher and student are both sitting by a computer when assessment occurs. Finally I am also considering using a lot more sceanrio based assessments and this is probably where my flexible learning teaching plan will head. However I will investigate this further later as I see Bronwyn has suggested some readings and I've done more than enough this family beckons! (and are pushing me off the computer once again)

Annand, D. (2007). Reorganising Universities for the Information Age
Moran and Rumble (1998) Vocational Education across National Bborders

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

I agree we have a lot of similarities Raewyn. I am hugely impressed that you can finish a Masters and get on with this course with a young family as well. My family are adult now so i don't have that worry.
just wanted to say that I have started a blog for my students tutorial group this year. They have not been using it much yet just a couple of postings but i am hoping they use it more when we have some gaps in our face to face contact, which is why I started it. The positive aspect is that I have managed to get them all signed onto it with authoring rights and we have had a couple of posts and a couple of comments. I will let you know how it goes.