Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Adain the teacher

It has been harder than I thought it would be to describe myself as a teacher.

I have chosen this picture of a driving instructor because I see myself as helping students develop skills and acquire knowledge that will let them "take the wheel". I also try to use active and practical learning where ever possible - I find for most of my students practical activities are a lot more engaging and appealing than the standard sit and receive lecture. I also like to think that my teaching style has an appropriate balance of fun and seriousness that allows the students to enjoy their learning experience but still have a learning experience.

I am hoping exploration of flexible learning will help me better survey the learning needs of my students and deliver learning activities that will best service these needs. I think increased flexibility in the teaching resources I use and their format will definitely better accommodate students needs - though the additional time and effort required to achieve this range of teaching resources will require some considered planning and effective time management to make it happen. Perhaps getting students to help in locating and sharing more resources could lighten the load?

Clearly the goal is to achieve more flexible learning practice rather than roll out every flexible learning option available. I need to have a process to better understand the learning needs and preferences of my students, and the support and leadership of my institution to guide implementation of appropriate flexible learning options.

It is clear that flexible learning should be student led with options implemented satisfying the needs/wants and preparedness for more flexible learning of the students. With this comes increased responsibility on the part of the students and the need for greater self-direction and self-motivation. As many of my students are not ready for this responsibility and simply want to know the bare minimum to pass - I think NCEA has a lot to answer for in promoting strategic, credit gathering mediocrity - any flexible learning options need to be well selected and consistent across the programme to maximise pay off.

I think there is huge potential in increasing flexible learning options in the programmes I am involved in. A number of students have work and or family responsibilities on top of their programme of study and would enjoy the freedom to shift when and how they learn. From experience I am unsure of how flexible learning options might be abused by students as current flexibility options (posting lecture notes on blackboard, online assessment, options for practical sessions, online monitoring) results in reduced attendance and poorer grades.

My goal is to improve my ability to identify the learning needs of my students and to offer solutions that will allow them to successfully learn. I would like some help in surveying students to better understand their prior knowledge and experience and expectation from the courses I deliver. I would also like to know where the institution sits on helping NCEA graduates develop the independent learning skills (and motivation) required to ensure learning decisions are made with effective learning rather than choosing the easiest path driving decisions.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Only a few weeks into this flexible learning course and I'm already playing catch up!

Looking forward to having another teaching option that I can efficiently, appropriately and effectively to help me communicate more effectively with my students and, ultimately, to help them learn more effectively.

Looking forward to working with you all over this course.