Tuesday, 21 June 2011

My Flexible Learning Plan

Fred Cross 2011

My Plan
To take a unit standard and deliver it in a more flexible way that helps the students understand the content and learning outcomes by learning for themselves rather than being taught.
Develop learning styles by encouraging student to engage all of their cognitive learning skills with visual, aural, reading and kinesthetic (VARK) activities. Create learning activities using current technology with the use of computers, cellphones and student interaction. Create an environment of student activities, collaboration and peer tutoring through workshops.
My course is ‘The Basic Mechanical engineering and Trade Skills’ (BMETS) a level two Unit standards course. Students on the course are a combination of school leavers and mature adults; they are of various ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic backgrounds. Course criteria require NCEA level one but students are generally entre below this level.
Unit standards are text and illustrations requiring teacher intervention and reading that requires good literacy and cognitive skills by the students, the standard is written by academics in a language not conducive to a learner with less than level two NCEA and illustrations require a mechanical background to fathom. Content is period restricted and unless critiqued periodically can quickly become outdated. 
The use of computers to research the material has allowed more flexibility into the delivery of the standard by providing current information, graphics that are in 3D or animated to show how they work, links to video clips of actual scenarios from a range of sources and links to explanation of the course language.
The student is required to initiate their cognitive skills to digest and disseminate the information, using a computer to facilitate this activity is what they are comfortable with and with the world moving more towards E-learning through Ipads, Iphones and Online courses is the way of the future.
Concepts of flexible learning
Access & Equity
My right to achieve an education regardless of my circumstances.
My course is open entry allowing any person to apply, students are required to attend an information meeting where they are given a formative insight of the course requirement and commitment and an indication of the academic level required to achieve the course. Students who feel there academic level is not sufficient can undertake an assessment and be set up in a tutorial to assist with the course. All students undertake a literacy and numeracy on-line assessment to record their base level.
Diversity and Inclusivity
Recognise my uniqueness and stature.
Working with students of different cultures and ages it is important to gauge their level of knowledge, this is usually with discussion groups that explore prior knowledge. These discussion groups can often develop into cells of like minded students that support one another’s motivation and involvement (Implementing the Seven principles; Chickering and Ehrmann 1996). Older students are helped with technology while they in turn provide life experiences and mature outlook.
Engage the students on a journey that challenges their cognitive skills employing accessible methods. Provide a platform for delivery of expression and understanding.
Open Education and Sustainability
My Access to learning resources that I may learn, develop and share.
Engineering is about best practices and inventiveness and for engineering to move ahead we need to look at what we have and see if it can be improve, after all there is no sense reinventing the wheel, but as time has shown we have improved it and adapted it, all of which would not be possible if we hadn’t shared the first idea, imagine how stagnant we would have been if the wheel inventor had patented the idea, progress would have been a lot slower.
To have students research subject learning outcomes and discuss their findings encourages higher thinking based on this knowledge and how it can used, kiwi ingenuity comes from applying that which one has learnt and modifying to suit our needs. Brain storming (Alex Faickney Osborn 1953 Applied Imagination) is a form of open education where ideas are shared, discussed, discarded and eventually adopted to achieve the best result.
Sustainability for my program is about students understanding of the requirements of the course through formative interviews prior to commitment, having the foundation knowledge to be able to achieve the course by gauging literacy and numeracy levels, personal interviews and by having support mechanism in place to support students having difficulty, e.g. tutorials through the learning centre and student support centres.
Overview of Strategies
Introducing Unit Standards in a classroom environment has limitation on flexibility however flexibility can still be delivered by revamping the space we work in and the way in which we deliver a unit, (see Unit Standards: Activity Five - Flexible learning strategies) recognition of prior learning is flexibility in recognising a student’s attributes. The use of E-learning technology that students are comfortable with is flexibility in delivery of student centred learning. Student peer tutoring reinforces subject understanding and in turn represents flexibility in formative assessment.
Flexibility in our organisation is about placing an emphasis on student responsibility for their own learning, about delivering an education regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic background or location and about reducing the financial burden on students by bringing the course to the student and reducing the classroom teacher face to face contact. Achieving these outcomes will ensure sustainability of our programs.  
Adult Educational Theory
Adults are realised as being a more mature student and require a different learning approach (Malcolm Knowles (1990) The Modern Practice of Adult education, From Pedagogy to Andragogy) in which he identifies the following characteristics of adult learners;
  • Adults are autonomous and self-directed.
  • Adults have life experiences and knowledge.
  • Adults are goal-orientated and relevancy-oriented.
  • Adults are practical.
  • Adults need to be shown respect.
Engaging students in on-line research of course material and following up with class presentation enables self-directed learning, critical thinking and leads to peer tutoring. Developing team work and class discussions allows students to draw upon experiences and knowledge, authenticating subject material and giving value to their learning.
Out lining course requirement and student expectations at the start of the course allow students set goals, consider opportunities or achieve aspirations passing the course may offer. Their practicality requires engaging their learning with relevance and direction; they need to see the benefit of what they are learning.  
Above all we need to show the student respect and equality, respect their individuality and uniqueness, acknowledge their intellect and experiences and allow them to express themselves freely within the classroom.
Concepts of Flexible Learning: Cultural Sensitivity & Indigenous Learners
To excel as a leader within the community, fostering social and educational skills through mentoring and respect.
Open entry to my program allows students with an interest in engineering access to the course, providing a pathway into apprenticeship or higher learning. The flexible delivery of the program will inspire self direction through actively achieving learning outcomes, confidence through  knowledge and teamwork achieved on the course, growth through maturity and relationships forged and success through practical skill and academic achievements. 
Cultural Sensitivity & Indigenous Learners
Provide access and equal opportunity to success in an environment that is sensitively cultural to all things Maori.
Understanding what the course entails through interviews and course information will help with identifying if this is the correct course for them, ascertaining the students foundation learning identify if the student has the faculty for achieving this course and through the student and learning centres we can provide support mechanisms to help the student achieve.
Guiding students through the writing of procedure sheets helps create an understanding of the tasks they are about to perform and provides a valuable tool for future on the job assessments. Positive reinforcement and qualifying of their knowledge in the classroom helps with an individual’s self esteem and encourages continued participation.
Awareness of a student’s culture can aid towards their inclusion within the teaching environment.  
Flexible learning and student centred learning allows the student to take responsibility for their own learning, allowing them to learn at their own pace within a given time. The level of information required by the student is based on their own knowledge the use of instructional tools and technology allows the student to study in an environment of their choice.
Tutors are able to facilitate lessons on a ‘what the student needs to know’ basis, offering support and affirmation; this fosters self esteem and forges a learning relationship that will lead to sustainable learning.
‘Where to from here’ 
At this point of time my flexible learning plan is based around the classroom environment, the next step is to step outside, to deliver the program via E-learning where theory can be delivered through the likes of Moodle, Elluminate or Adobe Connect. Practical tasks can be completed in workplaces or home workshop. Evidence provided by video or images of participation delivered through blogs where the experience can be shared.
This style of learning is not new to students, they have been sharing experiences since downloading of pictures and videos has been available. All we are doing is tapping into their learning media.  
Chickering and Ehrmann (1996) Implementing the Seven principles.
Alex Faickney Osborn (1953) Applied Imagination.
Malcolm Knowles (1990) The Modern Practice of Adult education, From Pedagogy to Andragogy.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Activity 7 Adult learning theories for Flexible Learning

Engineering is basically about building whether it be buildings, bridges, machines or components, it is about taking an idea and have it materialise using best designs, practices and procedures. This requires a process of sound principles with a kinetic mind, after all you are going to build it and it has to work.
Based on learner centred learning I find that kolb’s learning styles of Concrete Experience, Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualization  and Active Experimentation http://www.businessballs.com/kolblearningstyles.htm best suits my program.
Students require the basic fundamentals of engineering to develop further understanding, the ability to visualise a concept and to then critique their design until the best concept is achieved and then of course to realise the concept by building.

Collaboration of engineering minds through networking helps to create improved designs and practices so it is important that we build teamwork amongst our students to foster a sense of sharing ideas and higher thinking.

Fred  evil

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Activity Five - Flexible learning strategies

I attended a trades forum last year, one of the presenters was Peter Mellow (AUT) who spoke about ‘21st Century Learners and Web 2.0 - implications for Learners’. Part of his delivery spoke about classroom layout moving away from the rank and file, of the normal class room layout. He went on to say having students face each other creates interaction and a sharing of ideas, this is also ideal for team work, which brings me to my strategy for teaching Unit 21911 ‘Safety in an Engineering Workshop’.
My aim was to facilitate student centred learning, team work and to take the students out of their comfort zone by presenting their work to the class. As a class we had discussed various hazards and hazard control methods, some of this had included power point presentations. There task was using a template and a given situation to identify 3 hazards with a prevention procedure for each, to be written in the positive sense and to identify any personal protective equipment (PPE) or operating equipment that may be required.
Identified Hazard
PPE & Equipment

 To facilitate the task I rearranged the classroom into blocks of four (students facing each other), having a class of 12 gave me the three groups of four, with each group having four different hazards this  was to enable each member of the group to make a presentation to the class. Each group was given a large piece of paper and felt pens, the template to draw and set to task.
       (Sorry no updated photos of class layout)
Throughout this exercise I am able to work with students to achieve the learning outcomes; this also identifies and focuses on shortfalls in individual student learning. A number of questions are resolved through student peer review (brainstorming)
Presentation of their findings are presented as a group to the class with each individual having responsibility for one of the four situations, this ensures participation. The class is prompted to challenge or critic their findings.

Video link of presentation, it's a bit long but you will get the gist, patience required for it to load.
You may need to register to http://play.op.ac.nz to view link

US 21911/1_S1_20 http://play.op.ac.nz/video/US-219111_S1_2011/e64856403d2a421bebf5e09b09311d9d

Fred evil

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Teaching US 20917 Materials

This unit covers 5 different materials and is designed to give an understanding of the materials properties and characteristics, performance, how we use them in engineering applications and factors influencing their selection.
I conduct a prior knowledge discussion to see if they can identify what the materials may be and what they already know of these materials. Once established I set them up in pairs with an identified material each and with a task sheet based on the unit outcomes above. They go on-line and research the material.
Each of the outcomes is written on the task sheet which is then transferred to the whiteboard, the students, in pairs, will then present their findings to the class, Q&A is encouraged following the findings and students will use cell phone camera's to record each material presented for future reference.
Cell phones cannot be used during assessments so image is printed or transcribed to journals for assessment.
Unit Study notes are issued at the end of the class, information within is now very familiar and is easier to understand, it may also strengthen their research.
Fred evil

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Access & Equity - Diversity & Inclusivity

Access and opportunity with in New Zealand
To provide access and equal opportunity for flexible learning at OP we need to look at what is already available. First up we have a government student loan system that provides funds to allow the purchase of course related items, as going on-line is one of the keys to flexible learning we can include a computer as course item, as a teaching institution we can arrange for suitably priced computers through a provider (Apple or Microsoft) This would be around the $400 to $500 mark and to complement this a small digital camera also, Op through a provider $100 - $200 mark. Up and running with a student loan of $700 max.
OP would provide jack points to plug into or Wireless (already up and running) or we have the use of the library, set up for computer access. OP has Moodle to facilitate the course and if we use Google Docs. (Free to sign up) we have a cloud where students and facilitators can blog, create/perform assessments and share content and ideas. Digital camera can capture whiteboard writings and images for portfolio or assessments; this can also be placed in the cloud for sharing.
I guess at this stage, for my own course access comes from open Entry, but opportunity means attendance at classes.
 Diversity and Inclusivity
At the start of each course I conduct an entry assessment this is to gauge the level of my students foundation knowledge, the basic elements of reading, writing and Arithmetic. I also issue the VARK questionnaire to better understand their learning preferences. The On-line literacy and Numeracy Assessment tool is used to confirm the entry assessment information and map their progression. With this information I am able to tweak my lesson plans to engage my students within the course, structure the course in a way in which they like to learn, once engaged I can then introduce other modes of learning to broaden the students learning potential. The way I introduce different modes of learning is through classroom configuration, rearranging the furniture encouraging team work and dialogue, having a number of whiteboard around the room to stimulate posture and focus and encourage the students to write, use a range of material delivery, power points, computer search, video’s, discussion groups and course material. These are the tools of students centred learning and is that not Diversity and Inclusivity?
Fred   evil    

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Interview with Kevin Dunbar Carpentry Lecturer

Kevin teaches level 4 Certificate in Carpentry, student are aged between 18 and 24 years and predominantly male. The course is project based learning with three intakes of twenty five students, two tutors to each group with each group building a house.
Five dimensions of flexible learning
The course is conducted over forty weeks with eight of the weeks allocated to work experience; mornings are used to conduct course theory with the afternoons dedicated to practical work. Fridays afternoons are provided for assessment resits.
Delivery and Logistics:
Theory classes utilise Utube to demonstrate product manufacture, power points to illustrate available materials and usage and instructions and demonstrations on building techniques. Guest lecturers are invited for specific instructions e.g. roofing, plumbing etc. Theory delivery is in-line with practical workshop were possible.
Class rooms with Emedia. Construction areas are required to build the houses with stringent Health and Safety guide lines (Site Safe), building barn for small projects and pre-assembly work, joinery shop and machine shop. Students are required to source work experience.
Open entry with a minimum of four years (Year 12) secondary education with 8 NCEA level 2 credits in English and 8 NCEA level 1 credits in mathematics, unit standards in elementary construction skills or equivalent knowledge or experience is preferred. Interviews are also carried out.
Content and instructional approaches:
Content; the programme is project based learning in-line with unit standards supplied by Building and Construction industry Training Organisation (BCITO). 50% of the course is written assessment of 40 unit Standards and 50% practical assessment by observation.
Instructions; classroom Elearning tutorials, demonstrations of best practice are conducted, instructions to critique process, students work in pairs of equal ability and peer tutor each other, guest lecturers provided specialised product lecturers.
Classrooms with Emedia, Unit Standards study material, large construction site, building barn, joinery shop, machine shop, material storage, local suppliers, and student tool kits. Students supply their own personal protection equipment (PPE).
Kevin felt Unit Standards t didn’t offer a lot in flexible delivery however discussions on alternative ways to deliver the theory may change this.

Fred evil