Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Flexible Teaching Plan

     by Kevin Dunbar
 Our Vision - Through our innovation in education and the outstanding experiences our learners enjoy, we will be recognised as New Zealand’s leading polytechnic.

As a lecturer at Otago Polytechnic in keeping with our vision statement it is important we keep the lectures as varied and enjoyable as possible to keep the students engaged and interested so they do good learning and look forward to tomorrow’s lesson. This can be achieved through the use of flexible delivery where no two days are the same and students get ample opportunity to complete the programme to a high standard and in an enjoyable manner. Currently the carpentry programme has 55-60% of its course delivered in a flexible manner.

The five dimensions of flexible teaching by (Collis and Moonan 2004 ) is a highly regarded document and I shall go through the five dimensions to explore the possibility it encounters’.

Entry Requirements – The Certificate in Carpentry level 4calls for a minimum standard of four years secondary education with 8 level 2 credits in English and 8 level 1 credits in maths or the equivalent knowledge or experience is preferred.
Before I started at O P the poly introduced and open entry policy for all certificate courses. My programme manager negotiated an exception to the policy because experience had demonstrated that student entering this course with low qualifications could not cope with the self motivated learning that was required and industry could not under health and safety  except students for work experience when they are under 16 years of age. As most of our students are young and computers have already played a big part in their lives, I think they will enjoy learning best by a blended learning approach it seems to satisfy most recognised learning styles and this is consistent with previous positive student feedback received.

Instructional Approach and Resources –My job as a carpentry lecturer is to do well by giving all of the students the best opportunity to learn and succeed thus improving their skill base to make them more employable and give them skills for life. Through my blended learning approach where I lecture, show you tube, power point, demonstrations and the odd site visit this is aided by the applied theory and project based learning give the students with differing learning styles the opportunity to learn. Not all students are suited to carpentry so there internal motivation varies, with carpentry being unique culture, students that are practical and can think well on their feet and have good communication skills often do very well.

Content- A large part of our carpentry course material remains constant. With government introducing new regulations and product changes I need to keep up with what is going on in industry so what I am teaching is current. I like the way we teach the students theory on how to build a house from the ground up and keep it timely with the project based learning house under construction. The introduction of e-portfolios has been great as it gives the students a valuable time for reflection and also as the material is accessible at home it also gives them the opportunity to do some work from home.

Time- I like the way the course has three different start dates as this subsequently gives the students differing finish dates so they are not all looking for work at the same time. The course requires assessments to be completed within two weeks of delivery. If students fail to get this done time is available later but it may insure a penalty thus encouraging students to keep up with the programme.

Delivery and Logistics – While most of the learning is done here at O P the students enjoy their time at work experience as this gives them a taste of what it’s like working in the industry and also gives them a chance to impress a future employer. The blended learning I like to deliver has a balance of theory, applied theory, e learning, resource based learning and self directed learning.    

IMPLEMENTATION- Currently we have a unit that I teach called B 6.2 Floor Framing and Flooring It forms a major part in unit standard 24381. Its purpose states “People credited with this unit standard are able to describe the requirements for the construction of floor framing and describe the requirements for setting out and installing floor framing and flooring”
To date this unit has been largely chalk n talk with the appropriate assessment and the applied theory component attached for the students to gain the required knowledge.

My aim is to show that with the introduction of flexible learning the class time is reduced but the gaining knowledge of the topic is still achieved also students for whatever reason that miss the early opportunity can still pass the unit standard. This will be done by way of a power point presentation with text and some group discussion, increasing the e-portfolio requirement and completing a moodle assessment I have set up.

I am sure that this will appeal to most student’s needs and differing learning styles and provide the student with some valuable reference material to access at a later date where they can view there e-portfolio and reflect on what and how they done a particular unit.

SUMMARY-I feel that through a successful blended delivery a student has the opportunity to successfully complete the key questions in the moodle assessment, through what he/she has learned from the power point and discussion along with having photographic evidence of him/her busy setting out and laying a floor and associated work in a safe manner they have shown the skill and knowledge required to meet the unit standard. All of this has been achieved in a superior time frame and more efficiently and being far more user friendly for both student and lecturer alike. I am looking forward to delivering this unit to students soon and await their feedback with interest and am keen to share this resource with my fellow lectures.