Embarking on a more creative pathway

I started this blog back in 2008 when I was involved in developing a course, to be delivered in a blended format of face to face teaching, small group tutorials, online content and online tutorials. It seemed like a huge task but it is one that was successfully achieved and has been tried and tested for a several years now. It has developed and grown and changes have been made over this time some of which I am yet to blog about. 

Blogging has been very sporadic for me over the last few years, time is the issue and also having ideas to explore and present on a blog is not always easy. 

The stimulus for this blog post is a MOOC I have enrolled in called Creativity, Innovation and Change, from PennState University. The course has several mechanisms for students to connect with each other and a group of New Zealanders, myself included, have joined a Google plus group to keep in touch and to share throughout the course. The course is 8 weeks long and I look forward to seeing where it goes. I have watched one or two of the course videos, which I have found quite generic. Clare Atkins, one of our NZ group participants posted a video, part serious part comedy by John Cleese, which did stimulate my thinking about the whole topic. Paula Lourie, another group member posted a video presentation she had been involved in developing on the topic of this course which also gave me food for thought.

I am not the best student and I am not very good a following the rules and doing what I am told. I suspect many of my students are the same. I tend to follow my own path and explore the things I find to be of interest. One of the first week course activities was to build a paper tower, which many course particpants seemed to embrace with some enthusiasm but it did nothing for me. I was not really that interested. 


Strangely though I have found that my brain is bursting with ideas of things to do, innovations to try and changes that I believe could improve the way my course and perhaps other practice skills courses are delivered to our students and the learning experiences students have. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the course or if it is just something that has just happened. I do know that I am an impulsive person by nature. I feel I have some good ideas burning away I just need to identify where it is that I put my energy and work out how to move things forward.

About Pisa

I attended theEdTech4E (Education Technology for Export) conference in Wellinton on the 12th April. At this conference mention was made of the Pisa study which I had not heard of.
Although this is more to do with secondary school education none the less it sparked my interest and I found this talk by Andreas Schleicher very interesting. One of the points he makes about class size not necessarily being important sparked my interest as this was proposed recently in NZ and squarely rejected by the population. I have to say I was one of those opposed. Our government should have done a better job of explaining what it was they wanted to achieve through this and where these ideas had originated. had they done this they may have experienced less resistance to the idea. I can now see the rationale for this but still wonder if there is some cultural component to class size. Although larger classes work in some parts of the world does that mean they would work here? I agree that a great teacher who is aware of good teaching practice and is able to use up to date and relevant tools to support learning should be able to overcome many of these issues.

Anyway here is a link to the TED talk from Andreas. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this in the comments below
Use of Data to Build Better Schools

Assessment in the new midwifery programme

I have started the final course in the GCTLT at Otago Polytechnic. Here I am starting to reflect on the assessment process.

3353295436_0916afc680Image:  X class examinations from Bindass Madhavi’s phtos n flickr.com

In midwifery it seems  to me that much of what students learn is assessment driven, this is common amongst health professional education (Wass, Vlueten, Shatzer & Jones, 2001). The reality of student learning is that students feel pressured from their workload and gear their learning to meet the criteria of course assessments. Wass et al, stress the importance of ensuring that assessment of students is aligned with the competencies expected of them in clinical practice. They suggest there is no one way to assess clinical competence for medical student, the assessment process will comprise a variety of assessment styles which provide the students with a variety of ways to demonstrate their understanding. Factual written tests can demonstrate what the student’s background knowledge, written tests with a clinical focus can demonstrate that the student knows how to approach clinical issues, OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) allows the student to show the skills that they have developed and performance assessment (through practice supervision, video of skills in clinical practice or reflective logs can demonstrate that the student can act appropriately in the practice setting.  Osce’s have been found to be a useful tool for supporting learning and identifying competence in the nursing professions (Mason,  Fletcher, McCormick, Perrin &Rigby, 2005; ) however, although they have been found to be beneficial they need to be part of a broad picture of assessment of students competence (Rushforth, 2007).

In the school of midwifery we are always trying to look critically at what we assess and how many assessments we require students to do. In the new curriculum much of the online material is accompanied by formative assessments, quizzes and such like, which are not marked but will guide the students through key points of the learning resources they are accessing. A few students complete these and value this process however the majority seem to ignore them and only concentrate on assessments that are marked or are at least looked at and acknowledged by the teaching staff. This suggests to me that we need to consider carefully what we assess, how we do it and how this will support students learning.


Mason, S.,  Fletcher, A., McCormick, S., Perrin J. &Rigby, A. (2005). Developing assessment of emergency nurse practitioner competence – a pilot study. Journal of advanced nursing. 50 (4), 425-432

Rushforth, H. E. (2007). Objective structured clinical examination (OSCE): Review of literature and implications for nursing education. Nurse Education Today. 27 (5), 481-490.

Wass, V. Van der Vlueten, C. Shatzer, J.  & Jones, R. (2001). Assessment of clinical competence. The Lancet, 357,  945-948