EdTech for Export conference Wellington 12th April 2013

On the 12th April I was fortunate to be able to attend the first EdTech4Export conference in Wellington New Zealand. This post is my reflection on the conference, thank to Otago Polytechnic for sending me.

To get me in the mood the taxi driver from the airport had national radio on and they were discussing 3D printers. This whole concept is happening now and is so revolutionary. It seems that we are not in the middle of a technological revolution at all but we are just at the start of it. There is so much more just around the corner and we, in New Zealand, need to be prepared and ready to take advantage of this.

Following are the key points I took from speakers I heard at the conference. Note that the best quote is in my own words and may not be the actual words that were said at the time, but were what I had scribbled down.


Karen Billings, Vice President, Education Division, Software and Information Industry Association (SIIS) U.S.

Key message for me

There is growing interest in personalised learning. However there is also interest in mass media, mobile, global blended and MOOCs (massive open online courses)

Best quote

“Learning is mobile and global.”

What I learned

Innovative Ed Tech solution could help to address the issues of; Disengaged students; Unrealistic expectations; Diversity; Unemployment.

We need to lessen dropout rate; Improve communication and collaboration (with mobile devices) More out of class learning (virtual tours etc);  support education reform; Technology however will never replace instructors. Real human interaction will always be needed.


Ed Tech opportunities in the U.S. exist in: Multiplatform aggregation/ Professional development/ Data analysis and integration (identifying students with problems)


Carl Engkvist, Senior Vice President of Business Development Asia Pacific, Pearson (involved in the development of Blackboard)

Best quote

“Think global- Act local”

“China wants to modernise, not westernise.”  It has a long proud history in education, predating our own

What I learned

Asia needs more education than can be provided locally.

75% use mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) to go online, not desktop or laptop.

One week every year Singapore has an Elearning week, all schools, colleges and universities close and all learning is at home. This is pandemic planning.

When entering the Asian market need t long term view and work to that vision, adapt product to local needs.


Mobile learning is the way to go.


Tim Brooke-Hunt, Controller of Children’s programming, ABC TV

Key message for me

Linear television will not be around in the future. Television needs to be aware of what is happening with print media, it needs to adapt as it is going in the same direction.

What I learned

Very young children are using touch screen technology to learn, as young as 2 years of age. ABC is doing incredible things for education in Australia. They have developed wonderful resources to support teaching and engage children.

 Breakout sessions

Breakout 1

Stephen Knightly; Chair, New Zealand Game Developers Association

Key message for me

Games engage learners and provide great learning experiences if the pedagogy is aligned.

Best quote

Analyse everything and develop content accordingly.

What I learned

Games are effective pedagogically. They need to be enjoyable and challenging, they provide experiential learning experiences.

Identify Clear goals – use the right tools – provide challenges – give feedback

Do not let students stay stuck on a level. If they do not achieve, offer hints or tips.

The learning needs to be made apparent. Students need to know what they are looking for in the game. Play game, stop, reflect, learn.


Maru Nihoniho (Metia Interactive) http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/WhatsOn/allevents/Pages/13AprilMoveoverBoys.aspx

Maru developed a game Sparx which has been found to help teenagers deal with depression as effectively as having counselling sessions. This has been published in the British Medical Journal http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e2598

Breakout 2 first speaker

Rachel Bolstad; New Zealand Council for Education Research. http://www.nzcer.org.nz/research/rachel-bolstad

Key message for me

Lifelong learning changes the way we need to teach

Best quote

Knowledge is not a noun it is a verb. Knowledge is a tool to help us learn how to learn.

What I learned

Personalise learning – built around the learner

Work with diversity – diversity is strength. Plurality valued and students engaged.

Use Knowledge to develop learning capacity – collaboration and connectedness

Rethinking learner and teacher roles – building learner capacity, building curriculum

Continuous learning for teachers and education leaders

Partnerships between schools and community.

Breakout 2 second speaker

Garry Faloon; University of Waikato

Key message

Researched 5 year olds use of touch screen games for problem solving and learning.

Best quote

The best apps model good teacher practice.

What I learned

Rewards should be appropriate. Smaller achievements should get smaller rewards and completion should gain a larger award. Giving big rewards frequently reduces the effectiveness.

Formative feedback is important. Where students have tried and failed come in and ask “have you tried this?”

Breakout 3

Nick Billowes, Director of Development, Core Education

Best quote

It is not

Key message for me

Technology is a transforming agent in education.

Best quote

It is not about doing old things in new ways but doing new things in new ways.

Andreas Düesner. Senior research scientist. HITLab.(Human Interface Technology.)

Key message for me

Increasing costs of education means we need to be more efficient, effective and ecological.

Best quote

It is not about doing old things in new ways but doing new things in new ways.

What I learned

Asia is our market



Learning in the 21st Century is any time, any place, any pace and with or through any device


Learner controlled, learner choice. Empowerment to act. Personalization. Lifelong learning. Universal design.


High level collaboration. Rethink concepts such as ownership. How knowledge is controlled and how it can be shared


David Copeland, from Learning Media was MC for the day. He was very skilled at keeping things to time and identifying the underlying threads from speakers. He really made the day fun. It was great to get together and have the opportunity to chat with people interested in using technology in education. I was amazed at the number of people who had great ideas and some great products that they were developing and looking for investors to take their ideas further or looking for a market for their products. If I had one criticism of the conference it would be that there were so many there looking for these things but not so many investors or markets represented to take their ideas further.

It was really interesting to hear what these people had been doing and developing. Some wonderful educational gaming activities being developed by many, one I spoke with was Dan Milward from Gamfroot, something I will need to explore. I also spoke with Stephen Clarke and his sister, from pixelBook, who can create wonderful Ebooks with any content.

It was great to catch up with John Enlow from ADINSTRUMENTS. This is a company who already provide software packages to Otago Polytechnic and I will be talking more with them about how there software may be used in our midwifery blended learning programme.


Round up of developing a midwifery practice skills course for flexible delivery.

Image: Pohutakawa, the NZ Christmas tree. from Andy Eakin’s photos on Flickr.com

As the year comes to a close Lorna and I have been making great progress towards the midwifery practice skills course we are developing in a blended 334968150_7632df69fddelivery format. I have not been blogging much because I have been so busy working on this but I now need to record what I have  been up to for the last few weeks. So to bring you up to speed on what this is all about here is a brief outline of the programme.


We have been developing a midwifery program to be delivered in a blended format over the last couple of years. We start at the beginning of 2009. Students will be located in groups or cohorts in various rural towns as well as the main centers. Otago Polytechnic are developing this in collaboration with Christchurch polytechnic.  The process we have developed is as follows

We are using the moodle LMS for the online course delivery. All content is being developed in modular format using EXE as a development tool. We are using a mix of written material, links to online content and free online resources. We are also using  powerpoints with voice over, converted into shockwave flash files with ispring and either embedded or hyperlinked to exe files. Students are given a plan for progress through these modules although they can also work at their own pace if they wish. It is expected that they will progress through this material ready to attend the face to face components ready to discuss and debate the theory they are learning and to gain experience with the practical skills they will need for midwifery practice.There are formative assessments, such as quizzes and interactive games, to support learning in the online resources. Each section has clear learning outcomes to help students understand what they are expected to learn from the resources.

Students will meet in their local groups once a week with a local midwife/educator who will facilitate their discussion, direct them to learning support services if they are having difficulty with the learning and provide teaching and guidance with selected midwifery practice skills. The facilitator will also encourage the students to share and support each other through their learning experience and will coordinate placements in the various clinical or midwifery practice areas, liaising with midwives and other health care providers.

In addition the entire class will come together at four two week blocks in the year. At the start of the year they will be introduced to each other, the courses, the technology and  support services they can access. Some face to face teaching and team building and group activities will be scheduled. Later their will be more face to face teaching and at the final two week block examinations and summative assessments will take place. In addition to this teaching and learning students will  have midwifery practice placements in a variety of settings.

Progressing to this point

As we approach the start of this new programme. I am feeling very positive about it. We have been working very hard to structure our course in a logical way which should clearly link theory and practice and progress the students through from the basics to to more complex practice skills, while keeping these firmly linked to the context of midwifery practice.

As I have recorded in previous posts we separated the skills into modules which made sense in terms of midwifery practice. These are, antenatal, labour and birth, postnatal mother and child and therpeutics. More recently we realised we needed another module for the core component which overrides all of these others, that is communication. In this fifth module we will have material on communication skills and also include material on documentation, which is another form of communication. We were going to put material about the components from this course which will fit into the student developing portfolio, either paper based or electronic. However at the moment we feel that we will keep this alongside the course information, which is where the students will enter the course.

I have been working on the EXE files, which are on my hard drive, developign the course content. I then felt I needed a better overview of how the students would actually move through the course material. Which aspects would be taught face to face in the intensives. Which would be taught face to face in the tutorial groups and which would be principally online learning. I sat down and worked out where all these components would fit within the year of the course. At this point we hit a small block as we were not all thinking along the same lines here. My boss, head of the school of midwifery and head of the health group at Otago Polytechnic, Sally Pairman, obviously liked the way I had shaped this up and developed this further alongside all of the other courses the first year students will be involved in.

Earlier this week I flew up to Christchurch and had a meeting with Lorna. This was very positive. Lorna and I share very similar ideas about how the course will work and so we have very few problems in working alongside each other. It was lovely to spend some time with her and her family, she gave me a bed for the night.  We have negotiated with the math department from CPIT to run the examination of Math for our students and to take a couple of tutorial sessions with them as well. This is fantastic and will definitely be a bonus for us.

So now the road ahead is very clear, there is still some development needing to be done with the online resources but I am feeling confident and positive about the programme.

What have been the highs a lows of the development process.


I have been very lucky to be working alongside Lorna in CPIT. It has been great that we agree so well on so much. Lorna identified EXE which has been a godsend for course development and also ispring which has been great for converting power point to shockwave flash files.

I am sooo…  glad I participated in the Facilitating online learning communities course with Leigh Blackall and Bronwyn Hegarty and also the Design for Flexible Learning also with Leigh and Bronwyn. I would not be nearly so able to engage with this process without the learning I did in these courses.

Finding all the great stuff that is out there on the internet, free for anyone to use has been just amazing. The generosity of those who have developed these resources is amazing. I wish we were able to reciprocate, perhaps in time??


The main point of difference is with our institutions and the way that they perceive students should engage with learning. OP has an open policy where we as lecturers own the material we develop, we can take it with us when we go as long as we acknowledge OP if we use it. We can make it freely available on the internet if we wish to. CPIT on the other hand have a closed policy, all of their resources belong to CPIT and cannot be shared in an open environment. None the less I have loaded some of the content I have developed onto wikieducator and slide share etc, and I hope to do more development of this as time permits.

The time frame has been tight, the pressure has been quite enormous, and the workload allocation for development in no way related to the reality of the job. It has also been a struggle to do this and keep our existing students ontrack. I have to say our first year students this year have been a group of wonderful women and have been enthusiastic is supporting us as we have worked to develop the new course materials. Some of this new work has also filtered through to them to their benefit also I think.

A times I have felt quite alone and isolated. It is hard to get the IT support needed as we are experts in midwifery and so we really have to develop things ourselves. I do think the IT support has been less than it could have been at times however.


So now I am on leave for abpout 3 weeks. I am going to have a total rest from this and back into it on January 5th.

Merry Christmas ( or happy celebration of whatever you celebrate at this time of year). Happy holidays to all.

Beginning to construct a course which supports flexible learning

While completing courses myself around flexible learning and course construction I am also working on the development and construction of the midwifery practice skills course. There are several features of this course which could be described as ‘flexible learning’. Students will be able to enrol from a  variety of locations and study predominantly from those locations supported by a local facilitator. They will also be able to come together as a larger class for some face to face  learning. Learning resources will be delivered face to face during the class ‘intensives’ and during tutorials with their local facilitator, students will also have midwifery practice time, working alongside midwives. Learning resources will also be available on-line for the students to access. They will be able to pace themselves through these learning resources and move backwards a forwards through them as they wish, however there will be  structure around the course and students will e expected to have completed the learning resources at each stage so that they can discuss and gain practical hands on skills in the face to face intensives and tutorials. Some features of this course delivery will be (following categories from; Gluc, 2006)

Individualised learning – As part of  this course students will be developing a portfolio which will include a learning contract. This will allow them to idenrify their own learning needs and to track their own learning and progress towards their individualised learning goals.

Peronalised learning support – Students will  have support from their local facilitator and the course co-ordinator and will be able to meet and discuss with them both within the class or local groups and on an individual basis as required. This contact and discussion can take place face to face or online through Elluminate meetings, discussion forums, personal emails, cell phone text messaging or telephone or cell phone chats.

Collaborative learning – Students will meet together as a whole class and will be supported to develop connections and networks with each other through a variety of online resources such as skype, weblogs cell phone text and chat groups. They will also have a local group which will be 2 or more students in a particular location and will be encouraged to support each other through the learning journey. Some course work may be required to be completed in group activities which will involve them working with other students from different locations and networking with them  online or by cell phone.

Virtual learning environments– We will not be using virtual worlds initially but we are continuing to explore the possibilities for using a virtual environment for scenario based learning. Each aspect of the learning resources will be accompanied by formative assessments scattered throughout and some of these will include case studies, where the students are invited to consider situations, decisions and actions that they might make.

Flexible study– All aspects of the course will have a thorough online component, which will allow the students to study at their own pace in their own time and wherever they have internet access.

The first step in course construction

After considering our learners and different learning styles that need to be incorporated. We established our collaboration teams to work on course development. I have been working alongside a Christchurch colleague Lorna Davies .  We started by brainstorming  with everyone from the two schools what the content  would be. We then had to consider how this content might be divided up into the three trimesters (This course will be delivered in three trimesters rather than two semesters) of the year.  It seemed important that the skills the students would be learning should have some context around them rather than task specific skills. to do this it made sense to develop modules focused around antenatal, labour and birth and postnatal care. These are all in the context of normal uncomplicated birth at this stage of the students learning journey. Some basic skills that need to be covered do not easily fit within these aspects and so a fourth module was decided on which would focus on therapeutic interventions that may be required, either in the community or hospital setting. We then divided these modules Lorna is developing the antenatal and postnatal modules and I am developing the labour birth and therapeutic skills modules. Lorna and I decided very early in the process that we needed to have good communication between us and established weekly meetings on Elluminate where we can discuss progress and brainstorm issues as they arise.

Using EXE as a development platform and moodle for course delivery

Lorna was able to attend a conference where she learned about EXE for developing course content which can then be loaded onto moodle. We decided to give this a go and found it very easy to use, none the less getting to grips with these two new technologies has been a learning curve which is ongoing.

Developing the modules

It became evident that these modules would need to be broken down further into learning units otherwise they would be too large. This has largely been up to our own discretion but we discuss and share ideas in our weekly meetings. I decided that I would like to evaluate the material that I am developing with current students. I would also like to get some feedback from midwives in practice eventually. To this end we have established a separate development portal on our Moodle to allow current students access to modular components that have been developed. I will develop an evaluation tool to get some feedback from these students about the resources.


Gluc, E. (2006). Using Blended Learning to Accommodate Different Learning Styles. University of Hertfordshire. Online retrieved 17th October 2008 from: http://escalate.ac.uk/downloads/2917.pdf

Image: Red sky construction from poagao’s photos on flickr.com

Connecting students with course content, lecturers and each other.

I was just exploring the Unitec concept map mentioned in a previous post. I was looking at this section of the map on cell phones.

Unitec source smartphones and provide a 1GB/month mobile broadband account to all staff and students. Students pay for their own voice and txt messaging and the 1GB plan is paid by Unitec. These phones are used to deliver course content as well as communication devices. Students have also been issued with a wireless keyboard to facilitate data entry. This at a cost of $700 NZ.

I wonder a little about the screen size however I can see this could be something that might be really useful for us as well. Any thoughts about this?

Image: 3 Cell phone calls, from Wonderlane photos on Flickr.com


Project Name

Working with women requiring therapeutic intervention.

A module contained within the midwifery practice skills course for first year bachelor of midwifery students.


3rd October 2008


Otago Polytechnic
Project plan author contact details

Carolyn McIntosh

Email: carolynm@tekotago.ac.nz

skype: carolynmcintosh

Delicious: carolynmcintosh

Executive summary

This plan outlines the process that will be involved in developing a new module within a new course in a revamped program for midwifery undergraduate education in the South Island of New Zealand. The programme is to be delivered as a collaborative exercise with Otago Polytechnic and Christchurch Polytechnic. The course this focuses on is the midwifery practice skills course and the module it relates specifically to is Working With women Requiring Therapeutic Intervention. Various selected skills will be learned through engaging with modular learning resources delivered through the Moodle learning management system, through face to face learning in the intensives delivered at the beginning, middle and end of the year and through weekly face to face tutorials. Student learning will be supported by encouraging group interaction and learning communities, through interaction and support from preceptor midwives in practice, through interaction and support from midwifery practice facilitators and through interaction and support from midwifery lecturers. This aligns well with the Otago Polytecnic strategic direction for a move to greater flexibility in course delivery and collaboration with other educational institutions.

My Plan


There are some challenges in teaching first year midwifery students. The students are a diverse group of women (we have not had any men in our programme to this point although it is always possible that a man may join the programme at some point in time). Students vary in age and ability. All have met the academic criteria for entry, which requires the equivalent of university entrance qualifications and ability to work at an academic degree programme level. Some have birth experience of their own, working as a doula or childbirth educator right through to recent school leavers with no experience of childbirth at all. So providing learning resources which will keep everyone stimulated and satisfied but understanding and able to keep up with the programme is a challenge. Giving students enough practice experience, while also recognising that they have not yet got the theoretical knowledge to support this experience, is also a challenge. Students need to understand that they have a very limited scope of practice and need to be supervised at all times when involved in midwifery practice. Careful consideration needs to be given to scaffolding learning to meet the learner’s level of understanding and learning needs.

Valliathan discusses three models for blended learning, skill driven, attitude driven and competence drive. I believe all three of these come into play for blended learning in the midwifery practice skills context. Clearly this is a skills based course and skills acquisition is an important part of the course. Attitude is also an important aspect of learning about midwifery practice. Students often come into the course with preconceived ideas which can change dramatically as they are exposed to practice and actual childbirth experiences. They need the opportunity to consider, reflect, share and discuss these experiences and consider the implication for their own midwifery practice. Confidence and competence will grow when students work with mentor or preceptor midwives in practice. These aspects must all be considered within the overall plan. In Valiathan’s discussion of these three aspects of blended learning there are different strategies that accompany each. In the skill model there needs to be a clear plan which can be self paced for the student but requires a strict schedule. There needs to be close contact and overview from the instructor with demonstration of techniques which can be achieved in face to face and supported by synchronous online labs. The attitude model is supported by synchronous online discussion, group work and role plays, and the competence model is achieved through working with mentors and access to a repository of information in a learning management system. All aspects involve close overview and support from a midwifery instructor.

Taking these models and learning requirements into consideration it is necessary in the learning plan to have systems in place for regular contact between lecturers and students and also to have a clear structure and learning goals. Students need a high level of motivation and will need to come prepared to face to face learning ready to interact with one another and to engage with the practical skills learning experience. Students will need to identify their learning goals. They need to identify what they already know about particular skills, and will need clear targets, criteria, standards and exemplars to help them to identify their learning goals (Nichol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). As these will differ from student to student it will be necessary for each student to develop individualised goals and an individualised learning plan.

It is recognised that individuals differ in the way in which they learn best. There are several different ways in which this has been represented. Perhaps the best known of these is the VARK model of learning styles. These are visual, auditory reader and kinesthetic. According to this model learners prefer to learn by seeing pictures or video etc, by hearing either the spoken word or learning is enhanced by listening to music while studying, by reading or by actively doing. The VARK model recognises that while individuals may have a strong personal preference they may also have a mixture of learning styles. If students understand how they learn best themselves then they can use the resources that will best support their learning. As educators we need to provide material to the students in a variety of ways taking into account all of these styles so that there is something there for everyone. Opportunities need to be provided for students to consider new skills, to see the proper process, to reflect identifying implications for practice and to actually use the skills in practice (Kolb, 1984; Atherton, 2005). Reflection leads to a deeper level of learning it helps the student to contextualise and is a key component of learning. The reflective process is a key component of lifelong learning in midwifery (Taylor, 2000).

This model of education follows a constructivist approach as described by Friere (Gadotti, 1994) and Knowles (Knowles & Knowles, 1972). Friere believed that individuals learned best in groups and that learning is enhanced by reflection, while Knowles asserts that adults learn through working together and building on previous experiences. Much of this ‘big picture’ aspect of planning for the students learning experience is considered in the overall midwifery programme but also needs to be considered in planning of each learning experience.


What am I going to do?

The midwifery practice skills course has been divided into four modules. Pregnancy, labour and birth, postnatal and therapeutic interventions. For this plan I am focusing on the module ‘therapeutic interventions’. Unlike the other three this modules will run across the entire first year but principally in the first and second trimesters. The aim of this module is to familiarise students with certain specific skills which are sometimes required during the childbearing year.


I will design a learning program for selected midwifery practice skills. Face to face learning will occur during the three, two week intensives, through weekly tutorial session with their midwifery practice facilitator in their local area and with midwife preceptors with whom they will be gaining midwifery practice experience. Students will be able to access course material and learning resources through the moodle learning management system. Students will also have the opportunity to attend elluminate class sessions from their own home, or local area where they have computer access.

Performance indicators

Students need to be able to

1. demonstrate an ability to use communication skills to develop effective professional relationships with their peers and colleagues.

2. utilise an awareness of effective communication to enhance the quality of the childbearing experience for women and their families.

3. safely perform a range of selected practice skills and be able to outline their underlying theories and rationale.

4. accurately perform drug calculations and demonstrate skill of medication administration.

What are the perceived flexible learning needs of the people that my plan is targeting?

Levels of prior knowledge

As stated in previously students enrolled in the program will have a variety of previous experience and prior knowledge on which they can build their learning. Some students come with previous nursing experience, as enrolled nurses for example. Some may have completed university study and may have a strong knowledge of biology and body systems while others will have only very basic knowledge.

Levels of literacy and numeracy

Students have to have NCEA level 3 entry requirements. Although this should mean that all have good literacy and numeracy skills in reality the level of skill will vary from individual to individual. It is likely that students may range from school leavers who have good digital literacy skills to mature adults who have very little knowledge of computers and digital resources.

Ability and disability

Midwifery practice is physically demanding work which may discount many people who have a physical disability from applying or being able to enter the programme. None the less there are many levels of physical and mental ability and disability and it is possible that our students will vary considerably in these characteristics.

Learning at a distance

Students will vary in their geographical distance from the Polytechnic. Some may be based in Christchurch or Dunedin but others will be centred around other centres such as Nelson Marlborough, Central Otago, Southland etc.

Flexibility in time

Some students may have part time employment. Mothers may need fit in study around family commitments and rural women may be involved in farming activities.

What type of flexible learning services will there be?

Enrollment; There is little ability to be flexible with enrollment. Students will commence the course at the start of the academic year. Students may however choose to enroll part time initially doing mainly theory papers the first year and practice papers the following year.


Summative assessment.

Students will be encouraged to develop an Eportfolio. This will allow them to identify their own learning goals and to reflect on their learning. As part of this eportfolio students will develop a learning contract. They will be able to choose which skill they feel they would like to concentrate on for this learning contract. They will identify what prior knowledge they have of this skill. They will then identify their learning needs and expected outcomes. Together with the lecturer they will identify what they need to do and what resources they will need to be able to achieve their learning needs and finally they will provide evidence that they have accomplished this. This will form part of the summative assessment. The other assessment is a practice skills assessment where the students role play a scenario in examination conditions. Although this is not particularly flexible the students will be able to build the scenarios on which they may be tested themselves as a group. The performance indicators of communication will be assessed during this role play assessment. Women from the community will play the role of a woman and will provide the students with feedback on their communication and will also contribute the the mark the student is allocated for this skills. In addition there will be an examination which will be conducted during the final intensive where students will be tested on their knowledge of drug calculations.

Formative assessment:

A variety of formative assessments may be used to help with structure of the course material. This will also add interest to material the students are accessing at a distance and will help them to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Formative assessment should be closely linked to the skill which is being learned. It should stimulate the students interest and provide feedback which will stimulate further learning (Crossuard, Pryor & Torrance, 2000)

Communication strategies;

Students require good computer literacy skills to enable access to all the resources they will need for this course and also to communicate with each other and with lecturers. Students who need extra help will be supported with resources such as the Otago information literacy resource. Flexibility in
terms of communication will be assured through the opportunity to communicate in a variety of ways at times that are negotiated and suitable to all. Students will be able to engage with many of the online resources for communication at any time that suits them, for example discussion forums and preparing material for inclusion in Eportfolios.

Student to lecturer

Students will be able to maintain regular contact with lecturers online by email , through regular Elluminate group discussion, through participation in discussion forums online and by sharing parts of their Eportfolio work. They will also be able to communicate directly with the lecturer by telephone or by text messaging.

Students to midwifery practice facilitator

Students may be able to communicate with Midwifery practice facilitators through discussion forums and sharing part of their Eportfolio work. Students will be able to communicate regularly to face with the midwifery practice facilitator through on-site weekly tutorial group meetings, regular contact and catch ups while working with midwifery preceptors and during midwifery and other clinical practice placements.

Student to student

Students will be able to communicate with each other through online discussion forums, through sharing parts of their Eportfolio work and through contact during tutorial groups and face to face intensives. Students will be encouraged to develop close networks with other students to provide support and shared learning experience through a learning community (Kilpatrick, Barrett & Jones, 2008).

Midwifery practice facilitator to student

Midwifery practice facilitator will be located in the area where the student is practicing. They will be meeting face to face with students on a weekly basis and will negotiate with students individually around communication needs at other times. they will also have access and contribute to discussion forums and students Eportfolio work.

Lecturer to student

Lecturers will also be midwifery practice facilitators for some of the students in the class. They will maintain contact with the class through online discussion forums and email contact. They will also be able to communicate directly with students through cell phones and text messaging and during face to face in the intensives.

Information formats;

Students will be accessing course material through the Moodle learning management system. They will also be sharing information in groups through tutorials. They will be able to discuss and share information through discussion forums and through sharing learning through their Eportfolio work. Student learning will be enhanced through the use of quizzes which challenge the students and provide instant feedback. Learning packages will be developed and will be accessible online for

Standard precautions

Working with a sterile field

Medication administration

Urinary cathaterisation

Working with women with limited mobility

Basic knot tying and suture technique

These learning packages will be supported by group discussion in online discussion forums and during weekly tutorial group meetings. Some such as working with a sterile field, urinary catheterisation, and administering injections will be taught face to face and reinforced with the learning packages.

In addition a resource is being developed to run alongside which will support student learning about drug calculations. Students will also have access to open access freely available drug calculation software packages.

Learning support services including technical support.

Students will be supported by each others through the development of learning communities. They will also be supported by their midwifery practice facilitator and by midwife preceptors. They will have overarching learning support from their lecturers. They will also be supported by having constant access to learning materials online. Students who are have a disability and need extra support with this can access this through disability support services either at Otago Polytechnic or at Christchurch Polytechnic. All students will be made aware how they can access this support if they need it and lecturers will be aware of how students can access this support. Students who need extra support with literacy, numeracy or digital literacy will be given extra support through online resources which can assist them. Otago students can access learning support services on campus at Otago Polytechnic or through the various community centres maintained by Otago Polytechnic. Support with information technology systems will be provided through the IT services at Otago Polytechnic and Christchurch Polytechnic. Moodle help is available online through moodle.

The type of services which already exist that compliment and/or compete with the plan.

As this is a whole new way of delivering the programme there is a lot of development work to do. Not just te material I am working on but across the entire programme. Currently we use Blackboard as our learning management system so getting familiar with Moodle is a bit of a challenge. Transitioning to delivering more content online would lend itself to more content being available in an open forum. This is happening and is an exciting aspect of the new courses. We are using blip TV to store some video material which can then be linked into courses. Not only does this mean that the material is available for our own students but it will mean that it is also available for others. Existing course material has been developed for face to face teaching and so most needs major changes and updating and a lot of new material needs to be developed.

How complimentary or competitive services will be used favorably?

There is a great deal of material and learning resources which have developed by others and made freely available online for anyone to use. Some of these are suitable and will enhance the students learning experience. Some are excellent and would be very hard for us to replicate in any way. At the same time we will be developing some new learning resources which are not available or where those that are do not match our needs. It behooves us to make these freely available for others to use as we are using resources developed by others.

Outline of how the following items will be addressed:

Sustainability social, ecological and economical factors;

Sustainability will be addressed in the programme through a special course. It also needs to be integrated into all aspects of the program and will be addressed in the course work I am developing. Therapeutic skills involves the use and disposal of items which needs to be discussed with students as well as maintaining there own and their clients safety they also need to consider the impact on the environment of these items. No all women will need therapeutic intervention and how to keep the use of these interventions to a minimum will be addressed here and in other aspects of the course. We seem to be entering an era of greater awareness of personal, social and environmental impact of all our actions and it is likely that new resources will be developed which reduce the impact on the person society and the environment. It is important to keep abreast of these changes and students will be encouraged to identify how they can do this.

Access & equity;

I have little control over access. Students participating in this part of the course will be enrolled in the larger course. As stated above, resources are available online which will support student learning of this topic, we will also be developing resources which will be available online. I plan, over time, to build these into a structured format online that anyone anywhere can access. Therefore, although the entire course will not be available online, components which will enhance any midwifery students learning anywhere, will be.

Cultural diversity.

All students will be considered as autonomous individuals whose rights and values are respected. They will have obligations within the course to treat women as clients with the same respect.

How this plan aligns with Otago Polytechnics strategic direction

This new course, as part of the larger midwifery practice course aligns with the strategic direction.

Otago polytechnic is committed to providing relevant, flexible and accessible learning opportunities (p, 7). In addition it is committed to collaborating with other tertiary providers and organisation, (p, 13) (Otago polytechnic council). the flexible and multifaceted delivery of this course accessible in a variety of ways through a variety of resources and in collaboration with Christchurch Polytechnic, meets these objectives of the Polytecnic.


Atherton, J. S. (2005). Learning and Teaching: Experiential Learning [On-line] UK: Retrieved October 2, 2008 from: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/experience.htm

Crossouard, B., Pryor, J. & Torrance, H. (2004). Creating an alternative assessment regime with oneline formative assessment: Developing a researcher identity. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, Crete, 22-25 September, 2004. Retrieved October 2, 2008 from http://www.onlineassessment.nu/onlineas_webb/products/sussexFinal041001.pdf

Gadotti, M. (1994) Reading Paulo Freire. His life and work, New York: SUNY Press.

Kilpatrick, S., Barrett, M., Jones, T. (2008). Defining learning communites. Faculty of education. University of Tasmania, Australia. Retrieved October 3, 2008 from: http://www.aare.edu.au/03pap/jon03441.pdf

Knowles, M. S. and Knowles, H. F. (1972) (Revised Edition) Introduction to Group Dynamics, Chicago: Association Press. published by New York: Cambridge Books.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: experience as the source of learning and development New Jersey: Prentice-Hall

Nichol, D. J., Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in higher education. 31 (2) 199-218. Retrieved October 2, 2008 from http://tltt.strath.ac.uk/REAP/public/Resources/DN_SHE_Final.pdf

Otago Polytechnic Council (2005). Charter document. Retrieved October 3, 2008, from://www.otagopolytechnic.ac.nz/fileadmin/Corporate/PDFs/About/Otago_Polytechnic_Charter_2006-2010_.pdf

Taylor, B. J. (2000). Reflective practice: A guide for nurses and midwives. London: Alyn and Unwin.


This is what I think the cost of this development work would be. Not the reality of how it will actually be.

Staff time

Lecturer time to develop course material

4 months at 0.3 FTE = $5,800

IT support to development work

4 months 0.3= $5800

Other IT support roughly $5000

Purchasing course material that isnot freely available such as Catherisation model


Total $18,600

As other course work is being developed at the same time these costs may be reduced in the overall development costs.


July 2008

Commence development of midwifery practice skills course in collaboration with CPIT.

Consider how the course will be framed and what it will look like overall.

August 2008

Course is now divided into four modules for development. Primary responsibility for these divided into two. Two for CPIT and two for OP.

Mid September 2008

Complete general framework of modules therapeutic skills and labour and birth (OP) and antenatal and postnatal (CPIT).

MId November 2008

Complete preparation of online content and structure of modules

November 2008

Seek feedback and evaluation of course material from current first year midwifery students and adjust as required.

January 2009

Finalise course and make final adjustments to structure, Elluminate sessions, content for face to face tutorials and intensives etc.

February 2009

New course begins pending final sign off.

As you will see this development is well underway now and we have been meeting all deadlines we have set to this point.

Blended learning in midwifery education.

Do we really understand the potential?

I have been looking at this video. Wouldn’t this have been a great conference to be at? How exciting that we are entering a new era of midwifery education at this time and potential that is there for us and our students, as long as we leave the doors open enough to be able make the most of what the world wide web has to offer. As Myles says the virtual world has a lot to offer but needs to stay connected to the real world. We can do that, we can make the most of both!

Presentation of flexible learning draft plan

DFLP initial plan

I have edited this post. In the original post l asked for help with the audio files. Amit from Slideshare kindly pointed me in the right direction. unfortunately I still have a problem as the slideshare is having difficulty loading the sound files from Archives. So I am posting the slide show and link to the Audacity sound files separately . I am not sure if this will work for you and I will keep trying to get the slidecast working properly. Please open the sound file first then you can scroll thorugh the presentation and the sound will play. When Archives opens you will see a black box in the top right hand corner with the audio files in it. If you click on the play arrow it will automatically go frm one sound file to the next.

My email for any comments or feedback on this presentation is cardacs@gmail.com

Link here to the survey for your feedback

Disclaimer: I would like to stress that the thoughts and ideas presented here are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer or the midwifery profession.

DFLP08 week 12. Strategic direction, towards flexible delivery.

Phil Kerr, the CEO of Otago Polytechnic, spoke recently with the DFLP course participants about flexible learning and the direction for Otago Polytechnic. It was really interesting to hear about Phil’s own experiences of flexible learning (or blended delivery of courses) and his ideas about the why what and how of flexible learning. This post is my impression of the discussion that occurred with Bronwyn, Heather, Terry, Michelle and Phil. From the recording of this Elluminate session.

Why flexible learning

Flexible learning and blended course delivery is a key teaching and learning strategy for Otago Polytechnic. This will allow Otago Polytechnic to better serve the needs of the Otago region as opposed to just the city of Dunedin. It will provide an opportunity to engage with more learners. it is believed that this will enhance teaching and learnign and encourage greater learner autonomy and independence.

What is the vision of flexible learning

Phil described this as a continuum thus

Our place __________________________Your place

Our time _________________________your time

Our objectives _____________________your objectives

Our way __________________________your way

Lots of steps can be taken to move courses towards the right side of this continuum. We do not need to jump everything all the way all at once.

We need to take advantage of tools such as video conferencing, Elluminate, guided workbooks and other ‘traditional’ distance learning resources. Phil highlighted areas in Otago Polytechnic that have developed blended learning, for example CAPL and Vet nursing. Terry discussed the need to consider learning styles, in particular kinesthetic learners, in practical courses and the value of video which can then be played through mobile devices such as PDAs or Mobile Phones. All agreed that blended delivery with components of distance and face to face learning are very important however Phil said it was important to also consider the needs of students who cannot come to campus and need a total distance package.

How to move towards blended learning

Phil suggested we need to learn from examples of good practice. The most important and time consuming aspect of the process is the design phase. Structured to support independent learning with students. Students need to prepare for face to face learning opportunities which should be used to discuss issues rather than for the delivery of content. With blended delivery the lecturer becomes a facilitator for student learning rather than the font of knowledge. The lecturer is an expert resource who can direct students to useful learning resources. Phil agrees with the concept of curatorial teaching in a blended learning design as described by George Siemens. The role of coach comes to the fore, good at observing and giving feedback. We need to look at the balance of the teachers role in a blended environment, developing learner autonomy is a worthy objective.


We need to consider more closely formative assessment and reduce the amount of summative assessment that we require of students. Summative assessment is a highly stressful activity for students whereas formative assessment is supportive of independent and autonomous learning. Motivation is a key factor. Phil believed this is supported through the face to face component the courses. Bronwyn pointed out that motivation can also be supported through elluminate sessions and regular feedback to student work, for example blog postings. Students need to be scaffolded through their learning experience, starting with a lot of hand holding which we gradually let go as they move through the course and gain confidence and skill.


This audio recording was a really useful insight into thinking behind the Otago Polytechnic strategic direction towards flexible delivery of courses. It did not really bring up anything new for me but definitely reinforced a lot of the things I have been learning about and thinking about lately. It ‘tied the package’ together quite nicely. Definitely some thing to think about in my plan in relation to , degrees of flexibility (what is and what is not possible in this way) , encouraging learning for students rather focusing on content delivery (providing opportunities for them to discover, consider and discuss learning resources), building in opportunites for connection between students and with lecturers which are designed to motivate and stimulate students, think carefully about assessment (formative and summative). Clearly this is a complex process.

Image: I wanna hold your hand. From Batega’s photos on flickr.com

Universal design

In a comment to my recent post about accessibility and equity Leigh has suggested that incorporating the principles of universal design will help to address these issues. so I looked this term up and found a useful explanation of this in relation to flexible learning on the Australia flexible learning network web site.

Universal design is about making sure that the needs of everyone including people with disabilities are considered within the course design. The same resources are available for everyone. Any stigma of special resources being required for those with a disability disappears. This makes absolute sense to me. I want to look at how the midwifery course could be designed to accommodate the philosophy of universal design as described by the Australian flexible learning design framework (AFLDF). The italics below are from the AFLDF and the ordinary text is mine.

  1. Equitable Use, seeks to maximise the usefulness of design for everyone, identical whenever possible and equivalent when not, so that it avoids segregating or stigmatising any users. We need to consider how people might interact with the teaching and learning resources we are using in our courses. We could perhaps seek an opinion from those with experience of working with those with disabilities, for example disability support.
  2. Flexibility in Use, values design that accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. Considering all learning styles and make sure that our learning resources will support a variety of styles. Provide audio, visual and written or printable material as well as engaging students in activities which might allow artistic or creative learning to occur. Also allowing the opportunity for hands on interactive learning and encouraging group work and learning communities to develop.
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use, seeks to create ease of understanding for users, regardless of their experience, knowledge and language. Make sure that the language that is used is simple and that more complicated technical terms are explained in simple understandable language. Make sure that the flow of the material is obvious and that it is easy to move forwards and backwards through the course material.
  4. Perceptible Information, seeks to ensure that design allows information to be communicated effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities. We plan to send online resources to students on DVDs or CDs so that they will not be reliant on internet and broadband access. There could be other ways to do this too. For example PDAs or cell phones are used to deliver course material in some schools
  5. Tolerance for Error, seeks to minimise hazards and the negative consequences of accidental or unintended actions. We need to identify students who are having difficulties and offer support and assistance.
  6. Low Physical Effort, seeks to ensure that interaction with the environment can occur efficiently and comfortably and with minimal fatigue. Make sure that clear instructions are included each step of the way and that students are able to work at their own pace wherever possible
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use, seeks to maximise approach, reach and manipulation capabilities of users irrespective of their size, posture and mobility. This could require some extra consideration if there are individual physical characteristics to be taken into account in the midwifery practice setting. It is possible that some people may be precluded from midwifery practice because of a particular physical disability. It is hard to see how a student in a wheelchair for instance would be able to meet all the requirements of the job.

The Australian flexible learning  framework goes on to provide some implementation tools for universal design in a flexible program. As follows, once again italics are form the AFLF site and normal font is mine.

  • Plan for accessibility: An accessible website is a product of careful planning and design. It is unlikely to happen by chance. It has to be planned from the conception of the project. It will be important to think of these issues at all stages of preparing the courses for flexible delivery in the Bachelor of Midwifery program
  • Choose accessible tools: Authoring tools play a critical role in ensuring web accessibility. I am not entirely sure what this means. It has been decided that the course material will be delivered to the students through the Moodle learning management system. When I looked authoring tools up online I found a too WBTExpress which i am now downloading to see what it does. apparently it allows integration of learning objects within the moodle platform. The decision on these aspects of the course are outside my level of expertise however and thankfully we have others on staff with much greater IT experience than I have. None the less having some knowledge of what is possible is always useful.
  • Follow design guidelines: This section lists design elements, outlines possible access barriers for users and provides Guidelines for overcoming these. I do not have access to these guidelines once again the overall design will be outside my sphere of practice
  • Test for accessibility: Testing can be conducted with validation tools and with users. It is advisable to do a preliminary test once a prototype is ready and a full test when the entire site has been developed. I believe this is an important aspect and i would like to be able to test our resources with one or two people who have not particular knowledge of computer or information technology  to see it they can manage to navigate around the resources and if there are any technical problems for them. This is different to an analysis of the content of the course which will be assured through the academic approval processes.
  • Inform users of site’s accessibility: This covers both informing users of accessibility features of a site, as well as things which users can do to improve their own web access which they may not be aware of. Another important aspect is how we inform users about how they can access and use the course material. In a flexible course with a component of distance learning I think it is important to make sure that these things are clearly outlined each step of the way.


It has been a useful exercise to look at these aspects of preparing a course for flexible delivery although this is a very brief perusal. I find the many things that need to be considered in flexible delivery to be quite overwhelming. I can see how important it is to consult with others and seek feedback to make sure that the course is meeting the needs of students and also the midwifery profession.

Another option for my plan

I think I agree with Sarah that trying to design a whole course is perhaps a bit ambitious just at the moment, given everything else that is happening. As I have alluded to many times previously the midwifery school are developing a new joint curiculum and midwifery undergraduate program in collaboration with Christchurch Polytechnic. We had a meeting last week and discussed how the first year clinical paper might look. We spoke about what aspects we felt need to be face to face and what might be able to be taught in the students local area with support from her local midwife teacher and online resources. There are several aspects of the course that will need to be developed to be delivered in a blended fashion, with some face to face components, some online and some practical support in the students local area.

For the Design for Flexible Learning Practice I would like to look at one of these, bearing in mind that others will also be being developed alongside this,  the process I use and design I arrive at will both influence this parallel process and will be influenced by it.

Currently I am considering developing  a plan for flexible learning of medication administration. I hope that others will comment and feedback now whether they feel this is a reasonable and realistic thing to do. Is there something else that would be more useful? Should I be looking at the overall plan rather than breaking it down into this small component? You can either comment below or email me at my polytech address or to cardacs@gmail.com if you feel reluctant to comment on a blog.

I am aware that I need to start working on this very soon and will have to make a decision. Thank you for your support.

Image: Medicine, from Toei’s photos on Flickr.com

Flexibility, bending over backwards to be accessible

When considering issues of flexibility in learning we have been considering the different ways in which courses we teach can be flexible. Some types of flexibility might be:

Fexibility of time [start and end dates of courses]

Flexibility of place [where the course is delivered]

Flexibility style [incorporating a variety of learning styles]

Flexibility and adaptability [to meet changing needs of learners and industry]

A good demonstration of flexibility in learning has been this course, Design for flexible learning practice. Through this course I have been exploring the topic of flexibility in education and have not always followed the format set out in the course structure. Non the less I believe I am fulfilling the basic requirements of the course. As i explore this topic and find things which interest me I have considered these and blogged about them. I am definitely learning as i explore and expanding my thinking on teaching and learning as I go. I hope that this might also be of some use to others but principally it is for my own growth. Although it is always good to know that others find some aspects of my writing of interest this is not my primary goal.

Ultimately I have to come up with a plan for a flexible learning opportunity in my context as the assessment in this course. Flexibility is something that I feel we are very familiar with in the School of Midwifery at Otago Polytechnic. We cannot be flexible with start and end dates, as we are constrained by the requirement for students to complete the program within 4 years, however since I started work there, five of six years ago, there have been quite dramatic changes in the way that the whole program is delivered. Next year our program is to change again as we start to deliver the program predominantly at a distance, with three two week blocks of face to face attendance during the year. This will allow students who could not have considered undertaking this course of study to do so. Much of our content will be delivered online using a variety of resources. Most of this will be delivered through a learning management system, probably moodle. Although our material and course work will be online it will only be available to those who have enrolled and paid for the course. This seems to be a logical choice, after all we do not allow just anyone to sit in on our classes and course work at present. However it is a great pity that the time and energy for developing the resources that we will be using will not be utilised to their fullest by reaching the widest possible audience. I accept that to put this material openly on the internet is a very large step that many of us feel uncomfortable with. We cannot know how or whom might find our material useful and valuable and how they might adapt it to meet their own needs. Is this a bad thing? I wonder if we will use resources that have been developed by others in our new course. It would make sense to do so as there is a lot of material out there which has been developed by other Universities and is freely available, why reinvent the wheel. For example the University of California have several courses freely available online. One of these is this Biology course. This contains material which is relevant to our students to which they could be directed. There will be components of our new course which will be suitable and useful to others also, to keep it all within a learning management system such as Moodle means that it will not be available to others. Perhaps we can consider having some components available through the world wide web.

I teach in a paper which has been developed principally to support midwives who were educated outside of New Zealand to gain skills and knowledge of prescribing for midwifery practice, per the New Zealand legislation. I would like to work towards developing this as course along a similar line to the DFLP course to be freely available on the world wide web. I have already prepared an argument for why this should be so and Sarah Stewart prepared a proposal for this and other courses within the school of Midwifery to be available openly on the world wide web. I would like to now take this a stage further and start to develop a plan for how this might be able to happen. I am aware that this might take a significant amount of my time and energy and I am away on leave from the 23rd May until the 10th July. As well as this I have to be working towards the new first year clinical papers, am I being too ambitious?

Image: Bending over backwards. From Tennessee wanderers photos, on Flickr.com

Wk 6: Open source: Threat or enhancement for formal education

This week we have been asked to explore whether open access presents a threat or enhances formal education. I have looked at one open access course which I think is a good example of the possibilities for this type of  learning resource. In this post I discuss this and some of the arguments for and against this type of learning. I also discuss recognition of prior learning and how it might be related her. finally I consider my plan for designing a flexible learning resource.

Example of open access

I just had a look at the Harvard Law School course CyberOne: Law in the court of public opinion I am very impressed with this it seems to use a variety of online media and is well organised and reasonably clear to use. Looking at this makes me feel excited at the opportunities this presents for anyone, anywhere to engage with the course and expand their knowledge and skill. There is also an opportunity to meet with others from anywhere in the world and to share, collaborate, communicate and learn. Not only can this course be taken by students within the environs of Harvard, it can also be taken by students at a distance from anywhere in the world. The course content is also available for anyone, anywhere to access at anytime and engage with in what ever way they wish.

Arguments against

I wonder does this pose a threat to Harvard Law school? In what way might that threat be posed?

  1. By losing control of the material when it is out in the public domain is there a risk that the public might misuse this, bringing the name of the institution into disripute?
  2. By giving this material away does it make the material somehow less valuable or less desirable as academic attainment for those who pay to participate?
  3. If the material is given away for free why would people want to enrol and pay for this course?
  4. Can the institution afford to ‘give away’ its skill and expertise ? After all this is all that educational institutions have to sell to generate an income.

These are arguments that seem to have some validity and are arguments I have heard expressed against the idea of open access to educational resources.

Arguments for

I will address these points as I see them

  1. This is not a new thing. Since Caxton invented the printing press knowledge has been available through printed media for around 600 years. There has been a gradual process of making printed material more and more accessible. The current evolution of ease of searchability and accessibility has opened up access to many more people in recent years however the information has always been there for those who chose to find it and use it.
  2. By expanding the accessibility of a course and opening it up to a wider audience you are also opening up the learning opportunities not only for those who are getting this for free but also for those who are paying a fee. Education is moving away from the didactic approach of knowledge transfer from expert to novice and embracing an approach of learner centered learning, where learning communities explore and investigate topics of interest and expand and create new knowledge through this exploration.
  3. I can see that what is accessed for free is actually not the same as being enrolled and working through the course with lecturer and institutional support. Doing this course for free online might give me a feeling of personal satisfaction and personal growth but I will not have any evidence of the learning that I have done. To gain this recognition I would need to enrol.
  4. Although the institutuion appears very generous in giving this course to the wider community it does raise the profile of the institution. Of course I have heard of Harvard, but now I can actually see what happens there to some degree. I could even aspire to enrol in a course from there, which I never could have before, and gain a Harvard qualification. I will not be alone in thinking this I am sure. So by giving away something for free, the institution is also actually opening itself up to a whole new market.

I believe this open access course provides a good example of the possibilities for open access. The benefits to individuals and to the institution are clear to me and i am sure I am not alone. John Seely Brown clearly outlines these benefits. I think the arguments above would also be relevant to any open access course that we might be considering for our Midwifery School at Otago Polytechnic.

Recognition of prior learning

If I do engage with a course such as this online and then later decide to enrol in the course in order to get the qualification do I need to repeat all the learning that I have already done. This week in DFLP we had Willy Campbell from the CAPL talk to us about assessment for prior learning and recognition of prior learning. I was nnot able to attend but was able to listen to a recording of the session through Elluminate. Willy explained this process very clearly and the discussion that followed was very useful. Willy explained that learning can be formal through courses completed or partially completed, non formal through group work and workshops etc and informal through on the job learning. CAPL have processes through which they can assess all of these against recognised course outcomes and can help individuals to prepare a portfolio which they can then present for recognition of the qualification. There was an interesting discussion about performing an assessment, or getting students to self assess themselves at the start of a course. This would identify the students existing knowledge and would enable them to tailor the course to suit themselves. There was some concern expressed about taking those with some knowledge out of the group as this can be an important part of the learning for others and is also valuable for the more knowledgeable members of the group also. This avenue of RPL is a way for work which has already been completed to be recognised and rewarded.

My plan

I need to now be planning what I will work on developing for my presentation at the end of this course. I have been thinking perhaps about the digital literacy project. I am wondering if I could work on something that could be intertwined within courses in the midwifery program rather than as a separate entity. I have also been very interested in developing an Open Access midwifery resource online. I have already prepared a wiki which I have done a little work on and I may look at developing this further. I may change my mind very soon however as next week we have our first collaborative meeting with CPIT to get to grips with the new program delivery. something might transpire out of that to which I need to give my attention


In this post I have discussed open source learning and given and example with some discussion about the for’s and against’s in to this. I feel there is a clear argument for this type of resource. I have explained how recognition of prior learning might have a place in this process. Finally a brief discussion about possibilities for my final presentation in this course.

Distance and flexible learning for midwives and midwifery students.

Cathedral of learning

Image: Cathedral of learning. From Macwagen’s photos on Flickr.com.

Week 4 DFLP

How can distance, correspondence and/or online learning create flexible learning opportunities for midwives or midwifery students?

Undergraduate midwifery

As I stated in a previous post we already have a significant workforce shortage in midwifery and we face a looming crisis as the aging midwifery population approach retirement. A creative approach is needed to provide education which is accessible, with the opportunity for women to remain in their own community while gaining a midwifery qualification. Anecdotally women from areas where there is a shortage of midwives identify this shortage and choose to train, planning to return to their area once they qualify. These plans often change when families are uprooted and establish a new home during the three years of the midwifery program. Moran and Rumble (2004) suggest that online delivery provides opportunities for collaboration between education providers and the private sector. They state that conventional education is not providing enough skilled workers and governments, educational providers and employers are looking to distance education as a solution to workforce shortage.

A large component of midwifery education is theory which may be relatively easily adapted to a flexible design which can be delivered at a distance. There are components of midwifery education which has a strong clinical focus and will not be suitable for distance education requiring face to face teaching. Midwifery students require professional supervision of clinical practice until they are qualified and able to care for women on their own authority. The foundation of any course is the pedagogical framework. This may vary from an instructivist model to a constructivist (or behaviourist) model. Siragusa , Dixon and Dixon (2007) suggest that highly technical courses require a more instructivist approach in the first year of the program. which can gradually change over time, as knowledge increases to a more constructivist approach. How these two are blended is dependent on several factors. Some of these are;

  • How focussed or unfocussed is the instructional design
  • How much content is provided or is student constructed
  • Whether students are extrinsically or intrinsically motivated
  • Whether the lecturers role is didactic or facilitative
  • Whether the lecturer has novice or expert online capability
  • Whether the course is structured to be “teacher proofed” or easily modified
  • Whether collaborative learning is teacher or student guided

Information technology is rapidly changing the way that information is shared and how knowledge is generated. Learning is a life long activity and workers need skills to locate and critically appraise information on which to base their practice decisions and continual professional learning development (Moran & Rumble, 2004). Annand (2007) suggests that universities have been slow to realise the potential of information technology and continue to deliver courses in a preindustrial revolution structure. Annand challenges the assertion that a community of learning is an essential component of learning. He states that there are three types of interaction, student–teacher, student-student and student-content. He states that, if one of these is delivered at a high level, the other two are of lesser importance. Annand suggests this may be an important consideration when considering the financial costs of a course but could these perhaps also be related to learning style and might one or other be more or less important to individuals?

Postgraduate midwifery

Postgraduate study lends itself more readily to a fully constructivist approach (Moran & Rumble, 2004). Options for a fully student led, integrated and less formal learning process may be easier to achieve (Siragusa, 2007).

At Otago Polytechnic our postgraduate midwifery program has been delivered largely at a distance for several years now. In acknowledgment of our workforce shortage and in and attempt to reach more students we are embarking on a flexible model for our first year students in 2009. We are mindful and aware that we need to balance distance education with a face to face component for students in our new program. Having done the background work and developed the new curriculum document in collaboration with Christchurch Polytechnic we are now turning our attention to the process for delivery of the individual components for the program through individual courses which will be either totally online or blended online and face to face.

Annand, D., (2007). Reorganizing universities for the information age. The international review of research in open and distance learning. 8, (3) downloaded from the world wide web on the 3rd April 2008 from ; http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/372/952

Moran, L., Rumble, G (2004). Vocational education and training through open and distance learning. Kentucky: Routledge

Siragusa, L., Dixon, K. C., Dixon, L. (2007) Designing quality e-learning environments in higher education. Conference presentation, Ascilite 2007 Singapore

Second life and flexibility in learning

Those who have looked at my midwifery blog will know that I have had an interest in second life and have been considering the educational potential of this virtual world for students. When we have students who are at a distance from one another I think second life could be useful for collaboration and establishing a sense of community. It does require a good internet connection however and also a good quality computer. I was perusing the internet today and found a conference presentation delivered by Sarah Robbins “Intellagirl”. this presentation gives a great overview of second life as an educational tool. She also describes the characteristics of the average student population and how this is evolving. It is a worthwhile view when considering flexible course delivery and presents some excellent arguments about why learners need flexibility in courses. Click on the view presentation on the page linked to conference presentation. When I played this video it stalled half way through, I managed to fix this by fast forwarding a couple of times and it started to play again. It is wise to stop the video from playing and allowing the whole thing to load before trying to play it. This will allow it to play without stopping and starting, which can be annoying.

Another very interesting aspect of this presentation is the Medialandscape player which is the software application through which it is delivered. This plays the video and also presents the slide show alongside. I am hugely impressed with this tool and would love to learn more about it.

Techno-savy or Techno-challenged

For week three of the DFLP course we are asked to comment on a post from Leigh Blackall’s blog on the topic of flexible learning, providing supporting or counter arguments and supporting evidence. I have decided to comment on his posting Revisiting content is not king. Connectivity is priority KAREN . In this post Leigh suggests that, for learners, connecting with one another and establishing professional networks has primary importance over the delivery of course content. He suggests that a lot of content is ignored, and that learning occurs primarily through social interaction between course participants. Leigh goes on to present data which suggests that only 33% of New Zealand households have a broadband internet connection. Most people therefore do not have high speed internet access which may impact on their ability to connect through this medium.

Vgotsky theorised (thanks to Bronwyn for this link) that social interaction plays a fundamental role in cognitive development. He focussed on the connections between people and their socio-cultural context. When considering continuing professional development for health professionals, research has consistently found a preference for keeping up to date with current practice, through practice communities and professional networks. Communities of practice may be used for problem solving, sharing information, sharing resources, discussing developments as well as establishing where there is existing knowledge or gaps in knowledge and highlighting areas worthy of further investigation (Fahey & Monaghan, 2005; Gabbay & Le May, 2004; Lee, 2006; Tolson McAloon, Hotchkiss & Schofield, 2005; Wenger, 2006). I recently completed a course [Facilitating online learning communities ] where I explored the use of online tools to support the development of learning communities.

I agree that practice communities, and group interaction, play a large role in learning. I also believe that learning is life long. We need our students to learn the skills, and access resources, that will support their continuing learning and development after they have completed their course of study, and gained accreditation in their chosen profession. There is also a significant amount of course content that students need to access and interact with. In the traditional classroom setting this would be done through the delivery of lectures, in the new flexible model of course delivery, there is an opportunity to reconsider this, and look at other ways to guide students to this material and support their learning. George Siemens discusses the concept of curatorial teaching. He suggests that lecturers provide access to resources for students to peruse and learn from. Gilly Salmon developed a five stage model for e-moderation, which is an alternative to traditional teaching for the online environment. The e-moderator and the curator seem to share some aspects in common. Both encourage autonomy for the learner, while they also provide direction to resources that will support learning. Salmon’s model provides a framework for scaffolding learning, as students learn and develop more knowledge of their topic.

As the time is fast approaching when we will be delivering our midwifery course through a more flexible model, with much of the course delivered at a distance, these issues are taking on greater urgency for me. If community is an important component of learning, how can we support students, who are geographically distant from each other, to develop connections and a sense of community? I provide a rural midwifery locum service, and I am aware of the slow internet connections in places that I work. These locations and other similar locations, are where our students will be located. Kildea et al (2006) identified technical difficulties and communication problems amongst rural and remote rural midwives in Australia in relation to the provision of education resources. How can we overcome technical difficulties to support student communities and facilitate learning? I am not sure that these issues have been addressed. I am interested to see the KAREN project, which Leigh referred to, and which promises high speed internet access for universities and education institutions, but will this help midwifery students located in rural areas?

During the previous course I learned a great deal about web 2.0 and social networking tools. I am now familiar with tools such as RSS, blogs, wikis igoogle, del-ici-ous, YouTube, Flickr, Creative commons etc. These things have very quickly, over the last 6 months, become part of my life and make my online existence much easier and more satisfying. It has been a huge journey and has taken a lot of time to become reasonably comfortable and familiar with these tools. I am aware however that I am in a minority in the midwifery, and perhaps even the education, community. Just accessing email is enough for many. I do believe that it is of considerable importance that staff involved in flexible delivery are familiar and comfortable with the use of at least some of these tools, but I see no real commitment from individuals or programme managers to promote acquisition of these skills. When we embark on the flexible delivery of our midwifery course we will have enough to think about just getting to grips with the course without also having to gain new skills with web 2.0 tools. I have started a blog with a group of students I am working with this year. It is early yet but is not being used much at the moment.

How can we support the techno-challenged to become the techno-savy? Do we need to? Can a course of study be delivered in a flexible mode, with a proportion of distance learning and online components without familiarity with these tools? Only time will tell I think.


Image: Hip Hop Connected. Jayes fluid step1: From Scott Eric William’s photos at flickr.com


Gabbay, J., & Le-May, A. (2004). Evidence based guidelines or collectively constructed “mindlines”? Ethnographic study of knowledge management in primary care. British Medical Journal, 329, 1013-1017.

Gosling, A. S., Westbrook, J. L., & Spencer, R. (2004). Nurses use of online clinical evidence. Journal of Advanced Nursing,

Kildea, S., Barclay, L., & Brodie, P. (2006). Maternity care in the bush: using internet to provide educational resources to isolated practitioners [Electronic Version]. Rural and Remote Health. Retrieved 10th September 2006 fromhttp://rrh.deakin.edu.au.47(2), 201-211.

Lee, S. W.-Y. (2006). The interplay between self directed learning and social interactions: Collaborative knowledge building in online problem-based discussion. Paper presented at the 7th International conference on learning sciences. ICLS’06., Bloomington IN.

Tolson, D., McAloon, M., Hotchkiss, R., & Schofield, I. (2005). Progressing evidence-based practice: an effective nursing model? Journal of Advanced Nursing, 50(2), 124-133.

Wenger, E. (2006). Communities of practice, a brief introduction. Retrieved 29th December 2006, from http://www.ewenger.com/theory/index.htm


Individualised flexible learning

The only constant is change (Heraclitus, 535BC-475BC). As we move through life the wisdom of these words becomes more evident, particularly at this point in the 21st Century.

Nugget point

I came to New Zealand in 1981 and embarked on a journey of learning and discovery in my midwifery career. At that time maternity care was ‘service focussed’ . Care was based on ritual and tradition rather than evidence and best practice. Over the space of the following decade women and midwives lobbied for change seeking a more woman centred form of care. The midwife woman partnership model, which is now embedded in legislation and is the basis of the maternity service in New Zealand, was the result of a great deal of hard work and involved significant change for women, midwives and the medical establishment. Although most women and midwives have embraced this model, there are still a few from both sides who do not, they retain aspects of the old service based model, where ritual and traditional practice prevails and choice for women is limited.

As I learn more about this new career of mine, tertiary teaching, it seems to me that we are moving along a similar path. Traditional teaching practices are based on a didactic pedagogy, where expert teachers prepare and deliver information to students who passively absorb the information. Eventually students sit exams where they provide the answers the teacher is looking for gaining the appropriate qualification. The sum total of their knowledge on the topic is what has been imparted to them and they have few skills or desire to seek further knowledge or information. They are now the experts and have the knowledge to perform whatever task it is that they have been trained to perform. This was fairly much the basis of my nursing and midwifery education. Teaching is standardised to meet the needs of the class and the institution. Students are required to suppress their individual needs to the needs of the group, learning is standardised. To me the limitations of this model of education are quite obvious. With the freedom to share information knowledge is being shared and new knowledge is being generated continuously. Learners need skills in assimilating and critiquing this. They need to be adaptable and responsive to change.

We are here now debating the merits of flexible learning, why do we need flexible learning what is the background to flexible learning what is the theory and basis for it. Principally I would say flexible learning is important because we are diverse in our learning styles and in our past experience on which we build our present learning. Therefore every individual in a class or course of study will have differing learning needs. As educators we need to be flexible to these needs and have the ability to treat each learner as an individual. It seems that education is moving in a similar direction to the midwifery profession. Each student is an individual with individual learning needs and education needs to be responsive to that.Using
Knowles androgogical approach allows learners to build on prior knowledge and grow through experimentation and experience. Students are able to identify their own learning needs and work at their own pace and in their own time to meet the learning goals they have developed in consultation with a course facilitator. The facilitator provides guidance to the student and provides resources which may assist their learning.

Industry sets some limits on total flexibility. There are specific learning outcomes that must be met. There is a particular time frame in which a course must be completed. Educators need to work with students to identify how and when the will meet these learning goals which need to identified and clearly articulated to the student. This ministry of education report outlines what is meant by excellence in teaching. To meet these goals of excellence we need to be responsive to the learner, for example;

  • Quality teaching recognises and builds on students’ prior experiences and knowledge.
  • New information is linked to student experiences.
  • Student diversity is utilised effectively as a pedagogical resource.
  • Quality teaching respects and affirms cultural identity (including gender identity) and optimises educational opportunities.
  • Teachers have knowledge of the nature of student learning processes in the curriculum area, can interpret student behaviour in the light of this knowledge and are responsive, creative and effective in facilitating learning processes.
  • Examples of teaching approaches that are intended to exemplify this characteristic are the dynamic or flexible literacy models, the numeracy strategy focus and the Interactive Teaching Approach in science education.
  • Classroom management enables the teacher to be responsive to diverse learners.
  • Responsive teaching is important for all learners and particularly critical for students with special needs.

All of the above require a flexible and responsive approach to education and student learning. These ideas are a synthesis of the best available evidence so it would seem that evidence supports what seems to me to be so obvious, we are flexible learners and learning is optimised when ti is individualised.

Learners also learn best in learning communities and this is something that educators also need to support

  • Pedagogical practices create an environment that works as a learning community.
  • Student motivation is optimised and students’ aspirations are supported and extended.
  • Caring and support is generated through the practices and interactions of teacher(s) and students

Perhaps we need a partnership model in education?

Learning contract

One way to support and facilitate flexible learning is for the student and the lecturer to develop a learning contract. As stated in my previous post, adult learners are self motivated, learning best when course structure is individualised to the needs of the learner. Knowles described this type of learning as androgogical learning, where the learner takes responsibility for their own learning and the teacher is a facilitator, providing resources, guidance and support. Knowles developed the idea of learning contracts to support this self directed individualised process (Jarvis, Holford & Griffin, 2003).

where is our contract

When forming a learning contract Knowles recommended the following steps

  • diagnose your learning needs
  • specify your learning objectives
  • specify learning resources and strategies
  • specify evidence of accomplishments
  • specify how the evidence will be validated
  • review your contract with consultants
  • carry out the contract
  • evaluate your learning

(Jarvis et al., 2003, pg 107)

Learning contracts can be developed in partnership between the lecturer and the student. Learning contracts also call on Kolb’s four stage learning cycle. (See also my previous post) . In this instance the student can be provided with a learning objective, they can then observe and reflect on this within the learning contract. The student can then enter stage three of the learning cycle with abstract conceptualisation when they identify applicability to their learning and professional requirements. Stage four would occur when the learning that has occurred to this point is carried forward into practice, and the cycle continues once more.

When considering a flexible option for midwifery education this would seem to form a good basis for learning for students. The partnership that is required between the student and lecturer models the midwife woman partnership that is the basis of the midwifery profession in New Zealand (Stewart, 2004).


Jarvis, P., Holford, J., Griffin, C. (2003). The theory and practice of learning. New York: Routledge.

Stewart, M. (2004). Pregnancy, birth and maternity care. Feminist perspectives. London: Elsevier.

Image: New York Daily, where is our contract. Anthony Topper’s photos at flickr.com

Is flexible learning a new concept or just a fancy new word?

Is flexible learning a new concept or just a fancy new word for an old way of doing?

We are flexible learners

Human beings are designed for flexible learning from the time we are born we start to learn through experience and experimentation. Although closely related learning is not the same as education. Learning is the process through which knowledge is acquired by an individual, education is the process by which knowledge is imparted for the purpose of making changes to knowledge, skills and attitudes of individuals, groups or communities (Knowles & Swanson, 2005). Education has the intention of stimulating learning. John Dewey (1859-1952) believed that education should engage with and enlarge on experience, I find his thoughts on education remarkable as he died in the year I was born and I did not notice his influence in any part of my formal education as a child. Dewey considered reflection on experience to be a key element in the learning process. Knowles (2005) believed that adults learn differently to children, adults seek out learning and knowledge and relate this to their prior knowledge and previous experience. Practical experience is a key component of learning for adult learners. Learning occurs through establishing neural pathways, there has been a great deal of research in this area of learning in recent years (Winkley, 2008) listening to music and engaging in physical activity can enhance the ability to absorb and retain information.

Learning styles

Not all people learn in the same way this has been explained through various theories.

One such theory is Kolb’s learning styles:

Kolb stated that learning occurs in a four stage cycle. Learning begins with stage one with a concrete experience, this provides the opportunity for stage two observation and reflection and is followed by stage three, abstract conceptualization, when these reflections and observations are assimilated and finally stage four, where there is active experimentation and this new learning is tested, this may provide an experience which starts the cycle of learning once again.

This cycle is matched by four learning styles, diverging, assimilating, converging and accommodating, illustrated in this diagram. These four styles sit alongside the learning cycle and lead to learning preferences where individuals prefer to learn by feeling and thinking or by doing and watching

Kolb suggests that learning styles may change through the individuals life cycle. During the school years individuals are mainly acquiring knowledge, during early adulthood individuals have a specialised learning style and in mid to later life they are integrating knowledge.

Following is copied from Kolb’s learning styles

  • Diverging (feeling and watching – CE/RO) – These people are able to look at things from different perspectives. They are sensitive. They prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems. They are best at viewing concrete situations several different viewpoints. Kolb called this style ‘Diverging’ because these people perform better in situations that require ideas-generation, for example, brainstorming. People with a Diverging learning style have broad cultural interests and like to gather information. They are interested in people, tend to be imaginative and emotional, and tend to be strong in the arts. People with the Diverging style prefer to work in groups, to listen with an open mind and to receive personal feedback.
  • Assimilating (watching and thinking – AC/RO) – The Assimilating learning preference is for a concise, logical approach. Ideas and concepts are more important than people. These people require good clear explanation rather than practical opportunity. They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organising it a clear logical format. People with an Assimilating learning style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. People with this style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value. These learning style people is important for effectiveness in information and science careers. In formal learning situations, people with this style prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through.
  • Converging (doing and thinking – AC/AE) – People with a Converging learning style can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues. They prefer technical tasks, and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects. People with a Converging learning style are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories. They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems. People with a Converging learning style are more attracted to technical tasks and problems than social or interpersonal issues. A Converging learning style enables specialist and technology abilities. People with a Converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to simulate, and to work with practical applications.
  • Accommodating (doing and feeling – CE/AE) – The Accommodating learning style is ‘hands-on’, and relies on intuition rather than logic. These people use other people’s analysis, and prefer to take a practical, experiential approach. They are attracted to new challenges and experiences, and to carrying out plans. They commonly act on ‘gut’ instinct rather than logical analysis. People with an Accommodating learning style will tend to rely on others for information than carry out their own analysis. This learning style is prevalent and useful in roles requiring action and initiative. People with an Accommodating learning style prefer to work in teams to complete tasks. They set targets and actively work in the field trying different ways to achieve an objective.
  • The above was copied from Kolbs learning styles

Other learning styles and theories

There are many other theories associated with learning these are listed here. The major framework covering adult learning is the Constructivist Theory which suggests learning occurs through constructing new ideas and concepts based on previous knowledge and experience.

Learners may also be classified as Visual, Auditory, Readers (writers) or Kinaesthetic. These may be learners who prefer to see, hear or do. Learners may also be a mix of these styles but usually have a preference for one more than the others. There are various online tests to help test your Vark learning preferences.

As technology has developed it has been used to support learning. This has been so from the beginning of time. In my family we have some old slates and lead that were used for previous generations school work. In 1948 distance learning began in Australia, with the School of the Air, when the Royal Flying Doctors radio service was used to broadcast school lessons to children living remotely. Adult education has generally been delivered in a flexible manner with classes being offered in the evening and at weekends.

Differences in learning styles require learning to be delivered in a flexible manner to take account of difference. What we learn builds on our previous experience which is unique to each individual , therefore learning opportunities need to be delivered in a flexible manner taking account of individual preferences. Where we live affects how and when we can access education. As communication technology has developed it has been used to support education and learning. Flexible learning is not a new phenomenon but has become a topic of greater awareness and concern in recent years. This has occurred in part due to greater uptake of higher education as well as increased knowledge of difference in learning styles and learning preference.


Knowles, M., Swanson, R. A. (2005), The adult learner. (6th Ed) New York: Butterworth Heinemann

Flexible learning: it is not just about distance (Collins, Moonen, 2001)

This is a review and critique of readings (Collins & Moodie, 2001) for week one of the Designing for flexible learning practice course .

Learning to learn

Image from: Miffdesigners photos at flickr.com

This reading outlines what is meant by the term “flexible learning” . This term is often confused with online learning or e-learning (Khan, 2005), although delivery may be a component of some courses delivered in a flexible manner it is only one of many ways in which flexibility can be achieved. Flexible learning is learner centred and allows students greater flexibility in their learning experience. Flexibility can be achieved in a variety of ways. Consideration can be given to flexibility of time for course work and timing of assessments. There may be flexibility in the content where a loose structure allows students to explore. There may be flexibility around the entry requirements for a course or how and when a course is delivered. Course material may also be delivered in a variety of flexible ways. The degree of flexibility that can be achieved in any course will be individual to the particular course and the expectations of outcomes for the students. Flexibility can provide increased opportunities for those who would otherwise find study difficult to achieve, those with young families who would find full time study difficult, those who are employed full or part time and are unable to attend regular classes or those who live at a distance from the place of learning (Collins, 2001). People with a particular disability may also find this type of study more do-able. Collins et al. suggest that the underlying factor governing the success of a flexibly delivered course is the culture and support of the institution. Various ways of making the content and processes of a course more flexible are discussed and also the restraints that may influence the degree of flexibility that can be achieved. A formula for is presented in chart form with x and y axes. X is the degree of flexibility and Y is the goal of the activities. The tighter the angle the less flexibility can be achieved, more of the course content is material delivered to and acquired by the student. The looser the angle the more flexibility can be achieved. In this instance learning occurs through participation and contribution to group learning and less is through material which is delivered. Acquisition therefore leads to less flexibility and participation leads to more flexibility. Knowles (1991) suggests that adult learners learn best by participating as opposed to passively acquiring information. Learners need a higher level of self motivation when participating in flexible learning. Some students may find the degree of self direction particularly challenging and may require individual strategies to help them achieve. Instructors in this type of course need to be responsive to the individual needs of students. Flexibility for the student also means flexibility for the instructor who may be able to also be more flexible in their working hours Collins et al suggest that the instructor could respond to students at any time, even at home with a cup of tea in hand. Greater flexibility for students is a challenge for institutions not only in the complexity of providing resources to enable greater flexibility but also in the challenge of supporting students and staff who feel that change is being forced on them and resist change. Staff may not be willing to be so flexible in their hours of work.

I am already familiar with many of the aspects of flexible delivery as our institution Otago Polytechnic have been moving towards greater flexibility in delivery of courses for several years now. Since I have been employed here, over the last 5 years, the School of Midwifery have made significant changes to the way the course is delivered and further major change is due to occur next year. We will be merging with Christchurch Polytechnic school of midwifery and working in an entirely new curriculum which has been developed over the last couple of years in consultation with Christchurch. This course will involve students living at a distance from the institution and a larger component of online delivery. We will retain face to face delivery of essential components of the course. A small core of staff from both schools have been working on the new curriculum but the hard work of putting this into action is just beginning now. In preparation for this I enrolled in Facilitating online learning communities and now this current course Designing for flexible learning practice. I am motivated, interested and keen to learn about technology and its use in supporting flexible learning for our students. I am not sure that this is so for all staff and I foresee many challenges ahead. As components of the course are being delivered online, currently through blackboard, some students have expressed concern and anxiety about the level of self directed learning involved. With support students have managed to cope and usually change their thinking about the online component. Students enrolling in a course where they understand a large proportion is delivered at a distance may have a different perspective and expectation. The added value to the student needs to be identified. At the moment I feel that the success or failure of this venture will rest heavily on the willingness of the staff to go the extra mile. I am concerned that there may be a presumption of cost saving in an exercise such as this, where in fact the evidence, including this reading, suggest it may actually cost more in financial terms (Collins et al, 2001)

I am also interested in making courses that we currently run for registered midwives more widely available through open access to the course material. I would like to see us offer greater support to midwifery in the developing world through access to open course material. To this end I have made contact with a midwife overseas and hope to be able to work on a joint venture in time which would see courses for continuing professional development for midwives being made available in open access format that will benefit midwives locally and internationally. I have established two midwifery wikis. One is more general information on midwifery and the profession and practice of the midwife and the other is a wiki supporting midwives collaborating in second life.


Collins, B., Moonen, J. (2001) Flexible learning in a digital world. Open and distance learning series. London: Kegan Page Ltd.

Khan, B.H. (2005). Learning features in an open, flexible, and distributed environment. AACE Journal, 13(2), 137-153.

Knowles, M. S. (1990). The adult learner: A neglected species. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company.

Fled to wordpress

I have decided it is time for a new blog.

The reason for this is that I have enrolled in another course at Otago Polytechnic . This is an open access course available to anyone on the world wide web but also forms part of the certificate in graduate teaching and learning offered through Otago Polytechnic. The course is Design for Flexible Learning Practice .

My other blog is on Blogger  but I have decided it is time to give WordPress a go. I also want to keep my blogger blog for Midwifery and Midwifery education and I want to be able to explore flexible learning more fully in this blog.

So welcome all to this blog which I will develop up more as time permits.  This is just the start