Friday, June 19, 2009

Flexible Delivery Plan for PST 1 on You Tube

I've posted my Flexible Delivery Plan for Psychological Skills Training One (PST 1) on You Tube

I'ts 9 minutes 42 seconds long.

I welcome you to have a look at it, to ask questions and provide feedback via this blog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My flexible learning idea

I’m looking at making one of my first year courses, Psychological Skills Training 1 (PST 1), a first year sport spychology course more, ‘flexible’.

Please note that although I will be making greater use of electronic media in order to make PST 1 more flexible in design I will be prepared to provide hard copy resources to students should they not have sufficient electronic access (i.e., they don’t have internet access) or, alternatively, do whatever it takes to enable potential students to learn any time, any place, anywhere.

Initial contact/block course

Although it will not be possible for all students to come this might be a good icebreaker and help develop a sense of ‘group’ within the class. Information covered in the contact/block course will be available in other forms (e.g., written, discussed on Eluminate).

Students could firstly identify why they are studying

The course could begin with a brief overview of what sport psychology is, which is important as sport psychology is often misunderstood. This way everyone will start off on the same page.

In an effort to develop autonomy and ‘buy in’ throughout the class, the next step could be to have them contribute to the design of the course by identifying common topics that they would like to know more about. Perhaps I could offer a range of different topics which would best fit with the aims and learning outcomes of the course and the students could vote or discuss and agree upon which one’s they feel will be of most value to their learning or sporting performance, or most interesting.

When the content of the course is established the next step could be to identify the preferred methods of assessment for the course and dates by which assessment tasks should be submitted. Again, this strategy may assist in the development of a sense of autonomy and help to create ‘buy in’ to the assessment strategies.

Lessons on how to use Moodle and Eluminate will also be provided during the contact course.

Main teaching strategies

At this stage I see the main learning material being provided on Moodle in the form of presentations with voiceovers. The information will also be available in written form for those without internet access. It may also be possible to make class material available on podcasts and down loadable from Moodle.

Note: It is important that this course remains more than just being about information transfer. As such, students will be challenged on a regular basis to consider how the information applies to their sporting experience, and how they can utilize the information in a practical sense. .

I will be available to answer questions via e-mail and telephone on a daily basis.

Also using Moodle -

‘Discussion’ boards could be organized and could be used by students and myself to ‘discuss’ questions that arise throughout the course. These could also be used to discuss current events in sport that relate particularly well to sport psychology, and anything else that students want to discuss.

Weekly Eluminate sessions could be used for tutorial purposes and could cover similar material to that covered in discussion groups.

Face to face lectures would be available on a regular basis in order to meet the needs of students who enjoy contact time.

By using Moodle, Eluminate and face to face sessions I will be able to keep track of the students and get a feel for who is ‘engaging’ in the course.

Students will also be made aware of suitable resources both electronic and hard copy that may assist in their learning including textbooks, journals, CD ROM, blogs and websites.

You Tube - With there being so much information available on You Tube these days I could provide links to relevant interviews or situations that link back to course material.

In lectures I use quite a lot of video footage from recent sporting events as examples of where, when, how sport psychology knowledge or lack thereof can influence performance. Such footage could be viewed in a contact/block course.

Lesson – Massey University used to send out DVD’s with video footage on them, however they reportedly found this to be quite expensive and have since reverted to showing video footage in extramural contact courses.


Please keep in mind that the majoirity of students studying PST 1 are between 17 and 18 years of age and are involved in their first year of tertiary study. The value of being able to run flexible courses cannot be denied, the ability to reach more students is likely to be good for all involved. However, looking back through my previous blogs (May 6th) reminds me how challenging flexible study and self-directed learning can be.

In order to succeed students must develop the ability to monitor and control their study habits. Without this ability, no amount of flexibility in learning and teaching is going to enable the student to achieve.

I have some concerns…

I am concerned about the capability of younger students (i.e., 17 – 19) being able to self-manage their studies. Although I am not yet aware of research looking at this issue (perhaps someone could lead me in the right direction) my concerns stem from a variety of experiences including:

1. My own experiences as a student around that age (“motivationally distracted”!)

2. My teaching experiences with students in this age bracket – many, especially young men, appear to struggle with time management and commitment to study responsibility, as did I.

3. Reports from colleagues in other institutions that student self-management appears to have become worse in recent years. It has been anecdotally suggested that this is at least in part due to recent changes in high school teaching and assessment structures.

In an effort to help my students overcome such concerns I will need to come up with strategies to help them get and remain on track.

Getting and keeping on track

In a previous blog (May 6th) I discussed the personal value of an exercise that involved me analysing my reasons for wanting to get and remain involved in my studies. This is why I will utilise a similar exercise in the initial contact/block course so that students are clearer as to what they want to achieve from their studies. If the students can identify such reasons they may be better placed to push through the ‘challenging’ times.

In addition to the exercise above, which relates back to both the students study and sporting performance I will make use of other strategies (see initial contact/block course, main teaching strategies) to, hopefully, both aid their studying and help keep them ‘on track’.

Well, that's a start, constructive comments and feedback on these ideas would be greatly appreciated.

What examples of flexible learning does my idea draw on?

The ideas that I’ve used for the development of this course come from a variety of sources and experiences.

I’ve drawn on my experiences as a student and a lecturer. I have an understanding of how the University of Otago and Massey University have used distance education. I also feel that I have an understanding of my students given that I have taught for several years now but also having been there and made the mistakes that I made.

I‘ve drawn on ideas from the Midwifery Department at Otago Polytechnic and their use of Moodle, block courses and Eluminate. Feedback regarding the strategies used by the Midwifery department at this stage appears promising, however, as a teacher of younger students I proceed with caution.

Terry Marler did a discussion with the OISA staff last week regarding Moodle and, in so doing, helped me appreciate the flexibility of this on-line learning tool.

Taking part in the flexible learning course itself has provided valuable insights into what is possible with flexible learning. Feedback from staff and fellow students has been very much valuable and appreciated.

Previous courses that I’ve taken part in on my way to completing the GCTLT have provided valuable ideas. For example, the Assessing and Evaluating for Learning course run by Heather Day has given me some great ideas about assessment within my flexible course.

How does my flexible learning plan fit with the Otago Polytechnics strategic directions?

In a previous blog I outlined the OISA’s strategic direction (May 14th). I believe that the ideas presented fit well with the direction in which we are heading.

Q. How does it achieve this?

A. Flexible approaches are identified in the document and include but are not limited to: blended delivery, e mail, online resources, animations, simulations, video clips, audio material, (pod casting) case scenarios, discussions as well maintaining face to face contact. The direction that I suggested for the flexible development of PST 1 makes use of many of these learning tools.

I will need to further up skill in order to be able to run the flexible delivery of PST 1 in a smooth and efficient manner. I see this as being an ongoing process as more user friendly, flexible delivery options (especially in terms of electronic resources) become available.

Student support will be readily available throughout the course via the various contact methods previously discussed. In addition, as and when required students can be easily referred to the appropriate student support services offered by the Polytechnic.

Considerations, risks & concerns in implementing my plan for flexible learning

It will be challenging to successfully run a course of this nature within a programme that is still largely based around face to face delivery (lectures, tutorials, practical sessions) however I am confident that it is ‘doable’.

I am going to need to up skill in the use of technologies for example Eluminate and Moodle in order to be able to use them well.

Despite my/our best efforts it will not be possible to meet everyone’s needs all of the time.

Although this type of design is likely to enable me to ‘reach’ more students, I believe that it will require more time, especially in the early stages, to prepare material, to get administration issues sorted out, and to ensure that students have access to the materials, wherever they may be.

I will need to make time to re-organize the existing course.

As previously mentioned, given that the majority of students are quite young, it may be useful to make use of podcasts along similar lines to those used by the cookery department at the Polytechnic (hyperlink). It seems that many students have an IPod these days for listening to music and watching movies so these may be a valuable resource for helping students gain access to the course information.

I am going to need to be quite flexible in terms of the resources that I have available for students. This will require me to have a broad range of resources in order to meet student needs from the outset (texts, websites etc).

Do the students have a clear enough understanding of sport psychology and what it aims to achieve in order to help construct a suitable schedule of topics?

I would be proceeding with caution given that I’m not sure how young students will respond to a largely self-directed learning course.

There will likely be students who have special learning needs that I will need to meet so as to help them learn. As such, I will need to be flexible in my approach and prepared to use my imagination come up with ways to meet these needs as we go.

Perhaps I also need to ask how the the students want to learn. Do the students want Moodle, discussion boards, Eluminate, voice over powerpoint presentations, face to face classes etc.

Access, equity, cultural sensitivity and sustainability

I believe that the strategies that I’ve mentioned previously should go a long way to making the PST 1 course available to any student anytime, anyplace, anywhere. However, it is up to me to make the necessary adjustments to my course in order to cater to the needs of the student.

In a previous blog (June 2nd) I discussed the use of self-determination theory, particularly the concept of autonomy and how I thought that it might be useful in terms of helping to develop equity, cultural sensitivity and sustainability. In the development of a more flexible PST 1 course I have attempted to make use of autonomy in regard to decisions as to the content and assessment of the PST 1 course, and perhaps need to also look at group decisions in terms of the course delivery itself. In doing so, I hope to help students develop a sense of ownership over their course, a sense of safety, a sense of opportunity, and all the while help them remain involved in the learning process.

The potential is there, but time will tell as to whether it works.

Constructive comments and feedback on these ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ideas from Meeting

Summary of issues from the meeting

One of the big things that came out of this meeting for me and which seems to me to be interrelated with the three issues discussed (i.e., culture, access and equity and sustainability) is the concept of autonomy.

How do you think you might treat these wider issues when you start developing your flexible learning idea?

The power of autonomy has been shown in research looking at Self-Determination Theory

I think that the issue of autonomy could be of great influence in my courses.

Firstly, cultural factors may link with autonomy. Students who feel like they “have a say” and can provide input into their course may not feel that they are faced with the same cultural prejudices as those who do not “have a say”; they may have a sense of control over their study situation.

Secondly, by having more choice about what they do, when they do it, and how they do it, students may be able to overcome personal barriers that may have otherwise limited their participation in a particular course.

Thirdly, in terms of sustainability, students who have a sense of autonomy over their learning may be more likely to remain involved over the long term. Students who have a feeling of ownership in regards to their studies may be more motivated to get as much out of the learning experience as they can.

So, the potentially far reaching influence of having a sense of autonomy in an educational context cannot be overlooked. It would be up to me to come up with ways to help students feel like they have a significant role in the development, teaching, and evaluation of courses. This would need to be negotiated at the beginning of each course.