Friday, April 3, 2009

Helping Gerald through Flexible Delivery

Gerald is a mild mannered man from a mild mannered town who just wants to improve his lot in life. But life is making it difficult for Gerald to do so.

Gerald would dearly love to study towards being a Personal Trainer. He’s enjoyed sport and exercise since he was a young lad, however, nowadays he does very little exercise and he just can’t seem to find the time to study.

You see, Gerald works hard during the day as a refuse relocation specialist. He starts work at 6am (having woken at 5am) and finishes close to 6pm most nights of the week. Gerald works long hours to feed and support his pregnant wife, Geraldine and their three under five year old children, Godfrey, Georgina and little Gerald Junior. At the end of his working day Gerald (Senior) helps Geraldine prepare dinner and feed the children. Once he’s helped put the children to bed Gerald helps Geraldine clean up the house and do the dishes (no dishwasher in his house!).

Finally, by the time 8.30pm rolls around Gerald has some time to himself.

What are the current barriers between Gerald and my Exercise Psychology course?

Given Gerald’s very busy lifestyle, as well as the fact that he’s “computer challenged” and internet connection lacking (at home), the opportunities for him to successfully complete my Exercise Psychology course are quite limited.

At this stage, to successfully complete my course Gerald would, at the very least, need to learn how to use a computer and have an internet connection so he could access the online computer resources for this course on BlackBoard. Gerald would also need to make time to do the course readings and get access to course texts either through a library or purchase them himself.

What can Gerald and I do to help him study my course?

Unfortunately, there is no way around the fact that Gerald will have to:

  • make time to fit in his studies.
He has some time available during the evenings as well as during the weekends when he can study. I would suggest that Gerald will have to come to an:

  • agreement with Geraldine and the children as to when his study time will be, and ensure that everyone commits to this agreement.

    As the old saying goes, if he “always does what he’s always done, he’ll always have what he’s always got” (source unknown).

In order for Gerald (and others in a similar situation) to succeed in my course I will need to make some changes, thereby making my teaching more flexible.

  1. I could put together a hard copy package of study materials, that I could send out to Gerald. These materials might include a course outline, study guide, lecture material and suggested readings that Gerald could access via the Bill Robertson Library. Gerald could then work through these materials at a pace that is comfortable and timely for him.

  2. I could also arrange with Gerald a time during which he could call me should he have any study questions. As I work from 8am-4pm most days, it may be most convenient for Gerald to call me during his lunch or “tea” breaks.

Through flexible teaching I will be better able to meet the needs of Gerald and others in a similar position.


  1. I wonder if Gerry could be listening to an audio recording of the notes and lectures while he was relocating refuse?

  2. Aside from the changes that both you and Gerald can make to accommodate the course, there is another avenue of support which may or may not be available for Gerald. That is the support of his employer.

    Employers need to wisen up that employees will eventually seek their opportunities elsewhere if they cannot meet their needs in their present situation. For example, Gerald may decide to move to Dunedin in order to follow his dream (to complete your course) if it is important enough to him. This would mean that his employer would lose a hard-working and stable employee.

    I would suggest that Gerald ask his employer about the possibility of support (eg. paying fees, time off work) to attend some computer training courses. Secondly, his employer may be able to make a PC in the workplace available for Gerald to use. This would give him the opportunity to do his course work away from the distractions of family life.

    Then when Gerald graduates and is ready to become a personal trainer, he might be able to work part-time while continuing his job in refuse collection. Later, he might even start a gym in his own town - who knows!

    If employers have enough foresight to support their employees in these ways, then they will reap the benefits in terms of having a higher skilled team who are more motivated and happy in their lives because they can envision bright futures for themselves. Also, small communities benefit where local people can meet their needs locally and contribute entrpreneurally to the community through new products, services and facilities.


  3. I think Gerald and the pregnant and little Gs actually need Gerald to stay home and be the excellent husband you have portrayed. :) If he starts taking on the pressure of studying he might become grumpy Gerald especially when the computer or the MP3 player fails to work and he starts to get behind....not only in his studies but also in his rubbish relocation when he stops to fix the MP3 player. Good suggestion leigh but have you heard how noisy the trucks are and the traffic?! :(

    I am not keen on a grumpy Gerald and neither will Geraldine be I am sure especially with a 4th baby G on the way. Of course Gerald may soon lose interest in rubbish relocation (Gary you are a hoot!) and get grumpy anyway when he spends his days and boring no study evenings, constantly dreaming about his lost opportunities as a personal trainer. With muscles wasted on rubbish and not rich clients. :(

    Soooo.........perhaps Tracey's suggestion is the best - get his employer on board and get some funding and time off to study. That way Mamma & Papa G and the three baby Gs plus one can live happily ever after. Is it a goer?