Tuesday, June 16, 2009

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.


  1. I think its great that you are inspired by the Cooks and their use of video blogging on Youtube. My question is, have you seen their Moodle? I haven't. I'm not sure they even use Moodle.. what if their videos where in Moodle? Would we even be talking about them? Would their future students?

    My point is, there are a lot of gains that can be made by posting your content out on these content networking sites, and then recompiling them inside Moodle for your students if there is reason to use Moodle - which I imagine you do have good reasons.

    That way, you are separating your content from the educational process, and focusing on what Moodle IS good for.. communication around content, and some the course features like quizes etc.

    Potential students, past students and current students might for example be Google searching topics you have assigned, or that they've heard about in school. It would be very good if your videos on Youtube, your slides on Slideshare, your course notes on Blogger etc, all came up in those searches. And then when they do finally enroll, all that content is in there, embedded, but ordered in a way that makes good clear sense, instead of the chaos that is outside.

    Access to prerequisite information, past students can keep accessing your course, future students can start getting comfortable with your content, existing students can start identifying your content where it is when they don't have access to Moodle, and your staff focus on Moodle's abilities to support teaching and learning processes, rather than worrying about how to build content in it.

  2. I think I see your point Leigh. I understand you are keen on the idea of education being free and students just having to pay for qualifications, we’ve discussed this before.

    I see the value of running with your suggestions. I guess my ability to implement the idea of putting my material/course out there for the world to see will come down to when am I comfortable doing that.

    Perhaps I need to take a leep out of my comfort zone (Blackboard/Moodle)…

  3. Leigh is so passionate about free education and it is great to have voice around your passion. Should carpenters also build houses for free, should we expect to eat for free in restaurants. Why is it that what we do as teachers, that our intellectual property should be freely accessible to anyone who wants it. Why is it that you think our gift should not hold value in the market place? A little bit of history tells us that if you do not put value on the gifts you bring - nobody else will. And if it has no value, why bother working hard to make it the best that it can be. I have spent years aguing in various forums for the importance of placing value on parenting. I guess the irony for me in all this talk of free access education is that a significant factor in promoting 'flexible' learning and certainly in making our material available online is surely to promote our courses and bring in more paying students thus making our courses more profitable and dare I say it, sustainable! I say this in the context of being a person who happily and willingly shares everything I have. I also say it from a place where I absolutely have not yet formed an opinion one way or the other and as always I am open to intelligent reasoning.