Monday, June 22, 2009

Enrich student learning experiences

To me teaching is about the sharing and engaging of knowledge that enrich students through learning experiences encouraging them to be independent, motivated, responsible, self-directed learners. Finding there inspiration's/passion's and learn to embrace there and others diversities, not only in the insular teaching environment but there whole life experience.

"In times of change learners inherit

the earth; while the learned find themselves

beautifully equipped to deal with a world

that no longer exists."

-Eric Hoffer.

learning is about experience and reflecting on that experience : John Dewey has stated

"we do not learn from experience we learn from reflecting on experience"

These two areas are where I wish to focus both my teaching and this Flexible Learning assignment:
Through integrating and implementing experiential and reflective learning in a blended/engaging/enriching safe learning environment integrating individuality and diversity of learning styles .

Considerations will need to reflect:
1. Course descriptor and content of the course.
2. Honour diversity our philosophy.
3. Sustainability/time considerations so as the students are not over loaded with work.
4. The fact that our degree course will be fully implemented next year so changes within the course structure and content are in process.
5. Blended delivery and assessment.

Reflective Learning:Why reflect ? It is the language of reflection that deepens our knowledge, it is a form of mental processing- a form of thinking-that we use to achieve an outcome. Students learn from the process of creating, collecting, selecting and connecting engaging with the work, in doing so enhance there overall intellectual and practical development

Experiential learning: if we take Kolb learning styles, model and experiential learning theory (ELT)we can begin to understand individual peoples different learning styles and also the cycle of experiential learning that applies to us all.

  • Concrete Experience-CE (feeling)----V----Abstract Conceptualization-AC (thinking)

  • Active Experimentation-AE(doing)----V----Reflective Observation-RO(watching)

We internally decide whether we wish to do or watch, and at the same time we decide whether to feel or think.The result of these two decisions produces (and helps to form throughout our lives) the preferred learning style

Kolb's learning styles ( are a guide not a strict set of rules, never the less most people clearly exhibit clear strong preferences to a given learning style) and it is this learning style theory that is a part of my philosophy of teaching and area of focus for extending on flexible learning/delivery.

1. In more depth Kolb's approach talks of 'grasping experience' by either watching or doing. Watching involves reflecting on what happens, doing involves active experimentation.
2. At the same time we choose how to emotionally transform the experience through either abstract conceptualization-thinking (thinking, analyzing, or planing) or concrete experience- feeling(concrete,tangible, felt qualities).
3. In combining these choices kolb produces the preferred learning styles; diverging, assimilation,and converging, accommodating.

Learning styles:Vark

In knowing a persons (and your own) learning style one can then use a holistic and open approach with a blended, flexible delivery and assessment that of which Phil Kerr spoke of when discussing philosophy of the school .
If I can engage students in sharing in there learning/knowledge and understanding in ways to enrich others I believe that it would be a great accomplishment and wonderful learning tool that would enhance the learning and honour the diversity of all involved.

Flexible learning strategies

Textiles is my passion and I love teaching so it is my challenge to implement some flexible learning strategies, utilizing some of the students self directed time within the textile block and engage them in some group /pair/collaborating activities to enhance reflective learning.

Enhancing reflective learning through engaging students in shared activities within there self directed time allocation. Why have I chosen this and how would I implement this into my teaching programme?In doing this I will consider access and equity, sustainability, flexibility and cultural diversity.what do these consists of? How can these be improved and or implemented with in the ideas of enhancing reflective learning through engaging students in self directed sharing/group activities?

There is integration of student engagement through shared/group activities within the programmes directed hours, it is however the self directed area I wish to consolidate and get the students more proactive in reflective learning and use of self directed time.

However it is not only the unproductive use of allocated self directed time (by the percentage) of my year two students I have been concerned with but also the inconsistency in the timetabling of the textile block which can sometimes leave 3week gaps between 1 day a week classes!
This is frustrating for tutor and the students, introducing peer/ group activities within self directed times will be a proactive way to bring a coherence to these gaps within the course, resulting with more regular student engagement /interaction between classes will support flexible learning and at the same time students would become more proactive which would enhance reflective learning and instigate better use of self-directed time.

Shared group/ peer activities enhance student learning:
  • students would share and reflect on work through critiques/discussions and would result in cementing understanding in a variety of textiles and there processes. Enhancing sustainable and flexible learning.

  • students would offer peer support and encourage team work and contribute to each others learning. Would enhance sustainability.

  • student would bring with them a variety of learning techniques. Would honoring diversity.

  • students would share in diversity through there different skills and expertise. would improve access and equity.

  • students of mixed ages and level of learning would enhance cultural diversity.
These are contributing factors within the philosophy of the school which is to "honour diversity and promote principals of sustainable / flexible delivery and assessment, cultural diversity, assess and equity".

To integrate this I need to consider flexibility the types of interactions so that students could work independently at times but also in pairs and groups, with a brief to accomplish over a set self directed time frame.

Time is a commodity and we have so little, it is a sustainable consideration in keeping work loads down for both students and tutors.

Initially there would of course be more facilitation, interaction and direction needed from the tutor more 1 on 1 for the students to implement this idea into the course content, but hey do we not incorporate and implement change by way of new ideas/ways of delivery/ new content all the time! It is constant.

If we are not we would have to question how engaging our teaching and content really is.

As the time I speak of is allocated self directed time student work load would not increased it would be a more efficient, productive and more constructive use of time yes! that's what I am after.
Peer engagement/ interaction/ feed back and support is a great resource and under utilized, it is a very influential learning tool for all involved.

By integrating these peer/group activities students would be much more productive with there use of time therefore we are intergratiing sustainability as well.

It offers alternative ways of learning which would therefore engage the students in flexible learning.

And it would free up the tutor time and possibly content of the course therefore would be both more sustainable and flexible for the tutor. wow that's good aye!

The integration of this flexible learning plan needs consideration in the types of interactions so that students could still work independently at times but also in pairs and groups, with a brief to accomplish over a self directed time frame. Considering these types of interactions supports flexibility and I believe also addresses cultural diversity by acknowledging the individuality of each student
The implementation of self directed projects would enhance connections between not only the students and the course content but also enhance connection with the tutor and student and in doing so encourage acknowledgement of cultural diversity.

The integration of it would bring a coherence to the course by way of more regular student engagement /interaction in course material in between the timetabled classes.
As previously mentioned some times the course has been split with up to 3weeks in between 1 day a week classes(not very often) this interferes delivery of the course content and fluidity in learning.
My intentions are to link these disruptive times through self directed peer/ group sharing activities, this will not only improve delivery and fluidity of the course content and student learning in doing so will improve access and equity to the knowledge they need possibly resulting with less likely hood at some students feeling left out and neglected.

Group/ peer activities encourage the students to be self directed and enhance responsibility and independent reflective learning.

Initially this would take more time for the tutor however it would be cheaper in the long run making it more sustainable by improving peoples learning experience and enhancing there capability for life long learning thus helping the economy/workforce etc.....

Engage students in research/making/reflective learning/documenting these within there visual dairy is an extension and reflection of there knowledge and an integral tool which helps depict where they and there knowledge sits both individually and within the class, it improves access and equity and fosters cultural diversity.
It is also flexible in the way students may choose to keep there visual dairy/ workbook.

Learning to work as a team gives both peer support and helps students in gaining and strengthening both new and old skills promoting both positive and confident people fostering cultural diversity in learning to work along side and with other people and at the same time in doing so integrated access and equity.

It opens areas of further education and links with the graduate profile of the school in preparing holistic capable and well rounded students to move out into the work force students would gain and extend there creative exploration and applied research and collaboration within a studio based environment.

Group/ team work would capitalize on the time spent within group project and in doing so would implement sustainable time management for both student and tutor through reduced work load.

Students would honour diversity within the group through realizing the individual cultural diversity of each other.

Students would be introduced to and or engage with other students individual learning styles, not only implementing flexible learning by doing this but also bringing awareness to individual cultural diversity and access and equity through opening students eyes to other methods/ processes and thoughts giving them all an equal grounding for knowledge gathering.

Students would be able to choose individual areas of interest and link with like minded students shareing in the exploration and knowledge gathering within the programme this would free up and encourage play through the suport of peers and in doing so implementing and support flexible learning.

Would engage students in self directed assessment through giving and receiving peer feed back by way of critiquing, evaluating and discussing there work in a safe and caring environment is not only more sustainable by reducing tutor workload but promotes a holistic approach to there education, peer support like this will allow them to feel more comfortable to experiment and push there boundaries sharing and utilizing the individuality of each student and in doing so they would honour there own diversity and improve student access and equality within the programme by the students having a level playing ground for there acquisition of knowledge.

I love this excellence mantra, it initially paralleled the idea of perfection/excellence but i separated them as perfection stifles you and excellence is empowering :

Excellence Mantra:

excellence is risk










Life is a journey , full of experiences and reflections we grow through sharing our thoughts and opportunities with like minded others, we gain confidence and trust enabling us to take risk, to be spontaneous and accepting of others this in turn empowers us with growth and on our journey goes. I liken this to my student: the journey of process and belief in the process.
Don't be frightened of possibilities , it is a wonderful mystery.

"My challenge is to implement some flexible learning strategies and get students to be more productive in the use of self directed time within the textile block.
We formalize it with hands on mini projects/extension from class work and and engage them in some group/pair/collaborating/community activities.

1. personality clashes, there for we need to discuss with other tutors with whom have spent more time to get to know the students?
2. group size? I discussed with students and they suggest 2-3 students, this links with my pair learning/sharing.
3. Shared work load/motivated and not so motivated students/learners.
4. students to chose own groups/ or not.
5. shared responsibility to working with something new so that it isn't as scary .

How would this work be integrated and assessed?

15 credit paper descriptor:

Aims: identify the main aims of the course - aims should link with the graduate profile and programme learning outcomes.

Learning outcomes:List and number the learning outcomes for this course, making sure that each outcome is measurable and that collectively they reflect the aims and level of the course . All learning outcomes will be assessed.

Indicative content: should indicate the context for engaging with learning out comes and provide sufficient information for a lecturer to create a scheme of work from which to teach.

Assessment: Assessment Activities should enable the achievement of the learning out comes, and should relate to the programmes assessment strategies. weighting for each assessment activity must be included, and the number of each of the learning outcomes measured.
To avoid over assessment one assessment for each course.

As our courses are in the process of changing to 15 credit papers I am unsure as to the content or any thing of which I am to be teaching? I have there fore not gone into depth as to the actual activities for the students to engage in. I have how ever out lined the base of the paper descriptive which they sit.

Focus: activities of the collaborative/team work/ pair/ peer/ shared activities for extension on student work would be directed towards the areas below.

Critique practice :

Communication and presentation skills:

Design research and development , extension and resolution:

Integrated project:

These could all sit within the "indicative content" of the 15 credit paper descriptor. They support my philosophy enriching holistic /deeper learning, personal preferences etc.....( more to be added here cyn )
These sharing activities would enrich student experience, enhance student learning and reflection and would be easily implemented in to the programme adding to the diversity within the self directed delivery and would generate not only a higher but deeper out put from student involvement.
Assessment ( at present) :This is done by formative feed back and is divided into three areas :

1. conceptual development- visual resource
Visual dairy /workbook.

Workbooks:I have talked to my students about blogging and they are not all interested, (in fact there is minimal interest, one student.) I will however promote the use of a personal blogg as an electronic workbook/visual dairy it would be welcomed and considered appropriate should it be an area of strength and interest for any particular student, there is much you can utilize technologically.

Theses have been implemented prior occasions as well as blogging for a student who could not finish her degree here in Dunedin this worked extremely well, she was very capable with technology. Promoting and implement this into the course would be of great benefit to any students learning environment.

Students love the Internet/ face book/ utube etc.. and utilize these within there learning. I am told that there had been a blogg set up by lecturers from a prior flexible learning course and it was not used. Students prefer a visual dairy/ workbook , however this is open by way of how they use it, there are expectations of what is in a workbook: drawings, visuals, documentation, photos and mixed media they are an extension of your thoughts and explorations which document both the working and thought processes. I dont think our students comming through from the school system are quite what you would call natives of computors yet, they will come howeverand we will adapt as required.

Workbooks/Visual diary/writing/learning/reflecting/creative collaborative critical thinking/ risk taking challenge/selectivity/judgement/responsibility. Students learn from the process of creating, collecting, selecting and connecting the work enhances there overall intellectual and practical development

2. Practical application-textile practice Samples/final outcome.

3. commitment-evidence of sustained effort, self-motivation,participation and contribution.


  1. Cyndy this is a great post and very impassioned with an explanation about your teaching philosophy. You obviously have a strong belief in providing reflective and practical learning opportunities for your students.

    I am interested to hear more about how you would like to address: "my challenge to implement some flexible learning strategies, utilizing some of the students self directed time within the textile block and engage them in some group /pair/collaborating/community activities."

    The starting points seem to be some use of the visual diary which each student needs to keep to log their work, and your willingness to support team work. Is the team work you suggest going to be based on peer support and feedback as they work through particular activities?

    Is there any way you could set up an authentic, work-based project to which they could contribute in teams? I have little idea about the topics which might be useful for this, but it could be loosely based on a problem they need to solve.

    As part of each team effort they could produce an electronic portfolio of work to present to a business or member of the industry. Samples and aspects of their individual visual diaries could be digitised to be included in the group portfolio.

    I am interested to hear more about how you will introduce some practical strategies into your classroom and assessments to support the philosophical stance you have described. Excellence, holistic and deeper learning, personal preferences etc.

  2. Cyndy
    I really like your explanation of the ways in which you plan to integrate reflective learning into your course. It will be useful if you can go through and explain why items such as: "Bring a coherence to the course by way of more regular student engagement /interaction between classes" will support flexible learning - relate the items you mention to the principles of access and equity, cultural diversity and sustainability. For example, "more regular student engagement /interaction between classes" will improve access & equity to the knowledge they need - there will be less likelihood that some students will feel left out or neglected.

    All your ideas and suggestions are excellent and just need a bit more explanation as to why you plan to introduce the different aspects you have mentioned.

    Against some I have added some prompts so you can explain why each one improves access and equity, cultural diversity, or is sustainable. You need to think about doing this for each one.

    Encourage self-direction, responsibility and independent learning. (why is this a sustainable model for learning and how much support will it need? HINT: this could be cheaper in the long run but initially students may need a lot of 1on1 time and support. By improving people's learning experience and capability for life long learning this is helping the knowledge economy etc.
    4. Engage in research/ making/documenting/reflective writing within there visual dairy.
    5. Learning to work as a team. (how does this support the graduate profile? Also: peer interaction and feedback can reduce student and lecturer workload - more sustainable.)
    6. Gain and strengthen new and old skills
    7. Utilize self directed time in a more constructive way
    8. Open areas of further education/learn and use new skills
    9. capitalize on time spent reflecting within group/individual learning process.
    10. peer support.
    11. incorporate personal learning preference.
    12. give and receive feed back/ evaluation
    13. honor diversity. ( how do some of these things you mention do this and why?)
    14. engage in a more holistic approach to deeper learning. (how does this cater to diverse learning preferences and why is this a good thing? Hint: How does it improve access to a more varied and better quality learning experience?

    I hope this helps.

  3. Hi Cyndy

    My name is Adrienne Moyle, I am currently taking the Evaluation for Best Practice course run by Bronwyn Hegarty. As part of our assessment we are required to do an evaluation of a course.

    I have chosen to evaluate the online interaction in the Flexible Learning Course run by Leigh and Bronwyn.

    I would appreciate it if you could take the time to answer 9 questions about the online interaction in the Flexible Learning Course.

    The more participants who respond, the more valid the analysis will be. I have spoken to the facilitators, and now I really need to hear from YOU the participants.

    All responses are anonymous, IP or email addresses will not be collected.

    The responses will be collated and reported to facilitators, management and participants of the Flexible Learning Course and the Evaluation for Best Practice Course.

    Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this survey. You will find an email from me to reply to in the Flexible Learning email forum or at my blog.

    To complete the survey, please click on the link below.
    Click Here to take survey

    Please contact me if you have any problems completing the survey.

    Thanks for your assistance, I really appreciate it!


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