Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Flexible Learning Idea


  • I teach a numeracy skills paper called 'Measurement' which is compulsory for students identified as having low numeracy skills.
  • Working towards embedding literacy and numeracy into the course.

  • Making course content accessible to all learning styles and neuro-diversities.

The Plan

A multi media package to use in class and upload onto Moodle that includes:

  • An instructional video on how to make a frame or box.

  • Supporting images/thumbnail images that act as bullet points, with brief descriptions.

  • Worksheets

  • Questionnaires

The video will have material shot in the Design workshop, and some footage shot at Grey's Studio - a professional picture framers.
The footage shot in the Design workshop will feature familiar tools, machines and people, while the Grey's Studio footage will show hi-tech computerized picture framing machinery.

The idea is to get numerical concepts such as measurement of lengths and angles into the course content by using a practical exercise.
The package including the video, supporting information and worksheets will be available to all students in the course and across programmes. This will mean that students may no longer be exposed to their peers as needing extra maths help, and ultimately may lead to numeracy testing at the beginning of courses being fazed out.

Instructional videos can be uploaded to Youtube or a similar open, free view website so any interested parties, whether enrolled at Otago Polytechnic or not, can view them.

Here is an example video from Youtube. My video will be more focused on the measurement techniques.

supporting thumbnails

Holding side against guide. Important info.

Mark the length of the inner side

With the mitre saw set to 45 degrees, cut, not your fingers.

Now doing something else very useful and informative.

Links to questionnaires about the video

Links to measurement worksheets

A DVD of the resources will also be available.

Who will benefit?

  • The package will be accessible to students, wherever they are in the world.

  • Students that don't like classroom environments, for example, 'Student Y' that has Aspergers Syndrome
  • Learners that want to revisit the tutorial how ever many times they like, whenever they like1.

  • Students with a diverse range of preferred ways of absorbing information, or 'learning styles'2.

  • Learners who have slow computers and thus have difficulty watching video, can still benefit from the thumbnail imagery, written descriptions, worksheets and questionnaires.

  • Students with low levels of numeracy skills can enjoy privacy and not be identified as 'innumerate'.

  • Learners who are not confident with computers or who lack computer access at home can enjoy viewing the resources from a DVD.


Moodle training.

Film making capability.

At this stage I believe I have everything I need to produce the video. My department has video cameras. The computers at work have MovieMaker and my laptop has iMovieHD (my preferred program).

Part or all of the numeracy assessment could be completed through Moodle via the questionnaires and worksheets.


Shared / open access digital resources such as video, worksheets and questionnaires lessen the need for paper resources, which reduces waste and cost.

Recorded tutorials that are freely available to students means facilitators only need to spend the time demonstrating a particular skill once.

Commitment to Maori and Pacific Island students

Be actively seeking feedback and advice on how to best facilitate learning environments that are more suited to Maori students and Pacific Island students.
This feedback should be welcomed from students, iwi, staff and local community.
Be actively working towards embedding principals of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, The Treaty of Waitangi.

Flexible Learning and Otago Polytechnic

My plan is cooperative and harmonious with the Otago Polytechnic Charter 2006-2010, which can be found here.

Chapter 3, P.4. Our Vision, states the following which Otago Polytechnic is to be recognised for:

  • Our practical approach to learning which connects theory with practice through applied research, cooperative learning and practical experience.
  • The flexibility of our delivery and our willingness to accommodate the specific learning aspirations of students through individualised and cross disciplinary programmes of learning.
  • Accessibility for all learners.

  • The creative use of innovative technology to support learning.

My flexible learning plan includes objectives that are in line with the Otago Polytechnic Charter 2006-2010 including being recognised for accessibility for all learners.

Numerical skills and information may be received by more students in a more meaningful way by engaging in hands-on creative exercises with reinforcing media of video and digital stills, questionnaires and worksheets which support the diverse learning preferences of our learners.


1 Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory has labelled four stages of experience a learner goes through when learning something new; Thinking, Feeling, Reflecting and Acting. The four stages are linked in the cycle. The learner can enter the cycle at any stage depending on their learning preference.

The medium of an instructional video leans towards learners with preferences for observing / concrete experience and reflection.
A student who learns best through concrete experience and reflecting on the action will find it useful to revisit the video however many times is necessary, without having to 'make do' with only one tutorial/demonstration, or have to wait for a lecturer to repeat the demonstration.

The worksheets and questionnaires in the package would cater more to the other side of the cycle to do with abstract conceptualization, where learners can apply information gathered in reflection of the video to solve other problems.

VARK learning styles have highlighted four ways learners can absorb information; Visually, Aurally, through Reading/writing and Kinesthetically, and that we can have preferences towards one mode or a combination of two, three or all of them.
Except for Kinesthetic, all the VARK learning preferences will be addressed in my package by the inclusion of many different media.
Visual- Still and moving images with the video and thumbnails.
Aural- Soundtrack with a spoken explanation of what is happening in the video.
Read-Written- Bullet points. Questionnaires, worksheets.


Bronwyn hegarty said...

Katy I really like your idea of creating a video about picture framing. As you say it will have several benefits for your students as well as being instrumental including removing some of the stigma that must be associated with being labelled as "innumerate".

Moodle is one place to store the video and the other material. You might also like to think about putting the video on a more open site as well - such as Youtube or Blip.tv or Internet Archive so the "embed code" can be generated. It will also enable the students to access the material after the course they are doing with you is finished.

It will also be good for marketing your course through increased exposure on the Internet, a plus for Otago Polytechnic. You could even link people to your resources as a way of attracting people to your course or letting them know a little about what is involved.

Having resources in more than one place also means that your work is less likely to be lost. For example when Moodle is changed to another system or if one of the web platforms closes. Some staff put their video resources on more than one open web site.

The strategy you suggest of using multiple resources - video and digital stills, questionnaires and worksheets will support the diverse learning preferences of your students to which you refer.

In the next post I will pose some questions, the answers to which should complete your plan.

Bronwyn hegarty said...

Questions to help complete your flexible learning plan.

1. Why is it so important to have a multimedia resource for students with Aspergers Syndrome?
Please explain in terms of cultural diversity. Hint: preference for working alone and skills in using computers.

2. Do Maori and Pacific island students have any particular learning requirements and how could you introduce resources which are inclusive to these and other minorities (foundation)? Hint: include Maori and Pacific Island terms or materials.You already mention items to assist diverse learning preferences - but how will this help foundation learners? This is not explained clearly although it is implied.

3. In what ways is your approach sustainable? Hint: cost-effectiveness, reduction of workloads for students and staff, saving time, more effective learning experience - better understanding of concepts, cost of producing resources etc.

4. How will you support students who are not confident computer or multimedia users? Hint: explain in terms of access and equity in learning.

Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

Bronwyn hegarty said...

Hello Katy
your plan is looking really good and you have some innovative ideas. I am not sure I would do away with the numeracy testing at the start of the course - the results would help students to realise what they need to work on. Of course results would be kept confidential.

Your statement regarding sustainability is spot on imply that time saving is the sustainable factor for lecturers. However it will also save students time and workloads for both students and lecturers are a sustainability issue: "Recorded tutorials that are freely available to students means facilitators only need to spend the time demonstrating a particular skill once. "

One other thing to think about is the time factor involved in creating the recordings. I think you have this covered by using an effective an easy to use technology which you describe in your video.

The aspects of flexible learning associated with Maori and Pacific Island students you mention, are a work in progress. Dont' forget that EDC has an excellent resource person to help with this - Kate Timms-Dean.

You may also be interested in a DVD at the Bill Robertson Library - Knowing your learners - a literacy and numeracy package for Maori learners. The call number is: 370.1523KNO - available - 3 day reserve.

"Be actively working towards embedding principals of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, The Treaty of Waitangi."

it would have been good to see some references to some of the FL course readings as well - regarding FL. In any case, Kolb's experiential Cycle and Vark learning styles questionnaire are very appropriate for your plan.

Congratulations on your plan - you have done a great deal of work and this is now completed. Bronwyn