Wednesday, 2 May 2012

QR Code Slightly side tracking but am back.

Well I am back and should have been some time ago.
Thanks to Lisa I have been playing and hope that some of you have been able to get to my blog using the QR Code I placed on our Flexible Learning Forum.

Well following from that I have created a code that will take you to a page I am setting up for the students to look at next semester.   It is on Pinterest.
The code that I am about to add will take you to my home page and then I have different boards on this.  The one I have set up for the students is Playing with Fabric as I am doing an Accessories studio block which we will be looking at fabric manipulation.  This can be very BORING even for this old lady so trying to show the students how much fun it can be, but also hopefully they may start their own boards.  Will be fun to see.  Then i can share the code with my students.
Well here goes I will add another QR code and get back to what I should be studying.  Have a good day

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Reply to Sarah's comment.

Sarah you wanted to know how I can use this web page to increase flexible learning?

I am replying here as have replied twice in the comments box but seem to have lost it, so sorry if they appear some where else.  So here goes

The reason why I thought of introducing this web page is I am concerned about the way students use their self directed time and want to try and engage them.  I could add images on Moodle but don't know if they would look.  Moodle is set in a formal layout and maybe something more colourful and easy to get around might engage them!!!!!

Pinterest is colourful, easy to get around and share images and ideas.  I have created my space, creating pin boards which I have named and add what I  like or inspires me.  You can bring images from other pages to this site, adding comments that all can share.

Next semester I am teaching an accessories paper which includes fabric manipulation.  This can be very boring and old hat so need to create something to draw the students.  I have one of my boards set up adding images that inspire me for fabric manipulation.  I thought if the class joined it would be a great way of sharing but also see what inspires the student/s. 

They could use their pin boards as their work books collecting images and references as they go. This way they wouldn't need to continually print off images and then paste them in a book.  It could be a new concept for collecting and sharing research.   The board could also be a mood board that inspires them again something that they can share in class either on line or if they decided they could print it off...  giving the link to the lecturer for their assessment.  Fun way of working on a work book remembering that you can add from other sources as well.  Could be a photo they have taken, a quote they like ..... what... ever .. inspires...

Learning looks fun, different than when I was at school in the 60's.  THANK GOODNESS....

What does flexible learning mean to me???

Thanks Lisa I really enjoyed our time discussing this.  As both of us are fairly new to teaching it is great to share ideas, stories, stresses and rewards.....
Well what does flexible learning mean to me???  and why do I need to use a more flexible approach in my class...

What does it mean???
Being flexible in how I deliver, the way I deliver, considering the students I am teaching at the time.  Or should I say a good listener, observer, juggler and problem solver.   To be flexible I need to get to know my students, observing how they learn, they way engage and how I can inspire them.

Why do I need to be flexible?
 I teach with the certificate students who complete a 6 months course.  Each group may achieve more or these than the last group.  I need to be flexible in what I deliver as some need more and others less but still need to cover the learning outcomes.  Always having something there to extend or develop an idea when the opportunity arises.  Also watching the student who is quietly, or sometimes 'not so quietly' spin out so you can catch and guide before they switch off or walk away.  (No wonder I feel like I have run a marathon at the end of the class).  
Each student has his or her own way of retaining information (different learning styles) so it is important to offer the content in more than one way.  You will see students switch off if you continually stood at the front of the class  explaining and demonstrating but not letting them experiment for them selves. (The class I am taking at the moment is a practical course so all students are keen to have a go with reassurance from us, learning from trying.)  
I like to quietly ask each students things that would help their learning, but also asking the group getting them all to participate in the feedback.  Have been asking them about using the computers, are they are comfortable using, if I placed information on Moodle would they look at it.  It has been interesting hearing the answers.  Not all use the computer as I explained in my last blog yet this is where we target.  Some don't even look at their Poly emails. Today I decided to sit with the students getting them watch how to get into Moodle, hopefully taking notes of the steps to get back there on their own.  I have told them I am going to keep putting new info on there for them so they can return in their own time when they need to view something..
I came through the system where we learned when, how and what we were told, asking no questions.  The teacher always RIGHT.  Flexibility encourages the students to think, ask questions and explore new ideas.  I don't always know the answers but like to explain to the student/s that we can search together and see if we can find the answers.  We both learn and way more rewarding for both parties.

What do I need to  explore to help this happen?
Be aware of the students and try and find a way that the students will engage in their own learning especially in their self directed time.  Our students have double the class time self directed.  I see this as a real problem if we can't find a way to engage them and help them find info when they need it. I would like to look into a way of setting up something/somewhere that the students can use a forum to share and help each other.  I do wonder about Face book but I am trying to get the students more comfortable in using Moodle as if these students carry on that is the way info is delivered to these students.
A mediam I would like to introduce to the students is a web page called pinterest.  I don't know if you are aware of this but it is a forum that you can pin interest items to create a pin board and this is shared with others using the site. It is bright and fresh  and easy to use.  Comments can be placed by both you and others.  I wonder if it would work if all the class logged on and then shared interest.    This web link is great to inspire!! Covering just about anything linking images to other web pages.

What goals do you have for using Flexible Learning in your work?
My biggest goal would be to have a better understanding of flexible ways to deliver that will work for the students to inspire them so learning is fun. Having resources available to them in different ways especially when they are self directed.  It would be good to encourage them to help each other.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Bronwyn making this old brain work!!!! More thoughts....

Thanks for your comments Bronwyn.  I haven't realised how much we focus on flexible learning when we are teaching.  This paper has made me aware of how I work as a lecturer and maybe in the home as well.

I would agree with your comment that some times we can focus on what is required and try and cram in too much.   I am new to teaching but realise that as a mum and a student, small and manageable steps work way better when trying to learn/teach.   I would prefer not to overload students as it all takes time and practice to remember, hence manageable steps, with time to absorb. Not many people remember things first time round, it is the time to reinforce that matters. 

Sometimes I feel we try to achieve TOO MANY OUTCOMES when less would work just as well.  Not so stressful for either the student or the teacher!! and way more rewarding for both.  

This old brain likes to rethink what it has been taught, so does the young brain.  If we don't overload we have time to revisit when, or if a student/students need to reabsorb what has been taught.  As they have lots to learn... and so do we.   

I remember when I returned to study as a mature student !!! and scared of the 'mouse'.....  The student beside me looked so confident and this made me more stressed.  In the end I learned from a manual at home with the help in class and that worked best for me.  I was lucky as I had a teenage son who would sit beside me and I would write down the steps, and with confidence the 'mouse' became my friend.  A friend, who is a school teacher, commented that no one learns from a manual.  Something I will always remember as we all have different learning styles, just like personalities, so we must be flexible to help each student.

Today I was asking my students about using the computer as I have discovered very few are using Moodle, yet we are encouraged to place work on this forum so that students have access to this at all times.  I have discovered that one of the class of 11 has not or does not like using a computer.  This surprised me as I have sons of similar ages and thought that this generation would be very computer savvy!!!  my mistake and how many others are there in the system???  So I asked more questions and have discovered that the others love exploring the net but not Moodle.  If it was face book I bet they would all follow.....Maybe that's where the work should go...  The one who uses Moodle the most, struggled with the work at the start but has taken OWNERSHIP and Moodle works for her as she revisits the pages several times to help her learning.  Good on her. 

I then asked the students if I placed, (which I have placed,) work on Moodle would they look??  Answer MAYBE.  So now I will log on in class and walk them through the steps of how to get to Moodle - the info and then watch to see if they return.   Also I have discovered some in this block of students are used to being given handouts and with Polytechnic policy to save the trees,  we need to make sure - BE FLEXIBLE - that the students are able to learn in a way that suits their learning styles.  I explained today if we place the info on Moodle / net, or any other forum, they could print a hard copy if that is how they learn.

I feel I need to look at other places to place work and guide students, and look forward to exploring delicious .  Thanks Bronwyn.. If we used a forum that they can contribute to would that work better???

Maybe.  Love to hear from others.  

Sorry for this long evaluation, but sitting in the sun with Izzy cuddled in and home alone for tea. Feeling stressed as a student and anxious to help my students to achieve what is best for them. 

Talk soon.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Introduction and thoughts

Well a little about me!
Walking Izzy???

I am a mother of 3 grown up boys, work part time as a lecturer in the Design school.  Before this I had a Fashion Design business that I designed and created high end clothing.  Now I get the best of both worlds, sharing my skills and love to create, with the students but still having time to play at home, either in the garden, in the sewing room or taking a walk with my little friend, Izzy, a miniature schnauzer.

One thing, when we juggle commitments, whether they are for work or home, something you need to be is flexible.  How do we use this in the courses we teach???

I am teaching a certificate class which is made up of students with a wide range of skills. Some use their time well were as others may learn better working away quietly in their own time.  The fast learners like to look further and see what they can explore next.  The learner who is unsure, may just want to reinforce what they had all ready been shown.  We are trying to create students to take charge of their learning so we need to be flexible in how, where and what they learn to reach the outcomes that are needed.  All students learn in different ways so if we are flexible in what and how they learn we would get better results.  If there is any way I can engage them so that they are having fun and exploring in the way that is best for them I will feel that I am helping the students to the best I can. 

In the design school a couple of the lecturers have recorded videos that the student can access in their own time.  These are practical demonstrations that the student can watch as many times as they need, to understand.  This way the students can try and problem solve and when the creative mood is in gear they can keep on learning.  We place work on line so if the student is not at class they can access it, but also the students who do attend may decide to re look at the what they have done.  Our students have a lot of self directed time so we need systems in place, so the students can continue learning at their own pace. 

The reason why I am studying this paper is to help me understand how I can be more flexible in my teaching. Showing the students that there are lots of places to find information that will inspire them and that they can learn that there is no door closed, they just need to know where to go and how to access it.