The power of design on flexible learning and digital network literacy/case study1

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Implementing e-learning guidelines

 The power of design on flexible learning and digital network literacy 

An exploration of exemplar case studies in the guidelines to examine design models.

Case Study Example: Practical skills for veterinary nurses (CDrom)

Guideline TD11 – Should staff use a team approach to develop and teach the course?

In this example, teamwork was vital to the preparation of a valuable learning resource supporting the practical skills necessary for veterinary nurses. This teamwork was evident in the following ways:

1. Development:

a. Feedback from students was collated from the three lecturers involved in teaching face to face practical workshops at seven venues nationwide. Initially, this feedback was informal, and was confirmed with a formal survey. It was the informal conversations that first alerted staff to the need for a visual take-home resource supported by formative assessment.

b. Discussion between lecturers and workplace mentors was also very important. In particular, current best practice and variations which students would encounter were discussed, as well as incorporating frequently asked questions.

c. Management and lecturing staff worked as a team to provide the human and financial resources necessary for the project, often incorporating filming into “business as usual” with minimal disruption. This involved consultation with veterinary clinics involved.

d. Once the project was underway, the two production staff worked as a team with the lecturers to ensure that the material being captured was that which was required, and with the clinic to arrange times and locations. e. Finally, students were involved again during the evaluation phase. The lecturers worked as a team with volunteer students to suggest improvements to this resource or directions for future projects.

2. Teaching

a. Lecturers worked as a team to demonstrate and promote the use of the resource by first showing it at face to face sessions.

b. The resource has been used as a discussion tool during planning sessions between lecturers and workplace supervisors

c. A team approach to teaching using this resource jncluded asking groups of students to prepare presentations on parts of the resource.

Guideline TD12 – Is the design of learning informed by research on effective eLearning?

The initial impetus for this learning resource came about after some research on learning styles of veterinary nurses based on Kolb’s work on learning styles (Kolb, D. A. (1976) The Learning Style Inventory: Technical Manual, Boston, Ma.: McBer. and Co.) and later on experiential learning (Kolb, A. and Kolb D. A. (2001) Experiential Learning Theory Bibliography 1971-2001, Boston, Ma.: McBer and Co.), as well as the less prescriptive views of Martinez on “learning orientations” (Martinez, M. (2001) Building interactive Web learning environments to match and support individual learning differences. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 11 (2). A survey of NZ veterinary nurses was undertaken and the results presented at the annual NZ Veterinary Nurses’ Association conference in June 2005. In summary, this showed that 34% of the 113 people surveyed regarded themselves as “kinaesthetic” learners, and 30% as “visual” learners, while 35% said that workplace experience was the most valuable part of their learning, in second place to a tertiary qualification at 47%. This lesson has been taken on board for subsequent projects.

However, raw data can lead to mistakes. As only 17% identified “auditory” learning as their preferred style, this resource was created without voice-over for video, leading to a number of complaints! It seems that wë are used to voice and video together, and asking for “preferred learning style” ignores the synergistic effects of two or more media.

Guideline TO9 - Are staff encouraged to participate in networks and learning communities involved in reviewing, developing or sharing good practice in the use of e-learning?

Lecturers involved in the Veterinary Nursing programmes at Otago Polytechnic are among the leading participants in discipline-based learning communities. A paper presented by the Head of Department at the ODLAA conference, Adelaide, 2005, entitled “Strategies to enhance synergies between online learning communities and communities of practice” outlined the tensions between learning communities and workplace communities in Diploma-level veterinary nursing students. Staff found themselves to often have a foot in both camps, and can be effective mediators between clinic-based mentors and students, frequently introducing best practice procedures into workplaces which might otherwise resist change. Similarly, with e-learning good practice, they have found themselves to be in the vanguard of development and review and are happy to share with staff in other disciplines. This is encouraged by management and by Education Development Centre staff, with veterinary nursing lecturers being some of the first to enrol into the Designing for Flexible Learning course.