Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Flexible learning Plan

Over View


It seems that currently concepts of flexible learning in the Drawing and Mixed Media Level 4 course in which I teach are too scattered and more structure needs to be imbedded. In this plan I will develop a some new strategies and methods of engagement, for a project within this course 'The drawing log'. My Aim is that by embedding the right structure and flexibility students will become more engaged with the practice of drawing, engage with on line learning by sharing digital images and placing feedback, stay more up to date with self directed learning.

Back ground

I teach on the level 4 Certificate in Creative Studies, an art and design foundation course. I will focus this plan around the Drawing and Mixed Media at paper that I co-facilitate, however at times I need to expand from that and talk about the greater context of Creative Studies.

Creative Studies Learners

We have a diverse range of learners - school leavers (some under 18), some returning to study or changing they path of study, mature students.
Students are here for many different reasons – a life change, a career change, for something to do, interested in further study in art and/or design.
Students often have complex personal lives – children, work, mental health issues, low confidence, families.
most of these learners are visual and experiential learners (Vark reference). Attendance is often a problem and we have a low course completion rate and retention is low - around 58%. We work in a shared studio, with a project based approach.

Concepts of Flexible Learning

Access and Equity- If there is difficulty with access of any sort we need to be flexible to provide options for these learners thus creating equity. Equity is about facilitating learning in a learner centered way, in a way that doesn't discriminate against any learners.

Diversity and Inclusivity -learners come from a wide variety of backgrounds, places, experiences, beliefs, cultures, family situations etc. To have inclusivity there needs to be an understanding of diversity.

Explain how you will ensure all your learners can access the learning environment you have created. To Explain this I will do so using the 5 dimensions of Flexibility (Collis, Vingerhoets and Moonen, 1997)

Time - Students have weekend and after hours access to studios and computer labs, Projects have self directed time as well as facilitated teaching time, Extensions may be applied in certain circumstances.

Entry Requirements - The course is open entry, but applicants are asked to provide a portfolio and have an interview as to ensure that if it looks like they are not at a level where they are able to cope or if they are beyond the level we can make recommendations to go to a course a higher or lower level.

Content - assessment is internally assessed with 5 practical based projects, Individual projects are worth 20% of the final years mark, thus if a student does poorly in one project there is the chance to make up for it in the next. Each project is assessed in two parts a workbook or log book where research, brainstorming, drawing, experimenting, documentation of the process, etc is recorded, and the actual practical application the actual finished drawing, painting sculpture, design work etc. The practical application is weighted a possible 12 out of 20(total) and the work book is weighted a possible 6 out of 20. Individuals are able to choose the particular subject matter for projects provided it falls within the project outline.

Instructional approach and resources - a variety of approaches including face to face, group work, lectures, practice based projects. a variety of learning resources including - the library, the internet,

Delivery and Logistics - shared studio spaces, one on one consultaions with lecturer, we often use Youtube for video examples.

Open Education and Sustainability

OE - my understanding of Open education is that it is a concept that seeks to make education more more accessible and bring down some of the barriers that surround education and the gaining of knowledge.

One of the main ways that Open Education is implemented is by use of Open Education Resources (OER). OER are digital resources for learning that can be accessed and used by whom ever and for free. OER are not just things relating to a subject like essays, articles, slide shows but a vast array of digital materials like the course its self, course content, course materials, software applications, on line learning communities, etc.

As it is about sharing knowledge with the world for free, there needs to be rules so that creators, authors, original sources get acknowledged for what they have done and not ripped off. OER are registered with Creative Commons Licensing :

"Creative Commons provides a range of copyright licences, freely available to the public, which allow those creating intellectual property – including authors, artists, educators and scientists – to mark their work with the freedoms they want it to carry"(http://www.creativecommons.org.nz)

Stratergies for addressing OE - looking at the way that other schools teach and facilitate drawing.


It is more than just recycling. It seemed to me that Sustainablity is a lense to look and operate under, one that we must adopt and instill so that it is a part of our thinking and practice, rather than something we think about later or something that is a separate entity to our practice; A way of thinking that is integrated in teaching, learning and living.

The main strategy I intend to implement came out of the definition "the capacity to endure"(wikipedia 2011), and in particular ensuring that the learning gained enables students to cope and thrive in their next step in their education. Knowing that my learners often have low confidence and require a great deal of pastural care on top of teaching. The human resource is one that needs to be considered as a sustainable entity. the

Currently I see my students come to the end of the year and they still have some major hang ups about drawing, I am still hearing the phrase "I cant draw". They start the year with an aversion to drawing and they seem to leave the year with an aversion to drawing. This is concerning and to me signals an area that needs to be addressed.

  • I want to find out exactly what drawing skills and practices happen across the 4 design degrees, Fashion, Interiors, Communication, Product.
  • Find out from other lecturers where creative Studies graduates are struggling in terms of their drawing.
  • Then re-designing the course so that there are more supervised instructive workshops that get students with pencil on paper drawing.

Educating students well at this level has sustainable implications further down their path of study. Maintaining a high standard of graduates and a high completion rate is also very important for the sustainability of the course.

Other points on the discussion of sustainability - I think it is necessary to mention materials - sourcing sustainable materials, but using the materials in a mindful way. generating a culture of respect for materials, the the mentality and culture of a 'Throw Away Society' which we have operated in for quite some time now comes with a lack of awareness and respect for consumable Items, things have a finite disposable life. I see this again and again in my class room, with a general disrespect and disregard for materials and tools provided by the educator. Only providing tools and materials that cannot be easily accessed by learners, is a solution to this

Cultural Sensitivity and Indigenous Learners.

  • Including examples of indigenous artists and designers in lectures
  • Encouraging indigenous learners to explore their Identity and cultural background as a subject matter through drawing.
  • Maree visits (that includes a Treaty of Waitangi workshop), guest lecturers, using examples of indigenous practitioners.
  • Making sure that these learners are able to access support through the polytech to Maori, Pacifica and other indigenous groups.

Te Whare Tapa Wha is a model developed By Mason Drury in 1982. It is the wholistc maori model for health and wellbeing but it also applies for some maori as approach to education. Understanding this model and what Maori(traditional) learners might be thinking and feeling when coming to or deciding to come to a course is important.

The 4 aspects of Te Whare Tapa Wha are

Te Wairua - refers to the Spiritual aspects of undertaking study
Te Hinengaro - refers to the Mental aspects of undertaking study
Te Tenana - refers to the Physical aspects of undertaking study
Te Whanau - refers to the Social aspects of undertaking study

Adult Teaching Theories

A teaching model that I think fits well with the course that I teach is Phil Races 7 Ripple model.

1)Wanting/needing. 2) Doing. 3)Making Sense. 4) Feed Back. 5)Practice. 6)Coaching, teaching. 7)Assessing.

I think that the 7 ripple model could be refelcted not only in the overall design of projects week to week, but of the design of the course over the year, how each project stacks ontop of the previous one. also it could be applied to daily workshop plans.

more self directed time fitting in at various points, particualrly at stage 5 Practice, and less flexibility around the initial steps 1, 2, 3

Over View of Strategies

  • internal assessment via Project or Portfolio,
  • Project based delivery,
  • Lectures, moodle, video, examples, step by step,
  • face to face feed back,
  • group feed back sessions
  • short presentations
  • one on one consultation
  • engaging with online environment via digital image sharing


We have to be flexible to be inclusive of the needs of the individual circumstances each student. however at level 4 students still require a good deal of structure, pastural care, feedback, motivation, monitoring and support, my hunch is that we have too much flexibility in the areas of self directed study and there we need to well structured in more guided lessons. Maintaining some levels of flexibility but putting in more boundaries so that learning is more guided to ensure that they leave with a sufficient foundation in drawing. By doing this I think that other issues of monitoring and pastural care will be addressed.

Where to from here

I want to focus the plan on the drawing log project. The drawing log project is a drawing journal where students are asked to draw everyday for at least 15 minutes for an the duration of a semester. Currently this project is entirely self directed and to be completed in the students own time. A result of the log being self directed it often gets left to the last minute and very little is gained. T
he idea is that by drawing every day your technical skill builds up and great improvement can happen by a doing a little bit often.

Changes to the Drawing Log
  • Each week will be themed. The theme will be posted weekly on the moodle, and also on a facebook page set up for the log.
  • Have a 20 minute drawing log session at the beginning of each class to introduce the weekly theme, and make a drawing.
  • I want to create a Facebook Group page. A Facebook Group is able to have a high security setting that is only viewed by the members of the group. Group members are able to post images and messages on this page.
  • Students will be asked to make a weekly post of their best drawings, and leave feed back for peers. The idea with the facebook group is that students will engage with each others work by image sharing in a social online environment, and hopefully develop motivation and keep on top of a largely self directed project.
  • The group will be administered by staff.

To understand the future drawing skills that students will need if they are to enter into a degree, I want to meet with drawing teachers from the degree programs and have a discussion/feedback session about what they are teaching and what prior knowledge students need to be achieving in the degree. Weekly themes for the drawing log will be designed around some of the outcomes of this feedback.

I also want to re structure the year plan and re-arrange the projects. With in each project I will look to put in place a project structure based on the The 7 Ripple model (I have already tested this out it seems to be working - Students are enjoying a more instructive approached, allows them safety and freedome to explore and experiment with drawing, and eliminating the whole 'get it wrong blocker'). Re-focus briefs and put more boundaries so they are more about practicing drawing and building up hand eye technical skills rather than having options to avoid drawing - i.e photography (they can take photography elective paper for this).


Hylén, Jan (2007). Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources. Paris, France: OECD Publishing. p. 30. doi:10.1787/9789264032125-en. Retrieved 2010-12-03

Collis, B & Moonen, J (2001). Flexible Learning in a Digital World, Open and Distance Learning Series. London: Kogan page Ltd. p.10

http://www.creativecommons.org.nz/ (retrieved 27-10-2011)


http://www2.careers.govt.nz/educators-practitioners/career-practice/career-theory-models/te-whare-tapa-wha/ (visited on 3-11-2011)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

activity 8 Reflections on Sustainibility

After attending Nicola's Bould work shop, talking to others about sustainable practices and watching some of Sir Ken Robinsons videos about education (which was mighty inspirational), I started to think about what sustainability ment in the context of teaching drawing in the level 4 course that I teach. Sustainability is massive thing and difficult to define and discuss. It seemed to me that philosophys of both Sustainability and Flexiblity were very similar.

Sustainability is about looking forward, having awareness of the impact our choices have have on each other, ourselves, our environment both local and global, looking at the bigger picture and looking beyond what we have in front of us, etc.

"Most students graduate without any broad integrated sense of the unity of things", (David Orr 1991)

It seemed to me that Sustainablity is a lense to look and operate under, one that we must adopt and instill so that it is a part of our thinking and practice, rather than something we think about later or something that is a seperate entity to our practice; A way of thinking that is integrated in teaching, learning and living. that sustainable thinking is a part of our culture.

"The plain fact is that the planet does not need more 'successful' people but it does desperately need more peace makers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places." (David Orr)

"Educate their whole being so they can face their future" (Sir Ken Robinson)

How can you become a more sustainable practitioner?

  • Not being ignorant
  • having awareness about the impact my actions have on the future, the students, the people and places around me, the environment, the institiution etc, I can choose what I do and how I do it in my practice, and embedding this awareness into my practice.
  • Talking about it in relation to our practices
  • developing a culture in our studios that is aware and practices sustainably.

What sort of learning and teaching strategies meet your philosophy of sustainability?

  • A teaching approach that facilitates Deep (intrinsic) learning rather Surface (extrinsic) learning (Ramsden (1992), Biggs (1987, 1993) and Entwistle (1981)), deep learning appers to me to be aligned with sustainablitly philosophies. This the framework for deep learning is that content and course material is delivered via projects, learning happens in practice.
  • Teaching the content at the right level to so that the knowlegde and ability gained by graduation is able to sustain the individual is capable and read to be learning at the next level (year one Bachelor art/design). Knowledge and skill needs to be seen through a lens of sustainability.
  • Being a practitioner as well as a teacher - the Artist as teacher. having a professional practice I am actively participating in research in to my teaching area. not only does this feed into the knowledge that i pass onto my students but it helps to maintain personal balance, thus sustainability on a personal and professional level.

Atherton J S (2011) Learning and Teaching; Deep and Surface learning [On-line: UK] retrieved 4 October 2011 from http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/deepsurf.htm

Orr D. What is Education For? The Learning Revolution (IC#27), Winter 1991, Pg 52.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Adult learning theory - activity 7


This diagram by Honey and Mumford (Image source : www.learningandteaching.info/learning/experience.htm) is an extension of the original experiential learning cycle diagram developed by Kolb (1984). I believe that experiential learning is inherent in the creative process of learning art and design. Kolbs experiential learning cycle by nature fits in with the teaching and learning of art and design. The art/design course I teach is practical and project based, learning happen through experimentation and actually making stuff. We expect to make mistakes, we expect to do lots of tests and trials, to reflect on these and move forward and make something else. Concepts, theory, reason etc (Abstract Conceptualization) is often difficult to grasp if the experience associated with it is separated. Both the Concrete Experience and Active Experimentation lead to reflection which in turn lead to a deeper understanding of concepts and theories.

It is difficult to separate out the different individual concepts that are to be learned in this context too. When a student makes a piece of work we can look at it from many different angles to talk about a certain concept. Many different aspects, concepts, theories can be taught by making one piece of work or during one project, in the Art/design context everything is interlinked and overlapping, and usually nothing exists without the other.

Example - Teaching Composition

Composition doesn't exist in isolation there are many things that inform a composition, in fact it is the coming together of other components that make up a composition like Color (color theory), white balance, use of space, form, texture, line. When teaching composition it is important to also talk about these other things which in themselves are or could be rather huge things.

Usually I give a lecture about composition, then do a demonstration (Concrete Experience). Slides and notes are posted on moodle. The students then go and make their own work 'Active Experimentation' s. My course is project based and the students all choose their own subject matter, I teach a great deal one on one and guide them as they develop their images to develop sound composition, and become aware of all of the components that inform a composition. Thus using inquisitive questioning to help facilitate Reflective Observation. And hopefully naturally through experience, experimentation and reflection will incur deep learning of the visual theories that underly successful image making.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Activity 6 - The Plan at large

video This video seemed to do to me what I want my students to do, and the focus of my flexible learning plan and that is REFLECT. when looking at ones self we naturally reflect, and hopefully think about what will be done differently......this was take 3. ...will add more to this post soon but wanted to get something out there.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Activity 5

To discuss the learning strategies in my context I had to think beyond just the drawing paper that I teach and into the broader teaching approach to our certificate program and design.

All content, activities, communication/interaction and assessment are designed and delivered under the umbrella of a Project Based framework.

Each project is 7 to 8 weeks long, that uses weaves together practical and theoretical learning together. What is assessed is the product of the 7 week project – a logbook and a piece of design/art work. There are guidelines, sometimes loose and sometimes tight depending on the project.

In http://traceysflexibleblog.blogspot.com, Tracy Nashe (an ex – OP design colleague) writes about the philosophies of teaching design. (these will become an underpinning to the development of my plan)

“Speak Responsibly"

“Listen Generously”

“Honor Diversity”

As well as being philosophies These statements seemed to strategies, and fit comfortably into the ‘delivery and logistics’ and ‘instructional approach’ dimensions of flexible learning (Collis, Vingerhoets and Moonen, 1997). I often work one on one with students to act as a bouncing board for idea generation.

Another flexible strategy of the project based umbrella is that the content and projects are all linked, with skills that cross over and flow with adjacent papers that the students are taking.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Activity 4

    Describe an example of inclusive teaching -
    This year in the drawing course that I facilitate, we changed the content of one of the projects to be more inclusive, flexible and more synchronized with prior knowledge. Previously the project was to spend seven 3 hour sessions developing observational drawing techniques, and then to submit 7 drawings to be assessed. we taught a range of different drawing applications, methods by drawing from still life set ups, the human form, animals both live and stuffed, trees, plants, landscapes. However the students didn't seem to be terribly excited about it all of this and were continually complaining that they didnt like it. So we changed the focus of the project. In the new version we teach a few techniques and methods (from version 1) to start the project - a trip to the animal attic to observe and draw the stuffed animals using a gestural drawing technique. we do this for 3 sessions, basically they are drawing to gather information and understand the form of the animals. they then use those observational drawings to caricature from and develop some cartoon characters. these characters are then developed into two cartoon strips that then become the submission to be assessed. the two cartoon strips make up 60% of the final grade and all of the observational and developmental drawings (kept in a log book) make up 40%. so we are teaching the same content, and a little bit of new content but the focus of the assessment and method of changed considerably, we have had some fantastic feedback from the students that they have really enjoyed the project and we have noticed that some of the new content that we have been teaching is better linked to the future projects, in many ways this has become more flexible and inclusive for us as facilitator/teachers.

    What are some of the issues of access and equity in your classes?

    Age Difference - the wide spectrum of age and experience can be an issue some times, especially older students looking at how fast the younger ones pick things up.
    Self esteem barriers - Low self esteem can be an issue right across the spectrum of learners.

    Academic barriers - low levels of digital, literacy and numeracy skills. Some students have never used a computer before (this is ocurs sometimes with mature students rather than school leavers)

    Technical barriers - this drawing paper is one of 4 compulsury core papers, so I often have students with poor drawing skills and whom dont seem to think that they can become better. Some students maybe much better at working in a 3D way than in a 2D way, or find it particularly hard in a more theoretical way than in a practical way and vise versa

    Physical barriers - hearing problems

    Provide a definition for access and equity, diversity and inclusively in your context?

    Access and Equity
    If there is difficuluty with access of any sort we need to be flexible to provide options for these learners thus creating equity. Equity is about teaching and facilitating learning in a learner centered way, in a way that doesnt majoirly discrimaate against any learners.

    Diversity and Inclusivity
    In my context diversity means two things, the first being realted to the learner/s and the second realted to the coarse and teaching.
    • In relation to the learners - a wide variety of students from many different backgrounds, places, experiences, beliefs, cultures etc. Which creates a point of difference between peers, me the teacher and the design, content, methods of the coarse its self.

    • In relation to the coarse - there is diversity in methods of delivery, methods of interaction

    Therefore in order to create inclusivity there needs to be a syncronicity between these two occurrences/understandings of 'Diversity'.

    Explain what your learners need to access the learning environment that you wish to create?

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Activity 3 - Flexible learning in our organisation - a yarn with Fred

    To complete Activity 3 I met up with Fred Cross who teaches Basic Mechanical and Engineering Trade Skills or BMETS for short, we shared our our experiences and application of Flexible learning and here is how flexibility is built into his programme.

    Who are Fred's students?
    Mostly male school leavers interested in cars and not fully aware the career opportunities or scope of the Engineering trade. Occasionally there are young women or mature students who also take the course.

    We discussed how the 5 dimensions of flexibility were already in place in BMETs:

    A 6 month course that is made up of 8 unit standards and 2 practical workshops. The biggest challenge is fitting all of the learning into 6 months, thus the need for some degree of flexibility. Attendance is crucial in keeping on time and up to date with work load. 4 days per week 8 hours per day, the spare day is a work placement day.

    Open entry, but are assessed for literacy and numeracy levels.

    The content for this Level 2 course is dictated by COMPINTENZ. COMPINTENZ is an organisation that umbrellas this pre-apprentice course. however 1 day per week is for work placement in various companies around Dunedin. Students must sort this out themselves, and so there is an element of flexibility in relation to content here. Keeping a daily journal reflecting on learning and practice experience
    at the beginning of each course Fred gives the students the VARK Questionnaire to determine learning styles of the student in order to take the most appropriate instructional approach. other methods of flexible Instructional Approach include:
    • Learner Centered Learning
    • Getting the students to instruct/teach each other on the use of power tools in the work shop.
    • Lecture style
    • One on one
    • Lots of positive feedback
    • Reflective listening and questioning
    DELIVERY AND LOGISTICS - The course is delivered in the classroom, workshop an off site engineering firm (Scott Technologies) and a work placement.

    Delivery and Logistics In the Classroom - Power point, handouts, a course reader, computers.
    - group work, discussion, and using white boards where the students research and write up the material - a Learner Centred approach to delivery.
    - Videos

    Delivery and Logistics in the workshop and off site - Instructional, Induction, students become the teachers and teach each other, practical application.

    Other things related to flexible delivery and logistics -
    • Small Classes : up to 15.
    • Eclectic delivery
    • Progressive assessment - not expected to have things perfect at the beginning, but by the end there is an expectation that work is of a high standard.
    • Other aspects relating to assessment - some assessment is embedded into the course material, Fred assesses them by observation and they get credited for it. A mix of practical and written assessments.
    • For students that require extra tutoring with literacy and numeracy Fred has designed and scheduled a class.

    • 3 white boards
    • cell phones with cameras (the students own)
    • computers
    • moodle to come in the future
    • projector, video, power points
    • practical equipment, machinery
    • industry (work placement)
    • human resource including the students themselves
    • hand outs

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Activity 2 - What is Flexible Learning?

    To complete Activity 2 I thought it importat to define the context in which I teach as the awnsers to these questions are all relative to discipline. A mind map seemed like a good way to start. The words highlighted in green were characteristics of the learners that I teach that potentially could become areas to develop flexibility and these charateristics were

    • Mature students

    • School leavers

    • Kinaesthetic learning style

    • Visual Learning style

    • Students who are unsure of the direction of their future studies

    With all that in mind I answered these questions.

    What does flexible learning mean to you?
    To me Flexible Learning, is about making learning more accessable for the learner, giving the learner more choices and control over their study. Thus with flexibility embedded there are different options, successes, and values in the experience of study.

    Why is it nessisary to use a more flexible approach in your work?
    In the mind map when I identified the types of learners in my course I identified 2 main groups - school leavers and mature students. However within those two groups there is a great deal of variation and difference, for example many of the students that are part of the school leavers group have left school early. They are 16 and 17 years old and did not complete year 13. I have noticed that the early school leavers tend to be less focused, they have pre-concieved ideas (often negitive ones) about learning based on their experiences at high school, have high digital literacy but poorer writing skills. They can pick up things quite quickly if they are taught in the right way, but don't have the same level of maturity or selfawareness as perhaps the school leavers who completed year 13. Therefore one of the main reasons for using more flexible approach is simply because to the huge diversity of learners that are taking the course. It is important to bend to the needs of of our students

    What do you need to explore to help this happen?
    To help facilitate more flexible learning areas that require flexible learning must be identifyed. Perhaps a survey designed to identify areas that have the potential for flexible approaches to be developed.

    What goals do you have for using flexible learing in your work?
    Initally I thought of developing more resources in the form of - slide shows/lectures, using moodle and developing instructional/demonstraitive videos. But resources are one of the 5 areas of flexibile approach(Collis,Vingerhoets and Moonen, 1997) and I see potenial in the areas of 'Instructional approach' aswell. I often work one on one with students and I find this highly effective but quite exhausting. Maybe facilitating or bring in more group/peer work is a way to maintain the close connection that I believe is important but not be so taxing on the teacher.

    Collis,B. & Mooner, J. (2001).Flexible Learning in a Digital World. Open and Distance Learning Series. London: Kogan Page Ltd.

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Activity 1 - Introduction

    Welcome to my blog about teaching drawing. I work in the School of Design at Otago Polytechnic where I teach drawing, painting, basic design and writing on the Certificate in Creative Studies program (level 4). I am now in my fifth year teaching and am continually learning and building a teaching philosophy from my experiences.
    Along side teaching I have my own art practice. Painting with oils is my preferred media, but drawing plays a large part in the development of the paintings. The experience and energy that I get from making art influences and feeds my teaching practice and vice versa.

    Initially my goal in taking this course was to develop resources for the drawing papers I teach - "Drawing and Mixed Media" and "Life Drawing, however I have realized that to make effective use of resources it is important to have delivery methods that are both flexible and worth wile. Thus my goals are to develop some flexible resources delivery methods for the teaching of drawing.

    Drawing is a skill that can be learned by anyone, however students often have a pre-concieved idea that it is somehow a 'gift' that some people have and some don't. At the beginning of a drawing course I watch less confident students compare themselves to more accomplished drawers in the class, quickly become intimidated, loosing the little confidence they did have and the motivation to even attempt it. This is a cause for needing to develop flexible learning strategies in the area of drawing.