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.