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)