Monday, 4 July 2011

Getting back on track...

OK, so I have been conspicuously absent for several months now. I'm so crazy-busy doing flexible teaching, that I have taken my eye off the eight ball with flexible learning. Today I had occasion to be party to a very stirring speech from my colleague Christine who has also been a bit in the wilderness with all this stuff, and she has persuaded me to 'get back on that horse' and do a big push on catching up and getting across the line! She really was quite inspirational - "Just an hour every day..." and so here I am, back and with a sack of good intentions.

Speaking of getting back on the horse, I have added six new chooks to my henhouse, and a horse too!! Actually, the horse 'belongs' to my 12 year old daughter, and I'm learning to like him. His name is Finn, and he seems like a very big pet for a 12 year old, but her life has transformed since he came and its all good.

Chris and I had a chat today about what Flexible Learning means to each of us. We both teach in the same blended delivery programme, and for Chris is was as easy as saying "We live and breathe flexible learning" and indeed we do. Every day we engage on some level with our students, whether it be via an email, or face-to-face in a small group tutorial, or online in an Elluminate session. Sometimes we stand and 'teach' in a real classroom situation too, like I did today. From 9 - 5, standing and delivering, today covering statistics for appraising research, philosophical underpinnings of the quantitative and qualitative research traditions, and critical appraisal of research. Those poor students! I tried to lively it up by using Fruit Bursts and balloons, to help them grasp the concepts. Hopefully some of it will stick.

Chris also described flexible learning ideas in relation to how we sometimes use 'trial and error', to see what works on any given day. This fairly pragmatic approach leads us to all sorts of insights as to how to'capture' students, and make the learning meaningful. She spoke about how when we are with our small 'pod' of students for our weekly sessions, we will "feel the audience" by which I think (and hope!) she meant seeing how the mood is on the day - are people feeling enthusiastic or jaded, and pitching the learning for that session in response to our assessments of where people are at, at the time. She highlighted that the main difficulty for us about doing this paper on flexible learning, is that the demands of our flexible teaching have left us with no time to ponder and engage with this material!!

So there it is, I'm dipping my toe back in the water, and hoping to surprise myself into being productive for the remainder of the course. Wish me luck!

1 comment:

  1. Great to have you back on the course Suzanne - it appears to have galloped away from you since this post...:) Your description indicates the different challenges you are encountering in your teaching and as a student. Yes teaching statistics would need some props - your reflection about the session could be very valuable for changing your approach next time. For example, what sort of exercises did you do with them to keep them engaged? Were you able to intersperse "real world" examples from midwifery where stats were a boon and helped practice?

    What would be really great would be to see your responses to the activities for each of the topics in this course. If you are short of time, try combining some of them.

    What is your overarching intention for enhancing and using flexible learning strategies in your teaching? This could be a good place to start.