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I had another meeting with Leigh Blackall (Blogroll) regarding development of our programme.  We started talking about a couple of long-term projects that I’ve got in mind (collaborative development of global learning outcomes for massage therapy, and open learning resources using a wiki-media or something similar), then moved on to focus more on issues relating to the present development – the use of Otago Polytechnic’s Community Learning Centres, copyright & open-development, staff development that’s needed for the move to blended delivery, and an interesting testing option.

Community Learning Centres (CLCs)

With the move to online and distance delivery, I’m aware that we will need to have significant supports in place for some of our students.  We’re is lucky to have the resource of Otago Polytechnic’s CLCs in this.  These centres exist in key locations throughout Otago, and their staff have experience in supporting students in their self-directed computer learning (with Blackboard, MS products, and to some degree wikis, blogs, and related media).  However we will need to provide our students with an orientation to our programme, and to the software which we are planning to utilise in the programme.  This will need to be facilitated by a combination of staff in the CLCs, and our teaching staff in an online capacity.  Currently this type of scenario is not supported by the CLCs (although apparently there is a plan to provide EFTs-based funding for similar scenarios – I’m still waiting to hear back on this).  However, I’m aware that there’s a need to make this a fairly big priority.  I consider it essential to have this as a solid base for the programme.

Copyright & Open Source

Leigh’s main focus is moving education towards an open-access model.  He’s interested in the use of wikis and other open community-learning environments in education.  While I am fairly enthusiastic about this, I don’t see it as being particularly realistic for our programme at present.  One of the main problems is that massage is a fairly specialised area, and there are not many quality open-content resources out there relative to education or many other fields.  This means that as educators we are still often placed in the position of needing to use copyrighted content.  I can see that we can move towards a completely open-access course structure, and I do intend to do this, but I think in the meantime we don’t really have the time to search for the specialised open-source resouces that we need (particularly in areas such as anatomy where it’s important that the images that our students engage with provide them with a really 3D sense of the tissues of the body).  Again there are options (see my last post on the Anatomy museum – Health Info Island – Second Life), but they all take more time than we have at the moment.  For the present it seems wise to stay with a password protected learning management system (i.e. Blackboard) so that we can stay within the boundaries of our copyright laws.

Staff Development

Online facilitation is new for most staff in the massage department.  We will need some experience before we get going with it next year.  I intend to enrol & will strongly suggest that other staff members enrol in a course which is run by Brownwyn Hegarty of Otago Polytechnic designed to do just this.  (Just as soon as I get through the next 2 weeks)

 Survey Monkey

Finally Leigh introduced me to a piece of software that looks useful for creating online tests that will sit outside of a learning management system, thus being more inline with the open-source ethos that he’s a big proponent of.  Haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, but I’ll keep you posted.