Thursday, June 20, 2013

Learning strategies

Learning strategies
In this blog I am going to show two different learning strategies that I believe have merit to be used in the current and future course’s that I deliver for the Otago Polytechnic automotive training course.
Strategy one: Blogging

Student perspective
Use online blogs to become a living diary of the students experiences outside of polytechnic, get them to ask questions to fellow students and facilitator’s through the blog as they reflect on what they have experienced in industry or personal life. Interact with fellow students on a professional level and increase each other’s knowledge in the automotive industry. Students can provide videos, pictures, links to web documents and their own personal statements of their current knowledge. Provides a record to their facilitator of work experience and practical learning they do out of polytechnic. 
Facilitator perspective
Use the blog to assess what each student is finding relative and interesting to help keep teaching material current to students needs. E.G. if students are talking about a certain subject the facilitator can adapt their teaching material to provide more information/understanding of that subject. This could make the experience more active from the facilitator’s perspective and create an organic experience for the students. The facilitator will need to make sure they keep the material relevant to course outcomes but flexible enough to accommodate student interests.
Use the student’s blog to compile a record of what practical experiences can be used as assessment or record of prior learning and record their work experience hrs.
How does this make the course more flexible?
If used correctly the blog could become a powerful tool that allows the student the flexibility to personalize their experience the what, where and when they are learning, give them the opportunity to learn more about the industry at their own pace. Have input to what the class is learning about and provides reserved students a way of posing questions to the class. By showing each other what they have been experiencing the students will have the ability to learn of each other’s experiences and get more enthusiastic about the industry, which in turn drive them to become more active learners. By having an active resource online the course becomes more interactive and will appeal to the social and connected student that is now the norm.
Resources required implementing this concept
To get this to work minimal resources are required, access to computers are the main problem and not all students have smart phones, but if computer classes where timetabled and access to computers was available it would just take bye in from the students. Also some students may require basic computer lessons to start blogging.

Overall Strategy and Dimensions for using Blogging

Strategy two: Interactive training game
Student perspective
Program provides interesting and reactive way to learn content. Adapts to student ability and provides challenge to encourage progress. They learn logical thinking skills that will help when doing the practical tasks that are required to be an automotive technician. The program provides access to a variety of learning strategies, which makes the content more flexible to different learning styles. Set up in such away the students can see the relevance of what they are learning. Giving the students “real life” problems that get the students to learn and demonstrate strategies that are relevant to give them confidence in modern industry.  

Facilitator perspective
The program can be used to guide the students through the material and learning outcomes in a logical fashion. The reports available from the program can show skill level and what method of delivery each student prefers; this will allow a more customized course for each student. Allows for theory assessment to be done on line. Gives prior learning for the practical task. Encourages active learning because program resembles “real life” problems.
How does this make the course more flexible?
One of the biggest problems with the students of this generation is their “attention span” and in part it’s a modern world complaint. Because they want “everything now” and wont engage in any task longer than fifteen minutes. The gameification method provides a medium that demands their input which turns them into the facilitator, making them have the control of the learning. This negates the short attention span and provides a level of engagement that is very difficult to obtain in these modern students.
Don’t believe me!  How do you think facebook and youtube have become so popular within a modern society? They both cater for (some would say have created) this short attention span. Facebook games and mobile games are now hugely popular and reach a wide variety of people. So by taking this approach and adapting it to the course program the modern student will embrace this level of interaction over say making them sit through 2-3hr theory lessons that switch them of entirely or making them read ever increasing amounts of material online that does not respond them and makes them feel disconnected from the course.
The gameification platform incorporates different learning styles and is flexible in delivery, gives instant response and encourages participation and active learning what more could you want?
Resources required implementing this concept
Now this is where we have a problem to create this “game” the resources will be incredibly large. IT support and program designers working with trades people to create this interactive learning program will cost!!! But if done correctly the program could be used worldwide and generate income that would make the course stainable.
Do we look to the future and create this stainable learning environment or do we only look for temporary fixes that will just work in the mean time?
Let me know what you think about my ideas, like all ideas they will adapt with more thought and input from other people.

Overall Strategy and Dimensions for using Blogging


  1. Kevin these two strategies are great! Student blogs and an Interactive training game. You have put forward a sound rationale for choosing these strategies and the benefits they might bring for your diverse group of learners.

    For the dimensions you need to indicate how the content, activities, communication and assessment (that is the components of the learning design) fit alongside some or all of the five dimensions of flexible learning - time, content, delivery & logistics, instructional approaches and resources, and entry requirements .

    It would be good if you could give an indication of how flexible the approaches are - perhaps rate as low, mid, high. It looks to me like the main dimensions you are designing for are related to: Content, Instructional approaches and resources, with some Delivery & logistics because the strategies are online.

    You also need to include some references. For example - add supporting evidence for the use of blogs and games in learning - why they are likely to be effective, why are these approaches more likely to engage and motivate your students etc.?

    This article looks relevant - is about level 3 Certificate in Automotive and Mechanical Engineering students: Marsden, N. & Piggot-Irvine, E. (2012). Using blogging and laptop computers to improve writing skills on a vocational training course. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(1), 30-47. Retrieved from Ajet

    I will post feedback on strategy 2, separately.

  2. re the Interactive training game:
    It would be good to get more description about the game - what might it look like, and what sort of skills would students be learning? I agree it can be time and $ expensive to develop this type of resource.

    It is a lot easier to find resources that already exist if you can but I realise that they are not always in context. For example:

    1. The Merlot pedagogy portal: has lots of resources. For example these might be relevant simulations that are like games. physics applets - mechanics resources including one on constant acceleration.

    Also the Australian Flexible framework has a series of toolboxes - see:
    Toolboxes. Look near the top for Automotive Industry 503 & Retail, Service and Repair 902

    A few years ago we hired a multimedia technician to adapt one of the toolboxes for Food safety in hospitality courses as some of the regulations were different - it didn't take a lot of time and was no big hassle for someone with html knowledge - in fact an IT student could do it.

    When you discuss gamification - you could mention that this approach is a trend technology and cite the information in the 2013 Horizon report - link is on course website as you will know.

    Also, this presentation has some interesting points about gamification and links to resources. Effective Gamification Improves Learning.

    This book chapter could also be useful. Games and simulations. A new approach in education?

    All you need t do is include some references and you are 'good to go' on this assessment.

    1. I do understand if we use resources that already exist it makes it cheaper. But does that make us industry leaders and innovators or just using someone else’s design to fill a gap and it doesn’t really meet the original idea. Also imagine if we inovated this idea and the number of students we can reach throught it and also the training institutes that would want to use our program?

  3. Hi Kevin, I thought this posting was succinct and made alot of commonsense to me and seem to be valid, accessible, and achievable tasks for your students. The badge idea I like but its not something that I have a leaning towards but a reward system I believe does encourage buy in for many.