Sunday, July 7, 2013

Assessment 1 Design Blended Learning Strategies

Flexible Learning Assessment 1
Design strategies for blended learning
My templates for two design ideas for blended learning
            Overall Strategy and Dimensions for using Blogging

            Overall Strategy and Dimensions for using Interactive training game

My current learning environment for the students
How is the course structured?
            The current learning environment for our students is a destination program that incorporates 20hrs face to face learning made up of practical and theory classes. All the classes are designed to develop the student’s skills and knowledge (practical and theoretical) around the learning outcomes for the course. These outcomes reflect current unit standards that have been chosen to best reflect current industry requirements for a modern automotive apprentice. The course is a one year full time course that starts in February and finishes in December.
The course is open entry, apart from the students must demonstrate English language skills up to an overall score of 5.0. And it is an advantage to have completed the level 1 in automotive foundation skills.
There are various mediums that we use to deliver the content e.g. manuals, online learning resource, moodle and practical workshops that enable the students to physically get the experience required to understand the content. By using these mediums we are trying to deliver to all the learning styles. See the VARK learning style guide.
Assessments are delivered through practical tasks that reflect current industry standards and theory test available through the online learning resource or physical test papers. All assessments have to meet current unit standards of the material we are delivering.
How flexible is the course?


This is how I see the current automotive course against The five dimensions of flexibility
Taken from Casey, J. & Wilson, P. (2005).. A practical guide to providing flexible learning. Retrieved from
Who are my learners?
A majority of the students are young males between the ages of 17 to 35 years of age all with an interest in an automotive career or would like to know more about automotive machinery and “how it works”. They all prefer working with “their hands” over theory material. They all want to become “problem solvers”. Their literacy and numeracy skills vary from low to medium scores. Come from all ethnic backgrounds commonly found in New Zealand. The economic background varies amongst the group greatly and can become an issue with access to electronic learning material. All have a natural ability to work with their hands and often struggle to understand operation of components without the opportunity to pull it apart and see how it works. Their computer skills are set up for surfing the net and YouTube exploration, beyond that they need prompting to know what a computer can actually be used for. The students struggle to do self directed study and are easily distracted from focusing on content if it’s not delivered in a fifteen minute window. So basically they are your typical modern day level two to three student.
For more information on the diversity and who my students are see my Blog posts on activity two, three and four.
Barriers that impede my learners
The biggest barriers that I have seen that cause the students to fail or struggle with content is their personal discipline in learning outside of contact hours provided to them and keeping them interested in the content in a way that makes them more active learners. This reflects back to who are my learners. Going on from those issues and taking a larger look at the problem, the students want relevance in the material they are learning, they need to see why, what and how the material is going to increase their understanding of the subject and benefit them personally. The catch is making sure this happens in that limited fifteen minute window or they see their peers finding it relevant and they start feeding of each other’s need for information.
Making the material available on different learning mediums is very important, but getting the student to make the connection to what, why and how the material becomes useful is the hard part.
If you look at the modern student and the environment the currently live in, it is easy to see they learn though interaction between each other and the World Wide Web has given the scope of the whole world to learn from each other. Because of this the way we encourage the students to learn needs to involve their environment and integrate with how they interact with each other in their everyday lives. We can provide material online and tell the students it’s available and how great we think it is, but this doesn’t mean they will see it that way.

So I believe the question isn’t what are the barriers that impede my learners?
The question should be what can be done to remove the barriers that impede my learners?
What are some solutions that will enhance my students learning environment?
Using the dimensions of flexibility as a guide there are two dimensions that I believe could be explored to enhance the current and future learning environment for my students.
Looking at the flexibility of content if a program was designed that incorporated all of the current learning material and resources and it was implemented in such a way that the students found learning the material was instantly relevant, engaging and gave them the chance to become the problem solvers they want to be, gave them the access to the material the need as they need it and allowed them to learn at their own pace, giving them feedback that encourages, adapts and guides them to the learning outcomes that are required to complete the course would be brilliant.
Using a resource like this gives opportunity for the student to engage in learning at any time they wish and allow them to succeed on their own or compete against other students (this could be done by having the program link results to compare against students that are doing the course at the same time).
If we make the content dimension more accessible, engaging and relevant to our modern students their active learning side will teach them more than a lecture ever could.
This program also provides greater scope for the Delivery and Logistics, Instructional approaches and Resources and Time aspects of the five dimensions of flexibility as the program will allow for all these approaches to adapt to the student at the personal level and allows for their “current life commitments”.  

My designs for two blended learning strategies
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. The blog is compiled at their own pace over the course of the study year at a time that suits them.  
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.

Evidence of blogging working
The following list of questions and answers was taken from
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.
In the evaluation stage questionnaire we explored the students' use of blogs specifically. Once again, we report on the results under each of the questionnaire questions.
Did you use blogs in your everyday life before the C.A.M.E. course?
Everyday: 5
A little: 6
Not at all: 32

Clearly some students had some familiarity with blogging, but many did not. To us this result indicated the need to carefully set up processes such as blogging, and not to assume that all students would automatically be willing participants. Students needed to see the value of blogs, and also how they related to their course. Clarity of purpose was key, particularly when students were being assessed on blog contributions.
Do you like writing blogs?
Yes: 28
No: 11

Our first response to this result was one of surprise that students were not concerned about having to write blogs for their course.
Do you write more than usual now that you are blogging for your course?
Yes: 33
No: 8

Most in the sample indicated that on the whole they were producing more writing. Whilst we were aware that some students were more active as bloggers than others, we did not feel that the eight people who said 'no' to this question were necessarily inactive.
What things do you find helpful for writing your blogs?
Online support: 11
Tutor guidance and feedback: 26
Feedback from classmates: 9

This result clearly shows that there was an expectation of support for students' writing and for tutor guidance and feedback in particular. This has implications for the expected skills set for vocational tutors. It seems reasonable to assume that support is provided.
Do you enjoy writing blogs more than you did before?
Yes: 27
No: 16

Some students were extremely motivated by the process of developing an e-portfolio, part of which included blogging. For some, the process was less important than the practical aspects of the course. It was heartening to see that some of the students could see themselves blogging in the future.
It can be seen that using online blogs was very successful in this case and if implemented correctly the students thrive on the opportunity to have blogs.
Other evidence that supports online blogging as a training aid
Gardner, T. (n.d.). Teaching with blogs - readwrite think. Retrieved from
Calberg, F. (n.d.). 11 advantages of using blogs for teaching . Retrieved from

Dimensions that online blogs can enhance
Because online blogs can be interacted with anytime the student is near a computer and can tailor their experience with the course the instructional approaches and resources and time aspects of the five dimensions will be enhanced and is a great starting point to making the automotive level 3 course more flexible in both delivery and logistics of how the student’s receives and comprehends the material/experiences required to meet the learning outcomes for the course.

Strategy two: Interactive training game
Concept in brief
The basic idea is to create an interactive learning experience that students pick their own path through learning objectives that give them problems to solve, based on current industry jobs or scenarios. These problems give them a practical experience in repairing/diagnosing relevant issues that they will come across in industry and in doing these modules the program provides resource material through different mediums that allows the student to gain the knowledge to identify how to overcome the scenario. As they progress through the program, learning outcomes will be completed in the way that the student dictates with only minor restrictions on progress to ensure any prior learning is achieved before higher level training scenarios are started.
Example scenario
            Customer complaint: Front brakes make squealing noise when driving 
·         Scenario provides vehicle and tools required to examine vehicle brakes and procedures to select to carry out job (always having more tolls and procedures than required and in no particular order to ensure student is in control of direction).
·         When student highlights a tool or procedure links to videos, articles, PDFs etc become available to allow students to determine what material the need to know to carry out task correctly.
·          As student selects an operation feedback is given and if required suggestions on what material the need to learn is highlighted.
·         When student completes scenario results are given and rated against ideal answers and suggestions on how to carry out task more effectively are provided.
·         Questions can be included in tasks to check student understanding of material.
·         As tasks are completed and questions answers provided the program adapts to students understanding and modifies material to meet student level and progress.
For more information on my interactive learning game see my blog.
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. Allows prior learning for the practical tasks. 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?

Evidence of gameification working
The following excerpt was taken from the NMC. (2012). Horzon report. Retrieved from
Game-based learning has grown in recent years as research continues to demonstrate its effectiveness for learning. Games for education span the range from single-player or small-group card and board games all the way to massively multiplayer online games and alternate reality games. Those at the first end of the spectrum are easy to integrate into the curriculum, and have long been an option in many higher education institutions; but the greatest potential of games for learning lies in their ability to foster collaboration and engage students deeply in the process of learning. Once educational gaming providers can match the volume and quality of their consumer-driven counterparts, games will garner more attention.

Game-based learning has gained considerable traction since 2003, when James Gee began to describe the impact of game play on cognitive development. Since then, research, and interest in, the potential of gaming on learning has exploded, as has the diversity of games themselves, with the emergence of serious games as a genre, the proliferation of gaming platforms, and the evolution of games on mobile devices. Developers and researchers are working in every area of game-based learning, including games that are goal-oriented; social game environments; non-digital games that are easy to construct and play; games developed expressly for education; and commercial games that lend themselves to refining team and group skills. Role-playing, collaborative problem solving, and other forms of simulated experiences are recognized for having broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines.

The following excerpt was taken from the Sandford,Ulicsak,Rudd, R. M. T. (2007). Teaching with games.

·         Recent statistics found 62% of students said they would find games motivating (Ipsos MORI survey, Feb-May 2006), and 59% of teachers would consider using games in the classroom (Ipsos MORI survey,Nov 2005).
·         “The pupils enjoyed the project as much as I did, because it gaveme time to take care of each student, which is sometimes not easyin normal lessons.”
·         “The improvement of their skills in working as a team was enormous.”
·         “A bonus of the game is that you can do many virtual experiments in a very short time with results that are much better than physically doing the experiments… On the other hand you have to keep in mind that these are only virtual experiments and that of course can not entirely replace hands-on experiments.”

Other evidence that supports gameification as a teaching medium
Whitton, D. N. (2009, June 4). Using games to enhance learning. Retrieved from
Marzano, R. J. (2010, February). The art and science of teaching / using games to enhance student achievement. Retrieved from
Dimensions that Interactive training game can enhance
Using the gameification method promotes engagement to the students that isn’t possible through any other means of teaching short of actually doing the work physically. That is because playing games is the closest thing to reality there is and because of this the gamification design enhances all of the five aspects of flexibility.
·         Allows open entry as program adapts to their level and guides them to where they need to be.
·         Time to complete course is up to them and the program revolves around their lives.
·         Content is enhanced due to the programs ability to interrupt and modify program to suit each student and allows for growth.
·         Logistics and Delivery, program is down loadable to modern online devices. Could be broken into smaller programs that are fully server based so only small memory required on viewing device making it possible for smart phones or people who don’t have internet capability available all the time. 
·         Instructional approaches and resources There is no limit to the resources and learning mediums that can be utilized to blend into the program. Also the program personalizes its approach to learning to each student.

Reference list
·         Whitton, D. N. (2009, June 4). Using games to enhance learning. Retrieved from
·         Marzano, R. J. (2010, February). The art and science of teaching / using games to enhance student achievement. Retrieved from
·         Sandford,Ulicsak,Rudd, R. M. T. (2007). Teaching with games.

·         NMC. (2012). Horzon report. Retrieved from
·         Gardner, T. (n.d.). Teaching with blogs - readwrite think. Retrieved from
·         Calberg, F. (n.d.). 11 advantages of using blogs for teaching . Retrieved from
·         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.
·         Taken from Casey, J. & Wilson, P. (2005).. A practical guide to providing flexible learning. Retrieved from
·         Fleming, N. (2001). Vark a guide to learning styles. Retrieved from


  1. Hi Kevin

    What a comprehensive and informative post !

    It was interesting to read about the student and facilitator perspective on blogging and the issue of short attention span.

    Also, I can see how gaming can be useful for learning. What you write in the paragraph about gaming definitely does make sense.

    I like the graphics you use. I think it is a great tool to visually display a concept. Using graphics is something I have to learn more about and yours are rather inspiring me to 'give it a go'.

    I think that you are making a real good point in the paragraph "Barriers that impede my learners" where you mention:
    "Going on from those issues and taking a larger look at the problem, the students want relevance in the material they are learning, they need to see why, what and how the material is going to increase their understanding of the subject and benefit them personally."
    That is a very good point and definitely makes a lot of sense to me.
    Transferring this to my context, I can see that issue with some of my students. There has to be some purpose to what they are doing (relevance),. Making an art piece for someone special can be a good motivation (why). Being interested in learning about the material they are using (what - in this case this could be using the material of clay in a creative way) and 'how' there is an overall personal benefit to them. This could be the satisfaction of making something for self/others, gaining skills through working with a possibly unfamiliar material, increased self-esteem... etc.

    I really enjoy reading your posts Kevin.


    1. Thanks Jacqueline. I have always found in anything that I have learned that I need relevance to keep me active and interested. So it is only natural for me to give the students that same opportunity. you idea of making something special is great, its amaxing how much more effort is avalible when its personal.

  2. Great to see the references appearing. You have obviously been exploring a lot of interesting material. This is another excellent post with a comprehensive analysis of your learners, and convincing reasons for designing interactive training games and blogging.

    Perhaps include an option fro students to send posts - text and images - to their blog via their cellphones - they don't need smartphones to do this - just the will to use good english rather than txt language. Would this work with your group?

  3. Thats a good idea Bronwyn. I am starting constucting courses and I might use the blog idea as my assessment.

  4. Hi Kevin
    I have just been reading your post and I have really enjoyed your description of your learners, especially as they are so different to ours e.g. we have only 5 - 10 % males enrolled in the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy programme! I tried to open the link to one of the readings posted on the Moodle page “Analysis of Learners - Learner Characteristics and Instructional Design by Katy Campbell (1997)" as I was inspired after reading your comments and wanted to explore more about gender issues relating to learners, however I will have to try and find some other material as the link didn’t work.
    I have been very quiet, but I am now in the initial stage of developing my Moodle book and I have managed to set up the actual Moodle book framework (which is a first for me, so feeling rather excited about the skills I am developing as part of this course – Thank you Bronwyn). I have completed the introduction and I am now in the process of completing the “Analysis of the Learner and Context”, but I will post a message when I am done.
    Thanks for being an inspiration :)
    Cheers Annette