Educational Development


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Sandra Elias met with Terry and I today to talk about efforts to develop flexible learning options for 1st, 2nd and 3rd year midwifery students. The idea seems to be to offer as many opportunities for students to learn about Midwifery without having to move to Dunedin for full time study. The course would be aiming for a workplace training schedule, giving students an opportunity to make contact with a midwife in their area to support them in what they are learning.

There seems to be 2 aspects to the type of content in this course. Theoretical and practical skills. There are 6 theoretical components, 2 x Bio Science, 2 x research, and 2 x nutrition. and there are 30 practical skills components based on the skills assessments check book:

Extended discussion was had on ways to use video to support skills development, with an agreement that videos should not only be available online and that CDROM and DVD mail outs should be an option for students to elect. Likewise for online video, students should have an option to watch streaming or progressive download, or to download the video first.

The discussion of video moved to what other departments may already have, considering the more generic skills. Terry highlighted quite a few skills that VetNursing share and have already developed video for. Some discussion was had in exploring a partnership with other Departments and Schools in developing such generic skills videos.

We then moved to the more theoretical content and looked at ways to develop the best possible online resources based on the work that had already been done, and was likely to be done in the coming future. We talked a little about the use of PowerPoint presentations with me highlighting some of the accessibility and flexibility of use issues in the use of such a format for presentations. In particular, Sandra was interested in the option to add audio to her PowerPoint presentations. I first of all pointed out that developing the audio and slides separately (but designed to work together) would ensure a maximum level of flexibility for her students as well as for her future use of the resources. I explained that developing slides and recording audio all with PowerPoint or any application that exports to closed formats would be limiting her options for the content in the long term. To this end I suggested that Sandra use the free and open audio recorder Audacity to record audio, and to experiment with Open Office for exporting her PowerPoint slides to PDF and SWF. Embedding the audio with the resulting presentation files would still be possible, but in a way that ensures flexibility of use in the future - such as using the audio or slides stand alone.

I also suggested the use of photo sharing web services such as BubbleShare and Flickr in the consideration of online presentations. The use of these services not only make optimisation of images for efficient Internet delivery a straight forward process, but enables students to refer to specific slides in a series and even pull apart the presentations for their own needs. The use of these web based services like these would be an add on to the more standard presentation slides. I showed an example of my use of Flickr for presentations.

The time constraints of the Midwifery and Nursing staff was raised as a potential risk for the content development and online support of flexible learning options, especially in the development of content. Some unresolved discussion was had on how to manage this risk, with loose suggestions of spreading the involvement in the development to other areas, such as other departments buying in to video developments. To manage this initial risk, I have set up a resource feed for Midwifery teachers and learners to subscribe and add to, with the idea being that we build course resources initially based on what is already out there. Workshops in finding and reusing digital resources and tagging them for sharing are available monthly at the Polytech

Sandra Terry and I resolved to meet again, and work towards getting more of the stake holders in Otago Polytechnic involved in the planning and gathering of resources as possible.

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