Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Flexible Learning: Trying to get my head straight

I don't know where time has flown but suffice to say I am coming to the end of the Flexible Learning course I have been taking. At the same time, I am about to complete the Aged Care Queensland eMentoring project so the timing is extremely fortuitous.

Not quite sure what I am doing
When I started the Flexible Learning course I wanted to concentrate on how I would develop a course for the mentors who are taking part in my eMentoring project. In other words, they are doing the mentoring - how could I turn their experience into a qualification?

I have developed course materials in the form of paper materials and CD ROM, and live and recorded workshops. The mentors would also have their practical experience to learn from. I have a framework for their mentoring course provided by The National Training Information Service. All I would have work out how they would be assessed.

The plan had been that the work that I do for the flexible learning course will then be turned into a level four certificate by the RTO arm of Aged Care Queensland.

Developing a flexible eMentoring program
However, I have not got to that stage because I have been focusing on the eMentoring program itself, and looking at how mentoring can be delivered in a flexible manner. But I am not sure if planning an eMentloring program meets my own learning outcomes. So here's my questions:
  • Should my plan be for a flexible eMentoring program, or for a flexible course for mentors?
  • How should I approach assessment?
Goals for the next few days
There are two more things I want to do before I tackle my flexible elarning plan.
  • Interview Carolyn McIntosh who did this course in 2008 and has been working all year to deliver her midwifery courses in a flexible manner. This is going to require working out how to record a Skype conversation.
  • Look at flexible assessment methods, including how students can develop their own assessment methods.
Any comments about anything in this post will be gratefully received. If you were going to be 'assessed' on how you performed as a mentor in a formal mentoring program to gain a qualification, what do you think would be a reasonable method of assessment?

Image: 'img_1144.jpg' yish


Sarah Stewart said...

I also need to integrate learning theory into this flexible plan. I would like to apply connectivism but I am not sure how it would fit as a learning theory with mentoring.

Carolyn said...

I am aware only in a broad sense of the ideas of connectivism as a learning theory. From the ideas I have around this I think it would fit well with you ementoring. There is a need for connection between mentor and mentee, the mentor is supporting the mentee to connect theory and practice. The mentee is also supporting the mentee to maintain connections within the profession, with research which supports practice decisions etc etc.
There are also all the issues of connectivism in relation to flexible learning. Allowing individuals flexibility of time place etc however providing mechanisms and supports for them connect with course content, with learnign resources, with educators and with peers.
Tell me if I am way off track here Sarah as I did not have time to engage with the connectivism course but it is something that does interest me and I would like to know if the ideas I have align with the theories being developed.

Dzyanna said...

If its about an elearning plan what about the mentor and the mentoree entering into a learning agreement using a mutually agreed learning plan. this could be done as a table, could be online in a mutally editable space like a wiki or google doc. Have a column each for what was to be learnt, how learning would occur, what would consitute evidence that learning had occurred and when by. The assessment then could be on the competent production of the evidence. Use photos, audio, video or actual docs to verify the evidence. It wouldn't have to be set in concrete as a one-off thing - it could be added to as more learning was negotiated and changed to reflect changes in the mentor/mentee relationship.

Leigh Blackall said...

nice suggestions from Carolyn and Dzyanna.

perhaps you consider this:

do you want a quick pass and out the door, or do you want to make something of it?

Following your blog and tweets, I can see from your notes in developing the mentoring program over there, that you have been thinking quick a lot about its flexibility, including some of the deepest consideration yet from the course participants about cultural and access issues.

So what I'm saying is that you've already done the work, if you just wanted to pass the flexi learning course, finish the topical blogging and give us a presentation about the mentoring work responding to the topics of the flexi course.

On the other hand, if you think you could take your mentoring work further and develop a new course plan that teaches others how to be mentors and mentees.. by all means!

Time is getting short in the flexi learning course in terms of the conference presentations.. we are about to set a date for it...

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you all for your comments-all very useful, and challenging.

Carolyn - loved your comments about connectivisim. I tend to see connectivism in terms of heaps of people but you put it so beautifully in terms of two people. Thank you.

Dzyanna: I haven't thought about assessing learning within a mentoring relationship, but you are right, there has to be some sort of summing up of what has been learned. This should happen as the mentoring relationships ends. I don't know if I would suggest something as formal as you have suggested, but at the same time, it may help the mentee to evaluate their learning in these terms.

Leigh; thank you for raising the bar, as usual :) I think in the end, it will be a matter of my personal time. But I would appreciate a personal conversation about this so will contact you in the next couple of days.

Bronwyn hegarty said...

Hi sarah
Since our chat it looks like you are heading towards developing some ideas for what I call a negotiated assessment. Dzyanna is on to it with the idea of a learning plan, and this can incorporate the assessment as she suggests. I think the principles of connectivism (http://www.connectivism.ca/about.html) will fit very well with this idea. For example, in a mentor/mentee relationship (which i expect has a practical as well as a theoretical aspect in the course) is based on a series of negotiations. How to meet, how often, how to communicate, how to document the process etc. So it makes sense to have negotiation about the assessment.

Since personal learning spaces and critical thinking and reflection are key to connectivism, the assessments could be used to help create these conditions. Dialogue between the parties could be recorded - audio/video and written (metacognition develops better this way).

You might want to consider a collaborative journal between mentor and mentee. I tried this once in an e-mentoring situation and it worked well as long as we made the time to contribute to it regularly.

As the others have mentioned a way to help the participants connect professionally is also important so a blog could help them extend their networks.

A few ideas and I am looking forward to hearing more.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for all your comments and ideas. What I have decided to think about is a learning plan for the mentors - how they can get an academic qualification from their experiences as mentors. This will be the icing on the cake, so to speak, with regards to my eMentoring project and will be a useful framework for Aged Care Queensland to continue working with once I have left the project.

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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