Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely our own and not necessarily those of our employer or any other occupational therapist.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Connected Learner: University of Bradford

Sarah and I were invited to give a Key Note address at the University of Bradford conference: The Connected Learner: Distance Learning for the 21st Century last week. Through our networks we had been recommended to speak about our experiences in developing the MSc Advanced Occupational Therapy programme delivered online from registration to graduation (applications for Sept 09 intake accepted until August 24th 2009).
Whilst being nervous, we were very keen to both share our ideas and learn from the experiences of others.
The first Key note speaker, Palitha Edirisingha from University of Leicester talked of his work in the media zoo and the work of the Beyond Distance Research Alliance -. Palitha also referred to Salmon's 5 stage model of elearning which is something I intend to look at more closely in a quiet moment.

We then sat in on a couple of workshops on Second Life and the use of social networking in learning . As we were not staff at the university we had difficulty getting access to the internet - but it was a useful experience to see how delegates were introduced to Second Life, and the facilitiator, Will Stewart has kindly offered to share his extremely clear notes and instruction for us to consider using with our second year MSc students as we begin to introduce them to Second Life.

Lunch was very tasty, and we had a chance to chat to a few of the delegates. Sarah's chair nearly landed her in a very embarrasing situation - but luckily she managed to compose herself and the offending bolt from the chair was later found under the table to corroborate her story!

Sarah and I presented to the conference after lunch - potentially the graveyard slot - but we were well received and managed to keep to time. We explored (amongst other things) the importance of
a) the pedagogy informing the technology
b) being a student yourself of the technology before expecting others to engage
c) online identity (more of this soon in another post)
d) social constructivist approach - and being consistant with this
e) pushing boundaries and challenging self and others

We also shared what we have learned from our developments and what we have still to learn. Whilst there were very few questions immediately after our session, we were asked many at the plenary session. Most centred on how we are using negotiated assessment and the time resource requirements in developing and delivering a totally online programme.

What becomes clear as we network and reflect more about our programme is how innovative we are here at Salford with this MSc. Whilst there are pockets of online teaching and learning developments, very few are delivering whole programmes totally online using elearning principles.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to attend our Key Note address. We have been invited to join a couple of University online networks in Ning and Pebblepad - which we are looking forward to being involved in. We have also exchanged contact details with a number of people who are interested in what we are doing and may want to collaborate with us in the future. We are always happy to work with others and share ideas and experiences where relevant.


Sarah Stewart said...

Great work!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the well-delivered speeches!
I just thought you might like to know that at Uni Otago we have been delivering postgraduate courses via distance teaching (a combination of Blackboard and teleconferencing, and now including podcasts) since 1998. I'm not sure we do it brilliantly, but we have been using the technology and delivering courses consistently since that time. There is a good source of information about distance teaching at Uni Otago, so you may want to head there for more information. http://www.otago.ac.nz/courses/distance_study/index.html

Will Stewart said...

The key points for me from your session were:

1. you made it happen, despite all the institutional and personal barriers
2. the emphasis on pedagogy over technology
3. deciding on an approach (social constructivist) and designing your programme around that.

I think that this is an excellent model for others to follow, and I have had alot of positive comments from colleagues here at Bradford on your session.