Monday, September 1, 2008

Refreshed and ready ...

A week is a long time in politics, as Winston and Helen will certainly testify, And so it can be in education! Last week just seemed frenetic, but when I look back I am not sure why. Anyway, I managed to rest up on the weekend with my family at our house in Cromwell. We just love it there, and most reluctantly headed for home on Sunday afternoon. I have added a photo showing the view from our deck (taken 2 weeks ago - no snow this weekend) - it is a staggeringly beautiful place! More important, it is an easy place to unwind - a jog around the lake shore, a cycle into Cromwell ( 8 kilometres each way) and dinner at the Bannockburn pub ( our kids' favouite eating place). Even managed to lay some cobblestones - therapeutic to say the least, although a tad hard on the back!

So another week about to unfold, starting with our annual spring breakfast. I really do enjoy cooking for our staff, and I know the rest of our Leadership Team do as well. There was a good turn out and I hope staff enjoyed the opportunity to forget about the pressures we work under - even for an hour or so.

I spent a couple of days last week at a TANZ meeting in Whangarei, mostly discussing where to next with our TANZ collaboration. If you have not heard about TANZ, it is a collaboration of like thinking polytechnics committed to collaborative rather than competitive action. There are six polyechnics involved: Otago Polytechnic, NMIT, CPIT, NorthTec, UCol and EIT. Anyway, we came along way towards agreeing a vision for our future - one that will involve co-development and co-ownership of programmes and will evolve into co-delivery as well. This is a significant advance in thinking about the future of TANZ, which up until now has been a collaboration around discrete projects - mostly programme developments, but also the academic harmonisation project. With this latter project we are working towards common academic processes and a common set of academic regulations.

I am personally looking forward to co-delivery, because I can see some really good benefits for all if we go down this track, especially for learners. However, co-delivery will require all players to move to a blended learning model of delivery for the programmes to be co -taught. The challenge will be not to confine ourselves just to e learning, but to use the full set of options. All of the TANZ partners are advancing down the blended learning pathway, so some coordination of development will be called for.

Interestingly, the topic of "digital literacy" also came up in our TANZ discussions - it seems we are all concerned about the issue I raised in my last posting. NorthTec have resolved to set minimum standards for digital literacy, which will initially be a requirement for all new staff, and will serve as a signal and guide to existing staff. These standards are still under development and will probably be available in a couple of weeks. I must say that I rather like the approach! By the way, I did appreciate the comments from Sarah and Leigh on this topic. I agree with Sarah that we do need to focus on more than just using internet tools and technologies per se. Rather, we need to use them appropriately; and to heed Leigh's warning that this will take some time - no quick fixes here>

I did not achieve my self imposed target of posting an audio clip, but will try harder this week!



Sarah Stewart said...

I wonder if we should be concentrating on more co-delivery/teaching amongst ourselves at OP because I think this is a wonderful tool to learn about teaching itself?

willie campbell said...

I am pondering digital literacy at the moment, not so much for delivery/engagement with new learning, but for the facilitation of critical reflection which brings the intuitive or well known(common sense!!!) to the fore and able to be exepressed in a conscious wayt- through sound APEL processes. It seems to me that the presence of someone who is capable and is able to co-work as SWarah suggests is one of the most valuable tools around.

phil said...

Good point Sarah!Yes, we should also be looking at internal "co-delivery" eg for courses such as research methods and communications.But this would be an "as well as" rather than "instead of" co-delivery across institutions.

Anonymous said...

Having participated in an 'on-line' PD of sorts hosted by your staff, I have to say I can hardly wait for the next one. Which has led me down another path as well.
Sarah has convinced me to do a bit of a gig on Elluminate for the October one, I plan on dumping her with all the technical things! She seems to like them!
Distance learning is something we have had here in Canada for quite some time (my father did distance education through his university for quite some time). On-line learning seems to be paving a nice little path for itself as well. Sadly a lot of the people who would benefit from this opportunity do not have stable access to internet connections. For example in the far North, it is difficult to even get radio or satellite reception at certain times. As well as the cost of such things. The money to have the connection, computer, as well as the course fees are sometimes much too high for people to even entertain the idea. Sad really.
I have to thank you for the photo and forcing some more geography lessons on me.
I am drooling at the fact that your homes and workplace are so close to where Mr. Jackson filmed the LoTR trilogy.
HUGE Tolkien fans in this house. Even have a child with a 'first draft spelling' of a name in his books.

Leigh Blackall said...

Wow! the story and image of you and family at Cromwell even helped me to unwind! Its been a bit crazy for me too (always is really).. just found out from my ever on task administrative assistant that I was meant to be on leave since Aug 25th! I always do it!! Get so wrapped up in day to day, I forget to look at the calendar..

That's not to say I'm not getting out. Just spent a weekend up at Arthurs Pass testing out the ski touring options... am loving the skiing this year!

Merrolee said...

Hi Phil
Blog is coming along nicely! I saw your comment re thinking about coteaching across courses such as research - but while we are thinking outside or inside the box - lets not follow what everyone else does and deliver the same 'core' courses such as research methodology - I know we've had a discussion re this already, and I'm heading against the popular stream of thought! If Otago Polytechnic is looking at points of difference - which is what we try to do in the school - what can we offer that meets the need and isn't the 'same' as say other health based programmes - then for me its far more logical and likely to be a good marketing tool if we offer joint electives that are co-taught! Oh... and just had a conversation with a therapist who had done a multi-disciplinary pgcert and was again reminding me that while it was good to study with other disciplines, the major reason to swop to our programme for the rest of her pgdip was that she want to talk OT with OT's....!

We have a meeting set up in the health group to look at joint electives and I think this is a very good way for us to go - we'll be able to 'sell' the multi-disciplinary flavour much easier!

hadashi said...

Yes, audio podcasting is my 'barrier' too at the moment. I guess if I persisted it would soon become old hat. By the way, a blog you may care to take a look at is Dave Pollard's at
There's a wealth of thought on a number of subject areas that I know you'll be interested in.

phil said...

Hi Merrolee, I have been meaning to respond to your post for a week now - but better late than never. I really like your idea of joint electives, and hope you come up with something in the Health Group. But what about joint electives with Business, or Sport or IT?

Merrolee said...

Hi Phil
Thanks for that - I've been away so only now just got back to checking what's new on your blog! By the way makes for very interesting reading - you're taking to blogging like a duck to water! said
"I really like your idea of joint electives, and hope you come up with something in the Health Group. But what about joint electives with Business, or Sport or IT?"
Absolutely - another one we have in mind which would bring in business at least.. would focus on OT's developing skills to manage businesses.... and another would be to focus on health informatics - a growing area for OT's... so yep thoughts are there, it's just finding the right people to collaborate with, and then to ensure that the market (ie health professionals).. would be interested in enrolling!

phil said...

Good to hear about the business links Merrolee. I believe an important point of difference for the Polytechnic could be if we were to offer to all students the opportunity to learn how to be self employed as well as to be "work ready", which implies being employed by someone else. Also, to offer everyone the opportunity to learn about managing and leading.It is not unreasonable for graduates to be self employed or in managing roles 3 to 5 years after graduation - once they have some experience under their belts. So, we could have a genuine cross disciplinary business school - which would be a first. I know that we have lecturers in nearly every programme area who have run their own businesses and/or been managers in their profession and who therefore have the experience base to contribute to a cross disciplinary business programme. Of course, there would be some theory to be learned, but this is always the case as we develop our programmes and develop in our roles. How rich would a business school be if it had staff in every discipline?
And the wonderful thing is that the learning outcomes that businesss owners, managers and leaders need are pretty much identical - it is the application context that differs. So, we would not be reinventing new programmes for different vocational/professional areas, we would be contextualising delivery. And with a blended learning approach we could make appropriate use of common education resources - especially where the contextualisation was more in the application than in the initial learning.
Actually, we have a strategy day coming up on Oct 17 for the School of Applied Business, and I will float this possible future then. Meanwhile I would be keen to hear what people from different discipline areas think.

Leigh Blackall said...

Hillary Jenkins from the Business School has initiated the development of a short course aimed to be a generic course for all subject areas to offer. Planning for Small Business. We initially called a meeting with representation from the Chamber of Commerce, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, The Business School, Sustainability project developers, and Kick Start/Audacious were we first checked if anything already existed and that setting something up wouldn't be directly competing with anything else in the community. We confirmed that such a course aimed at undergrads would not be competing. I am currently in the process of negotiating copyrights with NZTE for the right to make a derivative of their text they offer to support people interested in planning for and setting up a small business. We want to run a short course based directly on that text so that by the end of the course people will have a completed business plan and accounts spread sheet set up. The extra thing we are hoping to add is triple bottom line accounting and social/marketing fields in the plan template so we can cover important sustainability topics.