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Scenario Programme of Social Services

Page history last edited by Hazel Owen 10 years, 2 months ago
Introduction Scenario ICTELT Model Possible Approaches
Key Design Points Programme of Social Services Appendices References

Specific considerations for the Programme of Social Services


There are growing demands that graduates from tertiary institutes not only have knowledge of their major, but that they can also demonstrate high levels of literacy and critical thinking skills (Murchú & Muirhead, 2005).  It has been suggested that how learners construct knowledge should inform how a flexible learning course is designed, in particular the necessity of students ‘making’ meaning for themselves from input, data, and ideas (Hughes, Kooy, & Kanevsky, 1997).  In response, many universities are developing courses that are more student-centered and that encourage learners to monitor their own learning (Waldrip, Fisher, & Dorman, 2005).  A report on several studies of student-centered flexible learning in tertiary environments (Lea, Stephenson, & Troy, 2003) indicated that students improved their study skills and their ability to manage complex situations, although they were slower, initially, to demonstrate advances in learning compared with ‘traditional’ classroom approaches.  However, for some students who have not completed the secondary school system, to meet the challenges of courses that utilise a flexible-learning, learner-centered approach, there may be needs pertaining to literacy, study and higher-order thinking skills, as well as ICT skills. Higher order thinking skills and strategies, it is argued, are fostered when learners interact with peers to brainstorm, negotiate, explain, question, disagree, persuade, and solve problems (Sharan, 1980).


Ideally, therefore, the flexible learning adaptation of the Programme of Social services would be cumulative and iterative, supporting an experiential, active, deep learning approach which maximises learning potential as the scaffolding support (see Appendix 6) is gradually reduced.  Appropriate weighting of assignment and assessment grades would mean that students have a chance to use the skills and strategies acquired, evaluate, and then re-use them without the possibility of failing the course in the early stages. It could be recommended that part of the flexible learning course utilise Jonassen and Rohrer-Murphy’s (1999) advice that activities are based around a “project to conduct….[that has emerged] from real world contexts” (p. 69).


As a balancing factor, time and the amount of effort students are able and willing to invest has to be considered (Semones, 2001), especially with students who are working and/or have family and community commitments.  Some collaborative projects can be time and effort intensive; however, research has indicated that extended participation in complex tasks promotes the deepest learning (Marzano, 1992).  Therefore, as encouragement and recognition of the workload involved, assessments could be designed so that one project covered the demonstration of a range of related learning outcomes rather than requiring several, separate assessments. The course could also employ a functional, ‘authentic’ approach with the focus being on process with ‘real-world’ significance.  Thus, the relevance of both content and skills to current and future learning, in addition to their current/future workplace is consistently applied and re-enforced.


The Programme of Social Services has a range of multi-cultural learners. Cultural aspects would, therefore, be key in the design of the flexible learning course (Pargman, 1998).  Factors to be considered were teaching and learning styles, appropriacy (McLoughlin, 1999), roles and expectations, and different cultures’ views of the value of peer feedback and self-directed learning. For example, opportunities for feedback (Sengupta, 2001) and reflection have been identified as valuable, in particular in asynchronous online sessions where there are increased opportunities for equal participation (Warschauer, 1998). However,  it has also been recognised that students from some cultures find giving thoughtful feedback, stressful (Kivela, 1996), especially when non-verbal clues are not available (Gee, 1999).  Therefore, a flexible learning approach can maximise the opportunities offered by face-to-face classroom sessions as a forum for discussion whereby learners have input into strategies to feedback they are most comfortable with, as well as being able to access models and examples of possible approaches. 


The LMS employed is Moodle.  In accordance with Keller’s ARCS model of motivation (Keller & Suzuki, 1998), the initial interface viewed by students in Moodle should be bold, containing a small instructional segment and incorporating clearly named, culturally appropriate, pictorial icons.  Students’ attention should, as a result, be captured and maintained, and they would have immediate independent access to any aspect of the learning materials, unrestricted by possible skills or literacy challenges.  New content area icons can be used to indicate to students that they are commencing a new topic area. However, the icons pertaining to transferable learning areas should remain unchanged and familiar to students (Moran, & Owen, 2007).


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ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching Framework and Model by Hazel Owen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 New Zealand License.

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