Saturday, 1 February 2014

Activity Eight - Blended Learning Strategy –Design Template Two

Blended Learning Strategy –Design Template Two

My second strategy is to improve the underpinning knowledge of our students by getting them to set up a reflective learning ePortfolio in the form of a blog. Part of the blog would be to have an open forum on-line for discussion around the tasks that the students are writing the blog about. Currently our students, both f2f and distance, are asked to care for animals over a two day period and answer questions about this in the written assessment. They are also required to video themselves completing particular tasks and attach this to the written assessment for marking.

An ePortfolio will enable the students to set up their reflective blog in any style they wish to. They are able to use a range of different media, written text, video and images can all be included. Using the three step Reflective framework to "Take Notice, Analyse, Take action" Hegarty (2013) the students will take responsibility for their own reflective learning. They will reflect about why they completed a task and what effect their actions had on the animals well being. "The ePortfolio

assists students to take increasing responsibility for their own learning. It encourages and enables the process of reflection, self-evaluation, and action planning as a process for lifelong learning" MOE (2010).

Formative assessments will provide continual feedback for the students to ensure they are caring for the animals correctly. Animal welfare should never be compromised. By monitoring the ePortfolio and the on-line discussion forum the facilitator will be able to offer positive feedback and assistance to keep the students motivated to complete the tasks. "Research has shown that formative practises raise standards and improve achievement" Rate (2008)

The ePortfolio allows for medium flexibility with the course and relates to three dimensions. Time, Delivery and logistics and Instructional approaches and resources. Rather than have to include the video of the specific tasks in the written assessment the video could be added to the portfolio and the students could talk through their refection if they are more comfortable with this.


Ministry of Education Enabling E-Learning (2010)
Retrieved from:


Rate,N (2008) Assessment for Learning & ePortfolios


Wikieducator. Hegarty,B. (2013) Three Step Reflective Framework
Retrieved from:

Activity Eight-Blended Learning Strategies- one

 Blended Learning Strategy- Design One Emailed directly to Bronwyn.
One subject included in the Certificate of Veterinary Nursing is "Apply skills and qualities of a salesperson in a retail situation" (US 11831). The f2f students are taught in a classroom situation using facilitated sessions, based on power-point presentation, and Role Plays. A focus using real life situations and different scenarios helps cement the theoretical knowledge. Distance students attend Block courses and are either in the veterinary industry or work placement in a veterinary clinic. Adobe sessions are offered to both, and the students can choose to attend or listen to the recording at a later date. Adding to this and including online forums for student’s, takes advantage of a blended learning approach. Engaging in varied platforms such as F2f learning, Role plays and discussion forums on-line will encourage students to discuss similarities and differences in various sales approaches Diaz and Brown (2012).

Looking at the Flexibility Continuum (Casey & Wilson, 2005) the course appears to be moderately flexible. Three dimensions of flexibility are addressed, Content, Instructional approaches and resources and Delivery and Logistics.

Dividing the students into small groups to take part in role plays will help those that find large classroom situations daunting. Role plays are acknowledged as a powerful teaching and learning tool in f2f teaching and on-line as it lets the students experience different scenarios in a safe environment with their peers Wikipedia (2013).

Role plays need to be fun and interesting to be effective learning tools. They are ideal when teaching Communication and Customer Service skills. When reviewing the role plays, either by peers or facilitator, students can be made aware of how their actions impact on others and review what they could do differently Piltz (2008).

Although a summative assessment is required by the NZQA, a formative assessment offers continual feedback to the students. Open forums can be monitored to target areas that need more support. By offering different options for presenting the practical part of the assessment encourages students to choose the medium they are most comfortable with.


Casey. J.,& Wilson P. (2005) A Practical Guide to Providing Flexible Learning in Further and
Higher Education Retrieved from: 

Diaz,V.,& Brown, M.(2010) "Blended Learning: A Report on the ELI Focus Session" 
ELI Paper 2: November, p. 10 Retrieved from:

Piltz, D.(2008) The Purpose of Role Playing in learning. Retrieved from:

Wikipedia (2013) Retrieved from:







Friday, 24 January 2014

Activity Seven: Open education

Activity Seven: Open Education

Define OER and OEP in your context

The definition of Open Education Resources (OER) is best described as a free research resource that can be used for the purposes of learning and teaching. This information is available in the public domain and accessible for anyone who uses the Internet. This information has been released under an intellectual property license that allows it to be used freely (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, cited in Jelley, 2013). Ruth Jelley describes OER as "full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software and any other tools, materials or techniques use to support access to knowledge" (2013,p.1).

Otago Polytechnic is working towards the goal of implementing more OER as part of moving forward towards a more sustainable future. "OER is the means by which education at all levels can be more accessible, more affordable and more efficient. Using OER approaches, institutions can lower cost and save time required to produce high quality courses with untapped potential to diversify curriculum offerings especially for low enrolment courses in a cost-effective way. OER is about sharing and collaboration and to this end we have much untapped potential" (Phil Ker, Otago Polytechnic, 2012). "Without sharing, there is no education" (David Wiley, 2013).

Whilst researching this topic further I was very impressed by the Departments that have made their information available to the wider community. Veterinary Nursing appears to have just the one resource available in Wiki books; Anatomy and Physiology by Ruth Lawson. I found it to be a very useful teaching and learning document, well written and easy to follow, but prior to my current research I was not aware that it was there. We need to use these resources as part of the sharing of knowledge and find ways to encourage more use of OER.

Currently our students are given information in a blended learning approach offering on-line delivery and also classroom interaction. Perhaps we could incorporate more information on OER so that the students learn to investigate further rather than take the first article that comes up when they ask a question on a search engine such as Google.

Throughout New Zealand there are a large number of Veterinary Nursing Schools. They all have the same aim of supplying the veterinary industry with work ready, qualified, capable nurses. Perhaps if the tertiary providers in New Zealand worked together there may be a greater chance of the qualifications being recognised at a level similar to the United Kingdom and the United States of America, both of which are recognised as top providers of veterinary nurses.

Reflect on what OER and OEP means for your teaching and how you can introduce these concepts into your practice to enhance sustainability.

The Teaching and Learning Strategic Framework for Otago Polytechnic states the following:

"1. Our graduates are developed to be capable, work ready, future-focused, sustainable practitioners.
2. Our programs are designed to be attractive to learners, accessible, future focused, efficient and sustainable" (Otago Polytechnic Strategic Framework: Strategic Objectives, 2013).

Encouraging our students to become "capable, work ready, future-focused sustainable practitioners" is to empower them with a thirst for knowledge. Part of being sustainable is not only about caring for our planet but also caring for ourselves- achieving a work life balance.

Moving towards a more open form of education allows for more flexibility for learners and teachers alike. The ability to study and write assessments at anytime of the day or night has not changed. What has changed is the ability to tap into huge resources at the touch of a button or two. Does this help us work smarter or is the amount of information out there overwhelming? Is there a risk of over working because of the ability to use the Internet 24/7?

It can be difficult to narrow down material to a workable level. The danger is that in our efforts to inspire passion into our lifelong learners that we bombard them with too much information (Lockwood, 2005, p.1). I know in my own teaching practice I am at times guilty of this.

The challenge is to find the balance that best suits everyone. My intention this year is to pull back a little and rather than giving the students all information and expecting them to remember it, I will encourage them to research and reflect on the topic. "Having free access to a wealth of information and content online is now expected: being digitally literate today means being able to use appropriate tools to find useful, high quality information in an efficient manner, as ‘Web Kids’ do", (Czerski, 2012, cited in Panto and Comas-Quinn ,2013).

This is quite a change from how I was taught. We were given information and told to learn it. Now we turn to Wikipedia rather than the trip to the library, although we can even access libraries on-line now. The School of Veterinary Nursing considered making You Tube videos about various nursing tasks and making them available to their students; perhaps we could go one step further and open them up as an open educational resource.

Otago Polytechnic was the first tertiary institution in the world to adopt a default Creative Commons policy Wikipedia (2012). Creative Commons is a concept whereby the publishing of original works on the Internet by the author provides a free license to share and reuse. To open up any of our educational materials and make them available to an open forum we need to be willing to have our work available for peer contribution. This will allow and encourage the 4 Rs, Reuse, Redistribution, Revision and Remix, (Wiley, 2009, cited in Panto Comos-Quinn, 2013).

Jelley, R. (2013). Open Education Practices: A User Guide for Organization/OER Literature Review. Retrieved from
Lockwood, F. (2005). Estimating student workload, readability and implications for student learning and progression. Australia: ODLAA

Otago Polytechnic (2013). Teaching and Learning Strategic Framework: Strategic Objectives. Retrieved from

Panto E., Comas-Quinn A. (2013). The Challenge of Open Education.

Wiley, D (2006) Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand. Retrieved from

WikiEducator (2011) Otago Polytechnic OER Implementation Plan. Retrieved from

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Activity six: Sustainable Flexible learning

Activity Six: Module Four

Sustainable Flexible Learning

The need for community care and sustainability has been promoted in recent years. We should all be aware of the need to protect and keep what resources we have on this planet. There are two contrasting ways of approaching sustainability; one is to throw caution to the wind and say, "What difference can one person make?" or second, make positive decisions and changes in our lives to become more personally sustainable. It is everyone’s responsibility to make small changes to enable bigger ones to follow. Future generations need a safe and nurturing place to grow up in.

The article by David Orr (1991) suggested that a goal of educating was to get as much information into students as possible. He talked about a number of educational myths then went on to offer ideas to change these. "The goal of education is not mastery of subject matter, but of one’s person" I like to think we have moved on from his original comments and we now offer a more diverse education for today’s students. Flexible learning is a great example of this. We are encouraged, as students, to research and push boundaries, investigate and reflect on our findings and also increase our knowledge and personal development.

As a teacher it is my role to not only lead by example but to also encourage my students to think about sustainability across all areas of Veterinary Nursing. A number of our medical practices are not particularly sustainable, but important for providing optimal animal health. For example, as nurses we need to use a new syringe for each animal and a new needle to inject with. Also some of the substances we use when cleaning kill viruses and bacteria but are not eco friendly and may even be toxic. We are required to balance the need of the patient with the need to be sustainable and still remain aware of our impact on the environment. It is hugely important that we encourage our students to ask questions and investigate alternatives to current products that are more sustainable but still as effective.

The School of Veterinary Nursing takes sustainability very seriously and is committed to making changes by embedding practices that make positive differences to our staff and students. Students are encouraged to think of ways to make changes in their personal and working lives. This can range from turning off lights when leaving a room to reusing everyday items to make cat and dog toys rather than buying readymade ones. A weekly blog is written by a staff member a "Tip of the week" is included for staff and students to read.

This year the School of Veterinary Nursing plans to incorporate the topic of sustainability at Block Courses at the beginning of the first semester. This may take the form of students working in groups to discuss what their understanding of sustainability is. By introducing the topic early in the year we will immediately encourage the students on a learning journey that will help towards a more sustainable future for all. At the start of semester two a short review is planned to see what has been learnt and what sources the students found to be the most helpful. The full time class will also be included in this with lectures scheduled throughout the year. The veterinary nursing staff have also been asked to add a section on sustainability to course notes and have questions relating to this in assessments. One example of this is in the paper: Demonstrating Knowledge and Skills for Providing Veterinary Reception Services (US 5195). The students are asked to consider some sustainable practices that could be put in place in the reception area and to give three examples of ways they can make changes in their veterinary clinic. Last year, a large number of our veterinary nursing students not only offered great ideas, they put these ideas into practice. This follows along the lines of providing real experiences in real situations. It allowed the students the opportunity to reflect on their actions and they were able to see the differences they themselves can make.


Ministry of Education. Education for Sustainability, Effective pedagogy in education for sustainability. Retrieved from:

The Learning Revolution (1991) What Is Education For? David Orr 1991.
Retrieved from:

Thursday, 19 December 2013



Education today is embracing technology. This makes teaching and learning hugely exciting for us all. With so many portable devices available such as smart phones, I-pads, tablets, laptops, the anywhere anytime online learning concept makes it easier to share information with a large number of students. Grainne Conole’s presentation Navigating Digital Landscapes, made the point that the internet is actually only 20 years old. As I have said in my previous posts.....I am sure many of us find it hard to imagine life without the internet. E-learning can encourage creative learning and allow more people to access higher education, thus improving employment opportunities for many.

The Horizon Report (2013) suggests that over the next five years we can expect even more innovating pedagogy, from more extensive use of mobile apps right through to wearable technology, with quite a few exciting educational improvements between. One area that particularly interested me was the Learning Analytics. To be able to quickly and effectively identify students that are struggling would encourage us to model our flexible style of teaching to student’s individual learning styles. The School of Veterinary Nursing is currently doing this fairly successfully, however there are still a number of students that fall through the cracks. By identifying the students earlier in the course, lecturers can deliver a more personalized instruction tailored to the learner’s individual needs.

While all these changes are going to be challenging to remain ahead of, it is important to remain focused on what counts. Noam Chomskey "the purpose of education is to help people learn for themselves"...."do you train for passing tests or do you train for creative inquiry?" made me question the way some students currently use the internet. Recently while marking a paper on Animal Behaviour, US 5222, the students were asked to research and describe the social organization and relationships between group members of a number of species. While some students researched and discussed the topic in depth, a large number did not utilize their resources or technology to research the subject properly. As discussed recently in our flexible learning forum, "the internet can open doors, but the ease of getting the answer can also shut doors".

As teachers we suggest readings, supply extensive course notes, recommend a text book and offer numerous websites for our veterinary nursing students to search. However some students choose to just ask the question on Google and go with the first thing that pops up. The tendency to take this first answer rather than research the subject in detail can have an impact on the students underpinning knowledge as the answer may not always be the best or even the correct one. The desire to explore topics further and promote creative inquiry will provide deeper interest in the subjects. Rather than ask for one source of reference we should ask for more. I realise that some of our students do not have the skills or knowledge of how to best research subjects. Part of our role is to encourage students on a lifelong learning journey of discovery. We need to give them the tools to build the scaffolding that will enable them to become expert learners so that they can take pride in their achievements.

Currently our students are asked to submit video evidence of caring for animals. They are set a number of tasks which they must complete jointly with a written open book assessment. I would like to see this improved further and get the students to reflect on what they have learnt during the process. It is easy to correctly remove a dog from a kennel with detailed instructions....but I would like the students to think about why they are performing these tasks. Teaching them to assess the dog’s demeanor before they open the kennel door is vital but they also need to reflect on why this should be done. Why is important to assess the dog from a distance first? Who do they need to protect? By encouraging reflection the students will increase their underpinning knowledge and in this instance have a deeper appreciation of dog behaviour.

At the end of each Care for Diary, there is a space where the student is asked to critique his or her videos. Many students will answer with "I think I did well because ......." but not actually fully reflect how or why they performed each task a particular way. I would like to see the students submit a learning portfolio with guidance and in collaboration with the lecturers. It could be in the form of a blog, since they are not nearly as scary as I first thought, videos, or a discussion forum where the nursing students chat together on-line and reflect on various issues that may have arisen. Topics could be added throughout the students learning journey. There could be flexibility around the topics and delivery. Students may wish to work together throughout the year or individually. If it was to be included as part of their assessments, there may need to be guidelines and finishing dates. By gradually building the learning portfolio throughout the year the student can look back at how far they have progressed and reflect with pride at their achievements.

I would like to see our veterinary nursing students engage in more critical thinking and research subjects more fully rather than just answer questions on an assessment. By encouraging them to participate in a reflective learning portfolio I believe this will encourage deeper learning and could also advance to become a showcase of the students work, attached with videos, for future employers.

The learning portfolio would cover a number of flexible areas within the Flexibility Continuum. Time and place: this could be flexible to suit individual needs, however if the work was to be assessed as part of the course, there may have to be a completion date. Sequence: the student could choose the area they wish to reflect on. Duration: the learner could set their own pace, but as with time and place there may have to be a completion date. Assessment: the learning journey the student undertakes throughout the portfolio is assessed at completion of the course. Delivery mode: definite flexibility here as embracing technology may work for some but not others. Technology: the student can choose the technology they wish to use to complete the learning portfolio.


Chomsky, N. (2012) Retrieved from

Conole, G. (2013). Navigating Digital Landscapes. Otago Polytechnic. Retrieved from

Hegarty, B. (2012) e Portfolios-getting to the nuts and bolts. Prepared for flexible learning2012. Retrieved from

The NMC Horizon Report
(2013) Higher Education Edition.
Retrieved from http://

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Reflect on factors associated with diversity in your context

Activity Four- Module Two


Reflect on factors associated with diversity in your context

I found the slideshow on Universal Design very thought provoking. Ensuring inclusiveness for all students is important. Perhaps we need to change the way we think....instead of saying ‘this won’t work for this student’, let’s say ‘How can we make this work for this student?’

Universal Design for Learning suggests that we identify and remove barriers from our teaching methods and curriculum materials. This will ensure that everyone has equitable access to the same learning opportunities thus encouraging acceptance and respect for everyone. By presenting information in more than one format and media we allow more access to learning. Keeping distance students motivated and feeling included may mean we need to find more ways for them to participate. Encouraging participation in Adobe forums and delivering face to face teaching via block courses can be motivating; however, this can also pose some challenges as these students are frequently fitting study around work and family commitments. There will never be a time that will suit everyone, so by recording sessions we are offering more flexibility for the students; however it is still their decision as to whether or not they take the time to watch or listen. At the School of Veterinary Nursing we ask distance students to produce a video demonstrating a particular skill. Some students really struggle in front of the camera. Is there another way to get them to show us their skills? We could go and assess them in person and in an ideal world that would be great; however costs and time restraints would never allow this. Is there another way? Would they be more comfortable with Skype so they can interact with us more?

Students studying Veterinary Nursing, come from many different backgrounds. Family, culture, ethnicity, personal values and beliefs all influence the cultural diversity within our school. By taking the time to get to know our students we can coax them all to shine. There may be a danger when assessing literacy and numeracy that we prejudge our students to what we think their academic level is. Stewart and Felicetti (1992) "define learning styles as those educational conditions under which a student is most likely to learn." My personal experience is that all students have the capacity to learn. Some may need extra tuition via tutorials or even extra support from their peers. Confidence in their ability can be fragile so the giving of positive feedback to all students is vital. The most important factor is to get to know your students, embrace all learning styles and find teaching methods that work. "Thus, learning styles are not really concerned with what learners learn, but rather how they prefer to learn" (Honey and Mumford)

As I have stated in my previous blog, our students range from School leavers to almost retirement age. To teach to the one-size-fits-all just would not work. One example where access to teaching and learning may be compromised or inequitable is in a new directive for our next academic year. In 2014 the school will only accept assessments that are submitted on-line. While this is a great sustainable objective, some students may find this daunting. There is an assumption that everyone has a computer, understands how to use it and has the capacity to successfully submit all their requested assessments online using Moodle. By doing this are we not removing a degree of flexibility here? Having access to a computer and understanding how to use it is not guaranteed. More mature students may have learnt by using paper based resources so to embrace technology can be challenging and inequitable.

Studying with the School of Veterinary Nursing should be challenging but inspiring for all students. We are encouraging lifelong learners within our profession. We need to reach and engage all learners by exploring options and acknowledging everyone is an individual. Learning in a safe and positive environment will help make learning equitable and accessible to all. If we offer more tuition on computer based learning thus removing some barriers then let’s do that. It may not need to be incorporated into the curriculum but an optional extra to get students up to speed where required. If students are having difficulty understanding a particular subject offering a one on one tutorial or even encouraging peer support can help. Some students are happy to achieve more depth in a subject by sharing their knowledge and teaching others. By working together we can help our students remain motivated and positive towards learning, and hopefully inspire them to achieve.


Honey, P., & Mumford, A. (2000) The learning styles helpers guide. Maidenhead: Peter Honey Publications Lt. Retrieved from 

Rose, D.H., Meyer, A., Strangman, N., and Rappolt, G.
Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age. Retrieved from.http:/

Universal Design for Learning: A framework for access and equity. Slideshare; Jenna Gravel, Dr Patti Ralabate, NEA, Dr Lisa Thomas, AFT.







Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Activity Three

Activity Three
Investigate and describe two examples of flexible teaching and learning

To Investigate and compare two examples of flexible teaching and learning I am going to compare Otago Polytechnic School of Veterinary Nursing with an on-line course on Pet Bereavement Counselling that I am currently enrolled in with The Blackford Institute UK.

Who are the Students?

The majority of veterinary nursing students are female with a small number of male students brave enough to attend a class where they are in the minority. The students come from all walks of life; ages from school leavers through to a spritely retirement age.

The majority of males that have been involved in the full time course in recent years have been using the CVN as a GAP year. Having completed a degree usually with a science background, they want to carry on with study but want a more hands on approach to enhance their degrees, or use it as a stepping- stone for their chosen career path.

The Blackford Centre is advertised as offering Distance Learning Courses. There are a variety of subjects offered. The Pet Bereavement Counselling Course is a self study course and is open to anyone who is prepared to pay the course fees and has an interest in that particular subject. As one of the classes I teach is about Euthanasia and helping clients through the grief process, this subject has particular relevance for me.

How are the five dimensions of flexibility integrated?

This discussion is founded on the Collis and Moonen ‘Dimensions of Flexibility’, cited in Casey, J. and Wilson, P. (2005).


School of Veterinary Nursing:
Small degree of flexibility here. Course start and finish dates are set but late enrolments are accepted in special cases. At the end of the year data must be processed in a timely fashion to get all students finished by a certain date. The success of each course is measured by the number of graduates. Assessments have a due date that the students work towards, but extensions are given when requested. The re-sit dates are also flexible so that students are not put under too much pressure. This can be very frustrating at times as some students take advantage of this flexibility.

Pet Bereavement Course:
High degree of flexibility here. You can enrol and start this course at anytime throughout the year. Once enrolled, Modules are emailed to you every week for 12 weeks and it is up to the learner to complete. If you are unable to finish one module before the next module arrives, the only pressure comes from yourself to get things done.


School of Veterinary Nursing:
We as facilitators have limited flexibility here. Content is delivered to the Unit Standard Outcomes (Elements) and Evidence requirements (Performance criteria) for each module. Topics to be covered are already decided and specific material must be covered with the students. The sequence of these topics is designed to follow in a logical order, to enhance learning. The course notes are available on-line and various text books are suggested but not compulsory. If we as facilitators wish to expand the content, we are able to do so.

Pet Bereavement Self Study Course:
The content of the course is sent to you each week. There is information about the current module, exercises to complete and assignments to write. The modules are very informative and helpful; however no extra readings are suggested so if you wish to research a topic further then it is up to the learner to do so.

Entry Requirement

School of Veterinary Nursing:
Open entry is offered for the Animal Care courses. This enables anyone to enrol and once completed, they may choose to carry on their study towards the Certificate in Veterinary Nursing via distance learning. The fulltime Veterinary Nurse course is less flexible with the minimum entry requirement being Level Two NCEA or equivalent. There is no stipulation for a science background. If a student is struggling with the workload they are given the opportunity to withdraw from some units but carry on with others.

Pet Bereavement Self Study Course:
Complete open entry. Just pay the fees and the twelve weekly modules will be sent to you. Course completion is up to the learner.

Instruction approach and resources

School of Veterinary Nursing:
Our role as facilitators is to encourage and guide our students to want to find out more…..This is where flexibility can begin. The School of Veterinary Nursing encourages flexibility by ensuring their facilitators teach subjects they are passionate about. Everyone is different in the way they approach and teach their subject. Teaching to Unit Standards can be inflexible; however, delivering the content with enthusiasm can ignite subject interest in others.

Pet Bereavement Course:
The only instructions come via the weekly Modules. The resources are online modules. There is no lecturer to contact if you need guidance in any particular area.

Delivery and logistics

School of Veterinary Nursing:
Flexible learning is here to stay with delivery and logistics. Although there is a requirement for distance students to attend Block Courses and for full time students to attend lectures, they are given choices in the way they want to learn. Course notes are available on-line via Moodle; these can be accessed anytime. Adobe sessions are timed to get as many students as possible to attend and are always recorded for the ones that can’t. With Moodle forums and social media, students can chat to their peers and lecturers whenever they are available. The only downside to all of this technology and consequent flexibility is the expectation that all students understand how to use it.

Pet Bereavement Course:
The delivery is completely online. Modules are sent via email. This way they are available to be completed whenever suits the learner.
Summarise your findings

This has been an interesting exercise breaking down the five dimensions of flexibility for both The School of Veterinary Nursing and the online Pet Bereavement Counselling Course. The School of Veterinary Nursing is progressing in the right direction using technology and heading towards more flexible opportunities for student learning. However we are still bound to compulsory Block courses and face to face lectures at prearranged times. Unit Standards dictate the content that must be delivered, but if time allows there is always the opportunity to expand on this. While stating the minimum entry requirement for the full time program is Level Two NCEA, there is no stipulation as to what these subjects are. A more flexible approach begins to be implemented when discussing Instruction Approach and Resources and Delivery and Logistics. This is when we as facilitators can ignite students with the passion to learn more and investigate particular subjects further.

The Pet Bereavement Course would appear to be extremely flexible in every way. Once enrolled a learner can choose to study as soon as a module arrives, or put it to one side and pick it up later when time allows. There are no formal expectations or commitment to complete the course except the personal desire to increase your knowledge.


Otago Polytechnic School of Veterinary Nursing is moving forward with flexible learning. Reflecting on the way the courses are progressing and acknowledging technology as the way of the future ensures our students are offered many opportunities to complete their studies. Despite this, some students can still find study challenging and a few will not complete their studies as originally intended. Our role as facilitators is to find a way to keep these students motivated towards their goals. If we need to show more flexibility with start and finish dates lets investigate this further. However, with flexible start and finish dates how is success measured? How will this impact on funding from the Government? Should we measure success by individual units rather than full course completion? This may be the way forward but it may mean a complete rethink by tertiary institutions and government alike.

Studying a course that is completely online, with no deadlines to meet is a refreshing way of learning. There would appear to be no measurement of success for The Blackford Institute other than the money coming in that pays for the course to begin. Success is on a personal level. There are no teachers to guide you or peers to talk to. The only motivation comes from within and the completion of the course remains solely a personal achievement.


Casey, J. & Wilson, P. (2005). A practical guide to providing flexible learning in further and higher education.

The Blackford Centre