Sunday, 26 January 2014

Activity 8 Strategies (Part Two)

Overall Strategy and Dimensions
Strategy: Role plays
Role plays developed by Veterinary Nursing School staff that offer different real world scenarios to add as a formative tool that students can collaborate on before completion of their own summative video role play assessments for unit 5191 admission and discharge of a patient (3 videos provided for students to review)
Role plays are provided to the students to view and discuss through planned adobe connect ( session times provided that suit groups of students – numbers would have to be set to allow all students a chance to participate, these can be agreed upon at each block course location mid-year )
Comments and reflections for this unit can then be posted to their e-Portfolios
Students to work in small groups to discuss the role plays and then to load up their views/ group ideas on their own individual e-Portfolios
Open access to other students to view and comment from other groups
Facilitator to provide feedback  - to assist learning and reflection
Encourages collaboration with peers ( often limited in a distance learning environment )
Provides students with a formative assessment before completion of their marked summative assessment
Creation of real world experience role plays that students will see in everyday clinical practise during the admission and discharge process of an animal into and from a Veterinary Clinic. ( these would be available to view on YouTube via links provided)
Students are placed into small groups and a time agreed upon for completion during the unit standard timeframe (6 weeks) – This will be completed at least 3 weeks before the due date of the summative assessment to allow formative feedback from facilitator.
Recorded Adobe sessions from student group work – for both students and facilitator to review.
Peer and individual comments on student e-Portfolios
Formative feedback from facilitator.
This would allow the facilitator to actively see the learning process of the students for this unit to see if they have a clear understanding of the basic principles behind the admission and discharge process.

My second strategy that I have considered is a formative role play assessment for Unit Standard 5191 admission and discharge of a patient. I first considered this concept in the ‘Assessing and Evaluating for learning’ paper I completed in 2012 and through the ‘Flexible learning” paper I have been able to consider how this concept could work alongside the e-Portfolio strategy I have outlined above.

Role plays can be an extremely effective learning tool particularly when they simulate real situations that bring both theory and skills together ‘They constitute a vehicle for helping students to achieve ‘deep learning’ in which they essentially transform new material by integrating it with previous knowledge and experience (Entwistle, (1996) retrieved from Ellington, H (1998)).

As discussed above the second year Veterinary Nursing Certificate students complete a number of hours in clinical placements and as this particular unit falls towards the end of the year they should have had some exposure to the admission and discharge process. Ideally I see this as role play simulations that the students can work through as an activity before they complete their own summative role play assessments for this unit. Although I have outlined some timeframes for this activity I do believe this could be flexible if students choose to complete this earlier than the suggested guidelines. There would also be flexibility for this to be a group work activity or if some students prefer this can be an autonomous exercise. Feedback would be provided by the lecturer once the student has completed a posting onto their portfolio and students are also encouraged to communicate and leave comments.



Teaching. (n.d). Assessing with Role Play and Simulation. University of New South Wales, Australia. Retrieved from


Activity 8 - Strategies

Overall Strategy and Dimensions
Strategy: ePortfolio (Reflective Learning Portfolio)
Development of an interactive Learning ePortfolio for the Certificate in Veterinary Nursing ( year 2 distance programme)
Students will choose and create their own individual ePortfolio ( platforms for example could be: blogger, picasa, even facebook and entries can include, written, audio or visual posts )
Activities completed could involve both individual and collaborative work based on the unit standards studied throughout year 2. Questions and activities will be posted by the lecturers. This could also involve discussions around cases seen in clinic (privacy and confidentially must be adhered to when discussing any clinical cases)
Initially Face to Face contact with the students at the first block course at the beginning of the year to discuss concepts and reasoning behind the creation of an ePortfolio (Also assistance in the initial creation process to get the students started)
Monthly contact with every student – formative feedback given and student collaboration expected at some point throughout the year.
Formative assessments would be provided throughout the year before the due date of each unit and a final summative assessment would happen at the end of the year after all units have been completed.
A live working document that is used as an open communication portal between both students and lecturer’s to show a deeper understanding of learning.
Allows students to reflect on current learning and experiences in clinical practise
Frequent communication between lecturers and students by providing comments and feedback, and allowing peer collaboration
A marking rubric would be used to assist with the summative assessment of the portfolio at the end of year.

The first strategy I have looked at is the creation of an e-Portfolio. From all of the materials I have read I can see that this is a fantastic tool to both encourage reflection and deeper thinking as well as offering a fantastic way for peer collaboration and an extra bonus of providing further digital literacy which can often become a barrier to online learning.

The benefits of using an e-Portfolio from the students perspective was nicely detailed by David DiBiase (2002) “the process of e-Portfolio development encourages students to become more actively involved in planning, and more responsible for achieving, their own educational goals”  

I feel the benefits of e-Portfolio’s would work well within the structure of the second year Distance Vet Nursing Certificate as students begin to make connections with course materials and the skills they are developing when working in clinical practise placements. Initially students would need to be taken through the process of what an e-Portfolio is all about and discussion around the types of platforms that could be used (blogger/ Picasa for example). The best time for this to take place would be during the first face to face block course of the year so potentially all the students will have an active portfolio by the end of these three days.

As the year begins to progress students would be expected to actively contribute to their portfolios through individual and group activities and well as reflecting on clinical placements and case studies. This would then allow feedback and discussion from both the lecturers and students and will also aid as formative feedback around activities before summative assessments for units are due. Students will have the choice of how they complete their portfolios for example written, audio or visual posts and be given time within each of the units to complete these especially if activities are to work as formative assessments. At the end of the year the portfolios can be used as a final summative assessment alongside the industry verification workbook to demonstrate their learning throughout the year. It is also highlighted that e-Portfolios can then be used as a showcase of work that can be presented to potential employer’s (Lorenzo, G & Ittelson, J. 2005 )





Challis, D. (2005). Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology Volume 31(3) Fall / automne 2005 Towards the mature ePortfolio: Some implications for higher education. Retrieved from

DiBiase, D. (2002). Using e-Portfolios at Penn State to Enhance Student Learning Status, Prospects, and Strategies. Retrieved from

JISC Innovation Group. (2008). Effective Practice with e-Portfolios. University of Bristol. Retrieved from

Lorenzo, G & Ittelson, J. (2005). An Overview of E-Portfolios. Retrieved from








Friday, 17 January 2014

Activity Seven - Open Education

Open Education resources (OER) is defined as “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge”. (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, n.d.).

Students now have the ability to access any information they want from the internet, however as we have found with some of our units, answers can be very conflicting with those taught within our course materials. Students are provided with a standard procedure manual and a textbook which is recommended for purchase as the core information for Veterinary Nursing. Both of these materials are considered the basis behind everything that is taught. However if you were to search for a dogs heart rate on the internet you would find varying answers which is why we need some of these set guidelines that have been agreed upon by all teaching institutions. This issue of varying answers was very apparent with our animal behaviour unit, where student answers provided on their assessments clashed with current updated studies. I can see this is where it’s very important to be able to direct students to clearly defined open education resource platforms, rather than students randomly searching on the internet and then unfortunately believing everything they read as gospel.

Interestingly since completing this paper I learned that one of our own text books that was developed through the School of Veterinary Nursing has been created into a wikibook. Unfortunately I’m not aware that this resource is currently used in this context, and students are directed to the duplicated moodle based resource. We also have lots of video resources available online through varying portals such as Youtube. Again these are closed resources where access is unlisted and only given in the form of a link provided to the students to view. However once they have this link this can be a reference material that they can access after their studies have been completed, but these links do change from time to time when they are updated so can eventually become redundant.

There seem to be a lot of sustainability considerations around OER and one of the most important aspects is that the information needs to remain current and active otherwise it can fall into a trap of becoming only reference materials. I read an interesting article by David Wiley where he discussed some of the sustainability challenges with OER “Open educational resource projects must find two unique types of sustainability. First, they must find a way to sustain the production and sharing of open educational resources. Second, and of equal importance, they must find a way to sustain the use and reuse of their open educational resources by end users (whether teachers or learners)” (Wiley, 2013). He also went on to discuss the financial issues around funding, making sure these projects continue long term and the importance of making sure that the platforms chosen can be equally used across all hardware and operating systems.


Otago Polytechnic has very strong strategies and goals towards OER and I know this is where we will be heading in the future to help further broaden access to learning. There will be some great opportunities to collaborate with other providers throughout New Zealand and around the world and extend the ethos of the lifelong learner.



Jelley, R (2013). Open Education Practices: A User Guide for Organisations/OER Literature Review. Retrieved from

WikiEducator (2014) Otago Polytechnic. ( 2014, January 14). Retrieved from

Wiley, D (2006). On The Sustainability Of Open Education Resources Initiatives In Higher Education. Retrieved from


William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. (n.d.). Open educational resources. Retrieved from

Monday, 6 January 2014

Activity 6 Sustainable Flexible Learning

The Veterinary Nursing School has taken a very proactive approach in regards to their commitment and focus around sustainability, and the desire to produce sustainable practitioners at the end of each of the programmes. We have varying ways in which this has been successful from embedding relevant sustainable ideas and concepts into each of the course units, creating a sustainable working Veterinary clinic at the Dunedin campus for the fulltime students, and one of our staff members passionately takes the students through a journey on being future focussed throughout their studies via a weekly blog (I would have included this but the blog is currently being altered for 2014) The Veterinary Nursing School has also embraced sustainability at a school level by practises such as  making all assessments online submission only by 2014,  reduction of printing within the school, and using IT technologies such as Skype, link and adobe connect to connect with remote staff to reduce travel.

I can see that a key approach around how to get students thinking and engaging in sustainable ideas is by breaking down the concepts into relevant areas rather than bombarding them with a scary big picture.  This can often be far too daunting and can lead to disengaging them from thinking they can make any type of difference. It’s important to allow learners to provide their own ideas and actively question, analysis and reflect - for our care diaries students are asked to provide sustainable ideas for each species of animal on a discussion forum eg- when learning about caring for cats ideas discussed could be the use of making safe toys out of items that can be found around the home, rather than spending time and money on plastic toys that could potentially be harmful all because this is what  we have been encouraged to do as consumers.

My first blog post I mentioned about our fast paced world and how we strive to find the right balance in our lives which is also part of living sustainably. Finding this balance also extends to education where courses need to be both profitable for the organisation but motivating and engaging for students to want to study them. This is also where the importance of a suitable workload balance needs to be met. A great reflection for me was fitting this paper into my workload of having a young baby and working part time from home for the Veterinary Nursing School. At times this has proven very difficult but due to the flexible nature of this paper and a very supportive lecturer has given me the motivation and determination to succeed


Lockwood, F. (1999). Estimating Student Workload: Implications for Quality Learning. Staff and Educational Development International, 3(3), 281. Retrieved from

New Zealand Government.  (N.D). Education for sustainability. Retrieved from Ministry Of Education website:

New Zealand Government. (ND). Action competence. Retrieved from Ministry of Education Retrieved from Ministry Of Education website:

New Zealand Government. (N.D). The New Zealand -curriculum effective pedagogy. Retrieved from Ministry of education website:


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Activity 5 Trends

' Help people to determine how to learn on their own ‘ is one of Noam Chomsky’s concepts of education that really resonated with me as ultimately we are wanting our students to become lifelong learners beyond the course materials we provide.
Chomsky also termed the need of ‘learning for tomorrow’ and the importance as educators to keep up to date with the ever changing technology and pedagogy trends available for both teaching and learning.
This is a really interesting topic and I could see straight away the importance of utilizing technologies and trends that complement our educational sector of Veterinary Nursing.
After watching both Grainne Conole and Noam Chomsky’s presentations one of the concepts I really took on board is when students are given the opportunity of learning in real world situations, they tend to become more engaged and motivated which will led to further self-directed learning and even collaboration with peers.
This is something that I believe we do quite well within the Veterinary Nursing School. Our full time students based in Dunedin now have a functioning Veterinary clinic which they can learn side by side with our wonderful staff, and distance students are required to complete practise hours in a local Veterinary clinic of their choice where they get to work and learn alongside a Veterinary clinic team. This gives the students many opportunities to be involved in real life situations and a number of our unit assessments are based around these, for example US 5191 admitting and discharge the students need to complete a case study report on an animal that they have helped discharge to a client.
What I believe could work really well for some of our units like the one listed above is for our students to complete a formative reflection e-portfolio before the submission of their summative assessment. This would help them to identify and breakdown the whys and how’s of what is happening which can help to reinforce underpinning knowledge. Comments can be provided by the lecturers to help guide the student with their reflections around the topic but the mode in which they submit their reflection could be entirely determined by the student eg – audio, written or video just to name a few. This could also work well as peer collaboration where they can ask and discuss directly with one another about their experiences. Confidentiality of clients and Veterinary clinics is paramount so this portfolio would need to be set up as invitation only and have some very clear guidelines provided to the students about content.
I think this fits well within the flexibility continuum as students can access and work through their reflections about a topic when and how they choose. They have the autonomy to structure the portfolio however they wish however there would still be a time restriction within the programme to make this work as a formative assessment.



Chomsky, N. (2012).

Conole, G. (2013). Navigating Digital landscapes]. Otago Polytechnic.

Hegarty, B. (2012). ePortfolios – getting to the nuts and bolts. Prepared for flexible learning 2012. Retrieved from


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Activity 4 Reflect on factors associated with diversity in your context.

Cultural diversity is an interesting and very expansive topic and in essence it is the ability to make the learning environment accessible, inclusive and equitable for all learners. It is important to consider the diversity of our learners, to respect these differences and look at ways to how we can connect.

I found the power-point on Universal Design really interesting and that the core principle of UDL (Universal Design for learning) is looking at how we can make our learning environment equitable for all our learners from the very beginning:

-More ways to access

-More ways to participate

-More ways to demonstrate learning

Even though this approach is fantastic I had to ask myself how do we effectively remould our current materials and resources without having to start again. Or can we look at the programmes and modify to encompass the UDL design concepts. This would take some further research and investigation.

The concepts around Universal Design clearly show how it is linked with considerations around cultural diversity in the classroom.

Students in the Vet Nursing programme comprise of a large and varied group of individuals who have a varying degree of skills, knowledge and ethical beliefs. Age ranges as discussed in my previous post is from school leavers through to mature students (18 – 50+ years of age) and predominately are female versus male. Skill and knowledge extend from those who are already working within a vet clinic environment to students who are just passionate about animals.

An online study environment can be a new and challenging experience for a number of students. Some like the autonomy of working through this medium and working around their own jobs without the need to disengage from their lives. Other students struggle with the technology, lack of peer support and the feeling of potential isolation from lecturers. One of the biggest barriers I have seen is from students that are not very tech savvy who struggle with this mode of learning, which can lead to frustration and becoming disillusioned. This has been seen more with some of our older students who have only experienced face to face classroom learning.

Perhaps there is potential and a need to offer a bridging computer course that covers all the possible computer programmes that they will encounter in their study. This could make them more familiar with the mode of learning and help overcome challenges prior to the commencement of the programme therefore starting them on a successful road to achievement.



Universal Design for Learning: A framework for access and equity (2010)

Wikieducator (2013) Cultural Diversity Resources. (2013, September 5). Retrieved from



Saturday, 25 May 2013

Activity 3

Who are my students?


Veterinary Nursing as a profession is a predominately female based career; however the courses are open to both genders. At Otago Polytechnic we tend to have on average an annual enrolment of 3% of males into the Veterinary Nursing Certificate. Many of this 3% will often carry through to a rural animal technician’s course after completion, rather than going out into the work force as a Veterinary Nurse in clinical practise. Age range is from school leavers through to mature students who have a varying range of not only knowledge and experience, but also varying backgrounds and beliefs; however all the students have the same want and passion which is working with animals.


How is flexibility integrated?


I have decided to investigate flexibility within two examples of a Certificate in Veterinary Nursing. One provided within the Veterinary Nursing School at Otago Polytechnic and the other being provided through the Southern Institute of Technology.

I have broken both courses down into the five dimensions of flexibility by utilising the flexibility gird by Casey and Wilson (2005)


Certificate in Veterinary Nursing Otago Polytechnic

                                FIXED                                                        FLEXIBLE

Content of the course
Entry requirements
Instructional approaches
and resources
Delivery and logistics

Certificate in Veterinary Nursing SIT (Southern Institute of Technology)

                                     FIXED                                                         FLEXIBLE

Content of the course
Entry requirements
Instructional approaches
and resources (UNKOWN)
Delivery and logistics

I found this quite an interesting exercise however I was limited to my investigation through the Southern Institute so was unable to provide a result for their current instructional approaches and resources as this was not made available through their webpage.

Summary of my findings:


TIME: This was interesting as I could really see that Otago provides more flexibility here through offering students options on how they would like to complete their studies. This could be through the one year full time programme in Dunedin or a two year distance part time programme. SIT on the other hand only currently offer a one year full time option (however this is a no fees course). Start and finish dates however are fixed for both institutions if the learner wants to graduate within these timeframes.


CONTENT OF THE COURSE: Both qualifications are rather restricted to what can be assessed due to being governed by Unit Standards. I do however think both institutions would have some flexibility here in that the choice could be made to provide/ teach more than what is required.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Both qualifications have the same entry requirements of 60 NCEA level 2 credits which are set by the institutions. However there is some flexibility here on an individual case by case basis or if a student has an equivalent entry level of qualification. A bridging study option may also be offered for either programme.


INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACHES AND RESOURCES: This was a little limiting with my investigation so can really only comment on what we do at the Veterinary Nursing school. I believe this is an area that can be very flexible. Each year we do review our resources and try to refine our approach. We use a variety of methods such as video demonstrations, written online course notes, power-point presentations, adobe tutorials and face to face block courses and in clinic practical training. The fulltime programme offers a more traditional approach of lectures merged with the above methods and the ability to provide practical skills training through a functioning Vet Clinic on campus.


DELIVERY AND LOGISTICS: Again not a lot of detail available from the SIT website however due to the fact that they are a fulltime course potentially restricts the learner’s options. I am unsure of the use of an online delivery option of course materials however SIT do offer other distance programmes using Blackboard as their delivery mode.

Otago provides the learner the choice on how and where they would like to learn this programme through the use of the online system Moodle. There are fixed times when students are required to attend block courses and in clinic practical sessions as these are part of the structure of the programme. Delivery channels are all online or if the student chooses they can print of course materials (however as a school we try to deter this method due to our stance on sustainability, so encourage the download of materials as they are not an open access resource) Technology is obviously a big key here so this may be an issue with some students.


 Through this exercise I can see that Otago Polytechnic School of Veterinary Nursing is on the right path with providing students with choice. I can also see areas where we can extend on our flexibility particularly with the instructional approaches and most definitely with the resources we are providing the students. I look forward to investigating this further as I progress through this course.


Southern Institute of Technology (2013) Certificate in Veterinary Nursing (2013, May 20). Retrieved from