Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Presentations at Waiariki & Otago Polytechnics

As part of my research project investigating the perspectives of ‘new’ trades tutors in polytechnic teaching, I visited Waiariki Polytechnic in Rotorua last week and Otago Polytechnic this week. Funding from Ako Aoteoroa Southen Hub has allowed me to travel to interview tutors in both the North Island and the South Island.
As I was going to be visiting I offered each Polytechnic the option of a lunch time workshop / presentation on the work on elearning & mobile learning at CPIT. It was a good opportunity to catch up with how other polytechnics are introducing and working with technology and to meet kindred spirits.

At Waiariki, I was hosted by Liz Fitchett, staff developer and food safety tutor. At Otago, my host was Terry Marler, elearning developer with a background in veterinary sciences.

Waiariki is starting out on their elearning journey supported by one of the modules in their tutor training programme on flexible learning and most of the modules with online components. However, the work of innovators was stymied by the slow & sometimes intermittent internet access, due in part to Rotoroa’s geographical location off the main north-south highway between Auckland and Wellington. The slow internet access means that sites which have potentially useful resources for use with full-time classes are blocked!

Otago being a larger institution is well advanced in the use of technology in teaching and learning. The polytechnic is currently moving from Blackboard across to Moodle and staff education has a dedicated elearning team . I met with Adrian Woodhouse and Tony Heptinstall after my presentation to find out how their project was going. The cookery team has also been busy putting videos of lessons on youtube which can then be downloaded by students to ipods for revision. We discussed ways to enhance the use of these videos, in particular to use them as starting points for theory sessions or as a focus point for ‘homework’.

Visiting other institutions provides a good opportunity for me to reflect on the directions that staff development (particularly in the ICT) area are taking (or not taking) at CPIT. In general, all the institutions are still reliant on the enthusiasm of ‘early adopters’ to take the lead and to initiate the embedding of ICT into teaching and learning. What we all now need to do is to provide incentives for the next level of tutors who are interested but ambivalent. Providing resourcing for ‘early adopters’ to mentor ‘interested but cautious’ tutors might be one approach.