A focus for the polytechnic sector is developing accessible learning options for professional students. The challenge is in making it work for people whether they are on campus, at home or work.
UCOL's Head of School for Education, Dr Bridget Percy, launched the first on-line connected class for Early Childhood Education and Care students using a software tool called 'Collaborate', where students and lecturers use interactive whiteboards, screen sharing and participate in class discussion. Lessons can be recorded so they can be viewed whenever it suits students to fit in with their work life commitments.
The Level 4 Certificate using this method of teaching currently has 43 students enrolled in Manawatū and Whanganui, most of whom work for local Early Childhood Education and Care home-care providers and want to complete their level 4 Early Childhood Education and Care qualification.
"I think this takes the concept of blended learning to a new level and certainly puts the students first, seeing that their needs are a priority and they can connect to learning how and when they want. It is already proving to be a success. The interactive whiteboard has been an excellent addition in delivering this style of teaching as it has a camera that follows the lecturer and microphones which pick up class discussion."
"UCOL has a focus on being agile and innovative, and offering learning opportunities for professional people who want to work and upskill at the same time, this approach certainly opens up some great opportunities" says Percy.