Task 5 Trends for Learning


  • Choose one trend technology and pedagogy and design a learning activity based on this.
  • Describe or demonstrate the learning activity to the class via your blog.
  • Make sure that you indicate how the technology used in the activity is likely to encourage flexible learning.


Various trends in are found in the current education landscape to help offer more flexibility learning opportunities. This activity explored online learning resources and learning portfolios blogs with relevance to design education.


Online learning resources, such as Lynda and those presented in Youtube videos are helpful tools for students to learn software and technical skills such as design drawing techniques, model making and 3D Computer Aided Design.

Online tutorials offer flexile learning as students are able to learn in their own time and be directed to carry out the task away from a classroom setting.  The linear learning activity offered by online resources are especially useful for undergraduate students who struggle to plan an effective use of self-directed learning time. Further, online tutorials are useful to be introduced to class of students with a range of skills in areas such as software.  Students are able to catch up on their own time  while contact time can be used activities that require face to face teaching time.


A useful diagram by Zubizaretta of main objectives for learning portfolio was introduced in Hegarty’s online presentation of Learning Portfolio.

Learning Portfolio1

Adding the questions for each of the three objectives make this a useful resource for teaching.

Learning Portfolio2

Online blog is a growing area for design students and graduates to present design processes and outcomes. Students and graduates are using blogs to document and present their design process as a part of self-promotion to seek employment or gain contract jobs or to sell their ideas.

Post Graduate Level

The best scenario is when students are able to build an effective blog and initiate conversations with a wider international community of practioners in the similar field. An example of this can be seen in the blog “ I think I design” by Stefanie Di Russo, a PhD Candidate from Swinburne University. http://ithinkidesign.wordpress.com/


The author uses this blog to present her study findings, reflections and personal views. The blog is used to documents various phases of her study as well as external workshops that she has attended. The purposes of the workshops are explained along with a reflection of the relevance of the workshops to her area of study. External comments from her peers are published which encourages collaboration or mentoring aspects of the learning portfolio objective.


Undergraduate Level

At an undergraduate level, it is ideal for lecturers to introduce blog practice as a part course project and are most effective when students buy into the blogs and are able to make them their own.


Stephen Reay and his team at Industrial Design at AUT encourage blog practice for all year groups. Some students seem to become very engaged in developing a well presented blog which address reflection, documentation and self-promotion. On the other hand some students are using the blog only to discuss personal reflection, which may have been prompted as a part of the course from the lecturers.


Flexible Learning and Learning Portfolio Blog     

Learning Portfolio Blog offers flexible learning as the students are able to up-load their projects in their own time. Making the blog public will also allow flexibility to ask feedback from various mentors including, lecturers, peers, project client, expert panel and the public. This blog will potentially be helpful for blended learning during the face to face learning time as lecturers will be able to assess the students’ progress on the blog prior to face to face supervision and give considered feedback to students. At the same time, it is difficult in a given supervision time for students to present all of their work to date. Using the blog effectively may help lecturers be more informed about students’ progress.


In her presentation Conole explains that e-learning are useful for both learning skills  as well as learning for life. Students are able to learn skills in communication, difital literacy and collaboration while for life, this may improve employability and prepares students to be adaptable. In the same way, the blog will help students consider course specific contens as well as prepare them for graduation and seeking employment.




Develop a design blog for Year 3 Product Design Course to showcase your design process throughout one specific project. Consider your audience and purpose of this blog. Design and communicate the blog accordingly.



  • Develop a rich design process portfolio that would help progress your project while it could be used as a part of your larger graduation portfolio.
  • Improve skill in design communication to a wider audience
  • Enhance photography skill for both process work and complete work to present in the blog
  • Improve the use of both visual and written design language.



Document your design process and summarise your progress at least once a week.

The blog should help be self-reflective, document your progress thoroughly and communicate with your mentor team as well as your project stakeholders. See the diagram below.

Learning Portfolio3






Activity 4

Activity Four: Reflect on factors associated with diversity in your context.

1. Explore how Universal Design can be used in learning environments to ensure inclusiveness. Universal Design for Learning: A framework for access and equity.
Universal Design is an approach to make learning accessible for all students spanning broad range of diversity including various cultural groups, socioeconomic backgrounds and disability. Accessibility for learning is considered in wide areas, such as physical environment, for example wheel chair access to learning materials, for instance, subtitles on videos.
In product design, the principles of Universal Design reflects the approach, Inclusive Design. Inclusive Design aims to “design mainstream products and or services that are accessible to and usable by as many people as reasonably possible… without the need for special adaptation or specialised design.” Coleman et.al Retrieved March April 2014) Designing for the small percentile of the population can lead to products that are accessible for many. An Inclusive Design example often discussed is the Oxo Good Grip kitchen utensils. The utensil range began when noticing a need for a better design of vegetable peeler for arthritic hands. As a result an ideal grip of a peeler for this user group, in fact gives a better grip for majority of users. Focusing the design for low percentile of the population can develop products that are more useful for a wider population.
The principles of Universal Design extend to teaching strategies. Designing teaching methods to accommodate the extremes of students in both capabilities, learning styles, cultural needs can result in a better learning environment for a wider group of students. This has been the experience at the School of Design in processes for catering to both Maori and Pacifica students. The benefits of implementing both formal and informal processes for pastoral care for these students have also extended to most students.
Further, taking into account various means of expression and engagement discussed in Universal Design offers a wider variety of assessment methods that suits different learners. A majority of students in product design tend to not enjoy reading and writing with a small number of them displaying dyslexia. Rather than the conventional reports, asking students to report their design in the forms of movies and multi media may give them a better media to express their ideas. This is a timely change, as more and more designers are asked to present their projects through movies in the fast changing landscape on the internet.
2. Describe an example of teaching and learning in your context where you believe that access to learning may be compromised or inequitable.
For the past two years, Product design programme has been enjoying a closer relationship with the Innovation Workspace. Students are given a small workshop space within the Innovation Workspace and are also able to be trained to use some larger machinery. In theory, this gives students more and access to better tools and machinery as well as a social dimension of students being able to work alongside staff working in the industry. However, the cultural differences between the education programme and commercial enterprise of Innovation Workspace has had to be brokered. For the students they often felt uncomfortable and out of place to walk into the Innovation Workspace to utilise the workshop. This hindered their projects especially in model making, prototyping and conceptualisation phases. Similarly, the Innovation Workspace staffs were weary of student accessing the facility for the safety reasons and students taking up their valuable time.
More recently a number of staff from the Innovation Workspace has been contracted to teach the product design courses. Teaching is often carried out in the Innovation Workspace environment, which allows students to become more familiar with the space and build a sense of belonging. At the same time, these staff have been expressed a clear protocol around the use of the space and a boundary for when they can be contracted to teach and when they carry out client work. These staffs have been instrumental in bridging the cultural differences between the educational programme and commercial entity. Further improvements are necessary in the areas including clarity in charging process for cost bearing machinery, machine licencing and supervision processes and internships. In time students will benefit from being immersed in the culture of design consultancy, which will help prepare them to be better work ready graduate.

3. Discuss what your learners might need to access the learning environment more fully, and what you can provide. Identify barriers and support needed.

Felder and Soloman’s learning styles and strategies were useful in identifying barriers for students. In general most design students are visual learners, rather than verbal or reader, writer learners. The limited diversity in this area of learning style allows for teaching to be similar across all students. However, a diversity of learning styles is found in the scale of Active to Reflective, Sensing to Intuitive and Sequential and Global learning styles. These learning styles offer a platform to investigate barriers for learning for students and the suitability of learning style for the design discipline.

Felder and Soloman

Active to Reflective.
Design requires students to flexibly shift between the two areas of active and reflective practice. Student benefits from “trying out” activities such as prototyping and pulling apart a product in question. On the other hand, students need to make plans and be reflective about their concepts. Students often find it difficult to gauge the right timing for when to be an active or reflective learner. Prompting students to move between the two scales of learning styles during the class and addressing these issues will be a good start for students to gaining a balance in the application of the two approaches in their design practice.

Sensing  to Intuitive + Sequential to Global
As a discipline, designers are required to be Intuitive and Global in the way they learn as well as in the way they carry out the design process. Design projects often deal with issues that are complex for sequential and sensing learning. For example, to design a surgical tool, designer cannot sequentially learn every aspect of medical science and surgical procedures. In stead, intuitive and global learning style is required to identify and collect the most relevant information to design the surgical tool. Buchannan (1992) calls this “sense making” where the designer is asked to make sense of a large topic to help solve the design problem.

The Global and Intuitive nature of design is also reflected in a number of design methods text books and prompts, such as 101 Design Methods (2013) and Ideo Method cards (2003). These methods and strategies deal with assessing “the big-picture” and act as prompts to enrich the design process. The methods and are not intended to be followed in sequence.

The expectation for students to process design content in Global and Intuitive learning style is a barrier for some students who lean towards the Sensing and Sequential learning styles. For instance, Sequential learners seem to feel overwhelmed to being given 101 Design methods and even when they know to apply the strategies as suitable, some students feel learning is incomplete without comprehending each of the methods. For these students, it may be beneficial for a lecturer to select a few methods that work well together for a specific design context to sequentially trial a few methods as a trial. This may help them understand the benefit of selecting a few methods and that they do not need to master all the methods.

In the similar way to Active and Reflective learning styles, design requires students to swing between Sensing learning style and Intuitive learning style. Sensing learning style is beneficial in the research phase where facts and established models can strengthen their design concept, however, Intuitive learning style is also necessary to establish possible relationships in their findings to develop concepts.

While it is beneficial for designers to be able to swing between the spectrums of learning styles to develop a innovative design intervention, some specialty areas of product design are better suited to those with specific learning preferences. For example sensing and sequential learners may be well suited to computer aided 3D graphic design where factual reasoning and sequential steps are useful. Identifying personal learning style and strength so that students can be matched with suitable areas of product design would help them carve their personal path in the discipline.


Buchanan, R. 1992. “Wicked problems in design thinking.” Design Issues no. 8 (2):5-21.

Coleman, R., Clarkson, J., Hosking, I., Waller, S. “Inclusive Design Toolkit”. Retrieved 04 April 2014 http://www.inclusivedesigntoolkit.com/betterdesign2/whatis/whatis.html

Gravel, J., Ralabate, P., Thomas, L., “Universal Design for Learning. A framework for access and equity” Lecture notes retrieved 04 April 2014 http://www.slideshare.net/NCUDL/udl-a-framework-for-access-and-equity

Ideo. 2003. Ideo Method Cards: 51 Ways to Inspire Design Palo Alto: Ideo.

Kumar, V. (2012) 101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization: John Wiley and Sons, Inc
Soloman, B., & Felder, R. Index of Learning Styles Retrieved 04, April 2014 from http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html

Activity 3


In this activity I will explore two external courses and assess the elements of flexible teaching and learning embedded within the courses. The degree of flexibility for the two courses will be analysed against the Flexibility Grid, available in Appendix 3, p. 41-44 in A practical guide to providing flexible learning in further and higher education by Casey, J. & Wilson, P



Otago Polytechnic, School of Design, Master of Design Enterprise

Master of Enterprise programme is a postgraduate course that is offered in both full time and part time bases.


This masters programme is designed to accommodate students who are in the work force and are wanting to study for their professional development. Both part time and full time study options are offered to cater for students who are in full-time and part-time employment.

This programme is also offered to both local and non-local students. Currently most of the students are based in Dunedin with a couple of students based in Central Otago and in North Island.


Casey and Wilson assesses the flexible learning through five areas,  time, delivery and logistics, entry requirements, content and instructional approaches and resources.  The degree of flexibility in the masters programme varies between the three modules.

Module 1 of the course offers medium degree of flexibility, while Module 2 and 3 is taught in highly flexible self-directed way . This is explained in the flexibility chart below.




In Module 1 offers medium level of flexibility.  Students are expected to attend Monthly Weekend long lecture Series and Workshops, which drives the pace of course content delivery, making this module fixed and not flexible. However a high degree of flexibility is offered in the way students are able to negotiate their topics and assessment deadlines .In contrast Module 2 and 3 offers higher degree of flexibility as monthly workshops ceases and students are asked to be more self-directed. Details of the flexibility measures are compiled in below tables, Flexibility Grid Module 1 and Flexibility Grid Module 2 + 3.



Flexibility  Measures Masters of Design Enterprise  Module 1 Delivery Degree of Flexibility
1  Starting and finishing a course Once an Academic Year in May Not Flexible
2  Submitting assignments and interacting with in the course Assignment deadlines and times for interactions are stated, but students are able to negotiate. Medium
3  Tempo/Pace of studying Monthly weekend lecture series and workshops are offered full days from Friday to Sunday. The monthly pace is selected to suit students who are in employment and non-local students Medium
4 Topics of the course Design philosophy, strategies, approaches and operations materials are taught. Students are asked to  negotiate their topics to which they can apply the course contents. Very Flexible
5  Sequence of different parts of the course Mixed to suit the self-negotiated topic and the course content delivered during the monthly lecture series and workshops. Medium
6  Assessment standards and completion requirements Students are required to compile a written report that is visually rich in design language. Content of the report can be adjusted to suit individual topics Medium


Entry Requirements    
7  Condition for participation Bachelor of any degree is accepted Medium
8  Social Organisation of learning This course incorporates communication tools such as Facebook, Skype, Individual meetings, Workshops in groups of students with facilitators. Students are able to choose as suitable Very Flexible
9  Location, technology for participating in various aspects of the course Blended –  Monthly workshops offer face to face participation. Sype, email, moodle and face book are also offered. In some cases, a lecturer has travelled to meet a student in Central Otago for face to face meeting Medium




Flexibility  Measures Masters of Design Enterprise  Module 2 + 3  Delivery Degree of Flexibility
1  Starting and finishing a course Any time after the completion of Module 1 Medium
2  Submitting assignments and interacting with in the course Assignment deadlines and times for interactions are stated, but students are able to negotiate. Medium
3  Tempo/Pace of studying Self – directed with option of weekly face to face supervision. Very Flexible
4 Topics of the course Students are able to negotiate industry placement and content of the dissertation Very Flexible
5  Sequence of different parts of the course Module 2 must be completed before Module 3, however, sequence with in each model is flexible Medium
6  Assessment standards and completion requirements Students are required to compile a written report that is visually rich in design language. Content of the report can be adjusted to suit individual topics Medium


Entry Requirements    
7  Condition for participation  Completion of Module 1 of Master of Design Enterprise Medium
8  Social Organisation of learning This course incorporates communication tools such as Facebook, Skype, and weekly supervision meeting. Students are able to choose as suitable Very Flexible
9  Location, technology for participating in various aspects of the course Blended –  Monthly workshops offer face to face participation. Skype, email, Moodle and face book are also offered. In some cases, a lecturer has travelled to meet a student in Central Otago for face to face meeting Very Flexible



Stanford University, Design School

Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking


This very short online course is aimed at designers, business entrepreneurs, social enterprise and developers. The learners are taught the fundamentals of  Design Thinking strategies, which can applied by various innovators.


This course is very flexible in its course delivery in terms of timing, content, location and entry requirements, while offering medium flexibility for delivery and logistics.


The Virtual Crash Course is an online course that has been set up with a consideration to provide a self-directed course and provides no further input from the Stanford University staff. This makes this course highly flexible for anyone to participate. However, the aspects of this course that offers little flexiblity is the fact that a self-appointed facilitator is required for this course to run. Therefore, this course is useful when a business organisation or institution has an individual who is familiar with the course content to facilitate to project.

This course does not offer assessment or qualification, therefore, is suited to be delivered as a part of a larger course, for example as a tutorial or as a part of professional development in businesses and institutions.


Flexibility Grid:  Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking

Flexibility  Measures Masters of Design Enterprise  Module 2 + 3  Delivery Degree of Flexibility
1  Starting and finishing a course Any time. The course duration is 90 minutes. Students are able to split the time. Very Flexible
2  Submitting assignments and interacting with in the course No Assignment N/A
3  Tempo/Pace of studying Pace of study is provided by the video and facilitator’s instructions during the 90 minutes of the course. Students and faciliators are able to slow down the instructional video as required Very Flexible
4 Topics of the course Fixed to Design thinking strategies – Students are able to apply the strategies to topics of their own interest. Medium
5  Sequence of different parts of the course Fixed within 90 Minutes Medium
6  Assessment standards and completion requirements N/A N/A


Entry Requirements    
7  Condition for participation  Open Very Flexible
8  Social Organisation of learning Highly detailed instruction is given in the online course outline. A facilitator of this course needs to be appointed, who will provide face to face feedback to the students. The minimum of 2 students are required to participate for group discussions. Medium
9  Location, technology for participating in various aspects of the course Blended delivery. Video and written instructions are available online.  Could be run at any location that has internet connection available. Very Flexible


Activity 2

Q: What does the term Flexible Learning mean to you?

A: Flexible Learning to me means offering various ways to students to learn course content. This is important aspect of teaching a group of students with diverse back grounds, strengths and learning styles. Offering course content through various approaches would help allow these students to learn course content in ways that suit them. Flexible Learning can also allow students to be more independent learners when course contents are offered on line. A well-developed online course resources can make learning for students more efficient, in their self-directed time. This is especially important in the current online environment where endless amount of both useful and irrelevant resources are available.

Q: Why is it necessary to use a more flexible approach in your work? Hint: think about what might help the learners and your teaching.

A: Flexible learning acknowledges that students have varying learning styles as well as personal circumstances, such as distance learning or learning while working full time. Understanding these learning styles and circumstances to cater for through flexible learning approaches would make learning more effective for the students.

Design as a discipline require students to develop understanding of course content from multiple learning approaches, including skill based, theory based and conceptual ideation. Providing Flexible Learning approaches that are suitable for each of the learning approaches would ensure better learning outcome.

  • What do you need to explore to help this happen?

Exploring the needs of different learners in the programme would be important to help develop flexible learning. In particular how students use self-directed hours, what kind of resources would be helpful and who would take advantage of the flexible learning would be good start.

It would also be helpful to understand what Flexible Learning tools are available.


Q: What goals do you have for using Flexible Learning in your work?

A: 1.  Resources for self-directed learning 

To provide Flexible Learning that would allow students to make the most of self-directed learning time away from the face to face class time. While students should be motivated to use self-directed times efficiently, Flexible Learning tools may provide useful prompts and resources for students to build on from class room learning.

A: 2. Reading and Writing Difficulties

It is not rare for, product design programme to attract students with reading and writing difficulties, including students who are diagnosed with dyslexia. I would like to explore technology options, such as visual presentation methods, where these students are able to can communicate their work more effectively both during the course and when they enter the workforce. 

Activity 1


Hi my name is Machiko Niimi. I am an academic leader and lecturer for Product Design at School of Design, Otago Polytechnic. My area of interest in the discipline is design for sustainability and human centered design processes. In particular I am currently looking into sociological approaches to gaining better understanding of our user needs.

In this blog I will document my progress in the Flexible Learning course for Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Learning and Teaching. Through this course I intend to learn how flexible learning can support and enhance our current teaching methods.