Bridging Design Prototypes (BDPs) – A design tool to resource sustainable, equitable, flexible learning

This illustration is attempting to show the BDP process of designing resources for a flexible online distance classroom. The process is illustrated using a flowchart structure with a nut at the start, four boxes connected with lines from top to bottom to indicate actions, and a pencil next to the last box. The nut and the pencil inspire to think of a design or creation process. Next to box 1 icons are placed representing synchronous activities and diverse people. Next to box 2 icons reminding us to design for diverse capabilities such as vision, hearing, touch and studying while caretaking. Next to box 3 icons are placed to invite to design with multimodal information and different kinds of instruction for asynchronous engagement. Finally, next to box 4 icons represent the planet in the middle with a person, a satellite, a book and computer devices to indicate the resources used to enable distance education
Source: Dr Gloria Gomez

For sustainable and equitable education in a flexible online distance classroom, design of learning resources should start with understanding needs, wants, and context of each member of a classroom community. So, teaching staff and students can relate to each other in this shared educational experience.

Designing for one-size-fits-all might not bring about meaningful learning and foster connection for students who could be time-starved, reside outside of main centres, studying while working, caretaking or with disabilities. In a face-to-face classroom, teaching staff more often than not tend to adapt, transform, and innovate resources to account for student diversities. The same tendency should be possible in an online classroom. So, the relevance of these resources to learning outcomes are not devalued by students due to a perceived lack of understanding of their circumstances or conditions.

To support digital access and equity, it has been recommended to “include human-centred design [HCD] in the construction of culturally sensitive, accessible, flexible learning” (Gomez, et al., 2022, p. 27). The bridging design prototype (BDP) approach is an HCD method that transforms teachers into designers (Gomez, 2020). It could enable teaching staff to design their own novel resources for flexible online distance classrooms. For the reason that “everybody who works in education is a designer, though they may be working in different design spaces, each requiring different specificities of expertise, background knowledge, tools, and practices.” (Weiner, et al., 2020, p.781)

The six BDP principles (figure 1) could guide/help teachers individually or in small teams to:
• Carry out careful analysis of relevant data to inform resource design.
• Develop resources with features familiar to all members of a classroom community to enhance adoption.
• Determine when novel features should be included as part of a resource design, and plan for extra support if needed.
• Inform feature design based on a good understanding of the prior knowledge and the context realities of students and teachers alike, including those with diverse cognitive, physical, and socio-cultural capabilities.

The diagram (figure 1) provides a step-by-step guide showing how the BDP principles are organised and interact with each other during the human-centred design process of a classroom resource.

The concept map in figure 1 provides a visual step-by-step guide describing the bridging design prototype process. The ideas are organised in the form of concepts enclosed in boxes, connected to each other with lines, and linking phrases in-between to explain the relationship. A concept map is read from the top down in a semi-hierarchical form. The bridging design prototype (bdp) approach is informed by six principles grouped in phase one “organising participation” and phase two “shape the resource”. Phase “organising participation” involves principle “bringing a multidisciplinary thinking team approach to research the classroom community and the context” to provide “relevant data gathered via primary or secondary resources”, which start phase “shape the resource”. The concept map shows one linking phrase connecting the concept “shape the resource” with five concepts enclosed in boxes representing the five principles of the BDP approach. The data gathered during phase “organising participation” facilitates the realization of principles “achieving similar mental models” and “understanding prior knowledge and familiar interactions”. These two principles inform “the careful analysis of relevant data fragments using empathic inferences” to produce “recommendations, guidelines or requirements”, which in turn are used to develop features using the principles of “making activities simpler” and “broadening participation”. Following these five principles during a design process results in the principle “a fully functional rapid prototype for early adoption enabling the classroom community to participate, contribute, improve features in the design process”. In summary, the BDP approach produces “a bridging design prototype that can be used and meets the wants and needs of every member of the classroom community”.
Figure1: A concept map describing the Bridging Design Prototype process.

Principle “bringing a multidisciplinary thinking team approach” to learn about your online classroom community and context. Gather information (via secondary or primary sources) about your student cohort, teaching staff and yourself, as well as your programme including context and technologies. For example, in the preschool classroom, early childhood teachers apply methods (e.g., observation) to learn about each child, and connect these learnings to theoretical concepts, which in turn inform the design of learning activities and spaces.

Principle “achieving similar mental models” to stimulate empathy and solidarity. Use what you’ve learned through data gathering to become more in-tune with your online classroom community. To continue with the preschool example, the more a teacher understands needs, wants, and context of every child who is part of this educational experience, the easier it is to decide how to develop suitable resources. Are these to be comprised of familiar features only or a combination of familiar and novel features?

Principle “understanding prior knowledge and familiar interactions” to foster student engagement. You are now equipped to develop resources based on understanding that comes from identifying technologies every student or staff member are familiar with, study skills or behaviours they have already mastered, and the kinds of social interactions around learning that they prefer. When a teacher is designing a learning station in the preschool classroom, a particular child or small group of children are often in their mind. Suitable resources are selected according to age, developmental stage, diversity in capabilities so each child can carry out the activity.

Principle “making activities simpler” to promote the completion of assignments. Use the information gathered on common needs and capabilities (physical, cognitive and social) to design activities with features/skills that your students can operate/use. Ask yourself questions such as “what do I have in common with my students?” One example: do my students and I use similar technologies? Could I design a meaningful activity with a resource/technology common to all of us to save time and energy? Another example: are there any students whose writing skills need extra support? Identify who they are as early as possible so you can pre-empt who might have trouble with activities requiring strong writing skills.

Principle “broadening participation in the design process” of a resource so you can share the responsibility with your students. If someone shows signs of not being able to undertake an activity with such resource, investigate how to adapt it to their diverse capabilities or specific context. But, if this is not possible to achieve, invite students and staff to propose their own solutions.

Finally, principle “enabling participation in the design process” so students and staff can co-create their own educational experience. If the above five principles are applied, this last principle is enabled. A flexible online distance classroom designed with these six BDP principles might make students and teaching staff more relatable to each other, as well as prevent implementation of resources unsuitable to distance students across all sectors.



Gomez, G., Jones, H., & Birt, J. (2022). Accessible content and digital equity. In C. Campbell, C. Porter, D. Logan-Fleming, & H. Jones (Eds.), Scanning the Ed  Tech Horizon: The 2021-2022 Contextualising Horizon Report (pp. 26-29). ASCILITE.

Gomez, G. (2022). The bridging design prototype approach: Strengthening the role of design as a strategic resource in small organisations. In E. Erturk & B. Otinpong (Eds.), CITRENZ 2022: Proceedings of the 13th Annual Conference of Computing and Information Technology Education and Research in New Zealand (pp. 37-47).

Gomez, G. (2020). Bridging design prototypes & autonomous design. In R. Marques Leitão, L.-A. Noel, & L. Murphy (Eds.), Proceedings of Pivot 2020: Designing a world of many centers (pp. 166-181). Design Research Society

Weiner, S., Warr, M., & Mishra, P. (2020). Fostering System-Level Perspective Taking when Designing for Change in Educational Systems. TechTrends, 64(5), 779-788.


Author: Gloria Gomez

Dr Gloria Gomez undertakes applied design research in novel educational practice with Bridging Design Prototypes, and research through teaching and supervision in social design, inclusive design, and medical education. She is co-founder at OceanBrowser which are developers of OB3, honorary senior lecturer at the Save Sight Institute, University of Sydney, and 2023 – 2024 FLANZ executive committee member. Learn more at

Everyone could climb a tree


-Source: Pinterest

This is a well-known quote since a long time ago, however, it seems that such judgment is still going strong in our current education setting simply because there is an unspoken rule that higher education is not for everyone, let alone Flexible Learning. As per FLANZ’s slogan – Making ako accessible for all – allowing everyone access to learning and teaching opportunities. A great example is illustrated in Associate Professor Kwong Nui Sim’s recent piece, “it seems like being a native speaker or not is always highlighted in daily learning and teaching circumstances/conversations, especially when using Normal English.” In this context, a non-native student may be put off completing their studies if their Normal English is repeatedly being negatively highlighted, even if they have brilliant ideas to be explored.

A flexible, resilient pedagogy finds the overlap between what is sustainable for teachers and what is best for students as not everyone fits into the current education setting. Being flexible in learning and teaching is an active acquisition process for us to meet the diverse and often unique needs of our education community. Helping students find a path to purpose is one of the noblest aspects of teaching. By catering to every wish and whim, we ought to teach our students that their interests should always be top priority in their learning journey. This is especially true when the mind opens to a new idea, never returning to its original size – that itself is flexible learning. Yet our current education setting may not be ready for this. For instance, in the current education setting, while promoting equality and accessibility, it is up to individual students to declare if they are either disabled (e.g., colour-blind) or require support (e.g., dyslexia); otherwise, the ecosystem is not designed for them.

To be blunt, it appears that it is the environment that is disabling and not our students who are disabled or require support. To create an adaptable education setting that works for every student, we have to start with re-establishing our classroom. A room does not make a classroom; students, teachers and a love of learning are what make a classroom. What is missing in our current education setting is the cultivation of learning for individuals, such as the mechanisms/tools that allow the fish to swim up the tree rather than forcing it to climb (i.e., achieve learning outcomes) with others, enhancing the tree with its natural abilities (i.e., diversity in learning). After all, flexible learning is about being clear of a goal but being flexible about the process of achieving it. This is particularly relevant in today’s world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is evolving. Because of AI and other factors (e.g., pedagogically improved methods of assessing students), most traditional written assignments are no longer relevant as a form of assessment and many higher education institutions have been re-designing assignments/assessments. Again, as Kwong Nui said, “the notion of ‘being adaptable’ in flexible learning […] when learning is creation not consumption and knowledge is not something a learner absorbs but creates as time passes.” Similarly, if flexible learning is truly embraced, every student could ‘create’ learning and knowledge in their own way. This is significant when the core of flexible learning is to travel the distance from head to heart: a dyslexic student may not be good at reading/writing, but they could be excellent thinkers/analysts if a mechanism/tool (e.g., AI) is available for them.

In short, education is to enhance the ability to learn by experiences, to be flexible and to adapt to a changing environment. Everyone is a genius if there is no judgment of a fish by its natural ability to climb a tree. A key lesson for educators could be noted based on previous arguments presented – everyone could climb a tree if they are given an equitable opportunity. With that, we could embrace the beauty of truly flexible learning.


Author: Peter Linford

Peter didn’t grow up thinking that he couldn’t climb a tree, his teachers told him that he would never climb a tree. Dyslexia didn’t exist when Peter was at school – the kids that couldn’t read or write very well were slow (stupid). High school was particularly tough with frequent bullying. However, Peter did excel in maths, science and sport. Peter started his working life as an engineer but left the family business to become a financial adviser. In 2007 he moved, with his family, to New Zealand – learning to sail in Christchurch. Sailing became a new passion and then a new career path. As the learn-to-sail manager at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Peter worked through two Americas Cup cycles and under Peter’s management the sailing school became the largest in NZ. Peter is now a professional Skipper and creates online teaching material for sailing and professional development. Peter has learnt to find a way or make one and is a firm believer in that ‘there is no such thing as a bad student, just a bad teacher’.


Yes we can!” – Digital Education for Better Futures: Reflections and thoughts from EDEN 2023 in Dublin

EDEN Conference: what does a better future look like?
Source: EDEN 2023 conference

The 2023 EDEN conference (18-20 June 2023) at Dublin City University (DCU), explored the theme, “Yes we can!” – Digital Education for Better Futures. This theme focused on the language of opportunity and challenged participants to dream big. With 324 participants from 35 countries and over 200 submissions, it provided a mix of insights into the current state of digital education and future developments.

Dr Bettina Schwenger presents at EDEN 2023
Dr Bettina Schwenger presents at EDEN 2023

While there are many big and small challenges that can’t be ignored in building a more inclusive digital future, the conference placed the spotlight on the “art of the possible” in reimagining teaching, learning and assessment and delivering on the promise of better futures for all.

The conference encapsulated the spirit of optimism through the enabling language of “yes we can”, with participants focusing their presentations on the following questions: What does a better future look like? How can digital education contribute to this future? What can you do to help make and shape a better future?

Hopepunk Imagination Concept
Source: EDEN 2023 Conference

Associate Professor Rikke Toft Nørgård as the first keynote speaker explained how we can take a hopepunk approach to designing for the future in digital education, focused on hope, humanity and virtuousness. Her message resonated with the participants, supporting “a mood of gentleness or softness and a sense of self-awareness of weaponized optimism, with a worldview that fighting for positive social systems is a worthwhile fight”.

Others such as Dr. Alexandra Mihai , day 1 spotlight speaker, focused on practical strategies such as how to design for blended staff development activities. Lots of ideas from all presenters! Have a look at the recordings, you will find lots of valuable ideas and advice that are relevant for our work in Aotearoa New Zealand and the South Pacific region.

Person Standing on Mountain: We should not go back to the Ivory Tower
Source: EDEN 2023 Conference

Now is a good time to create a shared vision about education and our institutions. This creation is inspired by opportunity and hope rather than limited by fear. We need to create a space and time to talk and think about the future we need to create. Be intentional in promoting change, integrate technology after clarifying pedagogical reasoning, value all elements and foster the space to envision and build the future we dream of for education.

Together we can shape the future of education and pave the way for a more inclusive world. Let’s demand a better, brighter future for education. The time is now.


Author: Bettina Schwenger

Dr Bettina Schwenger has a background in sociolinguistics, digital literacies and academic development. She is now Curriculum Development Manager at Waipapa Taumata Rau, the University of Auckland.  With her work as an online teacher and course developer, Bettina has a strong interest in the experience of students and teachers as participants in digital pedagogies and in supporting sustainable, inclusive and accessible design for learning.

Registration is open for APODE Week 2023

The Asia-Pacific Online Distance Education (APODE) week will be held from 7 to 9 November 2023 and has the theme ‘Evolving Practice in Flexible Learning’. FLANZ and the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (ODLAA) partner to provide a series of webinars. Globally, we partner with EDEN Digital Learning Europe who will be holding the European Open and Digital Learning Week (EODLW) together with the Coimbra Group Education Innovation and Doctoral Studies Working Groups and the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), who will be holding its National Distance Learning Week (NDLW).

We offer three free events. Check out their details on the APODE Week 2023 page.

  • ‘Digital assessments: A form of flexible learning’ with Kwong Nui Sim on 7 November 2023
  • ‘Getting started with UDL for open, flexible, and distance learning’ with Annette van Lamoen and Michael Grawe on 8 November 2023
  • ‘Lifelong joy: Promoting the joy of online learning across context, audience, and time’ with panellists Anitra Nottingham, Chinh Nguyen, Lina Du-Lazzara, Sarah Prestige, Toni Jones, and moderator Dawn Gilmore on 9 November 2023

Audio podcasting: An important pedagogical tool for flexible and online learning

Source: Dr Collin Bjork

Today’s students—especially those engaged in blended and online learning—face many external pressures that impact their studies. Many students work one or more jobs, often full time, to keep up with the current cost-of-living crisis and housing crisis. Others have families and caretaking duties that require their time and attention. Flexible, blended, and online learning makes a high-quality education accessible to these students. That’s a good thing.

But too often, online learning asks students to park themselves in front of a computer with a fast and stable internet connection, working through screen after screen of content on a learning management system. Many rural students, however, don’t have consistent access to fast and stable internet. And natural disasters like Cyclone Gabrielle—which, in the future, will only increase in quantity and scale due to climate change—can disrupt the accessibility of online learning for students anywhere. Plus, many students simply don’t have time to sit for hours at the computer because they need to watch the kids or make a meal or run errands on the other side of town. Simply put, it’s not enough to put a course on the internet and say that it’s now accessible to all. Accessibility is more complex than that. 

That’s where podcasting comes in. But people disagree about what a podcast is. Does a podcast need an RSS feed? Or can streaming audio also be a podcast? What about video podcasts? As these technologies continue to change, so too will definitions of podcasting. Given the aforementioned challenges that students currently face, this blog post focuses specifically on the affordances of audio podcasting, an intimate medium that makes audio recordings available with or without an active internet connection. 

cat with a digital microphone
Source: Dr Melissa Gunn

Audio podcasting, as a pedagogical tool, can improve accessibility for flexible and online learning. When educational content is packaged as an audio podcast, students can download that podcast to their mobile device and access it anywhere, any time. This means they can listen while they’re commuting to work, doing the washing, or exercising. And even if students don’t have a mobile phone or don’t like learning on their phone, they can access podcast content through the same computer and internet connection that they use to engage with other course content. Podcasting, in short, improves accessibility. 

Crucially, however, any medium for online and flexible education must also be accessible to students with disabilities. Too often, online course content lacks alt-text for images, transcripts for video lectures, slides designed with colorblind awareness, and so on. Podcasting is no different. To be accessible, pedagogical podcasts should have written transcripts for students with hearing disabilities. They should also have content warnings for any audio that students may find unsettling, especially students who have experienced trauma. These podcasting strategies create an inclusive and accessible pedagogical environment for flexible and online learners. 

Despite these benefits, podcasting does not work in every educational environment. Not all course content is suited to audio-only delivery. In many courses, students need to see charts, graphs, images, and other visual content to enrich their learning experience. This makes sense. But lecturers in visual-heavy courses might still consider what elements of their course could be taught via audio. Perhaps some theoretical background. Or historical context. Or an interesting anecdote. In every course, there’s probably some content that could benefit from being delivered orally and consumed aurally. 

The most common concern that educators express about using audio podcasting to teach is this: how much do students actually learn when listening to a podcast while doing something else? Many consumers indicate that they listen to podcasts to learn something new, but audio podcasting can seem like a passive—even distracted—mode of learning. The reality, however, is more complicated. Podcasting allows students to easily pause, rewind, and replay content. And an increasing number of podcasting platforms are making space for dialogue among listeners and the podcasters themselves. Podcasting is more interactive than it seems. 

It’s also important to encourage students to find a note-taking strategy that works for them when listening to podcasts. Some will want to have a notes application open, so they can jot down important ideas. Others will prefer to leave audio messages for themselves after listening to each episode, and some will prefer simply to listen to episodes multiple times as they prepare for their assessments. Of course, many students won’t take notes at all. But frankly, there are plenty of students who don’t take notes during lectures or when they’re reading course content. And heck, some students don’t attend lectures or even watch them online. In terms of student engagement, then, podcasting is hardly different from these other pedagogical forms. 

Ultimately, podcasting can be a fruitful tool for augmenting the accessibility of courses, especially in flexible and online learning environments. And I encourage you to give it a try!

If you’re unsure about how to begin creating your own pedagogical podcast, you can download a 1-page “How to Guide” from my website. You can also learn more by subscribing to my podcast about podcasting: Pod Uni. The latest episode features an interview with media whiz and podcast host Lucy Blakiston from Shit You Should Care About

Dr Collin Bjork
Dr Collin Bjork

Collin Bjork is a Senior Lecturer in Science Communication and Podcasting at Massey University in Aotearoa New Zealand. He uses rhetorical theory to examine the mutually informing relationship among media, power, discourse, and democracy. His research has been published in Philosophy and Rhetoric, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, College Composition and Communication, Convergence, and Computers and Composition. He is currently working on a project that traces the complicated relationship between true crime podcasting and civic dialogue. In addition to Pod Uni, he also co-produces the academic podcast Global Rhetorics

Webinar: 21 years of teaching online: The good, the bad, and the noteworthy

This presentation will draw key insights from 21 years of online teaching, with a focus on asynchronous online discussion, student perspectives, and teacher workloads. Alongside research insights, you will receive practical suggestions, with an invitation to join the conversation and share your insights about online discussion from your own viewpoint and context. You do not need to have been teaching online for 21 years to participate.

The research that underlies this session is the article ‘Student expectations of peers in academic asynchronous online discussion‘, published in the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning last year.


Profile photo of Dr Dianne ForbesDr Dianne Forbes (EdD) is a former primary school teacher and is now a senior lecturer in teacher education and digital learning at The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato. She has more than two decades of experience as an online teacher. Dianne has a long-standing interest in asynchronous online discussion and in innovative online pedagogies, including student-led podcasts, video, social media, and flipped/blended learning. Her research interests focus on human, social, and relational dimensions of learning through digital technologies, including ethics and professionalism. A consistent focus of her work is the perspectives and experience of students and teachers as participants in digital learning.


Register for free for this webinar. It will take place on Thursday, 31 August 2023, 14:00-15:00 NZST.

Seven years with the FLANZ Executive Committee

It’s a long time to serve with any group, but as a member of the FLANZ Executive Committee, the last seven years have been well worth it. And now that I’m stepping down, I’m not even prepared to go very far, as I continue to serve as Co-Editor of the FLANZ Flagship Journal, the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning

The highlights of this Committee are threefold as far as I can see – it runs a valued Professional Association, works in a resoundingly topical subject area, and there is much joy and camaraderie working with the other Committee members to achieve things of interest to our profession.  

If anyone was ever in any doubt over the value of flexible learning (distance learning, online learning, open learning, or any flexible application or combination of these) prior to COVID-19, there is no doubt about its value now. These most recent years have meant flexibility over flexible learning itself is also needed, and the field is constantly pivoting to deal with new issues and ways of working as they arise. The pandemic led to much Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) and the FLANZ Executive responded with support for the transition not to ERT but to real flexible learning with its supporting theories, practical applications and nuanced deliveries. The more recent rise of ChatGPT and AI in educational settings has led again to leading professional discussions and webinars, and identifying quality resources to understand and harness the benefits of AI in education while minimising the downsides. Other things will be around the corner.

The FLANZ Executive Committee usually addresses issues head-on. And with a great team of energetic and passionate people, things just happen. It is the enthusiasm as well as the expertise of this group that makes it work. Everyone has the opportunity to take on a portfolio or a role, and we all get to play to our strengths to deliver a range of programmes, activities and resources to support the Flexible Learning communities in New Zealand and beyond. 

And with FLANZ’s biennial conference, a regular webinar series, an academic journal, blogs, newsletters, a professional pathways resource and other activities, there is always something happening and always a new way to connect with people working in online or flexible learning. 

To the FLANZ Executive Committee, it’s been great, and I’m genuinely sad to go. On the good side, it will leave room for someone else to step up to this role, and allows me to continue work with the Association’s Journal. It’s a win-win. For anyone reading this blog, this is your opportunity to be in for the win – consider joining in and being a part of the FLANZ Executive Committee. You can join a great team at a great time, and an AGM to make this all happen is just around the corner.

Note from the editor: It has been a pleasure working with you Alison. You contribution has been considerable and your work with JOFDL is invaluable.

Mama Mia: Let the substance shine through the language [Opinion]

The use of English is embedded in most learning and teaching practices. Even in flexible learning contexts, where learners are given autonomy on how, what, when and where they learn, the use of English is the primary medium for a learner to demonstrate their understanding and, ultimately, achieve academic success. 

Learners must use English in New Zealand (unless one chooses to do so in te reo Māori). So, what difference does it make if one is not a native speaker of English? Is it a disadvantage if one is not a native speaker in a flexible learning context?      

Hinted in the title of this blog, the answer is a big NO. I believe non-native English speakers/writers are not necessarily at a disadvantage because Normal English can convey one’s message perfectly.


All of us are on a learning journey towards Better English. For example, 

Normal English : Keep it as a secret.

Better English : Keep it under wraps. 

Terms adopted from Difference Between Normal English & Better English | – YouTube)

Words are so innocent and powerless, standing in a dictionary, but how potent they become is in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. This is the core of a writing/speaking component within education, especially when thoughts are mainly conveyed by words. As shown in the example above, there is nothing wrong with using Normal English when the focus of education is on more than the writing/speaking, at least not when the students or even the staff are in the learning process to be a better writer/speaker. After all, the core of flexible learning is never stop learning; the rate of change will never stop and neither should the learners.

As an academic developer for years and now an associate dean of learning and teaching, it seems like being a native speaker or not is always highlighted in daily learning and teaching circumstances/conversations, especially when using Normal English.

There is nothing right or wrong with focusing on the language aspect – good writing skills are necessary, but it has nothing to do with being a native speaker or not. Native speakers may know intuitively whether a sentence is grammatical or not, but they usually cannot specify exactly what is wrong and very possibly they make the same mistakes in their own speech or writing. In other words, Better English writing/speaking evolves from practices and perhaps experiences, especially when there are different sets of skills for different types of writing (e.g., a blog post is written differently from a journal article) or speaking (e.g., a daily conversation is quite different from a speech). This aligns with the notion of ‘being adaptable’ in flexible learning. This is particularly when learning is creation not consumption and knowledge is not something a learner absorbs but creates as time passes. Perhaps Normal English is the starting point for Better English.

So, whenever one doubts another person’s English writing/speaking abilities as a non-native speaker or when you receive comments because you are not a native speaker, do take it as a compliment (especially the latter) because:

  1. you clearly possess one or more than one other language and the people who comment may not;
  2. it seems like the only recommendation for your English is that you are not a native speaker.

Again, good writing/speaking skills are essential as they capture your thinking but do not let the notion of being a non-native put you down. Just like ABBA, they are Swedish, but their most famous songs are all in English, and their accents and the way they wrote their lyrics are not a detraction. Similarly, your writing/speaking will shine if you have brilliant ideas and scholarly contributions, even in Normal English. Better English is a bonus, but it is still meaningless without the substance.

A/P Kwong Nui Sim

Associate Dean Learning & Teaching

Sydney International School of Technology and Commerce

Recap: Panel ‘AI is here to stay: Part 2’

On 4 July 2023, FLANZ and EdTechNZ hosted part two of the panel ‘Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay: It’s impact on online, flexible, and distance learning’. We brought back panellists from our first panel conversation on AI on 18 May 2023, and expanded the panel to include more of the school sector.

We’d like to thank you panellists for an engaging conversation, answering the questions from the audience who got to weighty questions very quickly and asked, for example, “What would you personally like to see included in legislation around AI, to protect indigenous knowledge and self-determination?” Our panellists also tackled questions around establishing of rules and regulation specifically targeting artificial intelligence, the usefulness of adding AI literacy to the already existing literacies, what their own experiences are with AI, and where they themselves have observed changes since the first panel.

You can watch the recording of this conversation, read the transcript, and connect with our panellists:

If you are interested in joining future events of FLANZ and EdTechNZ, make sure you follow us on our respective Humanitix pages as you’ll receive email notifications about new events when they are published. Alternatively, view the events on our websites.



FLANZ AGM Date Change to 24 August

The Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand (FLANZ) will be holding its Annual General Meeting via videoconference on 24 August at 12:15 – 1:00pm.

This is a change in date from the originally announced 20 July date
FLANZ invites all FLANZ members to attend this meeting. Members will receive the agenda pack and link to access the meeting ahead of the meeting.
The AGM will also be electing members to be part of the Executive Committee, and call for nominations for these, including the roles of President, Secretary and Treasurer. We strongly encourage anyone working in this area to consider joining our Executive Committee.
Please contact our current FLANZ secretary, Ralph Springett, to initiate the nomination process.