Introducing the Desire2Learn Tool Guide for Teachers

September 22nd, 2012

We’ve now implemented Desire2Learn (D2L) as our LMS at Deakin University, and have been delivering all our units (courses) in the system since Trimester 3, 2011. There was an investment in developing a professional development program for academic staff to assist in the transition to the new system that had a focus on learning about D2L and the migration of course material. Attention was also paid to learning design and how the D2L tool set and functions might be used to best support the curriculum.  I also thought that a Desire2Learn Tool Guide for Teachers (like the Moodle Tool Guide developed by Joyce Seitzinger in 2010) would be useful in helping academic staff decide which tool to use for a particular learning activity and to consider what level of thinking is used (for a tool & activity) according to the revised Bloom’s taxonomy. 

I started work on this guide in 2011, and when Joyce stared working at Deakin Uni during the year, I was happy to work together with her to finish this version. We’ve chosen the most used D2L tools and mapped them in a matrix to give advice about how useful they are for specific learning activities and using colours indicated how well they fit to that task. We presented the new Desire2Learn Tool Guide for Teachers at the recent inaugural Desire2Learn Asia-Pac Teaching and Learning conference and hope that people find it useful. You can download an A3 Poster version (pdf) below. 

D2L ToolGuideforTeachers
Desire2Learn Tool Guide for Teachers Sep2012

We have also created a Deakin version of the Desire2Learn Tool Guide that contains references to the Deakin Graduate Learning Outcomes and 12 Aspects of Cloud Learning that we see as important in supporting 21st Century Learning and developing work-ready graduates. We have released under a creative commons license that is non-commercial, share alike with attribution. It is intended that this might become part of the suite of professional development tools available to support online learning and teaching using Desire2Learn. Looking forward to your feedback. 

PS. Joyce’s original guide has been translated into over a dozen languages and has also been adapted for a different LMS – see the BlackBoard Tool Guide for Tutors & the BlackBoard 9.1 Tool Guide

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using video for learning and more flipping in the classroom

April 30th, 2012

I’ve been thinking about the use of video in teaching and learning and how we might use video to help in assessment. There’s been much written about using video resources (eg. Khan Academy) and the flipped classroom (or reverse instruction) where students watch first and then come to class to discuss the material. I’m pleased to see more discussion around the ability to watch a video and then add comments at specific points in the timeline of the video rather than just have the video as a discreet object. This is very useful and I believe has the potential for powerful learning as it allows for personal, peer and teacher feedback on a student’s own work. The flip is to have student assess themselves…

Video capture
Photo credit: psicologiaclinica

A tweet by Jenny Luca pointing to her blog post on using Vialogues (video & dialogues) indicated to me that more & more people are recognising the usefulness in education of being able to comment on video. The service suggests users to start a meaningful conversation and to, Create, Invite, Interact and Share. Jenny focused on using the video as a screencast and explanatory learning resource and I think this is a great way for student to interact with a resource and comment with questions, their understanding, or need for further enquiry. 

I’m also interested in how students might reflect on their own performance, say as a beginning teacher, nurse, psychologist, doctor, counsellor etc. A friend of mine has been working with a technology at RMIT called the Media Annotation Tool that allows for students to comment on an uploaded video (of themselves or for particular task) and then receive peer feedback on their comments/reflection before the teacher provides some feedback.  Megan Colasante has written a paper about this project, Using video annotation to reflect on and evaluate physical education pre-service teaching practice. I believe this tool has promise and hope development continues. 

There could be some remarkable power in a reflection when you have to watch your own performance (say against that of an expert) and then receive constructive feedback on your comments and performance – this should lead to engaged and meaningful learning. 

There are other tools that do similar things such as Voicethread (uses still rather than video) and the new TedEd Website features video lessons that can be ‘flipped’ and give teachers the opportunity to create lessons with reflective questions built in, but not the capacity to annotate the video. With video becoming more ubiquitous as students are now able to easily capture learning and practice moments via a smart device. I also understand that it may not always be suitable to annotate/comment after the fact, as it might be necessary to assess something while it’s happening live and not to have to watch a performance twice. While there are some professional video recording and coding applications available, I’m looking forward to further educational developments in this space. Of course there’s many other ways to use video for learning, but the idea of comments and annotations at specific points and events in a performance is very useful. The bonus would be the capacity of multiple comment tracks and maybe even some control over their visibility. 

In the meantime I’ll also be investigating the usefulness of point of view (POV) glasses for this sort of application.

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the power of social media – for everybody

April 25th, 2012

As part of a book group at work we’ve been reading Clay Shirkey’s: Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organising Without Organisations, and I thought I’d share this reflection of the power of crowds, or the flash mob and social media. The recent story about Caine’s Arcade is a great example of networks, connections and social media amplifying a story and making a difference. A difference that would be worth making to all those other stories like Caine’s that we don’t hear about.

Recently I followed a link in a tweet to a video by Nirvan Mullick that has gone viral and had nearly 5 million views on Youtube & Vimeo in about a week. Caine’s Arcade is a heart warming story of a 9 year old boy in Los Angeles who build his own (slot machine) arcade out of cardboard and packing tap over the summer holidays. The video is well edited and a nicely paced story told an appropriate 11 minute package.

Caine displays lots of imagination, creativity, motivation and entrepreneurial spirit while remaining matter of fact sort of kid. The story of the arcade he designed and built provides a great example of what the outcome of good learning (mostly self-taught?) can be. The unique conditions in which he created the arcade (in front of the counter at his father’s car used auto-parts business) might not be what we’d think of as an ideal learning environment, it worked for Caine and was most suitable in this instance. I’d love to see more of this sort of thing being constructed in school classrooms.

Watch the video out on Youtube

Other than TV coverage there’s been some commentary about why this story might appeal, what might happen to Caine, and what makes a viral video.

But wait, there’s more – a teacher has developed a lesson plan based around the story, there’s the Facebook page, and the Caine’s Arcade foundation has been set up to raise funds for an education scholarship. 

I found some comments in this article highlighting the amount of money raised by Caine’s Arcade foundation interesting when it suggested that: “Crowd-sourcing the funding of Monroy’s college education is great. But this is only helping one child and it isn’t sustainable,” says Gordon Coonfield, a professor of communication at Villanova University in Philadelphia. “We need to find more sustainable and broader-reaching ways to help those who need help. Maybe crowd-sourcing and social networks are something the nonprofit sector and education institutions need to take a closer look at.” 

I believe there’s also a responsibility for those who use the tools and power afforded by social media, to be aware of the potential for collateral damage. Remember Star Wars Kid? – see Wikipedia and Know your meme. While young Caine didn’t have much control over what’s happened to him and seems to coping with the new found fame, I hope he’s able to get back to what we might think of a normal life soon. 

But back to Shirky’s book and linking the ideas of the power of social media to organise groups and how this might be used in education/learning. The affordances of social media provides groups with efficiencies and a new capacity for ‘sharing, cooperation and collective action’. As we come to understand these new ‘tools of culture’ and as their design, functionality, and our access to them evolves, we need to think carefully about their use and understand the ramifications of the affects that they will have on all aspects of our lives. 

What does the power of social media and the willingness of people to engage & connect this way mean for us in higher education?

How does the possibility of these connections and collaborations affect our work in teaching and research?

Are particular (digital) literacies required to use social media meaningfully & responsibly?

Where is the place for ‘analogue’ means of connection as social media becomes a more ubiquitous tool of modern culture? 

PS. Danah Boyd has just published a piece in The Guardian called, Whether the digital era improves society is up to its users – that’s us, and discusses concepts such as the attention economy and radical transparency. The byline for the article is, “Social media in particular has inexorably changed the world, driving openness and fear – but it is not beyond our control”. An intersting read. 

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what is learning anyway? – there are/have been, some theories.

April 23rd, 2012

I’ve been following Donald Clark’s blog series on learning theorists and found it enlightening and useful. On March 17th he began a blog marathon of 50 blogs on learning theorists over 50 days. He ‘presents fifty major shapers and movers in learning, theorists, practitioners and those directly relevant to e-learning.’ He started with the Greeks and is just over halfway through his list and about to begin discussing major influencers in the field of e-learning before finishing with some posts on the area of training. 

N n+1
Photo by Jan Tik

What I’ve particularly liked is the outline that has been used for each learning theorist.  They include an:

  • Overview of the individual
  • Specific theory and ideas on learning
  • Relevance to learning
  • Implications for E-learning
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Where appropriate the author has also provided evidence that highlights the flaws in a particular theory and how it has been proved incorrect.

Any pre-service teacher or learning professional involved at any level, would do well to spend some time absorbing these overviews to help provide a context to what we understand what good teaching and learning might be. Thanks Donald…

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there’s one constant we can be sure of – change

April 21st, 2012

It’s been too long since my last post and a lot has happened in my professional life. Things are the same, but they’ve changed – here’s a quick update.

Since coming back from FUSION 2011 mid 2011, I worked on a small research project that examined the planning for the integration of ePortfolios into degree program. I believe this is a worthwhile way to implement ePortfolios by having them embedded in a purposeful and meaningful way with authentic assessment activities. The resulting research report was submitted as the final piece of assessment for the Graduate Certificate of Higher Education (happy to say that I’ve now graduated).

Then there was a flurry of conferences from October to December that provided me with opportunities to share, learn, reconnect and be inspired. I was able to present the preliminary findings of the ePortfolio research project at the ePortfolio Australia Conference (#EAC11) in Perth last October.  I also came away from the conference understanding that sufficient planning & preparation are required to introduce ePortfolios successfully, that student respond well to engaging ePortfolio tasks, and that ePortfolios provide a useful platform for student reflections on learning. While in Perth I was also able to attend the Apple Paperless Padagogy Workshop (great to see the development of tools to create epubs on the iPad platform) and the ATN Assessment Conference (#ATN11). I came away from this conference thinking more about how we can design assessment to be more meaningful in the 21st Century, how we provide authentic assessment of graduate attributes, skills and capabilities attainment, and how we might provide alternative modes of feedback such as audio.

I was on the organising committee of the Teaching and Learning with Vision Conference (#TLV11) in early November and we had a great lineup of speakers and a great vibe over the two days. We were challenged to think about using games for learning, creating innovative learning spaces, how a new generation of learners like to learn, the power of networks for learning, learnt more about QR codes, using point of view (POV) glasses to record skill development, and we shared our favourite social media & networking tools. Make sure you come along to TLV12 in November this year.

TLV keynote
Photo By miz minh TLV11

In mid November I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Informa Technology for Learning and Teaching Forum and caught up with friends Steve Wheeler, Tom Cochrane and Dave Cummings (amongst others). Then at the end of November there was the ConVerge conference (#ConVerge11) and I enjoyed catching up with Howard Errey, Greg Young, Joyce Seitzinger and Nancy White. Came away with a better understanding of; how MOOCs work, ways mobile devices and video conferencing can be used for engaged learning, how to create epubs, the use Diigo & Evernote for social bookmarking, and the power of connecting groups and networks. 

Also late in the year I applied for a job in the School of Medicine at Deakin, and was very happy to be offered the position of Senior Lecturer, Medical Education (eLearning). This meant that I had to say goodbye to my team and colleagues in the Faculty of Business and Law and finished up on the last working day of the year. My new role is to support the use of technology in learning and teaching so has a similar focus as my previous position, but I’m also keen to develop the research component of my work to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of what we do. 

In early December I was able to attend ASCILITE (#ascilite11) in Hobart and and caught up with friends, made some new connections, and got to know some of my new colleagues from the Faculty of Health. I appreciated hearing about projects involved with; learning design and the use of technology in teaching, student response systems, rubric creation and use, curation and social media, and the potential for learning analytics. 

Ascilite11
ascilite 2011 opening keynote

I started in the School of Medicine mid January and have been busy getting to know staff and students as well as learning how the medical program is delivered. The LMS (Desire2Learn) is used extensively to support the delivery of the program and I see lots of opportunities to augment that system with the use mobile devices, ePortfolios, and video and multi-media. I hope to get a few projects going and looking at how we can improve the outcomes of learning & teaching program for both students and staff. 

So, while my work has been constant over the past nine months, there has been some change in the context of what I’m doing. I was very fortunate and appreciated the opportunities of professional development through conference attendance late last year and look forward to making a contribution in my new workplace. 

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FUSION 2011 Desire2Learn Conference

July 15th, 2011

I’ve been fortunate to be able to attend the Desire2Learn (D2L) annual conference FUSION 2011 in Denver, Colorado this week and have enjoyed a great atmosphere, met lots of people, and learned more about D2L and how it can support teaching. I’ve still got two days of workshops to attend and look forward to some more in-depth best practice sessions on how D2L can support authentic teaching practice through assessment, analytics, learning design and ePortfolio.

Denver thunderstorm

There’s been spectacular thunderstorms each evening this week and the thunder & lighting generally announce a good downpour. The days have been warm but I haven’t been outside all that much as the conference has kept us busy from 8-4:30. There have been lots of sessions to choose from, including hands-on workshops to help people learn more about particular tools. Plenty of D2L staff have been available to discuss issues and I liked the triage desk (with staff dressed in white coats & stethoscopes) where you could go and chat about feature requests or other things that are of concern/need fixing. Nice.

I usually find conferences are a good litmus test of how we are travelling with regard to our practice and use of technology for learning and teaching. It’s been good here at D2L, to be confirmed in a way that indicates that we ‘up there’ with regard to best practice and robust implementation. Great to talk to other educators though, and hear about alternative ways of doing things and I’ll be reviewing all this as I debrief after the conference.

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