Posts Tagged ‘e-learning’

ascilite09 conference reflections #3 – Day Two

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Tuesday already, and another nice morning in Auckland.

I set up my poster (Professional development and Web 2.0, can the space make a difference?) before heading into the theatre for Grainne Conole’s keynote, ‘Pushing the boundaries into the unknown, trajectories of user behaviour in new frontiers.’ The focus was on how new technologies create change in behaviour and asks how evolving practices might impact on education. Grainne also gave an overview of Cloudworks and reported on how the site was being used. Visit the Cloudworks cloud for James Clay’s live blogging of the presentation and links to the presentation (.ppt) & paper.

During the coffee breaks I talked with people about my poster and found that the project resonated with people with regard to it being a good model for professional development. The idea that longer term, project or research based activities are more beneficial and support deeper learning than those compared to one-off workshop type sessions.

The next session focus of virtual worlds and spaces where student interact online rather than face-to-face. A mix of presentations talking about experiences in Second Life, Elluminate and online discussions. The key to success seems to be the ability to not only make the learning authentic and having some connection to real world challenges, but also taking students along for the ride. Unless the students have a clear understanding of purpose and a relevance to them, their studies, future profession & aiming to solve real world problems, it is difficult to get them to fully engage.

After lunch I attended an interactive session called ‘Integrating Web 2.0 technologies into Moodle courses’. Stuart Mealor introduced us to a range of Web 2.0 social networking tools and asked us to consider if these tools might be included in the learning environment. He then demonstrated how some of these might be incorporated into Moodle fairly easily, and that it could be set up as an aggregator of a lot of social networking. Not sure of you’d actually want to incorporate all that much into the learning space though…

The afternoon session I went to was focused on design, and include papers on assessment, learning, patterns e-learning environment, and ‘edgeless’ universities. The two things that stood out for me were; a presentation explained the benefits of students priming and leading weekly discussion sessions, and that while they gained much from this, the peer e-learning critique by other students needed to be better scaffolded. Another presentation reminded us that online spaces need to be supported by the concept of community, so that students feel that they can ‘belong’ and have a connectedness with others that is social, educational and professional.

The conference dinner was held at the Sky Tower and it was a great night with heaps of good food & wine, lots of conversation & networking, and once the band started playing, lots of dancing.

a month is a long time between posts

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

I’ve convinced myself that I need to write a blog post today, or I’ll feel bad for the rest of the year. My last post was a month ago, which to me seems far too long! I’ve jotted down a few ideas for posts over that time and I’ll get to them soon – but for now it’s just a matter of getting some words and thoughts down so I can sleep tonight. In between weekend chores, watching the Olympics, and catching up with what’s happening to my friends via Twitter, I haven’t spent any time preparing or thinking about this post so, here we go (might have to rely of some ‘stream of consciousness’?, or how’s this for an idea? As this blog is about my observations and reflections, I think I might write about some of the more significant aspects of my work that I’ve experienced over the last month. Hope you find it interesting and maybe even useful…

I attended a workshop on e-Assessment by Geoffrey Crisp who presented as a part of his ALTC fellowship project. We were given a good overview of assessment and how you might create new possibilities for immersion and activity using e-assessment as well as enhancing social interaction (through using a wiki) and even adding value to learning by doing something other assessment can’t do. You can visit his website, register as a user, and check out the resources available.

The university where I work has three campuses and I regularly travel between the one I’m based on (Geelong @ Waurn Ponds) to our main campus in Melbourne. This is usually a 75 to 90 minute commute and I try to hitch a ride with someone who’s driving a university vehicle (to keep one extra car off the road and for the opportunity to talk on the way). Because there’s quite a few people traveling on a daily basis, the university has undertaken a trial for three months of running a bus (12 seater) between the two campuses. I’ve used it a couple of times since inception, and I think that it might catch on. There’s always the opportunity to meet and chat with people from other areas of the university, but the IT people have installed a mobile wireless internet connection on board (this is the cool part). There’s a wireless router (connected to 7.2 NextG card) so everyone with a wireless laptop connection can connect into the uni network while zipping up the highway. There were four of us checking email (me also keeping an eye on my Twitter friends) earlier this week, and after a day of meetings it’s nice to get some of that correspondence out of the way before getting home. There are plans to also provide a couple of laptops on the bus for those who don’t have them, and they are also going to provide a couple of IP telephone handsets so we can call the office over the network instead of using mobile phones. Apparently the cost of maintaining this mobile wireless connection annually (excluding the card and router) would only be around $600 as part of our telco contract. Cheap! All we need now is an AC power supply to plug in the laptops in case batteries run out – and maybe even an espresso machine. 😉

I also managed (with a couple of colleagues) to get a paper written and submitted (by the end of July) for peer review for the ASCILITE Conference at the end of the year. Don’t understand why there’s such a long lead time but I understand that there will probably be well over 200 papers submitted.

I partcipated in the The Knowledge Bank online conference 2008 which was focused on Web 2.0 in education: what it is, how it’s being used today and its potential to radically change education. The event was facilitated through Elluminate (sessions were recorded and available from the website), featured live blogging and is supported by a wiki. It was a great (learning) experience to be part of a group of nearly 200 people from all over the world listening to a range of speakers/presenters. The event was well managed and with a few moderators and presenters (with their slides) went more smoothly than I thought it might. It was fun to hear school bells ringing in the background as teachers participated live (and included their students!). Nice to experience what’s possible.

I’m also on a group providing feedback and support to the implementation project for a learning repository for the university. We’ve been discussing project scope and milestones, metadata, workflow, digital objects, permissions, and training etc. Will be nice to have this available by the end of the year.

I also attended a training session/workshop on using our new powerlink for Blackboard/Vista that enables us to create a Drupal/SMF and/or a Mediawiki installation in our units/courses that integrates within the system. This will be a good enhancement to the LMS ad provide opportunities for some authentic collaboration between students, particularly those studying off-campus/remotely.

I also attended a couple (brown bag) lunch time seminars; ‘multiple choice questions – cultural, linguistic and item writing factors’, and ‘designing, facilitating and assessing group assignments’.

Well, that’s most of the exciting stuff (I’ve probably missed a few things) and looking back reasonably interesting. As second semester settles down I’ll be writing more reflectively on these experiences.

my iPod

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Understanding that others have written on the subject – I wanted to give my spin the on the (just about) ubiquitous iPod.

“A most underrated device the (Apple) iPod is“, (as Yoda would say), and I wouldn’t go anywhere without my trusty multi-media device. Other than these devices being cool, with great design, neat user interface and having some street cred, they are also immensely useful for teaching and learning.

I use mine to play music (sometimes), play podcasts (both audio and video a lot of the time), play video (TV, movies, presentations etc.), show photos, store files, and record audio (interviews). I won’t make any comments regarding the iPod Touch as I see it as an alternative to the way I use my iPod (and because I haven’t had enough experience with one to know it’s full range of functionality and/or limitations).

I can do all these things in a personal way (like, I’m the only person interacting with the device) or I can, through the Component or Composite Audio Visual (AV) cable, share everything with an audience. (NB* the newer iPod Classic require a new version of the AV cables).

I can use it walking, riding (the bicycle), traveling in the car (or on the train/plane), at home in the lounge or in the classroom/lecture theatre.

iTunes is the main piece of software I use to upload audio, video, and photos to the iPod, but I have some other software and hardware that allows me to add value to the iPod.

  1. The Belkin TuneTalk is a great little recording device that plugs into the bottom of the iPod and enable digital recording (but watch out for a new version for the latest iPod Classic).
  2. Then there’s the Griffin iTrip Auto (FM transmitter) that allows you to play your iPod through the car stereo system (charges the iPod as you go).
  3. And what about an Elgato eyetv digital TV tuner? I have the ‘hybrid’ model which does analogue and DTT (free view). This means I can capture of an old analogue VHS tape player and convert to digital and then save to iPod. You plug a co-axial cable into one end of the ‘stick’ and the other end goes into a USB port and via the excellent software you an watch and record free to air TV. Once recorded you are able to edit the recording (removing advertisements maybe) and then export as an iPod .mp4 file. If you have Roxio Toast you can also burn to DVD. This enables you to record something on TV in the evening and use it in your teaching the next day!
  4. Then there’s other handy things like a 3.5mm headphone jack splitter which effectively enables two people to listen to the iPod at the same time (you’ll need another set of head phones). You can pick these splitters up form an electronic store like Dick Smith Electronics.
  5. A small carry bag is also useful. I found a great design from Eagle Creek that’s got enough compartments and room for the bits and pieces. Not sure if they still produce the model I’ve got, but the Hip Check looks close.

I’ll probably go into more detail on the intricacies of exploiting the educational uses of the iPod in later posts (like creating & subscribing to podcasts) and in the meantime provide a couple of links to post by others… Kate Foy | Rob De Lorenzo | Manoj Jasra, and surely many more. Feel free to comment and provide a link if you’ve written something on the subject….

The bottom line: everyone (particularly teachers) should have one, or at least something that can do the same sort of things. I really can’t think of a reason why you shouldn’t. If you can think of a good reason – let us know!

face to face?

Monday, April 14th, 2008

I met with some people from South Africa last week who were doing a benchmarking exercise on the use and development of multimedia materials for distance education (only). They were keen to hear how we did this sort of thing but the scale was so different (and we do teach face to face) that our conversation/experience only intersected a couple of times. Having students on-campus makes it much easier for us to be responsive and contemporary (to the day/week rather than semester/year) with the ability to provide students with commentary (recorded audio/podcasts) and even other digital objects (newspaper, TV, scans, and broadcasts etc) to support and enhance learning. While we do have off-campus students, the mix of materials we need to develop and the way we (often) integrate both modes into the online environment, mean we do things quite differently. They did want to know how to support students at a distance through online communication and it was good to be able to tell them a little about our experiences with a large corporate learning management system and our recent excursions into using open source social software (more on that in later posts).

It was interesting to hear their story and aspects of the logistics when delivering courses (and relevant material) to over three hundred thousand students (yep, 300,000)! Make a mistake with stock control and the extra mail-out will eat into the profit quick smart. There would certainly be some economies of scale with regard to return on investment for course development by selling it to so many students, but some of the logistics issues sounded scary. They did seem to have a nice model for course/material development which reminded me of we used to do it … ahhh, the good old days.

I also attended a seminar where someone shared their experience of a visit to the UK and meeting an academic from the Ultraversity. He had been quite taken with their model of offering one degree only (BA (Hons) Learning, Technology and Research) and wholly online. It does seem like it fills a market niche with three exit points and is full fee, with those living in the EU getting a good discount. Many of the students are encouraged to ‘earn while they learn’, there seems to be a focus on ‘action to improve your own workplace’ and the study is asynchronous to allow for flexibility and self-paced learning. The curriculum model is action research and involves personalised learning (negotiated with the student), inquiry/project based learning, online units of inquiry (with expert witnesses), and the assessment of learning is by e-portfolio and an exhibition for dissemination. This is sharing the inquiry finding with stake-holders and evaluated for input which all provides for real, authentic and potentially valuable learning/contribution. I like it!

Anyway both experiences were useful in exposing me to a couple of other models for doing education and learning and provided a bit of litmus test to help me see what we are doing. Looking through a different lens is always useful and you never know who you’ll meet.