Saturday, June 27, 2009

Design, reflection and open learning

Just wanted to jot a couple of thoughts down in response to this podcast "Teaching outside the limits of space and time" which I listened to while running along the waterfront in Auckland a couple of days ago. The podcast features the EdTech Posse who pretty regularly have entertaining discussions around a whole heap of aspects of ICT enhanced learning and teaching. (They have a laid-back, pretty unstructured approach, sometimes featuring pub-settings, and often with guest appearances by the just have to listen :-) )

In this particular podcast a lot of what they were saying hit a note of accord and I found myself grinning like an idiot (not a good look at the best of times). Some of the key topics they covered were designing programmes and what (if any) is the optimum duration for a course for effective learning, and aligning assessment (types as well as content with course design) - i.e. if you have a course that encourages open learning, then more traditional forms of assessment are unlikely to measure the effectiveness of the learning that has taken place. They also mulled over the importance of building learning networks, but that these too need time to develop, and that it is hopeless to try to force a community to develop. The final point was about podcasting - taking offline conversations and putting them online...but in a forum where futher discussion from disparate voices from around the globe is encouraged.

I did think there were a couple of points I'd like to add into the mix. For example, when they discussed the optimum length of a course, one aspect that I don't think was mentioned directly was motivation (extrinsic or intrinsic), although there was discussion about how interest in a subject can shape the learning experience (irrespective of duration). Alongside this factor is the notion of whether a learner is 'ready'...if they have developed the necessary cognitive framework that can be built upon with this next set of thinking and/or skills. If the learner is in just the right spot then an hour may be all it takes to turn the tide; something that just falls into place that makes sense of everything else. I think that this may be the case irrespective of whether it's a content based or process based course.

The other thing that really struck my imagination was the embedding of one discipline with in another that really 'smokes the tyres' of the learner. The example was the art class with embedded math. Awesome. We did something similar (but not as sophisticated) at Dubai Men's College where we had a project-based ICT enhanced blended-learning programme over 40 weeks. Math, English, academic literacies, ICT literacies, and Arabic were all integrated into the incremental, experiential learning course. Students would gradually produce one artefact over 10 weeks, building cumulatively another 'bit' each week, and the focus was very much on the process - the learning journey - rather than the end product.

I reckon I've drivelled on for long enough. I'd highly recommend the podcasts as thought-provoking and entertaining.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A balanced critique of Turnitin: Focus on learning & ethics

My colleague, Vickel Naryan and I have now facilitated several sessions with a variety of faculty at Unitec NZ, which have focussed on the discussion of what plagiarism actually comprises, the complex reasons people plagiarise, and how to assist the avoidance of plagiarism. One of the reasons that we designed such a session (with a suite of associated resources in Moodle, including use of blogs) is to stimulate discussion around these key concerns, and then, and only then, lead into discussion and use of the plagiarism detection software, Turnitin. To introduce some of the underlying gnarly ethical questions of using plagiarism detection software as a punitive tool, we show a short video from Fox News and then encourage a discussion that is inevitably lively, rich, and often passionate.

The latter part of the workshop is centered around setting up a Turnitin account and assignment. Faculty are encouraged to submit a piece of their own writing, and some of the participants describe in their blog postings feelings of fear, anxiety, and anger when they receive the report. We wind up with a final discussion where opinions range between Turnitin, if used in a pedagogically sound way that assists students through multiple revisions of work, might be a useful tool, to real concerns around the ethics of its use.

The article linked to here "(Mis)Trusting Technology that Polices Integrity: A Critical Assessment of" critiques the tool, and discusses some of the issues and concerns that have been raised by Unitec faculty, including, for example, what message the use of the tool by an institution actually sends. Makes for really good reading! (Many thanks to Vickel, who found the article.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Power of Multimedia to Express Complex Concepts

Multimedia - the nurturing of ideas

Sometimes wondered what all the fuss is about multimedia? Pondered how to express a gnarly concept? For me the answer is illustrated by this animated video "Democracy is..." (bu Lucas Szozda). It is, in my opinion, beautifully eloquent and yet hauntingly simple.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What is Creative Commons?

If you are unsure what Creative Commons licensing is, and why it has been developed, this is a great video to watch.

ICTELT in Action: Applying ICT Enhanced Learning Programme Design

Click to play

This video is an extract from a workshop that was facilitated by Diana Ayling and Hazel Owen with the Business Department at Unitec NZ. The workshop was part of an initiative initiated by the Business Department to revisit the programmes that they offer students, and the learning experience. Formal and informal sessions focussed on aspects such as:
  • Course design and lesson planning
  • Facilitation of learning
  • Assessments
  • Evaluating teaching and learning

A sense of the dynamic discussions that have been ongoing is captured, as well as a feelings of excitement, seeing potential, anxiety, and concerns around pragmatic issues.

The extract features discussion around the results of the ICTELT survey that participants had completed before the session, as well as dialogue around blended learning in general, and what a course that uses the ICTELT design mindmap as a foundation may feature.

(If you would like to find out more about the work that underpins some of the workshop and the ICTELT mindmap, please feel free to visit the ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching wiki.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Education institution-specific applications for mLearning

I'd like to recommend a short article that gives an brief overview of a US university that has created a free application specifically for its students' iPhones and Blackberries. The application gives students access to information about courses, faculty, and sport, as well as having an interactive campus map. One neat feature is the ability for students to directly text or email the faculty who facilitate their courses.

College creates iPhone application for its students

Posted using ShareThis

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another podcast: Open Source Administration

I was out for a run the other day, and listening to you do, and one came up that that I found heartening....

This is an hour and ten minute podcast which features a keynote address by John Maeda. He talks a lot about creative communication...especially through the daily blog that he, as President of the Rhode Island School of Design in the US, keeps and shares with the whole of the institution. Maeda encourages 'thinking aloud' and rather than asking for comments, he asks his community 'what are you thinking?'. He also compares creative leadership with more conservative leadership. Well worth a listen!

Hope you enjoy :-)

You can download the Mp3 file directly by clicking here.

Podcast: Introducing New Technology to Faculty

If you are involved in any sort of academic support or, on the other hand, are a faculty member who is working at an institution where new technologies are becoming a focus, you may well find this podcast created by Gerry Bayne (EDUCAUSE) on April 15, 2009, of interest.

One of the key points made is that it is all about the learning and teaching, and very little to do with the tools. The blurb on the site advises: "In this forty-two minute podcast we feature a conversation from the ELI 2009 Annual Meeting. Participants in our lively roundtable discuss their experiences with introducing new technology to faculty, approaches to digital literacy, and ways to think about teaching with (or without) technology". Sometimes thought provoking, and well worth a listen:

ELI In Conversation: Introducing New Technology to Faculty

Access the Mp3 file by clicking here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Now with audio! Increasing student success through effectiveLLN support

Abstract: "The success of students is of central concern for tertiary institutions globally and in New Zealand. When learners are unable to meet the literacy and numeracy demands of their programmes, they struggle to achieve the learning outcomes necessary to graduate, and tend not to reach full potential in their community.
To improve the quality of teaching and learning at Unitec NZ, staff is beginning to employ an integrated approach to teaching courses, thereby assisting students with literacy and numeracy challenges. Professional development is essential to engage staff in the process of refocussing and revisioning the experience offered to learners.

The Centre for Teaching and Learning Innovation (CTLI) is working closely with staff to design and provide contextualised workshops in direct response to needs identified by each school for their specific learners. This paper describes one such initiative for Automotive Engineering staff, where a range of literacy and numeracy related tools were showcased in two collaborative and interactive workshops. Eleven literacy and numeracy support tools, sourced from a variety of places, were chosen to exemplify best practice. The presenters will give an overview of the workshops and the thinking/theory behind them (including the iterative cycle of evaluation and improvement of the workshops in response to participant feedback). A demonstration of key workstations with the associated handouts / interactive tasks will be available for trial by conference participants who will also be asked to evaluate each tool/workstation in a feedback form."

Please cite as: Please cite as: Owen, H, & Schwenger, B. (2008). Student Success; Increasing student success through effective literacy and numeracy support. Paper presented at the EIT Teaching and Learning Conference, 2008, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.

What is Web 2.0?

A brief comparison of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. The comparison was given as part of a workshop around using ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching in general, and Web 2.0 in partcular. As such this is an excerpt from the workshop, which was facilitated by Hazel Owen and Vickel Narayan (The Centre of Teaching & Learning: Te Puna Ako, Unitec NZ).