Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-based Learning

Not only are the conversations on the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-based Learning (AAEEBL) site lively, but there are some great resources being shared that members have developed. For example, this list of resources around reflection for learning compiled by Helen Barrett. The particular focus is ePortfolios, and it is a good place to start if you are looking for ideas and would like to join in the conversation.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Evaluating feedback and collaborating at conferences

Bettina Schwenger and I recently presented at The student experience: HERDSA 2009 in Darwin. As part of the presentation we asked participants to add details to the mindmap pictured below - the original mindmap only included the nodes that have images. Participants collaborated in pairs or small groups to add to the mindmaps, and we collected all of their contributions at the end of the session. The results have been collated and added to the original mindmap, which has created an insightful visual resource into beliefs around Professional Development and the embedding of Literacy, Language and Numeracy into programmes.

At the end of the presentation we asked for evaluation of our session via sticky notes that were left on the door as people left, and received some very positive comments which have been collated below. In particular, it was reassuring to see the comments about the transferability and generalisability of the model in particular, and the approach to PD as a whole.


Feedback from the participants at the session:
  • Well presented and food for thought in dealing with resistant teaching staff. Thank you
  • Great project. Well done
  • Great model (transferable to any T& L context or group) for meaningful PD engagement of academics. (Could be replicated with students)
  • Generalisable model. Thanks
  • Inspiring. Good stuff
  • Provoking. Thanks for some great ideas
  • Thought provoking.
  • Breaking down barriers
  • Interesting pictures on slides
  • Nice symbolism
  • Used accessible terminology
  • Excellent. Good job. Well done.
Link to the 'live' mindmap (pictured below): (you will need to access the online version to be able to view the full mindmap :-) )

Intrinsic motivation: Seven Great Walks in seven days....

Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but thought it was not only an awesome example of planning an incredible feat, but also something that highlights what is potentially possible when we are motivated and engaged.

The introduction to the site explains that "The 7 in 7 is something that has never been attempted before. This will come as no surprise to most people – it is after all a pretty crazy thing to do! But for its creator, and main protagonist, Mal Law it is the opportunity of a lifetime to “make pain my friend”, experience New Zealand wilderness at its best, and most important of all, raise at least $50,000 for a great cause – The Leukaemia & Blood Foundation of NZ. The Challenge is a world-first attempt to RUN New Zealand’s 7 mainland ‘Great Walks’ in just 7 (consecutive) days. Completing it will be the equivalent of running 9 off-road marathons and climbing Mt. Cook twice, all within just 7 days."

I found out about the planned epic when a couple of dear friends, whose son Matthew was diagnosed with leukaemia in his first few months of life, mentioned the run. Matthew not only survived after much treatment, care and love, but is now a strapping 2-year-old. Jeff Greenwood (Matthew's dad) is joining Mal for the Heaphy and the Kepler; you may spot him training around Auckland...complete with baby buggy! :-)

Motivation is a strange thing, comes from many sources, and can help people achieve what appears to be impossible. Long live motivation!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Building communities in Te Hononga: Unitec Department of Architecture Maori Studio

A sunny day and a pleasant stroll across campus set the scene for the Ning session Ed and I facilitated today with students and academic faculty from Te Hononga: Unitec Department of Architecture Maori Studio. Already keen Moodle users, students and faculty were looking for ways that students could be empowered to create their own space, add their own multimedia, try out ideas and designs in a safe space, receive feedback, work in groups on projects, and keep online journals. In response, Rau Hoskins and I set up a Ning site and today's session was to explore and discuss some of the potential uses of the site, and answer questions.

Rather than have a 'how to...' session students have been encouraged to access Anthony Armstrong's great online resource...a step-by-step Ning tutorial (with accompanying .pdf should you wish to download key points).

A decision was made to keep the Moodle site as the showcase for work and projects everyone is collaborating, and to use the Ning site a test and prototype area, as well as somewhere to get to know each other better. The Ning site is already buzzing with student activity, which is great. It will be fascinating to see the momentum build.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Knowledge creation/management and communities....

This is an informative, insightful interview conducted by CIO Insight with Etienne Wenger entitled Expert Voice: Etienne Wenger on Knowledge Management. I felt it, in part, addressed a couple of questions that arose in the Ning workshop Vickel and I facilitated with the Department of Management and Marketing this week on why one might cultivate communities between colleagues, learners, and a combination where appropriate.

The interview covers questions such as 'Who has used technology well to support a community?', 'Is there a risk of overmanaging communities?', and 'So the value of communities extends beyond the creation of knowledge?'.

The introduction to the interview reads:

"How is knowledge created? And what's the best way to put that knowledge to use? Those two questions have long been central to the work of Etienne Wenger, an independent researcher, consultant and author. The 49-year-old Wenger, a native of Switzerland, has spent his career spreading the concept of "communities of practice"—groups of people within organizations working together to create and apply knowledge."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Enhancing online discussions - some ideas from the blogosphere...

Good afternoon. I thought you may be interested in this blog post about encouraging learners to 'talk' in online discussion forums. It is entitled "Say what? Promoting discussion in online courses", and has some interesting tips and wrinkles.

The introduction from the blog post is as follows: "How can we get learners to talk in online discussions, and how can we get the chatty students to shut up? The results have been pretty disappointing so far. Most instructors set up a discussion forum, and ask students to post an original post and to comment on two other posts. But instructors complain that students are doing the minimum and the discussions aren’t exciting. But what are they assessing? They’re just counting how many posts each student gives. The discussions, hence, are seen as tedious busywork."

Management, Marketing and Ning-ing

Today, on the auspicious day of 9th September 2009 (09.09.09) Vickel Narayan and I facilitated a workshop with the Department of Management and Marketing as a requested follow up session to a more generic Web 2.0 session, which Vickel had previously run with the group. Prior to the workshop we worked with the department to identify outcomes that they would require from two Ning sessions (number 2 in October) - this helped ensure that participants voices were 'heard' beforehand, and also that we didn't run the session that we thought they wanted, as opposed to the session that they actually wanted :-)

Session 1, today's, was a hands-on session that focussed on utilising a Ning space for their Department which could be used as a way to build more of a community, communicate and share. There was also conversation around negotiated guidelines, which they would later need to discuss. The agreed guidelines would be used to shape interactions they all felt comfortable with within the online forums, the 'identity' they shared with colleagues, and the content that was considered appropriate.

By the end of the session all participants had joined the Ning, added a profile and photo, posted to a forum, written and posted a blog reflection, and searched for, embedded and shared a video.

Session 2 will focus on using Ning with learners.

After a start where there was some trepidation, the room was filled with laughter and talking. One participant commented in their blog at the end that they were really happy that everyone was involved and having a bit of fun! A further participant came up and said she had been really anxious before attending the session as she felt she would not be able to do or accomplish anything. In fact, she had achieved a lot and was really over the moon.

Watch this space for the next installment.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Looking for images you can use without violating copyright? What is Creative Commons?

At a meeting around designing online courses the other day, the question was posed around which resources could be sourced from other sites without violating copyright. I gave a very brief overview of Creative Commons, but there are some fantastic sites out there that explain it all, O so much better than I can :-). Creative Commons is one such site where you will find a wealth of information and resources (including a place to license your own online materials). For those rushed off their feet I located a video from their site which clearly explains Creative Commons:

Also, should you be looking for copyright safe images have located and reviewed 12 sites where you can search for free images:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Design and scenario: Web 2.0 ePortfolios for students

Image source:

I have been working on developing a scenario and design mindmap that explored some of the potential of Web 2,0 ePortfolios for learners. Given that I am currently working with Unitec NZ I decided to base my fictional learner, Chan Sook, at this institution studying The Bachelor of Business (Accountancy).

You can access the mindmap at and the accompanying scenario (which includes a list of Web 2.0 tools she uses, and how she uses them) at

Any comments, feedback or ideas that you may have would be gratefully received :-)

Participation in Sports....

Yesterday, Monday 31st August, Diana Ayling, Ed Flagg, Trisha Hanifin and I made our way over to the Sports' Department building and having located important things (like the kitchen to make tea) we set about re-arranging the furniture so that everyone would be able to sit around the table and share laptops between them. We promptly fired up the laptops, opened the browser and the Ning that had been set up specifically for Sports. Several people had already added their profiles and a sense of community was being built by the addition of photographs from.

Diana artfully facilitated the session as I typed notes like a mad woman and fielded the occasional request for technical assistance. The session started with introductions and each person chose a category off the board which they had to describe (around assessment, evaluation, and design etc). The activity encouraged a lot of engagement, with a healthy mix of competition, encouragement and humour.

After an overview of some of Fink's ideas, Diana encouraged everyone to login to Mindmeister and start putting together the key aspects of a Level 5 course. There were some of the 'so what do we do? ' questions, but then everyone got up to speed. Someone commented that they were chuffed that we were using the same software that was used to create some of the earlier graphics that Diana had used. There was a continual buzz and exchange of ideas, with everyone on task and engaged - in fact everyone was so involved that Diana had to work hard to get everyone back into focus.

Diana wrapped up by giving everyone a quick tour of some of the key resources in the Ning and encouraged people to go and have a look at some of these resources, thereby modelling some of the uses of the Ning. She in particular introduced reflective evaluation, introducing the blogs and targeted feedback, and described what the participants were going to do as 'homework' before the next session.

All in all there was a great mixture of fun, inquisitiveness, and professionalism, which Diana worked to encourage. Roll on the next session which is on 22nd September.