Friday, April 30, 2010

Students creating activities and resources for peers

Created by Jason Hise with Maya and Macromedia...
Image via Wikipedia
If you are keen on encouraging your students to create activities, demonstrations, explanations, and content for their peers, and other people around the world, then there are a couple of easy to use, free tools available. The beauty of any of the resources the students create is that they can be shared, used and commented on by classmates, helping to develop a sense of an authentic audience (and reason) for learning. Also, because learners have to really immerse themselves in the design, selection, scripting and sharing process much deeper learning can be facilitated. Students could work in pairs or individually.

My Studiyo

The first is My Studiyo. Students can choose to create multiple choice quizzes, or short answer questions, give correct answers and provide feedback. They can also add pictures and video content. If My Studiyo doesn't fit the bill, then you can check out 11 other options HERE.

Another option is to encourage students to make their own videos or animations for their peers. This could be to demonstrate how to do something, to explain or explore a concept (for example, 'justice'), to capture and explain their experiences, or could be as part of a research project. The three tools below would give students a choice between creating their own animations (Go Animate), creating videos from images and video (Dvolver), or capturing their computer screen with audio (Jing).

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's on offer for learners? (Peter Coolbear, DEANZ 2010)

Tea break, DEANZ 2010Image by hazelowendmc via Flickr
Peter Coolbear, in his closing address to the conference, raised some key questions from the conference for the participants at the conference to go away and think about. He stressed that there is a need for system level adjustments that will shape and enable decision making. Some of the key questions were around generalisability.

Can we extrapolate from meeting the need of distance learners to meeting the needs of all learners? How can we level off work like that which has been presented at the conference to influence all of tertiary learning?

He closed with the phrase (from Scott Symonds) "lecturer re-creation application" as something to avoid at all odds .... Food for thought, and time for a cuppa!
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Contrasting experiences of blended learning (Kehrwald, Simpson and Rawlins)

Activity Theory Framework for integrating ICT ...Image by hazelowendmc via Flickr
Benjamin Kehrwald, Mary Simpson, and Peter Rawlins used a symposium approach to look at a practical examples of blended learning.

They used the Simpson and Anderson (2009, p. 99) definition of blended learning. The study itself was based around an ambitious project that sought to redesign the 4 year BEd programme and to use a single common online learning environment that catered from Palmerston North, Hawkes Bay, and other campus students in an area where they accessed all of their papers, communicated with each other and with academic staff etc.

Data was collected using a questionnaire, followed by an interview for students, and a similar approach for teachers. The aim was to drill down past the quantitative data that had been collected.

Some interested things that arose from the data were questions around what blended actually is, and what we collectively believe to be blended learning, and who the 'we' is. An example of a staff answer" I think there are shared understandings developing in pockets but I think within courses people develop an modify and evolve shared understandings". Definitions of blended learning from staff was "...different philosophies applied by each of the eLearning facilitators"; and "...when people come from different subjects, discipline areas the task is much more difficult because it demands understand of each other's disciplinary approached and the constraints of time are very tight..."

Student views included "the use of [online] enrollment was as a secondary where you could do some extra homework there, if you didn't touch it a all it didn't make much difference to how you went through the class until the second semester" where a blended approach was expected. There were emerging expectations, and the notion of being confronted with alternative expectations, especially where there was a conflict between what was considered face-to-face and extramural, and whether one should 'look' like the other. In part this demonstrates a limited understanding amongst students around what blended learning is, but, surely, it also points up the necessity for programmes to be up front around what is going to happen, how students are going to interact, and not make assumptions around understanding of academic vocabulary?

Mary Simpson considered aspects such as consistency of the vision, which would in turn build a shared understanding of what blended learning comprises.  The shared vision included team-based, collegial writing which would be a huge challenge in the university environment. The findings showed that faculty were willing to face the task, but that they found it exhausting, gruelling, and logistically frustrating, while also be enlightening, enriching, and enhanced practice in unexpected ways.

Peter Rawlins gave an overview of how he worked with the data from the study. In every paper there was an expectation that there will be some online aspect. Three-quarters of the students said that they went online more than once a day, and these students were equally spread between internal and extramural students. There was a significant number of students agreed that the online learning helped them succeed, although the distance students were more convinced. In addition, there was strong support that the material and the discussions were useful, but there was approximately 29% who disagreed that this was the case. The students value the face-to-face time, but they do also see the value of the online environment. It is a complex, interconnected picture rather than a simple case of face-to-face or online is 'better', and the students are very aware of this, especially when asked if the environment(s) enriched their learning.

It appears that there is a still a lot to learn around blended learning and offering blended learning programmes. Perhaps we need to engage students a lot more in the development of programmes and programme design from the outset rather than designing courses 'for' them, erring toward a 'one size fits all'? Possibly the group work and collaboration that was trialled within this study could also include either current students or graduates from the programme? If students were brought on board to provide a student voice, to advise and create within a programme at a meta level, in a meaningful way, perhaps retention, success, and a whole raft of affective factors would be enhanced.

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Blended learning, distance education & enhanced learning outcomes for Maori learners (Sir Mason Durie, DEANZ 2010)

Pōhutukawa Tree taken at Cornwallis Beach , We...Image via Wikipedia
Mason Durie, who has just been knighted, opened with a little bit of history around distance education, looking back to 1922 at Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu - The Correspondence School. In 1922 the school had 100 isolated school children from disparate locations around New Zealand. The roll is now 24,000. He went on to say that it is not just a question of the numbers increasing. Nowadays, distance education is a preferred option rather than a default option, and may lead to much better results than any other option. Distance education is being shaped by many influences including technology.

Tutoa (secondary school), Te rau puawai, and the Maori doctoral portal were the three case studies that Mason Durie explored.

The Tutoa project started in 2005 with 12 students (and expanded to 25 students in 2010). Following an integrated approach, students who were good at sports were encouraged to follow their skills, but were penalised for missing other subjects while participating in sport. As such, the group were enrolled in the Correspondence School, and were encouraged and supported to create a personalised curriculum. Excellence in sport is seen as playing at the national level, they are also high fliers in an academic sense, and all of the learning is couched in a Maori context to help with grounding alongside a sense of belonging. Each student has a plan of action. Student managers try to help mediate between personal, sporting, and academic goals. Regional subject specialists add value to the distance education by working directly with students in their geographical region. Families make quite a few sacrifices, such as relocating to support their children in their studies. Academic results have been consistently high, as has sporting performance.

Te Rau Puawai (the Maori Menal Helath Workforce Development) project was considered next. The project was started in 1999, through a partnership with Massey University and the HFA. The students are usually mature, doing part-time study, have little previous tertiary experience, are working full time, this may be their first qualification, some with go on the post-graduate qualifications, and only a few go on to doctoral study. Most (75%) in the programme were studying extramurally which added further challenges to studying. A fee bursary was given based on academic outcomes. To help students meet these challenges strongly, a series of support mechanisms are in place, includeing proactive outreach via mentors, a weekly telephone catch up, a proactive approach to learning support, and twice-yearly on-campus seminars.

The Maori Doctoral Resource Portal was developed to support students, encourage sharing, have interactive seminars with experts from a whole range of fields, and to set up professional and academic networks. The portal is linked in to doctoral study skills, expectations and requirements. Eight university campuses link up once a month.

All of the studies illustrate opportunities around distance education as a preferred option that would not have been available with a more traditional programmes. The description of the studies definitely gave and insight into how programmes can truly be flexible, malleable, and truly meet the individual needs of students. This approach to learning enables learners who may otherwise not have the access or opportunity to enhance their skills and be able to follow their long-term plans and dreams.
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Things to watch (Derek Wenmoth, DEANZ 2010)

eFest meets Teaching and Learning Conference 2009Image by hazelowendmc via Flickr
Derek Wenmoth kicked off the final day of the DEANZ 2010 conference with a discussion (that included the audience :-) around things to watch for:

Up to one year
  • mobile internet devices
  • private clouds
Two to three years
Four to five years
  • location-based learning
  • smart objects and devices
Audience feedback was various and interesting.

Open content - there was a question of ownership, in that when you create something you understand it, and feel connection with it that you don't get when you use someone else's resources.

Private clouds - the management perspective. Why do it? Do management know what they are doing?

Mobile Internet devices - two camps. Invasion of privacy was one issue mentioned, as was 'crowd control'. However, eReaders were seen as a useful way of sending content. Students using handheld devices in the field would be empowering as students would be able to send their findings dircetly back, and could be immediately accessible by teachers and peers. Management and IT support were seen as a barrier, especially around politics, support, training and budgeting.

Derek pulled the comments together and made the observation that the 'times are a'changing. Technological change is not additive it is ecological. Horseless carriage thinking is still prevalent in education, where the metaphorical car body still has the little leather pouch for the whip! The education in Z is suffering dreadfully at the moment from a system-level myopia that is not addressing the big issues of bandwidth, for example.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The great debate - DEANZ 2010

Teaching ePortfolios: Department of Natural Sc...Image by hazelowendmc via Flickr
The debate panel was comprised of Simon Atkinson, Niki Davis, Terry Neal, Nicki Page, Peter Guiney, and Derek Wenmoth. The judges were Liz Burge, Terry Anderson, and Bill Anderson.

The debate point was that the new places, spaces and tools of learning produce better outcomes and opportunities for learners.

Derek Wenmoth opened with a positive spin, first opening with a question as to what constitutes 'new', and emphasising the desire to continually improve. Technology was used as a term which embraces spaces, places and contexts. Transmission stands at the top end, rather than mediated experiences. He quoted a range of comments throughout the ages around technology; e.g. 1703 - "teachers today cannot prepare their bark quick enough - they have to rely on their slates. What do they do when their slates break?"!

Simon 'the slayer' Atkinson was up next, and opened with the 3,000 year old story of the one eyed monk. The monks were wandering in the foothills, and if they wanted hospitality they would often have to debate. The novice monk was one-eyed, deaf and mute. They went up the hill to a monastery, and after 5 minutes the old monk left. The points from the story were that there was no technology at that time, and that it took no technology to tell the seemed perhaps a little spurious!! It was also followed by a small stunt where one of the against team rang Simon on his mobile to interrupt his 5-minute against.

Terry Neal was up next speaking for the affirmative. She was up front in saying that there was little to refute in Simon's points. Terry talked about two meta-analyses from 2009 that illustrated that there is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that "stronger learning" outcomes are being achieved in blended environments when compared to only face-to-face education. She then mentioned meaningful examples of new places, spaces and tools, including those that were personally known, in particular those related to real-life skills.

Nicki Page was the next speaker for the negative. Her suggestion was that we don't know where to draw the line. A lively, humorous presentation, it seemed to be designed to be derogatory toward some of the key advances in education (and some of the other panel members). It was funny, but I felt it was set out to pull down the positive aspects of ICT enhanced learning and teaching, rather than making a serious point for the negative team.

Nicki Davis up next. She started by saying that students were being ignored which is why we have had to move to new places and spaces. As we move into the 21st century we have to realise who we haven't been reaching (including teachers). In NZ learners are being brought into these new spaces and places. She showed the NZ eLearning cluster map showing which schools are collaborating. Nicki made the point that blended learning has doubled annually in the USA since the advent of the first virtual high school. Some of the kids being reached are those that refuse to go to school - and they are being encouraged to participate (e.g. in the UK 'Not School'). Who are the learners we have not reached before (for instance those with low literacy and numeracy).

Peter Guiney was next for the negative. He started by refuting the examples and evidence of the other team. He made a good point about "where's the new stuff"? asking why people had not been referring to the future, but rather pointing to the past. Power to the students was the closing, rallying cry!

One minute rebuttals followed the 5 minute points. The negative team undermined the validity of the backchannel being shown on the screens during the debate, and voiced the desire to drown out the Twitter feed. The point was made that we are forcing our view of the world on students. Derek Wenmoth went back for evidence - the Massey Web site was down, but then found some research about Voicethread and Web 2.0 research with positive outcomes, then referred to the research around Midwifery and Second Life, and finally pointed out to MoE research and the fact that it was all written by the 'negative' half of the panel.

The judges wrap-up was insightful and amusing. Pulling together key points from both teams, the first judge came down on the side of the positive, and the next on the negative. Liz Burge did the final wrap up return on investment for students, elegance, and integrity (delivering on the expectations of students). The winners were therefore the negative team!

I wonder why they didn't ask the audience?????? (talking of learner expectations!!). I suspect there will be lively debate around the outcome. For me, the negatives just tried to shoot the positive team down in flames with no real substance to their arguments, and no evidence to support their points of view - not that I'm biased in any way of course ;-)

Feedback from a couple of people from the audience I met afterwards, however, felt that the judges decision was right - because there had been no debate, so the only thing that could be judged was entertainments value...and the negatives were certainly were entertaining! In part, it was felt that the lack of debate was because the moot was a truism, and you can't debate it truism.

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Create, collaborate, communitcate (John Trealor, DEANZ 2010)

Webinars in educationImage by hazelowendmc via Flickr
John Trealor ( Education Director, Asia Pacific) gave a demonstration of Adobe Connect. He showed a range of the functionality including using multimedia, creating content for sharing with a range of people (i.e. to share information after an online meeting...and you can also see who has actually looked at it afterwards). John suggested that this could be a good formative tool that could give you feedback on your presentation skills.

 One of the key things that was emphasised was the engagement of participants. One example that he gave was 'In a Nutshell' (a collection of 5 minute, or less, video resources from the University of Southern Australia). The topics are related to learning and teaching, and have been created in Adobe Connect. The only equipment required is Adobe Connect, a video, and a microphone. Another example that he gave as an easily accessible bank of resources that complex covers concepts and skills around nano technology was Nano Hub. Links etc will remain live so users can follow hyperlinks as they view the video.

I wonder how many people from this presentation will go away and try this resource? There are a couple of issues that may not have been covered very clearly - for example, it is an expensive tool, and it is not possible to go and try it out for free online before purchase. It is likely that a whole institution would have to sign up to have Adobe Connect. Bandwidth is an issue, too. Also, based on some of the research that was shared yesterday there are some professional development considerations around the use of Webinar technology like this, especially if it is going to be used to empower learners rather than replicate lecture formats online....

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Integrating Second Life into midwifery education (Sarah Stewart, DEANZ 2010)

Breastfeeding symbolImage via Wikipedia
A real interesting presentation, Sarah Stewart gave a great overview of how Second Life can be used in a way to enhance learning that was not possible without a virtual world. The midwifery project/normal birth scenario was part of a larger project using Second Life in NZ education project.

Sarah started by checking who had been into Second Life before, and then very briefly described some of the basics of Second Life, creating an avatar and getting around. She used a lot of screen shots to help create a sense of the environment and the participants who collaborated in the design of the project itself.

The underlying design behind the birth unit in Second Life were shown. Sarah advised that they wanted students to be able to contextualise what they were learning, while also being able to apply their existing knowledge. Research shows that the birthing environment affects the outcomes of the birth - a sterile, cold, clinical environment can result in anxiety, and ultimately in interventions such as c-sections, with knock-on impact on the ability to breast-feed, for instance.

Pictures of nurturing things and colours have been chosen to create a sense of warmth and safety. Machines and instruments are kept in cupboards. Information and references wre kept in Wiki Educator as well as a back up if students were having problems with Internet connections etc. Also, there was investment into the notion of ensuring that everything was open and freely accessible to educators around the wold. A closed Facebook group was used to house some of the activities, such as reflective activities. They made the conscious decision not to use Moodle, partly for issues of ownership/openness, and partly because students were already familiar with Facebeook and did not require upskilling.

Sarah's presentation was full of great images and ideas which gave a great introduction to a scenrio and set of skills that would have been extremely difficult to have experienced in a real-world situation. The focus on sharing with peers, reflection, and the ability to trial things as many times as was required by each learner illustrated some of the benefits of learning in a virtual world. The idea of a safe, 'sandpit' environment for taking risks (without endangering anyone) in a social, fun environment is key. It won't replace the actual clinical environment, but it works effectively hand-in-hand with a virtual world.

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Exploring wiki technology in teaching and learning (Michael Verhaart, DEANZ 2010)

Peg board setImage via Wikipedia
Michael Verhaart (EIT, Hawkes Bay) demonstrated his the wiki site that he uses with his students. He was able to show that wiki technology was suitable for delivering content for blended learning, deliver a wide range of media, allows students to extend content, and is inclusive of new technologies.

The presentation that Michael gave was based in his wiki. He used a plugin tool to zoom into the wiki page so that the text was visible. He emphasised that he believes students have as much to contribute as he does, and uses the technologies to empower them and encourage learners to contribute as much as possible.

It was refreshing to see someone walking the walk as part of their presentation, and to have the nerve to trust the technology not to let him down during his presentation. (I didn't have the guts!!). Also, Michael's enthusiasm was infectious, but what he was saying was obviously based on sound theory, research, practice...and heaps of experience.
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Three generations of distance education pedagogy: Challenges & opportunites (Terry Anderson)

A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.Image via Wikipedia
This was the first keynote of the second day of the DEANZ 2010 conference, and was given by Terry Anderson around distance education pedagogy and the changes and growth that have been observable over the last three generations. He starts by indicating that the first generation of distance education was based on behaviourism and cognitivism, which looked particularly at independent learning. The second generation was based on constructivism and groups, and, finally, the third generation is linked to notions of connectivism (which built on theories of participatory pedagogy, complexity, and trandparency).

The newer generations of distance education are still working concurrently with the earlier generations, Anderson suggests. As such, designers, developers and educators are challenged to enhance learning and teaching opportunities by increasing access to quality learning contexts and opportunities.

Motivation, structural support and cognitive skills are key in distance education where the group, network and collective aspects (the unconscious aggregation of activities of all of us) of learning can be foregrounded. The connectivist tools (over 3,000 of them) are wide-ranging and are based on Web 2.0 (check some of them out on the Go Web 2.0 site). The sheer range may offer an insight into why some education practitioners choose to use an LMS - the choice is just overwhelming.

Terry Anderson gave a range of examples from Athabasca, including using ELGG to build a social networking community, as well as using podcasts, vodcasts, and screen casts. Some of the most concerning issues raised were around using the connectivism model were privacy, control, dealing with disruptive change, institutional support, and sustaining motivation and commitment to avoid running after fads all the time.

The thing I found most interesting about this presentation was the recognition that there is still a combination of all generations of distance education, with the inference that many educators and institutions are still working with earlier models. Also, Anderson closed by posing the question: "which type of student is most engaged by each generation?".
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Cross-discipline approaches to pedagogical change in technology-supported tertiary teaching (Marcia Johnson et al)

Blended learning definition (Heinze and Procto...Image by hazelowendmc via Flickr
The symposium panel comprised Marcia Johnson, Garry Falloon, Craig Hight, and Patricia Strang. The panel described four case studies in which they have been involved, three that has used a blended learning approach (1st year Earth Science, 1st year Screen and Media, and pre-degree bridging - Cert of University Preparation), and one that was totally online (Master's level education - professional practice).

A range of software tools were used including Google Earth (Earth Sciences), GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP - Screen and Media), Adobe Connect (Education), and eXe was used to develop SCORM objects for the Moodle environment (CUP). All the case studies used Moodle as a portal type environment.

For Screen and Mida they found that there was a trade-off between flexibility and contact, that there was a strong necessaity to contextualise and exercise, and that layers of support were required. Student time managment was an issue, where there was a focus on deadlines for pieces of assessment to the point where students were asking for tighter deadlines to help them get things completed and therefore not have clashes with other work they were required to do.

The Education case study was in part informed by Moore and Kearsley (1996) who state that distance learning can "lead to communication gaps, a psychological space of potential misunderstandings between the behaviours or instructors and those of learners" (p. 2). The ideas was to enhance dialogue, structure, and learner autonomy. Adobe Connect was used to help create a community of learners (and they will use Skype alongside for future trials). The tool was used for student presentations, as well as discussions, and tutorial sessions. The findings were that the use of the tool was a 'doubled edged' tool. It enhanced the sense of connectedness, but at the same time diminished a sense of autonomy. And absence of internal structure (agenda, 'knowing the rules etc) and external structure negatively affected the quality of the dialogue.

The Earth Science study was mainly developed to help student to visualise spatial relationships in the landscape. The students really enjoyed using the tools, although there were some issues with accessing the software.

Patricia gave an overview of the Pre-degree bridging programme. In the first paper there was no uptake by the lecturers and students, in part because of contextual issues, as well as ICT skills/barriers. In the second paper they went into the classrooms, explained the resources, discussed them with the students, and demonstrated the resources. The uptake of the opportunities in the second paper was much better. The teacher was not particularly computer literate, but was keen to upskill. She encouraged students to participate. Students said that they liked feedback either face-to-face or via email or Moodle. Text messaging was not so poplar, and is perhaps indicative that students are not guaranteed to apply current skills to a learning environment. This group was the least enthusiastic of the four case study participants about using technology, and few took advantage of the interactive workshops. The conclusion was that the students weren't ready for the workshops approach to independent learning, But the students did participate in the online assessment activity and the exam preparation quiz on the Moodle site.

There were some key points raised here, and the one that jumped out for me...again...was the need to for the educator to be full engaged and committed to the potential of ICT to enhance a learning experience. Without that, ICTELT initiatives are doomed!

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De Hub: An Australian Department of Education, Employment and workforce relationships project (Belinda Tynan & Mark Brown)

Cuban schoolchildren in a classroom in the pro...Image via Wikipedia
This presentation by Belinda Tynan and Mark Brown was looking at the Distance Education Hub that has been funded by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The idea was to bring academics together to be collaborative and cooperative, while allowing people to be distinctive, and also recognising that a lot of academic institutions are competitors.

Distance learning was defined as instructors and learners working together while they are physically separate. The vision was to have accessible quality higher education/tertiary anytime, anywhere and anyhow. Hand in hand with this was their mission which was to lead research, development and practice in distance education.

By pulling together academics into a community the idea is to aggregate research, bring together scholarship, pool knowledge, build relationships, demonstrate collaboration, and create a research agenda on the international scene.

The community has an active presence on Wiki educator, as well as a range of links on Delicious around the spirit of sharing, constructing and disseminating teaching, research and evaluation. A database around distance education is also being developed which compiles international indices and journals.

The final part of the session involved an interactive exercise where participants shared ideas around what the research question would be in distance education that they believed we all want to know more about. After much swapping, discussion, and giving points, the question ideas were shared. It was a fun and interesting conclsion to the session.
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Quality connections: Interactive session (Lisa Emerson, DEANZ 2010)

Teacher in primary school in northern LaosImage via Wikipedia
Lisa Emerson, following on from the format she used at the eFest meets Teaching and Learning Conference at UCOL (Palmerston North) in September 2009, led an interactive session which initially explored ideas and concepts that underpin the conference. She, with passion, unpacked Torrance (1995) in Gibb's To be a teacher: Journeys towards authenticity, where there is a focus on great teachers being able to:
  • perform miracles;
  • inspire their students to creative, independent thinking and action that may at times get out of hand; and
  • are continually in danger of coming to a sticky end.
The interactive exercise was set up to explore the nature of participant's connections and the relationships between people. The first criteria was 'upwards' (a list of four people you have connections with who are above you, or in authority over you in some way), then there was an exercise around those connections (p=positive, n=negative, a=ambivalent, o=neutral or no relationship), and has it changed in the last 6 months. Secondly, people looked at their peers (a list, and range, of four people who are peers), then there was an exercise around those connections (p= positive, n= negative, a=ambivalent, o=neutral or no relationship), and has it changed in the last 6 months. The next point to consider was technology. Participants could either draw a picture of how they perceive their relationship with technology, or they could list terms that related to their perception of technology. The final thing to think about was relationships with students - again either as a picture or list of words.

A final step was to pull everything together to consider the overall picture, and to choose one of the relationships to think about in more detail, and then write down, or draw that relationship, in particular focussing on what the ideal relationship would be, a lost of barriers to achieving it, and one thing that would affect the relationship for the better.

The audience grouped together to discuss what had been written on the papers, and the noise level went up. As and interesting aside, about 20 people left the room rather than get into groups and discuss the points.

The general buzz, bursts of laughter, and general enthusiasm suggested that the audience relished the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas around a structure - a set of things that they had been guided to think about, and so felt confident to discuss them. The people who elected to leave I wonder if they are the folk who really dislike group work of this type, and I guess one of the great things of forums like this (as opposed to formal, traditional 'class sessions' is that participants have the freedom to vote with their feet. As such, a session like this does, in effect, fulfil the needs of people present, and those who do not feel comfortable, are empowered to leave.

After the discussions everyone reported back on what they had been talking about. There was a lot of good humour and high energy, and spontaneous feedback about how much everyone enjoyed the activity.
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Connected Kids (Andrew Kirk, DEANZ 2010)

Partial map of the Internet based on the Janua...Image via Wikipedia
Andrew Kirk's presentation explored how a pilot project ("Connected Kids") helped introduce 10 Te Kura (years 7 to 10) learners to new learning opportunities. All the students were provided with reconditioned students at home, as well as an Internet connection. All the students had been identified as disengaged, and would otherwise have limited or no access to the Internet. Teachers worked with the learners to help design and develop personalised learning opportunities with the aim of engaging both the students and their supervisors. All participants were to keep the computer (solid, entry-level and would do the job, but not all whistles and bells) after the study, and the 'pay back' was that they had to study, submit work and participate in new ways of learning.

Previously the programme had to be paper-based, and was then shifted to Blackboard. Blackboard was used as the main portal, as well as using Open Office suite, Google Earth, Pivot Animation, PowerPoint and Skype.

Students were most active and engaged when parents and immediate community was involved in learning. This led to improved reading ability, higher return rate of work, developing social skills, and improving ICT skills. Students' feedback emphasised the connections and that they were able to contact each other more easily. They enjoyed talking to other students, easier writing/editing, talking to the teacher on Skype about what they need or would like to share/show, using online interactive activities, searching and researching, and creating learning relationships.

The lessons from the pilot were multifarious. There were real positive results such as increase in achievement, but the scalability and sustainability are still under discussion. It was stressed that there needs to be full buy-in from the school.

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Three steps to enhance e-teaching in schools (Ken Stevens)

Inco Innovation Centre, Memorial University of...Image via Wikipedia
Ken Stevens (working at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada & Victoria University of Wellington) gave an interesting overview of introducing eLearning at the high school level, in particular in rural schools away from the main settlements. He suggests that this should be built on a collaborative model, which incorporates a conceptual shift at the teacher education stage.

The collaborative model includes inter- and intra- institutional communication, virtual classes meeting traditional classes, and also (and most controversially he has found) challenging the notion of traditional schools.

Ken outlined three main steps for the enhancement of eTeaching in rural schools. He also introduced a pedagogy for e_learning which looked at awareness open learning structures, collaboration, learning circles, and building shared realities for understanding. A cybercell is a face to face group whose members extend their discussion into the virtual, and can invite in guest and expert voices from around the world. The notion is that sustainable eLearning communities are based around collaboration, adaptation, cultural identity and innovation. As such, Ken puts forward a scaleable, sustainable model for eLearning that recognises issues of access and equitability.
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Examining motivation in online distance learning environments: Complex, multifaceted and situation-dependent

Ning Workshop - Oct2009Image by hazelowendmc via Flickr
This presentation by Maggie Hartnett who described some of the findings from existing research into motivation in online environments. There have been two main methods of research in online environments, one of which is a trait-like model that looks at motivation as something that does not really change, and is a characteristic of a learner, thereby it is linked to intrinsic motivation. The second view sees the design of an online environment as a way of creating learner motivation, and thus tends toward a notion of extrinsic motivation. Maggie pointed out that neither of these approaches allows for social learning and the building or relationships within online learning environments.

Maggie gave a description of her research that she has been conducting as part of her PhD thesis and findings to date (and used some audio from interviews with students from the case studies that Maggie). Her findings so far suggest that learner motivation in these environments is complex, and learners were not primarily intrinsically motivated, but rather was related to situational conditions and was multifaceted in nature.
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Quality connections: No 8 wire, wool and 'sure to rise': New Zealand icons and distance education pioneers (Liz Burge, DEANZ 2010)

Rendering of human brain.Image via Wikipedia
Liz Burge explored NZ icons, and then highlighted parallels between these icons and the distance education pioneers. The distance educators, she argued required N. 8 wire thinking that used intelligent solutions to tough challenges. They followed guiding principles of flexibility and openness, as well as recognising the diversity of students. Values, lessons, and opinions about technology were central for the success of distance education.

There were four underpinning guiding principles that kept distance education pioneers buoyed up and focussed - equitable access, respect and responsiveness to learner, deliberately engaging materials for learners, and collegiality.

Roger Mills, Gail Crawford, Gary Miller, and Tom Prebble were some of the pioneers of distance learning that were mentioned. Liz Burge quoted many of their words, and brought forward lessons of the past, highlighting connections between things that have changed, and others that haven't. Much of what hasn't changed is the culture of education, resistance to educational change, the necessity of allies at the highest levels of an institution (politics), and the momentum for flexible rather than inflexible education.

Liz linked critical thinking to technology, and the ideas of the pioneers around the concepts referred to. Critical thinking included being cautious about hype - for example the hype of how television was going to change education...the same language is being used about eLearning. Draw limits around early adopters, and wait for something that is clearly not opinion, but rather is sound research. The question was posed around critical theory around access that moves from managerial to wider aspects of social justice.

The audience was cautioned against using students as fodder for research because researchers needed publications.  A suggestion was made that learners need to be brought into the process, to co-author, and to receive acknowledgment. The priority is around getting research funds, and as many publications as possible.

The messages were interesting, and some of the quotes were inspirational. However, I felt it was telling that Liz Burge sat at the front reading quotes and asking several rhetorical questions - for example, there were no images, no visuals for the visual learners amongst the audience. It seemed out of tune with the 'messages' and ideals that were the foundation of her presentation. She then moved off to one side to allow the audience to have a conversation around the key ideas she raised in her presentation. However, again, the 'conversation' was a roaming microphone that was passed around the audience who spoke to the quotes...there appeared to be little empowerment of the audience, very little opportunity for everyone to have a voice. Just sitting in the first keynote...which was a depressing contradiction of what was being said, and what was being done...however, Liz Burge did ask if the silence that followed the first audience speaker was because we were so used to the transmission model. I would ask, can you use the transmission model, and throw something open to the audience and expect vigorous discussion!? Is it time for a new model for conferences? :-)

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's all in your mind: Two mindmapping tools unwrapped

Amy Ling - Professional ePortfolio Scenario
Image by hazelowendmc via Flickr

Are you keen to use mindmaps? I regularly use two types of mindmaps (mainly for collaborative
projects with colleagues, as well as with students). Neither require
any software download and both are used in your browser

The first is Mindmeister ( - you can see an example of a mindmap around ePortfolios I have created and made public here.
You can get three mindmaps for free (and it's only US$18 per annum for
unlimited mindmaps if you are an academic institution). The full list of features can be found here, but the best things about Mindmeister I have found are:

  1. it's easy to use
  2. can be used/edited synchronously by unlimited users
  3. can
    be 'published' as a wiki so anyone with the URL can edit the map (and
    it has versions, so you can revert to a previous version)
  4. can be shared with invited people only (invited via email), and can be password protected if necessary.
  5. can be embedded into other sites (and if clicked on will take the user to the Mindmeister map in situ)
  6. can be downloaded as a Mindmeister file (useful for backup), image,
    .pdf, and (should the service ever be withdrawn) as Freemind (.mind),
    and Mindmanager (.mmap) files.
  7. has an offline option (paid version)

The second is Mindomo: - an example mindmap that I've created of ICT enhanced learning and teaching design can be viewed here. You can get seven maps for free. The full range of functions (and pricing) can be found here. The best things I have found with Mindomo though are:

  1. Nodes can be grouped by colour (easy to show related/common factors)
  2. There are more sophisticated functions (which makes it more difficult to use as a tool)
  3. You can share the mindmaps for collaborative editing (but not synchronous editing)
  4. You can put links to the mindmap in a site/add the HTML to a site, but not embed the 'live' mindmap
  5. You can use icons and a range of images
I hope these overviews are useful - please drop me a line, or Skype me if you have any questions :-)

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

ICTELT in action: Applying ICT Enhanced Learning (Slideshow and audio)

This was a paper given at ACEC 2010 (
Please cite as: Owen, H. (2010). ICTELT in action: Applying ICT enhanced learning. ACEC2010: Digital Diversity. Retrieved from

"At Unitec NZ practitioners have been involved in adapting existing programmes, and developing new ones, which integrate and exploit Information Communication Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT). Although practitioners are frequently experienced course designers, they often focus on the technology as opposed to effective pedagogy and practice, and are sometimes overwhelmed by factors such as time pressure and ICT skills requirements.
The ICTELT process model, conceptual design framework, mindmap and self-diagnostic tools were therefore developed to guide practitioners through the design, implementation, and evaluation process. The resulting scaffolded approach is appropriate for small teams or individuals working with limited resources, as well as those working within highly-resourced environments. The structure of the ICTELT model is flexible enough for practitioners to blend approaches of their choice, while also encouraging the alignment of pedagogical perspectives and practice. Furthermore, an iterative approach is encouraged whereby a design is developed, piloted, evaluated, revisited, modified and re-evaluated over time.
This paper has three main aims. The first is to ground the subject in current literature. Secondly, the ICTELT model and suite of tools will be described. Reference will finally be made to a case study conducted at Unitec NZ, along with associated implications."

Analytics and intuition: Reading classroom gestures (Tom Murdock, Moodle Moot 2010)

JILIN CITY, CHINA - JUNE 7:  A teacher cheers ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Tom Murdock talked about transitions - students transitioning from high school to college or to a career. The mismatch requires some planning to address the issue, and a growing number of states in the US have policies that help prepare high school graduates for college through aligned standards, and course requirements. Furthermore, many states have policies to ensure high school graduates are workforce ready.

Remedial courses in the US are utilised by 77% - math, 30% - English, 29% - reading, 12% study skills, 35% - writing (these are percentages of 1st and 2nd year students who ave taken remedial courses since high school graduation).

A teacher can see, by doing a close reading of gestures, a student's engagement with elements of the course, find out about activity efficacy, and clues about course fulfillment. As such, Tom Murdock  suggests that one way of helping solve the transition problem is by teaching an analytics engine to intuit information from Moodle gestures is a positive way to 'fix it before it's broke' - finding out with a student where they are and offering support if required. Moodle activity reports, input into forum posts, and quality of responses can give real clues to student engagement or disconnection.

Separate and connected knowers - a separate knower will say, 'I understand this, and I have an idea', whereas a connected knower who does not really assert what he/she knows "but Jill just said something interesting". When we are online and can't look each other in the face and can't really help each other with communication, we have to practice both separate and connected knowing. Moodle has these principles underpinning its design.

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Facilitating students to create their own content (Thom Cochrane, Moodle Moot 2010)

TOKYO - JUNE 03:  An employee of KDDI holds a ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Thom started the session by grabbing everyone's attention with a piece of model. He then want on to suggest that students should be creating their own content rather than teachers pushing out content to them - as such, the push technologies in Moodle are only used minimally.

The audience was then encouraged to sign into Thom's Moodle course (Unitec NZ), and to get out their mobile phones for the session.

The notion of mobile sharing multimedia via smartphones, was suggested as a way of bridging learning contexts and to promote social collaboration. Vox blog was used as an ePortfolio platform partly because it did not have the games, gifts and other gizmos that take up space and have little educational purpose.

The buzz in the room went up as people used Twitter, mobile phones, and laptops to vote via Poll Everywhere about the type of phones they have. Most people (24%) have a camera phone, and 24% had a smart phone. It was certainly an effective way of engaging the audience! The next tool that Thom looked at was Prezi, and he illustrated its use by showing a student's work, which she had created via her mobile phone.

Main costs for using this type of mobile learning is when students start uploading large amounts of data. So a 3.2 MP photo will cost about 5 cents, and 1 minute of streaming video about 60 cents. Students can be encouraged to upload larger files via a laptop or desktop computer to help keep the costs down.

Mobile learning certainly seems to be the way of the future as it empowers students, provides authentic audiences, encourages engagement and ownership, and allows for any time, any place learning. The focus, however, needs to be on what can be achieved with this alternative learning experience, rather than the tools themselves.

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Moodle use in NZ Government (Austen Sinclair)

Coat of Arms of New Zealand (1956-Present) * T...Image via Wikipedia
Austen Sinclair talked frankly about using Moodle in the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) of the NZ government. The IT department insists they use off-the-shelf products, reduce diversity in IT systems, fully leverage investment in SAP products for finance, payroll and HR information - which makes the use of Moodle problematic.

In the government each business area produce their own training products. There is also an issue of inertia whereby communities within various business areas could deploy their own LMSs etc, but choose not to as they are comfortable with the situation as it currently stands.

Austen described a number of successes with training around products such as Kiwisaver, and health and safety. Traditionally a health and safety officer had to take between 2 hours to a whole day to complete training. With the alternative LMS solution people could choose when, where and how to train, which proved very popular.

Agencies need an LMS to host courses in a simple and coherent way, but wish to buy "elaborate tools to provide metrics on improvements in capability without any of the necessary building blocks for this". Sinclair suggests that a 'successful' LMS needs to be owned by someone that 'cares', whether this be a person, team, or business unit. Furthermore, the LMS design needs to be inclusive,  critically adaptive to business usage, and supported in a manner that suits people who offer the training.

Interestingly, Austen emphasised the issue of motivation - the fact that people cannot be made to learn, and to encourage people to visit a learning environment it has to be user-centric. The LMS also has to have a life of its own (in a manner a little bit like Facebook) so that there is a reason to visit the site regularly.

The presentation gave an interesting insight into training and professional development that harnesses some of the functionality of an LMS to offer flexible professional development. It was heartening to see examples of design for social learning, learner-centred environments, and related aspects of motivation.

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Moodle in New Zealand Schools (Jacqui Land - Moodle Moot NZ 2010)

CPIT - Moodle Moot 2010Image by hazelowendmc via Flickr
This session was taken by Jacqui Land (Jacqui is a teacher at Papanui School in Christchurch), who opened by talking about the Moodle community, and the fact that it is open, caring and sharing. The Moodle in schools site is an NZ Ministry of Education initiative, and a lot of the development has been done by Catalyst.

Jacqui gave a 'guided tour' of the site. The Moodle in Schools home page has a variety of forums, screencasts, sample courses, school stories and a demonstration. You can access the site also to see which other schools are using Moodle which could be a good way to network, and possibly share ideas, and even courses (that are all categorised on the site). You can add videos and other resources for the Moodle in Schools community. The sample courses resource is pretty useful as you can go and get inspiration for your own course design, or some courses can be zipped and download the course (but it has to be used under the Creative Commons licensing requirements).

It is well worth having a look at the site if you are planning to implement Moodle in your school, and you can pose questions to schools, IT folk, etc who have already made the leap.
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