Friday, October 29, 2010

Adobe Connect Web Conferencing unpacked: Follow Up Session

Thursday 28th October 2010 saw the second of the Adobe Connect Web Conferencing unpacked series of free taster sessions offered and facilitated by Kymm McPhail. In a dynamic, interactive session, Kymm encouraged all of the eight participants to explore the Adobe Connect environment.

The session covered

Many thanks to Kymm for an engaging session, and to everyone who attended.

If you missed the session and would like to access the recording the session in Adobe, please click HERE. This will open a separate window and you will be able to play, pause, and to skip through the recording at your own pace.

Some of the things covered in this session are illustrated in these short, step-by-step guides that Kymm has developed and shared. If you share them with anyone else, please attribute Kymm :-) Thank you.
 Today's session followed on from a successful introductory session (please check out the recording, overview and guides by clicking HERE).
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ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching: The ICTELT mindmap discussed

Experiences around piloting the ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching model and framework revealed that practitioners were often at a loss as to what a design might ‘look’ like, and discussions tended to be esoteric and scattered. It was suggested therefore that teams draw up a mindmap that identified the main functionality and design of the programme or session they had chosen. However, some teams found this a challenge, so a mindmap 'model' ( or you can access the full map in Mindomo - ) was developed.

The online mindmap is adaptable, and users are encouraged to change it to suit their purposes. The range of spaces, activities, tasks and interactions illustrated in the mindmap is extensive. However, rather than expecting that all will be used simultaneously, users are guided to select the items and tools carefully, and to ‘mix and match’ to suit circumstances and to change or omit any elements that are irrelevant or unsuitable. Although the central starting point of the mindmap is labelled ‘course’ it could just as easily be a Community of Practice, a department, or a support unit.

This video -, after briefly visiting some of the principles and current research that underpins the design, then takes the watcher on a guided tour of the mindmap. The mindmap has been piloted with virtual community space design, as well as with academic programmes and activities. Anecdotal feedback to date suggests that teams thought it was a great help to 'see' their design, and visualise all of the disparate but interconnected elements. It was also a great springboard for discussions about the pedagogical reasons for including elements such as, for example, informal, social spaces.

How do I set about designing a course in my Learning Management System?

I have been working on a process model and framework, adapted from earlier examples, developed to help answer the question “Where do I start?” for teachers who are unfamiliar with adapting education resources to make effective use of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching.

This video - very briefly shows an example of a Moodle course that has been designed using the ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching approach, as well as exploring a couple of the tools that could be used by teachers (hosted at:
Employing a scaffolded approach appropriate for working in small teams of teachers, or as individuals, the guiding questions of the ICTELT model form the foundation for collaborative discussion of design choices, and the incorporation of a range of pedagogical approaches with a variety of tools.

The model and framework can be used with new and/or existing programmes, modules, units, sessions, or learning objects, but initially practitioners are encouraged to trial the process on a small scale. Please contact me if you have any questions:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Working with Hot Potatoes Quizzes in LMSs and wikis

The Unarchiver zip icon.
Image via Wikipedia
One of the teachers with whom I have been working has been experimenting with Hot Potatoes quizzes and trialling them with a variety of media and in a range of platforms. Yesterday we met and went through creating a SCORM package that could be used in Moodle. Chitose then created another quiz and added it to Wikispaces. After quite a lot of frustration she came back with some questions around why certain things were and weren't working and here is my reply. Please feel free to add any other help / suggestions as well, please.

A quick start introduction to Hot Potatoes can be found in this .pdf file: Hot+Potatoes.pdf

"A SCORM package will only work in Moodle (or another LMSs). For the wiki, you'll need to continue how you did when you created the quiz that worked in your Wikispaces (Fig 1 below - click on the Figure links to see the full-size images). With Web pages and wikis the SCORM package won't work, so you need to export everything for a Web browser (see Figure 2 and 3 below).

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Also, the thing to remember is that if you have any media embedded in your Hot Potatoes quiz (images, audio, video) the filepath between the .htm page and the media files has to be 'fixed'. You do this by creating a folder first, and then adding all your media files, and finally creating your Hot Potatoes quiz file in the same folder (see Figures 4-6 below for more information).
Figure 4 - creating an initial folder with all the media in it

Figure 5 - what happens when the file links are not 'fixed'

Figure 6 - creating a .zip file in Hot Potatoes

I've added your Getting Around quiz as a SCORM package (see Figure 7) to your Moodle site:

Figure 7 - Drag and drop quiz (SCORM) working in Moodle
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Is the case for sharing data online open or closed? - INVITED BLOGGER OF THE MONTH (October 2010)

We are currently living in an era where some forms of government and business information or 'data' is being made open and accessible. Known as 'open data', this service can offer a lot of potential for research and development, and improve current services. However, at the same time, individuals are giving away their personal information online in exchange for 'free services' like Facebook and Google, who then sell it to businesses so they can directly market their goods according to our demographics in these same spaces.
The following are some examples of how 'open data' is being used for the common good:
  • during the Tsunami in 2004 non-government organisations (NGOs) were unable to share hospital or inventory data as it was not compatible between their software systems, however, this inspired the Royal Thai Government to make open file formats an immediate national priority (Open Technology Foundation Business Plan - downloads a .pdf file)
  • when NGOs arrived in Haiti transportation, water, sanitation and health information was able to be quickly gathered and shared through the 'OpenStreetMap' data
However, contrast this to the way we are using other information online:
  • we are using social media spaces like Twitter or Flickr or YouTube or Delicious to communicate, share and broadcast our information without knowing or having an option of easily exporting or sharing the information under our own accord
  • we are creating and uploading information directly into a learning or content management systems (LMS) without the use of a repository which allows us to move it to a new space or service or software as required

The way I see it, 'open data' is made of four components:
  • raw or 'compatible' data - this is when information is stored in a digital format which is recognisable or 'interoperable' with a range of different software programs eg UNESCO Institute for Statistics Data Centre
  • open source software (OSS) - using the collective knowledge of the crowd, OSS shares the software and its code for free use and further development eg Moodle or Mahara
  • Creative Commons (CC) - is an intellectual property 'licensing' scheme which allows individuals to publish their works (eg photos, websites, data, music, art, literature etc) which allows others to use it (with certain conditions) eg Australian Bureau of Statistics data (ABS)
  • Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Courseware (OCW) - is where educational resources and courses are made freely available, and in some cases allows others to adapt or contextualise it - eg Wikieducator and MIT OpenCourseWare respectively
Although these 'open data' options are very useful for the majority they are not providing individuals with useful ways of effectively managing all of their online personal data.

One potential model could be the 'Internet of Subjects' Manifesto, which is "a network made up of personal data stores, where identity data and personal information systems representing individuals are at the very centre of the architecture". Under this model, individuals would have more control by separating their data from its meta-data and pointing online services to it, rather than taking control of it.

We are currently in an era where our personal online data is being managed by others for their profit and gain, and privacy is out our control while we are also being given the ability to access, assert and utilise a wide range of information through 'open data' options. However, this is creating a dilemma between wanting more control over who and how our information is used, but encouraging governments and businesses to open and share their information for the common good.

So is it possible to do both - have our data open and closed?

A bit about, Allison Miller, the author of this blog post

Allison Miller is the Business Manager for the E-portfolios business activity for the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. Her previous Framework roles include being the South Australian Innovations Coordinator, and the Project Manager for the Inclusive e-Learning (Youth) Project. Allison has also been the E-Learning Development Co-ordinator for TAFE SA.

Allison has been involved in the VET sector for more than eight years in areas of Business Finance, Administration and Small Business Management and has over six years experience in creating e-learning environments for students and staff.
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On choosing to teach: a professor reflects (Part 1) - INVITED BLOGGER OF THE MONTH September 2010

In mid-1987 I received a telephone call from a university in New Zealand inviting me to take up a teaching position. I was working out the end of my employment with a high-tech systems company in Belgium. The call from the Dean of the Faculty of Business was timely. I recall investigating another position in systems engineering at New Zealand's principal telecommunications provider.
After deliberation, I accepted the position at Massey University. Specifically, I was attracted by the prospect of teaching a subject for which I had a great passion and some consulting experience: strategic management (Mellalieu, 1982; Mellalieu & Hall, 1983; Mellalieu, 1987).
The Dean's phone call arose from an earlier meeting I had instigated with staff at Massey University. That meeting - in 1985 - was prior to our family embarking on several years Overseas Experience (OE) in Europe. I was working as an industrial scientist in Palmerston North at what is now part of a Crown Research Institute (CRI). I met several staff in Massey's marketing department to express my interest in becoming a university teacher. Those teachers with whom I had met in 1985 responded to the Dean's search for a candidate to take up a teaching position.
The yearning to teach
My interest in teaching came from several sources. Both my parents had been teachers when our family emigrated to New Zealand in 1966. I recall vividly at the age of ten when I began consciously to teach myself. I recorded mental arithmetic problems on my father's tape recorder. I played back the tests to myself to improve my speed and accuracy in preparation for the daily mental arithmetic exercise. This activity signals the love-hate relationship that I have pursued in my application of communication technologies in my own teaching, beginning with my utilisation of of an as-live-to-air TV studio for situating a master class in innovation and creativity (Mellalieu, 1998)
At high school, our mathematics teacher encouraged students to help each other with our exercises - both within and outside class. At university, I had a job coaching school students for their examinations. I'm proud to note that one of my pupils was accepted into medical school. I noticed during my doctoral studies that I loved to help my clients and colleagues use computers to explore data and improve decision-making. I distinguish this from an approach that merely tells others the 'correct' answer. I love to help others discover the joy of finding answers themselves. However, sometimes there is grinding effort before the joy.
I have always been inspired by my father's autodidactic inclinations. His talent of 'learner' I have inherited according to a strengths-based analysis I undertook in 2001: my profile is here (Buckingham & Clifton, 2001). During the early 1970s, St Peter's School, Cambridge, repositioned itself from being a primary school into a secondary school. As a teacher at St Peters, my father transformed himself from being a general primary studies teacher into a teacher of technical drawing and woodwork.
Although imported to New Zealand as a professional chorister and teacher, my father had always been an amateur handyman. He had converted an ambulance into a motor caravan in the early 1960s. During his transformation to technical studies at St Peter's he 'apprenticed' himself to a professional builder (and parent) to build a squash court and the woodwork shop. He taught technical drawing having completed the same lessons through a correspondence course two weeks earlier! He progressed later to building two family homes. The first home possesses an exceptionally high nail:wood ratio due to the enthusiasm of many willing helpers from his woodwork classes!
My mother was an innovative teacher. One of her best moments was developing a modern dance programme at the (then) new Waikato University. I remain amused at her inflicting a visiting Australian modern dance company onto the First XV rugby team at my school. The players were muscle-strained for several days. Her tacit lesson was that dance was not a soft option! From my mother I am conscious of having developed the value and talents of conceptual and creative thinking - Intellection and Ideation according to my personal Strengthsfinder assessment. I possess many books on lateral and creative thinking inspired by early suggestions from my mother of Edward de Bono's works. Teaching lateral and creative thinking is one of my favourite courses. Here is the course syllabus that over 3000 people have viewed on Scribd, a document archive. Furthermore, I posess more books authored by de Bono than any other author.
Preparing for an academic career
I felt need for advice on preparing for my new academic career. On a visit to the huge bookstore for the University of Cambridge I found exactly what I needed: an introduction to the practice of becoming a lecturer. The book has long been on involuntary permanent loan from my library. However, I remember the book as being A4-sized, with a blue cover, and written by a British or Australian author.
Prior to our return to New Zealand my family undertook a two-week vacation through Austria and Italy. Each day of the vacation, I studied diligently my 'blue book' for about an hour, anticipating myself as a lecturer with a large class of students. Several hundred were in the offing. Such a large audience would be a new experience beyond the small handful of conference presentations I had presented during my previous ten-year career as an industrial research scientist. If I delve through my diaries anciennes, I might find the reference to that so-helpful blue book with my personal study notes. Perhaps if I contact Heffers on Trinity Street, they may have records that reveal my blue book's title. Google Books has certainly not yet yielded to me the name of this treasure trove of practical advice! To avoid such academic embarrasment, I now I record details of all my reading using the open-source Zotero citations management system: books I read and on-line materials I surf. Zotero is a neat, but powerful add-on to my Firefox browser.
I recall two disparate points from my reading. First, the distinction between 'surface' and 'deep' learning. I became convinced of the value of constructing deep learning experiences for my students - a peril to which I still subject many an unprepared or unwilling student! Second, the importance of scrutinising the statistical behaviour of one's gradebook. In particular, to ensure that final grades composed of the sum of several term assignments were treated statistically to ensure that each assignment contributed the intended weight to the final. I find it curious what one remembers - and wonder what has moved into one's subconscious practice! I continue to examine the statistical patterns in my gradebooks. I look especially for early indicators during a teaching semester of excellent and at-risk performance by my students and advise my students of requisite remedial action they might need to take. For an example of gradebook analysis and student feedback, see here.
Arriving at the academy
In October 1987 I arrived at Massey University, Palmerston North, and met my new Head of Department. I was tasked immediately to create anew two courses: Management, and Business Policy. Both courses were studied concurrently by intramural (on-campus) and extramural (off-campus) students. Requesting access to materials previously used to teach the courses, I was instructed specifically NOT to base my course on previous materials, but to start with my own approach, guided with assistance from the university's extramural studies department. I recall this as the first and last instruction I ever received from a Head of Department until I joined New Zealand's pathologically managerialist polytechnic sector in 2000!
My immediate priorities were to select course textbooks, construct a syllabus, create assignments, and produce the self-study materials for the extramural students. The course prescription was the only guideline for what I chose to teach, and how I chose to teach. If I remember correctly, the prescription included a course title, a pre-requisite course code, and a two-line description that was detailed amongst hundreds of other prescriptions in the so-called University Calendar.
I had arrived at the university just in time for the end-of-year examination season. Consequently, I was conscripted into marking the stack of some 1000 scripts for the Fundamentals of Business course. I was soon advised that I was grading scripts an average of 10 points lower than the other markers. Perhaps this feedback alerted me to the importance of the statistical treatments explained by my 'blue book'.

I recall two important pieces of advice gleaned during this experience. First: XYZ. eXamine Your Zipper before leaving your office to present a lecture! The second piece of advice was delivered in the style of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner in which the shooting of an albatross leads to an enormous period of bad luck for the mariner and his crew. In the case of a university, the equivalent precursor to dire misfortune is loosing an examination script. I was told a story that recalled how a stack of university examination scripts (colourfully coloured, fortunately(!?)) were found fluttering - unmarked - amongst the city rubbish dump. No refuse transfer stations had yet appeared in clean, green, New Zealand.
Preview of part 2
In my next episode, I recall my anxiety and preparation for my first lecture followed by the logistical catastrophe of my first on-campus programme inflicted on several hundred extramural students. I conclude with reflections on the approaches I undertook to establish and develop my personal approach to curriculum innovation and development.
Peter J. Mellalieu is a curriculum innovator who teaches innovation, entrepreneurship, strategy, creativity, and sustainable enterprise development at Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. He studied industrial engineering and management at Massey University (BTech (hons), 1973-1976) and public policy at Victoria University of Wellington (MPubPol, 1976-78). His doctoral studies in management science and information systems (1979-1982) engaged him implementing decision support systems for strategic planning in several agribusiness sectors. He is an ardent advocate for education for sustainability. His professional journal is at and resources for teachers and students at
Buckingham, M., & Clifton, D. O. (2001). Now, Discover Your Strengths (1st ed.). Free Press.

Mellalieu, P. J. (1982). A Decision Support System for Corporate Planning in the New Zealand Dairy Industry (Doctor of Philosophy in mathematics, statistics and operations research). Victoria University of Wellington. Retrieved from
Mellalieu, P. J. (1987). Strategic orientation in a biological science laboratory (the case of DSIR Applied Biocehemistry Division). New Zealand Journal of Technology, 3, 153-157. Retrieved from
Mellalieu, P. J. (1998). Weaving the threads of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurial learning through a university-located reality-TV and master class: Enterprise MasterWorks (EMW)™. Presented at the International Conference on Higher Education and Small/Medium Enterprise (SMEs), Rennes, France: Centre Études et Recherche EURO PME, Rennes International School of Business. Retrieved from
Mellalieu, P. J., & Hall, K. R. (1983). An Interactive Planning Model for the New Zealand Dairy Industry. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 34, 521-532. doi:10.1057/jors.1983.119

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Which is better - Ning or Moodle?

A black and white icon of a teacher in front o...Image via WikipediaA member of the Ethos Community space, Janey Nolan, sent me a wee message the other day asking the question: "What do think is better Ning or Moodle?". This really got me thinking and I thought it would be a great opportunity to collect some of your ideas and thoughts around the subject...and, if you would like, please feel free to re-frame the question to be less tool-specific.

To kick things off, here is the reply I sent to Janey:

"Good questions about Ning or Moodle. I would say you have to drill back down to the principles underpinning each of the platforms. Martin Dougiamas certainly designed Moodle with Constructivism as a shaping theory. However, I would argue (certainly until Moodle 2.0 comes out) that while there is some social and collaborative working possible in Moodle, the platform is still very much teacher-centred. Students are unable to add their own content (except into wikis / discussion forums etc created by the teachers, or unless a 'role' is set up that enables them to have wider rights). Moodle is great for things such as assessment, tracking progress and so on, however, so many teachers find this a bonus.

In contrast, Ning enables learners to personalise their own page, add content, start discussions, blog, start groups etc. The teacher can still moderate that content and set parameters / discussions around what is appropriate, but the space is much less hierarchical. Ning can be plugged into Google Analytics for tracking, but has no assessment functionality, no gradebook, nor an electronic drop box.

So, ultimately, the questions go back to the teacher - what are their beliefs about how students learn? What sort of dynamic are they comfortable with? What are the learning outcomes / graduate profile of their course? Once these are answered, then the most appropriate platform can be selected."

What are your thoughts? Please comment below :-)
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Virtually Engaged! Building Virtual Professional Development Communities

This is the Prezi I developed to go with a presentation I gave at Shar-E-Fest. The Prezi resource was designed to be used as a presentation at the 'top' level, but if you look closer, and drill down (a bit like a treasure hunt), you will find heaps more detail. Have fun!!!

The abstract reads as follows: "Current models of Professional Development (PD) provision are being evaluated. As a result, one of the mainstays of education intuitions, the generic workshop, has been identified as having number of fundamental flaws. Hand-in-hand with this is the request by teachers for increased PD to help them with ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) projects. The Virtual Professional Development (VPD) Model has been developed in response to these factors. VPD is based around a community of learning, with a goal to provide peer-supported PD around ICTELT.

There are currently ten tertiary, secondary and primary school teachers from a variety of locations ranging from Kaitaia to Canterbury involved in this pilot initiative. The national facilitator works with these teachers to develop their own highly-contextualised learning plans. After an initial face-to-face meeting the group now meets regularly using the Internet based webinar tool Adobe Connect to share skills, experiences and ideas and to enable peer mentoring relationships to build. Facilitated sessions are at a time and place which is flexible to each teacher\'s needs. These exchanges are complemented by interactions within a social networking space (Ning), as well as through access to their own \'sandpit\' courses in a learning management system (Moodle), where they have the opportunity to experiment and try out skills before going live with learners. Skill-sets and experience vary in the VPD group, and this is offering great opportunities for participants to take on facilitator and learner roles.

The main factors that are becoming apparent from the evaluations to date is that the VPD model could be effective for future PD initiatives. However unlike generic workshops, VPD is mainly 1) about affective factors - community, belonging and relationships; 2) a personalised, contextualised curriculum; and 3) an experience where upskilling takes second place to a teacher\'s own learning \'journey\' which is all about their identity as educators and their beliefs about learning."

Please cite as: Owen, H. (2010, 27-28 September). Virtually Engaged! Building Virtual Professional Development Communities. Paper presented at the Shar-E-fest Conference.

Mapping the way ahead: Nigel Bailey on inspiring learners

Nigel Bailey, originally from the UK where he used to tramp the hills of Derbyshire and the Lake District, was inspired by the landscape surrounding him to study and teach geography. Still a student himself, Nigel is a strong believer in lifelong learning and inquiry, and is currently studying a social networking/Web 2.0 paper with Canterbury.

To watch the video click here.

Nigel now teaches at Chanel College, Masterton (in the glorious Wairarapa), where he is contextualising and personalising geography in a way that helps make geography meaningful and enjoyable for his students. For example, Nigel has been using the video entitled 'Home' to spark interest and to start a lively conversation about the intensive farming of cattle in the US, which he finds leads naturally to an impassioned discussion amongst the students for whom cattle farming is a staple in the Wairarapa.

Acknowledging how tricky it can be for learners to shift into a research-focussed, applied way of learning Nigel uses a range of scaffolding strategies to empower them. For instance, he is trialling what he calls a 'light scaffolding' approach to sessions. As a result he is finding that students are becoming more engaged, and even the quieter ones are asking questions, with some students are coming to him at the end of a session to discuss things. When Nigel is not sure of the answer, or they have run out of time he encourages the student to look it up and come back to him...which he is finding they are doing, sometimes even turning up to a session early to share what they have found out.

Click here to access a large version of this image.

Video conferencing (used in conjunction with a Moodle course Nigel has developed) opens up the world to students around New Zealand who are keen to study Level 3 geography but are not able to access a course where they are located. His current students are based in a variety of places such as Otaki, Cromwell, and Solway. As well as providing easily accessible, visually appealing content, Nigel has designed the Moodle course to offer a range of quizzes, resources and forums, and has even instigated a virtual chocolate fish initiative.

You can download a similar Powerpoint (with music - .zip file)

Nigel is a strong believer in his students having fun while learning. One of the things he enthused about was an exciting experience he recently had with students where he found a template of "Who wants to be a Millionaire" with all the sound effects (you can download a similar Powerpoint (with music - .zip file) and adapted it from maths questions to geography questions. He said that the students got into the experience wholeheartedly, and during the quiz got closer and closer to the board as the noise levels and excitement increased. As well as the energy in the room, Nigel also pointed out that there were some great discussions and explanations between the learners around the possible answers, which he felt encouraged the process of internalisation and externalisation really well.

Alongside the work he is doing with students, Nigel is an active participant in the Isolated to Connected Geographers' online community, especially around the subject of GIS (Geographic Information System) and the new standards. He recently became a member of the Isolated to Connected site,and when faced with difficulties around GIS he posted to the community for help, which he found invaluable.

The Geobits community wiki

He has been working with Google Earth, and has discovered that he can use layers that work similarly to the GIS concept. Nigel is hoping to target the local context of the Masterton by-pass to localise and contextualise, because he has found a lot of information around the initiative and it will be directly relevant to many of his students. If Nigel can create the scenario on Google Earth then he feels everyone will have access to it, and it would not be difficult to provide guidance for other teachers around how to use it. Ideally, Nigel would like to get of cluster of Wellington area geographers together to use Google Earth and the same procedure, but make it current and local to them. The community could be facilitated online, as could the upskilling and sharing sessions, and he has already started putting together a wiki space, Geobits ( to this end. The notions of viral and social networking and co-constructing, evolving knowledge are very much underpinning Nigel's initiative here and his projected outcomes. His hopes are that regional specialists would develop, and that a reciprocal arrangement could be reached to share specialists across clusters. This, in turn, could be facilitated by the development of an easily-accessible database of specialists and their specialisations, along with when/how they can be / are prepared to be contacted.
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