Monday, July 27, 2015

update on eportfolios

Working with several teaching teams this semester. The objective being to use some form of 'eportfolio' in 2017 to provide formative feedback to students and then collate evidence collected in to some form of 'showcase' for summative assessment.

So updating my links etc. and understanding of the eportfolio landscape, first blogged on way back in 2005 at the start of my blogging journey.

The spread of tools available for eportfolio type activities has increased. The link to epac provides an evolving list of eportfolio tools and technologies. There are now many 'customised' tools whereas in the beginning, we tended to use wikis and blogs. Although there is still the use of blogging platforms as eportfolios as evidenced through emergedtech's  example of using tumblr in the classroom.

A good overview is found at learning eportfolios providing history of development, types of eportfolios etc. A critique and ideas forward is provided by geoffcain who advocates the connectivist approach to eportfolios.

So overall, lots of choices. We need to establish the fit of learning outcomes / objectives to our standard eportfolio tool - Mahara - as blogged previously and if the fit is precarious, explore alternatives.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mahara for eportfolios - summary and update

Working with a team of tutors to establish eportfolios. CPIT has had Mahara available for some years. However, as with other portfolio tools / platforms, Mahara comes with a requirement to learn how to use the platform along with support for the students (and staff) on how to construct eportfolios which are founded on reflective practice.

Currently, Mahara is on version 15.04, manual, ebook, guide to using the journal on Mahara, overview of induction session for students and useful info and instructions are available.  Also this link provides guides from versions 1.2 through to 1.9. Flash tutorials and examples - traditional and another one here also good resources.

Pros and cons are discussed along here and  a comparison of mahara with wordpress / google apps provided here.

Overall, a need to establish if we need to go to full blown eportfolio capability or scaffold from paper eportfolio to digital story on powerpoint before moving to Mahara.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Getting to grips with one note and notebook creator

Much has taken place since my initial exploration of the capabilities of onenote and earlier update. In particular, usability has improved and the advent of notebook creator makes onenote a good option for educators to share notes, collaborate with students and provide formative feedback to students as they progress through their work on onenote.

Various recent offerings provide good overviews of the hows, whys and whats of onenote. These include information from pcworld - a good introduction, onthehub, - introducing the office lens to take photos of whiteboards etc. and a concise but comprehensive overview of capabilities from thomasmaurer.

For teachers, there is a guide here along with an office mix presentation - detailing how to go about using notebook creator and how to use audio recording, linked notes (e.g. to word document), how to share using outlook (email) or exporting as pdf, word doc etc., translate notes to selected language. Whole notebooks can also be exported or shared via Onedrive or Sharepoint.

A review from teacher's perspective is found here and student's point of view of how to use onenote for 'web research' is found in this video. Recommended 'next steps' to extend use of note book creator are found here.

In all, a good range of resources to guide us as we pilot onenote with notebook creator with engineering students.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age – designing for 21st century learning (2nd ed.) – overview

Edited by H. Beetham and R. Sharpe (2013)

Completely reworked edition. The first edition which was a seminal and ‘must-read’ for any educational developer, has been completely updated with brand new chapters. A few chapters are ‘updates’ but they contain new ideas, more pertinent to the present educational context. As with the previous edition, the authors are mainly based in Australia or the UK.

After forewords (to the second and first editions) by Diana Laurillard and the introduction, the chapters in the book are organised into two parts with part three offering resources in the appendices.

The editors lay out the overall premises of the book with regards to defining pedagogy, the influences of the ‘digital age’ on teaching and learning and a rationale for the importance of undertaking effective design for learning. The chapters in the book are very briefly overviewed.

Part 1 – principles and practices of designing
1)      Technology-enhanced learning (TEL): the role of theory (T. Mayes & S. de Freitas)
The rationale for requiring ‘theory’ is put forward. Then the three main contemporary perspectives on learning are summarised. These are the associationist, cognitivist and situative (Community of practice / group levels) perspectives and how they may be applied into TEL are discussed. Appendix 1 summarises the perspectives.

2)      Designing for active learning in technology-rich contexts (H. Beetham)
The different theories applying to learning are reviewed in the context of TEL. These different approaches to understanding how people learn include: authenticity of activity, structure of learning, the application of learning towards retention/reproduction or reflection/internalization, roles and significance of others and the locus of control. Learning activities are defined as the nexus between learning environment, learning objectives, the learner and others. The need to design learning to meet learning outcomes and learners’ contexts and needs are summarised. The role of TEL in helping to provide learning activities that may assist learning with others, discovery learning, developing and sharing ideas, collecting, gathering, recording or editing (content, learning) and solving problems and developing techniques.

3)      The analysis of complex learning environments (P. Goodyear & L. Carvalho)
Important not to put focus on devices but the ‘ecologies and networks’ where learning will take place. Suggest Actor Network Theory as one approach to understand complex learning environments. Recommends importance of designing learning which is based around the design of good learning tasks which are cognisant of the social and physical settings the learning task is to be undertaken in and that the learning needs to work fluently across macro, meso and micro levels of learnin

4)      The challenge of teachers’ design practice (L. Masterman)
This chapter recommends the importance of ensuring teachers, and especially the study of teachers’ design practice, are part of the design process. One reason is to ensure learning design is applicable. The other is to inform the development of digital tools, heuristics or computer assisted process, for the purposes of learning design.

5)      Tools and resources to guide practice (G. Conole)
I have attended a few presentations on the some of the tools proposed in this chapter. The ‘tools’ are however, quite complex and do require a ‘learning by doing’ approach before the potentialities can become useful. The main attribute of these tools, is that they allow the visualisation of courses / programmes which may be complex, opening up options for better understanding the underlying structures of the learning design and their corresponding influences on students’ learning. As with all tools, it is important to understand conceptualisations. Otherwise, it is just a tool that produces lots of pretty flowcharts! This chapter provides overviews on each the most used tools along with discussion on pros and cons.

6)      Describing ICT-based learning designs that promote quality learning outcomes (R. Oliver, B. Harper, S. Wills, S. Agostino & J.G. Hedberg)
Provides a series of examples of to allow learning designs to be visualised and shared. Especially useful when learning designers work with subject-matter experts collaboratively on laying out the framework for the learning design of a programme. 4 types of design are discussed, rule based, incident based, strategy based and role based learning design with examples provided.

7)      Learning designs as a stimulus and support for teachers’ design practices (S. Agostino, S. Bennett, L. Lockyer, J. Jones and B. Harper)
Follows on from the previous chapter of ‘what could happen next’ with the various learning designs developed. Proposes learning designs evolution can be supported by shared understandings from initial work and collaborative work to clarify and innovative beyond the initial design foundations.

8)      Representing practitioner experiences through learning designs and patterns (P. McAndrew & P. Goodyear)
Offers alternative to the learning designs and ideas presented in previous two chapters. A short chapter discussing challenges – how to better describe learning tools, how to circumvent difficulties in creating designs etc. Proposes the use of ‘learning patterns’ as a means.

9)      The influence of open resources on design practice (C. Pegler)
Defines OER – open educational resources – and their contribution to learning design. Provides details on the 6 Creative Commons open licences for OER and examples of courses developed with OER resources.

Part 2 – designing for learning in context – provides 8 chapters to provides examples of how to apply the principles in Part 1.

Part 3 – there are 9 appendices.

Overall, the book is pitched at learning designers, rather than teachers. Core understanding of learning design principles before reading the book will produce dividends. The book is also an example of how quickly the TEL field moves. Although underpinned by current understandings of learning, the discussions on TEL in the book show how there are many different ways to approach TEL. Contextualisation is one key to ensuring TEL meets learning needs of students and discipline specific needs of teachers. Using learning design templates provides for a means to not have to continually 'reinvent the wheel'. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Update on blogging platforms

Have been blogging on Blogger for about a decade, so comfortable with what it offers. Compared to newer blogging platforms like WordPress and Tumblr, the layout and format of Blogger, looks staid and conservative.

A couple of our programmes are now exploring eportfolios, with blogging platforms at the top of the 'try out' list. So a quick update on blogging platforms, their pros and cons required.

thenextweb provides an overview of blogging platforms with this list of 'what has been available' and then a list of what is now available. Beebom also lists the 5 best blogging platforms showing the rise of tumblr.

With some of our programmes, where the visual is important, tumblr may be one way to go. Emergingedtech provides some of tumblr in education as does avemaria press. So no shortage of ideas and 'how to dos' on the web.

Will explore possibilities this week with one our our tutors and see what fits along with a re-evaluatin of Mahara, the institutional portfolio platform.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Readings for reflective teaching in further, adult and vocational education - book overview

Readings for reflective teaching in further, adult and vocational education
Edited by M. Gregson, L. Nixon, A. Pollard and T. Spedding (2015) published by Bloomsberry

Website supporting textbook (in its fourth edition) and this book (first edition) along with a similar series through the educational sector – early childhood teaching through to higher education. The theoretical framework draws from the work undertaken in the UK in the early 2000s through their teaching and learning research programme (TLRP)

A collection of pertinent and some seminal readings relevant to vocational education. Five parts further divided into 17 sections covering a range of issues, topics and information in one book.
Part one – becoming a reflective practitioner has parts on 'identity' (defining who we are and what we stand for); overview of ‘learning’; summary of the concepts of reflection; and provides ‘principles’ of effective teaching and learning.

Part two – creating conditions of learning covers a definition, relationships, engagement and ‘spaces’ which includes the physical and the virtual.

Part three is on ‘teaching for learning’ with readings on curriculum, planning, pedagogy, communication and assessment.

Part four covers reflecting on consequences with sections on outcomes (monitoring student learning) and inclusion.

Part five – deepening understanding has sections on vocational educators own development of expertise and professionalism.

Generally a UK slant with most readings from UK researchers / educators although there is a sprinkling of authors from other countries. The book is recommended as an accompaniment to a textbook for vocational educator programmes in the UK, so contexts etc. pitched to that audience. Readings are generally short (2 – 3 pages) and are summaries or collations (a couple are of books) rather than the whole article. Reference is provided to the main source for follow up if required. Most still retain their academic style of writing. To provide focus there is a list of suggested questions at the beginning of each reading. 

Overall, the book is pitched at vocational educator / further education tutor course work within the UK context. The book is a one-stop shop for those interested in a general background on vocational education, including the latest thinking on curriculum design and pedagogy. A good reference book.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Proust and the Squid: the story and the science of the reading brain - overview

Came across this book by Maryanne Wolf (2007) published by Icon Books, at the local public library

Positive reviews from the guardian and a recent one from hastac encouraged me to work my way through the book over several evenings.

The book reads well, Wolf intersperses her own challenges with a dyslexic son, with the latest interpretations through neuroscientific research, of how the brain learns how to read. The book uses metaphors from the recent media and the western literature corpus, to bring light to concepts on learning, neuroscience and philosophy. An audience, unexposed to the delights of classical books like Charlotte’s Web, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Dr. Seuss etc. may have a bit of work to do to unravel some of the explanations.

However, of importance is the explanation of how reading evolved in different cultures. How writing is organised, whether logographic (Egyptian hieroglyphics, Chinese, Japanese Kanji) or alphabetical / phonetic (Germanic languages), affects how people learn how to read. Different parts of the brain are activated when language is presented in different ways.

Three parts:
Part 1 presents book overview and two chapters of how the first writing systems evolved and the development of the alphabet. Socrates argument of writing replacing the rigours of the oral tradition is also presented and discussed.

Part 2 reviews neuroscience studies on how the brain learns including how children learn to read (or not). Much of relevance here in understanding how parts of the brain are used for different aspects of reading.

Part 3 presents latest perspectives on why some people find it difficult to learn how to read, including discussions on the causes of dyslexia and how the present move to ‘screen reading’ and the ‘google’ generation may lead to changes in which reading develops. This section is on the weak side but the points discussed are important.