Monday, March 07, 2005

Reverse engineering - one pathway towards evaluating elearning tools

The first project on the elearning course I am enrolled in this semester, is to ‘reverse engineer’ a provided piece of multimedia teaching resource. This got me thinking about using reverse engineering to help tease out the issues that will arise with regards to the set up of a mportfolio based learning and assessment mportfolio programme.

To start with, here is the scenario, the vision of how I see mlearning being applied to my context.

The year is 2010. J is in a group of 8 apprentices calling themselves the Bready bunch. He is 18 years old & into the second year of his apprenticeship in a small craft bakery situated in a small town in the middle of the North Island, New Zealand. J has met his group members face to face twice, the first time in the year one block course of two weeks and the second time in the second block course (also for two weeks). Block courses are held in Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand. The members of the group are spread across New Zealand. 5 of the group live and work in the North Island and 3 of the group in the South Island.

In order to complete his baking qualifications, J has to complete :-
  • a distance learning course that covers the theory of baking,
  • assessments that are held during block courses and
  • gather evidence to prove his competency on a collection of work based skills.
  • At his first block course, J was issued with a G4 phone. This phone is the size of a packet of cards and weighs 100g. It flips open to reveal a full colour screen and a qwerty key pad. All the calls he makes from the phone that are related to course work are paid for through his course fees. He has to pay for any personal calls or downloads he makes.

Using the G4 smart phone, J completes his distance learning through the following process:-

  • Course notes that contain information on the theory of baking, work sheets and assessment requirements are downloaded onto his phone monthly. J does not own a computer, so he prints out the hardcopy of all of these notes by docking his phone onto his employer’s phone/fax/photocopier machine.
  • J has to read the course notes and work through the activities that are described in the worksheets.
  • Some of the worksheets require him to take photos of his work and these are posted through his phone to his assessment portfolio site.
  • Some of the worksheets require him to work with his group on projects. At the moment, the group is working on building a 3D image of a gluten strand. This project needs to be completed next week.
  • The group is able to communicate synchronously via video linked conversation. However, due to the variability in the groups working hours, their main communication method has been via video SMS.
  • T, the technical whiz in the group has accessed a cool 3D drawing tool for their phones. D found several articles on the web & at the course site on gluten structure. These were then sent to all the members of the group or a hard copy could be requested from the CPIT library. Then T also found a university site in America that provided a template for building up protein structures. Using drag & drop techniques, each member of the group had a go at building up an image. The group was now evaluating which of the images was the most realistic / accurate and what else needed to be done to the image before SMSing the image in to their tutor.
  • Every week, revision questions in the form of mostly multiple choice and short answer questions is downloaded to J’s phone. These need to be completed to ensure that J understands the material that he has been provided each month.
  • J receives immediate feedback on his revision questions as he works through them. The feedback includes remedial work that J might need to also complete if his performance on the revision questions does not come up to expected standards. His results are also posted to his tutor.
  • J receives a phone call from his tutor every fortnight to remind him to complete projects, gather evidence of his practical work skills and generally provide him feedback on how he is going.
  • J’s assessment portfolio started out as a real mishmash of photos of the products he made at work, photos and short video clips of him completing practical tasks and SMS txt outlines. At the second block course, the tutor showed them examples of work from other students. The block course group also showed each other the progress they had made on their assessment portfolios. T as usual had all the latest whiz bang multimedia features on his & D had tagged her various items to the performance criteria in the various competency units that had to be achieved. J then did quite a bit of reediting of his work with T’s help so that it now had a much more ‘recipe book’ look about it.
  • In the third block course, the apprentices will complete their assessment portfolios. Before the third block course, the apprentices are encouraged to share their assessment portfolios with the rest of their group members, their employers and their families and friends. It is a record of their journey as they move from being novice bakers to journeyperson status in the industry.

So there’s the vision, how do we now get to it?


Leigh Blackall said...

Great ideas. Have you checked out Moblogging? I haven't tested it yet, but I wonder if its possible to MMS pictures to Blogger using their email feature...

Selena said...

Hi Leigh,

Thanks for your link to moblogging. I have not tried sending in a blog into using my cell phone as yet but will try it out very soon.