Friday, September 22, 2006

FLNZ future of a networked world

I had a great time at the Christchurch meeting of the FLNZ future of a networked world open space conference held at the Christchurch College of Education yesterday morning. Apart from the prospect of catching up with other elearning practitioners in Christchurch, there was the opportunity to meet up with and have in-depth discussions with the group of experts who are travelling around to each of the meetings.
Reflecting on the experience yesterday evening as I biked home, I realised that the title chosen for the meeting was extremely appropriate. We were not only networking f2f during the meeting, but also:-
  • seeing examples of how to network with others via Web 2.0 tools,
  • learning how to set up networks ourselves for our colleagues and students and
  • actually tapping into the power of many people learning together.

I saw how Barbara Dieu was working with blogs to help her Brazilian students learn English. She was building a sound community of student learners as they blogged their way through the various projects she set up for them to do. We had a good discussion about the merits of blogger vs wordpress. We also looked at how she used 43 places and 43 things to enhance the way in which her students could build network swith other students in the United States to help them improve their English.

Leigh Blackall then pointed me to a discussion he had with Tony Hepinstall , a chef tutor at Otago Polytechnic. An interesting concept of using a mobile phone to access a Wiki and then for the student to listen (or read and then perhaps comment or add to) the Wiki entry.

The above idea coming via Tomi Leinonen MobilED project for using a mobile phone as a form of audio encyclopaedia that could be accessed by anyone with phone capable of sending a SMS. Tomi was also helpful with regards to my mportfolio project, pointing me to several other possible areas to explore. More of these once I have had time to look into them further!

Stephen Parker introduced me to the network learning space set up for TAFE teachers and in particular, the one set up for tourism and hospitality. All of these are set up on Wikispaces so that everyone who signs up for each ‘learning space’ is able to contribute to the network. This will be an area I will be exploring further over the weekend and will introduce to the tutors in the School of Food & Hospitality.

All in a very productive morning, a big thank you to Otago Polytechnic & especially to Leigh for making it all happen. I will keep in touch with the group’s journey as they make their way down the North Island and look forward to catching up with everyone again at efest.

Monday, September 04, 2006

moving mportfolios forward

I am still working through the basic setup of our eportfolios. I am working on principles provided by Love, McKean & Gathercool (2004). In particular, I am not keen to see the eportfolios being put together by apprentices as being only level 1 portfolios – just a repository of products they make, along with a few recipes and comments. I would like to move the eportfolios that our apprentices will be producing up to at least a level 3. This means that the portfolio is open to both the tutor and the student. The tutor will then take steps to help the student reflect more on their evidence to work out which images, recipes or descriptions are most relevant to particular competencies that the student is working through. Basically making use of cognitive apprenticeship principles to help apprentices work how how to go about constructing evidence of their journey from apprentice to baker.

If we take one product line as an example, I would not want to just see a photo of the final product, but some photos, videos or aural descriptions of some of the steps taken to produce the product. The recipe should not just be a list of ingredients, but also a detailed description of the method along with the nuances the apprentice has picked up as to how the product will be produced. So the instruction – mix the dough until it is clear and well-developed – might be accompanied by a photo of a well developed dough plus a description (text or aural) as to why the dough in the picture is actually well – developed. Something along the lines of, “the dough is smooth & silky. It is easy to stretch it out to form a thin sheet of dough. The consistency and the temperature of the dough is suitable for making “xyz product” because ……”

I suppose that I am trying to capture the essence of what it is that differentiates a good baker from a competent baker. A good baker uses all their senses to produce high quality products (often in large volume) to a consistently high standard each time. When I talk to third year apprentices, I am often trying to work out if they are good or just competent. My decision is often based on an a build up of my observations of the apprentice’s work methods, the products they make and the way in which they respond to questions I ask them. My decision is then based on my intuitive judgement. The difference between good & competent is often difficult to pin down but I believe that eportfolios, assembled with guidance and care, will help showcase skills, knowledge, attitudes and the convergence of these characteristics.

Therefore, my long term goal is to move the eportfolios into a level 5 scenario. So that the eportfolio becomes “an authentic / authoritative evidence that links the contents of the folio to standards, programmes and other descriptors, including higher order taxonomies.”