Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review of web 2.0 tools & blogs / wikis at NZCETA conference

Presented at the NZCETA 50th annual conference. My presentation followed my Melissa Stevenson, a info. tech teacher at New Plymouth Girls High School.

A good overview along with a few that I have not come across. Of note would be sythasite - for easy to set up websites, aniboom for 3D animated shapes, Skrbl for brainstorming online, slide to share ppt & moviemaker presentations & zamzar a multimedia converter.

Good to present to a group of keen teachers eager to learn about how to incorporate Web 2.0 tools into their teaching. Access to computers still not totally straight-forward & most schools ban cell phones. However, there is a groundswell of appreciation for integrating the use of technology into teaching at the secondary school level which was good to observe.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tony Bates seminar on elearning in training and education

I attended & presented usual spiel on mlearning @ CPIT at another CORE organised seminar. The seminar was pitched at both tertiary & workplace learning practitioners.

The guest speaker was Tony Bates who spoke on eLearning and vocational education and training, an International Perspective. Of interest to me was the British Columbia project on using elearning to improve completion rates in trade training. The project is still in its planning stages but the concepts behind it’s development are of interest to the NZ voc. Ed. context as well. Will need to keep an eye on how the project develops.

Besides Tony, there was also a presentation from John Clayton which provided a New Zealand overview of eLearning activities in industry in NZ. John provided a very good ‘back to reality’ presentation on how workplaces were basically focused on compliance, competence which had to be demonstratable and how elearning needed to be ‘just in time, just enough and just learn’.

Short presentations were also given by:-

  • Andrew Preston representing Tobi Gefken, lead developer, HitLab on their project using virtual-reality technology for the teaching and assessment of clinical skills. Andrew presented various ‘learning objects’ to help students learn pharmacology & other medical content.
  • Nick Ford for Dr. Tracy Kirkbride on the CPIT / University of Canterbury VIPER project which is a tool for formative assessments or revision of student learning using mainly images. The tool has been used mainly in the context of radiography so that student radiographers are able to learn how to practice reading xrays, MRI scans etc. but has wide uses in any other field.
  • Phil Garing, Synapsys on mulit-modal company induction programmes provided examples of how to use simulations & other learning activities in ‘ different contexts, with different drivers & different results’. A reflection on John’s presentation from the point of view of an elearning development company.

The seminar concluded with a workshop that discussed the following questions ‘what are the benefits for and barriers to embedding eLearning in industry training? National and international perspectives’ & ‘what are the benefits for and barriers to embedding eLearning in industry training? '

Good discussion followed. The seminars provided me with an opportunity to view the world of elearning from a wider ‘non-educational’ perspective.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CORE efellows presentation

I attended the CORE efellows presentations this morning. The e-Learning Fellowships Initiative was launched in 2003 by the NZ Ministry of Education. Each year, ten teachers in early childhood, primary and secondary ‘released’ from the classroom to conduct research on using technology in teaching with academic support and mentoring from CORE Education.

The five ‘fellows’ presented their research (some of which are still in progress). Several of the projects were related to mlearning and eportfolios which made for interesting sessions and an opportunity to find out more from a school based perspective. It was great to see classroom practitioners being provided with the opportunity to work on projects that have important applications their own teaching contexts.

  • Energising education with Matt Tippen
    What effect does the creation and the use of ICT-based energisers have on
    student engagement? An interesting & pedagogically sound way to incorporate ICT & ‘brain gym’ into the classroom. Matt’s students are formed into groups. Each group then comes up with a name & a sequence of actions that helps them energise themselves between classes. The sequence is videoed & the kids follow the video in class when ever an energiser is needed! As the ‘brain gyms’ are student produced, they become motivated to use the energisers.
  • Reaching the potential for mobile phones in education with Toni Twiss
    How can mobile phones be integrated into authentic classroom learning activities
    to develop effective information literacy skills? This provided me with good background from the secondary school perspective. The majority of schools in NZ ban cell phone use so working with mlearning is going to be a challenge from the school organisation. One important finding was the lack of information literacy skills in both year 9 & year 12 students. They all tended to type in the whole question into Google & then rely on the first link that appeared as the most reliable one!!
  • Maximising the formative benefits of e-portfolios with Nick Rate
    What can teachers do in order to maximise the formative learning benefits of
    online? Another good integration of the research done on eportfolios into actual practice. Nick uses eportfolios in a primary school & the eportfolios are used in an integrated way to meet many of the strands in the NZ school ‘key competencies’.
  • Effective blended e-learning in secondary school teaching with Mark Callagher
    How can student interactivity and historical thinking be enhanced through the use of a blended learning approach? Mark used the Moodle discussion board to springboard learning about contemporary world history (World War 2) with year 12 students. Main learning was that the ‘lower ability’ students were drawn into the discussions and this enhanced their learning.
  • Towards a better understanding with Michael Fenton
    How can students use mobile sensor technology to create authentic learning?
    Michael made use a form of mobile learning to help students ‘play’ in order to learn. A variety of projects using RIGEL as a form of data logger was presented. This included student directed & teacher directed activities including treasure hunts, robots and car maintenance. An innovative way to introduce students to ICT (interested in conversation & thinking!).

With all of this activity going on at the primary & secondary school level, it is even more important a the tertiary level to build to the skills students have attained at school to help enhance their learning experiences beyond school.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Continuing with connectivism course

I keep on finding snippets every time I dip into the various course sites for the connectivism course & am building up a good resource on knowledge & learning for future use in my adult learning courses .

Here is a slide show on the course itself, presented at the NZ efest2008 last week. Of interest is the complete (almost) overview of what bits make up the course & the inner workings of how to keep track of the 1900 or so participants. It provided me with a reference point as to where things were and the area I could still check out.

In the long run, I (& probably the majority of the other participants) will settle into the sites / tools we find provide the easiest way to access the course material and to network with others on the course.

The above is also coming through with my mlearning research. Students do not like having to put time into learning how to use a new mobile phone, especially if the operating system is different from their current phone. They also prefer to keep their existing social networking sites and resists our efforts to introduce them to sites that are perhaps more suited to building a portfolio. The effort put into relearning a new social networking platform and perhaps transferring material across into the new site needs to be motivated by more than the need to meet course assessment outcomes. How can we provide this? One way is to perhaps encourage the networking between peers so that everyone is able to look at other portfolios. This encourages a sense of competition & works well with young men. The other is to provide a ‘one stop shop’ concept so that the site is also a personal portal that links to course material, RSS feeds from subject content sites / experts that provide learning opportunities and institutional support systems (library, study skills, student union etc.) So far, all the Web 2.0 sites that we have trialled will do some but not all of the above. We could set up a prototype on Moodle but the assess to Moodle is comparatively clunky & the students will likely loose the site once they leave the institution. So lots to mull through & to work on.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Continuing learning on e & mlearning

I have started a blog to record my learning from the connectivism course set up by George Siemens & Stephen Downs. This is so that this blog does not become clogged up with my various reflections as I wrestle my way through all the material presented & work out some coherent application for my new learning. I make it a point to complete as least one course of learning a year as a student. So this year, the online connectivism course will be a way for me to learn about learning from the student’s point of view.

It will also be a good test of flexible learning delivery structures as the connectivism course runs from now until November. In October, I will be away from work, travelling to the UK for the mlearn2008 & handheld 2008 conferences. Then doing a tiki tour of Europe and ending up in Rome. So it will be a good trial of how I can keep up with the course with all the other new activities going around plus how I will access the course as I travel around in unfamiliar cities.

The rest of this month, I will be doing some intensive self study to update myself on mLearning as I will be presenting on this topic at several other forums. Firstly, at the annual CPIT research forum – Output 2008 - where I will do a dry run of my mlearn2008 paper. Then to CPIT management on the Ed. strategy team and two conferences at the end of September in Wellington. Firstly to the NZCETA (NZ Commerce & Economics Teachers Association) and then a keynote to the MITO (Motor Industry Training Organisation) professional development / training providers conference. All of the three concentrate on what is mLearning, the concepts of ‘everyware’, cloud computing, Web 2.0 / Web 3.0 and options for mlearning delivery in the various contexts that the participants teach in.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Follow up on vodcasts - using mobile phones to tell digital stories

A follow through from the previous blog on vodcasting, Derek Wenmouth provided a link to project view which utilises mobile phones to collect media for videos that help communities around the world learn more about each other.

A paper by John Kuner describes the overall concept and it’s underlying philosophy provides good background on narratives and the potential of digital story telling to allow networks of people in various countries to form.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Vodcasts in education

Last week, I attended a lunch time seminar at CPIT by Steve Tomsett from the Engineering section on using videos in teaching. Steve uses short video clips of lab work & experiments to archive for future reference as teaching resources.
On my bloglines this week, from Ideas & thoughs from an Edtech comes 10 videos on using technology in teaching by Dan Meyer. The videos are accessible via Dan’s blog or via vimeo.

The low costs of digital video recorders and easy access to moviemaker makes the process of video making accessible to anyone who has a story to tell. The videos put up by Dan Meyer, shows how a teacher is able to reflect on his teaching practice, using vernacular that is familiar to his students. Not sure how long it took to complete all of the videos. They are all short, around 2 to 3 minutes. This makes them watchable as they do not become boring. The videos also use various shooting angles, shots and include clips from other media (TV, movies, music). They provide a good guideline of the potential for vodcasts & its uses in capturing student learning. It is an approach that I will introduce to our staff education section as a way for us to make our teaching methods courses more interesting. We already take videos of tutors teaching for use in the teaching methods course. Providing tutors with the skills to edit their videos will provide a better forum for them to display their teaching plus embed crucial ICT skills and introduce the power of multimedia in capturing evidence of knowledge, skills and attitudes that we assess as part of teaching methods.