Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recent resources on elearning and mlearning

A good resource via Bronwyn Hegarty at Otago Polytechnic published by University of Woolongong details research projects conducted there on the use of mobile learning in higher education. Articles include an overview, how to encourage faculty to adopt the use of new technologies and descriptions and some evaluations of various projects with mainly full time students in education using mobile phones and ipods. The last chapter on design principles provides practical guidelines and recommendations.

Other resources of interest that have come up over the last fortnight or so include :

1) A more wide ranging review taken by the Commonwealth of Learning which discusses education for a digital world. This includes articles on how to prepare and implement technology in education followed by examples of various applications and projects.

2) educating the net gen is a Australian study and a handbook of findings for policy & practice. It recommends a cautious, planned approach to be taken as not all students (despite hype) are ready or willing to engage with the use of technology in their learning and not all staff are prepared to make the leap across the chasm to adopt the use of technology in teaching.

3) Two articles recommended to follow up on mobile / social networking use in university. One on policy and the other a response from JISC to the recommendations in the 2007 report ‘Web 2.0 for Content for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.

4) A literature review of elearning research in the workplace via Ako Aoteoroa. The articles reviewed are accessed via a visual representation of the various aspects of the review. A good example of how to provide a simple portal to lots of information.

5) And a book to catch up on which discusses What if? About the use of technology in the 21st century classroom

6) Website of the American 21st century schools provides good conversation / discussion starter with what is 21st century education along with resources and information on curriculum & instruction and critical pedagogy. Has a mainly compulsory K-12 focus but much of relevance to tertiary ed. as well.

I intend to work through these in the next month or so. Many of the above bring the realism of putting ICT into practice into real educational settings. As I speak to many tutors around NZ, I find that many realise the need to assist learners to learn important 21st century skills of collaboration, critical thinking and citizenship. However, not all are convinced about using ICT as one of the tools. Maybe they have a point. However whether we want to or not, we now live in a world & in societies influenced by technology. Many of our students will live beyond our own live times. Do we do them a disservice by not modelling as teachers, flexibility, self-directed and life-long learning and openness to evaluating new ideas?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mike Anderson's presentation on implications of the new NZ Curriculum on tertiary

Mike Anderson, principal at Waimairi Primary School and an avid promoter of the use of ICT in primary school teaching, presented at the monthly CPIT Educational Strategy group meeting.

Mike’s presentation was focused around the new NZ National Curriculum which is to begin in all schools next year. He began with a quick tour of how NZ had a curriculum that was student centred and geared to the needs of the community back in the 1930s when the then prime minister, Michael Joseph Savage, appointed C.E Beeby as the director of education. An example was the work of Darracott who taught students via building a house, 2/3 to scale at Jackson’s Mill in Kotuku.

Mike's approach to the new curriculum was to engage his staff and the community in order to base their school’s direction on a ‘localised curriculum’ which was based on 21st century needs. He proposed the importance of ensuring that practices (what) and principles (how) used by teachers in the classroom were well anchored in their core values and beliefs (why). He was keen to incorporate four of the key competencies (thinking, participating and contributing, managing self and relating to others) into a quadrant that could be used to inform teachers, parents and students of their progress.

He used the analogy of the TV shows ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ as an example of the transmissive model of education still prevalent in society when we should be promoting and supporting the skills of confident, connected, activity involved and lifelong learners in education. An example would be the TV show ‘monster garage’ or another example I have occasionally followed ‘junkyard wars’.

He then provided examples of how primary school students are being encouraged and taught the skill to be producers and not consumers. These were in connect TV and Rock our world, programmes his students have engaged & participated in.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

blogging with a phone

As a subset of evaluating web site creating websites using mobile phones to create eportfolios, I have also been keeping an eye on developments in mobile blogging. There has always been the capability via Nokia’s lifeblog or with the Nokia using a variety of other apps but several recent developments have made it even easier to blog using a variety of phones.

To start with, NZ Telecom’s recent launch of its XT network not only provides faster mobile web surfing speeds but also promotes phones that allow direct access to bebo and a poster at the local telecom store also promoted access to facebook and twitter.

Vodaphone offered and promoted access to Web 2.0 sites from the middle of last year, sites including trademe, bebo, youtube, facebook and Wikipedia.

Sue Water’s provides a good overview of how to blog using an iphone.

Coupled to the above is the ease by which it is now possible to sent a photo, video, audio file or text to social networking sites that were part of our original evaluations (vox, multiply) and to traditional blogging platforms like blogger and wordpress.

So the choices are increasing and this might have to be the way to go with mobile eportfolios if the evaluations for creating mobile websites as eportfolio sites using mobile phones becomes too difficult.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Adult and Community Education conference 2009

On Saturday, Nick Ford, Robin Graham and I presented at the annual ACE conference, held at the Wharenui at CPIT. Nick presented on the 21st century learner, I did a short spiel on cloud computing, web 2.0 & mobile learning and Robin completed the loop with a session on design for learning.

Our session was well attended and there was lots of interest shown along with lots of questions generated. I experimented this time by using a Word document with logos of web 2.0 sites and other hyperlinks as a base to the presentation. As the session was so short, the hyperlinks could then be useful to participants for future self directed exploration of the various sites and links.

Friday, June 12, 2009

e-ako resource

Mark Nichols from Laidlaw College has compiled a series of e-primers. These are funded via Ako Aoteoroa and archived on their site. The site is now becoming an excellent resource for tertiary educators in New Zealand.

#1 – elearning in context sets the scene with an overview and introduction to elearning in Aoteroa-New Zealand and within the tertiary learning context.

#2 elearning & faculty explores how to engage and support faculty in using ICT and elearning in enhancing their own professional development and to enhance student learning.

#3 design for elearning provides guidelines on designing elearning ‘courses’ and in incorporating ICT into learning experiences for students.

#2 online discourse discusses online forums and other means for communicating with virtual learners.

Currently being written is - #5 - E-xtending possibilities Web 2.0; ePortfolios; virtual worlds; lifelong learning.

Mark also maintains a blog and there is a pertinent blog on mlearning which challenges assumptions made about the ubiquity and usefulness of mlearning.

All in a good resource for anyone teaching elearning to use as a source of readings or course activities or for teachers embarking on some self-directed study on elearning.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Presentations at Waiariki & Otago Polytechnics

As part of my research project investigating the perspectives of ‘new’ trades tutors in polytechnic teaching, I visited Waiariki Polytechnic in Rotorua last week and Otago Polytechnic this week. Funding from Ako Aoteoroa Southen Hub has allowed me to travel to interview tutors in both the North Island and the South Island.
As I was going to be visiting I offered each Polytechnic the option of a lunch time workshop / presentation on the work on elearning & mobile learning at CPIT. It was a good opportunity to catch up with how other polytechnics are introducing and working with technology and to meet kindred spirits.

At Waiariki, I was hosted by Liz Fitchett, staff developer and food safety tutor. At Otago, my host was Terry Marler, elearning developer with a background in veterinary sciences.

Waiariki is starting out on their elearning journey supported by one of the modules in their tutor training programme on flexible learning and most of the modules with online components. However, the work of innovators was stymied by the slow & sometimes intermittent internet access, due in part to Rotoroa’s geographical location off the main north-south highway between Auckland and Wellington. The slow internet access means that sites which have potentially useful resources for use with full-time classes are blocked!

Otago being a larger institution is well advanced in the use of technology in teaching and learning. The polytechnic is currently moving from Blackboard across to Moodle and staff education has a dedicated elearning team . I met with Adrian Woodhouse and Tony Heptinstall after my presentation to find out how their project was going. The cookery team has also been busy putting videos of lessons on youtube which can then be downloaded by students to ipods for revision. We discussed ways to enhance the use of these videos, in particular to use them as starting points for theory sessions or as a focus point for ‘homework’.

Visiting other institutions provides a good opportunity for me to reflect on the directions that staff development (particularly in the ICT) area are taking (or not taking) at CPIT. In general, all the institutions are still reliant on the enthusiasm of ‘early adopters’ to take the lead and to initiate the embedding of ICT into teaching and learning. What we all now need to do is to provide incentives for the next level of tutors who are interested but ambivalent. Providing resourcing for ‘early adopters’ to mentor ‘interested but cautious’ tutors might be one approach.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

learning for life in the 21st century: book review

Long weekend well occupied with the National Scrabble Tournament, held this year in Christchurch. However, took time out on Monday to read the book “Learning for life in the 21st century: Sociocultural perspectives on the future of education” a book edited by Gordon Wells & Guy Claxton (also author of book ‘what’s the point of school’)

This is a good book providing good information on applying sociocultural perspectives to teaching & its impact on learning. The most significant factor in learning are the cultural settings in which learning takes place, the learning activities employed to engage learners in participative learning and how each informs the other. It’s very readable book, explaining sociocultural perspectives without resorting to high academese. The bibliography is an excellent resource on sociocultural learning theories which provides me with an additional source of exploration and more reading.

Chapter 2 by Guy Claxton provides a good introduction to sociocultural perspectives and their relevance to learning. Chapter 4 – the gift of confidence : A Vygotskian view of emotions by Holbrook Mahn & Vera John-Steiner reiterates the importance of affect in thinking & action. Effective lifelong learning emanates from growing confidence & the chapter introduces & explores ways in which support from colleagues, mentors, teachers etc. can enables people to be willing to take risks and try out new ideas. Chapter 6, sociocultural perspectives of assessment by Caroline Gipps argues for recognition of the social process in assessment. Assessments need to be more dynamic in order to catch some essence of the ‘learner in action’ instead of just measuring how much knowledge has been transmitted / absorbed.

Chapters 8 through to fourteen have very pertinent articles on school age learning & development, all of which reinforce the influence of social relationships, culture and environment as important contributors to learning.

This is followed by a series of chapters of relevance to all educational sectors with an emphasis on the use of cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) in research. For example, chapter 16 by Yrjo Engestrom, Ritva Engestrom & Arja Suntio provides a good example of the use of activity theory in researching education (in this case teacher development within a school community). Another example in chapter 17 by Katherine Brown and Michael Cole is also available as a paper about after school learning.
Chapter 19 by Andy Northedge (also author of The Good study guide) is especially relevant to my current teaching. This chapter is titled ‘organising excursions into specialist discourse communities: a sociocultural account of university teaching. It provides good guidelines on how to gradually bring students into academic reading via ‘constructing pathways into specialist discourse’. These pathways include the teacher ‘stepping outside’ the discourse & to engage students using discourses that are familiar to them, to plan the route of entry & engagement with the discourse using ‘a flow of meaning structured as a plot’ and to coach the students in ‘speaking with the locals’. Much of this I practice via cognitive apprenticeships but using the ‘plot’ scenario provides me with a better base from which to introduce students new to the field of adult learning to the literature of educational research.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Evaluating mobile web site platforms to set up portfolios using mobile phones

My available ‘research time’ over the last few weeks has been to desktop & blackberry test a range of mobile web site platforms. I am trying to find an easy to use site that allows eportfolio evidence to be directly uploaded on to mobile web pages. Thereby enabling the creation of an eportfolio by using only the mobile phone. I found a website which previews, reviews and archives useful mobile webpages. The mobile version provides an example of good mobile webpage design.

A host of mobile web sites platforms have emerged over the last year or so. Most tend to have desktop based interfaces. In general these were all easy to use, with good visual layout and icons that make sense. The influences of web 2.0 type user interfaces prevail.

As an example of how quickly mobile website development platforms have developed, just compare winksite, one of the original mobile website platforms to jag a relatively newer one via celladmin. One is dated and although easy to use as a whole, it is not so simple to, for instance, add a picture. The other, although desktop based, provides a 30second interface to put up mobile greetings, invitations and sites and allows easy links to linkedin, myspace, facebook & google.

Most of the sites were optimised for development of the webpages via desktop computers. Included in category were wirenode, mobfive (in Swedish), swiftmob, jag and mofuse. Good examples of desktop interfaces include mobisite galore, zinadoo. tagtag, mobilemo, wapple and wapamama. All of these are optimised for setting up webpages on a desktop / laptop and not directly from a mobile phone.

There was one which worked well on mobile phones but required input in HTML, not an easy option on a mobile phone. Phn would be difficult for students to use as a tutorial on HTML will be required first. Mobisite galore may be suitable as you are able to set up a customised template first & then input more items are required.

Two possibilities have emerged for further trial. Mobilikey provided the facility to create, update and post pictures to personal mobile websites via the desktop or directly through their cell phone or mobile device. The interfaces is quite user friendly. To post a picture, video or voice file, you basically email the file across. There is no preview screen, so you need to wait for the pictures to come through before you can view whether they have synched across.

xtgem is more visually attractive but harder to use via mobile phone. In order to include pictures etc. the browse button does not work on the phone so there is a need to store pictures etc on sites like flickr. Generally less intuitive to use compared to mobilikey. Plus in the preview screen, there is a embedded link to a site to view videos of girls! which will be an incentive for apprentices but does not wear well for me!

Another quick way is to make use of Nokia lifeblog. However, to date, very few students own a Nokia phone with internet access! Plus software needs to be downloaded on to a PC for ease of access to manipulate / collate the photos / videos and other blog items.

Also possibility of using the mobile learning engine which is a plug-in for Moodle. Links from various repositories for photos / videos etc. can archived on Moodle. Moodle site can then be the ‘aggregator page’ for a range of evidence.

Will put a few more sessions into testing out possibilities before evaluating a few with students.