Thursday, January 28, 2010

Plans for 2010

2010 will be busy with two externally funded research projects to work on and a busy teaching timetable. I am really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.

With the multimodal research project, the first project should set us up by helping us to work through all the logistical issues involved with doing research in an engineering workshop. Using videos to capture student learning and classroom interactions where the welding torches may be a challenge to video cameras. I have had some industry contacts keen to provide actual workplaces for the next round of this project, so we can then work out the guidelines by the end of 2010 on how to best plan towards how much & what kinds of data need to be collected and the best way to approach the data analysis.

For the ‘perspectives of first year apprentices’ programmes, the crux will be in organising the logistical issues related to getting focus groups together and organising interview times and venues with individual apprentices. Once the data is collected, the data analysis will be relatively straight-forward (compared to the multimodal project!) and I am looking forward to being able to work through the findings.

Most of my teaching will be in the level 6 and 7 parts of the Diploma in Tertiary Learning and Teaching (DTLT). I am keen to align the present material to the overarching philosophies now integrated into the six level five and six ‘foundational’ courses of the DTLT. It will be a process of fine tuning as well as ensuring that the recommendations / suggestions I put forward from the ‘perspectives of new trades tutors’ project are put into place.

I have a few conferences on my list. Already, two papers accepted, one for the Teaching & Learning Conference at Singapore in June which features keynotes from Profesors Stephen Brookfield, David Boud, Diana Laurillard and Associate Professor Gary Poole. The other for the annual Industry Training Federation Research forum in Wellington in April. 

So off to another exciting year  : )

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

mLibraries seminar with Professor Mohamed Ally - afternoon sessions

After lunch, there is presentation on ‘measuring institutional m-learning capability: Exploring frameworks and models. First requirement is a mobile friendly learning management system (eg. Moodle). Need to have good hardware & software support via a proactive, well informed IT department. Assemble a mobile development team (content expert, elearning/computer expert, librarian, editor & a project manager). Design for delivery on any mobile device using an intelligent agent. Ensure learning support organised. Establish service standards for students and ensure they are followed. Examples shown of the Athabasca University Digital Reading Room (DRR) and the use of mlearning by students learning English as a Second other language.

Technical and design issues to do with implementation then presented. Important to make use of the advantages provided by mobile learning. Example of interactivity which may be in the form of object (proactive inquiry, using buttons etc), linear (moving back & forth within content) or support interactivity (generalised / student focused feedback). Interactivity needs to be up to date, have capability to undertake construct &/or reflective interactivity. Other forms are simulation interactivity and hyperlinked interactivity. Two most highest levels are non-immersive contextual and immersive virtual interactivity making us of virtual environments. When delivering to a range of different mobile devices, one approach is to adjust the size of the display to the size of the screen which signals a change to the style sheet to allow for appropriate display.

In order to bring success to mobile learning need for training of librarians, teachers/instructors. Empower the learner. Provide open access resources and design ONCE for delivery on any technology. Begin with a blended approach. Establish a research institute for mobile learning/library. Hire the right people. Do NOT wait for the technology to become state of the art – start NOW. Conduct continuous information sessions on mobile learning/library. Send message that the organisation has to make the move. Build success stories.

After afternoon tea, the participants workshopped a ‘roadmap’ on where to now & shared potential collaborative activities.

Activities around NZ – Waikato University using MIT open source apple app & adapted to requirements of the University of Waikato. John Clayton has been working on Mobile Moodle. Wintec a few small elearning projects which have been small – maybe moving directly to mlearning might springboard more activity. Victoria University & Massey doing some projects. In Auckland, there is Unitec project from Thom CochraneGregor Ronald from University of Canterbury provided overview of projects around Christchurch.

There is a need for a more consolidated NZ based mobile learning organisation to lobby for cheaper access to mobile data, share ideas, collaborate on projects etc. One way to start is to set up a SIG on Ako Aotearoa or a more open site like basecamp which has appropriate tag like mlearningnz or mlibrariesnz.

mLibraries seminar with Professor Mohamed Ally - morning sessions

Yesterday, I attended the mLibraries symposium featuring Dr. Mohamed Ally from Athabasca University, Alberta, Canada.

Dr. Ally’s visit assisted by LIANZA, Ako Aotearoa (where the presentations at this seminar are archived), ExLibris and various universities and polytechnics in NZ. In Christchurch, his visit in Christchurch is hosted by the University of Canterbury.

Day began with welcome from Sarah Jane Saravani including usual housekeeping matters.

First keynote from Dr. Ally on ‘global action in terms of mobile libraries and mobile learning’. A change from the library itself being mobile to students being mobile and wanting to access learning anytime and anywhere. In much of Asia & developing countries there is a direct move into the information highway is wireless and therefore mobile. Concerted national and international moves into harnessing mobile services (banking, , libraries, education etc.) to reach populations who currently are disadvantaged by lack of access to mainstream (wired) technology. In education, important to not only provide mlearning but also other student services (leanring support, library etc.) which support their learning.

Then a session on ‘implementing mobile library, mobile learning and preparing the business case’ focused on strategies possible to leverage mobile learning in NZ. Classrooms & workplaces without walls and countries without boundaries along with students expecting access to learning are already here now. Uses Patti Mae’s TED presentation as an example of where technology is moving towards including technology as sixth sense. To cater to nomadic computing, a nomadic environment needs to be considered. Instead of a digital divide, there is more a learning divide, caused by lack of access to mobile wireless devices. Therefore, need to account for move into the wisdom age, a progression from agriculture, industrial, information and knowledge age.

Second keynote on’ effective practice with m-learning in tertiary and vocational education, trends, measures and emerging resources. Need to break content into small chunks, design as learning objects, store in repositories for easy access and metatag, retrieve and reuse. Intelligent learner objects the next step in order for student learning to be maximised. In presenting learning content, need to chunk to prevent info. overload, use advance organisers to help process details, dual-coding hypothesis – present in both visual and textual/verbal and use concept/information maps to assist in organising the information. A example of one mobile phone for everything from collegemobile with an example from the University of Saskatchewan (iUsask) who have set up an iphones app for use by their students to easily access their class notes, timetables, records (grade book) which provides assignment feedback, news at the university, library catalogue, campus map linked to Google maps & GPS, webcams situated around the university, events including up & coming workshops on academic skills etc., link to research news, podcasts, online videos, search facility of university site & campus facilities, recreation facilities, updates on latest campus news, student journal, individual faculty contact, news, video blogs etc. plus a feedback button to allow users to provide recommendations on how to improve the app. MIT has a similar system which is open source which can be customised by individual institutions.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Future of mobile learning – internet capable mobile devices exampled by ipod touch

Back into the fray and taking a couple of hours out of working on my dissertation to catch up on news on the bloggersphere via bloglines.

Latest Horizon report out, both the international version and the Australasian version. Summaries by Derek Wenmouth, George Siemens and Jane Hart. All have mobile learning or mobile internet capable / cloud assisted learning as their top pick for mainstream adoption.

I have been playing with the ipod touch for several months and must say that the capabilities for using it as a learning tool are very good. However, due to its small screen size, it is very much a one person display device. Access to WiFi also an essential if the ipod touch usage is to be maximised in a classroom situation. Access to WiFi also preferable for distance learning students who use it as an access device to their LMS. The grand thing about the ipod touch is that it displays webpages without the need to tweak the display/style sheet settings of the actual webpages. The ability to enlarge and navigate around the page plus tap on the links with a finger are all intuitive and simple to use.

So far, I have barely been able to use the 32G on my ipod, I have at least 26G of space even though I have a few albums of songs, about 200 photos, over 100 documents (using a pdf reader) plus about 60 apps. I bought my daughter a 32G ipod touch for Christmas & she has already filled up all but about 5G!! She has 5000 songs on it, all transferred from her old ipods.

While away, I used the ipod touch extensively to read by blogline feeds and to keep an eye on the weather. Also to use it to make advance bookings for accommodation, onward travel and find information on places of interest. WiFi pretty easy to access in the urban centres of NZ but much more difficult to find (plus expensive) in smaller places. Especially the small towns around the central North Island (Turangi, Whakapapa) and the southern end of the South Island (Waikouaiti, Riverton, Tuatapere). However, once access found, things ran smoothly and 15 minutes of access would be sufficient for me to complete tasks required. Plus in December,  I updated my blog at the Ascilite conference mainly using the ipod touch. At home, my laptop only came out to work on my dissertation. All web surfing and games playing accomplished on the ipod touch. What did I use to do without the ipod touch?? drag out my laptop and wait 10 minutes while everything boot up by which time I have forgotten what I needed to find out or distracted by another task.

Back to apps, I have been exploring these over the last few weekends, mainly trawling through the lists using the iTunes shop search function. Lots of little apps for science (periodic tables), maths (drill programmes), word games plus usual reference tools for astronomy, botany etc. Probably the best application to date would be this one for sharing multiple choice questions with students who also have ipod touches. As apps profligate, will need to keep in touch with some of the bloggers who lists and review new eudcational apps. These include Tony Vincent, Chris Webb, wired educator and Kathy Schrock.

Perspectives of new trades tutors - final report now on Ako Aoteoroa website

The report prepared for Ako Aoteoroa Southern Hub on 'perspectives of new tutors: Towards a scholarship of teaching and learning for vocational educators" now reviewed and uploaded on to the main Ako Aoteoroa website.  It currently features on the main page :) and the full report access page also provides for a short summary.

I really enjoyed working on this project.  My grateful thanks to the tutors who took part in the interviews, the staff developers (you know who you are!) who assisted in making contact with the research particiapnts, organising venues and other logistical issues, Bridget and Pat at Southern Hub and my teaching colleagues in staff development and adult educatin at CPIT.  Collegial support provided by all which provides me with confidence to embark on this year's research projects.

I am hopeful that the report provides a viewpoint on how trades tutors bring in a wealth of skills and knowledge but then have to 'boundary cross' into the corporate/organisational maze which make up most polytechnics/insitution's cultures.  The suggestions provided at the end of the report are to springboard from the workplace based pedagogical understandings of trades people. Using principles of social cultural / participative theories of learning including situated learning, cognitive apprenticeships, workplace learning and learning as becoming to ignite interest and engagement with other humanistic/critical approaches to adult learning.

I have learnt much from working on this project. Much of the learning will transfer directly into the three research projects I will be working through this year.  The Ako Aoteoroa National project funded 'belonging, becoming and being: Perspectives of first year apprentices",  the CPIT Foundation funded and the ongoing project on using mobile phones to compile eportfolios on mobile styled website/pages.