Educational Development

Why OP learning content should be open and free


Stephan Ridgway from the Sydney Institute of TAFE has recorded a presentation by Cory Doctorow made to the Australian Film Commission.

In it is the strongest arguement I've heard yet as to why Internet content should be free and open, and points to a new (old actually) economic model for educational learning content.

Essential listening!

Essential listening


Stephen Downes produces recordings of his presentations that I think are essential listening for educators. In particular I recommend his eLearning 2.0 recordings.


A quick look at socially networked bookmarking with

If the video is stopping and starting all the time, it means your connection is a bit slow for streaming video. Just click the pause icon, and let the video load more. If it won't even start then perhaps going to the the source will be better. If you still have no joy, or you're on a painfully slow connection you could download the movie manually from here, or contact me for a CD.

Adjusting menus in the Black Web


A quick look at how to adjust the menu in a Black Board course

If the video is stopping and starting all the time, it means your connection is a bit slow for streaming video. Just click the pause icon, and let the video load more. If it won't even start then perhaps going to the the source will be better. If you still have no joy, or you're on a painfully slow connection you could download the movie manually from here (TBA), or contact me for a CD.

Assessment of Prior Learning for Diploma of Fine Arts


Just met with Kris Bennett, Kate Vercoe, and Rayna Dickson from the Centre for Assessment of Prior Learning (CAPL) to talk about ways in which communications technologies may help in the facilitation of an assessment of learning for past Fine Arts students of the Polytech.

These students have completed the Diploma in Fine Arts and now interested in the award of bachelor of Fine Arts. Having this award could assist those who have become Visual Arts Teachers in high school to achieve a higher wage bracket.

To achieve this award the applicants need to enter into a facilitated and communicative assessment process with Kate, with expectations being to articulate their learning, underpinning conceptual bases, theory of practice, and portfolios of practice. I went into some detail of how past methods of journal based learning (as is commonly used in creative arts courses) translates to the digital and networked mediums. ePortfolios, blogs, or digital journals/portfolios more generally. We also talked about ways in which those with a barrier to using such technologies may still have an opportunity to engage. I suggested that we just ask for a sharable journal to be one of the requirements, then offer workshops in a range of ways to do that, from word documents sent into group email, to audio visual blogs.

We also talked a bit about other communication tools such as telephones, sms, fax, email and eGroups, instant messaging, and voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP). We talked about the uses and limitations of such tools as Skype and Elluminate, talking about their relevance to life outside the Polytech, what would be more likely to be commonly used, and what would have added benefit to the participants life - and therefore motivation to engage with such technology.
Kate seemed interested in the idea of establishing an eGroup, supported by an initial face to face social, one to one telephone, group SMS, fax, and weekly instant messaging and possibly Skype meetings. The aim being to stimulate engagement with the eGroup and establish trust, social bonds etc, and build a healthy learning community. As an add on to this, the use of the digital journals would perhaps be optional. Kate was open to the idea of observing the Teach and Learn Online eGroup, and seeing an example of how a self sustaining online learning community might work, and using it to find connection with other teachers and examples of the model she is considering. I will join Kate to the eGroup and support her with any questions she may have.

Back with Thanasi


Thanasi came to the digital video recording and editing workshop today, and we revisited the ideas discussed late March.

Today we solved the problem of the video format, by using WinAVI video converter for Ipod, PSP, 3GP, MP4. A joy of a program, making it very easy to convert Thanasi's MOD format to movies playable on video Ipod, Play Station Portable, mobile phones and Quicktime mov.

We created an MP4 (Quicktime playable) and uploaded it to Thanasi's YouTube account, and for those who don't have the connection speed of Flash player to watch the YouTube video, we also uploaded the MOV to Thanasi's OurMedia account for manual download rather than YouTube's streaming media. As Thanasi develops more videos, and browses the existing videos that he finds now that he is socially networked via his videos, he will burn them to CD for those with no connection at all.

Thanasi intends to attend more Networked Learning workshops, and explore ways of displaying his videos in a Black Board course.

Logging in to Black Board


A quick demo on how to login to Black Board at Otago Poly

If the video is stopping and starting all the time, it means your connection is a bit slow for streaming video. Just click the pause icon, and let the video load more. If it won't even start then perhaps going to the the source will be better. If you still have no joy, or you're on a painfully slow connection you could download the movie manually from here (TBA), or contact me for a CD.

PB Wiki


A quick look at the PBWiki and how it may be useful in the planning of an Interactive Media programme... PBwiki is another free wiki with privacy options and a few useful features. Learn more about wikis at the workshops being held in H523 the first Wednesday of every month.

Web Feeds


A quick look at how to use web feeds, specifically looking at using Bloglines to subscribe to a Blog feed and a tag feed.
To learn more about web feeds book in for the web feeds workshop running on the first Wednesday of every month (Subject to variation).

International Tourism update


Had a follow up meeting with Hillary Jenkins today, revisiting ideas we discussed last time we met. Hillary was pleased to say that a go ahead had been given for the course she is to develop for flexible learning and told Terry and I about some of the limitations she expects with regard to some of the Open Courseware ideas.

We spent a fare amount of time reviewing the things we talked about, getting Terry up to speed and just rehashing where we were up to. Terry offered to help Hillary write up an action plan and they are going to meet in the next few days.

Hillary alerted us to some pretty extreme deadlines, so Terry I and will have to prioritise her project a bit. May 9 is an open day for the course! Hillary hopes to develop a short promotional video for the course by then, which would be a good thing in terms of marketing the course starting a small project to get familiar with video - a widely applicable form of media development. I advised Hillary to collect up to 30 minutes of stock footage, music, and stills that she has copy rights for, and take them to Will Marler to develop 15 second/30 second/1minute and perhaps even a 5 minute versions of the one promo video. To help Hillary source content for this project I pointed her to Flickr's Creative Commons search, and more generally the Creative Commons Find. These are places (and there are others) where Hillary will be able to source licenced music, photos, and video media to use in the promotional video. I also suggested that Hillary approach Communication Design and see if there is a student interested in taking this production on.

As well, Hillary should approach Jason Taylor and learn how she can manage the BTT website, with a view that she enhance the site with more information and even tasters to the course. Terry will also help Hillary start a Black Board shell for the course, and we will start Hillary off in working with Black Board - trying to find a balance between the closed and open resources and communications for the course. Given the very tight deadline, we are working through this one step at a time without devising a broad design for the course at this stage. We still need to get Hillary aware of the possibilities, so will be using the promotional preparations as ways to raise her general awareness.

I also showed Hillary the Travel Wiki and the Wikipedia entry for Otago Polytechnic as a matter of interest and to start her thinking about constructionist learning and assessment strategies for the course, revisiting some of the ideas of developing communication channels and student work portfolios that can exist beyond the life of the Black Board course...

Now for some light entertainment


Took the dogs for a run along Alans Beach. Didn't plan to make a video, just shot some with my trusty little pocket camera. That night I had a video though, thanks to the charming tunes of Melissa Welch

CamStudio - free screen video recorder


Trying out Camstudio - a free and open source screen recording software.



Sandra Elias met with Terry and I today to talk about efforts to develop flexible learning options for 1st, 2nd and 3rd year midwifery students. The idea seems to be to offer as many opportunities for students to learn about Midwifery without having to move to Dunedin for full time study. The course would be aiming for a workplace training schedule, giving students an opportunity to make contact with a midwife in their area to support them in what they are learning.

There seems to be 2 aspects to the type of content in this course. Theoretical and practical skills. There are 6 theoretical components, 2 x Bio Science, 2 x research, and 2 x nutrition. and there are 30 practical skills components based on the skills assessments check book:

Extended discussion was had on ways to use video to support skills development, with an agreement that videos should not only be available online and that CDROM and DVD mail outs should be an option for students to elect. Likewise for online video, students should have an option to watch streaming or progressive download, or to download the video first.

The discussion of video moved to what other departments may already have, considering the more generic skills. Terry highlighted quite a few skills that VetNursing share and have already developed video for. Some discussion was had in exploring a partnership with other Departments and Schools in developing such generic skills videos.

We then moved to the more theoretical content and looked at ways to develop the best possible online resources based on the work that had already been done, and was likely to be done in the coming future. We talked a little about the use of PowerPoint presentations with me highlighting some of the accessibility and flexibility of use issues in the use of such a format for presentations. In particular, Sandra was interested in the option to add audio to her PowerPoint presentations. I first of all pointed out that developing the audio and slides separately (but designed to work together) would ensure a maximum level of flexibility for her students as well as for her future use of the resources. I explained that developing slides and recording audio all with PowerPoint or any application that exports to closed formats would be limiting her options for the content in the long term. To this end I suggested that Sandra use the free and open audio recorder Audacity to record audio, and to experiment with Open Office for exporting her PowerPoint slides to PDF and SWF. Embedding the audio with the resulting presentation files would still be possible, but in a way that ensures flexibility of use in the future - such as using the audio or slides stand alone.

I also suggested the use of photo sharing web services such as BubbleShare and Flickr in the consideration of online presentations. The use of these services not only make optimisation of images for efficient Internet delivery a straight forward process, but enables students to refer to specific slides in a series and even pull apart the presentations for their own needs. The use of these web based services like these would be an add on to the more standard presentation slides. I showed an example of my use of Flickr for presentations.

The time constraints of the Midwifery and Nursing staff was raised as a potential risk for the content development and online support of flexible learning options, especially in the development of content. Some unresolved discussion was had on how to manage this risk, with loose suggestions of spreading the involvement in the development to other areas, such as other departments buying in to video developments. To manage this initial risk, I have set up a resource feed for Midwifery teachers and learners to subscribe and add to, with the idea being that we build course resources initially based on what is already out there. Workshops in finding and reusing digital resources and tagging them for sharing are available monthly at the Polytech

Sandra Terry and I resolved to meet again, and work towards getting more of the stake holders in Otago Polytechnic involved in the planning and gathering of resources as possible.

Online Feedback Workshop


Bronwyn, Merrolee and myself each gave talks at the Online Feedback seminar that Bronwyn organised for Polytech staff on Thursday afternoon. I recorded the talks as best I could with my trusty MP3 recorder with inbuilt mic. Would be nice to get one that can plug in a good mic though... have seen then around for $170..

I've uploaded the audio and created an audio log wiki page for others to edit the synopsis and time code log links that are mentioned. I plan to do this for all the audio tracks I record. Hopefully others will start doing it themselves as it takes a little while. It took me 30 minutes to do my own, but times 3 or more and it starts to take longer than is practical and sustainable. If each of us took ownership of our own recordings and logs however, then I think it is sustainable.

Here's the links to audio and synopsis as I have typed up in the wiki.

Bronwyn Hegarty on initiating online discussion forums.
audio file - 5 meg - 27 minutes - audio quality below average

Bronwyn introduces people to Black Board discussion forums, synchronous and a-synchronous ideas of communicating online, and other tools for online communication. Gilly Salmon ideas for online facilitation are used as a model to consider the stages of learning through online forums. Bronwyn demonstrates ideas and techniques she uses in courses she facilitates and flags problem, issues and things to consider.
NB. Questions and comments come in from the audience and might only be audible using headphones

Merrolee Penman on facilitating online discussion forums.
audio file - 4.6 meg - 27 minutes - audio quality average

Merrolee talks to an example of a discussion forum in a post graduate programme in occupational therapy. Merrolee gives tips and pointers on how to stimulate and sustain discussion in a Black Board forum context, and discusses issues about poor student engagement and participation.

Leigh Blackall on facilitating online communities.
audio file - 2.4 meg - 14 minutes - audio quality average

Leigh challenges listeners to consider what will happen to the learning communities they have developed after the course has finished. "life beyond blackboard" and "life long learning communities". Leigh spoke to an example of tertiary teachers grouping around the Teach and Learn Online eGroup, and how that group of teachers have developed a self managed learning community based on free flowing discussion, content creation, and open networking.

A snapshot of networked learning


What is networked learning? Is it just another round of techno hype? Is it just another name for an older idea? Is it even useful considering the current condition of our schools and colleges?

I dunno really. Now that I'm working on the "inside" the view is different and these questions seem more important. From the outside they seemed pointless - networked learning is inevitable when you're on the outside. From the collective inside its a remote idea, let alone possibility, smelling of yet another round of hype, and yet another thing to "do".

But, taking a break from that work today, I tapped into my learning network and found a post to the TALO eGroup by gnuChris pointing to Bill Kerr's post calling for a graphic representation of the Internet, and considering the mind shift that being internationally networked can cause...

Apart from Bill's yet-another-excellent post, and exciting link to a book coming out, the device that gnuChris points to for generating a picture of your network is a lot of fun and a bit of an eye opener. Pictured is my network of learning. From this network I have learned more than I could possibly describe in any certificate or qualification... there in lies a problem really... how can we assess learning done in a networked environment? do we? should we? can we? probably not. So networked learning may just be yet another "learning style"?

Treaty of Waitangi


I attended the first day of a day and half workshop on the Treaty Of Waitangi today. Personally I was looking forward to this workshop, as I have no previous experience or learning about the Treaty, and am interested in it from the perspective of an Australian who does not have a similar document in a history of relations between European and indigenous Australians.

I learned about the importance of the 1835 Declaration of independence in helping to formally establish Maori soverienty in New Zealand in the eyes of Europeans at least. Then we jumped to the 1840 Treaty and took a close look at the wording and interpretations, helping to see the gains and losses at stake..

While I'm sure it wasn't the intention of the workshop presenters, the contradiction of motives and outcomes between these two documents really strikes me. After looking more at the resulting conflicts post treaty, and the remaining hard feelings, I looked back at the Declaration of Independence and find myself asking why the Treaty should be considered of more importance than the Declaration. Is it more simply and easily caters to today's European majority?

The cultural aggression of the Europeans then and now is something I find myself thinking more about in all this. The Treaty, a document that was initiated by the British and sustained today by mostly European institutions could even be looked at as an aggressive element that fails to take into account what is really at stake, and even with the so called best of intentions, is inevitably enacted aggressively and in poor faith due to its origins.

I would prefer more status given to the Declaration. It was a document seemingly more in the interests of Maori represented by the United Tribes of the North, and is a clearer statement in favor of the interests of Maori. It would be interesting then to think about what a Treaty would look like coming more from the Maori and not the British perspective...

But in all, this is probably not a very helpful tact to take.. I'm looking forward to day two.

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