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Hospitality Networked

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I've been really energised by Thanasi again. For a while there I was worried that he was putting our work on the back burner, but I get the impression he is back on board and raring to go with developing online courses, and more flexible learning options.

Looking at joining a network

Today I showed Thanasi the brief for the Hospitality Networked project in Australia in which the coordinator Steven Parker has invited Otago Polytechnic Hospitality staff to be involved with.

The ‘Tourism Hospitality Network’ project covers the latest technological developments in the world of hospitality education and training. The project focuses on training a teaching team in the use of new technologies to enhance the facilitation of practical learning around hospitality work. The project is tied to the Professional Development project Teacher Connect as well as funding from CSHT&H division (Nerolli Cassidy).

Thanasi was keen to be a part of this so I listed off the pros and cons of involvement just to be sure:

  1. Meet other teachers working with communications technology is the area of hospitality
  2. Find good training resources
  3. Exposure to new ideas and innovations
  4. Start mapping competencies and courses internationally

  1. Needs time and commitment
  2. Need to learn new skills
  3. Need to share resources
  4. Need to communicate openly

Apart from the first con, the rest could be seen as pros actually. But time and commitment are biggies.

Thanasi then responded by explaining that "this stuff is what makes me tick - I have to be a part of it.."

So with that we looked at where to start so as to become involved.

Building a stronger online identity

I advised that he should start to build an online identity to assist in his networking and attract students to his courses. I showed 2 examples of New Zealand teachers using blogs:


While these two examples are not so much geared towards attracting students, they are certainly helping the authors network internationally. My advise was that if Thanasi tried out blogging and thought he could sustain it, then this would naturally build up an online identity for his teaching work. This would help him network more easily with international groups such as the Hospitality NetworkED, as well as start building his profile as a subject expert to which people go to get training in his particular areas.


We began talking about the potential, where school kids start getting referreded to Thanasi's blog for preliminary resourceses to support training in bar and cafe work. They download short skills videos, MP3s and picture stacks - high school careers advisors start pointing to the blog as a regularly updated source of new information and naturally this will attract students into the short courses for preparation into bar and cafe work - skills areas young people are particularly interested in and delivered in formats they are naturally comfortable with. Being networked internationally could also help Thanasi get his courses recognised in other countries thereby assisting some of his students to achieve their goals for working travel.

Looking at quizes.

The other reason Thanasi and I met was to look at quizzes. Thanasi want to use quizzes along with demo videos to help his students study and remember formulas and sequences. On my advise, Thanasi initiated 2 blackboard shells - not so much to take advantage of the quiz feature, but to start saving his course materials in. We did look into the quiz feature although (thanks Bronwyn for the just in time), and I think we came to grips with it enough for Thanasi to be able to use it as a formative assessment tool - and for his students to simply use for practice.

I put it to Thanasi that the Blackboard quizes may be a good place to start, but suggested that he begin looking towards more open tools seeing as he is not using the quizzes for any summative assessment or grading. With open quizzes, not only does he improve the chances of the public finding his courses, but for development collaboration with his international network. So I promised to go on the hunt for free web based quiz tools - so far this is what I have found:

  1. Flashcardexchange - is an international network of teachers developing Flashcard resources for route learning and self assessment.
  2. Zoomerang - is a survey tool that could be creatively used to formulate quizzes
  3. Survey Monkey - Another free survey tool that is popular with many other teachers I have worked with, mainly for creating surveys, but could also be creatively used for quizzes.
  4. HotPotatoes - is unfortunately not a web based application, but their free software can be downloaded and is quite easy to use in creating a variety of tests and quizzes in the form of a web page for uploading.

These tools come close to what Thanasi needs, and easily do what Blackboard offers, but it still is not perfect. I am still looking. The benefits of using free web based tools instead of the Blackboard tool is that Thanasi and his students would be learning how to use a tool that is more likely to be available to them outside their relationship to the Polytech. I call it value added learning for life. There may come a time when Thanasi's students need or want to use a quiz toolor learning resource again and they may remember Thanasi showing them a free web based tool and be able to find and use it themselves. This value can not be provided for if they were to simply learn how to use the Blackboard tool, as Blackboard would not be available to them once they are unenroled from the Polytech.

In saying that though, if Thanasi decided that he wanted to use a sumative assessment quiz, and needed to record student results and keep those results private and secure then he would be best to use the Blackboard feature.

Thanasi is now practicing the use of Blackboard quizzes while he waits for me to send him the perfect web based quiz too. He is also setting up a blog for his online identity and network development.

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