Critical reflection

The capstone is now in place!

The Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) has culminated with this Digital Futures Colloquium capstone.  Again, there was a combination of excitement and fear when the course material was released (Simkin, 2015 j). Firstly, the unknown “Colloquium” which revealed itself to be a mixture of online presentation and class discussion hosted by someone of interest to the course. Secondly, there were numerous readings posted for three modules, more than those in preceding subjects. They were, however, the only readings provided: for the assessments we needed to find our own sources. Conceptually, this was a nice segue for anyone thinking about continuing in higher education.

Colloquium One was hosted by Annabel Astbury (Simkin, 2015 a). It revealed career potential made possible by the digital world for teachers with expertise. As a well-organised educator working in information provision across the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, n.d.), the content held something for all members of the cohort.

Colloquium Two, led the group in a very different direction, and eventually led to my case study. Simon Welsh, who made learning management systems (LMS) come alive, and raised the spectre of an interesting future (Simkin, 2015 b). Attending with a dubious attitude, it was a chastening reminder not to prejudge content. The chat comments from my peers furthered the discussion and added intriguing elements and a degree of humour which became integral to this mode of learning. Simon’s words certainly provoked re-evaluation of my use of the school LMS and make comparison with other systems and academic research (Simkin, 2015 h).

The third colloquium was hosted by Julie Lindsay and focussed on her work with Flat Connections,  and the necessity of involving students in global collaboration (Simkin, 2015 c). This colloquium also featured peer input, which was pleasing, despite technical hiccoughs. The penultimate meeting was led by Tim Klapdor, and took us back to some early INF530 issues of networks, nodes and ownership (Simkin, 2015 d). Finally, Cathie Howe presented the work of MacICT and professional learning programs (Simkin, 2015 g). This issue is critical in achieving positive digital engagement.

Past information from earlier subjects recurred and reinforced professional practice and pedagogy, while linking to this subject’s readings. For example, Couros being cited in Veletsianos (Veletsianos & Kimmins, 2012, pp. 109-128), and talking about the types of engagement with which we have been engaged (Simkin, 2015 l).

For the first assignment, the challenge was selecting one aspect of the many introduced as a research proposal. While the actual question took some time to form, and suggestion and helpful counter-suggestion followed, it became necessary to consider how material would be gathered. Surveys, questionnaires or interviews were all possible, and exploration of sound construction followed with a review of the intelligent design of questionnaires both for the researcher and for the participants (Simkin, 2015 e).

The introductory focus of the subject revolved around aspects of our digital world, therefore the second assignment required engagement with one aspect of this twenty-first-century reality. Given the colloquium’s focus on the impact of digital affordances on learning, the topic “Digital scholarship in education, in the context of interdisciplinary knowledge and research” seemed a reasonable choice (Simkin, 2015 f).

LMS became the focus for assignment three: asking why they should be used (Simkin, 2015 o); reviewing what they offer (Simkin, 2015 n) and considering the role of the library in the process of managing learning (Simkin, 2015 k). Finding appropriate academic articles took time, but improved researching techniques (Simkin, 2015 i). Interviewing one of the developers of SIMON, the LMS used at school, was very valuable (Simkin, 2015 m). The report was the culmination of two wonderful years of learning (Simkin, 2015 h).

The value of this course has been immense: new mentors, supportive peers, renewed self-esteem, intense skill development. Thanks to Judy O’Connell, Ewan McIntosh and Julie Lindsay for the amazing journey, and all the classmates who connected with me.

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability. Retrieved from Australian Curriculum: ICT capability across the curriculum: October 12, 2015 http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/information-and-communication-technology-capability/introduction/ict-capability-across-the-curriculum

Simkin, M. (2015, July 26 a). #1. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/07/26/1/

Simkin, M. (2015, July 26 b). #2. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/08/03/2/

Simkin, M. (2015, August 11 c). #3. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/08/11/3/

Simkin, M. (2015, August 16 d). #4. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/08/16/4/

Simkin, M. (2015 e). Article Review. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/08/17/article-review/

Simkin, M. (2015, September 6 f). Assignment Two. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/09/06/assignment-2/

Simkin, M. (2015, October 4 g). Colloquium 5. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/10/04/colloquium-5/

Simkin, M. (2015, October 11 h). Final Report. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/10/11/final-report/

Simkin, M. (2015, October 9 i). Hunting. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/10/09/hunting/

Simkin, M. (2015, July 7 j). INF 537 Begins. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/07/15/inf537-begins/

Simkin, M. (2015, September 8 k). Invisible but vital. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/09/08/invisible-but-vital/

Simkin, M. (2015, August 17 l). PLE & PLN It’s Us. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/08/17/ple-pln-its-us/

Simkin, M. (2015, October 10 m). SIMON. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/10/06/simon/

Simkin, M. (2015, September 12 n). What LMS should offer. Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/09/12/what-lms-should-offer/

Simkin, M. (2015, September 11 o). Why Use LMS? Retrieved from Digitalli: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/09/11/why-use-lms/

Veletsianos, G., & Kimmins, R. (2012). Networked participatory scholarship: emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education; An International Journal 58 (2012) 76, 58, 766 -774.

 

SIMON

Let me introduce you

                             to the Learning Management System (LMS) under scrutiny for my case study report.

SIMON (SIMON Solutions, 2009) has been used at the school being studied for about 5 years. It is a relatively local product being created 200 kilometres away from this school by practising teachers. As will be demonstrated later in this blog post, this is a significant advantage compared to other products, most of which cost more money to implement. The school concerned had previously used a Moodle LMS developed to suit its purposes by an ex-student studying information technology at a university in Adelaide. SIMON was seen to offer more features and was inexpensive to introduce. As with any change in technology platforms, the early adopters suffered the greatest impact of this decision.

Who is SIMON

SIMON offers most of the functionality of other LMSs within a customizable framework.

 

 

This is the “home” screen – called “Work desk home”, which is customised for each school with name and logo (covered in this image to protect the privacy of the school concerned).

work desk incognito

All other functions link to the work desk in one or more ways. Subject teachers rely on the Assessment and Homework sections:

Assessment view

Teachers can add documents and create folders and students can download tasks and upload their completed work for the teacher to assess:

Topic manager

Ultimately the results and comments from the Assessment module populate the reports – no further writing or reporting package expense is required. This is a great time-saving aspect of the LMS for teachers and of financial benefit to the school.

Teachers can also conduct Forums with their learning areas. Teachers “icons” have a mortarboard to identify their status and both teacher and student icons represent the user’s gender.

Forums incognito

SIMON incorporates the school’s booking system

resource bookings

Like many features, this allows for reports of usage to be generated, although many of these are only accessible to the administrator for security reasons.

Bookings incognitoTwo features, which are heavily used at other schools but not at the school being studied are the Behavioural Tracking (due to a sense that the systems in place prior to SIMON’s introduction were more personalised) and the commendations (something that is acknowledged as good but not yet set up for general use).

Behaviour tracking

Commendations are shown in green while Behaviour Tracking is in red.

commendations

 

 

 

Other areas are available for population at the school’s discretion. The Library is represented in three different locations – two directly linked to the work desk home. This is on the left-hand side of the home screen.

Library links

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Knowledge Banks, which cover a range of topics, also has two collections put together by the Library staff (see top left-hand folder in the image below)

Knowledge banks

Inside the Alexandra Library public folder, the Library staff can add items as requested:

Knowledge Bank Alexandra Library

The Junior Campus (Handbury) Library knowledge bank contains less information:

Knowledge Bank Handbury Library

 

 

 

 

 

For the school at the centre of the case study the best aspect of using SIMON is that the teachers who have developed the system continue to work on meeting the needs of schools. To facilitate this they run regular user meetings where information is exchanged, and schools have the potential to request additions or alterations. These slides are from a recent meeting:

assistance

The need for readily available assistance has been noted and will be built into the next upgrade (due early this term). The underlying principle is to improve feedback to all stakeholders: parents, teachers and students:

Communication cycle

The Learning aspect of Learning Management Systems is considered crucial to SIMON’s success and the teaching background of those behind the product is evident:

Basis

Being able to talk to one of the developers, Kevin Brodie, was advantageous in terms of my analysis and in creating the surveys to evaluate teacher and student use of the product. It was also helpful to talk about the vision for the future and to be able to see what the next update will bring to the table.

Looking back over my subject material I found this blog post from last semester:  http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/05/26/new-lms/ . Getting to know updated systems in technology-rich environments does affect our acceptance of the technology itself!

References

Brodie, K. (2015, September 9). (M. Simkin, Interviewer)

PowerPoint created by SIMON developers for the May User Group Meeting and from which screen shots of relevant slides have been used with permission of Kevin Brody

SIMON Solutions. (2009). Retrieved from SIMON: http://www.simonschools.net/about-simon.html

Colloquium 5

Professional Learning and Leadership

The fifth and final visitor led presentation came from Cathie Howe (https://www.linkedin.com/in/cathiehowe) who spoke to us about her work as Professional Learning and Leadership Coordinator, NSW DEC, & Manager Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre http://www.macict.edu.au/ .

MacICT

As we have come to expect from a Colloquium, we learned of another example of knowledge networking and digital innovation which is impacting on the skills of teachers throughout New South Wales. Cathie’s work is centred on meeting the needs of C21t learners by improving teaching and learning in the connected age. She shared this image to summarise this philosophy:

C21st learner

As with all of the colloquiums we have experienced, this presentation also revisited concepts from the first subject in our course (INF 530) such as future work skills which is the motivation behind MacICT.

Pic link to 530

(Institute for the Future, 2011)

Cathie’s presentation was delivered with enthusiasm and she was happy to digress in order to answer our questions. The fact that the colloquium continued beyond the allocated time slot was testimony that she had engaged our class with her material.

Despite Internet connectivity issues making themselves known in every session in a range of ways which were annoying rather than terminal, these sessions were a demonstration of the potential for anywhere, anytime learning which was different to the methodology of a flipped classroom or Khan Academy. The latter examples are more akin to sage on the stage teaching while our colloquiums have seen one or more presenters engage with people in real-time and through oral and text connectivity.

Plenty of food for thought in terms of applications to “classroom” teaching where the room has no walls!

Thanks are due to all the presenters for the semester. Thanks too to Julie for finding such a range of fascinating presenters to further our educational program.

References

Howe, C. [Host] (2015, September 24). Colloquium 5.

Institute for the Future. (2011). Future Work Skills 2020. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from Institute for the Future: http://www.iftf.org/futureworkskills/

Macquarie University; Department of Education, New South Wales. (n.d.). MacICT. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from MacICT Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre: http://www.macict.edu.au/

 

 

 

What LMS should offer

What should an LMS offer?

By deciding to invest in a Learning Management System (LMS) educational institutions are expecting to see an impact on teaching and learning; they require that it generates a reasonable return for the money spent; that it is easy to use; and that it will provide data that leads to improved learning outcomes (Leaman, 2015, p. 1). Stipulations need to allocate uniform consideration to five necessary aspects: “interoperability, personalisation, analytics, collaboration and accessibility” (Straumsheim, 2015).

Often the reality of the system implemented falls short of the expectations and inherent limitations are often hidden. (Leaman, 2015, p. 2). This occurs because LMS are often set up to treat learning as a series of isolated incidents rather than a continuous process which builds on skills incrementally as the course progresses, and the nature of the learning delivery may be generic rather than personalised  (Leaman, 2015, p. 3).  Instructors may not use many functions of the system, and students do not engage as anticipated which compounds the issues as tangible learning is difficult to ascertain (Leaman, 2015, p. 4).

Viewing LMS in terms of learning enhancement needs to be undertaken with the understanding that an ecosystem of effective learning cannot be provided solely by the LMS, and educational institutions need to use such systems within their limitations (Leaman, 2015, p. 6). New iterations of LMS must focus on creating an environment where the parts fit together similarly to a child’s building blocks (Straumsheim, 2015). Whatever the components: assessment modules, or analytics, or others, support must be aimed at competency-based education (Straumsheim, 2015). If there are weaknesses, educators need to augment them by incorporating other tools and build onto what their LMS can achieve rather than replacing it with a different system (Leaman, 2015, p. 6). It is relatively common for faculty personnel to approach their LMS with caution, in a manner similar to someone involved in a “love-hate relationship” (Straumsheim, 2015).

Schools and universities should be prepared to use systems that enable users to move freely between public and private (or open and closed) spaces, and acquiring evidence of collaborations from anywhere online should be made possible (Straumsheim, 2015). New versions of LMS should be centred on the requirements and preferences of the students, whose learning they are intended to support (Straumsheim, 2015).

References

Leaman, C. (2015, August 20). What If Your Learning Management System Isn’t Enough? Retrieved from eLearning Industry: http://elearningindustry.com/learning-management-system-isnt-enough

Straumsheim, C. (2015, May 11). Brick by Brick. Retrieved from Inside Higher Ed: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/05/11/educause-releases-blueprint-next-generation-learning-management-systems

 

 

 

Why Use LMS?

18 Instructional Tasks for Which Instructors Might use an LMS Tool

Schoonenboom published a list of tasks for which instructors might use a Learning Management System (LMS) (Schoonenboom, 2014, p. 248).  This will provide that starting point for a case study on the use of the SIMON LMS tool http://www.simonschools.net/about-simon.html in one school in regional Victoria.

  1. Meeting – defined as a session run through video conferencing software which may be part of the same proprietary suite or through a different medium e.g. Skype for Business or Adobe Connect (such as our Colloquiums.
  2. Guest speaker – see above.
  3. Probing – using a digital tool such as TodaysMeet  or SMS-poll  or Poll Everywhere
  4. Student questions
  5. Office – fixed “open” hours for chat or discussion through mechanisms such as Skype
  6. Reference lists, or reading lists or information sources
  7. Self-testing using assessment software
  8. Exam – administer testing through digital software either in a controlled lab space or classroom or online
  9. Instructor feedback – e.g. through comments and or reporting
  10. Portfolio – examine and comment on students acquired learning through their presentation of evidence in a digital portfolio system or tool e.g. through SharePoint or Class OneNote
  11. Student discussion – e.g. discussion forum
  12. Collaborative writing – e.g. through Class OneNote, wiki, blog, Google Docs
  13. Peer feedback – e.g. through Turnitin
  14. Blog – e.g. Blogger, WordPress
  15. PowerPoint – or other means of producing teacher based material e.g. Teacher notebook with Class OneNote
  16. YouTube – link to videos on YouTube that might support in class learning programs
  17. Web Lecture – record lessons and make available online (using Office Mix record audio to go with slide presentation)
  18. Instruction – as above or other digital artefacts created specifically for the subject by the teacher

 

In constructing a survey, it will be important to raise potential uses as well and investigate uses that are more obvious. There is a pressing need to elicit responses which will evaluate usefulness, ease of use and the LMS intention underpinning pedagogical development and methodology (Schoonenboom, 2014, p. 249)

References

Schoonenboom, J. (2014). Using an adapted, task-level technology acceptance model to explain why instructors in higher education intend to use some learning management system tools more than others. Computers & Education, pp. 247 – 256.

 

Invisible but Vital

 

This is Our Challenge:

It is the human capacity of libraries that is critical: staff who are knowledge intermediaries, teacher-librarians, and information and data scientists. Such people work at the junction between development, information science and governance (Gregson, Brownlee, Playforth, & Bimbe, 2015, p. 6).

In today’s paradigm, libraries are responsible for the provision of the invisible infrastructure which enables access to information and inform research (Gregson, Brownlee, Playforth, & Bimbe, 2015, p. 22).

This is the challenge we face for Information Services at  my workplace and it’s probably common to others. We have been working through a period of transition for some time, and with the addition of 1:1 devices from 6 – 12 in 2016 this will accelerate.

fig 2.1

(Gregson, Brownlee, Playforth, & Bimbe, 2015, p.22)

This situation requires a change of focus, from the resources and their appropriate care and display, to the people so that what we provide suits individual needs, is accessible anytime and anywhere, and enables publishing as well as reading. We have been slowly working on this aspect as well.

table 2.2

 

 References:

Gregson, J., Brownlee, J. M., Playforth, R., & Bimbe, N. (2015). Evidence Report No. 125: Policy Anticipation, Response and Evaluation: The Future of Knowledge Sharing in a Digital Age: Exploring Impacts and Policy Implications for Development. London: Institute of Development Studies.

 

 

LMS & Learning

Joining the Traveller’s Journey

(Thanks, Simon Welsh!)

In recently considering digital scholarship, and also reflecting on Colloquium 1 (Welsh, 2015), the potential of Learning Management Systems in comparison to their usage has presented itself as an issue worthy of academic investigation. Until hearing Simon speak passionately about the things many LMSs already measure, and those that could potentially be calculated and then applied to improving learning outcomes for students, I had not considered the possibilities, and these became clear (Welsh, 2015).

For many educators, the LMS is something that has been introduced into their working lives without explanation as to why it is needed, or what it can do for learning.  For secondary teaching colleagues, it has presented a platform for storing work for students, somewhere to host school-wide timetables, and more recently enable roll marking and report writing. Comparing the university LMS to that used at my recent schools has demonstrated some gaps, but the access to analytics, as referred to by Simon (Welsh, 2015), is not obvious to a learner in the former or a teacher in the latter.

Given that students have no say in the specific LMS required by their institution, to what extent do educators have choice in either system or what that system enables them to present (Islam, 2014, p. 253)? Do educators have freedom to create meaningful learning for their students or do the templates offered by the LMS constrain them; or is it incumbent on educators to build on what their LMS enables and augment the weaknesses (Leaman, 2015)?

Rekhari takes these concepts further by declaring that there is a chasm between learning design, technology and the LMS due to a combination of ineffective use by educators and flaws in the design of the systems (Rekhari, 2015, p. 12). She further questions whether the reasons that benefits that LMS intend to deliver to educational design are not entering praxis are the fault of the developers making the software hard to use, or the educators not proactively applying constructivist philosophies to their learning design (Rekhari, 2015, p. 13). She goes on to question whether LMSs are the barriers to educational change (Rekhari, 2015, p. 13).

This publication has led to much questioning of my own practices as an educator using an LMS – and has led to the realisation that beyond managing storage and retrieval of coursework, the other possibilities have not been considered. In order to further my understanding of what our school LMS can do I have requested time with one of the developers. To develop my understanding of practical analyses that already exist I have turned to Twitter, where I have engaged in meaningful dialogue with several professors in the Computer Science and Information Technology Department at RMIT, and who have sent me a document in which they compare Blackboard to Facebook in terms of supporting a specific online course in programming (Maleko, Nandi, Hamilton, D’Souza, & Harland, 2013). Additional reading has also been ongoing.

I “attended” the first Colloquium with a degree of disinterest predetermined on the basis of its description, and, due to Simon’s future predictions, it has intrigued me and started me on a learning journey I would never have predicted. This has proved not only interesting but potentially very useful, and will form the basis of my Case Study for Assignment 3.  From passive user to captivated challenger, I am now wondering if a different approach on my behalf could enable my development of a learning ecology for enhancing digital scholarship (Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes, 2009, p. 248).

References

Greenhow, C., Robelia, B., & Hughes, J. E. (2009). Learning, teaching and scholarship in a digital age. Educational Researcher, 38(4), 246-259.

Islam, A. N. (2014). Sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with a learning management system in post-adoption stage: a critical incident technique approach. Computers in Human Behavior, pp. 249-261.

Leaman, C. (2015, August 20). What If Your Learning Management System Isn’t Enough? Retrieved from eLearning Industry: http://elearningindustry.com/learning-management-system-isnt-enough

Maleko, M., Nandi, D., Hamilton, M., D’Souza, D., & Harland, J. (2013). Facebook versus Blackboard for supporting the learning of programming in a fully online course: the changing face of computer education. Learning and Teaching in Computing and Engineering, pp. 83-89.

Rekhari, S. (2015, August). The Chasm – learning design, technology, and the LMS. Training and Development, pp. 12-13. Retrieved from Australian Institute of Training and Development: www.aitd.com.au

Simkin, Margaret (2015, August 3): #2 http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/08/03/2/

Welsh, S. [Host] (2015, July 28). Learning Analytics: A Traveller’s Guide; Colloquium 2. Albury, Victoria, Australia.

 

 

 

 

PLE & PLN – it’s us!

Open and Social Learning according to Alec Couros:

An open course entitled Education, Curriculum, and Instruction: Open, Connected, Social using Free Ope Source Software through the University of Regina, was implemented in 2008. (Couros, 2010, p. 109). It was based on personal learning networks, and participants quickly realised the value of sustainable knowledge networks. This led to a context built around a series of events which quickly absorbed participants in an engaged community of participation (Couros, 2010, p. 110).

The theoretical foundations of the course were

The open movement (Couros, 2010, p. 111).

Complementary learning theories – social cognitive, social constructivism, andragogy, connectivism, and open teaching (Couros, 2010, pp. 112-115).

The primary learning environment was established collaboratively in the weeks preceding the course. The tools considered were:

Web CT (now Blackboard) – pros: familiar to students and the university had a strong infrastructure of support; cons: proprietary (modifications needed vendor support); directed learning favoured over constructivist; expensive licensing fees.

Moodle – pros: free; open source; modifiable, strong community support; touts a constructivist and social constructivist approach; available. Cons: needs PHP server infrastructure; requires technical expertise leading to hidden costs; software not as available as hoped; course-centric not student-centric; top-down instructivist approach.

Ning – pros: ease of use; freely available in 2008; familiar functionality similar to Facebook; community and individual privacy levels; user-centric spaces; content aggregation; communication tools. Cons: no wiki feature; awkward to add core content material.

Wikispaces – pros: senior, best-known and most stable of wiki providers; solid technical support; theme modification options; simple user interface – see http://eci831.ca/ (Couros, 2010, pp. 117 – 119).

The course required the establishment of a PLN, and it was mandatory that participants developed a personal blog/digital portfolio, participated in a collaborative wiki resource ( no longer active but was located at  http://t4tl.wikispaces.com; this is what happens when such a site is not paid for!) and completed a major digital project (sound like INF 530!) (Couros, 2010, pp. 119 -120).

The course was based on the following tools and interactions:

Synchronous activities: two events per week of between 1.5 and 2 hours in length; the first based on content knowledge (like our INF 537 colloquiums); the second on teaching skills (Couros, 2010, pp. 120-121).

Asynchronous activities: researching and blogging; shared bookmarking; artefact creation; participation in open professional development opportunities; creating content and uploading it to sites such as YouTube; microblogging; collaborative lesson design and contribution to the course wiki (Couros, 2010, pp. 121-122).

Knowledge networks and digital innovation’s forerunner?? Just like INF 530 and INF 536, students developed authentic, dynamic and fluid interactions both within the designated course spaces and in spaces they chose and shared themselves.

Defining Personal Learning Environments, and comparing them to Personal Learning Networks was an exercise undertaken by Couros through Twitter and recorded at http://educationaltechnology.ca/couros/1156. Key agreement indicated that PLEs are the tools, artefacts, processes, and physical connections that allow learners to control and manage their learning (Couros, 2010, p. 125). PLNs explicitly include the human connections that result in the advancement and enabling of a PLE (Couros, 2010, p. 125).

Couros makes the following recommendations for those wishing to use PLNs for teaching and learning:

  • Immersion by participants
  • Social media literacy
  • Active contributions strengthen your PLN
  • Know your “followers” or “friends”
  • PLNs are central to learning for sustained and long-term growth in both facilitators and students(Couros, 2010, pp. 125 -126).

The participatory learning communities developed by courses such as the one Couros describes continue to exist because they are not based around courses per se, but around communal learning (Couros, 2010, p. 127). Those of us taking the Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation course can already attest to that in terms of the subjects we have already finished because for many of us the content continues to be shared and discussed. If Couros is correct, this course will never have to end – now there’s a challenge to my PLN!

Reference

Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. In Veletsianos, G. (Ed.), Emerging technologies in distance education (109–128). Athabasca University: AU Press.

Article Review

Intelligent Questionnaire Design for Effective Participant Evaluation by Lisa Elias

Step 1: Before designing a survey it is critical that the objectives are identified – what is to be achieved and why is the survey necessary? This means considering the nature of the people who will be surveyed, those who will gain information and the purpose of the task itself.

Step 2. Then, write the questions in a clear, well thought out manner based on the objectives outlined in step 1. In this way, the data collected will be high quality and applicable to the needs of all concerned (Elias, 2015, p. 8).

Ensure that questions are:

Clear and unambiguous

Concise

Neutrally worded

Avoid embarrassment – omit or minimise sensitive topics

Ensure respondents’ privacy

Select the question formats with the objectives clearly in mind. A mix of question types will elicit the best data.

Question types to consider:

Yes/no – quick response enabling simple comparisons

Multiple choice – only one selection or multiple selection?

Likert scales – demonstrate a rating per respondent on a common scale

Open-ended responses – time-consuming to analyse but rich qualitative data. Use sparingly.

Alternative responses – allow respondents to opt out or provide their own answer

Ordinal/ranking – a series of items that respondents are asked to rank (for example from 1 to 5                         where 1 is most important and 5 least important; each number can only be used once)

Format the survey by considering the most logical layout to achieve your aims. This avoids confusing the respondents and makes analysis easier.

Introduction – explain why the survey has been established and convince people that                                    participation is valuable and worth their time and effort.

Order and group the questions according to the format you have deemed most logical.

Initial questions should be impersonal and easy to answer so that respondents continue.

Short is best (Elias, 2015, p. 9)…

But ensure the information will be adequate for the purpose.

Use contingency questions if applicable so that people do not have to answer questions                                   irrelevant to them. A preliminary question should ascertain how many, if any, questions of                           the following set need to be tackled.

Use a progress indicator for online surveys – it shows respondents how far they have to go.

Thank participants and provide your contact details.

Likert Scales should be:

labelled e.g. Poor (1) ranging to excellent (5)

Consist of an odd numbered scale so there is a mid-point – 5 or 7 options have proven best

Follow the same value pattern – either left to right or right to left

Make sure the words applied to the scale allow for the full range of responses

Elias provides a very helpful checklist to use when construction questionnaires:

  1. Has the survey been test-driven?
  2. Do others find the layout clear?
  3. Is the purpose explicitly explained?
  4. Have respondents been thanked?
  5. Is anonymity and confidentiality of data been guaranteed?
  6. Are instructions clear and precise?
  7. No duplication?
  8. Are questions plain and unequivocal?
  9. Are all questions essential?
  10. Are questions correctly ordered?
  11. Will closed questions result in the expected numerical data required?
  12. Are open text options sparingly used?
  13. Is there sufficient time for completion(Elias, 2015, p. 10)?

Reference:

Elias, L. (2015, February). Intelligent Questionnaire Design for Effective Participant Evaluations. Training and Development, 8-10.

 

ICT Horizons

The NMC Horizon Report 2015 K-12 and links to Wang and Weller readings:

The current edition of the Horizon report can be found here and a commentary on what it means for education can be found at the Mind Shift blog. It is always thought provoking to investigate this report and much of the content resonates with the subjects I have taken as part of my course.

This diagram gives a brief overview of this year’s findings:

Challenges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The report this year sees integrating technology onto teacher education as solvable and cites the Finnish example of using Edukata (a participatory design model):

The more difficult, or wicked, challenge is scaling the models of teaching innovations(Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2015, p. 1).