Reflecting on Learning Artefacts

Having reviewed the learning artefacts of my fellow INF532 students I think it is amazing how technology has improved the ease and quality of digital interactions for networked learners.

Artefacts that were once the preserve of professional production companies are now being created by university students with the use of tools like:

Ease of use and professional templates make it possible for people to make good quality artefacts, reasonably quickly.

There are still some barriers for networked learners.

One barrier is hardware. Chris’s great podcast with Greg Miller has beautiful sound quality but as you can see from the photo, sound quality requires a good microphone:

I certainly noticed the sound quality in my own learning artefact wasn’t great. I think if I am going to commit to creating more multi-media content I will need to invest in good equipment.

Another barrier is the required investment in services. PowToon requires you to pay a subscription fee as do most of the more polished tools out there. These better tools are often easier to use than the free alternatives. Claire reflected on the difficulties of using QuickTime in her artefact. I have experienced the same difficulty and switched to Camtasia but the full product cost more money than I could justify spending and so I ended up spending a lot of extra hours getting other tools to do the same thing.

Keeping up to date with trends and services is a barrier that Claire identified with her presentation on Google+ communities. As soon as the design of the site changes, the currency of the ‘walk through’ artefact diminishes. I think a challenge for networked learners is not just ensuring they stay up to date with the services but also the type of content on those services. In a earlier post Claire describes this issue perfectly using the example of expectations of what a YouTube video should contain. Kelly’s use of student feedback to identify how the content in her video could be more engaging was an important lesson for me in ensuring that I talk to my audience to get feedback and to iterate on the content I create.

In conclusion, my takeaways from reviewing the learning artefacts and exrgesises (if that is the plural) of my fellow learners are:

  • Tools can be costly but once you find the ones that are right for you, it is worth investing in them as they will save a lot of time and increase quality.
  • Don’t over-commit your time to ‘walk throughs’ where small changes in layout might make your artefact obsolete.
  • Feedback from your audience can help ensure you are meeting their expectations from the medium.
  • Spend time finding out what tools and techniques others used to create their artefact (I learned lots of new tools by reading through the exergesises)

List of INF532 Learning Artefacts (sorry if I missed anyone):

  • Claire
  • Chris – I did not find the final artefact but know that this podcast formed part of it
  • Kelly
  • Emma

Revisiting: How many people does it take to make a community of practice?

Last month I blogged about how I felt that I am often just a curator for a group of people rather than being in a community of practice. Having trialed a few different approaches I have seen an uptick in participation in the contributions to the community I manage.

INF532 has encouraged me to think about different ways that I might engage people to help develop a work-based learning network. A few techniques I have trialled:

  • changed up the tone of my posts focusing more on a narrative-based approach
  • tried to relate my posts to universal issues people face (not just work issues)
  • directly asked people if they can write about a topic
  • written posts of varying length
  • used a variety of mediums to engage people
  • Asked questions rather than just writing solutions

I am starting to get a lot more participation recently (4-5 responding people versus the normal 0-1). This is a positive improvement on people telling me that they “enjoy reading my posts”.

I have enjoyed trialing a variety of different approaches and although I am yet to get anywhere near the critical mass to call it a community of practice it is certainly evolving past simple curation.

The next step will be to try and move to more multi-media content such as microcontent, videos and potentially podcasts but this will require an investment from my work in the tools required. This could be a stumbling block as I wait for approvals but if I can implement these tools then potentially others can use them to create content as well.

INF532: Flexible Learning is Awesome

I have realised that my blogs have been a bit negative in tone and so I wanted to write one that was positive about the course and some of the things I have learned so far.

CSU’s uImagine page on flexible and adaptive learning really resonated with me in its goal to help learners prosper on their own path. I have a background in sport and to me this spoke of the ‘coaching’ approach I have grown up used to, where the coach was there to help you achieve your goals in a symbiotic relationship.

I think this is different to the more reactive approach I have taken to teaching previously where I was very willing and happy to assist students but only reactively when they asked for help. I am personally never likely to ask for help and so through my approach, I am ignoring students like me.

coach has water poured over him by happy players
A coach celebrating with his team following their success


So how do I tackle being more proactive? I think there is a level of extra engagement required with your students in reaching out to help understand their experience so that you can activate that existing knowledge base. This is one of the ‘First Principles’ of instruction discussed by Merrill (2002). The next step is demonstrating the knowledge in ways that activate different parts of the brain. This course has exposed me to a raft of new tools for me to do this and the things you need to focus on to ensure the tools you use actually achieve you goals. Claire has a great blog about the need to invest in pre-production to improve the quality and effectiveness of your multi-media resources.

I am going to be a better teacher as a consequence of this course and the interactions I have had within it 🙂


Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology, Research and Development; New York, 50(3), 43.