Tag Archives: Learning resources

Blending and flipping – not just for cooking

In recent years “blended delivery” has become a catch phrase with many in the VET sector saying that they are doing this, but really have no actual understanding fo what blended delivery is.

Blended delivery requires that the instructor takes time to carefully creates an instruction plan that will leverage the affordances of various technology to support and augment face-to-face training. The beauty of blended delivery is that it can incorporate “Flipped Learning” and moves the focus from teachers to student to student learning, which can form some of the most powerful learning experiences.

Though student to student interaction can form powerful learning experiences it is still critical that a teacher, who can take the form of a facilitator, is still involved to guide the learning.

In recent years I have been teaching a block of professional development that is aligned to the Certificate IV TAE unit Facilitating Online. The cohort is often distanced by location so I take great pains to ensure a face to face component (synchronous sessions) fortnightly. During this the students present on the topic of the week to their fellow students, and manage the discussion forums. This is critical as it enable peer-to-peer learning and then I cover what-ever has been left out of the students presentations. Each student suffers nerves, though each of them are seasoned professionals from the VET sector who present training daily to students.

The reason behind this methodology is to give all students the ability to use various technologies. Of course the students are heavily mentored through the whole presentation process to ensure as little stress as possible.

At the commencement of each week I post a video that provides content, in a short humorous style along with readings and activities. This is the content that all students are expected to have reviewed prior to the virtual class. I set these expectations at the start of the course and have the students complete a class code of conduct to ensure that they understand what both their peer and I want.

Due to the remoteness and connectivity issues for some of my students I have had to ensure that all the course is designed in such a way that it will display on minimum bandwidth. Also for accessibility concerns all videos are also close captioned.

I take seriously the need for students all to have a voice, even the quietest has amazing insights to offer, and this teaching approach has worked well in having our wall-flowers step up and takes charge in a non-threatening environment.

This Facilitate elearning is based around problem centered instruction and uses the first principles outlined by Merril (2002).

Designing and working with students online can often be seen (incorrectly) as an easy option that does not require much effort on behalf of the trainer. Senior management often has this skewed view of online learning. It is often hard, especially if you are using a blended option.

Recently our team in the Government agency I work for have taken the challenge that all our conferences and professional learning events will be delivered in a blended option. This means that we live stream key sessions at all events. I am not going to say it was easy at the beinginning it was horrid, however, in our third year of doing this means it is now second nature and we are able to provide valuable learning opportunities to people all over Australia who may not have been able to attend otherwise.

This is taking blended to a whole different lever as we do not just stream the sessions, but if there is small group work being done in the session then this will be replicated in the virtual classroom so that our online attendees have a full and rich learning experience.

It has meant that we now also have a fleet of laptops, professional cameras, microphones and hand held devices that are needed to run events. However that being said my sessions that I stream are run with a laptop and my webcam, simple and effective. We do stress anyone can do what we do, and you do not need a Hollywood budget either.

This approach has been flawed with some of the senior management from RTOs not fully understanding the concept. But with dedication and perseverance the joy of blended will be adopted on a wider scale by many other organisations as we now run sessions on how to run a blended event.

21st Century skills such as problem solving, decision making, critical thinking, communication and collaboration as all key and need careful scaffolding and mapping to ensure that both the digital work blends with the face-to-face work for all formal and informal activities and assessments within a course. By being flexible with the more traditional teaching course material and giving students the reason to up-skill themselves quickly to ensure they can pass on information accurately to a learning cohort means that going for the flip and using a blended approach provides  a more personalised approach to instuction, gets students buy-in and more inportantly utilises technology to augment the training (Roblyer, 2013).

References

Jonson, J. (2014). Blended learning and technology integration. YouTube. Retrieved April 29, 2014 fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KD8AUfGsCKg

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instructionEducational Technology Research and Development, 50 (3), 43-59.

Michalowski, A. (2014). Planning for blended learning environments and measuring progress. Youtube. Retrieved April 29, 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fuak_YiZs5s

Morrison, D. (2013). Why online courses [really] need an instructional design strategy. Online learning insights. Retrieved April 29, 2014 from http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/why-online-courses-really-need-an-instructional-design-strategy/

Roblyer, M. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching. Harlow: Pearson.

Digital artefact – the debrief

It is always important when you create something to tell others not only about what you have created, but how you create it. My job in WA is all about sharing how I do things, so that I can upskill the VET sector of WA.

With the recent ETL523 assignment 1 not only did we create a group wiki, but each student were required to create an individual digital artefact that was created in Web 2.0 technology. When I read this I knew that I wanted to create something that not only would work for my assignment but could be used either in part or whole as a support to a training session that I would run later in the year.

Mindmap of all key ideas for the digital artefact are mapped out on this page.
Mindmap of all key ideas for the digital artefact are mapped out on this page.

I brainstormed my initial ideas in hard copy, which is fairly common practice for me to do when I commence a design project as I am a visual person. This storyboard gave me a solid starting point to what I wanted to include in the group wiki and what I wanted to include in my digital artefact. After reviewing my ideas I knew that I wanted to create a video that would be embedded into a Nearpod activity. This meant combining two Web 2.0 tools and a huge amount of film and edit work to make it all happen. The reason behind this choice was simple; my philosophy when creating something that I will be using later for training is that whatever I produce must be done simply without too much high tech so that a VET lecturer can also do this.

This storyboard is the overview level. More in-depth shot storyboards were completed for each section of the artefact.
This storyboard is the overview level. More in-depth shot storyboards were completed for each section of the artefact.

Once I knew what I wanted to do I roughed out a very brief high level storyboard that showed the shot list, still images and screen grabs I needed for the video, rough ideas for the script and the outline for the Nearpod content and how it would all look together. I then created individual storyboard for each of the different sections of the digital artefact so that I knew I would be able to work to a plan. This was critical for me as my personal life was all about dealing with a family death.

I had to be clear what simulation software I wanted to showcase and how as another team member was doing a digital artefact on a similar topic and create a filming schedule so that I could coordinate various people to ‘appear’ in the footage as well as organise access to various businesses and school that were using the simulations. I filmed simply on my mobile phone the video footage I wanted to use incorporating many different shots and angles to give me good editable footage I could cut together. I opted not to use an external mic to capture the sound as I decided early on that I would voice over only and use footage to support the audio script. This decision meant that I would save time on having to edit audio footage and I could ensure good quality audio through the entire video.

This is a screen grad of the final edit screen prior to rendering the video for final publication file.
This is a screen grad of the final edit screen prior to rendering the video for final publication file.

For the voice audio track, and film editing I used Camtasia Studio. This is a low end video editing tool, but many VET organisations have access to this rather than Adobe Premier (which I could have used). Another alternative I could have used was Windows Movie Maker, which was installed on my laptop, but the edit would not have been quite as easy.

I recorded the audio script and saved out 25 audio tracks, which I would later import into my Camtasia Studio edit suite for bringing the final video together. I did start using Audacity for recording the voice audio, however my work computer no longer had the correct codec to save in a cross platform file and I could not get my this laptop back to our ICT department for them to load it for me so Camtasia was my fall-back position.

Once the voice audio tracks were completed and all the film footage was completed, the various screen grabs were taken and still shots were saved to my computer I commenced the film edit. As I knew exactly what shots went with which voice over it was a fairly easy edit to complete, probably only taking roughly 23 hours to complete to final production rendering stage.

I uploaded the final version into YouTube, which I had to set to ‘Public’; otherwise Nearpod would not be able to locate it when I go to link it. What I have not yet completed and it is so very important that I will go back and complete this next week is to upload a transcript for accessibility. This means that I have to create an audio transcript document (usually I do this in Notepad)

This is  an example of an audio transcript.
This is an example of an audio transcript.

It does mean that I have to sit with the YouTube open and set accurate time codes, but it is very important. YouTube now has the feature where you can do some of this in the system, which I will play around with when I am doing the audio transcript. I do have a written script, so this should be a relatively painless process, but time consuming.

After the video was complete and uploaded I could then set about constructing my Nearpod content and activities. Nearpod is brilliant if you have not used it before, so easy and quick. It allows you to upload videos, sounds, images and presentations. I created my content in Microsoft PowerPoint and uploaded, this was so simple and easy. It then meant that I could play about with the content and be able to reorganise the order around the internal Nearpod features of quiz activities and the YouTube video.

If you are interested in screen grabs for any of this process I have created a Sway that showcases this which are found here.

Any further questions about the digital artefact then please do not hesitate to ask!

Nearpod activity access  https://s.nearpod.com/j/CVEJZ

Simulation isn’t futile YouTube link.

 

 

Instructional Software for Construction Pathways (VET)

The Certificate II Construction Pathways program largely consists of 16-18 year old males with high levels of disengagement with paper-based learning that have a preference for practical, ‘hands on’ activities. I have focused on this learning area to seek out resources for the Instructional Software 5 areas as outlined by Roblyer (2013).

In the VET sector we have been fortunate that the National VET eLearning Strategy funded a large amount of resource development that align to various curriculum documents.

Drill and practice; Tutorial; and Problem Solving.

Flexible learning Numbers Toolbox
Flexible learning Numbers Toolbox

 

Numbers toolbox

http://toolboxes.flexiblelearning.net.au/series14/14_01.htm

This is a multilayered resource that actually comprises of all the Instructional Software areas. It deals with numeracy with a focus on Certificate II in Construction Pathways to ensure students have an appropriate skill level in numeracy as outlined by industry. Within the toolbox there are drill and practice activities that if you house in a Learning Management System such as Moodle can track the students’ progress as these are all SCORM learning objects that report through to the grade book.

Note this is an interactive learning simulation which I am classing as a serious game that will support the construction trades.

 

 

 

Simulation

The White Card Game - entry page
The White Card Game – entry page

 

The white card game

http://www.whitecardgame.com.au/

Aimed at CPCCOHS1001A – Work safely in the construction industry

This is an excellent ‘off-the-job’ simulation that works them through critical choices within a workplace context in terms of safety.

It can become a little click here to level up but it is worthwhile for a lower level VET qualification to support students who are new to the workforce.

 

 

 

 

Instructional game

Estimating and Costing interactive game.
Estimating and Costing interactive game.

 

Estimating and costing carpentry jobs

https://nationalvetcontent.edu.au/share/page/document-details?nodeRef=workspace://SpacesStore/dfe8d668-bf05-4542-84ce-029915092f7c

This game has the user work through measuring a deck to work out the cost of the timber needed to replace the decking boards for the customer. It particularly good for low literacy and numeracy level students working in the construction area.

 

 

The Certificate II Construction Pathways program lends itself to a blended delivery approach, in-particular when students have block release to a Registered Training Organisation. These e-learning resources a supportive and provide valuable underpinning knowledge that the students do require when they are on work placement. These resources could also be used in a ‘Flipped Classroom’ (Sams and Bergmann, 2013) style class format which lends itself to having the student work through formative activities at home prior to working with the teacher in the classroom to ensure that while on block release the students use their teacher class time to greatest advantage.

References

Nationalvetcontent.edu.au,. (2006). National VET Content:Estimating and costing carpentry jobs. Retrieved 20 January 2015, from https://nationalvetcontent.edu.au/share/page/document-details?nodeRef=workspace://SpacesStore/dfe8d668-bf05-4542-84ce-029915092f7c

Roblyer, M. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching. Harlow: Pearson.

Sams, A., & Bergmann, J. (2013). Flip Your Students’ Learning. Educational Leadership, 2013, Vol.70(6), P.16-20, Vol.70(6), p. 16-20.

The White Card Game,. (2013). The White Card Game. Retrieved 20 January 2015, from http://www.whitecardgame.com.au/

Toolboxes.flexiblelearning.net.au,. (2015). Flexible Learning Toolboxes – Numbers 14.01. Retrieved 20 January 2015, from http://toolboxes.flexiblelearning.net.au/series14/14_01.htm

Augment

For anyone who likes to be cutting edge there is always the Augmented Reality tool Augment to get your students using. Yes they will need some skills in creating graphics but there are plenty of free public libraries available that you can tap into for some brilliant free trials.

With Augment you can:

  • Use existing public libraries
  • Upload your own 3D models
  • Create your own markers
  • Link content on the internet to markers

There is a free version that I have used for a number of years, but you can pay for it and get higher end functions.

Plane create by scanning augment marker
Augment Spitfire Plane

 

This example is a custom marker created by a colleague that we both use in  demonstrations. You scan the marker with the Augment App which will load the 3D model of the plane. If you tap on the ‘web link’ option under the model displayed then it takes you through to a wiki page about the Spitfire plane.

We purposefully did this  so that the people we are training can see that you can use existing materials for AR, but to be honest the potential to create custom content is getting easier.

As you can see it is impressive to see the plane hovering in the middle of a classroom. The students (seeing through the device) can move around and continue to view the image at slightly different angles. But the user must keep the markers in sight otherwise the plane will disappear.

 

But the coolest thing is now you can have you students create engineering pieces in Minecraft and view them through Augment via some simple steps.

  1. Create object in Minecraft
  2. Open the Minecraft world file in Mineways on a PC and select a portion of the the Minecraft work (the piece they have worked on) and export as a 3D model.
  3. Import the 3D model into a 3D package like Blender (free) and save or export ready for upload into Augment  OR you can use a 3D printer to print (as long as the object is not huge).
  4. Zip up the model and texture files and upload into your free account at augmentedev.com
Example of 3D view of Minecraft section
Augment Minecraft example

 

You may say that this is for high end students but I had my 12 year old successfully follow the steps and created this image – this is a section of the top of the mountain. 

This is well worth investigating as so many students are getting valuable experience building in Minecraft, now you can get them to actually ‘see’ their designs in the real world.

Games are so very valuable for students to explore and Minecraft is definitely a way that we can engage and use new technologies to meet outcomes required. The added bonus, students will actually have fun while learning and exploring!

Western Australian – lesson planning and free resource sites

Example Moodle site design
Example Moodle site design

In Western Australia there are government divisions setup to support professional learning for both K-12 teachers and VET practitioners for both ‘traditional teaching’ and e-learning. Some very useful sites are listed below.

We have been very fortunate with funding and careful planning which has meant that have been many initiatives setup that support teachers and trainers in Western Australia.

K-12 resource sites for WA

Aboriginal education lesson plans and resources –

http://www.det.wa.edu.au/aboriginaleducation/apac/detcms/navigation/lesson-plans/?oid=MultiPartArticle-id-9197505

Curriculum council internet resources –

http://www.ceo.wa.edu.au/home/carey.peter/cfi4.html

VET resource sites for WA

Department of Training and Workforce Development various resources that relate to VET in Australia with a Western Australian focus on National initiatives –

http://www.vetinfonet.dtwd.wa.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx

Sector Capability Moodle site is the Department of Training and Workforce Development free online resource centre that supports e-learning in the VET sector in Western Australia.

http://elss.dtwd.wa.gov.au/

WestOne Services free learning object repository (professionally developed resources for mainly the VET sector) –

http://tle.westone.wa.gov.au/content/access/home.do

Of course those these resources are available online does not mean I am endorsing their content, the mapping of resources, currency or the authenticity of the lesson plans or resources. It is always useful to take the prepared lessons and review them to your own context through methods outlined in documents such as Planning to teach an ICT lesson (Simmons & Hawkins, 2009).

References

Simmons, C.c & Hawkins, C. (2009). Planning to teach an ICT lesson. In Teaching ICT (pp.54-105). London; Sage Publications Ltd.

Affordances of Moodle – a multiplatform application

Moodle

Moodle HQ home page
Moodle HQ home page

It is always difficult as an educator to locate tools that are both simple to use as well as giving a teacher solid insight into student behaviors. As part of the online learning journey or even as part of a flipped classroom experience a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Moodle ( Moodle.org, 2015) can become a critical piece of technology.

Bowen (2008) discusses the importance of identifying the affordances of a technology to assess its suitability for particular learning situations.

Moodle includes the below affordances with a short explanation as to why.

Functional affordances

Media affordances: read-ability – students have content loaded into html pages, book and lesson modules, write-ability – students can use wiki, forums, blog, journal tools, view-ability – students are able to see and interact with images and content (where applicable), listen and speak ability – students are able to use plugin integrations for voice shat, teachers are able to post up sound bites and podcasts watch-ability – students are able to watch any video content either loaded or hyperlinked into the LMS.

Spatial affordances: resize-ability –using a mobility option within the LMS configuration for theme setup you are able to set a mobile theme which will resize the LMS interface, move-ability – interactive and non-interactive (text) elements can be loaded into a Moodle course and placed according to the learning design.

Moodle page on desktop computer.
Moodle page on desktop computer.
Moodle course on mobile device
Moodle page on mobile device

Temporal affordances: accessibility – as long as the students have access to the internet then they can access the LMS anywhere/anytime, , synchronicity versus asynchronicity – this is predominately an asynchronous software, but also has the ability for some synchronous work such as through live chat or through a virtual conference software plugin.

Navigation affordances: browse-ability – the content, once loaded by the teacher remains constant so can be browsed, search-ability –students are able to search content within the LMS, data-manipulation – the teacher is able to manipulate sort and sequence content and results.

Emphasis affordances: highlight-ability – the teacher can highlight sections of the content using inbuilt tools and course layout tools, focus-ability – similar to highlight-ability the teacher can give a focus on specific tools using the block area to focus students to a new point.

Synthesis affordances: combine-ability – multiple tools can be embedded, uploaded or created in a Moodle course to create a mixed media learning environment, integration-ability – other tools and systems can be integrated into the Moodle course.

Access-control affordances: permission-ability – a Moodle course site has many levels of permissions from the high end Moodle Administrator (effectively the owner of the site, this role can add users, content modify course site and themes) down to guest access where the site is similar to a website and interactivity does not work. Authenticated users on a Moodle site means that all activity can be tracked and reported on about that user on the whole Moodle site, share-ability –within a Moodle space more than one teacher can be added to a course site, also students have the ability to share content through forums, blogs and wiki assignments.

Non-functional affordances

Technical affordances: this software is multi-platform; depending on the level of interactive content or video links it can use relatively low bandwidth and speed required. For organisations that do not have a LAN to be accessed by all students (such as a prison) Moodle can be loaded on a stand-alone computer that does not point to the internet. Backup of a course created can be reloaded into the system by visiting teachers. The course can be backed up upon leaving which can include users, results and coursework. This can then be re-installed on a LAN enabled system for storage.

Usability: Teachers need to learn to create, manage and teach in a Moodle course. It is a fairly simple tool to use with the edit interface being the same for every resource being added. Students will have access to the resources and activities which are intuitive to use, however, it is recommended that a simple step by step screen grab guide is used for students unfamiliar with the system.

Example Moodle site design
Example Moodle site design

Aesthetics: clean and simple user interface and design. Themes within Moodle give the Administrator and possibly teachers (depending on how the system has been setup for teacher permissions) the ability to contextualize and mimic a website look and feel that will make the experience intuitive for end users.

Reliability: The software itself is robust, however, as it is a web tool internet connection via Ethernet cable, 3/4G or WiFi is critical and if dropouts are experienced this could cause issues. Firewalls of organisations could also cause issues on the initial use if ICT has not opened the port to allow this software to be accessed.

Issues and key considerations

Accessibility – the Government of Australian requires that all websites and web material meet at least level A WCAG3 requirements. The Moodle software is currently rated at a level AA. With the accessibility options enabled it also means that support software , such as screen readers can be used by end users on this site

The outlined affordances demonstrate the possibilities of Moodle in a VET or corporate setting. It allows teacher and presenters to push content out, provide avenues for synchronous sessions and enables the teacher to assess students via a wide range of assessment methods. This is then stored within the Moodle course site and can form part of the backup of the course for archival purposes..

Through the use of plugins this too can be a simple ‘vanilla’ out of the box version or a complex system that fully reports against many key performance indicators.

As this is software can be used across multi-platform, it is an ideal option to use within a VET classroom context.

 

References

Bower, M. (2008). Affordance analysis – matching learning tasks with learning technologies. Educational Media International, 45(1), 3-15. doi: 10.1080/09523980701847115

Morgan, M., Butler, M., & Power, M. (2007). Evaluating ICT in education: A comparison of the affordances of the iPod, DS and Wii. Paper presented at the ASCILITE, Singapore.

Moodle.org,. (2015). Moodle – Open-source learning platform | Moodle.org. Retrieved 12 January 2015, from https://moodle.org/

Hardware in the classroom

It is interesting to reflect on what hardware I use in my classroom. As I present professional development to the whole of the Western Australian VET sector I train both face-to-face an in an online space. I will focus on the face-to-face training room for this blog post and will cover the variety of software in another post.

Technology old and new for the classroom.
Technology old and new for the classroom.

Face to face classroom

  • Interactive White Board
  • Data projector
  • Instructor computer (networked)
  • 24 networked laptops
  • WiFi hub for authenticated external users
  • iPad
  • Smart phones
  • Apple TV
  • Samsung tablet
  • Webcam
  • Microphone hub
  • Presenter clicker

Changes in the past 12 months

In the past 12 months the WiFi for external client use has been made available. This has made the teaching environment more flexible. This offers a BYOD option for all our face-to-face sessions and was done as a result of client feedback from sessions.

 

Greg Whitby reflection post

When taken out of context Greg Whitby’s comment that the focus on technology is a ‘waste of time’ and if you focus on the technology you ignore the central problem and the central issue, could easily be seen to be inflammatory. However, Greg merely is saying that as educators it is very easy to jump on the most popular o newest technology band wagon without thought for the teaching. Primarily I believe that teaching and the students are the primary focus and any technology should augment what you do as a teacher, not the other way around.

Rowan & Bigmum (2012) outlined in Chapter 2 Schools and Computers : Tales of a Digital Romance one critical pattern that schools and institutions alike go through with the adoption of new technologies. With the constant need of upgrades schools and institutions find themselves in a never ending cycle of upgrades to ensure that the students or client base have access to the latest and ergo the best. Often the push can be detrimental and in fact sometimes gets in the way of the students learning.

As Cammy Bean outlined in her article Avoiding the Trap of Clicky-Clicky Bling-Bling there is a seduction factor of using the most sparkly and new technology only to discover that there is not much learning to be found behind the glittery exterior, which is what Greg Whitby was driving at with the above statement. We MUST think of the learning outcomes and not the technology. After all good facilitators have never let textbooks drive lesson planning so why with the advent of digital technologies are we allowing technology to dictate our lessons.

As educators we do need to be aware of technology and how it can be implemented into our classrooms and training, but not to the detriment of the learning. As educators we do need to critically reflect on technologies that we are wanting to use in the classroom and decide if they are they critical to the students achieving standards set out in the curriculum we are teaching or are just glittery ‘extras’ that just add fluff to the teaching.

 

 

Bean, C. (2011). elearn Magazine: Avoiding the Trap of Clicky-Clicky Bling-Bling. eLearn Magazine, an ACM Publication. Retrieved 30 December 2014, from http://elearnmag.acm.org/archive.cfm?aid=1999745

Rowan, L., & Bigum, C. (Eds.). (2012). Transformative Approaches to New Technologies and Student Diversity in Futures Oriented Classrooms : Future Proofing Education. Dordrecht, NLD: Springer. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com