Tag Archives: INF537

INF537 The final note

INF537 is the finale to my Master of Education Opus.

Music - like anything requires time. INF537 also has required time to gain the most from it.
Music – like anything requires time. INF537 also has required time to gain the most from it.

It’s enabled me to bring together the numerous melodies that each unit taught and finally see how they interweave and echo each other in a beautiful theme and variation form.

I was enthused by the cavatina of the various guest colloquiums, each entwining and complimenting the INF537 basic melody line. Not all of the colloquiums supported my work, though all were incredibly interesting and provided valuable information. I focused on Simon Welsh and Pip Cleaves to blog about as these colloquiums gave me interesting points to research and reflect on.

Learner analyitics can help a course thrive and survive or crash and burn, tit all depends on how well us use the metrics.
Learner analyitics can help a course thrive and survive or crash and burn, tit all depends on how well us use the metrics.

Simon Welsh provided an excellent counterpoint with his Learner Analytic presentation that resonated to my current work role. I reflected upon thoughts I had been building from INF530 and INF443 and contemplated in Learning analytics – who is watching the watchers (Drager, 2016 July 27).

Pip Cleaves discussed the ‘Diffusion of Innovation cycle’ (Rogers, 2003), which made me rethink the Gartner Hype Cycle (Gartner, 2016) and how the adoption rates directly link to Rogers (2003) work. Those cycles prompted me to jump to the Horizon Report (NMC, 2016) and think about how both cycles impact on what is reported annually by the New Media Consortium (NMC, 2016).

I now have the empathy and understanding to walk a mile in others shoes thanks to Pip Cleaves.
I now have the empathy and understanding to walk a mile in others shoes thanks to Pip Cleaves.

As an educator it’s supremely important to recognise the levels of engagement with technology my students fit into and where within the ‘Diffusion of Innovation cycle’ (Rogers, 2003) they belong and contextualize my training delivery accordingly, as well as adjust my expectations of them to ensure we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.

What I benefited most from during these colloquiums was the experience for the class to moderate and work together in small groups. This enabled us to create firm contacts with in the course. My group worked in harmony via Twitter and a live Google document. We fast came to the realization the nightmare we put out students through when asking them all to edit live at once, a truly memorable and wonderful experience.

I am sitting back happy to watch others perform due to my support and reaching out to them.
I am sitting back happy to watch others perform due to my support and reaching out to them.

INF537 has enabled me to re-examine Communities of Practice and given me the impetus to encourage my peers to setup up a new Community of Practice and newsletter for the WA VET Sectors Adult Literacy and Numeracy area, which has been launched, which I intimated to in Participatory culture – Do we dare to partake? (Drager, 2016 August 9), and am happy to sit back and watch their performance.

I gained a new respect for the output of scholars with the assessment task on Digital Scholarship and posted my assessment onto my  blog INF537 Digital Scholarship Interpretive discussion paper (Drager, 2016 September 16) for future INF537 students to benefit from, paying it forwarded to the next cohort. I do this in the hope that they will also review my various blog posts which contain information on accessibility, participation as well as vital other topics and benefit from my solo learning journey.

I am ready to solo
The individual case study gave a soloist focus to my ongoing learning at the end of this unit.

My coda came in the form of the Case Study final assessment. This was challenging, fun, exciting and liberating assignment that gave an opportunity to showcase what I could do on a topic of my choosing, it really was my cadenza. The dissonance that I have increasingly discovered, thanks to my research for my case study, is the little is no understanding that individuals have when it comes to preserving data. I have discovered that we have lost valuable data from the end of 2015, simply because DTWD were using a different system for webinar streaming. This one event made such a cacophony that it prompted my post You live you learn you upgrade (Drager, 2016 October 3).

Started on a small public stage.
Started on a small public stage.

In my final refrain INF537 has been a wonderful learning experience that has developed my skills in research, and renewed my energy for participation in my networks. It has added a rich timbre to my Opus and has me finally ready to perform on a grander public stage, rather than busking in the high street.

Now I am ready for something grander.
Now I am ready for something grander.


Drager, Y. (2016, October 3). You live, you learn, you upgrade [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/yvette/2016/10/04/you-live-you-learn-you-upgrade/

Drager, Y. (2016, September 16). INF537 Digital Scholarship Interpretive discussion paper [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/yvette/2016/09/16/inf537-digital-scholarship-interpretive-discussion-paper/

Drager, Y. (2016, August 9). Participatory culture, do we dare to partake? [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/yvette/2016/08/09/participatory-culture-do-we-dare-to-partake/

Drager, Y. (2016, July 27). Learning analytics – Who is watching the watchers? [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/yvette/2016/07/27/learning-analytics-who-is-watching-the-watchers/

Gartner. (2016). 2016 Hype Cycles Highlight Digital Business Ecosystems. Retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/hype-cycles/

NMC Horizon Report > 2017 Higher Education Edition Wiki. (2016, October 11). Retrieved from http://horizon.wiki.nmc.org/

Rogers, E.M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press

INF537 Digital scholarship interpretive discussion paper





It is interesting in a time when we are championing networked education, the ethos of networked educators and the need to grow from traditional teaching methodologies to blended teaching approaches, that we are still in a relative dark age when it comes to academia accepting the scholarship of a digital scholar as authentic work (Cross, 2008; Weller, 2011; Heap, & Minocha, 2012; Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, & Kingsley, 2010). Technology makes connecting and collaborating easier than never before (Nussbaum-Beach, & Hall, 2012). It makes sense to reach out and seek peer review and input from a wider audience as there is a finite amount we can learn by ourselves, especially if academic endeavours are hidden under a bushel open to only the select few (Fullan, & Hargreaves, 1991; Nussbaum-Beach, & Hall, 2012) in the case of ‘possessive individualism’ or the lone scholar (Rosenzweig, 2007; Pearce, 2010).

Before investigating digital scholarship and the role it plays in the modern scholar’s life it is first important to understand the term scholar and for this paper it is best defined by Weller (2011) as a learned or specialist in a given division of knowledge. A scholar may gain tenure through a strict set of parameters that include (but not limited to) past and continued teaching practice and more importantly research undertaken within their field of study that is published in peer reviewed publications (Costa, 2015; Cross, 2008; Wolski, & Richardson, 2014; Weller, 2011; Veletsianos, & Kimmons, 2012). Unlike the images of dusty academics working by candle light it highlights that society needs to reimagine its collective image of academics, as reality is far from this outdated vision. In the realm of academia there has been an ongoing division as to what is deemed to be a scholarly pursuit. This is not new debate and has been discussed for decades (Wolski, & Richardson, 2014; Weller, 2011; Heap, & Minocha, 2012; Veletsianos, & Kimmons, 2012; Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, & Kingsley, 2010). Scholars working in academic institutions such as universities, even now are using social media and new technologies not prescribed by the institution on an ad hoc basis to encourage discourse around their work with peers and the general public (Pearce, 2010; Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, & Kingsley, 2010).

Boyer (1990) in his work “Scholarship reconsidered” suggested that society needs a more inclusive view of scholars that includes an understanding of how their knowledge is acquired through discovery, integration, application and teaching. Boyer’s work (1990), though a solid place to start (Weller, 2011) is now over two decades old (Heap, & Minocha, 2012) and primarily focuses on the individual, there are other conceptual quality frameworks that could also be used in the argument to support the growing need for digital scholarship to be recognised. Borgman (2007) considered three categories to reflect on the process of digital scholarly communication: legitimization, dissemination and access, preservation and curation, which focuses on the scholarship outputs of teams (Hank, 2013) and when applied to Kjellberg’s analytical framework for scholarly blogging (Kjellber, 2009) it is possible to see that there are synergies to be drawn across all these frameworks that can support the recognition of digital scholarly research outputs of both individual and teams.

The research for authentic online learning model outlined by Herrington and Parker (2013) Herrington, Reeves and Oliver (2007) and Cua (2014) is aimed at authentic online learning experiences for students, however, this could be used to form a basis of a capability quality framework, in conjunction with the frameworks of Boyer (1990), Borgman (2007), Kjellberg (2009) and Heap and Minocha (2012), for how institutions can authenticate digital scholarly outputs by scholars, especially regarding research. This can be easily explored through the concept of participatory Web 2.0 tools such as blogging by scholars. A new language must be developed about how scholars’ multi-modal and participatory outputs are considered in terms of publication and tenure (DePalma, & Alexander, 2015).

Salmon (2005) in her work regarding strategic frameworks for e-learning encapsulated the role of digital scholarship being one of flapping and not flying and suggests more needs to be done to support scholars in the development of skills to ensure that digital scholarship can be recognised by institutions as valid. Digital scholarship can leverage the affordances offered by mobile technology (Cochrane, & Bateman, 2010; Laurillard, 2009) while not creating a digital divide for scholars (Costa, 2015) by revisiting the terms of what is scholarship and relate it to digital born outputs. Weller (2011) put forward that outputs for digital scholarship need to be (1) digital, (2) networked and (3) open. The term digital scholar, and indeed for a scholar to become one, implies the need for a cultural change as the engagement with new technologies means that scholars who are using participatory Web 2.0 tools are causing a wicked problem for recognition of scholarly activity in a digital format (Costa, 2015).

The term digital scholarship is more and more being used to refer to the use of social media and participatory Web 2.0 software in academia and research (Heap, & Minocha, 2012), blogging is a useful output to frame the discussion about scholarship in the digital format. In the past formally published items such as peer reviewed journals and manuscripts formed the backbone for what was considered academic writing (Hank, 2013). This view is being challenged by the participatory Web 2.0 tools and the affordances they provide scholars (Luckin et al, 2011; Bower, 2008; Laurillard, 2009; Martindale, & Wiley, 2007; Sappey, & Relf, 2010; Sheffield, 2015; Cochrane, & Bateman, 2010). The affordances that blogging offers academic scholars are varied, but can encompass collaboration, interactivity, connectivity and social rapport, content creation and curation (Kirkup, 2010).

Blogging can be argued to be the conversational scholarship and have made scholarly work accessible to those outside the hallowed halls of academia (Gregg, 2006; Kirkup, 2010). Walker (2006) identifies three types of academic blogs (1) public intellectuals (2) research blogs and (3) pseudonymous blogs about academic life, but it’s only the first two types of blogs that hold a place in the discussion of digital scholarship (Gregg, 2009). It is critical that the distinction be drawn between scholars writing an academic blog and a blog written by a scholar (Mewburn, & Thomson, 2013).

The key problem with traditional academic writing and scholarship, though it develops the reputation of the scholar and likewise associated institutions, is that it is writing that never leaves the institution (Brett, 1991; Gregg, 2006). However, academic blogging on the other hand makes the scholarly work accessible and accountable to a wide readership and opens the content up for deep scrutiny from others outside of the learning area and supports the emergent practice of networked participatory scholarship (Veletsianos, & Kimmons, 2012). Blogging enables scholars to share early research results and gives them the ability to debate and discuss results with peers prior to formal publication and they are also able to seek input with experimental issues (Powell, Jacob, & Chapman, 2012). By leveraging the affordances of blogs researchers can disclose details of method design, data collection and initial results and the affordances also offer the researcher the ability to provide links and embed media to support their research (Bower, 2008; Costa, 2014; Heap, & Minocha, 2012). Blogs can be tools that support scholars in facilitating their research, collaboration with a wider audience and sharing their knowledge which supports the openness of being a digital scholar (Park, Heo, & Lee, 2011).

If scholars are using Web 2.0 tools to support their pedagogy and to model lifelong learning principles then it is imperative that exemplars are created of high quality scholarly work to support the context of concepts and to provide points of reference for students (DePalma, & Alexander, 2015; Goodfellow, 2013; Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes, 2009; Heap, & Minocha, 2012; Kirkup, 2010), currently this is not the case for many teaching areas. The ability to demonstrate effective use of the multi-modal design of a blog is important for scholars to come to terms with, but also forms an integral part of providing authentic learning experiences for students (Herrington, & Parker, 2013; Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, 2007; Cua, 2014). For outputs to be considered as exemplars the scholar needs to blog under their real name rather than a pseudonymous, as this will lend authenticity to their work, and enable them to use this digital scholarship as part of their discussions around tenure where academic outputs are to be demonstrated (Walker, 2006; Weller, 2011; Kirkup, 2010; Heap, & Minocha, 2012).

The need to develop the necessary skills around digital technologies could conceivably be started in the K-12 education space, the VET environment, as well as post-secondary. Skills for writing for an online audience can be developed through blogging and academic blogging (Walker, 2006; Gregg, 2009; Kirkup, 2010) with the thought the more you blog the better you become at it being paramount. Reflective writing in a blog can form an important part of authentic online learning and to ensure its authenticity students must have a specific purpose for their writing (Herrington, & Parker 2013; Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, 2007), equally reflective blog writing could form another dimension to research projects that have been funded as it adds a level of openness and dynamisms to the project as it has a key purpose of reflecting about the research process (Heap, & Minocha, 2012).

The practice of peer review in academia is well-known to form a critical part of scholarship, but many feel that this is absent from academic blogging (Cross, 2008; Gregg, 2006; Powell, Jacob, & Chapman, 2011). Though there is the ability to add comments to blogs, the key point is that this is not true peer review (Sheffield, 2015; Cross, 2008; Weller, 2011). Hank (2013) challenged this point by observing that the peer review process does form a gatekeeping function and that the use of comments on blogs could free an academic from this locked-step approach of formal peer review and thus open a scholars work up to scrutiny from a wide audience, though admittedly less expert. This could then reasonably be used as part of the discourse around scholarship of academics.

The discussion around how to quantify the scholarly output of a scholar in light of digital scholarship is always problematic. Metrics are used regarding publications and citations that are then linked directly to performance and funding, however, currently there is little acknowledgement of the digital scholarship that many scholars create. In a world of big data and user analytics it should become standard that digital scholarship is accounted for. Frameworks that can incorporate both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to investigate digital scholarship could be created to capture information about digital scholarship using, for instance, in blogs monitor link analysis, usage statistics such as page views or comment analysis and blog posts citing articles (Veletsianos, & Kimmons, 2012; Wolski, & Richardson, 2014; Kjellberg, 2010). This could help scholars and institutions to understand the impact that digital scholarship and subsequently the outreach it is having (Veletsianos, & Kimmons, 2012).

Though the affordances of blogs are varied there is a concern about the longevity of them in terms of accessibility, duration and digital preservation (Walker, 2006; Pearce, 2010). Unlike traditional journal articles that can be housed in curated collections within a library or publishing house there is simply not the same robust set of preservation strategies around digital outputs, especially if they are created ad hoc and not within an institutions supported ICT (Pearce, 2010). Gregg (2009) identifies blogs as short term, which lends support to the need for institutions to capture important academic information from scholar’s academic blogs (Cross, 2008). With-out prudent, timely intervention of preservation strategies traditional forms of scholarly output will continued to be favoured (DePalma, & Alexander, 2015; Walker, 2006).

Scholars work in the genres of their time (Walker, 2006) and with the advancements in technology and the fast pace of adoption institutions are moving at a glacial pace to recognise and accept the scholarship outputs in a digital space such as an academic blog. It is unmistakable that technology is creating new situations for learning with digital scholarship opening up scholars to new and different ways of working that needs to be valued by academia. There are those who will embrace new technologies and new ways of working and understand its benefits to both society and academia (Weller, 2011) and will lead at the forefront. Whilst these scholars have embraced the new, they have become hamstrung by the lack of acknowledgement for scholarship contained in these tools, such as blogs (Sheffield, 2015; Cross, 2008; Weller, 2011). With usage analytics it is possible for universities and institutions to track the activity of the academic blog and can be tied to the carefully constructed metrics that are currently employed against publications rates that result in funding. Powell, Jacob and Chapman (2012) eludes to blogs not replacing traditional forms of scholarship, but blogs and Web 2.0 participatory scholarship should become part of the body of evidence to demonstrate scholarly activity and discussion as blogs can and do complement as well as contribute to traditional forms of scholarly publication.


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Case Study – the beginning INF537

It is always exciting and daunting to be doing a body of research on the organisation where you work.

Webinars - connecting the world.
Webinars – connecting the world.

For my final assessment for my Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) – INF537 Digital Futures Colloquium I have decided to focus on how webinar technology is impacting on the State Government Department where I work. The Case Study will be used to decide future directions and needs for both my agency and the VET sector in WA, which is exciting and daunting at the same time.

For research I have access to all of the records within the system, so am working through a data cull currently. The trick (and key problem for me) is going to be paring the amount of information available to me down to  a useful size. I’ll also be sending out a short survey to gather feedback from my colleagues who are using the systems.

Approved proposal below –

Proposed topic: How webinar technology has impacted on the way DTWD now performs core business functions.
Research focus question: How and to what extent has webinar technology impacted on DTWD business?
Brief description:
Since 2012 there has been a contraction of funding in the WA VET sector and within the Department of Training and Workforce Development. This reduction has seen sector wide severances (internally DTWD saw 900 staff down to 450). This reduction in both staff and funding has seen DTWD staff having to engage with teams, stakeholders and clients over wide distances in innovative ways. There has been both an interest and uptake in webinar technology. I would like to explore how effective use of webinar technology is impacting on business and allowing DTWD to meet  KPI whilst on reduce funding and lower staffing ratios.
I  have DTWD  management keenly interested in my pursuing this topic as it will help to inform future directions for the department and the WA TAFE sector, especially after the huge reformations that have happened this year.

Case study information sources:
1. Raw data on session creation and usage to be accessed from the SAS for all directorates.
2. Interviews with team leaders using the system effectively.
3. Raw data from Event 360 regarding use from external people engaging in training via webinar.
4. Informal comments from Event 360 – participants that have attended training via webinar.

Projected timeline:
12 Aug – Submission of proposal and approval
12 Aug – 26 Aug gather raw data from the systems
22 Aug – 12 September Interview users of the system
12 Sept – 24 September Interrogate information and locate supporting information to support how webinar technology has impacted on core business (either positively or negatively).
24 Sept – 9 Oct write up the case study and critical reflection
10 Oct – submit assessment

Participatory culture, do we dare to partake?

Though personally I really like the simplicity of Scratch and how engaging it can be, without the right direction and support it can turn into a classroom nightmare and turn students off a brilliant way introduce students to coding.

Mitchel Resmick- the director of the Lifelong Kindergarten MIT Media Lab says Scratch “teaches kids to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively”. It is very important for our students to learn lessons from being able to fail in a safe and supportive environment. Game Based Learning (GBL) can support teachers in providing a safe space for students to work and learn from failure. But, this must come with a caveat attached, for students to fail and learn, teachers must at least have an idea of how to support students to succeed within the GBL environment. Prototyping methodology as outlined by Drew Davidson can be a powerful tool set in the hands of learners, especially if a teacher has taken the time to support students to develop their computational and design thinking skills. However, not all students start out on an activity with the same skill set, including problem solving, creativity and critical thinking skills so be must build their capacity first to assist them to achieve.

Support forms an important part of a GBL environment.
Support forms an important part of a GBL environment.

Recently I was invited into a classroom in Perth to watch a practicum student teacher present a session on coding to Year 8 students – the invite was from the practicum student as they know my background in mentoring technology in the classroom. Unfortunately for the practicum student teacher the lesson did not run according to their plan. Ultimately the session outcomes were not met key reasons for this were: there was only a little introduction to the topic; a very small amount of task description which was given verbally only to the students; no scaffolding; and poor support skills from the practicum student. The students in the classroom became frustrated as they really did not have a solid foundation for the task or what the teacher wanted them to achieve, this then resulted in the students becoming disengaged mid-lesson.

At the end of the session (after the students had left) I debriefed with the supervising teacher and practicum student about the session. My worry was the practicum student had become increasingly frustrated and angry with the students during the session as they became disengaged. The frustration stemmed from the students not grasping what was required of them and that they did not seem to have the skills to complete the task. I asked the practicum student about previous lessons that the students had in using the software and quickly discovered that this was the very first time it had presented to students and the practicum student was using a colleague’s lesson plan. As our conversation progressed about the topic I also realized that the key difference between how this lesson ran and her colleague’s lesson was that her colleague had taken the time to learn the software, worked up an example for the students to get an understanding of what was required and put in some solid learning outcomes.

With effort the story completed with an excellent ending.
With effort the story completed with an excellent ending.

Now from this story there is a happy ending. I was invited back to support the practicum student in presenting another session to the same group of students – this was at my suggestion. We really took the time to structure an example, demonstrated the techniques that were required to be used to create the digital output (ie. wire frame, story boarding and coding skills) gave the students a solid understanding of what was required for them to achieve. The practicum student and myself then became guides on the side for the remainder of the lesson to support the students as required. The result for the practicum student was that the class achieved all the outcomes, a complete turnaround to the previous. All the students had achieved and were excited to continue on with the next lesson. By investing the time to support and engage with learners and to demonstrate prototyping learning design.

To me this basic failure of the teacher to use effective teaching strategies just because she was using technology was the primary issue. I do believe however, that we need to support teachers in learning how to play and engage with technologies as well as support them to develop their own computational thinking and design thinking skills. By investing in our teachers we are investing in the students.

Creativity forms an important part of computational thinking and design thinking.
Creativity forms an important part of computational thinking and design thinking.

Students still find it difficult to creating new technologies and expressing themselves with technology. We need to support students to develop design thinking skills to support them in creating in new and different ways. Students will become familiar in technologies without a teacher always standing over them to make sure that they are using the technology exactly the same way the teacher would.

Recently I have encouraged a peer to reform a Community of Practice for the Adult Literacy and Numeracy area of the WA VET sector, which has been launched because of my support. This is exactly what peerography represents for me.

I think Samuel Beckett sums up the need to build resilience and safe failure into our teaching with his thoughts on the necessity of failing to eventually achieve:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Are we there yet?

Pip Cleaves presented recently to the CSU MEd INF537 cohort about her journey leading learning and she mentioned the Diffusion of Innovation (Rogers, 2003). Tom Fishburn from Skydeckcartoons.com captures the Diffusion of Innovation cycle perfectly in his cartoon that primarily deals with the cycle of new product adoption, but the same cycle works for the adoption of technology in the classroom environment.

Diffusion of innovations - this model can be adopted by many sectors from marketing through to education.
Diffusion of innovations – this model can be adopted by many sectors from marketing through to education.

This made me reflect on what category I naturally fall into and I would say possibly the early majority group is where I fit best. However, the challenge for me is that I’m in a job role where I have to be an innovator and early adopter so that I can mentor others in the uptake. To be honest when I first started I felt like a fish out of water having to take risks, learn rapidly and eventually share widely. But I can say the more that I have been challenged in my role the more comfortable I am.

This is the difficulty and the challenge that I face when I am training VET practitioners from all around Australia in the ways technology can support and augment their training. Through the wide variety of programs that I have put together we now cater for people from early adopters all the way through to laggards.

Resrouces, Infrastructure, Poeple, Policies, Learning, Evaluation, Support.
The RIPPLES Model (Surry and Ensminger, 2005)

The RIPPLES model that  Surry, Ensminger and Haab (2005) created and Jaskinski (2006) used as the basis for the VET sector research project Innovate and integrate: Embedding innovative practices, has formed the basis for much of the professional learning series of sessions around elearning implementation and modelling of a champion model that I develop for organisations and for the Department of Training and Workforce Development. RIPPLES is the acronym for the seven components of the model: resources, infrastructure, people, policies, learning, evaluation and support.

The champion model picks up the innovators and early adopters and encourages these individuals or groups to share their stories with others. The E-learning Quality Model developed by the National VET E-Learning Strategy in 2014 and helps our champions by defining quality expectations of elearning more clearly. It is designed to help RTOs and to give them a competitive advantage. But it does assist practitioners in aligning their resources to a framework.

Review and reflection should become commonplace as best practice to improve teaching.
Review and reflection should become commonplace as best practice to improve teaching.

In my dynamic and technology rich life it is interesting to reflect on my teaching to see how I am tracking against my peers with integration of technology to support my pedagogical practice. This personal reflection is something that we as teachers need to do often to ensure that we are still meeting the needs of our clients (the students), to ensure that they are going to have the lifelong skills to succeed in this New World.


Jasinski, M. (2006). Innovate and integrate: Embedding innovative practices. 1st ed. [pdf] Canberra: DEST, Commonwealth of Australia. Available at: http://tle.westone.wa.gov.au/content/file/b2abda95-f95b-4366-afb6-7e3e401fdf72/1/Innovate_and_Integrate_Report1.pdf

Fishburne T. (2007, Februaru, 26). Brand Camp [Image]. Marketoonist. Retrieved from https://marketoonist.com/2007/02/new-product-adoption.html

NVELS (2014). E-learning Quality Model. Accessed from: http://webarchive.nla.gov.au/gov/20141215081514/http://www.flag.natese.gov.au/quality_model

Rogers E.M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press

Surry, DW, Ensminger, DC and Haab, M (2005), ‘A model for integrating instructional technology into higher education’, British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 36 (2), pp.327–329.

Learning Analytics – who is watching the watchers?

We leave footprints where ever we go online.
We leave footprints where ever we go online.

The digital footprint of our students/users gives a better picture of how people are using the systems and the content held in those systems.
Internally for the government department that I work for this means that we are able to see how well content presented in mandatory training is put into practice. Managers can access how long team members have been working through content prior to attempting the tests, which could have impacted on the scores that team members received.
My concern about this is how soon will the length of time someone has spent learning within mandatory course work be used as a measure in performance development meetings by a crackpot manager who does not have the capacity or capability to understand learning styles and the simple point that people learn at many different rates.
Upon saying this I do not feel that learning analytics are bad, but they do need to be used with caution. It would also help if organisations developed strategies around learning analytics to be able to use them in the best to support achieving improved outcomes for students and clients. The Charles Sturt University Learning Analytics Code of Practice  is a good example of documents that bound an organisation to how this valuable data set will be used.
Another exceptional use is an example from the Western Australian TAFE sector. Recently I was discussing learning analytics internally with our ICT department, especially the LMS that we supply the WA TAFEs and how users are enrolled into online courses. From this discussion a new building block was created by out ICT team which I was discussing with a client from a TAFE. He had used this new building block (as well as other reporting functionality) to view how staff were using the various tools within the LMS. The client discovered that staff seemed to be enrolling students individually more than by class rolls. There could be a wide number of factors including rolling enrolments where a cohort could have new people added adhoc over the course of the study period. But what this has highlighted for the TAFE team is that they can tailor training for staff better as they are able to watch the watches and support them to become better online trainers.

Digital users be aware.
Digital users be aware.

This does beg the question, who exactly are watching the watchers?
Recently in the agency that I work one of our mandatory courses grade books had been tampered with by a member of HR staff. Corporate Leadership team requested an independent review by a team external to HR who knew how to interrogate the system logs to determine who had access and tampered with the course grade book (as it is a mandatory regulatory course that all staff must complete and pass to maintain employment). I was able to track back through the logs that the HR team were unaware of, locate how the issue came about and reported back to Corporate Executive with recommendations regarding restrictions to the higher level access functions to ensure that this issue did not happen again as well as rolling the course back to the last backup date as no members of staff had been employed in the period that was impacted, which removed the problem. For the future I noted in the system the issue and why the reset had happened so there was a reason to my wiping a month of course logs. As part of my final report I also suggested further training of the HR team was required which has occurred.
In this instance the watchers were completely unaware that they were being watched and monitored until after the fact. I personally feel that this is not the way morally that we should be using this technology. It should be above board and everyone aware that they can be tracked, no matter what.

Simply a Code of Conduct policy around the use learner analytics is so very important for any organisation.


Charles Sturt University (2015). Code of Practice. Retrieved from https://www.csu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/2160484/2016_CSU_LearningAnalyticsCodePractice.pdf

Welsh S. (2016). INF537, Colloquium 1, Learning Analytics [PowerPoint Slides and Connect recording]. Retrieved from https://connect.csu.edu.au/p65jlka06d6/

A new age dawns

It is easy to think from my perspective that technology has always been there, for a large portion of the population it has. My job would not exist if it were not for technology as I am a technology mentor and professional presenter of everything elearning. I remember when I first started working (all those years ago) and suggested that I would like to do some training on computers for my professional development. My boss at the time was sceptical as he really didn’t see the trend catching on but let me do it anyway, fortunately for me that professional development has become a lifelong career.

Technology is now everywhere almost insidious with how it has wriggled into every aspect of our daily lives, but the real trick for educationalists is to know how to harness technology to augment teaching and learning for the betterment of students.

In certain situations the use of technology can be harnessed for teaching the theory behind a topic. However, in the VET sector (and any other sector for that matter) there are just times when for safety reasons the learner needs to have a teacher, trainer mentor or workplace supervisor standing with them to see that they are safe.

Students need to be mentored physically for dangerous jobs. Morguefile image by Sergey81 http://mrg.bz/07ac96
Students need to be mentored physically for dangerous jobs.
Morguefile image by Sergey81 http://mrg.bz/07ac96

For instance the very first time a student uses a metal lathe should not be after they are watched a video created by their tutor then move out unsupervised into a workplace to work on the equipment. It is a recipe for disaster, that being said in a well-constructed course then a student will has the skills and abilities (thanks to working with a teacher/trainer/mentor etc) to achieve a physical component of assessment.

The most is important thought for teacher and learner alike in this new age is that everyone must become lifelong learners. Admittedly this can be confronting for some, but being open to learn from anyone is a very important skills set to obtain. In reflection of what has been happening in the VET sector in WA over the past few years, to be honest, this is not always the case. Some lecturers have their “happy place” and do not like to be challenged or even asked to move outside of their comfort zone to improve their teaching for the betterment of students. Yes there is a requirement that VET trainers all must have a certain amount of professional development a year, but nothing stops them from walking into a room signing on the role then sitting there doing nothing. They get the credit for attending but no actual learning.

This is not to say that there are some very good practitioners who are doing amazing blended and technology enhanced lessons. I myself when I was a VET lecturer had to foresight to let my students help “take control” of their learning.

Morguefile image by Arundo http://mrg.bz/848126
Morguefile image by Arundo http://mrg.bz/848126

I was training education assistants in a face-to-face environment who were due to go out on their block placement, the students had heard that I also trained online and begged me to setup an online site that they could stay in contact with each other for support throughout their placement. I was dubious but set it up and sat back to watch what would happen. Many students posted in what was happening and the positives of their placement, others posted up questions for help finally other posted up problems they needed help with. Not one topic was not course related and the students became a very close knitted group who managed together (with the help of myself) to get through their placements and secure jobs. The highlight was that this group did over 1000 discussion forum postings, all on topic and all supportive in nature when required within a 3 month period. These student were all seen as “technology challenged” by other trainers, but took to this system like ducks to water because they had the support of not only myself but of my students as well.

It is said that everything old is new again perhaps it is true of this new paradigm. After all we are adjusting our mindset to view things in a different way, much like when any major new system or way of thinking is introduced. We are in the settling period, but eventually education will catch-up to everyday life.

The future is bright. Morguefile image by Sergey81 http://mrg.bz/b1de09
The future is bright.
Morguefile image by Sergey81 http://mrg.bz/b1de09

The superhighway is at our doorstep and as long as we have the imagination and the willingness to grasp hold and be willing to learn the really the future is a bright one, maybe so bright you have to wear shades.