Tag Archives: informal learning

Up close and personal – my PLN

As a professional educator over the years I have spent time and energy building a network of people I can reach out to for help, support and knowledge. In recent times I have helped others to discover the importance of communicating with other professionals to broaden their perspective to enhance their teaching and knowledge of current issues within their industry areas.

Personal learning jigsaw cc-BY-NC license Yvette Drager
Personal learning jigsaw
cc-BY-NC license Yvette Drager

For me I have personally used Twitter for a number of years. It started sitting at work one day and I asked my colleague the simple question “Do you use Twitter?” The blank look said it all. As we were the source of professional development I knew that I had to start building wider and stronger networks to keep me informed. So I chose Twitter to start reaching out to the big wide world and have never looked back. I encourage others to reach out and follow other educational and industry professionals.

One of the key reasons to create a personal learning network (PLN) is to stay connected, and I love the opportunities that social media gives me. The vast majority of my tweets are work related, what can I say I like to compartmentalize my social media streams. Upon saying that this past week my work persona on Twitter collided with my personal life when a fellow student tagged me in a FB post crediting my tweet she reposted into a CSU Facebook page.

Coping with writing anxiety, tweet about how to break through writing anxiety. Shared with INF532 via #
Coping with writing anxiety, tweet about how to break through writing anxiety. Shared with INF532 via #
Tweet reposted by my fellow student in Facebook group, a medium that I do not normally use for education but for Theatre jobs.
Tweet reposted by my fellow student in Facebook group, a medium that I do not normally use for education but for Theatre jobs.

 

 

ENGAGE and PARTICIPATE are the key, starting slow reaching out to people who are known then slowly building, exploring asking, answering and experimenting has been the key. I have long been a champion within my government agency of social media, including the need for writing a robust policy around how employees can use social media on behalf of the agency. It is nice to finally say that my PLN is robust and helps me to learn and explore different concepts and thoughts daily.

I have to say that as I have had to redefine my work and move to new job roles due to restructuring I have had to learn new skills, my PLN helped save my bacon, oh and my job numerous times over. Without the new ideas, thoughts and encouragement I would not be as effective with my work as an educator that I am. I chose Twitter to start my PLN journey with the wider world and have since branched out into Facebook and Google+. I can say that no matter the medium I know that my PLN is there for me to support my life-long learning and in turn I am there for my PLN.

References

Rheingold, H., & Weeks, A. (2012). Participation power. In Net smart: How to thrive online (pp. 111-145). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Online full-text available via CSU Library

Nesloney, T. (2013, September 23). My PLN saved my career. Nesloney’s adventures: Thoughts from an elementary teacher . Retrieved from http://nesloneyflipped.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/my-pln-saved-my-career.html

Curation – the final frontier

Curation – where I failed to go for so long

Many are in the same boat, but won't admit it.
Many are in the same boat, but won’t admit it.

I am at nearing the end of my learning journey in the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) and I have to make a confession, I have only just finally grasped the importance of digital curation and how to do it well. Shocked, well don’t be, I suspect many of us are in the same boat.

Over the years I have stabbed at creating folders, spreadsheets, delicious lists, Evernote, Symbaloo, ScoopIt, Pearltrees, Pinterest and yes Diigo. I never really found my groove and felt it was too hard. It to be honest was very haphazard and peace meal to say the least; the reason is that I simply was trying too many different ways and not settling for one method, I had no method for stemming the flow of information and little idea how to keep track of important things I needed. Yes, no doubt about it curating done badly can be like herding cats, but trying to manage a good curated site is worth the effort.

A rich mosaic of information is at my fingertips thanks to curating.
A rich mosaic of information is at my fingertips thanks to curating.

The real trick is aggregating, using collective curation and tagging. I have limited myself down to two key curation tools and have linked with many different professionals them and have become part of an active community curating. Once I grasped this secret I was able to curate and save to my heart’s content and build a rich mosaic of knowledge that is at my fingertips. But it was not taught as part of our formal course at the beginning, my knowledge was all learnt and explored through informal learning networks. Now I am in my final two units the irony is I now understand and implore others to curate before it is too late, just to push that final point I leave you with a catch phrase :

Curate, it will help you create!

Curate, it will help you create!
Curate, it will help you create!

Editor note: I was asked in a response to this post, well what tools are you using? I have to say that I favor ScoopIt! as I’ve been using this for a very long time and have built up a good group of followers in that space, however I am also back to dabbling and am also enjoying PearlTrees, I bookmark with Delicious but am always aware that obsolescence is always just around the corner and online systems can go just as quick (for example Ning) for more information about obsolescence look at my post ‘You live, you learn, you upgrade‘. My take-away from this is that you will keep evolving, exploring and experiencing new tools to keep yourself current and relevant.

References

Crowdspoke (2011, June 7). Understand collective curation in under 90 seconds [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW775HIlVMg

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.

References

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/

Social media in the VET classroom

VET inclass example of a twitter back-channel.
VET in class example of a twitter back-channel.

Social media for many means catching up with what friends are doing via Facebook or following the latest celebrity on Twitter. But is can be so much more than that for an educator who is prepared to put in some extra work to effectively use to Social Media within a class environment.

It is important to consider the affordances in relation to the learning program to determine if there will be of benefit to the students (Bower, 2008). There will always be resistance from some students when social media for a variety of reasons. Due to this resistance it is important to ensure that any learning done through this mechanism is duplicated elsewhere.

One crucial issue is of course age, with many social media requiring the user to be over a certain age to agree to the terms and conditions. For use in a VET classroom, as outlined by Roblyer (2013) it is crucial that appropriate social media site are chosen that will create a professional learning avenue for students. It is also important for students to understand this is a professional site and should not be linked to their personal activities. By utilizing the affordances outlined by Bower (2008) and the taxonomy of learning, teaching and assessing created by Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) a teacher can provide supported pedagogical reasoning behind why they are choosing a specific social media platform in their classroom.

One interesting piece of research by McCorkle D.E, and McCorkle Y.L., (2012) focussed on the use of LinkedIn in a marketing class room. The article outlined the assessment program that stepped students through the very basic setting up a profile to building a professional network.

This strategy has been reflected in current practice in the 2014 Article in Training Matters which focused on the use of LinkedIn in a VET Certificate III in Pathology qualification. The lecturer used LinkedIn in a variety of ways; the initial use was a discussion forum between students and industry but then it branched out as a mentoring forum for alumni students; a employment and job placement area; industry announcement. The heavy ties with industry through LinkedIn gave currency to the course.

With any social media it is important for students to understand why they are being asked to participate. Twitter as a back channel for on topic discussion by students during a lecture or presentation can vie valuable insight into the understanding by the students. This can simply be as easy as putting together a hashtag for the class group to respond to. In Hew & Cheung (2013) article they outlined how one institution saw an increase in GPA’s in the test group using twitter which was put down to students engaging with lecturers and content discussions via this social medium. Being able to access this application through a mobile device or desktop meant that the students were able to continue to learn and reflect of critical points 24/7.

The implementation of social media in a VET classroom does warrant investigation as an avenue to support students who are often in the workplace or studying through a blended delivery approach.

References

Anderson, L., & Krathwohl, D., (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman

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

Herrington, J., & Parker, J. (2013). Emerging technologies as cognitive tools for authentic learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(4). doi:10.1111/bjet.12048

Hew, K., & Cheung, W. (2013). Use of Web 2.0 technologies in K-12 and higher education: The search for evidence-based practice. Educational Research Review, 9, 47-64. doi:10.1016/j.edurev.2012.08.001

Jelfs, A., & Richardson, J. (2013). The use of digital technologies across the adult life span in distance education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(2). doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2012.01308.x

Laurillard, D. (2009). The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(1). doi:10.1007/s11412-008-9056-2

McCorkle, D., & McCorkle, Y. (2012). Using Linkedin in the Marketing Classroom: Exploratory Insights and Recommendations for Teaching Social Media/Networking. Marketing Education Review, 22(2), 157-166. doi:10.2753/mer1052-8008220205

Passion for teaching. (2014). Training Matters, (20), 17. Retrieved from http://www.dtwd.wa.gov.au/employeesandstudents/training/otherinformation/trainingmatters/previousversions/Documents/April%202014/Training%20Matters%20April%202014%2017.pdf

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

Reflective blog task 2: Collaboration an important gaming bond

In the world of adult education ‘games’ are seen to be frivolous, however, solid authentic learning can be achieved through learner engagement via games or simulations and we should not discount the use in a training situation.

Gee (2005) points out that the formation of cross-functional teams is important in a MUD (multi-user domain). The team must work together to achieve a common endeavour, which means that they must work collaboratively and effectively to achieve the common goal.

In the training environment or even workplace gaming Perkins (2009) says that gaming can provide a sense of community to players, this community feel is extremely important when building a supportive learning environment within a classroom context.

In a training environment role-playing simulation players can ‘fail’ in a safe and supported way, and in turn learn from their failures both as a team and as an individual (Farmer, 2011). The important part of this learning is the engagement in a simulation with either a live team on the learning journey with the individual or by a team built into the game. This engagement provides the necessary feedback mechanism the student requires to improve performance by working through the various challenges in the simulation.

A well planned learning simulation will react to the user and provide feedback and new problems (Gee, 2005). A good simulation currently used in adult workplace training is the FLAME SIM (Flame-sim.com, 2015) software. It is used to train fire departments worldwide in effective collaboration and communication to reach the team goal – the fire being controlled and eventually put out. This software has a level of flexibility and complexity built in and can also have specific scenario modifications programmed by the lead trainer. Being in real time it provides the players an authentic learning task that requires effective team work and collaboration. At the end of the online session the lead trainer then debriefs with the learners regarding performance and issues.

Keramidas (2010) pointed out good games require design structures that put players in experiential learning situations with the right constraints for learning from experiences. In a training environment if we can provide a ‘safe’ learning experience (especially for high risk workplaces) where base level skills are mastered and demonstrated prior to going into the actual learning experience then this is can be lifesaving. By learning the importance of effective communication in the situation via a simulation can save lives in the workplace and goes a long way to building an affinity group through this shared experience.

Simulations and games can provide the avenue for peer-to-peer teaching (Farmer, 2011), which supports the building of a life-long collaborative learning style. The crucial difference between a ‘commercial game’ and an ‘educational game or simulation’ is that the latter provides support for the player/learner to increase the likelihood that the desired objectives are met, bet it as an individual or through collaborative cooperative learning (Becker, 2011).

Digital games and simulations are not just ‘fluff’ used simply to pass the time in a class, but can form part of an enriching learning experience that supports training and education. Being able to choose authentic learning simulations (Reeves & Herrington, 2010) which encourage peer-to-peer work and collaboration, both within the simulation and offline, in a cross functional team offers a powerful learning tool that is, if managed well, able to support students learning and understanding of content.

To me this is a win for the students and a win for games and simulations in the classroom.

 

References

Becker, K. (2011). Distinctions between games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education. In Gaming and Simulations: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications (pp. 75-107). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-195-9.ch105

DVHS,. (2009). FLAME-SIM Fire Training. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUa5BdHrPTY

Farmer, L. S. (2011). Gaming in Adult Education. In Gaming and Simulations: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications (pp. 194-213). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-195-9.ch111

Flame-sim.com,. (2015). Flame-Sim | Fire Department Training Simulation Software. Retrieved 23 March 2015, from http://www.flame-sim.com/

Gee, J.P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-37. http://dmlcentral.net/sites/dmlcentral/files/resource_files/GoodVideoGamesLearning.pdf

Reeves, T. C., & Herrington, J. (2010). Authentic Tasks: The Key to Harnessing the Drive to Learn in Members of “Generation Me”. In M. Ebner, & M. Schiefner (Eds.) Looking Toward the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education: Ubiquitous Learning and the Digital Native (pp. 205-222). Hershey, PA:. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-678-0.ch012

Keramidas, K. (2010). What Games Have to Teach Us About Teaching and Learning: Game Design as a Model for Course and Curricular Development | Currents in Electronic Literacy. Currents.cwrl.utexas.edu. Retrieved 21 March 2015, from http://currents.cwrl.utexas.edu/2010/keramidas_what-games-have-to-teach-us-about-teaching-and-learning

Perkins, B. (2009, November 2). World of warcraft in the workplace. Computerworld, 43(32), 30. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA211959076&v=2.1&u=csu_au&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w&asid=69d75258ac24be5d98a8c8d2747fe822

Pill, S. (2014). Games play: What does it mean for pedagogy to think like a game developer? Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 85(1), 9-15.

Blog task 1 Are digital games being overlooked in ‘digital education’ reform?

I never have admitted to colleagues before, but yes I am a gamer. From the very basic hand-held version of ‘Pong’ called ‘Blip’ to the much cooler ‘Simon Says’ I have been into digital games. In the early 1990’s when you saved your money to upgrade from 4 MB of RAM to 8 MB of RAM simply to play ‘Sam and Max Hit the Road’. I vividly remember moving our lounge chairs into the study to play ‘Myst or Riven’ for the evening, yes quite simply I was hooked.

However, I could also see that games could be used by educators to have students explore concepts in different ways for example ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego’ to have students demonstrate through puzzle solving their geographic understanding of the world.

Listening to Golding (2015) certainly made me think of the many different game types and styles I have used in the past and are still using now, both personally and as a launch pad of ideas in classes. As an educator my passion is for using technology in my teaching, where appropriate, while adhering to the moto; less screen, more green.

My current thinking on gaming in education is impacted on by my current work context, teaching adults in the VET sector to use technology to enhance training practices. As an educator of adults I am aware of the lazy stereo types regarding the abilities and motivation of older students (Jelfs & Richardson, 2013) and know that today’s adult students will use technology as a key part of their learning experience, which is why any ‘gaming tasks’ for education need to be authentic (Herrington & Parker, 2013)

The article by Jennings in the Sydney Morning Herald (2014) which discusses the ‘highly motivational’ aspect of games made linked to Herrington and Reeves’ (2010) reflection on how GenMe (Generation Me Twenge, 2006 students) are positively affected by the interactive games and simulations they have played. This makes GenME are open to having authentic simulation tasks, which mimic real world activities, in their training to enhance their learning and make them real world ready. It is an area that often the VET sector falls down on as games of any nature are often seen as frivolous and not meaningful learning experiences, where as if ill-structured problems of the kind found in the real world (Reeves & Herrington, 2010) are used as the basis for a simulation (utilizing gaming principles) then gaming in a VET classroom could be advantageous for student understanding

One aspect in this unit I am keen to explore is authentic learning through personal learning experience via branching activities. This is something that could be constructed in both digital and non-digital classrooms. An example of the branching activities that I am thinking of is the interactive YouTube video Choose a different Ending (2009). This was created by the United Kingdom Metropolitan Police Service to help combat knife crimes by teenagers. It is an authentic activity that steps the users through a series of choice and consequences.

I am also keen to explore the use of gaming principles in existing mainstream technology, such as Learning Management Systems, for simulated learning experiences for VET students via conditional release and badges. This work I also want to link to workplace learning and seeing how onsite work can also be included using gaming principles in an assessment strategy for VET students.

 

References

Broderbund Software. (1996). Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego (Version 3.0). The Learning Company

Cyan Worlds. (1993). Myst. Red Orb Entertainment.

Cyan Worlds. (1997). Riven. Red Orb Entertainment.

Golding, D. (2015). Games in Space. A Short History of Video Games.  Retrieved 9/3/15, from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/shorthistoryofvideogames/podcasts/svg-1/5937684

Jelfs, A., & Richardson, J. (2013). The use of digital technologies across the adult life span in distance education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(2), 338-351. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2012.01308.x

Jennings, J. (2014). Teachers re-evaluate value of video games, Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teachers-reevaluate-value-of-video-games-20141130-11jw0i.html

Metropolitan Police Service, Knife crime and gun crime campaigns and videos. Safe.met.police.uk. Retrieved 8 March 2015, from http://safe.met.police.uk/knife_crime_and_gun_crime/campaigns_and_videos.html

Purcell, S. (2002). Sam and Max Hit the Road. Lucas Arts.

Reeves, T. C., & Herrington, J. (2010). Authentic Tasks: The Key to Harnessing the Drive to Learn in Members of “Generation Me”. In M. Ebner, & M. Schiefner (Eds.) Looking Toward the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education: Ubiquitous Learning and the Digital Native (pp. 205-222). Hershey, PA:. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-678-0.ch012

Twenge, J.M. (2006), Generation me: why today’s young Americans are more confident, assertive, entitled – and more miserable than before. New York: Free Press

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.

 

Educational Technologies research and the impact on teaching and learning

Education Technology IT research can been seen and is a moving feast or an ever changing environment.  IT technologies are forever evolving and Cox (2012) highlights the challenge of education research  because of this shifting sands environment. The author outlines thirteen (13) elements to considered to achieve  a greater reliability in research outcomes and most specifically that research “focuses on specific identifiable IT uses instead of trying to measure all of IT and its impact” (Cox, 2012, p. 17).

What is interesting is that in the VET sector the move to obtaining and accepting digital badges  as evidence for Recognition of Prior Learning for ‘skill sets’. This is bridging that gap between the formal and informal world of learning using technology as part of the evidence trail. As technologies evolve the lines between formal and informal learning will blur further, which logically will impact on formal research into educational technologies. MOOCs and informal learning programs that give ‘just in time’ learning are fast becoming the norm. for workers wanting to up-skill quickly in a piece of software for example which often rely on a teacher taking on a ‘guide on the side’ role rather than the traditional ‘sage on the stage’.

Moving forward the evolution of informal online learning to augment more formal training will increase. The VET sector must become more agile to ensure that it engages in deep learning whether it is formal or informal..

References

Cox, M. (2012). Formal to informal learning with IT: research challenges and issues for e-learning. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(1), 85-105. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00483.x

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium