Friday, December 17, 2010

Google body

This is an amazing example of the democratisation of education by the internet. I think it will be a fantastic tool for our health science students.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Using online communities in the classroom.

I've neglected my blog recently! And this doesn't really count as a post, but this is a lovely video (no embed code, sadly) and some great resources for teachers. It shows how teachers could use a number of the popular online community tools in their everyday classroom activities.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Changing Education Paradigms

Recently I added a video of Sir Ken Robinson talking about changing education. Today, David Hopkins wote a blog post about the animation that has been done to illustrate the talk. It's pretty amazing. I wonder how long it took?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's A Book - By Lane Smith

I love this - good to be reminded of the simpler things!

Monday, October 18, 2010

21st Century Literacy

As an ex-English teacher (that should read, ex-teacher of English) my concept of literacy has, until recently, always been fairly conventional. I was interested to read a tweet about 21st Century Literacy, and the new definitions adopted by the American National Council of the Teachers of English.

Their new definition of literacy requires students to:

  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.
Their rationale for this makes for interesting and thought-provoking reading, and it's not very long! I wonder how much of this is considered in the New Zealand National Literacy and Numeracy assessments, currently being rolled out with much fanfare at polytechs around the country?

The article reminds me that definitions of literacy amongst our students are probably rather old fashioned. As a result, we run the risk of assuming that, because they meet outdated definitions of literacy, our students are able to cope with the much more challenging literacies of the 21st century.

Stephen Heppel's keynote from Ulearn 2010

I was not one of the fortunates who managed to get to Ulearn this year, and I have to admit to more than a twinge of jealousy when I hear Heppel describe the conference as one of the best in the world. Anyway, in this keynote he talks about technology, learning spaces, and the opportunities for mobile learning in the classroom.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why online learning needs to get social

This article post talks about the role of social networks in online learning, and contains further links to some pretty amazing online learning courses. Seemed pretty relevant to FOC2010!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why we should all be playing games

I'm really interested in the value of gaming principles in education. This short presentation by Stephen Knightly looks at a selection of different games and the skills they teach. (This blog entry is almost short enough to be a Tweet! Is a blog crossed with a Tweet a bleet?)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Getting networked!

I am one of those people who haven't really been inspired by LinkedIn. Quite frankly, keeping up to date on my blog is challenging enough, never mind maintaining  Fb and Twitter accounts! LinkedIn really has fallen by the wayside for me. However, by pure coincidence, I think getting into Twitter has solved my problem! I have discovered that Tweetdeck allows me to consolidate my Twitter, Fb and LinkedIn accounts in one place. Whohoo. No doubt I'm the last person on the planet to figure this out, but I got there in the end. So over the next few weeks, I'll pay more attention to LinkedIn. Hopefully those people (including my Canadian cousin, whom I last saw in 1987) who I see tried to link to me and whom I have so rudely ignored, will forgive me!

Twitter in itself has been interesting. Joyce Seitzinger, e-learning guru at EIT (@catspyjamasnz ) sung its praises at e-fest last year, and so I made an attempt to understand it, but I just didn't 'get it'. Too much trivia. So I closed my Twitter account and remained terribly superior and disengaged. Now, partly as a result of the FOC 2010 course (thanks, Sarah), and partly as a result of David Hopkins (@hopkinsdavid), who proclaimed that using Twitter was like sitting next to the smart kid in class, I'm having another go (@jeanjacoby). And I'm finding it remarkably different. There seems to be much less of the info-babble, and a lot more useful information. Has Twitter changed, or am I just getting better at picking people to follow? I've had some good guidance from the FOC course, and from Donna Thompson (@donnathompson) at UCOL, so it might be the latter...I'm not sure. I'd love to hear from established Tweeters... has Twitter become more useful?

Citizens as Gatekeepers

I heard Dr Luke Goode from Auckland uni on the radio this morning, discussing his recent contribution to the university's Winter Lecture series. His comments on the pros and cons of 'outsourcing' news to anyone who can connect to social media are really interesting. What caught my attention was his comments on social media heavyweights such as Twitter and Facebook, (and Google) and how our assumption that these apps democratise information is naiive to say the least. He bases this on the fact (one that I have never thought about before) that any online app is governed by the algorithms they run on, and these algorithms are created by people, all of whom have individual biases. Thus, all of these algorithms are designed to sift information in particular ways.

It seems that the sooner we acknowledge that the online environment is not a 'neutral gateway to information', the better we will become at managing it.

Of course, this raises another, (but not new) issue, of where the power will lie in the future: it seems more and more likely that it will be in the hands of the intellectual technocrati who know how to use social media most effectively. Should we be embedding social media skills into school curricula as urgently as the current push to embed literacy and numeracy? What do you think?

The transcript of Dr Goode's lecture is available here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

19 Reasons to Use, or Not to Use, an iPad in Education

I'd love to have an i-pad, but realistically, I still don't now how useful they are in tertiary education just yet. Would love to know what other people think!
19 Reasons to Use, or Not to Use, an iPad in Education

Tech Learning TL Advisor Blog and Ed Tech Ticker Blogs from TL Blog Staff –

This is a really useful list of tools!
Tech Learning TL Advisor Blog and Ed Tech Ticker Blogs from TL Blog Staff –

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why should we care about social media?

(Best watched with audio muted!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Something for everyone involved in education

Take the time to listen to this...Robinson is entertaining and inspirational, and reminds all of us in education what it's really all about.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Word of the day

Tweckle (twek'ul) vt.
to abuse a speaker only to Twitter followers in the audience while he/she is speaking.

Don't you love the way technology can hijack our lexicon?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Linking up my social networking

(This blog post is really an experiment to see if I can get my blog to link to my Facebook account.)

Part of this week's assignments for FOC 2010 is an instruction to 'join a social networking group such as Facebook, Ning or LinkedIn'. Well, I already have accounts with all three, so I thought I'd reflect briefly on my experiences of each before trying to figure out how I could link some of my accounts together.

I joined LinkedIn about three years ago, and haven't found it overly useful. Of course I only signed up for the free version which is really limited. One of the major drawbacks of this version was that it would only allow me to link to other members in the same country. As a new immigrant to New Zealand, my local professional network was really small, and because of the account restrictions I couldn't use LinkedIn to connect to my existing network in South Africa, which was a pity because I used to do a lot of freelance work. I have also noticed that lots of people (like me) join but don't really do much with their accounts.

I loved Ning, when it was free. I liked the fact that it was simple and easy to use, and that I could create multiple networks really easily. It is much more user friendly (I think) than Facebook, especially in terms of the privacy settings. But it is no longer free, and I feel duped!

I use Facebook, sporadically... it has certainly enabled me to make contact with long-lost friends. I think Facebook is an interesting tool, but it doesn't really do it for me - I like more depth to my connections.   In the spirit of intellectual curiosity (!!), however, I'm going to try to figure out how to link my blog to my Facebook page. I'd love to see some South African dots on my visitor map!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Christchurch earthquake

Strength to all of the FOC 2010 team who have been affected by the earthquake this morning... the devastation is staggering, and the fact that there were no serious casualties is a miracle. What can those of us who weren't affected do to help?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Game Dynamics

At the risk of sounding like a David Hopkins echo, he posted this really interesting clip on his blog recently. Game dynamics are something I haven't really thought much about, but this presentation certainly made me reflect on how I could apply it in my work building online learning for tertiary students. The clip is 20 minutes long (although I think, given the speed at which Priebatsch speaks, it should really be 30 minutes!) and the word-for-word transcript feels a little disjointed, so here's my summary of Priebatsch's main points.
Game dynamics – the motivations that keep people gaming - can be used to motivate study behaviours. Four game dynamics mentioned in his talk are:

1. The appointment dynamic – in order to succeed, players have to do a predefined thing at a pre-defined place. In real life, this is reflected in practices such as ‘happy hour’. Examples that can be seen in the gaming world include Farmville in Facebook – water your crops every few hours or they’ll wilt…
Using this dynamic to motivate student learning, we could award points for students completing certain formative activities within a certain time frame, or deduct points if they don’t.

2. Influence and status - the more points you get, the higher your status. Banks and airlines already use this by awarding ‘gold’ cards and platinum status to customers… the attached status means that more people want them. In online gaming, status allows you to go from this to this:

In schools, the same principles are applied at a very basic level, where your grades can go from an E to an A. According to Priebatsch, Princeton University is extending the gaming dynamic by offering opportunities to ‘level-up’, so if your grades are low, you can complete a series of quizzes which earn you experience points, allowing you to improve your grade level.
I guess we already use a basic version of this by using the Moodle quiz results block which displays the names of the students scoring highest (or lowest) on a particular quiz. We don't really provide level-up opportunities, and the implications for getting such an idea through all the curriculum approval hoops boggles the mind, but it is a really interesting (and student-centred) idea.
3. The progression dynamic – many games require you to move through a series of graded steps in order to make progress. When presented with a progress bar, people are driven to do what is needed to move the slider across from the left to the right. We could use the progress dynamic to drive students to certain activities in order to complete the progress slider and unlock rewards.
I have done this to some extent when using the Moodle lesson function, but I haven't attached any reward to completion other than personal satisfaction. It would be fun to create some sort of nurse-avatar who could earn equipment and move up levels as a result, wouldn't it!
4. Communal discovery – everyone has to work together to reap rewards. A real example of this was when the website Digg got going – Digg is a news website where people contribute the news stories. People could move up and down a leader board based on points readers awarded to the stories they posted. The gaming aspect of the leader board became so powerful that it overtook the purpose of the website. A group of seven at the top of the leader board joined together and worked to make sure that they remained at the top by closing out other people’s stories while recommending their own.
I guess this one is key, and it links to the FOC 2010 course by reinforcing the value of social networking and collaboration. We're still not doing this one particularly well, although we are getting better at it. Encouraging students to see the value of networking and collaboration is an ongoing project requiring constant reinforcement and modelling.

Game dynamics is definitely something I want to learn more about... I know from observing students engaging with Moodle for the first time, that the resources they access first and spend most time on are those that involve interaction and gaming, even if at the most basic level. Whilst I'm not an online gamer myself (give me a good book any time) I can see the power that gaming strategies could have to transform education.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Social networking

Another infographic this one by Jess3...

I was surprised to see that Skype is so much bigger than Facebook. People certainly are connecting.

Blogging is child's play...

Yesterday my family and I had dinner with friends. Andrea Bing is a primary school teacher, currently working with a small group of new entrants (5-year olds) at Manchester Street School here in Feilding. After supper, she showed me her classroom blog. Working as I do with tertiary students, it was refreshing to see what people do with social networking at the foundation level. Andrea's blog provides a wonderful way for parents to keep in touch with what their children are learning and doing at school, and it provides a great place for the children to display their achievements. I particularly liked the idea of students recording themselves reading and uploading the resulting MP3 files - what a wonderful way to motivate reluctant readers! Andrea has some lovely gadgets on the page, such as picture puzzles and scratch cards, which should keep young visitors well entertained! One I particularly like is the visitor location map (available from Cluster Maps) which I've added to my blog... imagine how exciting it would be for 5-year olds to see people from all over the world visiting their blog! It's a free geography lesson too!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Skype etiquette...skyptiquette?

David Hopkins' blog, Don't Waste Your Time, is one of my favourite resource-sharing blogs. His posts are always detailed, thoughtful and balanced, and he provides great links. He tends to deal with themes rather than having one-off posts. His latest post, on Skype etiquette, contains a link to a great video which will strike a chord with anyone who  has accidentally hit the enter button mid-message (watch below if you don't feel like clicking through to the blog itself).

The blog itself struck a chord with me because I haven't trained myself to ignore comfortably the skype ring, and I am occasionally ambushed online at an inappropriate time, such as during a training session, by a call from the other side of the world. And boy, are some people persistent! If only they'd get the message and hang up after 4 rings! My other issue with skype is to do with the webcam... we have it set up so that the kidlets can stay in touch with family and friends in South Africa, but I always find myself frantically checking what I (and the room behind me) look like before I hit answer!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

FOC 2010 Week 5 Reflection

As part of our 'homework' for the course, we are asked to write a reflection on what we have learned over the last 5 weeks, with the following questions as a guide.
  • What is online facilitation?
  • What skills do you need as an online facilitator?
  • How does a facilitator build an online community or network?
  • What are the key things to remember when facilitating an event, meeting or education course, especially when working with people who are new to online technology?
  • What is the difference between teaching and facilitation?

Some of these questions appear deceptively simple, but I think answering them is probably not easily done in a single blog post, so please forgive me if my responses seem a little superficial...!

My understanding of online facilitation has definitely evolved over the past weeks. At the start of this course I saw the role of the online facilitator as a simple one of preparing a course with online resources, and being available to students as they work through it. I have come to realise that the role is much more complex. It appears to me that the online facilitator weaves multiple roles, including teacher, technology advisor and community builder, together to create a flexible backdrop against which students can construct their own learning. To do this a facilitator needs to be a skilled juggler, crisis manager, multi-tasker and problem solver, unflappable under pressure, ready to step in at any time but confident enough to take a back seat to allow student-centred learning. As if this wasn't enough, an online facilitator probably needs to be a bit of a techie-junkie too, as clearly remaining up-to-date with the latest technologies will be key to successfully facilitating online.

Things to remember when facilitating? I think it would have to plan, plan, plan... and then have a back-up plan, just in case. I haven't actually facilitated a session yet, but my experiences of the elluminate classroom suggest that the sessions that appear most effortless and flow most smoothly are probably carefully planned and strategised beforehand. Being a newbie to any technology can be really intimidating, and so making sure that things run as smoothly as possible seems essential. Giving students time to practise using the technology in a 'safe' way, as Sarah did at the start of this course, was also really helpful. I also like the way that, throughout the course, facilitators have been comfortable admitting that they don't know it all... I think it's really reassuring to a student to see lecturers solving problems collaboratively and without flapping!

The differences between teaching and facilitation are probably more appropriate to a PhD thesis than a brief paragraph in a blog! In one respect, good teaching is facilitation, but the two are not interchangeable, are they? Facilitating implies that one is allowing students to create their own learning using their own pathways, whereas teaching seems more like the old, traditional chalk-and-talk, but it really is all just a matter of semantics. Or is it? Would an online facilitator always teach, or could they simply facilitate the teaching of others. And if so, does that not make them de facto teachers too? I'm looking forward to reading other posts on this topic.

The Value of a Social Media Fan….Priceless

This was tweeted on The Next Web today - a really interesting look at the commercial value of Facebook.

The Value of a Social Media Fan….Priceless

Using discussion forums

I've just caught up with Lorraine Mockford's discussion on facilitating asynchronous learning, which is part of the FOC2010 course. It was interesting to hear her describing her approach to discussion boards, and listening to the discussion helped crystalise some ideas that I have had floating around, but hadn't really tried to formalise.
  1. Lorraine talks about having a Week Zero, before the course actually gets going, in which students engage in a mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities in order to facilitate the development of an online community within the group. During the week she does things like getting students to introduce themselves in a  forum post; provide a fact about themselves that she woudl be unlikely to know otherwise; post a favourite link or website, etc. These are all great ideas which would help students overcome their nervousness of posting to a public forum in a pretty non-threatening manner.
  2. Lorraine talks about the importance of the lecturer holding back. This makes sense - after all, one is trying to enable the students to develop a community amongst themselves, rather than a series of one-to-one relationships with the lecturer. I have to admit that I have a tendency, when students put up a technical query, to jump in with the solution as quickly as I can, but I think I need to step back and allow the students to help one another instead.
  3. She also sets up discussion boards before the course runs, and allocates a specific board to 'off-thread' discussions. This is a great idea as it provides a place for students to share ideas and ask questions without interrupting the flow of a particular discussion.
  4. Finally, Lorraine mentioned using rubrics to assess forum posts. This is something we are currently grappling with... assessing forums would make students more likely to post to them (or would it?) but then it does detract from the spontaneity and the community aspects of a discussion forum. I'd be really interested to know what other people think and do regarding this. Does anyone have examples of rubrics that they could share?

Improving e-learning

As part of my 'homework' for the FOC2010 course, I watched a presentation by Stephen Downes entitled Web 2.0 and Your Own Learning and Development. In it, he talks about 'guerilla tactics' for e-learning. I have read and listened to Stephen on a number of occasions and he never disappoints. This particular video lecture was especially interesting to me because we are grappling at the moment with ways in which to help students become better e-learners, and Stephen works through this so methodically and thoughtfully. Some of the points he makes are:
  • The importance of interaction and participation in a community. I have realised this myself in my engagement (or lack thereof) with the FOC sessions. Having human contact makes it so much easier to stay engaged and current. Watching recordings of the ellluminate sessions isn't nearly as satisfying as participating. I will be working on helping lecturers to find ways to maintain the human element when their students are engaged in working online.
  • Usability and simplicity. I got this wrong when I first started working on Moodle, and my Moodle pages were long and needed lots of scrolling. I've definitely improved in this respect, and the students have responded well to my new design. However, I still have some way to go. I design interactive learning objects using, primarily, Adobe Captivate. This produces a great finished product, BUT, we have had no end of trouble with students being unable to access them because of browser updates or uninstalled flash players. I think perhaps that I have become so caught up in the intellectual exercise of producing 'clever' learning objects that I have forgotten that most basic rule that 'form follows function'. I will definitely be revisiting this based on what I have learned about online learning.
  • Relevance. I'd like to think that all the learning we require of our students is 'relevant' to their desire to become nurses, but I have to wonder if we convey the relevance clearly and accurately enough. Would they engage more with the independent learning if we were better at convincing them of the relevance of it to their success? (Beyond the, 'it's in the exam approach'!)
I have embedded the presentation below as an aide-memoire to myself - I need to watch it regularly to help me stay focussed. It's 20min, but well worth the time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Time's winged chariot

More than a week has past and I've fallen horribly behind with the Facilitating Online Course.. and it's going to get worse before it gets better. I'm learning to have a new respect for everyone out there who manages to juggle study, work and family life. I realised just how out of touch with FOC2010 I have become when I received an email today from a work colleague who sent me a link to a really interesting article called 15 practices to deepen human connection and engagement online. It's a great article, and it suggests some simple and practical ways to improve social engagement online. Turns out though that she got the link from a tweet from Sarah Stewart! And here I thought I'd be able to bring something new to the group when I finally managed to catch up! Just goes to show the efficacy of Twitter though!

I have been reading some of the blogs of other course participants. One member blogged about her first experiences of Second Life, which were fairly unpleasant. I had similar experiences when I first got into SL, encountering all sorts of funny-bunnies making all sorts of strange propositions. What struck me most though was the visceral nature of my reaction to these rather odd avatars... I actually felt panicky and anxious and found the experience quite upsetting. (A colleague sitting next to me even started whispering in case the avatar on the screen could hear her!) Reflecting on the experience made me realise exactly how powerful a tool Second Life can be for that very reason - if an encounter with an oddball avatar could make me react so strongly, the scope for semi-real-life Second-Life learning experiences would be huge. Although there has been little uptake of SL at my institution, for a number of different reasons, I do believe virtual worlds are a technology whose time has yet to come.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reflecting on facilitation skills

I have just been going through the assignments for the FOC2010. The video, Seven key skills of workshop facilitation, gives a really clear overview of some key skills. It also got me thinking about my own teaching. I realise that I relied heavily on body language when I was a teacher. Moving around the class; being a physical presence; creating and holding eye contact, all these were strategies that I used as part of classroom management.

What I am wondering is how one compensates for this when facilitating online? Does it become as intuitive as it does face-to-face? I imagine it must be much harder to get the feel of a bunch of voices, most of which belong to people one has never even met! I'm looking forward to trying out some online facilitation and getting the 'feel' for the virtual classroom.

On a completely different note, Heather Lamond, the librarian in charge of distance students at Massey University was at Ucol this morning, showing us some of the independent learning packages the Massey library staff have developed to assist students learning how to access information in the library databases, and so on. They work mainly in Captivate and Presenter, and they've produced some really useful, interactive stuff. Heather clearly ran a very well-organised and planned project to get these learning objects created, and it was good to hear her talking about how she went about things. She was also talking about the value of creating a virtual repository for learning objects, where these sorts of things could be stored, in an editable format, for people from other organisations to access and download.

I know many tertiary institutions are moving towards the Creative Commons approach and sharing materials, but wouldn't it be amazing if there were an organised library of these learning objects? A sort of one-stop-shop where materials developers went first, instead of reinventing wheels! The Open University, UK, is already doing something along these lines... check it out here.

Image downloaded from Sthacker's photostream,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Looking Ahead at Social Learning: 10 Predictions

Having just blogged about social media, I came across this article about social learning. It covers a diverse range of learning topics such as augmented reality, games and simulations, mobile learning and learning networks. Well worth a read.

Looking Ahead at Social Learning: 10 Predictions - 2010 - ASTD: "Looking Ahead"

Words, words, words

David Hopkins (Don't waste your time) blogged about this today. I would have called it a useful diagram, but thankfully, now I know that it's actually an infographic I won't embarrass myself in public! Although I haven't really caught the social media wave, I do think a lot of the tools have similar applications for those of us in education.

According to the CMO website "Infographics help communicate information in a digestible manner, as they creatively present data in an understandable and engaging format." I think we used to say, 'a picture is worth a thousand words'! 

If you're interested in social media, you can download a large pdf of this poster (oops, infographic) at the bottom of the CMO website.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Instructional design and online learning

Sarah Stewart posted a comment on my blog recently:
I do not call myself an instructional designer but that seems to be part of my work these days. I am really looking forward to talking to you about how we design activities and events to engage people in the online environment. What would you say is a really important to take into consideration when designing online activities?

I guess in some ways that's what I hope to find out by joining the Facilitating Online course. Off the top of my head I'd say 'scaffolding'(if that's the right term) to be sure that people have the techie basics right before the course gets underway. I thought this was done really well in the online classroom session on Thursday - it was worth spending the time testing our sound and mics so that we knew what we were doing, even though it meant the session ran over time. I also think that you have done an excellent job of getting information out regularly via your blog, ensuring people are engaged and ready to roll with the course.
I spent this afternoon doing similar work (albeit on a much smaller scale). Our mid-year intake started today, and I spent a couple of hours with our second-year students showing them how they could use some of the Moodle tools to facilitate study groups and build their personal learning networks! This year, for the first time, I have allocated a class group their own Moodle page over which they have complete control. Usually they tend to be on the receiving end of course delivery, able only to react to forum posts and activities designed by either the lecturers or myself. This time, they have complete control over the course - they can upload resources, create and share forums, design activities, whatever takes their fancy. It will be interesting to see what the uptake of this is over the upcoming year.
Oh, and Sarah, although I call myself an instructional designer (mainly because that's what it says I am on my card at UCOL) I have to say that I still haven't quite figured out what I do. Like most of us in e-learning, I guess that I'm really a jack-of-all-trades... and hope eventually to be a master of (at least) one!

Image downloaded from Augapfel's photostream CC-BY-SA from

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Facilitating online - The first online class

Thursday evening saw the first online class of the 2010 Facilitating Online course, run through Elluminate. Although I had tried unsuccessfully to get into the classroom earlier in the evening, I had no troubles accessing the session. I was blown away by the experience. I had never used Elluminate before, and I can see why people speak so highly of it. It would be great to get our lecturers and nursing students using the tool as a way of supporting and facilitating their independent learning. What I enjoyed most though was the range of participants from all over the world. (And wow - the dedication of people getting up at 4am to participate was really impressive!)  What an amazing experience being able to share so easily in their knowledge (and all while enjoying my evening glass of wine.) I've already learned of new tools to use to streamline some of my tasks, and I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into them. Watching the course 'staff' was also great as they modeled online facilitation strategies. What could have been a tense experience for a newbie rapidly became enjoyable, and I was sad that I had to leave before the session closed. I'm really looking forward to the next online session.

It has also been wonderful to have people reading and commenting on my blog. My original intention with the blog was more along the lines of a diary and thought-store for myself, but there is something really satisfying about having people visit and comment! Having looked at the blogs of some of the other participants though, I'm feeling the need to dust off my html and have a go at updating the look of my page! It's amazing how extending one's learning network immediately extends one's creativity.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bloom's taxonomy

Donna Thompson, UCOL's Moodle guru, sent me a link to this today - it really helps to bring Bloom's taxonomy into the e-learning world.

View the whole wiki page here... you can even sign up and add your ideas to the image.

(Image CC-BY-SA, Attributed to Michael Fisher,

Online communities

Sarah Stewart's facilitating online course started on Monday - accompanied, on my side, by vague feelings of anxiety. I wasn't terribly sure what I should be doing as years of F2F lectures and teaching clearly have me conditioned into a fairly inflexible mindset. So what a wonderful surprise it was to log into my blog today to discover a whole lot of comments awaiting - mostly from people I have never met! It's really quite exciting to realise how rapidly one can expand one's personal learning network! So the anxiety has gone and I'm really feeling enthusiastic about what I can learn from everyone.

Isn't it amazing how these great opportunites invariably coincide with busy times at work? Today Stevie Smith's poem, Not waving but drowning kept popping in to my mind! I did some very small research at the end of last year in which I looked at how our first year students were accessing (or not) our LMS (Moodle). I got a lot of really great feedback which I have been implementing into the design of the new Moodle pages. Unfortunately it's quite a radical shift from what we had before, and I really need to redesign the early pages so that they are consistent with our new, improved approach. And the new enrolments start next week. Eek! I guess if I don't sleep between now and Monday I'll be fine!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Facilitating online

I have just signed up for Sarah Stewart's Facilitating online course which starts later this month. I had intended to do it last year but we all know about the road to hell and good intentions! Anyway, hopefully I'll get myself more organised this time around. I'm looking forward to being forced (although that's probably too strong a word) to reflect on online learning in a slightly more formalised manner, and I'm equally looking forward to meeting other people involved in online education and learning from them. As an instructional designer I spend much of my time developing materials for online delivery, and it will be wonderful to think more deeply about how to facilitate the delivery of these more effectively. Although I love e-learning, it's a world that I landed in almost by accident, and much of what I do is based on feel or instinct, rather than any sound theory!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Plagiarism awareness

This was posted on David Hopkins' blog this morning. Sometimes all the sincerely earnest academic talk in the world isn't as valuable as one clever video presentation! Imagine working where there were budgets for this sort of thing!

Access the translations by clicking this button, or select 'cc' if viewing on Youtube itself.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


It's been a while since I've come across a really clever, easy to use freebie, but Wallwisher definitely fits the bill! It's a really clever site designed to allow users to post (sorry) post-its on a 'wall'. I'm currently usnig it to gather ideas from staff for content on some new curriculum papers and it's working really well. It's incredibly simple to use, it only allows 160 characters, so people have to be pithy and get to the point, and it allows viewers to see all the ideas at a glance - no clicking, no scrolling. The site designers suggest using it for party invitations and the like, but I can see that it has great potential for students' pre-learning; brainstorming, reflecting on the lessons, and the like. It would even work well for primary school children.
This screenshot shows postings by lecturers listing key content for a new paper. Wall editors can edit the appearance and re-arrange the sticky-notes, and there's even an option to moderate postings before they appear on the wall.

Wallwisher is still in beta, but it's well wort a visit.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mea culpa!

I have completely neglected my blog for the last few months, so imagine my shame when, on returning to it this week, I discover comments that have been awaiting moderation since JANUARY! I harp on all the time about the importance in e-learning of timely responses to emails and comments from students, so clearly, it is a case of do as I say, not as I do. Mea culpa!

It hasn't been an empty six months, though. We're finally getting Questionmark up and running at UCOL, and every time I use it I am impressed by what an incredibly powerful piece of software it is. It is certainly revolutionising the way we do online assessments within the School of Nursing, and it has amazing potential as an adaptive learning tool too. What I particularly like is the fact that I can build simulations and learning content in Captivate, and embed these into Questionmark as the basis for assessments.
We recently took delivery of a fancy new simulation mannikin from Laerdal (admittedly a doll that groans and breathes seems somewhat creepy to me) and the intention is to install an interactive whiteboard in the skills lab, and then create simulations and scenarios using Captivate, Questionmark and the mannikin to really challenge the student nurses in their learning! What with Flip video cameras, laptops, podcasts and live viewing, the e-world is our oyster!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Future of Education?

Apparently this video was originally commissioned by DoringKindersly as part of an internal training/marketing session, but it's 'gone viral', and with good reason. Although I no longer work in publishing, it struck me that one can substitute 'education' for 'publishing' and the message is as appropriate for those of us in e-learning and education. What do you think?

The Future of Publishing - created by DK (UK)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Virtual International Day of the Midwife

Sarah Stewart is an educator, midwife, Second-Lifer (see the SLENZ project here) and all-round collaborative-e-learning-evangelist. I have followed her blog for a while, and am always interested in the scope of her work. Currently she is organising the Virtual International Day of the Midwife, a 24-hour online event of sharing and collaboration, and I got to design the logo... see it on the top right of my blog.

It's always fun to get the chance to do something a little out of the ordinary, and I love to play in Photoshop, so thanks, Sarah, for the opportunity!

The best things in life are free...

If you're anything like me, you're probably counting the costs, both financial and to the waistline, of the festive season which has passed. In the spirit of giving, I thought it apt to look at some of the useful freebies I found out there last year!

I recently received an invitation to Google Wave (thanks, Donna!) and after my initial glee at being one of the supposedly select few, I have to say that I can't see what all the fuss is about. But maybe that's because I'm not the world's greatest social networker.

Subscribing to blogs is a great way to find new free stuff, usually the blogger has already done the hard work checking out new programmes and applications, and identifying the pros and cons along the way. Jane's e-learning pick of the day is a great site, if you can keep up with it, and David Hopkins (Don't waste your time) can be relied on for thoughtful consideration of e-learning tools and developments. Some suggestions for tools that I gleaned from Jane's picks last year are Screentoaster, Sliderocket and  Lovely Charts... all of which offer good quality online resources for free.

The best freebie I learned of last year though was as the result of a chance mention by Peter Vanderbeke, MD of GoVitual Medical Simulations (more about this another time) in Auckland. Dropbox is a fantastic online file-sharing service - not only can you access your files from any computer, anywhere, but you can also share folders and files with other people. This has been invaluable for a group of us at UCOL who worked over the Christmas shutdown developing resources for papers launching in February. It provided us with a single, collaborative space where everything was stored and backed-up; earlier versions of documents remained accessible; and best of all; documents which I accidentally deleted whilst having a new-year purge of my desktop were easily restored with the touch of a button! Dropbox offers 2Gb for free, more for a subscription. I'm sorely tempted!

On a more expensive note, I recently upgraded my home computer to the 'latest and greatest', and I'm revelling in the increased speed and all the bells and whistles that come with it. At last I have space to install Premier Pro, Captivate and the Adobe Design Premium without everything coming to a grinding halt. (If only these were free too!) Flicking between programmes is instant, and I find it hard to tear myself away from work. The fun I can have! Windows 7, however, underwhelms.