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!