May 28, 2014

ocTEL Week 3 Activity 3.1 Using New Tools: Touchcast

Activity 3.1: Creating your own materials

Have a look at : Touchcast
  • How easy was it to understand how this tool worked?
    • Touchcast sign-up went really smoothly. The first choice was to browse existing touchcasts or to create your own. After browsing a couple of existing public products I was really interested to try my own. Being able to see demonstrations of the tool helped me to pickup how the tool could work. Then by starting my own, I got all the instructions on-screen (no separate help file required) to get started.
  • How quickly and easily would you find it to use?
    • In about 10 minutes I had created my first Touchcast. I could activate the basic template choice and create content with video/sound and text very easily. I estimate it would take a couple of days to refine it and add the other features such as screen sharing.
  • How could you apply this tool in your own teaching?
    • Tthis tool could be used to show new tools that are coming up in the LMS and get staff excited about new features (or improvements). Upgrades to the LMS happen at least once a year and the training aspect of this process is lacking and doesn't always get the message across. This tool offers a quick and easy way to combine video of someone talking with other information.
    • I would have to investigate the export feature (from the iPad) and how portable these files are.
    • The other issue is whether the organisation would accept it. I have tried to create innovative learning materials before but unless there is a senior person supporting the development of the material then it may not get past my immediate supervisor.
  • What does this tool offer that has advantages over your current practice?
    • Most of our "new features" or "upgrade" information is purely text and screen shots. Quite often the staff do not read the document that is sent out to them, whereas this type of format could be used to spark their interest in the new features, make them aware of what is happening and then have the document as followup with more information. This would personalise the message, make it flow better and make it more interesting to the staff.

May 11, 2014

ocTEL Week 3 Activity 1.2: Reflecting on strategies for Learning Technology - #ocTEL

This activity is about strategy and how you or someone in your role might contribute to a strategy for using Learning Technology in face to face, blended or online learning context.

Strategy for introducing the Learning Management System to a new cohort of teachers.

I am going to use the SAMR model to look at this question.

I work in a duel-sector University where an established Learning Management System (LMS) has been established for some time. However it has been taken up by the HE sector for a lot longer. Part of my role as an Instructional Technologist is to "promote" the LMS to the Vocational Educational (VET) sector. It is also part of the Office of Learning and Teaching Strategy to have an online unit for each course that is taught. I suspect that this strategy was chosen because it was easy to measure rather than actually look at the implications of that, however, it's there! Written down! Must be done!

It appears that the initial online units created have basically been a SUBSTITUTION. A dump of material (*shudder*) and requirements for print-and-submit kind of assessments. In some cases this has not even been seen as an "Enhancement" but rather just another way of looking at the same thing. Much like when you first read an e-book, without using any of the online features.

Much like this blog post that combines both the SAMR model and Gartner Hype cycle, I thought I would map some of the events and LMS features that impact the strategy by using these models. From here I can suggest some pointers that could influence the strategy to move forward.
Diagram by Wendy Taleo 2014 based on

The interesting point is that different parts of the organisation are at different areas of these models. For example, digital badges are just starting their hype cycle and have yet to be implemented in the LMS. Gamification has been on the agenda and is used in pockets. Will this really move across to redefinition? Yet in other parts there are a lot of un-released units created that have stalled. The teachers of these units are definitely in the trough of disillusionment about the technology and are "happily?" continuing to teach without using the LMS.

One of the reasons for the units not to be released is the realisation that the combination of systems that make up the LMS are designed, primarily for the HE system. A working group has been setup to look at this. There is also extra staff being hired to look at some new units that will bring extra dollars into the system. However this needs to be broader in addressing all the learnings from the units that have been on the LMS for a number of years and apply the most effective design principles to the new units.

Staff professional development is so critical here. To move the teaching pedagogy from a print-and-submit kind of assignment to eAssessment via gamification might sound great, but needs to be appropriate for the student base and be managed properly. At this stage there are some units they have online tests but the effort of the teacher goes into trying to replicate the paper version rather than looking at a redefinition of how the student could be assessed in these areas. There needs to be a lot of staff support here to assist them to move into new areas and towards MODIFICATION or REDEFINITION. Exemplar units need to be part of this strategy. For example, showing staff how ePortfolios would look and be assessed or how interactive materials could be customised to their field of teaching.

One part of this model layering that doesn't really work is that not all newly introduced technologies fit into the Substitution box. Virtual Learning Environments (VLE's) would be part of that. Using Second Life for learning is a REDEFINITION and fits into the transformation of learning. The other aspect is that not all learning technologies has to move into the transformation arena. However for my purposes I would definitely want to shift the way that that learning technologies are used from the Substitution box into at least Modification. That is where the student will get the most benefit or at least that needs to be the focus or the technology chosen. The important aspect of the Gartner curve is that you want to minimise the impact to the student by following hype and get to the point of effective learning through the use of the technologies.

May 1, 2014

MOOC Participation Plan

This is the first time that I'm preparing a Participation Plan for a MOOC.
(related to Activity 0.3 Explore and experiment)

ocTEL Participation plan:

1. What tools to use
Often: G+ community, twitter, share blog in ocTEL reader, ocTEL groups
Once-off or infrequent: twitter participation map, twitter conversations visualised, storify
2. Level of participation: blog after reading and reflection, read and respond to others in groups
3. New communication channels tried:
+ Twitter contributions mapping in ocTEL: finding one person near my location and connecting via the twitter tag.
+ Setup my blog in ocTEL profile and looking at groups and reader features.
+ Interested to try the RSS feeds for linking parts of the reader into my blog
+ May setup Blackboard Social Space or join existing space.

Reason for choices of tools

I'm familiar with G+ and twitter and use them regularly, no extra learning curve there. ocTEL reader is a new beast but seems to be similar to other curation tools that I have used. I'm steering clear of the ocTEL forums at this stage because I'm a bit "discussion board" burnt out. I also want an easy notification mechanisms where I don't have to have extra emails or extra places to click to get regular information.

Relationship forming in open social spaces

Ease of increasing my existing personal learning network (PLN): I already have an established personal learning network in G+ so it is easy for me to add and expand my PLN in that way. I think that a new community will build for this course and that is why I will dip into the ocTEL groups and twitter contributors. I like the self-enrol ocTEL groups. I think this will be important and that we can swap and change groups as the course goes along. One feature of G+ communities is that people join because of a common interests and in my experience this means less spam or useless postings. The other community that I will try and form or join is other colleagues completing this course. This will most likely be completed via Blackboard Social Spaces. Community building and relationship forming is very important for my learning because it suits my learning style and I get a buzz out of collaborating and working with people with the same interests. This level of interest will keep my motivation (or not) during the course.