I’ve been attending the e-fest conference here in Wellington. My overall impression is that the eLearning field in NZ has now matured to the stage where there is an increasingly shared body of knowledge. I’m sure the governmen’s initiatives in this area have really helped in this regard. I enjoyed the exposure to some conceptual models which were new to me – eg Sandy Britains’ model of amplification of capability and attenuation of variability.
My strong interest in open source meant the chance to listen to the keynote by Martin Dougiamas (of Moodle fame) and meet him in person was really enjoyable for me. His expertise as a technical developer is matched by his insights into online learning and communities.
With regards to developing practice and learning design, Marc Prensky’s post-conference workshop was very stimulating, and it rekindled my interest in games and simulations and how they can be used to engage learners in the post-Blackboard era! The workshop moved on from his keynote and participants began to explore ways of connecting and integrating such activities to ensure transferable and relevant learning.
Just prior to e-fest, I attended a staff development session at AUT presented by Dr Ann Kerwin who teaches in the Faculty of Business. I found her model of the requirements of learning (time, space, energy, attention, reward) interesting and I’m currently reflecting on how this can inform my existing beliefs about effective teaching, both online and face to face.
On 7 October I attended a presentation at AUT by Debbie Soccio, one of the Australian FLLs who is currently in New Zealand – she’ll be attending e-fest from 11 – 12 October. Debbie is with Victoria University in Melbourne and discussed and demonstrated a number of online resources. Several of the sites shown were focused around ESOL, literacy and numeracy.
One site of particular interest to me was one for online moderation for the Certificate in General Education for adults – it provides a database of moderated assessment tasks and a mechanism for submitting tasks for moderation and discussion of assessment and moderation issues. As a complement to face to face moderation meetings this has a lot of potential. URL: http://www.staff.vu.edu.au/cgea/
Another interesting resource was an induction CD-ROM for new students – it was developed in PowerPoint and exported to Director. The development of the project was carried out using a collaborative, action learning approach.
After the presentation, Debbie also interviewed Hasmeeta and me for her research project. A couple of aspects of the way Debbie organised this stood out for me:
- Debbie used a minidisc recorder of a type I’ve never seen before for recording the interview – rather than the familiar ‘personal music player’ style it seemed to be designed to replace a micro-cassette recorder as it had a built-in microphone. A great idea for interviews!
- Debbie presented us with a small gift at the end of the interview – much appreciated and a gracious way of acknowledging our time.
So as well as what I learned from the content of our discussion, this was a very useful model for me of how to carry out an interview. Thank you Debbie, and also to Hasmeeta for organising the visit!
From 14 to 16 September I attended the NZ Association of Private Education providers’ conference at Te Papa in Wellington. In collaboration with my QED colleague Doug Haynes, I presented two workshops. One of these was entitled Determining the Quality of E-Learning Programmes and reflected our ‘work in progress’ in this area. It was a great opportunity for me to meet up with private providers who were using or planning to use eLearning and compare their needs and approaches with those in the public institutions.
There was a great overlap with my FLLinNZ goals and I’m sure I’ll be visiting and talking in-depth with some of these contacts later in the year.
On 24 September I attended a University of Auckland workshop presented by Paula Hodgson and Carmel McNaught of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. They reported on a collaborative project involving three Hong Kong universities to develop effective eLearning. The e3learning project has a strong developmental focus which seemed very sound – a systematic ‘action research’ process incorporating thorough evaluation. The developmental model they presented will be really useful to me in facilitating change in my own organisation and beyond. It was also great to catch up with Lyn along with other contacts within the eLearning world!
A change of plans for me has been brought about by my leadership mentor pulling out of our professional relationship due to pressure of work. I have had an interest in peer mentoring for some time, so Bronwyn and I have agreed to initiate a peer mentoring relationship online. I feel this has a lot of potential for developing my own practice and will be a useful area to explore for working with others.
I have just completed my involvement in a research review which was carried out by the University of Oklahoma. The project involved the development of a set of criteria for evaluating learning management systems. The process was an interesting one as it took place over 3 weeks and involved an expert panel. Each week, as panel members we downloaded a PDF document and gave feedback using an online survey – we didn’t know who the other panel members were and had no contact with them.
In the first week, we were presented with a set of criteria which had been collated from elsewhere and gave feedback on their completeness. In week 2, a revised set of criteria was supplied and we rated each on importance. In week 3, we reviewed the resulting new set of criteria as a complete set. Now we’re awaiting the final results.
Although I felt the process could have benefited from some group interaction between panel members, I thought the process was well designed and managed and could be a very useful model for an organisation looking to undertake evaluation of a system prior to purchase or development. It provided a very structured and focused process for consulting stakeholders – I’ll be able to use my experience as a panel member as a model in the future.
There is more information at the project site www.hqranch.net/ but the surveys etc are not openly available.