Blended Learning Conference 2012

<Awaiting Presentation>

These are the handouts used for this session:

Changing the Conversation handout

The Rapport Exercise Bands are best printed on two different coloured papers for easy identification. Form participants into pairs and had one of each band type (A+B) asking them not to share what is written on them. Run the exercise for about 5 minutes, so rapport is well established. Then sit down, or other action. Again let them disengage for about 5 minute or until the room is suitable uncomfortable. If there is time allow them to re-establish rapport, but this is not essential.

Changing the Conversation handout

Preview of PebblePad 3

Attended a PebblePad workshop in Preston today at which a demo of PebblePad 3 was given. Didn’t get the opportunity to play with it directly 😦 but some demo accounts may be available shortly so will keep my eyes open. Interface looks light and airy with more opportunities to use it a more like your desktop. Multiple asset types can be opened which is good. Text formatting within asset fields is also great, which will make blogs and webfolios better in appearance.

There is a social element that draws in from popular Social Networking apps, Facebook, Twitter and Blogger, as well as posts out. Institution tab acts like a portal with one stop login to other systems, pulling information in and linking out to more details, all admin customisable. The main difference is being able to completely customise the standard wizards and forms with your own designs. At the moment you can create new forms but not replace the standard set. The other useful feature is being able to replicate assets across multiple PebblePad accounts.

The workshop also went over some of the features in 2.5 and I now understand the potential of forms and gateways much better. One of the issues we have had with PebblePad and the disengaged students is being able to assess what they are having an issue with. If we had used the Gateway instead of a Blog we could have tracked student progress much better. The other thing I realised was how you can create a work booklet for students to complete as they progress through their studies. Again shared and published via a gateway, becomes an effective means of keep track of students you don’t meet face-to-face. Some good lessons learned today, Ill be definitely working on the booklet idea. Possibly as a means of implementing focus questions around the GROW model of coaching, for staff and students.

ELESIG: Evaluating Learners’ Experience of e-learning

On October 6th I attended my first symposium of the Evaluating Learners’ Experience of e-learning special interest group (ELESIG), held in London on the topic of Effective Learning in the Digital Age. ELESIG is an international community of researchers and practitioners who are particularly interested in understanding how learners use and experience technology in their learning. It was an interesting meeting, where the highlights for me were presentations by students giving first hand accounts of activities they had been involved in, including a major survey soon to be published by the NUS on student perception of different technologies in a learning context.

As part of the day I had the opportunity to give a 10 minute presentation on the PC3 project as part of “Members’ Corner”. The presentation focused on our future activities working with Nick Halafihi and his team on the PDP module for Level 1 students in the Carnegie Faculty. One of our challenges is to engage with these students from the project perspective to get their feedback on the coaching activities, when we are not directly involved in the teaching process this time. We need unobtrusive but effective mechanisms for working with a relatively large group (220) of students that doesn’t place significant additional demands on them and doesn’t interfere with the module itself. We have some ideas but are keen to hear from colleagues about ideas that have worked for them. And ELESIG seemed a good group to ask.

Following the seminar I recorded a short video summary of what I had talked about:

Cluster Meeting – Bolton

Cluster meeting @ Bolton today, good to catch up. The general consensus is that the current economic climate, potential political changes have refocused higher management decision processes which are affecting projects in both positive and negative ways. There is still an overriding concern that a single project is not enough to instigate full institutional change. However alongside this there are several smaller endeavours that have had big up take at various levels.

Tony demonstrated an interesting development for distance learners that enabled them to access and perform laboratory equipment to perform experiments remotely. For me the interesting thing was his use of GoogleSites to build a disposable VLE, using a selection of freely available tools which are accessed via drag and drop chunks of code. Given the enrolment issues we have had with the universities VLE this might be the way forward for running and adapting to the small cohorts on the PLC module. I will have to play with this over the summer.

The afternoon was focused on XCRI and possible adaption to use with module definitions and learning outcomes. This was quickly dismissed as unsuitable. Competencies and learning outcomes will most likely require their own set of attributes.  Discussion moved to the possibility of linking competencies to learning outcomes. Suggested that we need to know more about what research has already been done in this area. It is suspected that there are currently active projects in this area that we are currently unaware of particularly in the international arena.  The need for some form of online resource to host this information was identified. From this discussion I suspect that PLC will be able to input on this debate, usually institutional v industry, by providing the student perspective on how they view their skills and abilities and their perception of what their profession requires.

Empower Confidence Workshop

I attended an interesting demo on training videos today that has lost of potential for creating interactive learning objects. The system presents a video scenario which can have questions or choices embedded within it. These can then be answered/chosen by using a personal response system. At the moment this is designed to work with systems other than the one that we are currently using but the creators are looking to extend the range, so there is hope. Regardless of this most of us at the demo were considering the application of standalone embedded videos within the VLE. Negating the need for a personal response system.

From the perspective of PC3 I can see this being a useful tool for gathering together a group of resources into a single learning object. Where we have several models of different views of a particular concept we can let the student explore the ones they are interested in then return to where the choice originated. Another use, demonstrated at the demo, would be to create coaching objects that show how, for example, client questioning can take the client in different directions. This might be a complex one to set up, but having just gone through coaching training, I learnt much from watching others coach and seeing how the techniques used directed the conversation.

I have gained a trial version J which I will explore over the next month and see what we can do with it. Just combining it with the simple animation process we used at the LO workshop could produce some very effect learning material.

Developing Learning Objects for Coaching

Day one of the learning object workshop started with defining and looking at examples of learning objects. Then we got on to the hands on process of developing PLC’s first learning object.

We chose to focus on one particular element of the modules content, intentional change, and delivering content and activities to develop understanding of one particular model of intentional change. This was a very creative process, part of which we captured on flip, almost an LO in it’s own right. Tam had the initial idea and with Alex doing the writing (an honorary team member), created an image of the model and defined the sort of content that would assist in understanding. We used one of the templates the presenters had brought with them. The resulting LO framework look like this:

An important point came up during out discussions around the development of this LO. There was some confusion over whether we were designing this LO for the student to gain knowledge of the content or knowledge about themselves. We kept sliding from one to the other. Something we need to be clear about as we develop the PLC module, when the topic is learning content and when it is an activity for self development.

Day two brought us to the refinement of ideas and production. We were introduced to a handy little tool called GLOMaker. This provides a step by step process for producing an LO from a pedagogical, learning outcomes approach. This is very different to the other tools I have worked with which have focused on the conversion of current material, PowerPoint and Word docs, to a web based bit size chunks. Using just the kit in our bags which says a lot about the majority of the group 🙂 3 Laptops (2 Macs) Flip camera and mobile phones, and the materials around us, marker pens and flip charts, we produced a prototype learning object, some screen shots shown above.

(Download will be available as soon as our repository goes public, see Repository Blog for updates)

Will need to work on the assessment at the end, only one question at moment, but the ruff and ready look really captured the audience at the demo we did later in the day. Well done to all the Team: Director Janet Finlay, Content and Art designer Tam Mason, Film and Audio Production Habib Lodal, Alexander Prokop Technical Designer and Scribe, Dawn Wood A bit of everything.

Campus Pack Fusion

Attended a webinare today showing the various elements of Campus Pack Fusion (CPF).  This suite of tools plugs into the X-Stream virtual learning environment (VLE) that is used at Leeds Met. It can also run independently as individual learning spaces. It uses the same build, tutor and student views provided by the VLE, and the various tools are selected from a drop down list. Each can then be configured regarding who has access, description, purpose etc. the tool set includes a blog, wiki, podcast feed and private journal (only student owner and selected tutors can view).

We are looking into this package as a solution to an ePortfolio. At the moment the blog and wiki tools are the same as you would find on the web. The company are in the process of developing some templates to represent portfolio but no details were given on how this will look. The two main issues that I have with this package, as compared to dedicated ePortfolio, is that view and edit permissions are set by the tutor (with X-Stream version only) and they apply to all content not specific posts (both in X-Stream and external). A work around would be to use the external learning space for all reflections and then cut and paste selected content into an assessed blog or wiki with in X-Stream. That way a student can choose what they want to share and still be able to reflect intuitively for themselves.

I captured a few screen shots here to give some idea of the interfaces we would be working with:

I did have one idea while attending this, which was really well done by the way. That was to use a wiki as a competency resource collection. We could set up a page for each competency that students need to cover. Everyone, students to tutors, can add and comment on any content, modules, courses and other resources they have come across, or simple as a way of sharing experiences and providing support. This would have to be external to X-Stream as it would be a useful resource to pass form cohort to cohort. This is somewhat similar (or may be exactly like) to the competency wiki put forward by Serge Ravet at ePort2009 workshop.

This suit could do the job we are looking for with some work-a-rounds. There’s no clear way at the moment for individual students to link evidence to competencies, an element we are keen to provide. We would also have to use a simple spreadsheet for competency evaluation, something we have already considered as a first step. The MindMap below shows how various aspects of CPF and other apps could be used to build the PC3 framework. The permissions setting is a bit of a bind, and doesn’t really achieve what we were looking for. Being able to reflect and then choose who, if anybody, to share that reflection with is an empowerment feature that encourages ownership of the work. How important this will be I’m not sure at the moment.

MindMap showing CPF apps linked to PC3 Framework

MindMap showing CPF apps linked to PC3 Framework