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.

X-Stream power link

I spent a pleasant morning talking code with Mike and Nick who are working on the repository and various methods for enabling access from other applications. They (and the X-Stream team 🙂 recently enable tutors to access the repositories Learning Objects (LOs) via a power link in X-Stream. Basically this means when creating a course the tutor can select the power-link, search the repository and embed one or more of the returned LOs as part of their modules content. Now all we need to do is fill the repository with LOs, not an easy job. During our discussions I asked them if it was possible to create a link that the students can use to search for content and research. This would be useful for the PC3 project for several reasons. Since we are considering using X-Stream as our main port of call students will need to be able to search both LOs and research papers for their own learning, as well as search course specifications and learning paths to help them decided on their own learning path. Nick said he would look into it but it wasn’t a perspective they had been considering. The alternative will be either a link to the intraLibrary login, with students using it directly, or a link to an external search facility, like the one the repository team have already developed for research papers.

Decisions decisions …

We have spent the last couple of months considering what applications and technologies to use for the PC3 framework. All the trips in to ePortfolio conferences (see previous posts) and such have been focused on finding the right combination. The webinar a week last Friday with Campus Pack Fusion was the last up for consideration. In the last couple of days I have been putting all this information together, mapping all these resource and their potential to the PC3 framework which resulted in this:

Mapping technology to framework

Mapping technology to framework

The Studeo, personal learning space, was originally perceived as some type of ePortfolio, hence the conferences. At Wolverhampton we were first introduced to the possibility of using a blog, such as WordPress, to support this personal reflective space. There are several issues with this such as external or internal hosting, making it public or private, and limitations on space if video blogging is used frequently. Campus Pack Fusion sort of answered some of these problems. The pack contains both a blog and a private journal module that can be embedded in X-Stream or hosted separately.

However the team discussions keep coming back to three essential elements of the Studeo that blogs (in the main) just don’t support, but portfolios do. As follows:

  1. Each post or reflection created by a learner should be able to be linked as evidence to a set of competencies (either directly or via a referencing system).
  2. The learner should be using one application for reflection, and be able to choose who they wish to share each post with. Rather than having a public and a private blog.
  3. At the assessment or any other critical stage learners should be able to select a collection of suitable reflections and present them however they choose.

The remaining parts of the framework have coursed a lot less problems or already exist. At the moment its looking like we will be using:

  • Home page – X-Stream with power or hyperlinks to external apps
  • Studeo – PebblePad
  • Health Check – PebblePad
  • Learning Bank – IntraLibrary & X-Stream
  • Commons – Ning
  • Coaching Lab resources – Face-2-face, telephone, email & Elluminate for communications.

This still may change as development goes on 🙂

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