Thursday, March 30, 2006

information literacy modules

I would like to point people to an eLearning Collaborative Development funded (ECDF) project where we are developing reusable Information literacy modules - a New Zealand Ministry of Education funded project. The University of Otago is leading the project and the Dunedin College of Education and Otago Polytechnic are also involved in the project - Dunedin, New Zealand.

See and click on the link to essay writing to see the first module which is currently being piloted.

We have set the modules up as authentic tasks and have funding until 2007 to construct 10 modules. The project has been a very interesting collaborative venture and the team is learning a lot from the experience.
We are conducting usability testing on the raw prototypes and conducting a research evaluation project with piloted modules. All the completed modules will be made freely available across the tertiary sector in New Zealand.

Some of the issues which are arising include aspects such as SCORM compliance and packaging and reusability. All modules will be transferable between different LMS and will also be able to be viewed using a scorm player. We have successfully managed to upload the module in to Moodle. However I was unable to upload it into Blackboard.

We are hoping lots of people will visit the site, and give us feedback on the module.


In the JISC Innovating e-learning online conference Stephen Heppell had a Powerpoint with a list of creative assessments i.e. equivalent to a 1500 word essay - things like creating a video clip, moderating an online discussion etc. I believe this sort of assessment would shake the foundations of our educators. We are about to launch a new course in planning and designing for eLearning and intend to model options like this to our staff.
The other issue is not just about getting students to work creatively, but how to get staff to collaborate using tools such as blogs and wikis.

The arrival of Leigh Blackall, a very innovative programme developer is very timely for our institution. he is an advocate of open source solutions, and open networked learning. I am learning so much from him by just being open to a new way of doing things. He is also taking this approach with other staff, some embrace it and others back off.

Some are fearful of information being put "out there" even i have have to admit to this. Leigh has been here only a few weeks and already has staff podcasting, blogging and using wikis. with this confidence we can now take this to our students....sometimes we just need a push and a shove..oh and i really like his idea of learner-generated content and I'm going to try it out in the flexible design course.

For me it is a breath of fresh air and really enjoyable having someone on the same wavelength. I just hope as an institution we can keep him. I wouldn't like to see the shine lost from a gem like him.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

FLLinNZer visit 24 March 2006

It was great to have a 3005/2006 Flexible Learning Leader in New Zealand visit on 24 March. Cathy Gunn from Auckland university spent an afternoon with several of us from Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin College of Education and the University of Otago. We gathered at HEDC at University of Otago.

We were a small group of seven, gathered to share our enthusiasm about flexible learning. Cathy facilitated the session really well, making sure she found out what we wanted to share with the group right from the start.

My interest was in how people found working on collaborative projects, and I made the point that there were two groups of people when the ECDF funding was announced by TEC. Those who were already working together collaboratively e.g. Jenny, Dawn and I at UoE, DCE and OP, and those who scurried together into consortia so they could get the funding.

My question was why everyone was reinventing the wheel instead of working together, for example on flexible learning and eLearning strategies.

The afternoon included a mix of show and tell - essay writing information literacy module, Cathy's online assessment module, Leigh's open networking sites. There was lots of discussion and the time flew by very quickly. we had a good talk about the pros and cons of SCORM, and Jenny explained about the pitfalls they had discovered on the information literacy project. SCORM actually inhibits reusability features by imposing stringent standards. I should have recorded what she said because its feeling vague right now.

Next post will be about the OSLOR project and John Clayton's visit.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

work meanderings

Its taken a while to get going on my blog. I wonder do I deserve a virtual choc fish for starting and hopefully writing something meaningful.

A lot has been happening at work. For a start we are lucky enough to have visits from a couple of people involved in flexible learning - Cathy Gunn (University of Auckland) and John Clayton (WINTEC - Hamilton, NZ)....more about this later.

FLUG meets Blackboard head on
I have been busy with the formation of the new and improved FLUG - a group of enthusiasts involved in flexible learning and support. With our organisational strategy of flexible teaching and learning, it was timely to change the name of the Blackboard User Group to FLUG (Flexible Learning Users Group).

We also needed to extend the group - so a bigger cross section of people involved in flexible options here could muck in and get their hands dirty.


This way the small core of enthusiasts and people involved with the Learning Management System will have more of "a voice" in some of the changes which are happening here in our organisation. So the Bb User Group has re-birthed as FLUG.

So...what does this mean? FLUG will hopefully provide information to the newly formed Flexible ...committee about operational matters and stuff from the coal face. We also hope to assist in developing some sort of flexible learning and teaching strategy which is meaningful for our learners and staff in the organisation.

So who do we think we are...why should we have a say?
Because FLUG hopefully will represent the "real users" because it is made up mainly of people who get it. But do we?

We all know that flexible learning is a very important strategy for quality education.What gets me though is that every organisation seems to be busying themselves with the development of strategies for eLearning or flexible learning and teaching.....but what are these strategies based on?? What everyone else has been doing..or on the unique culture within an organisation? The former I believe because it is easier.

It is also easier to follow like sheep and stay with an LMS like Bb - the same as the others. It is also easier to stay with an imposition model - a model where the learners are told what they're getting rather than being asked how they want to approach teaching and learning.

The best model for a flexible learning and teaching strategy which I have seen is the one QUT (Queensland University of Technology) developed called the QUT Teaching Capabilities Framework. See overview at:

QUT surveyed staff and students who were using the LMS (Blackboard), to find out what was important to them as both teachers and learners. The project team took their findings and using a process of wide consultation, they developed a framework. This framework now underpins how teaching and learning is offered at the university, and has informed the professional development of staff.

Unfortunately, we have not gone down this track, but have taken the route followed by many. Additionally, we have also developed a teaching qualification without developing a teaching and learning strategy first. Now staff will be indoctrinated into "a way" of teaching which may not be right for our learners...or for our environment.

We have broken the first golden rule! We didn't find out what our learners actually wanted first!

As a result, our flexible learning and teaching strategy may also not be based on actualities but on assumptions. I believe we do have time to find out what our teachers and learners actually want, what their experience is to date and what they would like to see happening.

Wont this save time in the end! We are in a good position to really do something different and lead flexible learning in a new direction.

I would really like to see us get out from behind the herd, stop the baaing and mooing and get to the green grass first...for a change.

Watch this space to find out how the flexible strategy and the teaching qual evolve.