Thursday, April 06, 2006

Facilitating flexible learning

Today three of us ran a workshop about facilitating flexible learning: how to give great feedback and still have a LIFE.

Overall, I think it went well. Lots of discussion and questions and people were keen to make contact at the end of the class....always a good sign.

It appears that the title and the content offered were timely. There was a big contingent from one school who have a push on to put courses online. This was excellent. They did have concerns, however, about how to get their content online. They were advised to work with the programme developers, and offered assistance to have people work alongside them, but not do it for them. The mentality is still there to get stuff on Blackboard, rather than thinking how they would like to present content and activities, and what technologies could assist.

There was some discussion about models where content is handed over to a team to create resources. Leigh made a good point about models he had seen which didn't work and had cost lots of money. He believes it is best to start with finding resources which already exist and can be re-used...if possible. This makes a lot lof sense.

Some institutions which are heavily in to distance education - open polytechnic, UK, Athabasca university have production units but this makes sense. Open university in NZ used to do this as well, but has found it is more cost effective to enable staff to take charge of their courses and they have moved to Moodle. It would be interesting to talk to someone and find out how it is actually going.

The total number who enrolled was 13 but 3 people didn't turn up. The group were very interested and gave positive evaluations.

I started the workshop off with an overview of facilitating online learning...well I sort of took charge of it really...we did brainstorm how we would approach it earlier in the week, but the actual content we presented was up to us individually. At the 11th hour, I felt the need to slap together some slides...too many bullet points..but for next time I will develop some concept maps.Hey I can try out CMAP.

I will try and get them done before this group finishes their online discussion. This will continue on until the end of the second week in May. Easter in the middle sort of interrupts the flow. The timing for the next workshop will be better. And hey next time we will try out Elluminate for the initial session.

People liked the different cases we presented. Merrolee had lots of practical advice and talked about how she managed the online discussion. It is good for people to hear the nitty gritty stuff from someone so experienced...well I am too. I talked about how assessment was linked in strongly to the discussions. We gave tips for managing prolific postings and motivating people to go online. I really have to do something about the amount of content in the evaluating eLearning for best practice course though...I will definitely be going with the learner-generated model for next year. hopefully i will still be teaching it then.

Leigh gave a very insightful overview of alternatives such as egroups, and how they are very useful platforms for handing over ownership of material to students....giving them something they can take away with them when they leave their 3 yr programmes...when they are locked out of the institutional platforms. Some of the OTs were very intrigued with the idea of having a community of practitioners able to remain in contact about professional issues.

It will take time but the ideas are filtering through. All we need are enthusiastic staff who act as "hotpoints" in their schools and talk about what they are doing to others. I do love running workshops with staff, and seeing the lightbulbs come on.

The next offerings will need to be a practical show and tell with staff demonstrating what they are doing. Oh when to schedule all these? We have two visiting speakers coming in May and June, Peter Mellow (AUT) on the Study Txt mobile learning project - article. Also John Milne (Massey) who is coming to work with us on the TEC eLearning guidelines an ECDF project. Exciting stuff.

3 comments:

Leigh Blackall said...

Good notes Bron, I agree with all of that. The audio recordings turned out OK, here they are. Could you comment in a link to your blogged notes when you get there?

alexanderhayes said...

> Some of the OTs were very intrigued with the idea of having a community of practitioners able to remain in contact about professional issues.<

Leigh's a born leader in fostering the sustainability of conversation as a lateral dimension rather than a literal pre-cursor than ends up locked in hedgemonic mania and control.

I subscribe to the notion that this "community" has fast gone mobile and indeed into the eco-sphere where mobile maps web and webs map mobiles.

It would be interesting to get your take on podcasting or audiocasting as I prefer to subscribe to as the mechanism for sustainable conversation that survives a server meltdown.....ie. mobile devices both create and retain audio data and ofetn in the most compressed EAAc+ format.

Are you having your podcasts delivered to you wirelessly and if not why not ?

We'd love to hear your views via a Skype conference blogged to http://talkingvte.blogspot.com sometime soon. Drop us a line and we' will organise it when it's convenient for you.

bronwyn said...

hi alexander
thanks for your invite to chat about podcasting. I am pretty new to all this. Leigh is proving to be a real shaker and mover for us. after 4 yrs stuck in the LMS mode, we are ripe for new ideas.

mind you one of our people was talking networked learning 10 yrs ago and set up an effective system with schools - using free software. he was too ahead of his time so had to retreat after "hitting brick walls". and severly worried looks from all quarters at the institution of "learning".

we are about to get wireless on campus so then podcasting will be using that format no doubt. Let me have a go at podcasting myself first and then i would love to join you on a Skype session to chat about it. at the moment, I feel like a newbie on the block.

hey i thought I could walk, but now I realise I was only crawling.