Monday, December 10, 2007

Auf wiedersehen

This is my good bye to everyone in the Facilitating eLearning Communities course.

When writing to the email group to thank them for participating in the course, I realised that the community was really only beginning. Although the course is now officially finished, we will be keeping the email group open so the community can share ideas, tips and stories about their experiences facilitating online. I also invited everyone to help develop the online communities pages on WikiEducator. I hope some will continue to engage in the group.

As a first time facilitator and co-facilitator in the course I found the experience a very challenging and rewarding experience. It has not been easy and it was never boring. Overall, it was extremely interesting to interact online with such a diverse and highly skilled group of educators; everyone in the group had very different needs and expectations. Sometimes I found it frustrating and sometimes I found it confusing - the reactions of the group were not always logical and rarely predictable.

For example, I believed the instructions for the first part of the course were clear and straightforward but that relied on people working systematically through the Blackboard activities and resources. People did not seem to get it. Then we confused people by throwing other technologies into the mix - email group, blog, wiki - as problems came up we offered a range of solutions. There was choice introduced, not just step-by-step and work through the activities and resources on a discussion in Blackboard. The options threw a lot of people into the pirana pool. People's preference for options other than Blackboard meant the platform became redundant as we thought it would in a networked community.

Was it too much too soon?

For the next class, I feel that the Blackboard option will not be an option. Sure we could have shown people a couple of nice to know web 2.0 technologies and left them safely sitting in the learning Management System AND that could have been a community of sorts. Perhaps a subsistence community and a community with very limited means but a gated community - safe but how I hate the idea.

Instead we took the class out into the scary cyber world of uncertainty and unpredictability. Choice was the flavour of the day - ask a question and there were several options to choose from. Good or bad! We took people on a constructionist, constructivist and scaffolded/facilitated pathway with many forks and turns. People were not comfortable and they complained or disappeared from view. The true blue online facilitators did reappear though and they were stronger than when they started and more innovative - yes there were a few bruises and damaged egos - but they made the effort to ride the bull.

I learned a great deal from the experience and am impressed by the tenacity of the community to try out new challenges and experiences. Facilitating the class with Leigh opened new communities I had hitherto tried but avoided eg Second Life, gaming, FaceBook. I really liked the 10 minute lecture series - how fortunate we were to have so many people willing to contribute their know how to the community. My only regret is not having enough time to reflect on my blog about all the events. I can still do this of course because they are all recorded.

I asked the class to forgive us for discombobulating them. I was impressed with the high level of critical thinking and there was significant diversification of the communities' online facilitation abilities as we moved through the course. It is clear there is no one magic bullet for success. Each group will be different. Hopefully the group has established some guidelines for themselves and the groups they will go on to facilitate. I hope they can now recognise the need to allow their students room to evolve as a community. I firmly believe that only by providing loosely-structured problems will students be assisted to think critically and really learn how to learn.

I have never forgotten the words of a visiting lecturer years ago who ran a workshop on critical thinking. "If you want to get your students to think critically, you have to put them in a place where they do not feel comfortable and where they feel challenged, they will not go there on their own."

I particularly like the explanation on the uses of critical thinking on Wikipedia. To get this class to think critically about good and bad methods for facilitating online communities it was necessary to present them with experiential real world problems in an online community and not just one or two but a wide range. Just transmitting information to them abut how to facilitate online would not have cut it; they had to experience it warts and all. What was bad to some was good to others and vice versa. Each experience would have beenunique although the community was exposed to the same things.

"Critical thinking is also critical inquiry, so such critical thinkers investigate problems, ask questions, pose new answers that challenge the status quo, discover new information that can be used for good or ill, question authorities and traditional beliefs, challenge received dogmas and doctrines, and often end up possessing power in society greater than their numbers." "The intellectual skills of critical thinking--analysis, synthesis, reflection, etc.--must be learned by actually performing them." (AN INTRODUCTION TO CRITICAL THINKING by Steven D. Schafersman, 1991).

Facilitating this course has helped me to become better at critical thinking. It is not an easy thing to get the balance right in a course like this and my big question is - should we cater to the lowest common denominator in terms of skill and comfort or should we make the challenge higher and hope for the best. I believe for this class we did the right thing going with the latter - uncomfortable as it was at times for all of us.

Friday, November 02, 2007

facilitate or teach or learn

In response to Leigh's posting as you prepare to facilitate try not to teach. To teach or not to teach. to facilitate or not to facilitate. To moderate or not to moderate! Is there really a debate to be had I wonder?

I believe that all this angst has come about because "a teacher" decided some way back that he or she would replace the word "teach online" with "facilitate online". It means the same!

Because we have all been encouraged to step back a bit and stop pushing information at students and encourage them to do more thinking for themselves and more self-directed learning, teaching is now facilitating. But is it?

Learner-centred is the new buzz word along with facilitated learning - it is still about teaching. The teachers, you and I, leigh, are still seen as the experts in the discipline we are teaching otherwise we would not be asked to "teach" the course.

So why have we been asked to teach the course and not the local butcher who is equally able to facilitate a jolly good discussion?

Because we have some expertise - like it or not, we have to teach our class something so they can teach themselves. Teach or model, facilitate or model - otherwise they will not just be feeling frustrated or confused - too much to learn - they will be really, really angry and p...ed off. Why didn't we just send out the handbook with the instructions for the course and the assessments with a few readings and tell them to get on with it?

Because we have to teach them something. that involves not just facilitating a good ole discussion, it involves giving information, brokering information, helping/facilitating them to find information, setting up systems and facilitating ways for them to develop as a community, directing them towards the things they need to complete to pass the course or not. Is that not teaching in one sense?

Making it interesting and challenging and scary enough to make them come back for more - fear as in the kind you get on a rollercoaster. Fear can be a great stimulant!

In my mind, good teaching is about good facilitating and treating the learners as individuals and as competent intelligent people who can think for themselves and who are encouraged to think critically.

In response to some of leigh's questions -
  • Why is this course called facilitate online learning communities and not teach online learning communities? To be absolutely pedantic here it is Facilitating eLearning communities. So just as Leigh has replaced eLearning with online - have we not replaced teaching with facilitating?
  • Is teaching and facilitation really interchangeable?
  • Yes mostly it is because good teaching should strike a balance and the teacher should step back when necessary and step forward and teach when needed - sometimes we need to be more proactive to facilitate scaffolded learning and not just assume people will enjoy struggling to find out everything themselves. The level of support needed, I believe, depends on each person's zone of proximal development(Wikipedia, 2007), for each situation and each topic. As you will see a person can be assisted to develop not only by the teacher but also by their peers - so does the peer then become a teacher too?
  • Is facilitation simply one of many techniques that a teacher employs in their work? Or is teaching just one of many 3rd party services that a facilitator might call on in their work?
  • Is it possible to be both a teacher and a facilitator within the same group of people?
  • In response to these questions, I believe the answer is yes in both cases. Why? Because firstly, I see the terms as interchangeable where someone really knows how to support learners albeit called teacher or facilitator. Secondly, a balance is crucial in contemporary society .
  • What are the differences in the roles and what are the social dynamics in play when they function?
  • It depends on our definitions for teacher and facilitator and these depend on our philosophies as this discussion is demonstrating.
Examples: If facilitating a meeting - we might approach it in different ways. We can talk and dominate the session for the bulk of the time and answer questions, or present a slide show and demonstrate what we have been doing and/or would like to see being done and answer Qs. we can set an agenda and call for contributions, and chair the meeting to keep discussion on track and comments relevant. we can dominate the meeting by always bringing up points of discussion. a meeting can be facilitated by all members and all members contribute equally thus teaching others by telling them new things or bringing up points they may not have thought of.

I guess it depends on whether you believe that learning occurs all the time and whether when we learn we have taught ourselves or learned from others. Does that then make them teachers?

Oh boy - is it not all about letting others speak, and about people having an equal chance to contribute, and valuing each person's contribution and unique style?

To me that is much more important than debating the difference between teaching and facilitating. even someone standing up in front of a class and delivering a lecture for an hour, has facilitated learning in some way. what they may not have done is facilitated group discussion or critical thinking but they could have and I always tried to operate this way in large lectures.

So lecture is not synonymous with monologue or transfer of information - it depends on the style of the lecturer - just as tutorial or discussion is not synonymous with interaction. as we know people can just sit there and wait to be told and not contribute no matter how excellent the facilitator might be. Intrinsic motivation can play a huge part in how actively people engage and contribute.

You facilitate an exam perhaps not teach in it. That is the only example I can think of where there might be a difference BUT you actually supervise an exam or invigilate not really facilitate it. You facilitate a discussion or a meeting but you may not do it well just as you may not teach well. And for me good teaching is about being a good facilitator of knowledge, of interaction, of information, of learning and of people. Are there other examples you can think of where you facilitate not teach?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Structured versus not structured versus guided

Is the Facilitating eLearning Communities course an example of constructionist and constructivist and reflective learning?

Are we like this lego maze (Lego Maze Eric4 by Anvilon)
- structured yet in a quandary and having to find our way around and out? Is there really an end point for a course like this? I hope not....I believe participation in Facilitating eLearning communities needs to be an evolving experience which has to ebb & flow with the technologies, change according to the needs of the participants and catch the trends and waves of eLearning.

I know it is not about mastery learning because the learning is intended to come out of the participants own perceptions, explorations and knowledge development. Plus there is no exam or test. But...

If structured = mastery learning and sequential step by step learning - then this course is not structured. If structured = guided and free to follow your own interests & explore - this course is structured.

I find it quite intriguing that people feel the course is unstructured. Yes there were more instructions for the first few topics and activities and directed discussion than the latter part of the course - yet some people chose not to engage.

The 10 min lecture series has been structured, and also allows discussion and reflection. some people have not been able to engage synchronously and have done so after the events and have made very good postings on their blogs about some, not all the presentations. Others have not engaged at all. Several people have engaged with the assessments - learning log (blog) and wiki - others have not.

I wonder why people feel it is unstructured - or does this mean unguided? Even though there is a learning guide, posted lists of what people should be doing on the course blog, email directions, directed activities for the first few topics, directed assessments, a lecture series, a list of resources, content on WikiEducator etc. Does guided mean something different for all of us? Guided does not equal structured or does it?

In a true constructivist learning community the course is far too structured. There are too many things participants are told to do already. There was very little for them to negotiate. Do participants feel they need to be sat down and directed through a series of topics, and some workshops on how to use some of the technologies? Does structured for some mean teacher-directed rather than learner-directed?

What I would like to know is do people feel they are being guided to be part of an online community? If the answer is yes, then we are on the right track.

Perhaps it is the topic. I believe people learn best how to be an online facilitator by being exposed to a range of strategies and practical opportunities rather than a whole lot of content and theory about how to do something though there is some of that too. Part of being an online facilitator in a community is to experience discomfort as well as comfort. David alludes to that and also mentions the value of finding out things for ourselves.

I am surprised that he feels that participants are "relatively unguided" - people have been given a lot of material to look at and plenty of discussion topics have arisen. The facilitators could have continued to impose very directed discussion topics all through, but instead chose to use the 10 minute lectures as the basis for discussion...which has occurred.

Perhaps what we need now is a short presentation to bring all the threads together for the community - this could serve as a reflection on what we have covered and a stimulus for the next leg of discussion. Watch this space!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why is evaluation so important?

I was asked recently to present about evaluation for one of the constructing courses sessions. I decided to do an Elluminate session so I could fit it around study leave. However this morning when I was all geared up to present, the server decided to play hookey and go west.

This spurred me on to prepare a slide show with audio (Plan B). The presentation is called: Why is evaluation so important?

It can be viewed on the Internet and doesn't appear to take too long to load. The presentation is approximately 20 minutes long and covers the what, why and how of evaluation and its relationship to educational design.

I would have preferred the synchronous computer conference option so people could ask questions and we could have some discussion. However, while preparing the audio to accompany the presentation, I found I was able to tie things together better. This meant that my presentation was longer than originally intended, but I feel that it integrates the concepts underlying evaluation much more clearly. I just hope my audience thinks so as well. I have also given them the option of both asynchronous and synchronous discussion around the topic of evaluation.

I used MyPlick to upload the presentation (PowerPoint) and audio (mp3) which I created in Audacity. I prefer this site to SlideShare because the presentation and audio can be lodged on the same site. Mmmn maybe "all my eggs in one basket" is not such a good idea.

All this stuff is really helping me develop stronger digital information literacy skills. The importance of this became very apparent today during a research meeting where we were discussing some of the processes we would use to communicate and share ideas. Considering the research project is action research and the focus is digital information literacy, we as researchers will also be learning, not just the participants, through using web 2.0 tools to conduct the research processes. This is the start of my reflections around this project; it will be very important for all of us to keep a log of the process. Preferably an open log on the web where we can read each others entries and really share progress and ideas. This will be very important with the national spread of researchers in the project.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

when is a community not a community?

In response to mark's suggestion that we contribute to a discussion about why we are in this community has stimulated a question for the group - when is a community not a community?
If you all think about any communities/groups you may belong to - they all have one thing in common.

Faces by Fazen

There is always a core group who seem to do everything, are always involved no matter what, and others who remain quietly on the periphery...sometimes popping up when the need arises and disappearing again. People come and go, and in some instances people are a captive audience at some time or other. I am captivated with this community, and thoroughly enjoying our progress through the course activities. For me a community is about having a common purpose or reason to meet.

The common reason for this community being formed is that we are part of a course with common goals, in terms of assessment, but also in the need to find out more about online communities. Although we all have differing reasons for participating and different expectations and because of this we will each take away different things from this experience.

Because we are an online community, we are using a range of online tools and methods to interact, and a range of activities to give us a reason to use them. We could have set up just a Blackboard discussion Board with 93 forums as they did in one iteration of this course, but we have chosen to give the class the opportunity to see how a variety of tools and strategies work - that way you can experience them and choose what will work for you in your teaching.

So I don't expect we will all feel comfortable, or warm and cozy in this community because it is challenging. But I hope that the strength of the community will be in helping each other overcome the challenges. For myself, it is a challenge because I have never used such a wide variety of tools and methods to teach an online course, and this is my first time teaching this course. I am loving it, and I don't particularly feel like I am teaching, rather I am feeling like a participant. There are so many interesting viewpoints and discussions going on. I was here because I was one of the facilitators, now I am here because I am finding it fascinating - Although I am spending far too much time participating.

I have also found out a lot about different online communities and some of the theoretical underpinnings by listening to the guest speakers. I am learning so much. I now know that online communities are not just about Gilly Salmon's five-step emoderating model or about asynchronous or synchronous discussions. They are so much more. You will see what I mean if you look at the list we compiled last night in the wiki - onlinecommunities. The new page we invite you all to contribute to along with your own discipline-specific page.

The overall aim of this course is to get everyone to the facilitator phase (development - stage five - relates to Gilly Salmon's five-stage model) of being in an online community and to get there there are other phases to pass through e.g. access to the tools and strategies (access - stage one) getting to know the community (socialisation - stage two), sharing knowledge and information (information sharing - stage three), creating knowledge and resources (knowledge building - stage four) .

Do people agree with this?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Putting too much trust in technology

The title of this post is stimulated by the technology hassles we have been having this week in the Facilitating eLearning Communities course. Who would believe it - two nights in a week and the computer conferencing system failed to function. Twice we were embarrassed in front of an international speaker. Twice we were unable to login and proceed smoothly as we have in previous sessions. Twice the course facilitators were getting blamed for the breakdown. And why? Because we had "put all our eggs in one basket" and we had begun to trust the technology.

The cynics would say - well it is to be expected.
The skeptics would say - I was surprised it has worked so smoothly so far.
The optimists would say - it will work well next time.
The extrinsically motivated would say - well I will just give up and go do something I really enjoy doing - this is too frustrating.
The intrinsically motivated would say - lets find a solution and do something else to help the community.

What do online facilitators say? What do classroom teachers say?

Imagine you walk into a room to teach your class. The lights wont turn on and the room is dark so they wont be able to see the whiteboard and you were going to use it for the session. What do you do?


You are talking away flicking through your slide presentation and feeling like you have hooked your students. The actually seem interested and they are asking questions. Then the lamp blows on the data projector - no screen presentation. What would you do?

Do you keep talking and wing it and engage the group with some activities to help them piece together what has already been said. Or do you pack up and go home grumbling that they can read the text book.
  • How do you placate the disappointed students who are getting ready to up and leave?
  • How do you provide alternatives when the technology fails?
Yes these are all very real situations aren't they and ones we dread when we have so much content to get through and exams that have to be passed.

But let me ask this question - if you were the students who would you blame? The technology - hey that can happen, the teachers - they tried their best and its not their fault they didn't invent the thing. They don't manage the electrical grid. Yourself - I hope not.

And so it is with technology in online learning. We can do our very best to set systems up and design learning for our students, and set up interesting lectures and activities. But sometimes students cant access the materials or the sessions, sometimes the software wont run, sometimes the system fails. So what do we do?

Last night when Elluminate failed, again! And I was grappling with downloading Java to get Elluminate to work on my home computer, trying to find our guest speaker, trying to contact the IT technician to get help, trying to let every one of the four groups who were invited to the session know what was happening , trying to answer the phone calls and texts, trying to download Skype so I could message people, reading and answering the group email, messaging the facilitator who was trying to keep it all together :O

- I saw some really interesting stuff happening and a community forming. It is almost as if we have to have ripples and bumps to get traction in a community.
  • The email group changed from being asynchronous to synchronous.
  • People were downloading skype and setting themselves up on it.
  • jokes were being passed around.
  • discussions were starting.
When we did finally get on Elluminate there was some really good questions and discussion around issues such as confidentiality online, obstructions to getting online from colleagues, what should go on the wiki. We also heard about Merrolees' web 2 project and passed around ideas for online facilitating. I saw some very sturdy beams being raised in the barn. I saw some excellent facilitation going on within the group. I saw people pulling together to find solutions. I saw lots of creativity and critical thinking going on. I was amazed.

Now I am really pleased Elluminate failed. Now we actually have a community thing happening and people supporting each other. So that people is what you do when the technology fails you find alternatives, or make sure there is a sense of community happening in your class so that people will pull together when the walls fall down or the technology fails.

Now I can pack my bags and put them at the door...well almost...but I am getting ready because several of you have already climbed the cliff face and reached level 5 in Gilly Salmon's pyramid for online facilitation. If you don't know what that is you better go look.......:P


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

virtual friends are they disconnecting us?

all this talk about tools for networking and being connected in communities leads me to ask the question are people feeling disconnected as they strive to become more connected?

You may be interested in an article I read recently. here are a couple of excerpts:

"Jason Calacanis wishes he could be your Facebook friend, but he just can't. ....Calacanis now has several thousand friends, with more requests streaming in daily. He's tired. So on his blog this summer, Calacanis, 37, declared a Facebook moratorium. In the future he'll outsource his friend management to an intern."

"Ogheneruemu "O.G." Oyiborhoro the George Washington University junior who holds the school's title of most Facebook friends -- 3,456 and counting." BUT who is the friend who helps him find an apartment....not his facebook buddies.
An Unmanageable Circle of Friends Social-Network Web Sites Inundate Us With Connections, and That Can Be Alienating
By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 26, 2007; M10

I have recently decided to spend more time with real flesh and blood, physically accessible friends and to ring fence my virtual networks as the number i belong to is taking up more and more time and impacting on my domestic harmony and peace of mind. I wonder if anyone else is feeling the same?


Monday, September 03, 2007

virtual classrooms and cognitive load theory

In response to a request for material on virtual classrooms, I stumbled across some interesting theory around cognitive processing and Virtual classrooms by Dr Ruth Clark.

Dr Ruth Clark runs a training and consultancy website. There are lots of courses you can enrol in but they are pretty expensive. The graduate certificate in Applied eLearning does much the same and is a lot cheaper so we are really lucky to have this qual in NZ.

here is a link to an article by ruth clark on harnessing virtual communities.
It has some good pointers about keeping learners engaged during a standard virtual lecture/session averaging 60 minutes:
1. maintain a lively pace
2. visualize your content
3. incorporate frequent participant responses - you will notice in the audio lecture on cognitive processing she asks lots of questions and uses polling a lot and she also gets participants to do activities during the session.
4. use small group breakout rooms.
it is a short article and worth a look.

My comments on the audio: Personally i think such long lecture sessions are a bit much but I was only listening to the audio and she did have slides - she seems to do a good job of getting input from the class using text only. The participants don't seem to feature on the audio so cant have used mics. some interesting stuff about cognitive load and learning styles. e.g. differences between learning styles of different learners are minor in comparison to the ways our brains are set up to process information overall. She talks about the modality principle - best learning is when you have audio to explain visuals.

See also an article I stumbled across about A Learner-Centered Approach to Multimedia Explanations: Deriving Instructional Design Principles from Cognitive Theory. By Moreno, R. & Mayer, R. (2000). This is published online in the Interactive Multimedia Electronic journal of computer-enhanced learning...phew.

The diagram of working memory was informative.illustrates how words and images move from sensory memory to working memory and into long-term memory. Remember working memory can only hold so much information and is easily overloaded.

Dr Ruth Clark also said that cognitive overload can occur if several modalities. For example, the use of visual, text and audio together causes a redundancy effect because we are overloading the visual processing area. using audio and text together is better but use of one modality at a time is best.
Dr ruth does not like people multitasking e.g. checking emails when in VC and likes texting in VC to be on task not texting to each other off task or privately. she says this causes split attention effects.
see what you think when you listen to the audio.
also a link to a presentation (pdf) called: Leveraging the virtual classroom
AND her new book at the bookstore.

The New Virtual Classroom:
Evidence-based Guidelines for Synchronous e-Learning

Introduction: Meet the New Virtual Classroom
Part I: Learning and the New Virtual Classroom
Part II: Engaging Participants in the New Virtual Classroom
Part III: Optimizing Your Virtual Events
Part IV: Creating Effective Learning Events in the New Virtual Classroom

Price: $50.00 plus S/H*


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

eLearner profiles: Diversity in Learning

I was very interested in a report of a Tertiary eLearning research fund project 2005 which looked at learner profiles - learning styles and preferences of students for elearning. Samuel Mann was on the research team and you may have seen the questionnaire. i have requested a copy of the questionnaire on CD from the lead researcher.

Jeffrey, L. Atkins, C. Laurs, A. & Mann, S. (2005). eLearner profiles: Diversity in Learning. Ministry of Education, TeLRF project report. Available at: you need to scroll down the page.

What I liked about this research report is the comparison between student preferences for traditional lectures, tutorials and blended forms of online and f2f learning. You may find that these findings mirror some of the feedback you may be getting from your students about online learning. For example, they do not particularly want to be self-directed and do group work. They want lectures and are not particularly keen on online learning which can cause them a lot of anxiety. This is a NZ-based project

"The sample size was 1811 and came from six universities, five polytechnics or institutes and six private training organisations."

Also the researchers categorised the learner profiles as: cognitive voyagers, strategic competitors and multimedia collaborators. If you read the executive summary of the report you will get the gist of the different profiles.

The researchers measured things such as extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, learning styles, dependent versus independent learning preferences, achievement motivation, relativistic reasoning rather than factual,working collaboratively rather than alone, time poorness, global versus sequential learning and reflective versus analytical and much more. It is a fascinating study. I hope you will take a look. Do you believe that this is the same situation for your students.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Persona activity for Facilitating eLearning Communities

I have just finished reading through the discussion on Blackboard around creating personas. The individual persona exercise, quite rightly, became a group persona which reverted back to being a suggestion to create two general personas which are representative of the group. David started off the exercise with a persona based on an analysis of the learning styles and some of the information posted in the introductions.

A suggestion was also made by Cheryl is to name the two personas according to the learning styles for each group.
1) Reflective, Global, Intuitive, Visual; 2) Active, Sequential, Sensing, Visual
Person 1 – Virg; Person 2 - Vass

If you collect up all the posts it is very clear to see the personalities of the group emerging. The characteristics of the group who participated have demonstrated they have a range of skills and can do the following:

  • analyse and organise information,
  • facilitate others towards action,
  • mediate,
  • reflect,
  • become impatient with no progress,
  • get confused,
  • suggest solutions.

I am impressed with how far you have come towards developing a persona or two. It is not an easy task. As stated by Yvonne,As facilitators we could use a single persona to help focus learning activities and experiences based on shared characteristics and I can see how this would work in some circumstances but are we finding this tricky because we're the learners and not the facilitators?

I thought there may have been some discussion about what should/shouldn't be included so that everyone would feel 'represented' and we'd end up with a final persona. So I'm wondering why we've found it so difficult to do?

Does anyone have a response to Yvonne's post? I wonder why was this exercise so challenging? Is it worthwhile to do this in your own classes so you get an understanding of who you are facilitating?

Every suggestion has been from a different perspective, but it appears that although confusion has been expressed, some progress has been made. There was also a name suggested for the group persona and some characteristics, such as below:

Name: The Colossal Squid – not sure if this really fits with the new pic I have added.

Age: Average 45

Gender: female

Learning Goals: 1. To gain more familiarity, skills & ideas for teaching online. 2 To discover new ways/methods to deliver effective learning experiences - not necessarily for full online delivery but as an additional teaching/learning tool.

Background Story: Teaching background (10-15 years), (mostly) married (some partnered), 3 kids (ages 8,10,13), Interests include music, the outdoors, family & friends. Fairly computer literate.
A telling quote:??? I get the sense this will come as the background story develops
email address: Gmail? Generic polytech email?
Job Title: 1/2 time lecturing/teaching (with some online component), 1/2 time consulting on e-learning projects
Photo: Attached – provided by David
Learning Style: Visual preference, global slant, huge active preference

There was also a suggestion by Linda to create two personas based on the fact that “some learners are experienced with technology while others are very new to it,” rather than using learning styles.

Individual personas

Three people have asked others to form a group with them and we are still waiting to hear the outcome of those sessions. For example, an Elluminate meeting was organised last Fiday 17 August. If it went ahead, and am interested to see what came out of that exercise.

Learning styles: There was certainly a lot of emphasis on learning styles, and a virtual chocolate fish to David for getting the ball rolling. This was as good a way as any to get a “feel” for the learners and sometimes learning styles may be the first bit of information you get. Of course if you take the time to look at your students’ enrolment forms you will also find out some demographic information.

Think about how you actually get to know who your learners are in the f2f classroom and online?

Because of the difficulties in getting to know students online, lots of lecturers now take the time to do a learning styles exercise at the start of a course.

Luckily nine people also posted some information about themselves in the introductions forum. As you have found out it is an exercise which may be a lot easier to complete over more than one week when you get to know your fellow class mates through interacting with them in discussions and with them on their blogs.

Once everyone has their blogs up and running, and if they add information about themselves on there, it will be easier to confirm the personae. And maybe as leigh suggests it is a dynamic process which will evolve over the length of the course. In any case, the activity though not immediately satisfying or conclusive has certainly stimulated a lot of thought around who you all are as learners…don’t you agree?

So where to now?

I really like Yvonne’s observations about why the exercise has appeared to pose difficulties. Meaning that it took longer than a week and also seemed challenging for people to get an immediate outcome. It certainly started on time, and it is evident that the exercise needs more than a week and this should be stated from the outset. Maybe it is an exercise which should be started later in the course when we have a better grip on who we all are – personality-wise and professionally.

What do people think?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

eLearning guidelines project day

All the project leaders involved in the eLearning guidelines project gathered today at the Wellington airport conference centre. The steering committee meeting held yesterday was used to plan today's event.

The main aim for today was to introduce project leaders to each other and to discuss items around managing the projects. There were some group activities around finding common ground, sharing ideas and resources, and risk factors. The risk analysis brainstorm session highlighted a lot of concerns. or example, staff turnover, keeping to milestones, budgets, project management skills. It was a very useful exercise. The show and tell after lunch was an excellent way to keep everyone awake and informed about who was doing what. The short snappy explanations about the projects were just the right length (two minutes) to inform. Also the session where we had to migrate into groups of similarity was also very useful.

I joined the design group and it became apparent that everyone was keen to keep the discussion going around best practice in design, and also to share resources developed for the projects. For example, several people are gathering material for a literature review. The Otago Polytechnic project is called: The power of design on flexible learning and digital network literacy

The eLearning guidelines that the project will use are listed below:

  • TD11 Should staff use a team approach to develop and teach the course?
  • TD12 Is the design of learning informed by research on effective eLearning?
  • TO9 Are staff encouraged to participate in networks and learning communities involved in reviewing, developing or sharing good practice in the use of e-learning?
For the demo session today , I added some information about the project to the Otago Polytechnic project space on WikiEducator. This was essentially the project application. The plan is to have a meeting as soon as possible with Leigh and Terry to discuss the way forward for the project and who will be involved.

It was very good to meet most people involved in the projects, and people seemed keen to keep the contact going on group email and to support each other. Motivation and pastoral care from John, the project manager will be very important in keeping us all on track. And I hope people will take the time to log what they are doing regularly and share
their progress in an open manner and support each other.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Day Three - Panel

The last part of the panel session was about the Future of learning 2027:
Generic off-the-shelf products are no longer in vogue and businesses have moved out of the tertiary organisations. "The only sure thing is that things will change". There may be holographs accessed via smart cards as learner needs them.
Also the 4 Rs - "Right information to the right person at the right time and in the right way". Situated learning in the workplace.

"Not everything is possible" and "we're just all going to be lazy" or "work too hard" - we already do. what can we do that computers can't - creative stuff. Skill sets instead of knowledge because information is doubling constantly - need to know how to handle all the information. We will be moving between careers more rapidly. 'Don't afraid to jump on the technology train. We're not and it is going to be exciting!" (Miria Royal, 2007.)

The workplace will be the new university. "The illiterate of 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn or relearn" (Rachel Skudder, 2007).

The law of more! More bandwidth, web 2.0, 3.0, 4.0. More creating content. speed - faster, faster. Just-in-time products. Pull vs push, m-Learning. Open education resources. Content rich courses will not longer be norm. Push rather than pull...RSS. Power shift to the learner.

eFest Workshop Communities of practice

Derek Chirnside - Communities of Practice, creative facilitation in a Web 2.0 world
Some wonderful insights into this phenomenon. A wonderful mix of multimedia to illustrate concepts and principles of what a community is and how to create it. A little bit of theory (situated cognition) and seeding some ideas e.g. identity...Material from Etienne Wenger and ideas for designing a structure for a community. The following question caught my attention:

Does a community of practice need a place?
Share tools and stories e.g. housewives who meet over coffee. Elements in design - connectivity, leadership, membership, events, artefacts, projects (p17 in handout).

Bounded learning communities in formal taught courses - goals, identity, collaboration, respectful inclusion, progressive discourse and knowledge building.

Facilitation ideas: liked the one about having a task which passes from one to another "you are it" idea.

Used an idea called organic metaphors.

Derek told the group a little about Web 2.0 tools. We discussed things such as: what makes a good blog? Think of an expert in our field who keeps a blog. For example, Derek Wenmouth - models putting yourself into it, weaving stories, keeping it up to date. Blogs can be Vblogs (video) audio blogs.

Podcasting: mentioned ipods and recording, Audacity. Could do 6 minute audio summary of lectures and post to blog. These resources can be a nuturing tool.

Tools serve the community. Think identity not technology. can be used for organising tools - use it as a course homepage.

What We 2.0 tools should we use for the community of practice. uses a content area (Moodle or Blackboard), blog, wiki, RSS feed, Flickr, Skype.

This was a good chance to pull together some different ideas around communities of practice and it was fun. Learned about off to find out more about it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

FLLinNZ facilitation sessions - day two

Sean McDougall - speaking via videoconferencing classrooms of the future
not a lot has changed - still sitting in classrooms altogether slumped over desks which are unsuitable for learning and sitting at all day. All studying at same time in groups. Sean has been working in designing learning spaces for the future.

No point in designing new buildings and doing the same sort of teaching there will be no additional benefits for the teachers and students. "It is about how you do it not where you do it." Example of a design where the teacher could get around the students (children) better which improved the activitiy. Design of saddle seats which could swivel in any direction - take up less of a footprint - tables fit around the room - four-way data projector. Cheaper option than billions spent on school rebuilding. Room designed to encourage conversation and collaboration and teacher tried to teach by standing up the front. Learned from mistakes - need to educate teachers in new approaches.

Design my school - tool where students could be involved in designing school. used wikipedia design - Co-Design

Provided some statistics about education in UK - 80% black children leave school at 16yrs and over half jobs advertised in UK in 2012 will require a degree. need to get back to the idea of a creative school rather than an "exam factory". The system is not working - community minority groups illustrate this.

Singapore example
eight years old problem-solving re bomb in an oil facility - building robots to clean up oil, building website to keep parents informed, writing business plan - a year long project. need to invent and create and solve future for themselves.

Xchurch School called Unlimited
Barriers removed - students direct their own learning Involved in projects in which they are interested e.g. designing logos, music distribution, own record label. Studying alongside 18 yr olds to get qualifications like Business.

Design done by people and with people. How can we work with excluded communities?
Example from Ireland - Sean is working with nuns in Cork. How can they work with people who are falling through groups. Responsive servicing. Immigrants, travellers, prisoners working together to find solutions to help stop people dropping out. They told their stories -
1. need place to come to meet with friends

children had different perspectives about how the building looked like - teachers forget what the rooms of the school look like.
Introduce opposites e.g. if you want technology look at what the organisation would look like without technology.

Another example-what could we do to make a fountain better? Designing a programmable, interactive fountain e.g. speed camera - measure how fast children are running around. could measure height and jets could respond to different heights. Give fountain three wishes - to see, hear, feel. Children helped design a mural with pictures and ideas of what they liked or did not like about the school. invites configuration and brings people together to work on a common problem to prepare them for the rapidly changing 21 century. create your own models and not wait for someone to "design a catalogue and you order from it".

Allow people to skill up - learn and make mistakes. Video showing chidren with robots they constructed - watching them work and showing the great excitement. learning what they need for the knowledge economy. Need to redesign the service to meet the needs of the children e.g. reading construction manuals as that is where the interest lies for one of the children who likes building things.
Have moved from where things are done to them to one where people create their world. can you hand over what is seen to be important information to be displayed e.g. Cardiff streets.

1.What will it mean if we get it right?

increased success. Teachers who get it. learners who get what they want.

2.What happens if we carry on as we are?

no change as technology etc. changes around us.

3.Why haven't we done anything about it?

too hard, no money.

4. What could we do about it?

let people know what skills people will need in the future

Mark Nichols - institutional change for eLearning
now know how eLearning works - do we? We know how to facilitate online discussion - do we?
Beeby 1992 wrote about lessons learned in 1930s. Mark is an educational evolutionist. Focus is on formal education. He has failed spectacularly. Failures are far more interesting and you can learn from it. In his FLLinNZ year he read a lot about institutional change and talked to lots of people about it. Reckons it is commonsense. Has been ignored and now feels like he is prophetic.
What do we know about change
Peter Senge -
see institution as a whole "see the wood for the trees". Large scale change is complex. Example: had a CDROm of video, looked after website, used discussion - looked after it himself and it worked well. what would happen if it was systemised? Need to train people and learners. need to copy multiple CDs. What about looking after discussions - technical support, archiving.

Who maintains resources? How do we support subject matter experts with elearning. can they use pre-prepared materials. how are new technologies incorporated? How do we enrol students? Innovation in one course is very different to what is needed in a whole programme. Good systems solve problems before they happen.

Best to work with late majority - sustainability through transformation
work on changing core ideas - workshops Core and custom - complement standardisation with innovation. How do you get buy in. Use systems that organisation has in place - systems for internal review. Meet with programme leaders and work with them. Division of labour - how to best support those who are not tech literate. Engage at level of the core with tech support at that level.
FL strategy or teacing and learning strategy - use them.

How do you go about internalising elearning?
strategic ownership - VLE a thermometer - some staff flocked to it - others ignored it. If few staff got excited good prognosis - otherwise more difficult to change ideas about eLearning.

John P. Kotter - leading organisational change, very good book.
useful orientation to major changes that are involved.

Examples from Bible College
1. establishing a sense of urgency -
better resourcing of students, costing
Developing a strategy and PD. College eLearning audit and prepare national exemplar.
Sense of urgency varies - depends on hierarchy and priorities e.g. pbrf. When there is a crisis - lack of students for programmes. Responding to market.

2. Creating the guiding coalition
put ideas in front of managers with evidence

3.Developing a vision and strategy
what evidence is there that it improves learning? works well where there is no choice or it supports lifestyle. Don't change what is working and change what and when you need to.

4. Communicating the change vision

5. Empowering broad-based action

6. Generating short term wins

7. Consolidating gains and producing more change

8. Anchoring new approaches in the culture

Some discussion on the above questions but not enough time and no summarising of them at the end.

Maret Staron - TAFE
Overview of some research projects. "Designing Professional development for the Knowledge era".
Big emphasis in Australia with workforce development. Mentioned learning environmnet managers - work done in the workplace with learners there. Moving more to learner directed ideas. Open standards
Now in the Knowledge era - environment, learning ecology, business,
focus for all four areas on learners, context, technologies

Suggestion that the knowledge era will only last a decade - has progressed from information era. Next era proposed to be the concept era. Is this true?

Need to be knowledge workers - need to find, use information. Now need to generate our own information. One of our greatest challenges - how to work in groups to generate new knowledge?

Work is becoming more unbounded in time and space now with practitioners increasingly needing to work and engage in their own learning at work and at home" (ANTA 2004).

Used an ecology metaphor - broader than networks - what is your learning ecology? relationship between entitities and their environment. Dynamic, adaptive and diverse - there is no one way. Maron promised a model to help but no one way.

Stuck in the mechanistic metaphor - want to think, feel, use intuition, be creative - a contradiction.

Strength-based Philosophy - moves us from deficit-based model
What is wrong and we will fix it. Hard to shift to strength-based model. Constrained by bureaucracies who follow the deficit-based model. A lot of organisations try and solve problems by looking at what they need to fix. Martin Seligman - how to look at what helps people thrive. How to help organisations be the best they can. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - psychology of optimal experience - "in the flow" when things work well and you are in the optimal skill level. When in the flow anxiety, boredom and apathy reduces.

Business wisdom
How to bring leadership on board. What is the glue that connects the elements of a learning organisation? (Wise thinking and actions.)

Key findings of research
Strength-based orientation more effective.
capability - moves beyond professional development - confident, capable, competence - ability to work in unknown areas.
Values is the bedrock
Disruptive model
  • action learning, mentoring is strength-based, communities of practice
Some places run events on a cafe conversation model for PD. Look at what is working and why.
Who is practising deviance in a positive way for the benefit of the organisation.
What gifts does each person bring to the organisation?
How to reshape the description of your work so it is more flexible - job sculpting.
Appreciative inquiry.
Disruptive technology - policy, research, processes
Life-based learning, expert-centred model, work-based learning
In reality learning crosses work, leisure, family etc.
What is the source of learning not the continuum? "Learning for work is not restricted to learning at work."
Life-based learning is integrated and holistic. What are the enablers to create this type of learning?
"A business approach to capability development "- companion document to research report.

Discussion of four questions: Modifying what could we build? - Listening, sharing stories and conversations. previous knowledge and recording.
Exploring - what assumptions should we challenge?
Visioning - what would be your ideal, your dream?
Experimenting - what can we combine and test?

What is your personal stance in relation to work-based and life-based learning? What does it it mean to design this ideal for approaches to learning?

Stanley Frielick - Real change institutional challenges and opportunities
Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge - a new way of understanding, interpreting or viewing something may emerge a transformed internal view of subject matter, subject landscape or world view.
What is a threshold moment? - when someone starts contributing and/or facilitating to an online discussion. When people take charge of something - self-directed learning.

The real university is a state of mind. Zen and the art of motorocycle maintenance : an inquiry. Are there two universities? The first real university is the concrete one - state of mind sits within there. What are the mental models which underly our university structures?

Teachers and learners are inextricably linked and there is not just a one-way flow of information. Reactive (teacher-centred) versus constructive (learner-centred). Both demonstrate a dualist model - autonomous model where learner is separated from the world. Ecological model - capillaries of power - an energy which circulates through an institution. (Foucalt). Need to focus on capillaries when look at change. what are the technologies of power?

threshold concept 3 - Can teaching and learning function like an ecosystem? Is it similar to indigenous models of learning? Example, dialogical model where relationships occur between teachers and learners.

Mention of DNA and genetics as shaping learning - evolution, mutants, survival of the fittest - social dynamism - who supports the weak and do we just leave them in the wilderness?

Threshold concept 4 - ecological sensibility - disruptive technologies. who decides what is knowledge? Who decided what is needed for promotion?

Real change
Form (media) and content - most disruption happening here - disruptive technologies and disruptive pedagogies.
Assessment examination and accreditation
Appraisal (teacher) and evaluation (courses)

Immune system - assessment and appraisal areas. what is needed to make this disruptive - quality, prescriptive and normative, secretive - policies and processes, rewards. Suggests real change needs to be focussed on immune system (resistance). Make them more open, networked and ecological.

The disruptive technologies and pedagogies will act as an external stimulus which will upset the balance of the ecosystem and stimulate internal systems in assessment and appraisal i.e. disrupt them - they will have to change so they can revert to a balanced model. Change cannot occur in an ecosystem without an external stimulus. An internal stimulus can change an individual's system but not when an individual is part of a bigger system. Negative and positive feedback. Negative feedback in a closed system will return it to the status quo. Positive feedback will stimulate either rebirth or bleeding to death or system wide shock and collapse.

In complexity or chaos theory where there is a complex system - competency alone is not enough - it is very linear and serves only part of the purpose. Capability occurs when there is a branching out and multiple layers of action and direction.

What are we going to do about this? Why are teachers and students not revolting?

Monday, June 25, 2007

eFest Day One

Here we all are at the first day of eFest. The feeling is relaxed and friendly and it looks like the emphasis is going to be on round table conversations - well the set up of the room has set the scene. Lots of familiar faces and it is good to have time to catch up with old friends and eLearning colleagues.

Presentation from NorthTec introduced by the CEO and several staff - They have six campuses and lots of Learning Centres scattered around Northland. They use Moodle and have set up wireless and computing and video conferencing in all the LC. Also have a staff portal to provide information management, ICT access which is the same for all staff - RSS, document sharing, web space. They have Mobile programmes - f2f courses delivered in communities including on marae - horticulture, forestry, environmental studies, construction, sport and recreation.

Case studies
1. Bachelor of Nursing - five semester development, e-capability eCDF funding, team approach. Supported by senior management and evaluated by action research - Dr Nancy George. Video interview with a nursing student illustrated how important it is for a woman with children and a part-time job to be able to study flexibly.

2. Certificate in eLearning Design and Development (eCDF) - video clips of students talking about what they got out of the programme.

3. Mobile programmes teach skills as part of a community project. For example, gardening in schools.

4. Learning support - eTech support, online counselling, online learning objects. also reconfiguring technologies and buildings around the flexible approach.

Nursing communication scenarios using actors - example in palliative care - appropriate and non-appropriate.

Also have a student portal - blogs, portfolios. also have virtual classrooms.
Staff development in staff and student portals.

Polytechnics and universites are going to be connecting to KAREN (advanced research network) - ultra fast Internet connection.

Presentation by Murray Brown from Ministry of Education
joined the dots about what has been happening - funding, eLearning advisory etc.

Barry Ogilvie from Tertiary Education Commission speaking about eLearning project update
They have four projects under discussion. Looking for a vision for network capability. Also flexible and distance learning options. Looking for a range of methodologies for assessing capabilities across ITP sector - e.g. maturity model.

District Health Boards - Wintec and Northgate - nursing education - use mentoring, reflection, innovation. Staff want to have fun when learning. Mandatory training - national online campus, generic material with local contexts. Liked Moodle.

NorthTec nursing programme
Development and action research of Bachelor of Nursing programme. using a blended model as they do not want to lose face-to-face component. Have students who can study even though they live in isolated areas in Northland. Gave away online discussion as not popular with students.

Contextualisation of multimedia resources
Developed communication modules. Read information and choose correct answers. simple to change text. Originally created by WELTEC - not available in a repository and not sure abut IP issues. Have Grammar online. have a lesson and go through and choose options. Read information and do a test - so they changed it. Flash object with xml file at the back - replace text here and leave the codes. Could be easy to delete code if staff are unaware. Design perspective given and then pedagogical perspective given. How does it affect the learner?

Monday, June 11, 2007

cognitive, social and teacher presence and PLEs

This posting is in response to Derek Wenmouth's diagram - OLE a school perspective - illustrating a school-based PLE. This is currently being discussed in a very interesting online discussion seminar run by Derek Wenmouth and Derek Chirnside on SCOPE.

It strikes me in all this talk about personal learning ecologies and personal learning environments (PLEs) that we are paying a lot of attention to the structure of the system. I am currently exploring how Derek's proposed system can help with learning. At the moment the diagram represents a mish mash of ways to collect together content - very important but not enough to stimulate engagement and reflection and deep learning.

Inherent in the use of some of the tools e.g. blogs, is a belief that communication will happen but I think we need to look carefully at this. Just because we keep a blog does not mean that someone will give us feedback on the content. We could also have a collection of tools in a system such as that proposed by D and have no interaction at all with another human being. At least in a classroom, there is a teacher to guide or control the learning.

My question is how can a PLE incorporate teacher presence and scaffolded learning and still enable the learners to have autonomy in their choices?

Is a PLE only really any good for the development of a cognitive presence online? i.e. information processing and can this truly happen without discourse and input from another human? Does a PLE automatically stimulate social interaction? I have found that there is no guarantee of a social presence i.e. interaction with other students, and even if this occurs and is unguided and unstructured, how much learning actually occurs? I believe that if any system such as a PLE is to succeed, teacher presence is very important. There is more about the ideas of cognitive, social and teacher presence in an article called:

Farmer, J. (2004). Communication dynamics: Discussion boards, weblogs and the development of communities of inquiry in online learning environments. In R. Atkinson, C. McBeath, D. Jonas-Dwyer & R. Phillips (Eds), Beyond the comfort zone: Proceedings of the 21st ASCILITE Conference (pp. 274-283). Perth, 5-8 December.

Actual example of the use of social networking tools and strategies in a course.
In a course where I co-teach design for flexible learning, we have encouraged participants to set up their own PLEs using a blog, account, mailing list and wiki as the backbone. They also have access to a LMS discussion and content on a course wiki,and are encouraged to use a range of open source software e.g. audacity for audio, gimpshop and gimp for image manipulation, CMap and Gliffy for mindmapping, and web-based tools e.g. Flickr (images), Bubbleshare, slideshare, Youtube, bliptv. There is variable take-up. Some really explore and try out lots of things to design and create resources and a learning space for themselves, others sit on the fringes.

The blogs which each student is required to keep and the course wiki and mailing list, and del.ici.ous accounts depend very much on an active teacher presence to keep the participants linked and motivated. It also depends on these items being connected to the course assessment. The tools are there, but without facilitation by the "teachers" the participants tend to learn in isolation apart from when they come together for f2f workshops.

We have found that unless guidance is provided by the "teachers" very few of them provide feedback to each others' blogs, contribute to the wiki or del.ici.ous account or contribute meaningful discussion to the mailing list.

I wonder is teacher presence vital for a successful PLE?


Friday, June 01, 2007

Sustainability workshop

Model based on The Natural Step idea. Curriculum DNA model - disciplines, needs, actions.
what is the concept of sustainable education - sustainable education - thesis by ?
looks at core values, transformative education. There is a specific language.

Discussion about how material will be presented e.g. via Internet or Intranet, and what should be open or private.
Four issues around education - knowledge, student-centred learning and action capability, ?

OP wants sustainability embedded in curriculum rather than starting with specialist options at most basic level of operation as sustainable graduates.

Staff development ideas
workshops: 1. what's best? Decision-making for a sustainable future. From June 28 EDC and Steve.
2. Curriculum development for a sustainable future.
Should these be done in order or in parallell. Do we use inquiry, authentic-based, experiential?

Do we work within discipline or across discipline? There is a place for both.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Why am I interested in sustainable living?

Firsty I will introduce myself. I have qualifications as a scientist (MSc Zoology) and an educator Dip Teaching (tertiary) and am finishing a Doctorate in Education in Information and Communications Technology.I have studied the ecology both of both land-based ecosystems and fresh water systems. I also have a 30 year love affair with environmental and human rights issues. I would love to do away with money and exist in a place where the community exchanges and shares skills and support.

I presently work as an Educational Developer in the Educational Development Centre. I have been interested in environmental issues since the 70s when I lived in London for five years and Switzerland for six months - they were recycling everywhere, in the community and in the hospital I nursed in. You could pick up free furniture every month off the street when it was put out for collection. The reason for the activity - their country is too small to fill it up with junk. There is more about how I got to this space on my blog and I would feel privileged if you took the time to read about my background in sustainability.

While in London i rode a bicycle constantly, and used public transport because it wasn't practical to use a car even on long journeys. There was too much traffic; it was exhilarating to weave in and out of the cars and buses, and the fastest way to get around. I ate organic food which was very easy to get. Every time I washed my hair the water was black with soot. It was a very polluted city, and the water we were expected to drink had been recycled eight times by the municipal council.

Living there made me very aware of the issues facing the planet. I recall asking a chemistry lecturer about global warming, and the idea was poohooed as pollycock. I also recall asking questions about the safety of nuclear energy in a meeting with nuclear energy official representatives. They were adamant that alternative energy sources would never see the light of day and that nuclear power plants were 100% safe. The most fascinating trip I ever made was to Macynlleth in mid Wales where alternative energy centre was being set up - Centre for Alternative Technology - they had created a fully sustainable house and community from a bare quarry. Today it is a thriving magnet for all sorts of people wanting to learn about alternative energies and sustainable ways of living.

I joined a group of protesters one time and our efforts to get to to Greenham Common via train and bicycle were blocked by the authorities. we were protesting the nuclear weapons held there by the US. I was also closely involved with an urban regeneration group and we replanted wastelands and areas near abandoned railway tracks. My interest in the environment and sustainable ways of living has always been from a scientific angle as well as from a sociological stance. I just want to see people and the earth treated justly.

I would like to see Otago Polytechnic modelling sustainabiity in everything we do. Not just the everyday practical things which relate to energy use and recycling but also that we ensure we purchase good only from reputable sustainable companies, and that we provide sustainable educational choices for the community.

You may be interested in the following local organisations:
1. Sustainable Dunedin Network at:
2. Sustainable Dunedin City Society at:

Here is a video clip on the Channel 9 website of an interview about the Dunedin City Council Annual Plan with members of Sustainable Dunedin City Society

"The newly-formed Sustainable Dunedin City Society are arguing that the DCC's annual plan shows no sign of dealing with issues concerning climate change.They're concerned if the council doesn't rethink their current plan, Dunedin can kiss goodbye to a sustainable city and environment."

First of all we need to communicate openly and discuss the ideas around the Key Performance Indicators for the Sustainability plan. We would also benefit from having information added to a Wiki so it can be dynamic and readily updated by all interested staff at OP. That way people will feel involved and will be more likely to contribute and collaborate as well as cooperate. otherwise we may get into the same ole ways of working where we are being told what we have to do, rather than taking responsibility for doing what is right because we feel passionate about being a sustainable organisation.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

sustainable futures in the organisation

One of the most exciting developments at OP is strategic sustainable development. This extends to environmental, energy and education.

There are several strands of sustainable development at the institution:

  • staff development - workshops, awareness
  • operations = wellness, energy saving, transport - hybrid, biofuel, electric, bicycles for staff and students - what to get for staff transport.
  • curriculum - graduate profile working party - EDC support (18 May & 1 June) - email (chris ebert) for link to wiki for grad profile.
  • outreach - (sustainable Otago), design EXPOs - criteria to keep a high standard, sustainable business workshops - want to use own staff - advocacy.
  • students - forums, working party, OPSA, wellness, Gyro article - after checking what students want
  • communications - wait until get funding to promote more of this.
  • funding - contestable funds - business cases, need to see savings and how they are going back to the plan, incentives to bike to work.

Key performance indicators being drafted e.g. staff development, carbon footprint, energy etc

Need to revisit how we communicate what we are doing - blogs, wikis, mailing list. have received funding for environmental challenge project - sustainable home. tertiary organisations working together with community.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

social networking for leadership team

Planning for leadership team

Explain what a blog is and show the an example – terry to talk about his travel blog. Talk about the idea of a diary or journal. Gareth Morgan's blog.

Leigh will set up a blog for someone in leadership team. Leigh will have organised Phil & Robin re sending pics to Flickr etc. put them into blog.

Show Tony Heptinstall's blog - students can see what the lecturer is interested in (professional), filtering the Internet. Show lots of examples - Leigh. OP examples - William Lucas, Dave McQuillan, Wendy ritson-jones.

Show example of DFLP blog - migrating from primary focus of Blackboard to primary focus as the blog. Why is this better? Made an executive decision to make blog as the pivotal part of the course.

Blog helped them organise everything they were doing - thoughts, progress, reflection, questions, self-assessment, and make the assessments easier to mark.

Time may be an issue - how can wikis, blogs be more efficient for staff. Information overload. Show them an RSS feed ?

Set up leadership team wiki.

Social networking - definition and philosophy may come later. Culture change – move away from broadcast culture to participatory culture.

Demonstration of how to participate. Google search and Technorati search for blogs.

Harvard Law - taking next step.

Advantages of the Internet e.g. email - increase speed of communication, written record.