Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Teams are they more innovative and fun

Thank goodness for Leigh and his ability to keep us updated with the latest developments. The BBC interview where Peter Day talks to Professor Lynda Gratton of the London Business School was very interesting. Prof Gratton believes that good teamwork is what will make companies successful in the 21st century.

I like the ideas they were discussing e.g ignite teams with "big questions" to explore and solve - innovative teams are where there is a small core of people and "volunteers" come in because they are passionate about the project. Hence a team leader's role becomes not so much to direct and choose and but to inspire. The ability to cooperate is the most important characteristic for people to have in modern times so they can work collaboratively in teams. The focus is on the good of the team not on the individual's needs. Also the ability to be able to make connections with others, locally and globally. Graduates with these attributes are highly sought after in big companies.

People in a business if left to their own devices will sign up to project teams which excite and inspire them. eg. Google. Innovation is created when people who are very different share their ideas and they often do not agree with each other but they can cooperate.

So perhaps the idea of the teams and committees we have in the poly may not be the best for cohesion and for spreading the passion eg. the quality in teaching team was chosen - perhaps if people were invited to join and did so because of their passion about quality in teaching and learning, a very different mix would have been created, perhaps a more innovative (no offence meant here) combination may have been achieved. Having "experts" or higher levels of staff on a team is not necessarily more productive and effective - you need people to challenge because they have a different perspective.

Big teams can be very productive and everyone has the chance to shine. Gender and ethnicity mixed teams are much more productive. Some of the examples discussed were interesting such as Google, Nokia, BP and a Scottish bank. If they can do it surely we can as well.

One of the things which made my job in eLearning more exciting in the early days was the collaborative projects and networks I was involved in. Being able to have the freedom and autonomy to choose projects means I can be part of several teams, and I have learned so much from working collaboratively. The networked learning team is an excellent example of a collaborative association where ideas are discussed and shared, and people join because they are passionate about the area and want to develop resources to share with students and staff alike.

Now we have the Digital Information Literacy project and collaboration across Otago Polytechnic, Manukau Institute of Technology, University of Otago and Massey University. Watch this space for the project wiki page - it will be appearing soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Observation Questions and Usability Checklist Eval08

In response to a request by participants in the Evaluation of eLearning Best practice course, I have made some observation questions available. The actual document can be accessed and modified for your own use and is on Google docs - Observation Questions eval08

There is also a Usability Checklist eval08 available. Feel free to modify and use in yur own context.

The observation questions and usability checklist were used in the Online Information Literacy - OIL - evaluation project in 2006 and 2007. I also discovered how to send documents to my blog. Google is so clever.

Observation Date: Time Taken: Observer:

Observation Questions


1. Are there any difficulties in getting the user started?

2. How does the user engage with the module and follow the icons and instructions?

3. If the user gets lost how and why does this happen?

4. What suggestions or comments does the user make about the module?

5. Other observations.

Bronwyn Hegarty, Otago Polytechnic, 2007

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My reflections on a presentation of an evaluation project - DVD resources in Nursing

It was great to catch up with Bonnie Schroyen and Suzy Poppe from the Nursing Department at NorthTec again and I was very appreciative that they agreed to give a presentation to the 2008 class in the class I am teaching/facilitating, Evaluation of eLearning for best practice. It was especially valuabel because they were alumni from the course. The presentation only can be accessed by clicking: Evaluating the effectiveness of a DVD in the flexible mode of delivery in nursing and I have loaded the presentation with synced audio on to a web-based facility called MyPlick. The full web-conference session can be found by clicking here.

So what happened?
I introduced Bonnie and Suzy to the class, eight of whom attended the session on Elluminate, and then encouraged the class to introduce themselves to the presenters. Half the class had microphones so the rest were asked to introduce themselves on the chat facility. However this was probably unnecessary as I had also initiated introductions on the Whiteboard, and most people had written their name and area of work there for everyone to see. I felt this worked quite well and next time, I will do the same with the Whiteboard introductions and only introduce the presenters using voice.

The class will get their chance to ask questions after the presentation, or during it if the presenters prefer this, and I will need to ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak. Anyone who asked a question on chat, was either responded to by the presenters or I asked the question on their behalf.

Bonnie and Suzy had a short PowerPoint presentation describing the evaluation project which was easy to follow. They explained how they used a mixed methods approach (survey and online discussion) in a formative evaluation to investigate a new DVD resource which had been designed to enhance an "online nursing module in the Bachelor of Nursing (BN)".

They investigated the "student’s feelings and opinions about the design and ease of use of this resource", so they could make recommendations about improvements which could be made to the design. My understanding is that the DVD provided students with guest speaker presentations. This was trialled as a way to reduce costs and travel for guest speakers.

The sample size for their evaluation was quite good with 20 respondents. They used likert scales in the survey and collected quantitative data which was analysed using a tool in the Moodle Learning Management system. It would have been good to see some of the graphs they produced - I may be able to obtain them from the presenters. Qualitative data was collected from the discussion forum, and the comments were very positive. Overall, the presenters found that the students believed the DVD was effective.

Bonnie and Suzy had not found the task of conducting the evaluation project an onerous one, and enjoyed doing it. That was great to hear, and they thought it only took them around 20 hours. Participants in the course have an allocation of 50 hours for the project, and providing they do not make their project too big, they should be able to remain within the time frame.

I did not ask them what their "big picture" questions were, but this might have made the main thrust of the project more understandable. Some graphics on the slides would have been good but the design was clear and simple and their explanations good so pics might have deflected our focus. Some graphs of the results would have been good.

Discussion time
Following the presentation we had some very good discussion about the usefulness of DVD resources in a flexible course, ongoing use and currency of the resource and modifications. For example, the nursing course is now primarily online and short video clips are being used rather than the longer versions previously presented on DVD. People were interested in the idea of version control being added to the DVD, which would save having to collect them all in at the end of the course. This was necessary to prevent people using outdated material which might contain techniques which were no longer safe. I am having trouble uploading the discussion to the web and will add this later.

I missed Suzy's statement about the examples of video clips so did not get them to show an example of what they are doing now. That was a pity - perhaps a link to one or two would still be useful, so people can see they type of resource they are using and the quality.

My feeling was that the session's focus was on the resource rather than the aspects of the evaluation project itself, but I believe it was still useful in getting across the message about how important it is to evaluate eLearning resources. I will be interested now to read about others' thoughts about the session, and will run a poll to find out how useful, the class have found the presentation in helping them get going on their own evaluation projects.

There has been one positive comment about the presentation so far and someone is actually excited about the next one. At least it is pleasing one person, and it was great to see eight people there on the night. Right on!