Thursday, August 23, 2012

Manifesto for Teaching Online - Transforming Assessment

O Manifesto by Katler Dettmann

"Feedback can be digested, worked with, created from. In the absence of this it is just response." 

This is one of the statements from the Manifesto for Teaching Online (Clara O'Shea, 2012) discussed during the presentation: Assessment and the Manifesto for Teaching Online. This was the start of the online Transforming Assessment  webinars series - Rethinking assessment in a participatory digital world - Assessment 2.0. A recording will be available soon on the site.

In this project researchers from the University of Edinburgh investigated writing, assessment and feedback practices in a MSc in E-Learning programme. Students used blogs and wikis for their writing, some was peer-assessed once the students became familiar with how to blog. Clara  also said during her presentation that seeing how others are developing their arguments gives a better sense of how the ideas are unfolding. Feedback has an important role in this process. Affirming feedback as well as questions encourages students to respond more analogically - reflectively.

I also like another statement: "A routine of plagiarism detection structures-in a relation of distrust." Clara believes that students need to be taught how to write well and cite correctly, and a culture of blame is not helpful. She also mentioned that the design of the assessments is key in preventing plagiarism I have to say that I agree. Clara wants us to take the Manifesto apart and discuss the in my opinion needs to stimulate critical thinking and extend students' knowledge and that is why I believe in giving formative feedback on summative assessments. It takes more work but the students are more likely to learn and develop a deeper knowledge of the concepts....more so than they might by just passing.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Professional learning and development

The teacher & the VPLD approach by hazelowendmc

I am sold on Hazel Owen's Virtual Professional Learning Development approach. For the larger size of the image click here. At first glance the model looks complicated but in actual fact it is surprisingly simple. At the core is the teacher who becomes a participant in a virtual learning community. The model uses a Moodle platform to facilitate online interactions with other teachers, resources and mentors. The diagram shows how the teacher is linked to a virtual learning community, the students and the wider education community. It is worth noting that the virtualness of the approach does not exclude face to face interactions. The complexity of the diagram comes from the inclusion of all the processes and practices involved in the professional learning and development that the teacher engages in. What I am exploring is how this model could be applied to specific teaching and learning practices such as assessment, in particular assessing action competence

Owen, H. (2011). Design for virtual professional learning and development: infinity and beyond. Proceedings of the International Conference on eLearning Futures 2011 (pp. 46-53). Auckland: Unitec.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A new era of educational design for learning
This is my response to a post by Hazel Owen on the Ethos consultancy website, March 22, 2012 - The curriculum is dead; long live learning.

People may also be interested in the written article on this topic. Bass, R. (2012) Disrupting ourselves: The problem learning in higher education. Educause Review, March/April, 22-33. This article totally describes what we are trying to do in the curriculum development projects at the Educational Development Centre at Otago Polytechnic. This was a great find, affirming that what we have been trying to do in the organisation since 2007 is regarded as effective, and the best way forward. What is not recognised by most lecturers is the need to design from the experiential phase of learning rather than from the objectives.

What do you actually want the students to experience, and how will you help them get this experience? And how will you guide them to find the information they need to understand the experience? For example, midwives need to know how to 'catch a baby' so when designing curriculum a good place to start is: what do they actually need to know to understand the birthing experience? I believe that lecturers think of this when writing course objectives but why not let the students think what they need to know guided by the lecturers in a constructivist model of learning. Preferably not actually giving birth but many do or have done prior to taking the course. Do they get RPL for this experience? No. Food for thought though isn't it.

Competency-based skills still need to be taught I agree, so a mix of what George Siemens (2005) regards as learning in the transmission domain may be more applicable for this in the form of courses with other learning enabled in the acquisition and emergence domains where self-generated learning (create own objectives etc), inquiry-based learning and reflective and critical thinking are valued. Bronwyn

Bass, R. (2012) Disrupting ourselves: The problem learning in higher education. Educause Review, March/April, 22-33.
Siemens, G. (2005). Learning Development Cycle: Bridging Learning Design and Modern Knowledge Needs. elearnspace: everything elearning. Retrieved from

Friday, March 02, 2012

Introducing myself

Priscilla in EDC by bronwynannh
You may be wondering why I am introducing myself with a picture of a kune kune piglet. For me she represents diversity. I am an Educational Developer, and work with a broad variety of people, as well as teaching the Flexible Learning course. A couple of years ago, Priscilla was one of our customers in the Educational Development Centre. She was such a gorgeous wee thing and kept us entertained for an hour while we waited for the SPCA to arrive. She was a wanderer from one of the local student flats, brought in by one of the polytechnic students who found her out the front on Forth street. Yes this is me in the next picture, after one of my weekend walks in the bush with hubby. It is a great way to forget about the academic stuff.

I have been involved in teaching this course since 2006, and helped to develop the Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Learning and Teaching. I entered the staff development side of things in 2001 when I was appointed the Blackboard coordinator for the organisation. Before that, I had been teaching bioscience in the nursing and midwifery degrees - both online, on-campus distance and in block courses. My interest in eLearning has taken me on a very interesting pathway in teaching and learning. I have recently submitted my Doctorate in Education and am now playing the waiting game. My focus was on using reflective frameworks for professional learning and practice.

I also teach an online course called Evaluation of eLearning for Effective practice. This is part of the Graduate Certificate in Applied eLearning now run by Manukau Institute of Technology, and originally developed as a TANZ initiative when I was involved in their elearning group. I really enjoy keeping up with the latest trends in learning and teaching. This includes not only the technologies which are springing up everywhere, but also innovative thinking around learning. I have recently been involved in running workshops on critical thinking, self-directed learning, reflective practice, ePortfolios and Web 2.0 tools. Oh yes, and I do lots of work with learning design, and have led curriculum development and research projects. I am really looking forward to reading your blogs.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to convince students to share their ideas on a blog

Seated Woman with Blog, after Picasso by Mike Licht,

Is a blog a good or a bad thing for sharing ideas with your classmates? Lets deal with the good stuff first. Blogs are a great way to share information - websites, photos, videos, the latest gossip, and of course your ideas, and what you are learning in class. Here are some examples of blogs to get you thinking.

It can be interesting to find out more about the people sitting opposite you in class - what they are interested in and what they believe in. So it is a good way to get to know each other better. You will probably be pleasantly surprised to read about others' hidden talents. It is a good way to see things from different angles and reading what others have written helps you to do this. And to state the obvious, blogging really can help your writing, and your learning especially when your classmates give you helpful hints.

Posting on a blog can also help you to express the ideas you might be too shy to say out loud. It is good practice for learning to express your ideas too. It is really cool when someone reads what you have written and leaves you a comment. Just knowing others are interested in your thoughts is a real confidence booster.And of course, it is a great way for your teachers to give you feedback about your work, and to challenge you to think.

Sure it can be scary when you start to think that others will read what you have written, but it can also be addictive seeing how many people are reading your posts, and who is leaving comments.  The more you do it the easier it is and the better you get at doing it.

The main thing to remember is to be respectful to each other when leaving comments, and it is a great way to show that you are interested in their work. By posting to a blog and sharing what you are learning, you are hopefully going to have fun and do some learning at the same time. So you can learn from each other if you share your work with the class as well as the teachers, and if your blog is open on the web you might even get some interesting people looking at your work.

It is also possible to set up a mobile blog where you can send texts, images and video directly to your blog....but that is another story, and one for you to explore. When you get really good at blogging you might even be able to attract advertising and make some money - lots of people do....but that is something for after class.

So what are you waiting for - lets get started.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Starting 2012 with a thought freedom of expression on the Internet

Open by tribalicious
Is this a new year's resolution or just a considered way forward for 2012. I lost my way with blogging last year what with the Doctorate and one thing and another. So I have decided to post a blog about something at least once per week or whenever a item of interest - even if vaguely connected to education - comes up. So here is my response to the discussion facilitated by Hazel Owen about Wikipedia blacked out protest. She has lit my blogging fire so to speak after I discovered her blog at Ascilite 2011.

I have also signed the petition for a free and open Internet , and reject the ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which would destroy it. This is open to anyone to sign via

My response re an open Internet and freedom of expression
The idea of removing information because it is offensive for whatever reason is a tricky one. Well we already do it in society all the time - offensive human beings are removed to prison. This happens when the authorities get involved. When people act without involving the authorities people who offend also get removed, in one way or another. Vigilante behaviour is not favoured when it is against the law. Freedom of expression is important but offensive material and bullying behaviour via the Internet is not. I also don't agree with one group controlling the masses. 

To be effective people can learn to be assertive, ethical and responsible - and also may need to 'harden up' if others don't agree with them or challenge them. I believe that we learn appropriate behaviour best from our peers and by observing others. I believe that the Wikipedia model has shown us the power of networks in keeping things open and 'safe', and has done a great job in showing us how to 'share our toys' without throwing them out of the cot when things get sticky. Copyright does nothing in reality, but line the pockets of those who are probably already rich (in majority world terms) or have the money to sue - in contrast copyleft opens up a whole world of possibilities for anyone....if everyone plays fair and gives attribution where it is due. The question is how can we make enough money to live if we share our creativity freely with the world - or does this actually more likely our creative works will be seen, and we will make money anyway?

This is certainly a concern for educational institutions. Surprisingly enough sharing content and ideas can actually attract money. If an organisation is open and willing tio share, more people are given the opportunity to hear about what they offer. This can lead to more enrolments and opportunities for research and collaborative projects. My teaching materials are open on WikiEducator because it is important for me to model this to other teaching staff. Occasionally, someone comes along and contributes and adds to my work, and for me this adds richness to my work. I would love people to contribute to the Flexible Learning Guidebook, and this year I am going to use a student-generated model with the staff who take my course - this will be an interesting year.