12 October 2007
image: Dave Girling
Well, our LearnScope journey has come to an end, but is the real journey just beginning? Let's take a moment to look back to see where we have been and how what we have learned might help us move forward.
The aim of this LearnScope program was for managers of RTOs across NSW and, in this case a Northern Territorian, to gain an understanding of e-Learning, emerging trends and specific management issues relating to e-learning. To achieve this, individuals were to form a learning community sharing a 10 week facilitated face-to-face and online journey through a range of activities and discussions around e-Learning.
We started off on 3 August with a face-to-face induction. Almost a full quorum, lots of enthusiasm and a great opportunity for us to meet each other, to put faces to names. And perhaps to sort out whether this was a journey each of us wanted to take. There was an introduction to the communication tools we would be using - the blog, the wiki and Adobe Acrobat Connect, our virtual conferencing software. Robyn Jay, NSW LearnScope Manager, played a major role outlining the different support available through NSW LearnScope and introducing participants to its wiki and blog maintained by both Robyn and Alex Hayes.
The emails started, the wiki was established and the blog was ready to go! And so, the online meetings began.
For our first session we took the time to have a look at implementation strategies with Clint Smith. Clint introduced us to the outstanding Framework resource - Designing e-Learning which covers strategies, design and assessment.
Sadly we experienced the woes of many an online learner - technology not doing what we wanted it to do! Clint's ppt took on a life of its own and we had Jeremy and Marguerite struggling to join us over dial-up connections. We did find the time however, to have a closer look at blogging and wikis so that reflection and collaboration could begin. And thank goodness for recordings so those not able to participate could do so in their own time.
Next came Michael Coghlan who discussed emerging trends and issues in our second session. Networking and connecting are definitely on the radar, but not at the expense of some of what we already know. We discussed the need for options to be available and the delivery blended to maximise learning. And what about those firewalls! Should we be censoring sites or helping students to learn how to protect themselves?
For our third session, we had the privilege of having Nigel Paine joining us to explore leadership and e-learning, followed by an afternoon session with Jo Kay who introduced us to Second Life. Wow - what a buzz that day was! Jo took us into a whole new world for us to learn and play - mind boggling - and Nigel made it all sound so easy. Both great presentations.
Mobile Technologies was a special agenda item provided for us by Alex Hayes, who just never stops! Alex talked to us about the evolution of mobile technologies and drew together the stories of how mobile technologies are being used from practitioners from all over the world. Now SMS and mobiles really are the domain of the 'Net Gen', our younger students, and fast becoming that of more mature students. Go on, how many of us (grandparents included) text our children and grandchildren frequently! Even the ATO has cottoned on to using SMS with one participant sharing how they got an SMS reminding them that their tax was due by the end of this month - can you believe that!
Mary Schooneveldt reminded us of learner needs and the barriers to learning online in our sixth session. Certainly e-learning is breaking down many of the barriers that prevented participation previously for many different groups of learners, and because of e-learning I am able to continue to be a member of the workforce and still be available as a f/time carer in my home.
Our last session was with Vicki Marchant who discussed with us the skills, issues and considerations related to staffing for e-learning. Some great discussion brought together many of the things we have discussed over the weeks with a focus on the providers!
All these sessions are recorded and available at on our Wiki Program.
So, did we achieve our aim?
Certainly the feedback from our last session where we took the time to reflect together, suggested that much was gained with exposure to a range of tools and strategies and possibilities being the most significant learning for most. Jeremy noted that he had "gained a whole new vocabulary; each word connected to a concept. I've managed to penetrate the surface." Knowing where to find resources was another gain! For most it has been a starting point and all agreed that forming friendships online and developing networks is important.
But, it is hard to meet everyone's expectations. Some wanted more on the 'tools' themselves, and others wanted to be even more strategic. From my perspective, and from some feedback received, the discussion and interaction between meetings was not achieved. Disappointing for those who wanted to engage more and explore some topics a little deeper. I will admit to moments of despair but from experience I know that silence doesn't mean learning isn't happening. It could just be that much richer if there was more time to share ideas, to challenge perspectives, to interact!!
Managers have a lot of priorities and their own learning often slips to last place as they deal with the day-to-day unexpected events, so certainly I understood the issue of 'time'. It is most unlikely also, that a new group will embark on discussion and open reflection until an amount of 'trust' is developed. This takes time. So, the lack of interaction between meetings was not all that unexpected. If this was an enrolled course however, activities would have been developed to complete tasks together, perhaps as buddies or teams, and the expectations would have been different. Reflection and collaboration would most definitely have been expected but I am confident that this will happen.
Of course technology was a frustration to many. For dial-up connections it made participation almost impossible - a definite barrier! Also, there was a feeling of losing the 'connection to the faces' from the induction day. Suggestions such as posting pictures, using webcams, or time to share work experiences could have overcome this. More time to actually talk and discuss during the online meetings might have helped. All great tips.
I was delighted to hear that incidental learning has taken place. While our focus was not the tools, my strategy was to use some 'tools' that I felt might be useful in the workplace, to expose participants to them. Remember, to have the time to learn you need to make life easier for yourself - reduce that email, navigate sites of interest better. RSS will do that so if you haven't had time yet, it is never too late.
Our wiki was not very collaborative. Most contributions were by me. This wiki will remain however, and can continue to have a life if you allow it to do so. YOU can contribute to it, use it as a resource and keep building it. It is a starting point at least.
And so, the next stage of the journey is just beginning. It is now over to you as a Manager of e-Learning to keep moving forward on the road ahead - Good Luck!.
From Presentation by Vicki Marchant, Manager - Teaching and Learning Initiatives, TAFE NSW - Illawarra Institute.
Vicki explored the role of Managers in supporting staff implementing e-learning as well as the different skill sets required of managers, support staff and facilitators.
Some of the key points discussed included -
- the need to critically evaluate eLearning;
- the importance of time - managers need to allocate time for themselves and their staff to explore and discuss and to acknowledge different cultural perspectives/attitudes to time;
- Network, network, network for learning and understanding;
- IT support for students as well as staff is critical but not yet happening - what's the answer?
- Patience, perseverence and a willingness to share and be flexible are critical for a facilitator of e-learning;
- Co-facilitation makes a difference - a great learning strategy for developing online facilitation skills and techniques;
- Innovation is best when embedded, and an element of risk supports innovation;
A strategic approach is critical;
- Systems and tools need to underpin and enable e-learning;
- re-use, re-purpose, share rather than start from scratch;
- e-Learning = Learning - should be integrated into a blended approach and it will become ubiquitous;
- Modelling by managers works, but also modelling by colleagues.
Certainly one of the pertinent points, I believe, is accepting and supporting 'a different way of working' for e-learning teachers. Do they need to be in an office at the institution or can they do it from home, or from the beach, or wherever? Do you need to be able to 'see' them doing their work? Staff could be facilitating online subjects anywhere in QLD, Australia, or indeed, overseas. This requires 'trust' and opens up so many wonderful possibilities. Timetabling could become more flexible, or challenging!George Siemens says that a key role of managers is to 'remove the barriers' so that staff can do their jobs. (Siemens interview (October 2006) recorded by Parker, TAFE NSW – Illawarra Institute. Not always easy, eg ICT firewalls, but certainly understanding the issues and working with the different stakeholders is essential.
What do you think is the key role of Managers of e-Learning?
01 October 2007
Mary Schooneveldt, who implemented and managed the national Inclusive e-Learning Project for the Australian Flexible Learning Framework from 2005 – 2007 , spoke to us last week on this very critical subject. Afterall, that's what flexible learning is meant to be about isn't it? Providing options so that everyone has an opportunity to learn whether they have a disability, live in a remote location, are Indigenous or have an ethnic background, are mature-aged or youth at risk, or indeed, whether life's circumstances of whatever kind prevent attending mainstream face-to-face classes. E-learning has opened up new opportunities for so many to engage in education.
Sadly though, the stats still aren't good. There is still so much more to do so that nobody is peering in through a locked gate.
You can check out some case studies and find out more at
Image: Lost in Seattle
28 September 2007
"More than 1’850 -real- people protested behind their computers in over 30 countries to show solidarity with IBM Italy workers. The protest took place at 7 IBM locations, and in particular at IBM Italia and the IBM Business Centre in Second Life. Many Italian IBM workers joined the event after work, from 7pm to 10pm Rome, Italy time.
It was reported that Second Life was having some technical difficulties, which is why we believe we could have reached an even higher number of participants.
IBM did not officially react to our protest so far. However, they did shut down parts of their Business Centre to visitors (or really, protesters). A number of participants managed to crash an IBM staff meeting during the afternoon - where they were immediately asked to leave and to "protest outside". Instead, they demanded to speak to Management. But the staff meeting, which seemed to be about the new IBM website functionalities, was called to an end.
The media coverage for this event was impressive. The news about the protest was covered by blogs, radio and TV stations, newspapers and podcasts in numerous countries. Italy's
national TV station highlighted the event in the evening news during 5 minutes, showing screenshots from Second Life and its almost 2’000 protesters.
More information about this historical protest will come in the next days."
26 September 2007
“… M-learning is the exciting art of using mobile technologies to enhance the learning experience. Mobile phones, PDAs, Pocket PCs and the Internet can be blended to engage and motivate learners, any time and anywhere. …” (m-learning.org : accessed 22 August 2007)
Following Nigel's presentation and the Second Life presentation a couple of things came to mind.
Firstly the capability of our managers overall, not just in the e-learning field.
I read through Nigel's list of Do's and Dont's and asked myself the question about what are the barriers for e-learning managers. One is recognising that you need the technical competence to actually do what you want others to do. Managers need to in this day and age to lead by example or identify those that can share the lead.
From the list of do's and dont's I worked out that there is an assumption that managers have the capacity to reflect and respond appropriately and show wisdom, experience and professionlism on leadership issues or situations raised in their workplaces. This assumption is wrong.
Too often in my working life I have witnessed the promotion of people into higher level positions where they are required to manage others. These individuals are often very good at their specific job ( but not always) however they are very poor people managers with limited professional skills in mediation, conflict resolution or organisational skills. They don't have what it takes to effectively manage others and we wonder why gen Y are so challenging?
The end result is that productive work is reduced because of the energies wasted on responding or reacting to or in some instances actively obstructing progress because of the manager's obvious limitations.
I believe that there is limited investment Australia wide in the development of leadership and "people" skills within our organisations. Research and development suffers from the same deficiency.
One of the key emerging issues that presents as a barrier to managers in e-learning is that the 'y" generation do not and will not accept this lack of professionalism in human resource management .
This is evident in the way that they now 'choose' where and what they want to learn and who they want to work for. Money is not the answer to attracting and keeping gen Y engaged. Their parents ( the collective us) have drummed into them that it is OK to challenge and ask for a better deal.
Well we set up their expectations and have not delivered the goods. It's time for a change.
17 September 2007
Last Thursday our NSW and QLD 'Managers in e-Learning' LearnScope teams came together to hear first a presentation by Nigel Paine who talked about Leaders and Managers supporting e-Learning, and then Jo Kay gave a wonderful introduction to Second Life. Both presentations were a real buzz!
The key message for me from Nigel's was that Managers need to 'create the space and protect it'. It might be space for the innovators to try things out, or it might be the 'space' for conversations to occur, for informal learning to take place. What was the key message for you?
The Introduction to Second Life brought home to me personally how you need to be 'ready' to learn about new technologies. Frustrating for the innovators and early adopters I know, when you are trying to encourage the majority to take on new initiatives but readiness I believe is the key! I have had the opportunity to learn about Second Life a few times now and while it interested me, I just never quite got it and wasn't that keen to pursue it - too many other things on my mind and to learn I guess. But this time I was ready and it was such a buzz! I definitely want to dive in now and learn more about Second Life. Jo Kay and Sean Fitzgerald have set up a fabulous wiki - Second Life in Education - exploring the different educational uses of Second Life, and so much more. The other critical link given by Jo was Virtual Worlds - Real Learning - a 2006 Australian Flexible Learning Framework Project - a wonderful resource that covers everything including facilitation techniques, technical requirements, and real case studies in VET.
10 September 2007
We are half way in our 10 week program, so it is definitely time to take stock and reflect on how things are going, and how they could improve. Here are four questions to get you started, but please feel free to add anything else:
- 1. What has been the most significant learning for you so far, from the Managers in e-Learning LearnScope program?
- 2. How have you applied in your workplace, what you have been learning to-date?
- 3. On a scale of 1-5 please rate your experience as a participant in the Managers in e-Learning LearnScope program to-date. (1 being a very negative experience and 5 a very positive experience).
- 4. What needs to change in the remainder of the program for your experience to be better?
04 September 2007
First of all, what is RSS? Check out RSS in Plain English by Lee and Sachi Le Fever. This really is an explanation for dummies like me. It makes it sound so simple with some very clear instructions on how to set up RSS. Thanks to Nancy White for pointing to it in her Full Circle Online Interaction Blog.
I use Google Reader - it is simple to use and I have it embedded in iGoogle which is set as my browser's home page. That way, when I open my browser, I can see if anyone has been updating their blogs or websites. I can check what they have to say straight away, or I can do it later, but what is important to me is that I can quickly see if there are any updates to read.
More importantly, I can see if any of our Managers in e-Learning participants have been posting to our blog or wiki - check out our Wiki Resources to find out how I did it. This is much easier than visiting the blog and/or wiki daily to see if you have been doing your homework:-)
I found this easy to follow video by Andy Wibbels which shows you how to set up Google Reader .
31 August 2007
They do talk! This week the Framework brought together some IT specialists and educationalists to talk to each other. Finally!!! See what Robyn Jay had to say on the NSW LearnScope blog.
Another posting by Robyn Jay on Personal Knowledge Management. Robyn refers us to an article by Dave Pollard who seems to make it all sound easy - so why does it seem so hard!
We knew that the Framework's next 4-year strategy 2008-2011 was being finalised was released a few weeks ago. Well, it's happened which is great but personally I am a tad concerned with the move from capability development to client engagement. It has to happen of course, but LearnScope has been a valuable professional development (PD)program since its inception (1997) and we're only now just tapping into the critical mass. Oh well, hopefully organisations will continue to support PD and it will be integrated into Client Engagement.
Steven Parker introduced his People Learning Management System. I like it and love the idea of the learning object being the people - puts us at the centre don't you think?
Nancy White pointed me to Graham Wegner's slideshare on Blogging as Professional Learning. Graham has clearly presented a guide as to how we can learn from and contribute to blogs for our own personal learning.
Another terrific slideshare noted by several bloggers this week is Alex Hayes' on m-Learning. I won't spend too much time on this one though as Alex is presenting to us in a few weeks. (By the way, Alex became a Dad this week to Ethan William Hayes -congratulations Alex and Jane. And he was answering emails at 3 am in the morning too - phew!)
George Siemens refers to an article on education as an 'Industry in Crisis'. I fully concur with George's statements. Certainly we in VET are caught betwixt/between, ie we have to meet industry needs but as educationalists we want our students to learn.
Last but not least, is Stephen Downes' reference to Wikipedia's Imminent Demise. We've heard this week about staff in Govt departments changing entries as quickly as someone makes a political statement etc. but it usually sorts itself out. I tend to agree with Stephen - the need to control the entries will lead to disagreements and perhaps its demise. Let's hope not though.
When Michael presented to the QLD team what resonated most with me was how messy the whole situation was - see my reflections. This time I became more interested in whose responsibility it is to teach or take responsibility and related to Michael's reference to Philip Adams who said:
I'm interested to hear your thoughts. What resonates with you most? Are the AQTF requirements and e-Learning moving closer together or are they mutually exclusive? And whose responsibility is it??
28 August 2007
I was just thinking about what I'm learning as part of this process. Well heaps actually is the answer. I began with a bunch of strange words- moodle, flickr, del.icio.us, frappr, blogs, wikis and on it it goes. But at least now I know what they mean and pretty much what each one does. Nothing is automatic yet, I come into the wiki and/or the blog and have to think about where to click to see what I want to see or add a new post but I'm sure that in time it will become like checking my email.
So, small steps, but some progress!
22 August 2007
yes, it was a most frustrating experience in Connect last week. I was comparing it with Discovere which seems to be a much more simple piece of software and I wondered if it was the sophistication of Connect with all its bells and whistles which makes it more difficult to use and perhaps more prone to technical problems. I have not experienced anything quite like this before (!!!) and it must be quite off-putting for people who have not been in an online room before.
However, what I did take away was the wonderful Australian Flexible Learning Framework's Designing e-Learning resource. It explains so many of the different tools we can use and puts them into a context. I have found it very useful.
See you online!
17 August 2007
This Blog: Use it for posting your reflections, your thoughts, your ideas, making a statement. Comment on posts but don't try to enter into dialogue. That's not the best use of a blog.
Our Wiki: For collaborative building of a collection of resources and links, etc that you can refer to as Managers of e-Learning. By being a member of our wiki you can add resources and links that you know about, sharing them with us all.
Our Wiki Discussion Forum: By clicking on the Discussion tab at the top of the wiki, you can engage in dialogue with your peers, exploring topics of interest further outside of our virtual meeting room.
Our Virtual Meeting Room: For our meetings and key presentations where we meet synchronously (2:00 - 3:30 pm on Thursdays fortnightly, except for 13 September which is 11:30 am - 12.30 pm in Elluminate and then 2:00 - 3:00 pm in Adobe).
Web in classroom
Blended facilitated learning
From our team's responses, blended facilitated learning seems to be the most widely used although it was interesting to see a few of the other types being tried as well.
Of course, the Australian Flexible Learning Framework's Designing e-Learning project is a real winner - congrats to Clint and his team. If designing programs and strategies it is the perfect resource. Check it out at http://designing.flexiblelearning.net.au/. Here's a glimpse at the front page -
Sadly the presentation fell over just as we were getting to the strategic stuff - analysing the context and preparing business cases (don't we all love doing that). Despite the jest, it is the most critical aspect of implementing e-learning - too often technologies are introduced without thinking about relevance to the context and the client. Hopefully Clint will come back to share the rest of his valuable experience with us.
So, more key learnings (they keep coming which isn't a bad thing I guess):
Headsets - Absolutely critical to have audio equipment tested and working on the PC you will be using prior to the meeting. Don't change PCs once you know it works. If all those tips on checking mics have been done and you still can't hear or be heard, well what can I say, other than buy a new headset.
Dial-up presents problems - much better using broadband if you can.
Bandwidth presents problems - this will cause the intermittent drop out of audio and presentations. Have to be patient on this one - we can't change this.
Echos - best to not lock audio on unless you are actually talking. With everyone locking in audio you can pick up sounds in each other's background, even breathing. Also draws on more bandwidth.
Sharing files - powerpoint presentations need to be fairly simplistic and certainly not too big otherwise they create a life of their own (gosh, is that an understatement!).
Perseverance will win the day, and our experience is certainly allowing us to experience what might happen with students at the frontline so that in itself makes it worthwhile. What always bothers me though is losing confidence in e-learning per se because of some initial technology woes. We can do it team - hang in there!
16 August 2007
14 August 2007
13 August 2007
09 August 2007
08 August 2007
07 August 2007
The hustle and bustle of a city gearing up for the last day of the working week was in my face as soon as I left the Mercure in George Street. I joined the flow of people and machines whose activities were being largely uncontrolled by the maze of traffic lights. Stress to the max!
The sights, sounds and sickly sweet smell of LPG powered buses mixed with a cocktail of exhaust fumes took hold of my senses. How long could my lungs survive this toxic mix?
I began my small journey towards Barrack Street and Saxons training center.
I became instantly absorbed into the throng of people making their way determinedly on their own city journeys. I became one of the crowd, subconciously wrapping myself in that invisible cloak that people use to protect their personal space when confronted by crowds. However I was not so practiced as the locals.
It wasn't until later when I told of my experience that I understood why I was so visible.
I ran the gauntlet of traffic criss crossing the intersection and as I strode purposefully along the footpath I noticed a woman walking on my left. As I strode past her she quickened her pace to match mine, I slowed my stride as I sensed a purpose in her actions, our eyes met. With practiced ease she removed my invisibility cloak.
"Would you like to spend some time with me ?" she asked.
I was instantly jolted into the real world of city life. I was also curious at the same time. Why me? I faltered for a split as worked out what she wanted. "I'm sorry I don't have the time, I am on my way to a meeting" was my reply. I turned away and continued on my journey with fresh eyes.
Great to meet everyone on Friday and like Marguerite I'm having my first play in a blog. So far so good!
One of the things I hope to do over the next three months is to set up an online induction program for new tutors at the college (all casuals) using a combination of technologies. It would be great if I could bounce ideas of this group during the process and also really useful to know if anyone already has something like this in place which I could look at. I'm not sure if this is appropriate in this forum - Val please say so if it's not.
Also, I wonder if you could clarify something for me. I know that a blog is an online journal or record of our learning and I know that a wiki is a place to produce a collaborative resource. But, I'm not sure what I should be posting to the wiki. Is it stuff like good links to resources, things to share?
06 August 2007
This is Craig. I am just checking out the site. It's all very new to me and I have yet to sort out my blog - both what and how, and the rest...
Georgie I am very impresed with your blog and your wonderful art on display. You are obviously very talented. i would do more of that and less of managing AMEP programmes if I were you....Not that there's anything wrong with managing AMEP programmes, nor with your management of them I am sure, but really there's no choice.
As an aside I am having problems with my typing - an overwriting function seems to be on, so how do I get rid of it?? This same problem sometimes happens with my emails and drives me crazy. Any suggestions?
I will endeavour to set up a blog that is worth looking at and I can be proud of, quite an achievement to do this I think.
All for now from me.
Christopher D Sessums shows a couple of excellent videos and offers links to more resources on this topic.
Sue Waters (Challenger TAFE, WA) is participating in a 31 Day Project promoted by Darren Rowse to make your blogs better. By going to Darren's weblog you can find lots of info on blogging for beginners as well.
I've posted the subject in our Wiki Discussion area with links to resources - now it's your turn!
By the way, I refer to the Networks Community Forum in the IP resources - this is a great forum on topical areas of interest. Check it out at http://www.groups.edna.edu.au/course/view.php?id=40 and register - it is well worth it.
Robyn Jay, the NSW LearnScope Manager, started off the Induction Day which included introductions to the Framework, LearnScope and an online presentation on Flexible Learning Toolboxes by Shane Dowd, the NSW Toolbox Champion. There was also some interesting discussion on Intellectual Property (IP) in relation to e-learning. We might carry that discussion across to our wiki.
After lunch we experienced a touch of chaos as we accessed our virtual meeting software, Adobe Connect, for the first time. Not an easy task when you are physically and virtually present with the same group of participants! Now, they say being 'on the edge' is where the interesting things happen and we learn and I don't think this experience was any different. What I learnt was that it is actually easier to have a virtual conferencing software orientation online, and to be more prepared (should have known that one but ...). We did see what was possible though thanks to Alex Hayes sorting us out virtually and I'm sure our online meetings will be more constructive!
We were in time slip mode unfortunately and really didn't have the time needed to consolidate what blogs and wikis can do. Check out Pages 31-34 of the Networks, Connections and Community: Learning with Social Software report. There are also some excellent examples of social software being used in teaching and learning and for knowledge sharing and staff learning and development on the Report's research wiki. Other exemplars are available on the NSW LearnScope wiki.
Other tools we want to check out further are Personal Learning Environments (PLEs), Flickr and del.icio.us.
We will be using this blog to map our learning journey over the next 10 weeks and to share any interesting tidbits we find. Our wiki will be a collaborative resource which we will build together to support us and other Managers of e-Learning.
And so our journey begins!