28 September 2007

Union using Second Life

Terry Lawler, our NT participant, has just forwarded this article on IBM employees using Second Life to protest. And we're just starting to talk about it (it is IBM mind you) but perhaps this is a sign of how protests will be done here in Australia in the future ? Keep watching ...


"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

Innovate and Integrate

This report is a 'must read' for any organisation or individual wanting to pursue and embed innovative practice. And there are practical tools to support you.

Carol McCullogh is bringing introductory workshops to all States and Territories on behalf of the Framework so watch out for the dates for your workshop.

Marie Jasinski is well known throughout the VET community in Australia, as well as internationally, for her innovative practice. I, and many others, have learned so much from her over the years and I personally want to thank Marie for yet another outstanding contribution to VET and the wider education community.

Mobile Technologies for Learning

Last week Alex Hayes, NSW LearnScope Project Officer, innovator, occasional philosopher and artist, and probably much more (my descriptives and not necessarily Alex's) inspired us with his presentation on Mobile Technologies.
Alex took us through the last two years of the evolution of m-Learning referring to 'the romantic' definition -

“… 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)

What was particularly inspiring was how Alex invited users of m-Learning to tell their story with their responses forming the core of the presentation. Responses were international, from the different education sectors, from managers and practitioners, from teachers of literacy and the trades. One response which hit home for me was Graeme Wegner's (Primary School Teacher, e-learning coordinator and edu-blogger):

"M-learning is something that students are doing with or without their teachers. Only if we decide to get involved can we have any impact on that learning. Education can no longer afford to ignore the impact mobile technology has on our students and their lives. If we ask them to switch it off, then we turn off the relevance to the rest of their life………”
Becoming a better e-learning manager and a better leader

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.
Secondly, who has the time in their busy schedules to sit down and operate a second life when the one I operate in seems like only a half life.

It's a bit like a half life frog on a log . He wants to get to the end and jumps half the distance each time but he never quite gets there!
Second Life looks great for people who have the time and technical expertise. The technical requirements are restricting though, my budget and my time is also limited. When it comes to priorities my family's needs are up the top. These include their school, sporting and socialising activities - away from the computer. Obesity is growing - pardon the pun!

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.
I took the photo above at the Rally against the National Intervention in the NT. The white paint is a sign of mourning and of loss.
Leadership on the national scale has abandoned consultation and negotiation in favour of "emergency intervention"
What will tomorrows leaders do with this style of role modelling?

17 September 2007

Learning is Such a Buzz

Image: [eatingorange]

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

Mid-Program Reflection

[image: Vaeltaja]

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

Make life easier with RSS

OK, you're all busy people and haven't got time to check out all these websites to keep abreast of what's new. Understood! So that's what RSS is all about. Get the latest to come to you by using a reader/aggregator. That's how I found all those bits and pieces in my previous post. Oh, and I don't want it all in my email as I get enough of those too.

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 .