Friday, June 15, 2012

e-Networking the National VET E-learning Strategy

The Canberra Institute of Technology hosted a National VET E-learning Strategy "e-Networking Night" at their Reid campus on 14 June 2012.

Jyothi Jayaram, ACT toolbox champion, provided an introduction to the National VET E-learning Strategy.

The National VET E-learning Strategy is an excellent federal, state and territory initiative to improve vocational e-learning. However, in my view, the terminology used for the "strategy" is unnecessarily confusing, with most potential users of it blocked from access because they are unable to understand the terminology used.

Next was Annie Gregg and Graeme Steadman on "Academy of Real Estate: Dos and Don'ts, Challenges, Support and Lessons Learnt in implementing e-learning".

They took a unit of competency "Appraise Property" and worked with "All Homes" to design a Moodle based course. They pointed out that there is more to e-Learning that just putting a lot of resources into a learning management system. Also they suggested checking that you check your IT people are providing the same version of the LMS you are planning to use (many educational institutions have got around this issue by outsourcing the LMS to a specialist company). Also it was suggested to spend time on the structure around the LMS to help the students. The point was made that with vocational courses, the students are very focused on getting in and getting their course done so they can keep their job, or get a better one. A SCORM package was used (using Microsoft Learning Content Development System (LCDS) to convert Microsoft Word documents to SCORM), which limited the computer platforms it could be delivered for.

It seemed to me that a lot of the issues are not about preparing a course for e-learning, but about setting up an institution to use it. Also integrating the assessment into the course content can help the student learn but greatly increases the complexity of course development and maintenance. A less integrated approach might be acceptable to the students if the same set of tools is used for several courses. It also occurs to me that such packages would have potential for delivering training in other countries, particularly China and India.

Nina Allen talked about CIT teacher examples of using some of the web2.0 tools in online learning:

CIT uses the Moodle LMS, Equella repository and Wimba virtual classroom. Nina pointed out that a photo of the tutor was useful for introducing them the students. They provide recordings of the face-to-face classes with Wimba. The Powerpoint slides are also provided online. Interestingly a glossary of the main terms is provided in the Moodle page (I would have put this in the notes so it does not clutter the front page, but Nina argued that this saves the students asking). Mobile applications can be sued by the students with their smart phones wherever they happen to be. Nina pointed out that training videos of scientists in white coats are not that interesting to younger students, whereas examples from pop culture (such as the Big Bang Theory TV show segment on operant conditioning with chocolates).

CIT pedagogical examples in e-learning by Margaret Robson:

Margaret teaching vocational teaching at CIT. She suggested that pictures liven up the e-leaning content and also using images in quizzes. Students can be asked to research a topic and contribute their results back to the class.

Margaret referred to the "flipped classroom" (or flipped teaching), where the lessons are online and worked through by the students at home and then classroom time is used for practical exercises.

Margaret also mentioned Badge Stack, which awards badges to students for small learning tasks (seems to be like virtual elephant stamps).

Augmented reality: what is it and how can we use it in education - Helen Lynch and Jyothi Jayaram

Helen talked about an augmented reality camp at the UoC Inspire centre (the centre was created to teach technology enhanced learning to Canberra school teachers and seems to be having a considerable impact). The example of AR shown uses embedded invisible codes in images (Steganography), which can be scanned with a mobile phone or tablet computer, which then access online material. Helen demonstrated creating a code using layar.com.

This may be of some use where printed brochures are used. But to me this looks like a gimmick with limited usefulness. The photographs have to be accompanied by a caption explaining that there is a hidden code, so a visible code may as well be used. Also care should be taken in transporting documents containing hidden codes across an international border, as you may be arrested for spying.

Strategy developed and other free resources and how and where to find them - Jyothi Jayaram

There was not time to discuss resources, but there is a list at: https://actnationalvetelearning.wikispaces.com/

CIT Leading the Way with e-Learning in Canberra

This was an excellent afternoon of learning about e-learning. In between making these notes live at the event, I found myself writing a proposal to ANU to implement a repository like CIT's and to implemented flipped teaching for ICT students. This reminded me of events I attended inn Canberra in the mid 1990's about use of a technology called "The Internet" where it was not so much the details which were important, but the sense that this was something of practical value which could be quickly implemented.

2 comments:

Helen Lynch said...

Another great post Tom! However, I do have t correct some misconceptions about Augmented Reality that have crept in.

Augmented Reality does not depend on a code of any kind. In this is differs completely from Steganography, QR codes or bar codes. Augmented Reality is based on either an image or geolocation. This means, I think, that it works by image recognition or by reading the location on an object. This is significant as the limits on the amount of data that can be triggered by an object that has been digitally augmented are much less that that of a code. A code based system is limited by the amount of data the code can carry.

The two apps demonstrated were Aurasma and Layar, both are free augmented reality apps. In both cases an image of something was used to “trigger” an augment (a video, a photo) that had been specially made to deliver more information about the “trigger”.

Anyway an augment can be anything - multi media, 3D models, audio files, photo streams and so forth. A image of anything or a geo location acts as a trigger to download the enhancement from the app’s server. No third party code required just an app and a trigger (photo or geolocation).

Not sure how it adds to an educational experience in a way that is better than QR codes – still thinking about that one.
Helen

Tom Worthington said...

Helen Lynch commented June 22, 2012 1:30 PM on my post:

>Another great post Tom! However, I do have t correct some misconceptions about Augmented Reality that have crept in....

Sorry, about my misconceptions the Augmented Reality (AR). My experience of AR is limited to some demonstrations of experimental systems at ANU, CSIRO and IBM.

>... Augmented Reality is based on either an image or geolocation. ...

IBM demonstrated a system to me at the 2010 Australian Open Tennis which used a smart phone. We pointed the phone at the tennis buildings and labels apeared on the phone. This I assumed used geo-tagging.

>.. This means, I think, that it works by image recognition ...

Sorry, I had assumed that the systems where you point your smart phone camera at photo in a newspaper worked using a code hidden in the image. That would seem the simplest way to do it. If they actually work by doing an image matching search with an on-line library, I will stand corrected. But that seems unlikely, as it would be a much more complex way to produce the same result.

>Not sure how it adds to an educational experience in a way that is better than QR codes ...

Yes, I have not been impressed with the AR examples I have seen for the mass market. There are some specialized uses, such as in surgery, or the repair of laser printers. The surgery example projected the X-Ray image onto the patient and the printer repair used a eyeglass mounted display with a diagram from the manual. But it does not seem a technology suitable for everyday use.