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.