Sunday, May 30, 2010

Using Multimedia & Smartboards to empower multi-level learners

This video comprises three short recordings. Two of the recordings show the education practitioner, Chris Lovegrove introduce to the students studying the TTEC 5307 Auto Electrical & Electronics at Unitec NZ, the use of videos to help them master the computer programme, Autocad. The third video shows one of the the screencasts Chris Lovegrove made to scaffold his multi-level learners in their use of Autocad. The videos were used by the students during the class to help them complete activities in Autocad, so that Chris could circulate and help students with digital literacy issues, as well as students with problems using Autocad. The videos were accessible to students via the Intranet outside of the class in the Unitec NZ library and other drop-in labs, and students could also copy the videos to Flash drives and watch them at home. Many thanks to Chris Love and the students of the TTEC 5307 Auto Electrical & Electronics for allowing me to take this footage, and for sharing their experiences.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Overview of a study to investigate the efficacy of blended mLearning as an enhancement to literacy, with Gulf learners

ABSTRACT An imperative underpinning the re-determination of education theory and practice is mobility. Mobility encompasses freedom of movement through myriad contexts (physical and cerebral), cultures, and knowledge. Digital natives embrace this mobility, interacting with each other and engaging with new literacies to communicate, access 'rich contexts', question, and collaborate. There are, however, few studies that investigate the efficacy of blended mLearning as an enhancement to literacy, especially with Gulf learners. Therefore, this paper describes the background and implementation of an ICT enhanced learning and teaching (ICTELT) blended mLearning academic writing intervention piloted at Dubai Mens College (DMC). Findings from the research study are reported and discussed.

Multimedia enhancement of opportunities and outcomes for learners engaged in open, flexible and distance learning: Theory and practice.

This was a paper given at the DEANZ 2010 conference ( The link to the accompanying presentation in Slideshare is: ABSTRACT "The paper explores how multimedia for education enhances outcomes and opportunities for learners and practitioners engaged in open, flexible and distance learning. The quality connections and boundless possibilities which are the theme for this conference are examined through exploration of how embedding multimedia artefacts into meaningful tasks can scaffold learners understanding of concepts, demonstrate practical skills, and, where learners are creating the multimedia, enable cultural appropriacy and foster creativity. The paper illustrates how the use of multimodal activities can be efficacious, motivating, and assist learner volition. Additional benefits include catering to learning preferences, and enhancing accessibility. All of these factors are key in enabling open learning, especially in blended or distance programmes. The argument is contextualised through a discussion of the relevant literature, along with descriptions of the use of multimedia in a small range of contexts within two very different institutions: Unitec New Zealand and Dubai Mens College, UAE." The link to the full paper is: The link to the accompanying handout with a range of relevant resources is: Please cite as: Owen, H., & Martin, H. (2010). Multimedia enhancement of opportunities and outcomes for learners engaged in open, flexible and distance learning: Theory and practice. Paper presented at the DEANZ 2010 - Quality Connections - Boundless Possibilities: Through Open, Flexible and Distance Learning.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Learning and teaching French: Examples and resources

Colors of Bayeux
Image by Storm Crypt via Flickr

you start reading - please note that all the links (shown in green text) in this blog post go to examples, sites and tools,

If you are learning or teaching French you are likely to find some of these ideas and resources of interest. There is definitely a trend to empowering learners to create their own multimedia artefacts, and to collaborate, not only as a class or local group, but also on projects with learners across the world. Multimedia tools are being used by teachers to create content, as well as to capture learners' voices in creative approaches. The fostering of thinking skills is also catered for with interactive, often inquiry-based activities.

Voicethread is being used extensively for language learning and teaching, and some example of Voicethreads in action are: L'art franais, French for maths, To find out more about Voicethreads, click HERE.

For listening annd visual resources, the French Listening Resources Page offers a variety of podcasts and videos. The BBC also have a wide range of multimedia resources for learning French at beginner, and intermediate levels - for example, there are 10 online topics based on the 20-part TV series that build on the absolute basics of Talk French. With French in a click learners can access topic-based modules with exercises, explanation and activities, play interactive language games for free online (but you need to be a member to hear the audio), find out about French grammar and vocabulary, and use the online dictionary.

Teaching French at school? For primary students there are links to sound files, songs, newsletters, podcasts, and lesson plans on a range of common topics. For teachers of slightly older students there are movies, stories and letters, grammar explanations and activities, and worksheets.

If you are looking for a comprehensive annotated list of links to resources is the place to go. There are links to the usual worksheets, quizzes and Powerpoints, as well as to ready-created multimedia resources. The Free Language site also has links to French learning podcasts, TV, videos, and communities.

There are also sites that offer complete, free courses in French. The Word to Word site lists about 10 such sites, and if you click here this link will take you to an example of one such course.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Voicethread for general education and second language learning: Examples, ideas and how to

Voicethread has been around for a while now, and what this means is that there are a lot of examples of innovative use in education to be had. One area in particular where it has been used a lot in learner-centered activities - often with a collaborative, social focus - is in second language learning, although there are plenty more from others from a variety of disciplines and education sectors.

One of the great things about Voicethreads is that they can be embedded in blogs, Learning Management Systems (e.g. Moodle), and in ePortfolios if you wanted students to showcase their work. The combination of media can be a great way of encouraging students who prefer an oral/aural and/or visual approach to learning too.

The first question you might want to ask is what is Voicethread? This Voicethread answers just that question:

The links below are to a few key examples and ideas, as well as to some Voicethread communities, along with some to "how to..." resources around the nuts and bolts of using Voicethread.

Examples and ideas for using Voicethread
How to use Voicethread...
There are a lot of tutorials available about how to create Voicethreads, not surprisingly with many made in Voicethread. Some of the key ones are:

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Sonia Foote's students get into Moodle: Experiences and evaluation

Level 3 Biology Moodle course

Sonia Foote is a teacher at the Mangakino Area School in New Zealand, where she teaches Science, Biology, and Human Biology to years 9 to 13.

Sonia has been working on and trialling with Junior Science and Level 3 Biology students her Moodle site and resources, which she has been designing and building over the last few weeks. It has quite a journey as she has been working out the most effective design to use as well as how to actually create a course in Moodle. At every step of the way, Sonia has been asking for evaluation from her students, and with this feedback she can't go far

Her Level 3 biology students have jumped straight into Moodle. One student in particular has used Moodle in the past with a math teacher/course and was extremely positive about the experience, saying that students really enjoyed math with this teacher and using Moodle. Such was this student's enthusiasm, she jumped into Moodle as soon as she got her log in and was trying out all the quizzes, and activities. The other students have followed suit.

Junior Science Moodle Course

With Sonia's Junior Science students, however, it has been rather frustrating as students found it tricky to copy the URL from the board, and as most of the students don't have working email she couldn't send them the link and log in details. Once everyone had typed in the correct URL, worked out their user name and password, and accessed the course, they then relied on her to tell them where to go - even though she had shown them, prior to going to the computer lab, what the Moodle site looked like, and what they could do there.

From my experiences with students I have always found it necessary to allocate the first couple of sessions to helping students log in, and work out for themselves how best to use the environment for their learning. I've discovered that it may take up to a month before learners gain in confidence and become more self-directed. The students will get there, though. A screen capture video of the login process might be a useful way having a reminder for students, and to save teachers from having to repeat the same information many times over.


Discussion forum

Some activities from Sonia's Moodle spaces

Sonia has been focussing putting logical groups of resources together in the topic areas of Moodle, and has used a range of media and activities to help engage students and to work towards meeting the needs of a variety of students' learning styles. She is also keen to build on the interactivity for students that she already has within the course, and is planning to ask students to use a more inquiry-based approach (using the wiki in Moodle), and working towards getting students to create some of the content/exemplars for future students.

Find out how to use Moodle

If you are interested in finding more out about how to use Moodle, you may find the following resources useful:

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to share your screen in Skype

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Having used screen sharing in Skype on many occasions now I have been really impressed with the quality and the lack of time lag (and it works on both MacOX and Windows). The person on the other computer can see pretty much instantaneously what you are doing, and you can see what they are doing. I've found it great to talk people through things (rather than me doing something and them watching). It would be great if these sessions could be recorded as well for future reference, but as yet I haven't figured that one out! (Any suggestions?)

To have screen sharing functionality, you do need to have the latest version of Skype (I'm using version If you need to check if you have the latest version, open Skype, click on 'Help', then click on 'Check For Updates'. If there are updates, download and install them.

A couple of useful explanations about how to screen share in Skype (you may need to upgrade to the newest version of Skype, and this could be why it wasn't obvious where to click). The first 'tutorial' is "How to Share Your Screen with Skype" - image from that site below.

The second is "Screen sharing will change online teaching", image from that site below.

Hope these are useful, and see you online again soon.

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Thoughts from Joel Dodd - Cultures old and new

students and social networks
Image by Will Lion via Flickr
Joel Dodd is a teacher of mathematics, researcher, and statistician. He is also active in using ICT to enhance his students learning experiences, while also reflecting on his own practice.

This is an extract from Joel's blog post (Friday, 19 March 2010) where he discusses traditional classroom culture and the influence it has not only on today's students, but also on their parents and the community outside of the school. To read the blog post in full, please click HERE.

"A change is going to come...

What this project involves is a three-way culture change. How people think about education, learning and support. From a teaching perspective, I am looking to move away from the traditional style of education, and taking on the IT tools that are not made available for teachers to use, but that the learners have themselves elected to use...."
"The students have already had nine years of entrenchment in traditional school environments....The students perceptions of how they learn have been shaped by their prior experience, and they come to class with a preformed set of expectations that does not closely match the new style of education. The tech devices and resources that are a central part of their lives outside of school are now becoming prime resources to help them to learn....The mental separation between school and personal lives is being blurred and broken....And, the students are being expected to become pro-active in their learning, and to take personal responsibility for preparing for school."

"The families of the students are having change imposed upon them. Many have not typically been involved with the school environment for many years, and their expectations of school and education are shaped by their own experiences and memories of learning in a different era, currently an era before the internet. Now, they have school entering their homes via the internet and social networking sites. Some families place restrictions upon their children's access and use of computers and the internet, so the new model is a direct challenge to their domestic authority. As schoolwork increasingly requires students to use the internet at home, parental control will be confronted, and potentially eroded. It is a challenge, then, for parents and caregivers to understand how their children are being taught, how they are learning, and how to review their control over the IT resources at home. Is it a case of a challenge to personal control, a fear of what the children could be exposed to via the internet, or a combination of both that leads parents to restrict or prohibit the use of the internet at home?"

Joel concludes by suggesting that the adoption of this model of learning will only be successful if there is a (supported) culture shift in school, home and the wider community so that there is "a dynamic balance between the needs and expectations of each party, and how far they are willing to modify their own perceptions and willingness to change". The resulting synergy, Joel suggests, is where the best learning will happen."

What are your thoughts?

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Moodle for New Zealand Schools

A Picture of a eBook

Image via Wikipedia

If you are an educator in New Zealand or further afield, you may find the Moodle for New Zealand Schools Newsletter of interest (click the link to download the .pdf file). It is a new initiative, and this is the first issue talks about the growing Moodle in Schools community, which, amongst other things is sharing effective practice via stories from schools who have implemented Moodle, sample courses and screencasts, and is also developing self-directed learning materials for installing and using Moodle. The newsletter also describes what the Moodle for schools version is, and also what it can offer. Well worth having a look if you are already using Moodle or are keen to do so.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

What is the difference between blogs, wikis, and discussion forums?

Screenshot of phpbb in use on a games forum.
Image via Wikipedia

I was recently asked what the difference was between discussion forums, blogs and wikis. The following is a brief answer to that question. It is really worth looking at the examples of the wikis and blogs in education, and also watching the video about discussion forums as they might give you some ideas of how a learning experience could be extended or enhanced. Please also feel free to share your ideas in the comment box at the end of this post.
  • Blogs - this is a good video to watch about blogs - A blog is an online diary or reflective journal where a person can post and publish their thoughts about what they have experienced or learned, and/or text and pictures describing their life, interests and work experiences. The posts tend to be relatively short, but have enough information and interest to engage other readers. Other readers (classmates and teachers) can usually leave comments about the post. You can see some examples of blogs being used in education by following the links on this page:

  • Wikis - This is a great video to watch about wikis - A wiki is a web page that can be edited by many people - in other words wikis can be co-created web pages. You could, for example, set up a wiki in Moodle and ask a group of your students to create a Web page about Japanese food and traditions around food (including images, text, videos, and sound). Other students will be able to see the information and edit it if they feel it is wrong or needs clarification. A wiki is open and collaborative. (A good example of a wiki is Wikipedia). You can see some examples of wikis being used in education by following the links on this page:
  • Discussion forums - This video features a teacher talking about how she uses discussion forums with her students - A discussion forum is a place where, for instance, you can ask your students a question. The students can make separate posts in answer to your question - they cannot edit or add to each other's words, but they can 'reply' to the answers. The other thing you can do is set up a forum, and in it give students a task (like watch a Japanese video) and come up with a summary of the video in text, and also ask one or two questions themselves. Students then go and answer each other's questions.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Exploring ePortfolios For Practitioners and ESOL Learners

The presentation is similar to that I gave at Moodle Moot NZ 2010, but with more of an ESOL focus. The accompanying handout can be accessed at:

This session around ePortfolios will briefly consider the ’why’ for learners and teachers (especially those involved in ESOL), explore what is already working (for teachers with learners, and teachers as learners), and finally explore options of possible ePortfolio platforms. The presentation has a strong visual element with several extracts from videos played.

Philosophically, I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in education (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment.

Just to give people who may be interested in this session some background to what I feel the potential of ePortfolios to be this is a recording of a keynote I gave in Australia last year -

Please cite as: Owen, H. (2010). Exploring ePortfolios For Practitioners and ESOL Learners Paper presented at the Department of Language Studies, Unitec, New Zealand.