Saturday, July 31, 2010

Vocational education and training: Can ICT enhanced learning and teaching help?

WPA Adult Education (New Deal)Image via Wikipedia
The Vocation Education and Training (VET) Sector, for those who are not sure, "prepares trainees for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic, and totally related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation". In New Zealand the VET sector is in part serviced by 39 Industry Training Organisations (ITOs), as well as by Polytechnics, Private Training Establishments, and Wananga.
A couple of the key points that make it necessary to think creatively when considering ICT enhanced learning and teaching (ICTELT) and the VET sector include meeting the needs of these learners who will, like all learners, have a variety of learning preferences, but may also face literacy, language and numeracy challenges, and life and work commitments. These same learners are likely to also have a rich range of skills (both formal and informal) and need a way to capture their prior learning and experience (click HERE to watch a student speak about Recognition of Prior Learning - RPL). If  ICTELT is seen as a positive way of assisting learners to learn creatively, however, then these are also the students and trainees, who are likely only to have limited access (at best) to connectivity and technology. On top of all these factors is the culture that is often prevalent in industry where learning 'virtually' at a distance or in a blended course is perhaps not seen as feasible or effective (click here to download a report from 2008 around the New Zealand context entitled "Using e-Learning to build workforce capability: A review of activities", and for comparison a report about small businesses and eLearning in Australia in 2008).

Civil Engineer Students at Dubai Men's College
Nevertheless, times are changing, and with them is increased access to broadband (see for example the National Broadband map for NZ and click this link for an explanation why bandwidth is important), personal ownership and use of computer(s) and mobile phone(s) is increasing (click here to see the 2009-2010 statistics), a greater awareness that 'soft' skills such as critical thinking, as well as social and communication skills are as important as the key competencies required to be effective in a specific career.
Flexibility and meeting learning needs and preferences, while making learning accessible to as many people as possible are key factors, and ICTELT and well-designed blended and distance courses appear to offer the potential to work towards these ideals.
This resource provides links to a few examples and case studies of ICTELT use in VET, in particular from Australia where there is a massive initiative in this sector see for example the Australian Flexible Learning Framework who have a massive range of resources, events, research, case studies, reports, training and ideas). There are also links to a couple of associated research articles and tools. Please let me know if you have anything you would like me to include in this resource - I would be really glad to do so :-)

Community and learning

One of the most exciting examples of bringing together community and VET training in a culturally responsive way is the initiative trialled in 2009 in conjunction with the Garma festival (located 40km from the township of Nhulunbuy (Gove) in the Northern Territory, Australia at the Gulkula festival site. The festival theme was  Creative Industries, with four vocational foci:
  • Construction
  • Multimedia
  • Tourism - specifically tour guiding
  • Music
To listen to Roger Bryett speak at the Creative Indigenous Economies forum please click HERE (mp3 - 8.75mb).
To view the streaming video of Roger Bryett speaking at the forum about this initiative please click HERE
Image source
Other examples include (all from Australia):
  • 'Top End Groove' - a project that aims to establish a cultural tourism business and training network. The project aimed to develop and grow indigenous and cultural tourism businesses through the use of technology and eLearning by enabling knowledge sharing, improving access to skills training and creating a central point for promotion and marketing indigenous tourism. Click HERE to listen and find out more about the project
  • The Jobs for our Mob project was established to develop an e-training centre which incorporated technology to identify and deliver the pre-vocational skills required for indigenous people wanting to enter the mining, construction or engineering fields.Click HERE to listen and find out more about the project.
  • This case study, "Panel beating apprentices take to technology", describes an Australia-wide skill shortage in the automotive vehicle body repair industry first prompted Brisbane North Institute of TAFE todevelop a programme with training materials available on CD-Rom and online, thereby making a traditional industry area more technologically savvy.

Examples of online environments in the VET sector

Example home page designed for an LMS


To view this video full size, please click HERE
An ePortfolio helps students with the identification, assessment and recognition of what they know and can do, and could include evaluations, comments, feedback and reflections from peers, managers, facilitators etc who have been involved in the applicants life/learning journey. The assessment, therefore, of what a person can do is from authentic sources, collected over time (click this link to access "Verification of a person's aualification e-portfolio use cases", and this link to access "Vocational Education and Training e-portfolio use cases").
The contents of an ePortfolio would be assembled over time, and could include some or all of the following:
  • Evidence of informal or professional networks regularly cultivated, contributed to, and participated in online and why these have been important / influential
  • Examples of ideas, thinking, innovations from the applicant that have been shared in communities (including online) and what comments, feedback and reactions were elicited
  • Illustrations of collaborative creativity, problem-solving and work (including with online contacts and communities)
  • Work samples  e.g. something the applicant has designed, created, done or written (including video records of processes, images of projects at various stages of completion, and a selection of images of showcase, finished pieces)
  • A record of  performance  e.g. video recording, reflections (audio/written), appraisals (audio/written - elicited and spontaneous)
  • Copies of any statements, references, images, video clips, audio, or articles about the applicant's employment or community involvement 
  • Documents which recognise the applicant's expertise, e.g. copies of licences, awards, prizes, membership of professional bodies - along with reflections / comments around these achievements
  • Evidence of training  e.g. copies of school reports, certificates or statements about education and training / outline of any course the applicant may have undertaken
  • References or letters / performance reviews from employers, work colleagues, clients, community leaders that link specifically to required competencies or elements covered
For a fuller list of resources around using ePortfolios to enhance education in general, with some examples relevant for VET, click HERE.
Hairdressing, a case study using Mahara
Examples of ePortfolio use in the VET sector include:


For a fuller list of resources around using multimedia to enhance education in general, with some examples relevant for VET, click HERE.

Support: Completion, retention and success

This report ("Student Learning Support Programmes that demonstrate tangible impact on Retention, Pass Rates and Completion") is a combination of summaries and brief case descriptions of some of the effective programmes and other support mechanisms that NZ Tertiary Learning Advisors (TLAs) provide for students in universities, polytechnics, institutes of technology, and other tertiary institutions (click HERE for the executive summary). Findings indicated that there were significantly higher course pass rate for students who used the programme (84.4%, compared to 69.8% for those who did not use the programme), as well as significantly higher final exam pass rates (71.6%, compared to 62.8%). Some of the strategies included the hosting of models, guides, examples and support in a Learning Management System (LMS) alongside personal, one-to-one support, and the use of an online skills survey. However, the main finding was that relationship and trust building, as well as recognition of learning preferences and cultural appropriacy, were key factors for success.

Assessing and assessments

Assessing and assessments can take many forms, including:
  • Facilitate and record a discussion within a trainee's community, where members of that community speak about the applicant
  • A narrated 'learning story' (recorded - audio or video)
  • Record an oral presentation for the assessor or assessment panel
  • Take part in a role play (asynchronously or synchronously - face-to-face or virtually; e.g. in Second Life)
  • Demonstrate knowledge/application of skills through a scenario with video/audio evidence recorded
  • Be assessed on the job with video/audio evidence recorded
  • Complete an online assessmen
  • Complete a project that is partly or wholly online, and possibly part of an ePorfolio
  • Have skills and knowledge attested to by an appropriate person, e.g. Kaumatua
Where multimedia is used there can be no question as to the authenticity of the event / process. Furthermore, there is potential for reliable evidence, when compared with a paper-based portfolio, of competency and application of the in required skills in 'real world' contexts.
Although there is no mention of ePortfolios or alternative ways of collecting evidence in these following reports, it is worth bearing in mind some of the principles mentioned: "Assessment of Learning in the workplace: A Background Paper", which can be read in conjunction with "A guide to good practice in ITO structures and systems for on-job assessment".
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Friday, July 30, 2010

Social networking and connecting for health, literacy, community and a better way of life

Flag of City of Cape Town
Image via Wikipedia
You may wonder, sometimes, if ICT in general and mobile technology in particular is also about revenue generation and filling time with empty connections. In some cases you may be right, however, after doing a wee bit of research I am beginning to see a much more hopeful picture emerging.

I was in part inspired to do a little more digging by a comment in Linked In on a Tweet I made (thanks Terry) which read: "The potential of this technology to transform life and improve the socio-economic status of many in the developing world has tremendous implications for peace". She also asked if I knew of any organizations that privileged youth could be a part of to help raise money/volunteer to aid in such ventures.

The two specific examples I would like to look at briefly are tied to multimedia: one is a BBC Digital Planet podcast episode, and the other a TED Talk video. I'm then going to pop a few links to organisations that you may want to look up should you like to support some of these initiatives.

Hole in the wall computers introduced to Indian slums

Professor Sugata Mitra introduced hole in the wall computers to Indian slums as part of a ten-year project. A BBC article ("Using computers to teach children with no teachers") writes that the professor "first introduced children in a Delhi slum to computers in 1999. [Since then] He has watched the children teach themselves - and others - how to use the machines and gather information". From that time he has "repeated the experiment across India and noticed that children will learn to do what they want to learn to do". One example mentioned in the BBC article was a group of children in Rajasthan, who "learnt how to record and play music on the computer within four hours of it arriving in their village".

Terry commented on this project as follows: "Fascinating lecture. I was particularly struck by Mitra's comment that the project is "an example of what children can do if you LIFT adult intervention."

ICT in Cape Town (South Africa) and its environs

In some ways I'm not sure that the description of the podcast from the Digital Planet site does the programme justice. The number of projects that are briefly described is awe-inspiring and cover accessibility, education, literacy, communication, connectivity, business, employment, communities...and an improved sense of life - both as an individuals and as settlements. I had to listen to the podcast twice to really get a sense of the scope of what is happening, especially the overwhelming belief in openness, open-source and sharing.
Follow the link to listen the original podcast by clicking HERE.

Image source

The blurb from the podcast site reads as follows:

"As the World Cup gets underway in South Africa, Gareth Mitchell travels to Cape Town to explore how digital technology is transforming people's lives.

He discovers why 21 million people, almost half of the population, use a social-networking application called MXit on their mobile phones. He also interviews Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, about the evolution of open source software in South Africa.

Gareth visits a township - overlooked by IT innovators – where two brothers have set up a range of internet cafes. And he ventures to one of the dangerous ganglands where an organisation called RLabs is encouraging former drug users and gang members to embrace tools such as twitter and Facebook as a means of changing their lives."

These are links from organisations and initiatives mentioned in the podcast:

Links to organisations you can support

  • Ank (a Hindi word which means “Digit” in English) - a non profit making organization (NGO) based in Delhi, India. There are opportunities to fundraise and volunteer.
  • Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) - an organisation that provides funding and scholarships to empower youth to change the world with ICT and entrepreneurship.
  • Youth Social Enterprise Initiative - providing start-up financing and mentoring for entrepreneurial youth. Opportunities to become a mentor, and to become involved.
  • Education is Power - an organisation that believes that they can "change the world through education, empowerment, and inspiration" and by "providing post-secondary education for East Africans in East Africa". Opportunity to donate.

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How to create an OUWiki in Moodle, and embed video in an OUWiki

Image representing Moodle as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

This is a short video that shows you (once you have an OUWiki plugin installed - download from: how to set up an OUWiki in Moodle, embed a video and set up further pages. The video is from YouTube, but would work with media from, for example, Bliptv, Vimeo, Voicethread, Slideshare, etc etc etc.

To watch the video full size, click HERE.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

You've heard of the Google 80% - 20%? How about the school 90% - 10%?

Students studying at Albany Senior High School...
Image via Wikipedia

There is much talk about student empowerment, engagement, and choice, and yet many education institutions stick to the topics and content required by the curriculum. But not all schools!

One such New Zealand school, inspired by the Google 20% time as (for teachers and students) included the concept in their ICT strategic plan. If you are not familiar with 'Google time' what the company do is empower their employees for 20% of their time at work to work on projects and interests of their own, and for the other 80% they complete the work that has been assigned to them.

Having included it in their ICT strategic plan, the Deputy Principal (DP) and one of the teachers decided to use the model with the students.Having settled on this they felt that one day a week student-directed learning might be too much for their 8 and 9 year old students to manage effectively, so they reduced it to 10% (half a day). The DP "organised the children into pairs and let them choose a topic that they were interested in. Students came up with two or three big questions and what they would do to find the answers. These were then fine-tuned by conference and a learning contract entered into and signed. At this point they still had to decide how to present their findings to the class".

"Students usually work on their projects from 11am until 3pm Thursday and includes independent work in class, in the library, in the computer suite and on netbooks (with a teacher roving between). Some have also worked at home. Topics vary, from V8 cars to the Empire State Building, from the rainforest to Coca Cola, giraffes to tunnels. Some children have made models/dioramas, slideshows, another group has created a movie, added commentary and made music in Myna. Some have their information and answers but have yet to decide on a final presentation format, but the teachers have ever confidence that they'll get there. For the most part students have totally taken over their learning and, in some cases, have become teachers - sharing their skills with their peers (mostly computer skills)... powerful learning :-). Obviously the teachers are always there, to guide, to question, to prompt, but rarely to direct or instruct. Of course they respond to "how do I?" or how can I?" questions, but not before asking other students if they can help first."

"A group of four boys work with more teacher supervision, partly because of their place on the learning path, partly because of their still developing self-management skills, but they are still researching their chosen topic, albeit with more teacher support in questioning, research and next steps".

The teacher who described this initiative said that he had "never seen students so keen, so engaged in topics and interests that they’ve chosen themselves". He goes on to say that: "What we, the teachers, have come to realise is that to really engage and motivate our students 10% time should slowly evolve into 90% time and that we need to take a step back from instruction and become mentors, guides and facilitators."

It was inspirational finding out about something that was so very effective. Time and again in my own experience I've been overwhelmed with what learners have come up with...frequently in ways that I would not have envisaged. Sometimes, yes, there are students who choose not to engage, but this is their choice and respects where they are in their life and aspects of it that I am not privvy to.

So, I'm all for the 90%...with teachers, parents and the wider community (local and international) taking on the roles of mentors, guides and facilitators. It did start me wondering though what a curriculum / assessments would look like in the 90% approach? Something rather different than is currently the case I suspect. And, how do we get to the 90%????

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Engaged and motivated students: Learning Japanese

Chitose - VPD
Image by hazelowendmc via Flickr
I first 'met' Chitose Izuno online via Skype on March 9th 2010 as part of the Virtual Professional Development (VPD) project. The project had started in December 2009, but Chitose was really keen to join the VPD group. When we first talked, Chitose explained how keen she was to enhance the learning experience for her students who are enrolled in her NCEA Level 1 and NCEA Level 2 Japanese classes in ways that would motivate them and encourage them to be more engaged. At the time she was using Wikispaces (but found them a wee bit limiting for her students and what she was hoping to achieve) and Skype,. She also had an empty Moodle site ( set up, but was looking for help around designing a programme for Moodle.

Working together

We started by working together to refine Chitose's goals, partly by discussing the learning opportunities she was hoping to create for her students - a mix of content and communication potential (using a whole range of multimedia). The idea was that students would be encouraged to speak, write, listen to and read Japanese a lot more, with multimedia scaffolding helping with, for instance, pronunciation and the forming of kanji. Chitose had already created a large amount of resources in PowerPoint (see for example, the picture below), but was keen to enable students to be more active, and to build a learning community whose main interest was learning the Japanese language and finding out about Japanese culture, history, education and so on.

An example of scaffolding around forming kanji created by Chitose in PowerPoint

Some aspects of VPD

While working on some of the 'nuts and bolts' of design and build we found the screen share function in Skype to be invaluable with Chitose 'driving' and me talking her through things as she did them on her own computer. Also useful was the sandpit course that had been created in the VPD Moodle site to provide a safe place to try things out before going live with students. Chitose started with discussion forums and wikis (see the screen capture below), uploading files, and adding titles/labels, and of course adding users and assigning roles.

An example of a wiki in Chitose's Moodle site after being used by students

Making progress

Over the next couple of months Chitose put in a lot of effort to not only upskill in the workings of Moodle, but also took time to reflect on her own practice and collect feedback from her students. She also explored examples of effective practice and started to incorporate some of these ideas into how she facilitated and designed her sessions with students.

How the students reacted: A time of great excitement

The moment that sticks in my mind is when, after the VPD face-to-face meeting in Wellington at the beginning of June 2010, I met with Chitose for a quick chat in Skype. Chitose had come back from the two days inspired and invigorated. She had already started incorporating a lot more multimedia in her Moodle, and was encouraging students to create and share their own. The look and feel of her courses was much more multi-dimensional, with something to cater for all learning preferences. Chitose was over the moon - she had facilitated a session with students the day before and was excited when she spoke about their level of engagement, level of enjoyment and apparent interest, with a lot of Japanese being produced while asking questions about concepts and places represented in the multimedia.

A comparison of the look and feel of Chitose's Moodle space after four months of being involved in the VPD project

What next?

After such success, Chitose now plans to gather more feedback from students, start a blog for critical reflection to help her continue enhancements, and also to start looking more at student learning outcomes and how what she is doing is impacting them. She is also exploring ways to help students form more of a learning community, and to create more of the content for the Moodle space.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Does ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching Improve Learning? Evaluating student learning outcomes

Achieving higher learning through the use of c...Achieving higher learning through the use of computers: Image via Wikipedia
When asked if ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) enhances a student's learning experience, the answer would probably be, from many teachers, a reasonably confident 'yes'. However, if asked if ICTELT enhances student learning outcomes, a lot of teachers would either be neutral or undecided, for several reasons including the reasonably small amount of robust research in this area. (Please see Terry Freedman's post "Does ICT improve learning" for a more detailed discussion about this subject, including definitions of 'ICT', learning contexts, use and application, roles, and beliefs about how people learn).



Evaluating student

There are a several ways that you can evaluate student learning outcomes, some of which include large-scale, formal research studies. If you are a busy teacher, though, and would like to measure student learning outcomes in a way that informs the design, facilitation, evaluation, and assessment in the programme you teach, you may want to consider action research (click HERE for a link to a guide for teachers wanting to do action research) or some form of evaluation around your students' learning outcomes. The following sections are designed to give some suggestions and considerations, as well as links to tools to help you.


Context is a fundamental factor to consider when looking at student learning outcomes. The problem is that notion of context is incredibly broad and includes the inter-connected aspects of the class, school / institution, parents, and wider community, as well as virtual spaces and global communities. Context also includes tangible and intangible factors such as students' backgrounds, experiences, skills, digital literacy, interests, likes and dislikes, access to ICTELT, hopes, boredoms, learning style, family troubles, previous school experiences (Jardine, 2009, p.1). These sit alongside a teacher's / facilitator's own experience, their comfort levels with ICTELT, their digital literacy, how they facilitate sessions, and whether sharing, creativity, discussion and discovery are encouraged. With the latter, these are approaches in their own right and have been shown to be effective when used as part of the learning process; therefore, if they are introduced at the same time other changes are made within the learning environment the validity of an evaluation can be called into question.

So, when sketching the picture of student learning outcomes in your context, it is essential to describe your context as vividly as possible, while also asking yourself the questions:
  • Is the evaluation I am conducting actually measuring my own ability to facilitate an ICT enhanced learning session? Or,
  • Is the evaluation I am conducting actually measuring the effectiveness of VPD for me? Or,
  • Is the evaluation I am conducting actually measuring interlinking factors such as 'influence of parents' rather than the effect of ICTELT on my students' outcomes?
That is not to say you should avoid collecting feedback and information from as many angles and stakeholders as you can. This could be done in conversation for more informal input, or could be collected in surveys, discussion forums or focus groups. The description of your context might be included in your own reflective blog.


You may decide that you would like to survey your students about some of their attitudes towards ICTELT. The following are some example surveys that you could adapt for use with your students. They will probably not be totally relevant to your context, so you will need to change some questions, but they may give you some ideas. (Hint - Google forms, Survey Monkey, or Kwik surveys are useful online tools for administering surveys online).

Reflective practice - some tips and examples

What is critical reflective practice? Critical reflective practice has been theorised and written about, and a lot of research has been done around it (if you are interested to know more you can start by accessing this online article "Reflection in Education"). For a briefer multimedia-rich introduction you can access the following resources the first one of which is a general introduction, and the second one a more practical 'how to write reflective posts' with a quiz for you to measure your own preferences around Kolb's (adapted by Pedler) Learning Cycle. You may already be a fully-fledged reflective practitioner, but it's always worth brushing up on skills. On the other hand, you may not really have done much written self-reflection as part of your professional development. In either case the two following tools are likely to be of interest.

There are a couple of really good blogs out there by educators that provide good examples of reflective practice, and which you may want to use as part of your own professional development, as well as for helping to evaluate what is happening in the sessions you facilitate...and others that you engage in.
  • In this reflective post Jamin Lietze reflects on an approach he tried with ePortfolios and 3-way interviews with parents, as well as around prioritising time for ePortfolios. Notice the way he describes what has happened, has collected data around it in the case of 'Priorities', and has also made comparisons, and a plan around what he will do differently next time. What is also great is that he has asked for feedback from global peers, and has received some great suggestions, sharing and comments.
  • Another post that is well worth looking at is "The Online Professor Takes a Course", where Cindy Emmans reflects on her experiences of studying online, what she learned, and has done since doing the course (including some research into what makes an effective online student. She concludes with a great discussion around design, facilitation, assessment and evaluation of online courses. A recommended read, as well as something that gives a solid example of what a reflective post can be developed into.
If you are interested in using reflection with students (which of could also be a form of evaluation of your teaching practice), Chrissy Hellyer has put together this guide for her own students to help them get started with reflective writing.
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How to embed an .swf into a Moodle Book

Flash file IconImage via Wikipedia
This video covers the basic steps around how to embed an .swf file into a Moodle Book specifically, but it will work with most Moodle spaces with HTML. I would like to thank the creators of this page for the code, and you may want to get the instructions there if you prefer written text and screen grabs. The code is included below in an image so you can copy it into your Moodle site, or, for a quick solution, visit the link to the site above and copy/paste it directly. Many thanks to Rachel who worked out that to stop the video playing as soon as you open the page you add into the code string autostart="false" (from

Click HERE  to watch the video full size.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Where to next? The Shape of future Virtual Professional Development - a conversation

Virtual Professional Development ModelImage by hazelowendmc via Flickr
Please jump in and take a part in the conversation about the future of Virtual Professional Development (VPD). There are several slides, each with a question and a related picture - you can choose to answer one, several, or all of the questions, either with text, video or audio, and we'd really appreciate your contribution to the discussion. Although the VPD project is being trialled in NZ at the moment (see this video for an overview) it would be relevant in pretty much any country with an education system.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A challenge around the roll out of Ultra-fast broadband to schools: How agile are education systems?

A fellow community member recently posted a comment about the roll out of ultra-fast broadband to schools throughout New Zealand. He suggested that while "cheaper access to international data is important and useful" there is vast potential around fostering collaboration between learners, teachers, parents, schools, and communities. As such, he poses the question: "Most schools are digital islands because we haven't had the technology in place that will allow us to connect with each other. What could we do (beyond video conferencing) if we had 100mb/1gb/10gb connections with a network of NZ schools?".

It just happened that after reading his post and question I came across the following video and article: "'Virtual human' Milo comes out to play at TED in Oxford" - The 'avatar' (and I use the word loosely, because Milo, as he is known, is way more advanced than other avatars I've seen) is designed to be interacted with via gestures and can decode tone of voice as well as non-verbal semiotics. Milo is in the cloud, and so learns from all of his experiences with all of the interactions he has with users there; this means that "as millions of people use it, Milo will get smarter".

Milo is currently used with the Microsoft's hands-free Xbox 360 motion controller called Kinect, but I could see that it won't be long until this form of interaction could be ubiquitous and readily available online. Imagine the potential...for learners to collaborate - build, create, share, co-construct, and 'teach' each other and Milo, while Milo also shares his own learning. The students could also 'experience' simulations, scenarios and environments that would otherwise not be possible.

For teachers, professional development and collaboration could take a whole new texture...!!! Just imagine the amazing learning that could be fostered - authentic, rich, and not tied to VC or webcams, mice and keyboards.

Is the education system agile enough to make the changes to embrace the potential offered - given some engrained beliefs around how students 'learn', and current assessment practices, as well as teacher, learner, parent/community expectations of their roles within the existing education system? This, for me, is the key question...unfortunately, I don't foresee it as a 'build it and they will come' situation.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fun, friendship and the future: Meeting in Wellington (July 2010)

Ken's session - VPD Meeting June 10-11 2010Image by hazelowendmc via Flickr
The second face-to-face meeting of the VPD teachers' community was held Thursday 10th and Friday 11th June 2010, at the Brentwood Hotel in Kilbirnie, Wellington. Nine of the VPD teachers attended the event (see Agenda below), along with Eddie Reisch and Hazel Owen. Unfortunately, Merryn Dunmill was crook, unable to attend, and sorely missed.

We had all learned a lot from the previous meeting, and the room was set out in groups of tables (rather than a large horseshoe) for maximum discussion and sharing. Surprising what a difference it makes. All participants had been asked to bring their own laptop, and only one person, Ken, had problems getting on to the wireless network...which worked! (Huge sigh of relief from everyone - except Ken).

The first day started with a welcome and introduction to the two days, and a 'hello' to Chitose Izuno and Clarence Yates who had not attended the first face-to-face meeting in December 2009. I then handed over to the teachers while they each gave a brief overview of what they had been doing with students and the results they were getting. This seemed to work well, with a lot of discussion happening throughout each overview, as well as questions and suggestions. One teacher commented that he thought the "the informal discussions with a 'light touch' direction was beneficial as it allowed people to talk and discuss which is where we all have something to say".

The next part of the day was the hands-on active sessions.Everyone had been briefed prior to the meeting as follows:

Prepare an 45-minute-long (max) session that will actively engage the rest of the group. The hour includes time for you to set up the task, and for people in the group to go off and work together, come back for discussion, and finally for some sort of debrief. Please do not choose or focus on teaching us how to use a specific tool :-) Rather, think about different ways of engaging the group - it could be, for example, an activity where you ask us to research something (e.g. pedagogy as a concept, or teach us a language, or your favourite pastime or sport)...and the collaboration could make use of something such as Google Docs or a wiki - anything that would enhance the learning experience for the group. The world is your oyster.

The idea was to encourage the sharing of effective practice by doing rather than telling or showing. It was hoped it would also motivate people to reflect on their projects, and to evaluate what they are doing with students with more depth, as well as good opportunities for feedback and suggestions from the group.

After Joel, Jarad, and Sonia's very different, engaging sessions, the last task of the day was for the participants to work in groups of three or four. I'd already selected a convenor for each group, and created wiki spaces in the VPD Moodle where there was a scenario based task for each group to complete around the evaluation of the ICTELT VPD initiative to date and ideas for a national roll out. The scenario was:

Your group has been tasked with setting up a ICT enhanced learning and teaching Virtual Professional Development initiative to teachers in all education sectors in New Zealand. You have a limited budget, which means limited personnel. You have access to and use of a suite of Web 2.0 and online tools and resources (including Adobe Connect, Skype, Moodle, Mahara, Audacity and Jing).

Consider some, or all, of the following:
  • How will you complete the roll out?
  • What would you need to put in place first?
  • Who would be involved?
  • What would the national model 'look' like?
  • What practical guidelines would you provide to 1) teachers who want to participate in VPD; 2) schools who would like their teachers to
    participate in VPD; 3) the national PD coordinator; 4) PD facilitators; 5) anyone else you think needs to be guided.
You have 30 MINUTES to complete your mission!!

Given that it was the end of the day it was great to see everyone working so well together, and the depth of discussion and the ideas that came out of the exercise were really valuable. One teacher commented that in his group when they realised it was 5pm there were amazed. They had been so absorbed in the task that the time had flown by, and they reckoned that the sign of a good activity is one where you have to prise the participants from their chairs to get them to stop! He also felt it was positive to be asked for input into shaping the bigger picture ' stuff'. I was really pleased as I was not sure how well the activity would work, especially iin the 'graveyard' spot.

One of the awesome things was that the conversations continued in the bar and over dinner in the evening. Several teachers mentioned verbally that they had explored many different approaches, swapped experiences, and developed ideas and strategies throughout the two days, but in particular over coffee and mealtimes, and someone commented about "the inspiration and experiences shared by all".

Day Two
Day two began with everyone completing a reflective blog post in the Ning about their experiences during Day one. The rich quality of most of the blog posts was indicative of the level of enjoyment and satisfaction with the first day, which I found particularly reassuring.

The hands on sessions for the day went well, with a lot more questions and discussions around student learning, the purpose and form(s) of assessment, classroom practice, literacies, engagement and a plethora of other education-related subjects. The sessions, I believe empowered the teachers and encouraged everyone to have a voice, even the most shy - I just facilitated and kept time. It was also a reaffirmation that modelling the type of role that teachers might take, and they as learners themselves enjoyed, might inform their own practice.

The final two activities for the two-day meeting were a discussion around the question of the future of the VPD initiative and what it might look like, facilitated by Eddie. A discussion forum was set up to answer the questions, which included:
  • Will the VPD initiative be continued?
  • If it is going to be continued, what will it 'look' like?
  • Would you be willing to be a mentor for a new cohort of VPD teachers?
  • Will you create communities beyond this?
  • Will it 'die' if there is no funding?
  • What would a model of VPD that coordinated all teachers who are doing similar innovative things look like?
  • How will the focus on the students and the pedagogy be maintained? (rather than focus on tools, for example?)
There was an intense discussion with the group emphasising how valuable the VPD initiative was for them, and that they had got a huge amount of being a part of it. All the teachers said they would be willing to mentor other teachers, and also made suggestions how this might be implemented (a couple of which can be read in the replies in the discussion forum). It was exciting and heartening. After seeing the progress and shifts many of the teachers have made in their thinking, beliefs, practice and skill sets, it was wonderful to hear that they wanted this to continue and were will to contribute.

After the final wrap up, and the presentation of the chocolate fish to Nigel Bailey who was voted as having the most engaging hands on session for the two days, we said our thank yous and fare thee wells. One teacher commented that:

"This second session was much more useful than the first in Dec 2009. We have had time to try our ideas, to make our mistakes and to reflect upon our success. An overall atmosphere of confidence has given some much-needed direction to the workshop, and with some meaningful outcomes".

Joel's 45 min session was around "What are our students using?" and began by getting participants to brainstorm all the software, Web 2.0 platforms and tools, hardware etc that they know of and type up the answers into a Google Doc, the following step was to identify from the list everything they used regularly, and then those things they thought the students used often. The session was very collaborative, with the Google Doc projected up on the screen so everyone could see additions and edits as they happened. The session went rather over time, but was really useful for those teachers who were not so familiar with synchronous blended collaborative approaches.

Jarad's 45 min session started with an explanation of the difference between direct and inference information "Engaging comprehension". Jarad then gave out some gorgeous books that he uses with his students and asked the group to work in pairs to develop quizzes around the books and the notion of direct and inference information. To develop the quizzes we used Pro Profs quiz maker. One participant commented that this was the "first online test maker that can be adapted for senior math, allowing for written answers as well as multiguess and fill-the-gap". To finish up Jarad went through one of the quizzes (which ended up being a "math test that I may try on my ten year olds") to show how the feedback was incorporated. There was a lot of discussion and a high level of engagement throughout this session.

Sonia's 45 min session, "Exploring the building blocks of life" was all hosted in Moodle where she had built an integrated set of activities around the function, composition and purpose of DNA. There were several links out to interactive activities and scenarios some with a 'narrative' focus and a murder mystery to solve that had many of the group enthralled. Sonia facilitated smoothly, fielded questions, and discussed ways of using some of the approaches with students. It was a great opportunity for everyone to try a number of learning approaches in a hands on forum. Sonia had set up a forum to collect feedback, but time was not her friend and there was no opportunity for people to post to it.

Clarrie's 45 min session around "Active promotion" encouraged exploration, creativity and encouraged people in the group to think about promoting themselves in different ways. In particular Clarrie facilitated everyone to work in groups, and to re-think the traditional CV, and moved between the groups throughout the whole session talking over ideas. The conversations and ideas were recorded in the Ning (for example: All of the groups were enthusiastic, and some became quite excited by some of the potential approaches they formulated.

Amaia's 45 min session, "Scintillating Spanish" was hosted in the Moodle, and began with Amaia introducing us to her language, her discipline, and her passion. Each group had to choose a country, and to research the country, cultures and language. A highlight of this session was the way Amaia demonstrated how to personalise the session when she gave us her address in Spain to search on in Google Earth. The visual aspect was also really important as participants viewed some of the amazing architectural structures that are visible in Google Earth.

Ken Jones's 45 min session, "The New Zealand National Anthem" started with the history of the National Anthem and some of the controversies surrounding it. Ken had put everything together in a Google presentation, shared the document with everyone, and then gave out tasks to groups to complete in the document. For example, one group had to find the words of the anthem in Maori and sung in Maori. The whole group then re-convened to look at each other's contributions, and then stood to sing the anthem in Maori. It was a really interactive, informative, engaging, and relevant session.

Chitose's 45 min session, "The Japanese School System" was hosted in Moodle and was staged, clearly showing the learning outcomes, describing the task, and the activities:
  • Make 3 groups of 3 people, and get 1 group to look at primary, 1 group to look at secondary and the final group to look at tertiary.
  • Collect material and put it in your wiki. (15 minutes) See the reference in the below.
  • Look at the other groups' wikis. (5 minutes)
  • Discussion of the Japanese and New Zealand education systems each sector in Forum in the Moodle. (10 minutes)
  • Evaluation of the session in Forum in the Moodle. (10 minutes)

Chitose kept the momentum of the session going, while also circulating and discussing ideas and answering questions about education in Japan. The evaluation of the session speaks for itself: "Awesome flow for the activity! You've thought it out very carefully. You have used the tools in Moodle very well. I'd like to investigate the comparisons further for me to perhaps influence Māori education in NZ. Well done!!". And: "I liked the fact that we got to zoom off and search for info and then blast it back into the wiki - I kind of felt like it was a competition with the 3 groups going at once so I really went for it! strange how that happens...I think it was really great - thanks for the hard work in setting it up! tongueout".

Nigel's 45 min session focussed on the tool, "Prezi in action" rather than setting up activities per se. However, everyone really enjoyed exploring some of the potential of the tool. Nigel's session was in fact voted the most engaging of the two days (for which he received some chocolate fish).

ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching Virtual Professional Development Community

Wellington 2010

Thursday 10th and Friday 11th June 2010
Location: Brentwood Hotel (, 16 Kemp St, Kilbirnie 6022, New Zealand‎ - (04) 920 0400‎
Wireless Internet access from 9am to 5pm

You can download a copy of this agenda by clicking this link: AgendafortheMeetinginWellingtonJune2010.pdf

Thursday 10th June

08:00 – 09:00 Coffee and chat - Brentwood Hotel, Wellington
09:00 – 10:30 Welcome and quick overview of the 2 days. Participant snapshots - everyone makes a micro-presentation of no more than seven minutes each on what they have been working on and their learners' reactions (timing strict!! :-) The following order please: Joel, Merryn, Jarad, Robin, Sonia, Chitose, Nigel, Kenneth, Amaia, Clarence, Hazel.
10:30 – 11:15 Joel's 45 min session: What are our students using?
11:15 – 12:00 Merryn's 45 min session: Copyright and performance arts works
12:00 – 13:00 LUNCH
13:00 – 13:45 Jarad's 45 min session: Engaging comprehension
13:45 – 14:30 Sonia's 45 min session: Exploring the building blocks of life
14:30 – 15:30 Evaluation of the ICTELT VPD initiative to date - focus group
15:30 – 16:00 AFTERNOON TEA
16:00 – 17:00 Evaluation of the ICTELT VPD initiative to date (cont.): Ideas for a national roll out - Wiki in Moodle
17:00 – 17:15 Close of the day
19:00 – 21:30 DINNER for the group (Brentwood Hotel restaurant)

Friday 11th June

09:00 – 09:45 Start of day two - welcome/evaluation of previous day - Ning Discussion Forum
09:45 – 10:30 Clarrie's 45 min session: Active promotion
10:30 – 11:15 Amaia's 45 min session: Scintillating Spanish
11:15 – 12:00 Ken Jones's 45 min session: The New Zealand National Anthem
12:00 – 13:00 LUNCH
13:00 – 13:45 Chitose's 45 min session: The Japanese School System
13:45 – 14:30 Nigel's 45 min session: Prezi in action
14:30 – 15:00 Where to next with the ICTELT VPD: What do you want out of the next 6 months?
15:00 – 15:30 AFTERNOON TEA & vote on most engaging 45 min session - Brentwood Hotel
15:30 – 16:00 Wrap up and close of the day

Joel Dodd
Merryn Dunmill (unable to attend due to ill health)
Jarad Chittenden
Robin Ohia
Sonia Foote
Chitose Izuno
Nigel Bailey
Kenneth Jones
Amaya Sasia
Clarence Yates
Eddie Reisch
Hazel Owen

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