Wednesday, October 12, 2016
At New Zealand Language Centre the students tend to be English language learners, where there are over 25 nationalities represented at the school.
Pete Jones shares that, he sees his 'customers' in relation as the students, the academic staff, and the administrators. Prior to implementing the Moodle project all the diagnostic, placement tests were completed as paper based and had to be manually marked, within very tight time frames. Now students complete most of their placement test online, and the reading, grammar, and vocabulary tests are now automatically graded.
Moodle was a catalyst for NZCL to review and update their placement test. The existing test had many of the gap fill type questions, where the responses are sometimes not cut and dried. It also encourages students to learn the language in a decontextualised way. The new test has an embedded cloze type test that offered a contextualised scenario, where the organisation could be more confident in the responses that were being given in the test. It has been well worth the investment.
Previously, student would write their contact details onto a form, and then someone had to decipher the handwriting and add the details to a database.
One of the next steps is to develop a theme for Moodle, that would also complement the new web site.
To sum up, the Centre has met their original objective. Over 70% of students said they preferred this system "it is more convenient than the paper test". For those who didn't prefer it the reason given was previous familiarity with paper based tests. Some of the unintended consequences including having to look at the whole orientation of new students, which has meant providing more time to welcome the students - and this has resulted in a longer timeframe for the placement tests removing a lot of stress for the academic staff. In addition, some of the staff have signed up to the Learn Moodle MOOC.
Image: HP Mini. CC ( BY NC ) Flickr image by Tuesday Digital: https://flic.kr/p/6tg3kw
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
What does a meaningful assessment look and feel like? How can Moodle be used to enhance a learner's assessment experience? In this session I covered a few of the key factors to consider when designing assessments, as well as some of the activity types in Moodle that can be used. I dipped into a couple of examples to illustrate what can work well ... and what might not. By the end of the session the idea was that people would have some additional ideas to take away and use when creating assessments in Moodle, along with considerations that would help ensure that the assessments work for your learners and for you.
Printing costs were massive, with exams being 6 or more pages in length, and had to be printed twice. The exams were also all hand graded. So they turned to Moodle.
All of the exam questions were uploaded into a Moodle forum to download or print them off themselves. The students were still able to get into their study groups to debate. In preparation to do the exam on a screen 'spot tests' were administered throughout the semester to familiarise students. There was also discussion around etiquette for once the results were released because the feedback was not released until after they had finished.
Some of the benefits were:
- questions were randomised
- cheating was minimised by the format of the exam (questions provided in advance, and randomised questions, so there isn't such an advantage to going through and highlighting the exams)
- automatic marking
- results released immediately
- printing and paper costs reduced
- it was easy!
There were some challenges including:
- PC lab room availability
- increase in number of invigilators
- iPads were not so user friendly (the Moodle page kept freezing, and wouldn't change the page and created a lot of anxiety. Students were persistent and carried on, and everyone passed)
- WiFi connections (60 students were all accessing the same thing at the same time)
In terms of the future, at NMIT there is a focus on moving more exams online, and ideally for all the students to use their own devices and sit the exam in one room.
In 2003 the Flexible Learning team created the Bachelor of Nursing, and built on the 'we just did it' champions. In 2008 'Cyclone Vasi' hit, with a passion for students and learning - and a wide range of ideas. Her managerial skills brought a structure and a methodology with eLearning. In 2009 the 1st instructional designer joined Northtec, and helped identify key design principles which were essential for course design. At the time they had three Moodle instances running. One of them is the 'archive site', which provides a copy of existing courses, which means that Northtec don't have to have sophisticated disaster recovery processes and backup.
By 2012, Northtec was trying to provide some rigour and structure into the quality control of courses. On the 'live server' (NorthNet) they have a 'development category' with restrictions (for example, teachers can't enrol students into courses, nor can they change the name, or shift the course into another category. They used a student focus group to get the look and feel right. The students were looking for something a bit more dynamic.
Northtec are about to move to 3.1, and Moodle is still hosted off site. There has been some feedback around the lack of communication around version changes, so they have made a big effort to address this.
For some of the students (in particular Nursing) Northtec have developed a version of Moodle that installs off a USB. They can install the version onto their hard disk, and they can get to all of their course materials while 'off the grid'.
Plans for the future are dependent on the ability to upskill staff. How do you put a good online course together? Standardisation of courses is important, although they only have one instructional designer. There is a planning process to work through before releasing to students. The keys are staying flexible, and adapting as needed.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Some people find it really useful to be more aware about the ways they think or react, and there are a range of approaches and tools available that can help us do this. Carl Jung, in the 1920s, for instance, suggested that we process and react to inputs by thinking, feeling, intuiting, or sensing:
- Thinkers tend to collect and consciously analyse data.
- Feelers are open to emotions and their consequences.
- Intuitors don’t find detail useful, and act on on their decisions, although they may not be aware of how they reached the decision.
- Sensors tend to be kinaesthetic and rely on their senses to guide their reactions and actions.
Marchant (2014) identifies that everyone uses all four. However, many of us “favour one way over the other three, sometimes markedly so” (Para. 15), and it’s being cognisant of whether we favour one over another that can be helpful.
Given these factors, I will now focus on the intuitor-type of person In a coaching context; in particular I’ll identify aspects that might help me coach this person, and what I might need to keep an eye open for.
If I am working with a person who strongly identifies as an intuitor type I would expect that they are likely to:
- be focussed on potential and future possibilities (although these can seem unrealistic)
- look for patterns and relationships
- be (apparently) impulsive because they seem to react rather than taking time to consider ‘the facts’
- have a wide range of ideas
- not be keen on detail or data
- enjoy using their imagination
- enjoy being creative and inventive
- like to work with conceptual ideas and information
- be idealistic
- be focussed on bigger picture rather than processes and guidelines
I would try to shape coaching sessions to help ensure that there are plenty of opportunities for my coachee to talk through their ideas (including philosophic underpinnings and principles). During these descriptions I would gently encourage them to unpack a bit more detail, but in a way that signals I am curious about, and value, their insights. Supportive questions might be around encouraging the coachee to consider how other people in their context respond positively to their ideas, and, if appropriate, I would also ask questions about other (online) communities and places the coachee could share, discuss, and develop ideas further.
One of the things I would need to keep an eye on is that the coachee doesn’t end up going through similar cycles and not recognising them as such - especially if they are making the same mistake each time. For example, a coachee might describe a series of situations where they receive the feedback ‘we don’t know what you are working on most of the time - or why’. It could even have led to misunderstandings to the point where they have been pulled in for a meeting and questioned about what they are spending their time doing. Usually, it’s a case that the coachee has been so completely focussed on a task or project that they haven’t taken the time to communicate their progress to anyone else, and have seen the feedback as a minor annoyance - until, to their surprise, serious questions start to be asked about their performance.
In situations like this one, I would encourage my coachee through a deductive process:
- to consider the implications of their complete focus (i.e. the bigger picture),
- and how the positive progress they are making (i.e. the details),
- could be (creatively) communicated with any stakeholders who needed to know so that these stakeholders can / will continue to support and fund the piece of work on which the coachee is focussing,
- and finally, encourage the coachee to identify ways they can share with co-workers, managers, family and friends their “preferred intuitive information gathering preference” (Edward, n.d., Para. 5).
The central thing here is to support my coachee to clearly identify the ‘why’, so that they have a clear reason and motivation to carry through with a necessary action (possibly in a creative way). In this example, it would be a strategy that could also ensure that they keep their role! In turn, by opening up awareness and lines of communication, ideally it would lead to increased support and recognition of the value of the work the coachee is doing.
Marchant, J. (2014). Thinker, feeler, knower, sensor? Retrieved from http://www.emotionalintelligenceatwork.com/resources/thinker-feeler-knower-sensor/.
Southern Institute of Technology (a). (n.d.) Transformational Coaching and its outcomes (Module C) [Lecture notes]. Retrieved from CBC106 (NET).