Make it fit, don’t just fit it in – Getting Set for Study Success

I think one of the biggest hurdles to overcome with any kind of study, but especially part-time and online study while working part- or full-time, is how you’re going to fit it all in.

In my previous post with my ideas for ‘Secrets to Success’, one tip I mentioned was making time to study every week, and ideally making it the same time every week. The idea here is that you build the temporal, social and mental habit of studying. I know that I need to create space in my time, or I’ll let it go by the wayside. So, how to do that? Read More »

Footpath with "Passion led us here" painted above where two people stand.

The Secrets to Studying Online?

It is officially T-1 week! This time next week I’ll officially be starting study towards a Master of Evaluation at the University of Melbourne.

It’s an incredibly exciting and nervous time. Exciting because I’ve been thinking about some form of graduate study for a few years now, as I consider what my next career step will be. Nervous, because I haven’t done any sustained formal university-level study in almost 10 years – and undergraduate when you’re fresh out of high school and have no idea what you’re doing is quite different!

At the same time, there’ll be students starting in the first few topics of our new Bachelor of Healthy Ageing – a brand new fully online degree that I’m leading the educational design on.

As I wrote the preparation and orientation material for these topics, I realised I was drawing on my own experience as an apprehensive and anxious almost student and some of the best practice advice out there.

In this post, I want to share some of the tips for starting off the study journey right. I adapted these from a video I wrote for our incoming Bachelor of Healthy Ageing students. Read More »

Building Assessment for the Digital Future

Recent conversations with colleagues at AdelaideX have us wondering what assessment will look like in the future. When I think about that, the questions that come to mind are:

  • What isn’t working now about how we assess learners? and
  • What might assessment that leverages the potential of technology to more efficiently and effectively assess at scale look like?
Part technology, part alien, but human underneath…?

The latter is the more intriguing and attractive question, isn’t it? The first few ideas that came to my mind were:

Read More »

Schrodinger’s LMS: the future is kinda almost here

In reply to Mike Goudzwaard:

Mike, who I had the absolute pleasure of meeting at the edX Global Forum in 2015, makes an interesting case about the issues facing the current iteration of LMSs and a suggestion for fixing it. He points to a future LMS that is clean, simple and heavily reliant on integration; where the “LMS” that an institution uses is focuses on collating learners into a learning group (i.e. a course), presenting a variety of learning activities (via LTI or API integration) and extracting all of that delicious grade and ‘engagement’ data out into an SIS.

What would this LMS look like? In my view, it would have three things:
1) a course roster with stellar SIS integration
2) a gradebook
3) a rock-star LTI and API

That’s it! Oh, except it would also be open source, students would control their own data, including publishing any of their work or evaluations to the block chain, and you could host it locally, distributed, or in the cloud. Never mind the pesky privacy laws (or lack thereof) in the country hosting your server, because the LMS is back on campus. Not connected to the internet? That’s okay too, because there is a killer app that syncs like a boss

Which, I’ll admit, sounds wonderfully clean and smooth, like a marble kitchen benchtop after you’ve cleaned all the remains of a delicious dinner and wiped away the crumbs until it shines and gleams, full of promise…


A couple of thoughts came to mind as I read Mike’s post:

  1. Is it just me, or does this sound like a stripped down Moodle, i.e. could it be, maybe, almost, already here or within our grasp?
  2. Is there anyone in the LMS market now who could deliver this?
  3. Would this necessarily result in a better experience for learners, educators, IT staff? Where the educators I have in mind are those laggards who resist change and are uncomfortable with technology

Before I go too much further, let me point out that at this stage I have personally worked with (i.e. completed a course in, built in, delivered in, designed for) more than 5 LMSs – Blackboard Learn while at university and then later as a Solutions Engineer, Moodle (including the Moodlerooms delivery) while at NetSpot/Blackboard and then ICAC, and then MOOCs in Canvas, Open2Study (built on Moodle and Drupal) FutureLearn, Coursera and, now, edX.*

Some have more of this feature, some do that feature better, some structure the course in this way, some guide you to design a course in that way, some offer more flexibility as a designer v a learner, etc.

The similarities, though – presentation of learning content/activities, learner management (comms, enrolments, progress, etc), and learning management (lists of courses, gradebook) – definitely exist, if in overall functionality and not in the exact manner of workflow.

So, is there an existing potential “Future LMS”? Read More »

My kind of scaffold – part 2

Part 2 of the series of posts wherein I share the process I’ve used to try build a “different” scaffold for compliance-based courses.

Building wall of mismatching windows. By Edgaras Maselskis, via Unsplash. CC0
In a previous post, I spoke about how I used a combination of butchered action-mapping and Bloom’s taxonomy to create course objectives with actionable verbs and that provided more direct mapping to activities. Here, I want to share the course design and activity design approach, and why I think this goes beyond what many (especially in corporate/compliance training) believe constitutes ‘eLearning’ – the “Next” button.

One of the common pitfalls of a Learning Management System (Moodle, Blackboard Learn, Canvas) is that they don’t necessarily support the creation of learning ‘content’ that is typically expected in corporate environments. Instead, the majority of them support discrete activities that are collated together to form a learning experience rather than a coherent and simple flow*. Another common downfall arising out of using LMS’s is that, despite the built-in activities common in LMS’s, all too often they’re used to house individual resources (pdf files, URLs, word documents, videos) and then an in-built quiz to assess the learning. Having worked on both the vendor and the user sides of the LMS/edtech world, I would purport that the root of this both in the technology and the typical user – but that’s a conversation for another day.Read More »

My kind of scaffold – part 1

In the series of posts that follows, I want to share the process I’ve used to try build a “different”* scaffold for compliance-based courses.

Building facade, stairs and windows, shot from the bottom looking up.

After I wrote the post about my stuttering start to designing this course, I realised I had fallen in to an all-too-common trap of focusing on the activities first. Indeed, I was halfway committed to what type of content I would need to build, had made sweeping decision about what design approached use when I hadn’t yet confirmed what the purpose of the course was. Trying to explain my ideas and clarify the objectives sparked heated conversations in my team about what eLearning was and wasn’t and no clear agreement on learning outcomes.

I needed to take a step back, and focus on the bigger picture – what do we want our learners to achieve and how will we know that they’ve done it? What is the purpose for this course in the first place? From there, I was confident that we could reach an understanding on what the course would look like.Read More »

Badges – ringeth the eportfolio death knell?

Last night, Steve Wheeler pondered “Do open badges signal the death of the e-portfolio? #learningpoollive“. The sentiment of that conversation is that, yes, Steve and others believe they do.

I disagree.

The key reason I don’t believe that badges signal the death of the eportfolio is the purpose for their respective initial creation, ongoing development and real-life application.Read More »

Badge(r)s! What about the snake?

Badges. Open badges even. [cue music: Badger, badger, badger, badger…] They’re, like, totes popular right now, you know?

This is not a post about open badges, per se. Nor their application in a learning situation. This is not a discussion of their validity. All sorts of other people are talking about the “why” and the technical aspect of “how”. I want talk about the snake in the grass – the policy implications that need to be considered for any organisation looking to implement (or allow individual teaching facilitators to individually implement) them.

The topic came up recently in discussions with my colleagues and our clients who are keen to use badges in their Higher Education academic courses. As an example, a student is awarded open badges for completing assessments in a paid tertiary-level course. They are awarded extra badges for reaching certain grades, that may not necessarily reflect their achievement across the whole course. These badges are added to their LinkedIn profile, resume and similar. Potential employers can then see that they “achieved” a level of competency in a certain part of that course – is that accurate, fair, appropriate, scalable?Read More »