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 »

Schrodinger’s LMS: the future is kinda almost here

In reply to Mike Goudzwaard: http://mgoudz.com/2016/02/26/the-lms-of-the-future-is-yours

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…

photo-1457364887197-9150188c107b

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 »

Learning that’s just-in-time to frustrate me

Last night some new strings arrived for my ukulele. I’ve only ever restrung a ukulele once (despite owning a zillion) so although I knew I was a complete n00b, I figured I ought to be able to work it out.

Last night someone in my house may have thrown a violent tantrum of frustration.

Don't tell me to be calm!!
That person may have been trying to change ukulele strings.

That person may have been me.

When faced with the task in which I am incredibly lacking in any knowledge or experience, i would turn either to someone knowledgeable nearby (in person or through PLN) or youtube. In this case, it was youtube. This was just a short manual activity, surely a video is going to be the best way to learn it. The situation, and my experience, made me think of the iterations of flipped classrooms and recorded lectures that I have experienced up until now – and why I’m still skeptical of the “down with lectures!” push that seems to be gaining traction.

In light of the recent conversations of the value of lectures (from many viewpoints), I wondered – what would have been the optimal way for me to learn this valuable, yet infrequently applied, knowledge?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 »

A stuttering spluttering start

The rambling story of my first few weeks…

165H

I don’t know about you, but the memories of ‘health and safety’, ‘accepted conduct’ or other general induction and compliance courses don’t fill me with excitement. So, I’m rather excited about the the challenge of trying to deliver compliance training in a way that’s effective and not completely mind-numbing.

The first hurdle that sprang itself up at me was the content. One of my team’s objectives is to raise awareness of legal obligation imposed on all public officers in South Australia, an obligation that is outlined in deep legalese which, unless you have experience reading and interpreting the law you’re likely to struggle to comprehend it. And the stakes are high – they are obliged to know, and failure to comply can mean pretty hefty consequences. And so, we have a responsibility to ensure information is available that helps people understand their obligations and how to prevent corruption, misconduct and maladministration.Read More »

A new path to wander

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’s not that I haven’t thought of you often, of what I would say or things you might enjoy. It’s just, well, time and my own inability to organise myself…

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You might notice a difference in the types of things I post from here on out in comparison to previous posts. And that’s because, well, here’s my official news: I left Blackboard in March. Although I tweeted about it a few times, there are some who still didn’t know. I wasn’t there as long as some people, certainly not as newsworthy as others, but the positive comments on twitter when I shared my news were rather soothing to my frail ego.Read More »

An open ramble on the openness of “open”

I’ll admit. I’ve never understood the hype about MOOCs (MOOC = Massive Open Online Course).

Maybe I’ve worked too close to edtech to see it as a “revolutioniser” of education for the masses. I’ve had online components of my F2F courses at university and did a wholly-online course as well. I’ve tried out a few MOOCs from Coursera, Open2Study, UNEOpen to see what the fuss was all about and mostly left with a resounding “meh”. I’ve watched article after article be posted in sites like Inside Higher Ed about the MOOC wave and various iterations thereof and left more confused and less inspired each time.

Many people far more eloquent, accredited and intelligent than I have harped on about what a MOOC is, what it should be, what it’s not, what it’s going to change in education and how much money will be spent on this trend.

Me? I noticed this today: “Top #MOOC provider edX no longer free for all” which got me thinking about the “open” in a MOOC. Is it referring to free or freely available? Open entry, i.e. no prerequisites/all entry level, or openly (publicly) advertised? Openly shared as a resource or leveraging openly shared resources?Read More »

Measuring the competencies of Outcomes

Recently, I’ve been working more closely with Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and their online learning needs. We’ve been bringing on more and more clients to the Moodlerooms platform (link) because of a number of exciting enhancements on top of core Moodle. One of those that I’m really excited about is a new version of Outcomes – tracking, aligning and reporting on learning outcomes or competencies at a course level.

Currently in core Moodle (on which Moodlerooms is based), outcomes don’t quite match what educators are looking in terms of managing learning outcomes:

You can choose a list of outcomes for the site, and you can choose a subset of those for the course, and you can assign outcomes to various activities, and even set grades (via scale) for them in assignments.  This helps somewhat for course design and some grading, but there is no transference into competencies, and there is no concept of progress tracking for students based on these. (Martin Dougiamas, ‘Outcomes, Stage 2’)

The Moodle outcomes system as it exists today does not accomplish what customers demand and require, due to some key missing functions, including the ability to easily import hierarchical standards and the ability to map and track outcomes on quiz questions and rubric rows. This limits Moodle adoption in K12, corporate, for-profit, and, to a lesser extent, higher education, specifically community colleges. (Outcomes Specification, Moodle Docs)

Read More »