Saturday, December 26, 2009

Notes from Australian VET eLearning Events (Nov/Dec 09)


Martin Westwell

• we are now answer rich and question poor
• socialisation has emerged as the primary reason fro using the Net, not information transmission
• violent games DO cause violent behaviour, but can develop 'attentional capacity’

Mark Drechsler (Netspot)

• Moodle partners contribute to the funding of Moodle
• BOOK Module allows printing of blocks of content

Nancy White

• In contrast to Communities, Networks more objectified; less about the persona; community more about ‘we’n, networks about ‘me’
• we need to create content or we'll miss out; we communicate because of content

Julian Ridden (Moodle)

• if there is no personal connection for student they will fail
• consider removing institution branding to maake students feel like its theirs!!


Clint Smith - How to write an Innovations Application

1. sus out the funding body (what do they want out of it?)
2008-11: emphasis on increasing capacity to deliver, and delivering more courses
2. pick the right track (business partnerships, or empowering learners; about 50% funding in each)
business partnerships: you're delivering to employees; should build on an existing relationhip; often elearning 1.0 (ie not facilitated)
empowering learners: ie enrolled students; about embedding elearning in an RTO; extending market reach; usually facilitated learning ie not self-standing; should have a target group

• show you've done the r and d; that you’re ready to go, and have got the skills and a plan
• main outcome is a successful elearning delivery solution
• count e-posteriors (ie virtual bums on seats)
• state where this is leading

Tip 5 - Innovations : explain the change

could be business development OR delivery approaches (emphasis is more on business development)
Survey on why people did previous projects revealed that 57% were about developing content

Tip 6 Design - Provide an e-solution
(refer to Designing eLearning site)
Types of Corporate learning
• self-paced
• informal learning

(conclusion - it will be a range of solutions with a variety of tools ie not a single solution)
most common form = blended and support (47%)
facilitated online quite rare (13%)

why add facilitation to elearning offerings?
• assessment
• gp learning
• support
• more motivating

Cathy Moore Workshop

don't state the obvious; get them to DO things
Check readability Indices in spellcheckers
aim for a readability index of around 65
use more verbs, shorter sentences, more people; use active rather than the passive voice
“happiness is boring?” - add people to the scenario and make them suffer!
Ideally use real-world stories

Brad Beach : Tips for Online Facilitation

• is the blended learning model the best model? Or just an excuse to just not do wholly online?
• Who has ever been through a course and neither the teacher nor students said a word?????? So - respond!

Online Community

• community or network? Me or we? Me more related to community
• when trying to work out what is good online practice Brad likes to think back to f2f situations as a reference point

Creating an engaging Discussion Topic

• begin with statement or summary
• ask a single question
• discussion topics in asynch forums more suited to debate rather than content or 'concept clarification' ; ie convergent or divergent thinking; convergent better in real time
• even if it is your preferred learning style you should be challenged to try some other method
• a teacher would not allow someone to sit f2f silent for extended periods, so don't online either


Central Institute of Tech (Jeremy Sorensen and ???)

See-Fit Project (not content creation)

• use technology to support trainees (metro and rural)
• used POV, real time OL vid assessment
• vid evidence can be transferred to other contexts (email, YouTube, DVD, etc) and can be used for auditors
• video exemplar - great idea; shows students exactly what is needed for assessment
(YouTube owns the copyright of uploaded content.)

Cyber Assessment (SW Regional TAFE)

Online workplace delivery and assessment; used Moodle, Elluminate and POV glasses, and SMS (no content creation as main focus, but Moodle courses were created in)

Building Studies
Metal Trades

Seems like a project where people learnt to teach online/study online, but I wonder how many teachers were involved?
SMS communication draws an immediate response from students! (unlike other channels)

Digital Dogging and Rigging (Sandra Downes) ) Great Southern TAFE

Used the Learning Table (approach) for RFID tags to trigger media

(seems to be content creation; albeit sexy content creation using cutting edge technology)

Sewing program also uses RFID tags for triggering videos

e-Compliance (Abby Chasen; from HBF)

• Gen Y unhappy with current training delivery; dispersed workforce
• not sure, but it's content creation!! boring content was put online (but she says it's interactive...)


Andrew Douch - ICT Innovations at Secondary College in Victoria

• has won MS Innovative Teacher of the Year Award
• 2 changes in the world and they are converging
• to date, ed has emphasised the left brain (logical, sequential � Maths, Physics, English etc) > left brained careers (Doctor, lawyer etc) ie NOT actor, artist, musician etc
• rise of machinery (took over the role of human strength) and promoted knowledge economy
• here's the Gen Y 'need to be connected story again – is it true, or just a stereotypical view?
• uses MSN with his kids after hours
• use ipadio for phone blogging
• took 3 weeks for his biology podcast to reach #1 on iTunes! With no IT training or tech skills
• 1 minute of Andrew's time = hours for students ie many students can listen to podcast over and over
simple audio (mp3 tool)
• we need to change assessment methods
• @andrewdouch (Twitter)

Participatory Change - Uni of Ballarat

• using a mentor model - people get 1.5 days/week to improve skills
• but has also realised that PD workshops don't go anywhere (creates a sense of dependence)
• the trick is to get people to realise that they have a role in what elearning looks like in the future!!!!!; referred to the concept of 'consciousization'

Wolf Cocklin - How the ABC Uses Twitter

• Twitter - a combination of stalking, ADHD, and narcissism
• ABC uses Twitter for reporting, monitoring, broadcasting, engaging

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Moodleposium Notes

For what they're worth, my notes from the recent Moodle conference in Canberra. Least I now where they are!

Denise Kirkpatrick (Open Uni): Moodle @ OU

  • OU is now 40 yrs old; no campuses; 220000 students; 1200 central academics; 8000 associate lecturers
  • Open to people, places,methods, ideas
  • no prerequesites to studt at OU (people)
  • study from anywhere (places)
  • students do not to have to attend any f2f event/location; ie distance ed (methods)
  • Challenges for UK Higher Ed: more effective leadership
  • chose Moodle in 2004
  • couses at OU managed by a team of people; lecturer cannot operate independently (!)
  • all tools are piloted and tested for scalability
  • have developed a virtual microscope (excellent for geology for example)
  • OU has all admin tools in Moodle so staff become familiar enough with Moodle to teach with it
  • OU uses Elluminate
Social Networking
  • strong SL presence (doesn't using SL conflict with the philosophy of it must work for everyone?)
  • OU's version of Moodle is customised and particular
  • OU has students in all 5 socio-economic groups (UK) ie people at the top and people at the bottom; for students in lowest gp they will supply laptop and net BB connection!
  • 90% of students just enrol in the one subject they are interested in


Group Work – Fairly Assessable? Amanda Burrell (UC)
  • gets students to work fast (Thiagi like maybe?)
  • Students require strategic and creative skills
  • groups have private forums
  • each student allocates effort 'mark' for each gp member weekly
  • there is no guaranteed group grade

Kerry Trabinger – Getting them in and keeping them talking

  • (Kerry used to work with Qantas College Online); currently working at FlexEd as part of the Centre of Education and Excellence at CIT)
  • Context: class and community (separate)
Community Driven development towards...... (Martin Dougiamas)

  • check Moodle tracker for summaries of issues being talked about in the Moodle community

Moodle 2.0


increased modularity; other app access – eg iPhone


conditional release will be added

  • pushing and pulling content in and out
  • record straight into discussion forum and post!!
  • integration with Google Apps (SSO); (Google uses Moodle for its internal training)

  • consistent navigation
  • collapsible navigation menu (big tick!!!); configured as blocks

  • most people just focus on content, a passive forum, or quizzes/assignments2
  • how about collaboration, sequencing activities, active forums bring in the content from the Net? Or co-create content? Use survey tools?

courses can be sent to a Hub that makes course available to others!! you could choose, download, and self-install course on your Moodle server

Julian Riddle – Communicating in Moodle
  • the CHOICE tool
  • St Ignatius (Sydney) use this to run student elections – great idea!!
  • J recommends we use the Dialogue tool (but it's a plug-in); t can provide private feedback/commentary within a discussion post

10 minute presentations

1.Glossaries (Andrew Reid)

can be used in assessment activities; students get marks for adding entries

2. Margaret Robson (CIT) – Engaging Interfaces

some really good interfaces on some courses – quite customised (we need to improve in this area); done with CSS/style sheets

3. Minh-Tam (Uni of Canberra)

have customised 'my courses' view; this would be handy for me!!!

Julian Riddle – Adding Flavour to Moodle

  • “Moodle is elearning's Swiss Army knife”
  • Accordeon Format – helps collapse topics
  • Lightbox Gallery – image gallery/editor (like this one)
  • add Skype to your profile

Derek Chirnside – Lightwork

  • downloads all assignments to local PC, so they can be marked and resubmitted to Moodle
  • allows inline comments in Word, (and Adobe PDFs?)
  • looking for orgs to trial from October

Mark Drechsler

  • Utilising Web 2.0 – Tips and Tricks
  • Moodle wiki can be replaced by Ouwiki (from Open U)
  • Nwiki
  • no course blog currently in Moodle
  • tag feature drags content sharing that tag into one place
  • Mahara can be used for multiple blogs; better features and access control
  • using external tools means better features but increased risk and less control
  • Compare: feature set, usability, risk
Avoiding the Scroll of Death
  • use link to directory
  • use Book module
  • use Label or Summary Tool to break up lists
  • use Course Menu
  • use Wiki tool !

Saturday, August 22, 2009

FLNW3 - the first week

We have spent the last 3 days driving and walking around beautiful Washington state. Conversations have flowed around numerous topics – fall out from the Open Ed conference in Vancouver, and sundry issues as they occur. There has been no agenda, and no grand manifestos. It would appear that none of us has a burning desire to achieve any major goal other than to engage in professional conversations across our fields of expertise and interest.

Leigh has written on OER as the new colonialism how the well-intentioned use of Creative Commons licensing may inadvertently be forcing content creators in the developing world to pay heed to copyright in a way they never did before. My own reservation about what I saw at the Open Ed conference (an otherwise excellent 3 days of consistent high level discourse about learning and methodology) was the fact that it was dominated by well-meaning white folks from the developed world espousing a philosophy that at least in part is supposed to benefit those less able to produce quality content. So why was this conference held in North America? Why wasn't it held in somewhere like Mexico that may have enabled participants from central and South America? Or Nigeria? Or Laos?

I did learn that 'openness' is not just about creating content that is freely available to all, but also an attitude that acknowledges that all nations have educators with talent and enthusiasm that we can exploit together on a level playing field in the sense that we all have something to learn from each other, and further, that it's about an approach that acknowledges the role of the learner in crafting educational offerings, and other multiple resources that may make up an individual's PLE.

We have already explored what a future FLNW event may look like – modelled on a broad unconference approach that would include streams outside of education such as the arts, tourism, and trades. Central to this would be the inclusion of multiple streams running concurrently in different spaces, and examples of how a new model of teaching may look. It was very noticeable once again that the Open Ed conference consisted mainly of stand and deliver presenations – as excellent as they were – but it's time to model what is so often suggested, but rarely seen in practice at conferences.

In our travelling group we have touched on what the world would look like if all schools were closed, the propensity of some to create technical changes because they can (eg single sign-on, learning object repositories) and whether we need them, and the recurring problem of bringing in others less disposed to engage in teaching with technology. We have the gold, we all appreciate the wonders of what the technolgy can bring, but still armies of educators in all sectors resist our advances. “Don't worry about people stealing a new idea.. If it's original you will have to ram it down their throats.” So why is this? After 10 plus years of this technology being available we are still pushing the proverbial uphill. Clearly not everyone is going to adopt this technology in any way that instances significant change. Why not? Is it a teacher's personal values? Is it not as fundamentally good as we converts believe? Is the 'gold' too far away in 'them thar hills.'

We are questioning our assumptions (Nancy is great with clarifying questions and reality checks), pushing each others' boundaries and being honest with each other. Lots more I coud add.....but more to come next time.....

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Peter Ellyard - Educational Leadership in the 21st Century

Saturday, August 01, 2009

TRIC09 Test

Sunday, July 05, 2009



What is User Generated Content (UGC)?
User Generated Content “refers to various kinds of media content, publicly available, that are produced by end-users.”

It has been made possible by the profusion of technological applications that make the production and distribution of content to a wide audience within the reach of anyone with access to a mobile phone, digital camera or the Internet.

Clay Shirky writes eloquently on the impact this has had on society in general in Here Comes Everybody. (Andrew Keen presents a somewhat opposite view in the Cult of the Amateur.)


This widespread availability of media and text production tools has important implications for facilitators of online communities, and some of these implications are yet to surface.
What is clear is that where not so long ago an online community (or online course) could be housed within a single chosen space (e.g. an LMS like Moodle), it is now quite possible that members of a class or community publish content (blogs, podcasts, wikis, photos, videos) to a number of different Internet sites.
From this point on online educators and facilitators will need to accept that their class or community members may already have a scattered digital presence across the Internet, and be flexible enough to allow that content to be a legitimate part of how people present themselves online to their class or community.
Community or class activity online is no longer confined to a single ‘controllable’ space that tended to be instructor-centric. The new approach acknowledges that an individual operates in other environments they have chosen themselves and that better suit their needs.
This is not to say there is no place for a central space that is the class or community home, but its centrality and degree of importance may be tempered by the attachment and ownership that individuals may feel towards their own chosen spaces.
Web 2.0
This user generated content phenomenon is part of what is known as Web2.0, or the read/write web – the web that we all contribute to and that is a more interactive environment where we all have ownership and the ability to create and modify Internet content.

Can you teach Web 2.0?

The discrete skills of how to blog, podcast, upload photos and videos etc can be taught. For someone to truly know what it is like to be an active participant in this kind of connected world however is a much more complex process. My own belief is that this is best achieved by active immersion in the world of UGC . This is the only way someone can experience the realisation that the world has changed to a place where much of the way we access and process content has altered, and that the production and evaluation of content is no longer the domain of trained experts in their field, but the domain of us all, of everyone.
Facilitating a class or community implies a central role of the person facilitating. Though the role of facilitator (or moderator) is somewhat different to that of teacher (the term teacher has been replaced by facilitator in the online environment for good reason), there is some lingering legacy that a facilitator teaches the members of the class or community. That may still be true, but it should be within the context of a community or group facilitating each others’ learning. Learning in a community of practice (on or off line) is a group activity.

Possible Discussion Topics

1) What do you see are the challenges for online communities in the Web 2.0 world? Are there advantages that we can exploit? How does the role of the facilitator change in this new environment?
2) Is it a case of ‘collective wisdom’ or the ‘stupidity of the masses’? Where do you sit?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thoughts on Educause Australia Conference

I was going to try and blog about all the sessions I attended at last week’s Educause conference but if I wait for when I have enough time to do that I’ll never do it. So instead I’m going to do a Leigh Blackall and shoot from the hip. And I’ll probably say a few things that people may not like. However....

Educause is principally a higher ed conference so most of the presenters are from the university sector. And it just has to be said. Many of the presentations were appalling. I have never seen so many ppt slides stacked with bullet points which were read to us. I couldn’t believe it the first time, and it kept happening over the 3 days. They were classic examples of what not to do and this is what has given ppt a very bad name. Where have these people been?

The worst offender was a keynote speaker from Microsoft. His presentation was salvaged somewhat when he finally got to the interesting stuff in the last 15 minutes about lifestreams. He and colleagues have calculated that we live a 4 terrabyte life! That is, if we documented everything we ever saw, said, photographed, and filmed each life would accumulate approx 4 terrabyte of data.

And while on the subject of keynotes – it is clear that the organising committee paid no mind to presentations skills when they were selecting their keynote speakers. I’m sorry, but from keynote speakers I expect some semblance of presentation skill, but some had had little or none. And DELL and VM Ware could only have got a keynote slot because they paid a bunch of money for it. They should not have been a keynote event.

There were good keynotes though – Prof Peter Reimann from the University of Sydney spoke about improving students' ability to collaborate effectively. They have developed a wonderful tool that visualizes a student’s participation in a wiki, and I’m sure would also motivate a student to participate more. (Don’t think it’s commercially available.) Leo Plugge from Holland was also engaging, and inspired envy from Australian delegates as he talked of the national initiatives in Holland to provide superfast broadband to all educational sectors. See SURF. Mr Moodle (Martin Dougiamas) gave us a glimpse into the world of Moodle 2.0 and I like what I saw. It is clearly more porous to the outside world, and among other things allows for embedding media from external sites in discussion posts. So finally we may be able to see the discussion form freed from the tyranny of written text. There is a great opportunity for the VET [Vocational Education and Training] sector here – where many students are not great readers/writers but may be quite proficient in creating social media for discussion and assessment. (Or am I dreaming?) Michelle Seliger from Cisco was great too – delivered a strong message on Innovation, Collaboration and Partnership. (Though I did arrogantly think that she was basically delivering the same ideas in keynotes I have given in China and India over the last 2 years.)

Re concurrent sessions, apart from the 'read the ppt dot point bores', Rob Phillips from Murdoch University gave an engaging session where he sadly delivered the message that the use of technology had not yet transformed the nature of teaching and learning. (Should it? Will it?) This message was echoed by Martin D – he says that 90% of Moodle courses around the world consist of nothing more than static content and the occasional token nod to a broadcast style forum (i.e. non-interactive). Garry Allan from RMIT also gave a great session on eportfolios (they are FIRMLY on the agenda – a total of 5 sessions on this topic at the conference) where he talked about the Uni of South Australia and RMIT eport partnership. He asked whether asking students to conform to a one size fits all epf was sustainable in a world where tools are changing so quickly and students are likely to have artefacts spread all over the web in various blogs, wiki, social networking suites, etc. (Frankly I don’t think it is but I like the development of tools like Mahara, and can see them being really useful for many students when it is fully integrated into Moodle 2.0)

There were some other good concurrent sessions too, but these are the ones that stand out without having to go back and check my notes. And if I wrote about all of them I’ll never finish this. Pru Mitchell from was good on Sustaining Social Networks (“Web 1.0 was organised around pages; web 2.0 is organised around people.”) Peter Tregloan (Uni of Melbourne) was refreshingly honest about their Chemistry Flickr project – staff were positive about the project but many students did not think using Flickr was particularly relevant or useful. Kathleen Bacer (Azusa Pacific Uni) gave an energetic presentation on using Visual and Auditory Tools to Engage 21st C Learners, and urged us all to “break the online silence”.


Twitter is almost as common as the daily paper these days and there was a coterie of around 20 'tweeters' communicating on the back channels. Personally it really added to my enjoyment and appreciation of the conference and issues raised, but there was a strange moment during one presentation where comments on the Twitter stream started to get a little critical. Not long after there seemed to be a collective realisation that this was a little weird (unethical?) to use the backchannel to knock someone up there talking to you who has no idea that it's going on and the critism petered out. But it begs the question - is this legit behaviour for people using Twitter and other live blogging tools like Cover It Live? In this day of the backchannel should speakers realise that it is a possibility and maybe have an 'ombudsman' in the audience to keep them in the loop?

Overall I’m glad I went. It crystallised a lot of ideas for me about where VET stands in relation to other sectors, and their use of web-based technologies. So much so that I scrawled 3 pages of notes on the plane on the way home about a keynote that needs to be given called VET and the NET. :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I’ve been trying to assemble a list of good practice Moodle sites without much success. Several people have offered examples of well designed Moodle sites with a list of courses that are not publicly accessible without an enrolment key. So I can’t actually get inside the courses themselves. And that of course is one of the beefs of the anti-CMS/LMS lobby. That CMSs and LMSs of any kind, even open source alternatives like Moodle, largely operate behind closed doors. Having to go to and log in to see examples in there is a hassle. (Compare with this fully open course)

In addition, many educators are reluctant to share their work because they don’t feel confident that others will value what they do. I know some great sites, but the teachers concerned would rather not make them public. (There is also the issue of getting students’ permission.)

So, here are a few I’ve found that you can cruise straight into. If you would like to add a site you know to the list please send it to me, or add it yourself to this public wiki.

1. Open Learn – the Open University
Lots of unfacilitated open courses to browse. Check out their excellent list of Learning Tools.

2. On Moodle’s own demo site at there are just two courses offered (use logins provided at site):
i) a Moodle Features demo
ii) Film Studies Module

3. On the Moodle commons I found this good example on Digital Photography

That’s all I’ve been able to find that I think are worth showing. There have to be hundreds more. PLEASE ADD THEM HERE

Monday, March 09, 2009


Originally uploaded by mikecogh
As it was once some several years ago, one of the highlights of this Womad for me was the music of the Madagascar region - Mikidache from Mayotte, a small island near Madagascar. I love the music from this region. So joyous and melodic and eminently singable. Quite different from the mostly rhythm based music of neighbouring Africa. The other group that blew me away years ago was the Justin Vali Trio. I wonder if I lived in Madagascar in a former (musical) life!

Other musical highlights for me this year were Australia's own Geoffrey Yunupingu, and the wonderful sounds from the Balkans by Paprika Balkonicus.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Rhino Room - Gordon Southern

Rhino Room
Originally uploaded by mikecogh
Gordon Southern: The Unofficial Annual
Rhino Room Downstairs, Tue Mar 3
Gordon Southern is always going to deliver a value-for-money show. He’s sufficiently at ease to try gags that may or may not fly. There were a few curious moments when it felt like the audience was being auditioned for some of his newer material. But mostly he just cruised through entertaining routines that included stories, one-liners, jibes, jingles and a couple of ads. An obvious affection for Adelaide and Australia gives him license to target Australians, but everyone has fun while he assails airlines, Americans, Singapore and of course the hapless George W. Highlights include a wonderful send-up of Australian pollies and a hilarious take on eastern European immigrant workers in the UK. Great stuff!

Bakehouse Theatre - Bad Company

Bakehouse Theatre
Originally uploaded by mikecogh
The Adventures Of Dead Jim/This Place
Bakehouse Theatre (Studio), Tue Mar 3
Two great short plays presented by local group Bad Company. Dead Jim is a black comedy that involves some superb physical manoeuvres with a corpse, while drawing attention to substance addiction and mental illness. Fake bravado, agitation and fragility are played out beautifully by the two ‘living’ actors. This Place is perhaps the stronger piece of the two. Its effective split set reinforces the thin line between madness and sanity as a psychiatrist watches the charade of a stable home life descend into confusion and paranoia at the same time that the patient he is treating at work recovers. Great performances by the cast of three. Decidedly good company for 90 minutes of excellent theatre.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stobie Memorial

Stobie Memorial
Originally uploaded by mikecogh
In South Australia 'stobie' refers to the kind of concrete and steel telegraph poles we have here. They, sadly, can be lethal when cars hit them. Named after a man named Stobie - These kinds of memorials to accident victims have become quite a common site around Adelaide in the last few years.


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