Blended Assessments of Learning #Blendkit2014 MOOC

I am running a bit late this time, but here is my week 3 post to highlight some of the content in the blendkit MOOC.  This week’s topic is Blended Assessments of Learning.  At the beginning of this week’s reading we were asked to ponder the question:

“How will you implement formal and informal assessments of learning into your blended learning course? Will these all take place face-to-face, online, or in a combination?”

That’s a great question and in this post I would like to share a strategy I use in the blended classroom to manage the collection of evidence for formal and informal assessment.  Let me start by setting the scene.  Most of you probably have a smart phone…. or even a tablet.  How snap happy are you?  Do you like using the built in video features?  Where do you upload your favoured digital assets to share with others?  In your mind you might be saying things like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or some other online platform.

In the blended learning classroom we can tap into the same types of platforms to make them available for others to see but in the context of assessment this may not be as appropriate.

To overcome this hurdle I use a free online e-portfolio system with my learners.  Have you tried

It has some very impressive features.  For example you can upload or embed your photos and videos.  Your learners can write reflective blogs and you, as the teacher can provide feedback and reflective comments.  Students can decide who they share their work with and they can even create an online work plan or resume to show how and when the work was carried out and what their experience is.

Some newly added features such as apps and themes can make their portfolio more attractive and functional.  I love it, but of course it does not some planning to make it a success in your classroom.

I suggest you have a play with it first so you have a good idea how it works and to help you on your way check out the tutorials created by others on YouTube.



But first…. let me take a selfie

Okay, have I got your attention now?

If you are a regular visitor to this blog you are probably wondering what on earth does this have to do with e-learning? Good question but before I answer I wanted to share with you some interesting statistics.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) at the end of June 2013 there were 12,358,000 internet subscribers in Australia, representing an annual growth of 3%. At the same time the ABS reported that there were 6.2 million mobile broadband connections in Australia.  The ABS also said that wireless broadband is the most prevalent internet technology in Australia. It accounts for half of all connections. Of these 6.2 million connections people are connecting via dongles, tablets, DSL, satellite and dial-up.

That is amazing don’t you think!

The next thing I found of interest was the number of users by age group (yes nearly there …. but first, let me take a selfie LOL).

The ABS found in 2012-2013 that the largest group of internet users were in the 15-17 years age group. Ninety seven percent of people in this age bracket were internet users. Close behind them were the ages 18-24 and 25-34, this continued to drop down (surprisingly not by much though until we get to age 55-64 where approximately 78% were internet users. In the 65 and over age bracket this figure dropped down to approximately 42%.

[if I could I would have that annoying record scratching noise here to get your attention, I would]

Hang on a second what did you say? ….. check out those age groups!…. Now who do you think would take the most selfies?

Now that you are thinking along those lines, let me get back to e-learning (or what I commonly refer to as the use of technology in education).  People love to use their smart phones and tablets and of course we know they have camera and video capability.  They also have the capability to record interviews, comments etc.

So how can you make your training more appealing to younger audiences…. but first, let me take a selfie

A strategy that has worked for me in the past  is to encourage learners to take photos and videos that can easily be added to an e-portfolio of evidence, report or presentation.  This can form part of their assessment evidence for a formal or informal training program.  Collecting evidence is especially appealing to young audiences… and increasingly some of us oldies too! It puts some fun back into learning and if combined with social media can provide quite a rich learning experience.

There are numerous apps on devices to capture these images and if you need to pretty them up too (just remember what it is the learner is there to learn, engagement is one thing but over emphasis on technology is another).

So why am I inspired to write this post.  Well I came across this catchy song and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Some of you will automatically know the song I mean and well others may not so here’s your chance to hear it.

I will leave you with these words….. but first, let me take a selfie

I also found this cool blog post about the history of the selfie craze by @archivesmous. Hope you enjoy it!

A quirky love story or a social media send up – you be the judge?

Just watched this quirky film as part of #EDCMOOC. It starts off slow but hang in there it gets better and the message will soon become clear. Our question ‘ is this a utopian account, or a dystopian one?’.

Remember the definition according to #EDCMOOC is “utopian (creating highly desirable social, educational, or cultural effects) or dystopian (creating extremely negative effects for society, education or culture)”.

The question is not so easily answered. Technology enables us to collaborate and communicate globally for little cost, online, real time so that to me is utopia. The dystopia aspect could be how easily we become dependent on technology so much so that we find it difficult to function if the technology is faulty or unavailable. We can feel disappointed, upset or even a little overwhelmed.

The good news is… this is a love story, so watch what happens…. will it work out in the end?

It is obvious in this short film this was a new way of communicating for them both. There seemed to be excitement and distrust all at the same time. It seemed they had no experiences to fall back on, they didn’t understand how this new way of communicating with each other actually worked. They learned through trial an error.

Failing to understand the advantages and limitations of a technology can also be a kind of dystopia in itself. Without this understanding its benefits or dangers are not clear and we can easily stumble along paths we don’t chose to go down. What are your thoughts?

Well the day has finally arrived

It is day one of EDCMOOC and there is so much to see and do. With more than 260,000 participants it is hard to comprehend how such a large course could function. To my surprise it has been very well organised and there is so much happening. Some of the activities have included:

And all of this so far has been just for fun. Now the day has arrived the real work begins.

Like any other course I have completed there is an assignment – yes you guessed I have to actually do something. Not sure how this will look but my assignment will be to create a digital artefact (more about that later).

Next I look at the content for this week. Two new terms Digital Utopias and Digital Dystopias to embrace.

The MOOC is run from Coursera and according to the instructions my first real task involves” reading, viewing, discussing and representing how digital culture and digital education are often described as either utopian (creating highly desirable social, educational, or cultural effects) or dystopian (creating extremely negative effects for society, education or culture)” so I better get to work. Let you know how I go 😉

My blog through the eyes of Wordle

Here’s a snapshot of some key words used in my blog to date according to Wordle

Wordle: My Digital footprint

It is interesting that the word LEARNING is prominent as is MOOC, WORK, THINK, MIGHT….ever wondered what’s in a word? 

Wordle describes itself as a toy for generating word clouds. Word clouds can create visual interest to your learning resources and they can also be used in challenges for learners such as finding words in a Wordle relating to a topic or even your own Wordle with lists of words relating to a topic.  How do you use Wordle with learners?  If you’ve stopped by why not share your experiences with others.

“Does technology have a role in improving workforce capability?”

 I am currently reading research papers that discuss VET issues, its role and purpose.  At the same time I am considering the answer to the question “Does technology have a role in improving workforce capability?”

VET is a major driver for economic prosperity in Australia and I am wondering what is required by the VET workforce to meet this expectation.  I am also wondering what, if any VET’s issues can be overcome through training.   To answer this question one must first have some sort of understanding of the issues currently affecting VET.

Some of the issues are:

  • Changes to VET funding models: there is a real push for funding to be based on outcomes and course completions
  • Bureaucracy within the VET sector, especially in the structure of larger, public providers… does this have an impact?
  • Poorly designed funding models
  • Poor response times from training providers.  VET needs to be flexible enough to respond to changing market needs at the time those needs are required to be addressed.
  • VET practitioner’s are ageing, how do we capture their knowledge and skills? Should this be included in succession planning?
  • Should there  be increased consideration of financial barriers that prevent those who need training from entering the VET sector?
  • What is the role of the National VET regulator and how much funding will it require to achieve the expected outcomes

So what are the VET issues where can training help (well maybe, read on):

  • Quality teaching and the isssue of the CIV being the minimum teaching level.  We can offer training to increase the number of practitioners with the qualification, however the debate needs to continue…. Is the CIV an acceptable and appropriate minimum qualification for VET practitioners?  Given that many of these practitioners are dually qualified should we require higher than the CIV?  How much emphasis should be attributed to the educational qualifications of VET practitioners?
  • VET researchers suggest that some larger public providers are still approaching the professional development of staff in an adhoc manner.  Shouldn’t professional development be driven by strategy?
  • More thought needs to be given to strategies that will attract and retain quality practitioners?  This comes back to funding and salary issues.
  • Australia is experiencing skill shortages in many areas.  This is no different in the VET sector.  Current skills shortages that exist include trainers with specialist skills in mining; aged care; language, literacy and numeracy; indigenous studies; and e-learning.
  • Some VET managers do not necessarily have leadership or management experience.  Many have moved into their business role from teaching positions.  This is certainly an area that can be improved through training. 

My key thought now is ‘Does technology have a role to play in skills development of VET practitioners, management and leadership training for managers and possibly even the skill shortages in specialist  areas in VET?’

Can technology play a role in providing knowledge  to VET practitioners who require about their industry?  The use of technology in training is only one way to contribute to the development of the workforce capability of the VET sector.

There are other roles technology can play, such as pushing out information about VET issues and VET changes.  For example:

  • knowledge practitioners require about their industry
  • changes to AQTF
  • changes to training packages
  • legislative changes such as OHS and child protection

What role do you see technology can play in the development of the VET workforce?

Welcome to my new CIV in Training and Assessment (TAE) Group

Well I am back in old job…. Head Teacher at TAFE.  The most exciting thing about this job is my students, this is why Head Teacher’s do what they do…. and work the crazy hours they work.

Not surprisingly for those of you who know me… my favourite thing to teach is the CIV TAE so my next few posts will be relevant to teachers and my students in the CIV TAE.  This group of students are about to not only embark on a training and assessment journey but they will also experience social media tools such as twitter (@Gail_VET_Tchr @CIVTAE) and facebook (this group is closed to the public at the moment and open only to my students).  So far we have gone through a face to face orientation and the students have gone away to work on their first online unit….. how exciting.

The CIV TAE generates a lot of evidence so the best way to store this information is to use an e-portfolio.  The group will be using foliospaces.  During the next week each student will be set up with their own e-portfolio.  They will experiment with views, timelines, plans, blogs etc.  There are so many ways you can use this platform.  I use e-portfolios for my uni research.  I have a separate e-portfolio to document the different roles I work in.  This includes a sample of work tasks that I will eventually use for ‘Recognition of Prior Learning’ or for that amazing job interview…. you know the one that attracts the big $$$$$.

We will use twitter to push out information, mostly on useful links we find so that the students can share these with each other.  Facebook will be used for own private little community.  Facebook will offer the students the opportunity to meet with each other, chat online, share resources and just have a little fun.

Classes will be held in a virtual classroom using Adobe Connect.  Learning materials will be made available to the students via Moodle.  At the moment two weeks of lessons have been made available.  Moodle is so simple to use.  You can develop your course as you are teaching.  I have 15 weeks to deliver this program so I have set my Moodle up in week format.  I have hidden all of the weeks that I am currently working on so when the students login they only see weeks one and two.  To avoid the scroll of death all links to content appears in topic one and the option has been set to display only topic one.

Several face to face workshops have built into the program and assessment can occur in the classroom or in the individual’s workplace….. no wonder I love this course.  To me this sounds very exciting.  I hope it does to you to.

Well that’s enough from me for one day.  I will blog again next week to expand on our first time experience in the virtual classroom.