Every wondered where technology will take you?

Honestly, technology is the most dazzling thing. I just read an article from Mashable about an app developed for the iPad that allows you to take an image of your face and then try on virtual glasses to see how they will look on your face.  How awesome is that!!!

One of the reasons I haven’t fully embraced shopping online is because … well I am a bit vain, there are just some things you need to try on.  The mobile app world and virtual technologies seem to get this and now it seems we can try things on. How cool!

Years ago there was a department store in the UK that allowed you to pick a model and put in your body measurements and your model would then try your outfits on…. so the technology has there for a while but it is somewhat lacking……  I want to see how the outfit will look with me in it rather than a virtual model (haha I did say I was vain but I bet you too would prefer to buy an outfit with the confidence it will fit and look the way you hope).

Anyone know of a cool app that allows the purchaser to try outfits on virtually? I would love to hear about it.

Back in the days when I used to teach Internet technology to new computer users they loved playing with a virtual model, how much more would they love the experience using their smartphones and iPads 🙂


Yes, you read right, I have started another MOOC

Sorry I haven’t posted for a while, you see I have been busying MOOCing.  My last MOOC was through canvas.net and I was studying learner analytics.  This was a well organised course, with lots of information, activities and directions.  I did find it just a little overwhelming though.  I decided to glean what I could (time was short) and forget the assessments.  I asked myself the question, do I really need this piece of paper and my answer was NO!

I have realised that this is the great thing about MOOCs.  You can choose how you participate, what you participate in and what you want to learn.  I don’t know if you are like me but if I pay for a course and I don’t complete, I feel a bit disappointed with myself.

MOOCs are free, there are no costs associated and there is no real disappointment.  I choose upfront what I want to gain from my involvement.  I like this approach.  So even though I didn’t do the assignments I learnt a lot and I have some great references for future use.  If you want to see the links I have saved them in a pearl tree for quick access http://pear.ly/bXmNj.

My current MOOC is also through canvas.net and it started yesterday.  I am really excited about this one as we will be exploring instructional design techniques for mobile learning.  I can’t wait to see where this MOOC will take me.  To keep track of the web resources I will access through this course I will also use pearl trees.  If you are interested you can keep track at http://pear.ly/b5YC1.

image represents the current layout of Gail's Pearltree

Gail’s pearl trees

Okay back in touch soon, wish me luck.

My second attempt at converting my blog to an e-book

A colleague sent me an article titled 3 Easy Ways to Convert your blog into an E-book for Free

The first thing I tried was Anthologize.  The article said to download the plugin and upload it to your blog via the plugin feature.  Of course I was forgetting that there is a difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com.  WordPress.com is a hosted version of the WordPress software.

So faithfully I downloaded the plugin but of course my blog didn’t have the plugin feature.  This is because WordPress.com is a free blog service provider and they take control of which plugins are installed for use by their users.

Fortunately, they do ask you to post your wishlist to their discussion forum on plugins.  My only resort was to do this….. so this too was a dead end.

Do you have a better alternative?  Please share your knowledge  and experience with us.


Converting your blog to an e-pub

My next few posts will explore what is involved in converting a blog to an an e-pub or e-book.

Why would you want to do that you might ask? …… well for one, wouldn’t it be cool to download your blog as an epub and read in apps like ibook on your ipad.

Step one: Let’s try E-Book glue

Using your phone or ipad go to https://ebookglue.com/ enter the URL for you blog and select the option download as an epub. It will ask you which app to use to open it so I have picked ibooks and to my surprise there it was in less than a minute on my bookshelf.

The issues

The blog converted nicely but the main issue I can see so far is that it didn’t bring across my images or embedded videos.

Back to the drawing board to try out some other platforms suggested by my colleagues.

If you are a bit of a techno you you might like to try out ebookjuggler http://ebookjuggler.com/conversion/website-to-epubmobi/

I will leave that one to last and look for something a little more simple.

Have you done this? Please share your experiences and favourite platforms – especially those that will bring over images and videos with little or no programming. I would love to hear from you.

First assignment for #LAK13

Our first assignment is to explore the logic, structure and intent of an analytics problem. I have chosen Course Completions as the key area of exploration for this assignment.


What do you want to do/understand better/solve?

The vocational education and training (VET) sector (career oriented training for those of you who might not understand the Australian Training system) in Australia is undergoing dramatic changes due to government reforms.  Many of these reforms are driven by the desire for the VET sector to be a key driver of Australia’s prosperity.

One of the key initiatives offered by the Government is an entitlement model which provides potential students with entitlement payment for publicly funded training places.  This payment will be made available to those who do not have an appropriate Certificate III qualification.  This has not been well received by all stakeholders in the VET sector who believe reforms such as this will lead to the demise of public education.

Previously, training providers such as TAFE have received funding to offer training places from the Government.  An entitlement model changes this creating greater incentive for private providers to seek funding which would normally have gone to the larger public providers. Part of this key reform is a proposed completion model that attempts to correct the low completion rates experienced within the sector.  Payments for training places under an entitlement model will mostly be paid on completion. As you can imagine this reform too has been met with mixed emotions and resistance.  The Australian Education Union a key stakeholder of the VET sector suggests that an economic reform such as the proposed entitlement model is purely a shift of costs from Government to students. Unfortunately, whether we like or not, these reforms are not going away. 

With this in mind, I would like to explore an automated system that provides VET practitioners will data that clearly identifies students that are most at risk of not completing their VET qualification in an online/e-learning environment.

Defining the context: what is it that you want to solve or do? Who are the people that are involved? What are social implications? Cultural?

As a head teacher of a large public college I would like to consider ways in which I can explore a student’s online behaviour  and predict those that are most at risk of not completing. This will greatly assist both my own practices and those of the practitioners I work with.

The Australian Education Union explains that completion rates are a problem for the sector and learning analytics offers a potential tool to explore completion rates before the problem escalates and becomes a funding nightmare for the teaching section.

Brainstorm ideas/challenges around your problem/opportunity. How could you solve it? What are the most important variables?

Educational Data Mining enables the VET sector to consider data collected from educational settings and use this data to better understand student behaviour and performance.

All of the students involved in this study are completing a qualification either online or in a blended learning environment using a Learning Management System known as MOODLE.  Moodle provides some potential for monitoring student engagement with learning content online.  The system will identify login dates and times and in some cases the activities completed and assessments submitted.  Unfortunately it cannot provide details of activities completed by the student in an offline environment.

Given that a blended learning environment offers a number of ways for a student to interact with their teacher and other learners the analytics provided in MOODLE should not be considered in isolation.  Having said this, the analytics provided in MOODLE can and should be used to assist a practitioner to keep track of learner behaviour  if the learning environment has been well planned and due dates for completion of activities and/or assessments can also be taken into consideration. Attendance in other activities such as traditional based classrooms or virtual attendance in a virtual meeting room can also identify if a student is still engaged with the learning environment.

Managing student participation in all of these platforms may present a challenge to the organisation and the practitioners who rely on the systems to provide the information required.

Explore potential data sources. Will you have problems accessing the data? What is the shape of the data (reasonably clean? or a mess of log files that span different systems and will require time and effort to clean/integrate?) Will the data be sufficient in scope to address the problem/opportunity that you are investigating?

Regular records need to be kept to document student attendance, participation and submission of assessment.  Educational software such as electronic roll books is used to capture this information. The data collected if interpreted in a timely manner can assist the practitioner to identify factors that might suggest student failure or non-retention in courses however, within the organisation I work for there we do not have access to early warning reporting.  Data mining relies heavily on the teaching section or practitioner who must wade through roll books and examine attendance patterns, submissions of assignments and grades.  This is time consuming and if not completed by the practitioner themselves it may result in time delays if individual head teachers must analyse hundreds of student’s data and report back to their staff.


Fortunately, MOODLE itself does offer reports that can easily identify student progress and participation.  This can highlight potential issues and assist in the process of data mining within individual roll books.


Consider the aspects of the problem/opportunity that are beyond the scope of analytics.  How will your analytics model respond to these analytics blind spots?

Given the need to encourage participation and student completions educational data mining methods will provide the teaching section with information that will enable them to determine student attributes in real-time making it possible to identify those most at risk.  This is beneficial as teaching can then schedule in additional contact times, support and assistance where necessary.


Learning analytics cannot provide teaching staff with details of which pedagogical support is most effective only knowledge of current teaching theories for the 21st century can accommodate this.  The analytics model will need introduce teaching staff to common theories such as heutagogy or peeragogy and guide teachers through a decision process based on analytics and learning theory.  A decision tree could be an appropriate solution for this task.


Please note: this post does not include the selection of tools but will be used in later assignments to guide tool selection.

Week four of #EDCMOOC

Well here I am at week four of #EDCMOOC. We have been taken on a futurist journey of posthumanism and transhumanism. To say this is not what I expected is a bit of an understatement (not that this is necessarily a bad thing). I think I was expecting something about Communities of Practice, understanding digital tribes, digital behaviours.

I find the course a mix of academia and sci-fi. Unfortunately sci-fi is not my thing and even though many seem to enjoyed movies about emotive robots I can’t say I really have but Ihave enjoyed the experience.

We all learn in different ways. I enjoy practical application and learning that involves some sort of transfer or application to the workplace. It is too early to say but what I am taking away is a reflection on utopian and dystopian educational environments as a result of emerging technology.

Recent posts in facebook have described MOOCs as advertising or an introduction aimed at enticing you into a Degree or Master’s program. MOOCs need to make money somehow and there is a lot of discussion at the moment on how a MOOC can benefit the higher-ed sector. I think for now it will be a case of watch this space all will unravel soon.

My final task for #EDCMOOC is the creation of an artefact. This has been a challenge in itself. I originally created an artefact using two apps in Facebook, Quick Lessons and Izzui. I have used these applications in the past and published to scorm for public viewing. This time when I finished my first draft I found I could only publish to facebook Izzui and to view you would need to be logged in to facebook…. EPIC FAIL. Anyway if you have Izzui you are welcome to view it at http://apps.facebook.com/izzuiapp/Course/Details/160064 but please remember it was my first draft.

I have now run out of time and as such have created something a little similar using slideshare. Definately not futuristic and more of a recap of one aspect of #EDCMOOC and certainly not what I would have liked to produce. It includes some discussion on metaphors, a youtube by Charlie Chaplin with a message for humanity (why you might say) and another that describes the web as a city. The conclusion includes a short animated cartoon that I created to discuss briefly the affects of post humananism and teachers.

So here goes …. the link to my artefact http://www.slideshare.net/gailvettchr/metaphors-for-learning-16644510. I am now moving on to a second MOOC through canvas.net. I will let you know how I go.

A day made of Glass: Week 2 EDCMOOC

In week two of E-learning and Digital cultures we move from the past towards the future.  

In this week’s learning material we are presented with two videos that are advertising for two well-known companies: Corning Incorporated and Microsoft.  Each video is futuristic and provides an insight into what our world might soon look like because of potential developments in technology.

 We are asked to evaluate these recordings by answering three key questions:

  • how is education being visualised here? what is being learned and taught?
  • what is the nature of communication in these future worlds?
  • are these utopian or a dystopian visions to you? In what way(s)?

For those of you who know me, you will know I don’t do sci fi well so futuristic isn’t really my style.  My brain just doesn’t work that way but having said that, Corning’s interpretation is exciting to me.  I have seen this video several times before and I have to say ‘I love it!’

It represents a world I would choose to live in; one where technology is ubiquitous or omnipresent if you like.  Technology is no longer something we need to use or even learn but instead it is a central part of everything we do without thinking.  To me this is utopia! We are no longer restricted by physical spaces, locations, boundaries.  In terms of education, this seems to present opportunities for learning everywhere…. formal and informally. My passion is technology in education and I could see a world without limits.  I was so excited…. but then the bubble burst – dystopia set in! 

Not everyone agrees with my passion for technology in education (now don’t start panicking I am an advocate of ‘technology is a tool and one must choose the right tool – I don’t think technology is all things to everybody but I do have to be honest, I love using technology in education).

As I returned to reality I started to remember a conversation I had on the weekend with my in-laws.  They seemed quite distraught that people were communicating over technologies such as Facebook and Twitter at the same time as they were having a conversation with a ‘real person’. They felt this behaviour was rude, unacceptable and created problems in our young people, it contributed to social isolation even exclusion.

Attitudes like this are common.  Technology has positive and negative attributes and it is true there are still issues around its reliability, privacy, security to name a few.  Unfortunately these issues have produced fear (whether it is grounded or ungrounded) in some people within society.

Other doubts started to enter my mind.  We covet some of these technologies but our budgets rarely stretch that far.  To be utopian, ubiquitous or omnipresent the technology must be available and affordable.  Costs of the technology are one thing but there are also ongoing costs like bandwidth, data storage and of course software upgrades.  Last week we were challenged to think about our choice in the use and adoption of technologies and I think it is fair to say most agreed we don’t’ have a choice. 

Earlier I said I believe technology is a tool so I won’t get into a pedagogical discussion here but I know many of you would also be saying….what is the pedagogy behind the use of technology. So I will leave this post with a final thought – the use of technology in education in this video seemed effortless – the technology was available whenever it was required. It produced visual stimulation and could easily appeal to all learning styles but to be effective it requires a professional teacher well versed in learning styles, modern teaching methodologies and a good understanding of learning theories such as pedagogy, peeragogy and heutagogy.

Normally I would embed the videos but good old wordpress doesn’t seem to like it so here they are as links. …. happy viewing

A day made of glass http://youtu.be/jZkHpNnXLB0

Productivity future vision http://youtu.be/a6cNdhOKwi0