The end of the year is a good time for reflection

Well its the end of another big year in my world, how about in yours?

As the NSW E-Learning Advisor, I can happily say 2013 has been big year and some great things have happened in the Australian E-Learning space. In this post I won’t spend too much time recapping all of those events but what I will do is reflect on what I have seen that seems important… maybe they are to you too!

Starting with the NSW VET sector, there has been so much talk about government reforms, reducing government funds and of course ‘Smart and Skilled’. The good news is Smart and Skilled has been delayed to 2015 to give training providers an opportunity to better understand the reforms and get ready for them. Smart and skilled reforms provide funding for subsidised government places in qualifications up to and including Certificate III.  Details about the types of programs that may attract funding can be found on the 2014 NSW Skills List.

In Australia, only registered training providers can issue Australian Qualifications Framework qualifications.  The body that has the responsibility of enforcing this is, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). A core part of what  ASQA’s does is to regulate training courses and training providers to ensure they meet and comply with nationally approved quality standards. On 1 July 2012, the VET Quality Framework became operable in most states and territories in Australia.  This framework aims to provide a structure that will result in a national approach to the way providers are registered and courses are accredited (ASQA 2013). ASQA has the power to audit training providers at anytime and many Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) have undergone an ASQA audit in 2013.  The word audit can be scary but here’s hoping the experience was positive and there was lots of positive reinforcement for those who underwent an ASQA audit in 2013.

It is important to acknowledge that E-Learning can come under the microscope in any such audit.  In 2013 I was privy to many conversations between practitioners discussing how to better demonstrate and improve on e-learning quality and student participation. A tool you may not know that can help is the Flexible Learning Advisory Group’s  (FLAG) E-Learning quality model. This interactive model is a great tool to take to your next e-learning team meeting.  Start by examining the quality indicators.  Use the criteria as triggers for questions at your next team meeting.  For example, if you were looking at an existing course you could say ‘How do we know that… the e-learning experience effectively engages our learners’.  Having conversations around the quality criteria can highlight existing processes as well as identifying new opportunities for improvement.  If you haven’t seen the quality model I suggest you take a moment to have a look.  The end of the year is a great time to reflect on existing practice and to explore opportunities for continual improvement.

E-assessment remained topical in 2013.  Teachers wanted to know how they could create authentic assessment opportunities for learners as well as reflecting on existing practices for recognition.  The National VET E-Learning Strategy (Strategy) has some excellent resources available to you on their website.  These resources include National Guidelines for assessment through to a whole host of e-assessment case studies.  In the NSW 2013 e-capability program we had an exciting webinar on e-assessment, I am sure you will find it useful if you have some time to listen to it. For those of you working in TAFE NSW an exciting evidence collection tool was launched during Skills Week 2013.  Check out SkillsLocker and sign in using your DEC username and password.  If you are short of time, checkout my storify page to find out more about SkillsLocker.

E-Capability of individual teachers, trainers and support staff involved in e-learning received a lot of attention in 2013.  Both the NSW team and the National team coordinated an extensive free program to build the capability of those interested in e-learning.  If you have some time in December and January I suggest you listen to the recordings from NSW and the National Program.  Webinar topics included tips to help you get started in e-learning, gamification, augmented reality, cloud technologies…. etc.

So what will 2014 hold for the NSW E-Learning Advisor role?  Glad you asked.  I am busy working on a new and exciting webinar program with some talented guest speakers. Flyers and details on how you can register will come out in January.  I am also establishing an e-learning community for NSW with representatives from right across the VET sector.  If you are interested in being involved, enter your details on the e-community webform.

On a personal note, I have moved into the research phase of my masters.  There are three phases to this research and I would love it if you would stop by and check out my ‘how you can be involved’ research page.

If you love surveys and you are a teacher using technology in education you might be interested in completing  my teacher survey and if you are a student who wants to have a say about your experiences using technology in education, there is a quick survey for you too.

Have a wonderful and relaxing holiday period and I will be back posting in 2014.

References

ASQA (2013) ‘National VET regulation’ accessed online http://www.asqa.gov.au/about/national-vet-regulation/national-vet-egulation.html on 17 December 2013.

State training services (2013) ‘Smart and skilled’ accessed online http://www.training.nsw.gov.au/smartandskilled/ on 20 December 2013.

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#EDCMOOC The first YouTube – Bendito Machine III

Our first film to watch is Bendito Machine III. Now those of you who know me will know that this type of animation doesn’t really appeal to me. So I am now feeling just a little out of my comfort zone. Anyway enough about me.

The animation is said to be about technological development through the eyes of ritual and worship. I guess this is quite funny and many out there will love it.

While I watched I could see the relevance of technological worship and addiction. To relate it to today, you only have to look at Apple products how they are marketed and sought after to see cult following and then if you consider social media… well you can clearly see addiction in some of us. At times the scary thing is that title could easily fit me. I love all things e-learning, especially social media.

Another interesting thing about this animation is how quickly they replaced their idol… not that much different to us today. We are asked to consider the question “Do the film’s characters have any choice in relation to their technologies?”. My simple answer is ‘No’. Someone in a position of influence guided the choice and chose when the idol was popular and when it was not and what would be the replacement.

As I continued to watch the film my thoughts turned to the influence technology has on educating and informing the masses. TV advertising today is a great example of how we use technology to influence potential buyers. The message is often if you buy this or wear this or consume this you will be … beautiful, youthful, popular, accepted etc and of course we fall for it. To me the animation was an example of social learning (if you are not sure go back and watch the part where they were watching tv and were now sitting on chairs with empty bottles at their feet). This was different to their previous behaviour of worship and adoration.

Social learning can loosely be defined as a learning opportunity where the learner observes the behaviours and attitudes of others and modifies their own behaviour based on the consequences observed.

Just in case you are not familiar, social learning is a theory often associated with Albert Bandura. Other notable theorists include Vgotsky, Lave and Wenger.

The concept of social learning is probably not that new to you. As a teacher you know that learners learn from their classmates all the time. Social learning can happen in face to face environments as well as digital environments. The animation was still locked into a traditional face to face environment but what happens if we consider this type of learning in the digital space?

When we consider the e-learning environment e-learning designers and facilitators incorporate social learning activities into their programs using a range of tools but in particular those offered by social media. In this post I will stick to education rather than the use of social media to influence the masses.

Social media allows educators to plan opportunities for feedback from both teachers and other learners in the learning environment; it encourages collaboration and group work; and if planned appropriately can facilitate relationships where learners have access to content experts, mentors and coaches. Many of these activities occur in virtual environments such as online discussion forums and virtual meeting rooms.

As the theme of this week’s content is Utopias and Dystopias I think the animation is an example of dystopia – the negative behaviours of those who worship technology. What do you think? Even if you are not part of the EDCMOOC I invite you to watch the animation and post your thoughts on the ritualistic nature of the animation and its purpose.

Yay E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC starts soon!

For those of you who have read my earlier posts you will know I enrolled in a MOOC last year that was kind of a non-event. I recently decided to give it another go and enrol in one through the University of Edinburgh. This MOOC is an exploration of e-learning and digital cultures. If you are interested in knowing more you can check out the site at https://www.coursera.org/#course/edc. Tweets about the MOOC have already started to be populated on twitter via the hashtag #edcmooc.

This morning I received my first email with a whole heap of pre-MOOC activities….. how exciting :-).  One of which was to put my location on a Google Map… surprisingly there are people enrolled from all over the world. If you want to find me… check out Australia.

Anyway, I will post more about my experiences once the MOOC begins. If you are still unsure what a MOOC is you might find this short YouTube helpful.