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Why is it that whenever we want to reward academic staff, the incentive is to "buy yourself out of teaching” and at the very least “offload some marking”. Of course the answer is often that the alternatives are to remove yourself from service or administration (and the place grinds to a halt) or, God Forbid, let up on the research outputs. So teaching it is that is the malleable element and assessment all the more so.

Shame. How do you really know if your teaching is effective if you don't see the results? How can you revise and improve your paper if you don;t complete that feedback loop for students?

Of course marking can be a fairly tedious process, even a favourite movie gets tiresome after the twentieth viewing, but it's a necessary process and anything that makes it a little easier has to be a good thing.

So I picked up this application here at Massey University called Lightwork. a development project led by Dr. Eva Heinrich, the desktop client intergrates with Moodle and its gradebook. Once 'paired' the Lightwork downloads student details and allows the creation of marking rubrics and assigned markers, these are then synchronised back to Moodle so the end result is that approved grades in Lightwork are uploaded into the gradebook along with a PDF of the completed marking rubric. Well worth a look. I confess I'm playing in a paper with only 10 students, but just the admin time saved not having to save feedback forms under different student names etc, must be worth it.

Screenshots of Lightwork Assessment Tool
Lightwork: Rubrics and Student PDF Feedback form generated in Moodle

How is VoiceThread changing our ideas about communication?

Kevin Burden and I gave a short paper at ASCILITE in Melbourne Dec08 called "Evaluating Pedagogical ‘Affordances’ of Media Sharing Web 2.0 Technologies: a case study". In the paper we looked particulalry at how the DiAL-e Framework might be used to explore the opportunities of a particular tool, in this case Voicethread. Off the back of that we bagan to get rather interested in how the various Web 2.0 technologies are actually chnaging the way people think about communication. We're writing that up now and part of the process is to use the tool to talk about the tool! So Kevin has created a VoiceThread called "How is VoiceThread changing our ideas about communication? "

I've embedded the VoiceThread below. It's free to sign up and make contributions. Although we're looking for people to share their existing expereinces, the novice perspective is also welcome. Making comments is really simple and you can delete and re-record as many times as you like.
If you didn't know already......
A VoiceThread is an online media album that allows a group of people to make comments on images, videos, and documents, really simply. You can participate 5 different ways - using your voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam). It's easy to control who can access and comment on a VoiceThread, which makes it a secure place to talk about almost anything: business and academic presentations, travelogues, family history, art critiques, language study, tutorials, book clubs and digital storytelling. A VoiceThread allows an entire group conversation to be collected from anywhere in the world and then shared in one simple place.

So here's our invitation to a dialogue ! How is VoiceThread changing our ideas about communication?

My own writing has been the focus the last couple of days. I’ve been struggling with a personally tendency towards the theoretical and philosophical ramblings of a prematurely aging ‘whatever I am’ and the need to develop something more substantial. I have memories of my primary school teachers telling my parents “Simon would do well if he could just focus”, so here I am still very unfocussed and just to damn interested in everything! In recent days I’ve been codifying the DiAL-e learning designs in PowerPoint with a view to sharing them through Slideshare and through the DiAL-e Wiki.

It’s an interesting process trying to establish how much guidance and support each individual teacher is likely to need. Can we assume that they can deconstruct a learning object for themselves or should be give it them in a form which essentially lists the manifest like a contents page. I’m thinking about how this relates to the professional development (PD) programmes I need to run here at Massey to support the uptake of the institutional Moodle implementation. How does one walk that fine line between patronising the insightful and leading the blind. I’m still inclined to give individuals a toolkit, some kind of ‘take-away’, but one still has to make sure ‘they get it’. My concern today is ‘how do I get staff to think about using Adobe Presenter effectively when I’m not sure their PowerPoint is up to the task’.

Re-engaging with Second Life

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I’m re-engaging with Second Life. Why? Well partly I like torturing myself in a slightly masochistic sense by visiting all these mammoth University Campus islands with their beautifully designed (empty) lecture theatres and marvel at the idea that so many bright people could have so spectacularly missed the point. But I also feel that I should be giving Vision FLux (yes, that’s my SL name) a little bit more of a run. I fancy Vision is getting somewhat wide around the waist and needs a little more exercise. I have been in SL on and off since 2006 and I still don’t think I’ve quite come to terms with that identity. Needs work.

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