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The following brief video presentation was prepared for a Course Team workshop to introduce the SOLE Model.

The following brief video presentation was prepared for a Course Team workshop to introduce the SOLE Model.

The SOLE model is intended to be developmental, evaluative and descriptive. It is borne out of a desire to make the learning design process transparent to students, to encourage staff to share ‘patterns’ of learning with each other and to provide a basis for self-evaluation and development of specific learning designs. The model is not concerned with the design of specific learning activities but rather the appropriate balance between the different modes of student engagement anticipated.

The model does not prevent an academic scheduling four hours contact time a week and delivering a didactic lecture, but it would illuminate clearly that that was the approach being undertaken. Likewise, the model in and of itself does not prevent staff from reproducing an identical pattern of learning every week through a paper or course, but again, the models’ associated toolkit would make that process clear.

The SOLE model is not prescriptive and it is possible for teams to change and modify any aspect of the toolkit to suit their needs. The intention however is to provide staff with a model of effective practice such that one might be concerned about the quality of the student learning experience if the model illustrated a consistently ‘unbalanced’ approach.

Phasing

One would anticipate that the visualisation generated by the toolkit would reflect a pattern of learning that differ from paper to paper, and from week to week. One could anticipate for example that in the first week of an undergraduate paper there would be significantly more ‘teacher-centeredness’ than in the twelfth week of a postgraduate paper. The visualisation will differ; the patterns can be expected to reflect different levels of engagement.

Centrality of Biggs Constructive Alignment

It is no coincidence that the model places the intended learning outcomes (ILO) at the centre. In each constructively aligned paper the pattern will be different because the learning outcomes, the assessment designed to illicit evidence of attainment and the patterns of teaching required to support that process will each be different. The SOLE model is precisely that, a model not a template. The model can, and should be adapted by staff to suit their particular approach to learning. It should reflect the nature both of their discipline, students existing context and the specific teaching environment.

A discussion paper will be posted late May 2010

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

DEANZ 2010 - Quality Connections - Boundless Possibilities: Through Open, Flexible and Distance Learning.

I'm biased because I played a minor role of the Organising Committee but I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable conference I have been to in many a year. Te Papa was a great venue, and the conference (25-28 April 2010) was fairly fast-paced, well punctuated with some quality keynotes and plenaries and a rather amusing 'Great Debate'. The personal highight for me was the keynote by Professor Terry Anderson

Anderson, T. (2010) Three Generations of Distance Education Pedagogy [PowerPoint]. Retrieved May 2, 2010 from http://cider.athabascau.ca/CIDERSessions/sessionarchive/

In this presentation Terry defines three pedagogical models that have defined distance education programming - behavioural/cognitive, constructivist and connectivist. He talks about the challenges and opportunity afforded by each model, with a focus on the emergent development of connectivism.

A fascinating review of developments in the field that illustrated clearly the ongoing tension between central institutional 'control' of enabling technologies and the 'license and liberty' that we increasingly hope students will exercise.

My own small contribution was as leader of the winning debate team ! Humble in victory as ever.....

Simon welcomes the win decision at the Great Debate
Humble in Victory: the win decision at the Great Debate

One might suggest Universities are simply having a tough time with reality. Where do we ‘fit’ now in Civil Society. Have we noticed that Civil Society has changed, is changing.

Universities are having a tough time. I know this because the EDUCAUSE workshop we were running next week has been cancelled due to small numbers, and I don’t THINK it was because it was simply too tedious for the US audience. Apparently there just isn’t enough money in the system to allow for that extra day of workshops for many people.

One might suggest Universities are simply having a tough time with reality. Where do we ‘fit’ now in Civil Society. Have we noticed that Civil Society has changed, is changing. Budgets are tight, government is weary of paying for the intangible benefits when there are so many pressing tangible needs and the commercial world (in the broadest sense) tires of ‘re-training’ graduates for a world of work.

What strikes me most about working in Universities is the earnest complacency. There are people, of course, who work at the sharp edge of their professions, advising teachers in the schools, doing a day a week at the counselling service, working in businesses delivering customised language and translation services, a myriad of different ‘real-life’ implementations of their subject knowledge. And then there are the rest.

And it isn’t about the soft woolly social sciences versus hard science. Both can be equally detached from the societies they serve. And they do ‘serve’. My current institution is developing an exciting vision of its future, including a Learning & Teaching Strategy, or Student Experience Strategy or whatever one might choose to call it.

There will be the usual round of cynical protestations about threats to academic freedom and the independence of the academy. The resistance to the ‘digital’ move, the wholesale adoption of the virtual learning environment to support all programmes is part of this tough reality. The difficulty for educational developers is knowing whether to talk at a personal and practical level or a theoretical level. The apparent resistance to ‘working digitally’ is often a simple failure to grasp a shift in some of the fundamental realities of the changing nature of Higher Education, the shifting origins of students (apparent digital natives and naives ) and the changing daily reality in work places.

The analogy of Universities being much like the Church, the last guardians of many significant aspects of our heritages and some fairly appalling abuses too, strikes me as rather apparent today. The 'denial', and it is often subtle, is not JUST about the relative merits of adopting contemporary communications technology to support learners, it is surely about the loss of the privileged position of the 'sage on the stage', the Savant Professor. We aren't going to make a meaningful impression on the students experience without an open and frank debate about the nature of contemporary Higher Education.

An institutional Learning &; Teaching Strategy should be a conversation about the nature of Higher Education, the nature of our knowledge society and our specific role, as an institution, within it. Where we are in Civil Society. And yes, we’ll have a tough time having that conversation.

Small development grant awarded to develop reusable learning objects

Philippa Butler and I have been awarded a small grant for a project entitled ‘The Left Bank: Developing a Collection of Reusable Learning Designs for Stream'. This is a small FIET grant (Funds for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching) which is held annually at Massey University as a competitive bidding for learning and teaching focused initiatives.

Building on earlier UK-JISC funded around the DiAL-e work, we will produce a significant range of reusable learning objects or ‘learning designs’ in easily accessible forms that can be downloaded by academics onto their computers. Staff can then edit, repurpose and upload the learning design to their collaborative learning environment. The institutional context means we will focus on Moodle but the application is much broader. The learning designs, suitable for re-purposing across all disciplines, will be made available in PowerPoint or simple HTML web packages (eXe Editor). Based on the DiAL-e Framework learning designs they will embed professional development guidance as to their opportunities for reuse.

Two conference in June/July in the UK 2009

It's been five weeks since I got back to New Zealand from a brief conference visit to the UK. Amazing how time flies.
I had some fantastic conversations around attendance at both the JISC Digitisation Conference (Gloucester) http://www.jisc.ac.uk/jdcc09 & European LAMS Learning Design Conference (Milton Keynes)
http://lams2009.lamsfoundation.org/

The UK education sector has invested very heavily in recent years in the digitisation of museum, library and University collections for tertiary teaching and research purposes. Following completion of Phase 2 of the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) Digital Content Conference 2009 discussed what was working with respect to the sustained integration of digitised content. Primarily focussed on UK universities, although other tertiary providers were represented, I would guess some 200 people attended over the two day event. The thematic strands revolved around: Managing Content; Content Development Strategies; Content In Education; User Engagement; Looking Into The Future. Kevin Burden, a colleague from the University of Hull, and myself had been invited to present the results of our Phase I assisted take-up project developing a framework of engagement activities (www.DiAL-e.net). Our 90 minute ‘workshop’, was concerned with mechanism for getting take-up of these rich digitised resources. It's clear that there is till a hige range of practical and logistical issues facing the broad spectrum of users. It's hard in fact to address an audience when some are still unsure 'why' you would use a digital resource and others are concerned with new rich blends of multi-media in immersive environments. A real challenge. But we got some great feedback and there's a good write up of the session on the JISC digitisation blog

The following week I attended the one-day 2009 European LAMS Learning Design Conference at the Open University. As a former employee it was great to see familiar faces in the audience and to be able to identify people by name during Q&A. The conference, attended by less than 100, was a rather specialist affair. My rearranged presentation followed is a series with some really interesting perspectives including one from Diana Laurillard on a large project run by the IoE in London on online learning design tools. My personal highlight was a stimulating insight into the OU’s OpenLearn initiative (what people access and why) from Patrick McAndrew. This gave me a good deal of food for thought. I again presented the DiAL-e framework and current work to make learning designs more accessible to practitioners. The two events demonstrated a strong philosophical move towards freely available open digital content (OER - Open Educational Resources), but a clear recognition that content needed to be interpreted, evaluated and reused effectively if the challenges of the massification of higher education were to be met with quality learning experiences.

Now I just need to work out how to get traction of the academic professional development side of the equation.

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?

From information delivery to cognitive guidance

From information delivery to cognitive guidance.... how's that for a workshop title. I'm working up my notes for Wednesday, looking back on some great resources produced by Lynn Saville and her team at the University of Hull and various pieces by Richard Mayer. All those coffee conversations about poorly presented seminars and lectures and now I am actually being asked to tak about that to a willing audience ! So Auckland Wednesday...very early start and will be a long day.

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I’m looking at some interesting uses of PowerPoint/Presenter as stand alone resources which might be seen as multi-modal workbooks, animated, engaging objects which stand-alone for the student.

The other concern about ‘transferring practice to alternative contexts’ has arisen in connection with staff asking about the ‘online delivery of lectures’. It looks like institutionally there will be some support for Adobe Connect but whether staff are in a position to use it effectively will depend on a range of external factors. I’m preparing for a couple of PD events on the PowerPoint->Presenter->Connect equation and again, it raises a number of interesting issues.

Why! The educational developers favourite question (were we all those kids at the pool and in the supermarket queue going’but whhyyyyyy’ to parents great irritation?)  Why do you want to ‘deliver the lecture’ online. Why is it a lecture? Why is the student going to benefit from this mode of delivery. I’m looking at some interesting uses of PowerPoint/Presenter as stand alone resources which might be seen as multi-modal workbooks, animated, engaging

objects which stand-alone for the student. These might then indeed have some kind of facilitated discourse around them, and that may well happen inside Connect so the presentation (or an alternative version of it) might be shared and annotated, referenced and so on. I am struggling with the concept that the online synchronous ‘presentation’ is an effective use of the student, or lecturers, time. Why (there’s that word again!) would one take the time to present. Maybe it relates in part to the fact that in our face-to-face practice we can ‘half-prepare’ the representation because we often ‘busk’ around the edges. If we want to create a genuinely usefully internally scaffolded and referenced presentation… well that takes real work.

Do most academic staff consider these issues of internal structure to their content? Or are they so used to deal with a linear information exchange model that they just don’t think about it. Who can blame them? How do we change that. How do we move from the ‘Sage on the Stage’ approach to the ‘content author/facilitator’ model on an institutional basis.

Simon Atkinson (the old Open University mug!)

The mismatch or disjuncture in the authoring process for Word and the online learning delivery environment. We may NOT want academic staff authoring content direct into the VLE, but we need them close enough to the delivery context to understand the issues of sequencing, pause, reflection and action.

Working this week with a variety of practical tools to develop learning content and thinking seriously about how they are structured, internally referenced, and where the opportunities for scaffolding professional development within them might be. This seems easiest at first glance with the Frontpage eXe editing tool which creates reasonable XHTML code and has a variety of expert options including IMS/SCORM packages that work fine in Moodle at least. However, it raises some really interesting questions about ‘how’, in practice, most academic staff actually build the materials they use in their teaching. Here I’ve been dealing with content written in word and passed to an administrative member of staff who has ‘transferred’ it into eXe. There are clear issues with awful Mso code being imported which is tiresome to get rid of.

More interesting is perhaps the mismatch or disjuncture in the authoring process for Word than for the delivery environment. We may NOT want academic staff authoring content direct into the VLE, but we need them close enough to the delivery context to understand the issues of sequencing, pause, reflection and action. The argument might be for the development of a more structured ‘template’ for each authoring environment, and indeed the professional conversation with authoring teams around the development of a template would in itself prove valuable. My own development of the these MS-Word-> eXe materials for one specific undergraduate course makes me think there must be a better way. Just need more time to think about what it might be.

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