Releasing SOLE Toolkit v1.1

May 18, 2010

With thanks to colleagues form the GradDip Primary programme at Massey University who yesterday provided some great feedback, comment and criticism on the Student-Owned Learning Engagement model. I presented briefly the SOLE model and explained the underlying rational and then showed the ‘rough’ version of the excel workbook that constitutes the ‘toolkit’.

The toolkit (see ‘pages’) is in some respects rather simple but appears to have captured the imagination of the group and as such was a spur to further development. So after incorporating some minor amendments I’ve taken the plunge and have released version 1.1 to the world! I have also created a shirt YouTube video to explain the basic structure and plan to develop some other resources soon.

Here’s video – a new channel has been created at

SOLE Model Illustrated

May 13, 2010

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.


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

Will Lightwork make a Mark?

May 11, 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

May 9, 2010

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

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

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