Distance Education Conference Madison-Wisconsin

August 11, 2011

SOLE and DiAL-e Sites August 2011

The  27th Annual Distance Learning and Teaching Conference at Madison-Wisconsin this August was a diverse and varied programme attended by some 900 distance educators from all sectors, from K-12 to professional education. My contribution was a half-day  DiAL-e Workshop with Kevin Burden (University of Hull) attended by some 24 people. The workshop went relatively well but also gave us an insight into a variety of cultural differences in such settings. I was able to learn from this and the 45 Minute Information Session on the SOLE model the following day definitely had a better ‘buzz’. In addition I contributed to a new format this year, a 5+10 Videoshare session where participants had (supposedly!) produced a 5 minute video and then made themselves available to discuss it for 10 minutes.

All the sessions went well but the SOLE model and toolkit seemed to grab some serious interest and I will hope to have the opportunity to go back to the States and work with colleagues on learning design projects in the future.

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ALDinHE Belfast 2010

April 30, 2011
Simon and Russell

Simon Atkinson and Russel Gurbutt (University of Leeds) discussing e-learning adoption strategies

ALDinHE 2011 was a relatively small professional conference with some 120 colleagues from across a diverse range of UK Higher Education institutions. The theme was “Engaging Students – Engaging Learning” although, with some noticeable exceptions, much of the conference was concerned primarily with the challenges we face as educational (or academic) developers.

There was a lot of discussion about ‘teaching’ to engage students but too little emphasis for me on the designing in to the learning the engagement we say we expect. Still it was a useful and interesting opportunity to get reacquainted with some former colleagues form the Open University and for the University of Hull.

I had two posters at the conference, a solo effort with the SOLE model (see and download the poster from http://www.solemodel.org) and a joint effort with Kevin Burden from the University of Hull featuring the DiAL-e framework work we have been doing since 2006. Details of the that poster and the workshop that I ran on Wednesday 20th April are available at the http://www.dial-e.net website. The workshop ran using a single webpage on the wordpress site so you are welcome to access the workshop resources. The post conference requests for “your PowerPoint” leave me frustrated!


VoiceThread and evolving communication

April 27, 2009

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?


Visit to CompendiumLD team at the Open University

April 12, 2009

Had a long day 7 April getting across country from Wantage to Milton Keynes. A worthwhile trip though none the less. Met with Simon Cross, Paul Clark and Andrew Brasher from IET at the OU in the old Jenny Lee Library now all revamped and unrecognizable.

Nice to be back, wish I had had time to pop round and say hello to a few people. Grainne Conole popped in briefly.
I shared with them the development process that Kevin Burden and I had gone through to produce the DiAL-e Framework (www.dial-e.net) and some of the very recent attempts to make these designs real, reusable and malleable to front line academics. I’m really quite optimistic that the use of PowerPoint and other slideware, MovieMaker or other AV editing software and tools such as the eXe XHTML editor will make designs very accessible. What is less clear to me is how this will work with ‘learning design’ tools like LAMS and Compendium LD. LAMS creates these runtime learning engagements, and element of which might consist of a DiAL-e design but they are different.

Compendium LD to me looks like a fantastic tool for mapping curricula and looking at issues of assessment stress, workload management and the relationships between learning outcomes. One can see how a project tool like this, emerging from an institutional way of working at the OU has an application. It will be interesting to see how that translates into other institutional contexts.

I think there will be time to make all these DiAL-e designs available in a range of desktop deployment tools by the time of the European LD and LAMS conference in July and the decision now is whether to participate in the design bash.


Estonian e-Universities Conference, Tartu, April 1-3

April 12, 2009

Attended the Estonian e-Universities Conference at the University of Life Sciences in Tartu 2-3 April. Attended by around 200 people over the two days, the plenary sessions took a big picture look at the challenges faced by Schools through to Tertiary and lifelong learning providers. The tone was realistic and largely positive. There was much chatter about the challenging economic context in which the University sector now finds itself and the opportunities for exchange and development.

I presented twice, once as part of a session on learning repositories, in which I outlined some of the recent work in using the DiAL-e framework to codify learning designs in ways which we hope will make archives and repositories more accessible. We had an overview of European projects and Martin Sillaots some insight into two recent repositories making heavy use of tag-clouds and commenting to add some semblance of peer review to repository artifacts.

My other input was the final session on the Friday late afternoon, following Nancy White (who Skyped in and was her usual enthusiastic self at 4am) and a motivational trainer from Estonia on the power of positive thinking ! Quite a double act to follow. As a closing keynote I intended to be positive and upbeat and attempted to highlight four themes emerging from the conference (role of technology, learning objects, learning designs and school space/place design issues). I took a ‘futurist’ or foresight model and invited participants to visualize a future based around the life of a young Estonian girl starting school aged 5 this September who would be 72 in 2077. It was fin to prepare and hit the note with some whilst obviously losing a few. So a measured success from my perspective. I came away feeling I had been perhaps a little too ambitious.

I engaged the audience by asking them to do a paper exercise in which they answered a question on the top quarter of a sheet of A4, then folded it over and passed the paper on. Then a second question later on and folded again. The intention being that by the end one has four comments or responses on a piece of paper none of which one wrote oneself. And the take-away is then an amalgamation of your ideas and four other peoples.
Sue Greener from Brighton Business School gave a really energetic presentation that highlighted the role of students as peer learners and leaders, Lisa Petrides talked about the way in which OER is becoming more transparent, more accessible and more sensitive to local contexts. David Vincent from the OU gave an interesting global perspective and highlighted the different ways in which institutions are responding to challenges – he seemed optimistic that the current economic situation would spur on the innovators. Teemu Leinonen gave a really thought provoking overview of the wiki-ethos, an illustration of how the co-authoring process is realizing results.
Great couple of days. Lots and lots of interesting things to follow up. And finally time to set myself up in some ‘Web 2.0’ spaces which has been pretty entertaining


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