Thursday, January 13, 2011

This blog has been out of action for a little while as I am working in a different role

You will find more recent posts at You might also benefit from exploring While you are there scroll down the bottom of the page to 'some important links' and follow the links to the 2010 innovation team page, you will then find a case study about every 2010 NSW innovation team plus a host of free resources (many are embedded on individual team pages).

Monday, May 24, 2010

What emerging technologies are you using in your classroom?

I would like to facilitate a discussion about the emerging technologies you are either using in your classroom or would like to be using in your classroom. This will provide us with a deeper insight into the technologies being used and the services that I can offer so that e-learning becomes truly ubiquitous in our workplaces.

Over the next few weeks I will post some short articles and questions relating to new and emerging technologies, please feel free to contribute and share your knowledge or ask any questions.

To start the discussion consider the article 'Google to bring the web to TV sets"

You will need a web-enabled television from Sony or a set-top box from Logitech that routes web content to your existing TV set (apparently this technology will be availabl in the US by the end of the year).

So why is this technology useful?

* You can search the net while you are watching TV
* You can watch youtube on your tv set
* You can devote part of or the whole screen to web surfing

Now this is not the first time we have seen TV and the computing combined. Even back in the 90s when I worked for a computer retailer we had tv on the screen at the same time as someone was using the computer.

My question is 'why is this useful?', 'will you use this technology in your classroom?' and 'how will this benefit learners?'

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

E-learning is still hotly debated

For years now I have heard many discussions on the use of e-learning and its advantages and disadvantages. Some of the teachers engaging in these discussions have come up with many reasons why e-learning should not be part of a traditional classroom.

I have heard reasons such as e-learning will be the end of the traditional classroom as we know it, it is just another way to reduce jobs and cut funding. Other conversations focus on pedagogy and how or if this has ever been measured and if so how accurate these results are. Others felt that the quality of learning that occurs outside of a traditional classroom is somewhat inferior to the learning that might occur online or even in the workplace.

Others debated if students should be given control over their learning environment or should be allowed to choose when, how and what they studied.

Years seem to have gone by and some of the arguments are still the same; e-learning is still here and it doesn't look like it is going away anytime soon.

VET has come a long way since those early days and I think it is fair to say that e-learning has proven itself in many arenas.

Teachers have also moved on and many are now committed to incorporating e-learning into traditional learning environments.... we are calling this blended delivery.

Blended delivery gives us the ability to incorporate both forms of learning. Statistics indicate that is a successful model of implementation, vastly improving retention rates of students and providing them with greater access to training and increased choice in how and when they study.

It is true that some subjects/topics produce better results if delivered in a face to face(traditional) learning environment. Some of the advantages to the learner include the opportunity to discuss learning content with their peers and facilitator, as well as providing opportunities to seek immediate feedback from their facilitor.

Students who are not technology savvy can ask questions of their faciltiator rather than relying on limited typing skills to ask their questions.

It can also be said that blended learning brings many advantages to the learner including:

Time to reflect, practice and study at a time and pace convenient to the learner.

Greater control of when they study and what they study.

Online forms of learning are often aligned to the technologies students have available (eg: facebook, mobile learning, mobile blogging, emails, forums, chat rooms)and are familiar with closely aligning the learning experience to that of everyday life.

The Internet offers an enormous volume of information. If incorporated into e-learning activities the students have a larger resource to utlise in terms of research and trend identification.

Many of the barriers faced in distance programs are broken down when offered online or in blended formats, making this an appealing option for many students.

This discussion has only just begun, please feel free to keep this discussion going by contributing your thoughts on e-learning and sharing your experiences with us.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

e-learning takes planning well before your course commences

I had a little bit of time this morning. I am on a busy train, jammed packed with school kids going to a camp. So rather than do any work on the train I thought I would catch up on some blog reading.

I came across an article that likened a collaborative e-learning community to a new garden and I have to say I agree.

You don't just plant a seed and immediately expect flowers. Well before you see any flowers you need to:
* prepare the garden bed
* make sure you have purchased good quality seeds
* and that you are using quality soil & fertilisers that are appropriate to the plants you are planting.

This is exactly the same for your e-learning strategy. There are things that must be in place well before your learners commence their e-learning journey.

Once the seeds are planted in your flower garden you don't just leave them in the ground and hope they grow. Seeds (like learners) need to be monitored, supported, helped (gardens are fertilised aren't they?)and given navigation cues to help them make their way.

If you do all of this you should have a much better success rate and in terms of our gardens would expect a bumper crop.

Another thing you need to do with your garden to make sure it produces a bumper crop is to remove any weeds. Once a course is created should it stay the same? Do you simply create it once and offer it in the same format forever?

Of course, the answer is no. If you are using links to websites they need to be reviewed regularly. We all know that websites can be here one day and gone the next.

Sometimes your content must be updated to reflect changes - such as legislative changes, new versions of software etc.

So on a regular basis review your course and remove or update activities, content, links to make sure you are offering a quality program for your learners.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Finding existing e-learning content for your VET course

There are a variety of repositories available (mostly for free) that can provide you with content for your e-learning programs.

A good starting point is a Flexible Learning Toolbox. If you decide to use a toolbox in its entirety it is not free however training organisations can purchase one copy and can then make the content available for use by staff and students as a learning resource.

You can view toolboxes at

Toolboxes have also been broken up into learning objects (or chunks of content) that can freely be downloaded and are easily customised for use in your course. You can search the toolbox repository at

The LORN repository provides teachers and trainers with both user pay and free resources This repository has access to about seven different databases. Learning objects are downloaded as Zip files and can easily be uploaded into Learning Management Systems such as Moodle.

The Framework website also includes free resources to assist you to plan and embed e-learning into your training delivery. Visit the gallery for some useful tips on digital stories and their usefulness. While you are there take the time to explore the site and read some fo the useful tips and hints

If you have other links to VET resources that you would like to share, please feel free to post them as a comment to this post.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

E-portfolios present some risk

It seems that many project teams are interested in implementing e-portfolios this year but few if any have included issues surrounding e-portfolios as part of their risk management strategy.

The first issue that comes to my mind is the issue of learner privacy. I acknowledge how effective e-portfolios are as a tool to assist learners to collect evidence and present it to their facilitator to demonstrate levels of competency - there is absolutely no question around their usefulness. My main concern is that e-portfolios collect private information about the learner; even though the learner has some control over what is included in their e-portfolio the question must be asked 'who else has access to this information?'

E-learning strategies that involve e-portfolios must take into consideration the sensitive nature of the information collected in an e-portfolio and how this can best be managed. It is crucial that your learners are fully aware of the risks involved in keeping information in an online environment, who has access to it, and what type of content should included or excluded from their e-portfolio.

One way to manage your risk is to develop a privacy plan for your organization. In this plan you must clearly identify what the risks are, how your learner’s will be informed of the risk, who owns the content in the e-portfolio (remember your learner’s are creating this as a result of an enrolment in one of your training programs) and what will happen to it after the course is over.

Another issue that presents itself is the opportunity for an e-portfolio to be 'hacked into' or the learner’s identity stolen. Your risk management strategy must carefully consider this and ensure that security measures are implemented to prevent this from happening.

I hope this post has started you thinking of some potential risk. There are some useful resources available to assist you with the management and implementation of e-portfolios. Please visit for more information and access to some free resources.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Copyright must be considered as part of your risk management strategy

We are living in an infomation age and content is available to us like never before. If you search the web with a key word you are bound to come up with thousands of site containing information about our chosen topic. Technology makes it easy for us to copy this information, download photos, videos, graphics and so on.

Some of this content will be useful in classroom and online activities. So how do we know if we are abiding by copyright laws in Australia or breaching them?

As you develop your e-learning strategy consider copyright infringement as a possible risk. Consider the strategies you will employ to minimise or completely remove this risk.

For example, a good strategy to minimise the risk is to ensure your team is educated and fully informed on copyright infringement.

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework has some useful resources that might assist you to educate and inform your team. Visit the Copyright Kitchen for more information.

This website will answer some very important questions, including:

* who owns the copyright for the work you create as a result of your employment
* copyright guidelines for editing another teacher's work
* using music in PowerPoint
* using video recordings from youtube

I have found some other useful URLs that you might find useful when you are considering copyright as part of your e-learning strategy.