Thursday, October 29, 2009

Julia Gillard releases information about research conducted into the effects of technology and learning

I have just finished reading a press release by Julia Gillard who is the Minister for Education. The research explored students’ perceptions and expectations of learning with information and communications technologies (ICT).

More than 1000 students from primary and secondary schools, VET and universities were surveyed.

Some of the findings were:

97% of VET students agreed that computers and the internet help them with their studies ‘most’ or ‘all of the time’

63% of VET students agreed that their teachers’/lecturers’ skills with technologies are good?

24% of VET students indicated they had access to and used the internet in classrooms or lecture theatres ‘everyday’

38% responded ‘never’ to using internet in the classroom or lecture theatres

20% responded ‘not often’ to using internet in the classroom or lecture theatres

More information can be found at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Some tips to help the individual start their e-learning design

Tips for designing e-learning

First decide if you are designing your e-learning strategy alone or in a team. This post will consider techniques to design e-learning on your own. I am also assuming you have the technical expertise to create your own content.

Start by thinking of the last course you attended:

• Did it hold your attention?

• Was the content of the material appropriate to the level of the course? For example was it too hard, too easy. Did it use plain English?

• How did you progress through the material? Could you fast track if you needed to? Did you have to do everything – even content you already knew? Were there opportunities to practice? Were the practice activities compulsory or did you have a choice? Was choice important to you?

• How relevant was the learning content to what you were doing at the time? Do you still use it? Has it already become outdated?

With your answers to the above question in mind you need to start to think about what your learner’s need.

For simplicity let’s start with a simple unit of competency. What are the performance criteria for this unit? At this stage it is important to take out as much VET speak as possible (you don't want to confuse your learners). Your learners may want a list of the performance criteria at the commencement of the unit but do they need to know about them throughout the course?

Is there a better way to lead them to the attainment of the performance criteria? I think there is. Decide what exactly it is they need to do or know as a result of this learning.

For example, are we looking at teaching them a skill? What is that skill? The Range Statement and Critical Aspects of Evidence listed in the unit guide can help you to determine this. I sometimes find it helpful to use brainstorming activities, mind mapping techniques or flow charts to help me organise my thoughts. There are some great free e-tools on the web that can help you to do this.

Decide on the content and activities that should be included in the course. I will look at appropriate activities and e-tools that might help in a later post.

Remember to build in a certain level of flexibility. Allow user choice and build in opportunities for your learners to draw on their own experience.

Organise your information into a meaningful form so that you can clearly see the layout, navigation etc. Once again there are some great free web products out there to help you.

Next step is to create your content. Once you have done this you will need to go through a trail phase and evaluation phase. These topics will also be covered in a later post.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New focus - not if you use e-learning but how

I attended an excellent online conference today that looked at benchmarking and survey data of more than 700 Australian RTOs, 800 workplace and a large number of students.

The results showed a steady increase in e-learning for RTOS, business and students.

More than a third of Australian organisations use e-learning as part of the structured training they provide to their employees, and a quarter use e-learning as part of unstructured informal training activity.

What did employers say:

49% of all employers said that they expect their organisation’s use of e-learning in
provision of training to employees to increase in the next two years.

81% of employers said that they would encourage their employees to use e-learning if
it was available.

61% of employers said that they would influence their training provider to deliver more flexible training to their employees.

Visit to read more

What did students say:

90% of VET students would like at least ‘a little’ e-learning in their course.
59% of students thought the e-learning in their course and the computer skills they acquired had increased their confidence, and would help them get a better job, a promotion or more responsibility in their job.
47% of students said e-learning was a factor in their choice of course and 42% said it was a factor in their choice of training provider.

What did VET teachers and trainers say:

87% of teachers and trainers said they used ICT, with a significant increase in the use of newer technologies.
Nearly 60% of teachers and trainers said that e-learning has made learning more interesting and engaging for their students, and more than half said that e-learning has improved their teaching.
VET teachers and trainers most commonly used multimedia interactive e-learning resources, either within the classroom (73%) or remotely (58%).

What did RTOs say:

56% of RTOs surveyed delivered some units involving e-learning.
75% of RTOs provide their clients with access to at least some e-business services.
The uptake of e-learning by smaller private and industry-based RTOs is slower than the larger RTOs, with 55% of very small RTOs currently not using e-learning.
45% of RTOs said e-learning was included in their overall organisational or team business strategy.

Visit to read more

The survey found that 39% of enrolments involve e-learning nationally, and 38% in NSW VET.

Two thirds of employers survey said that they think e-learning is a flexible and efficient training method and that all people in the workforce need good computer skills and this is a good way to increase skill and learn at the same time.

Teachers are using e-learning to:

* Get students involved in targeted Internet research
* Online activities
* Communication
* Electronic submission of work
* Collaborative learning with other students

The results certainly make you think!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Have you heard the term Dotmocracy?

Dotmocracy is a good tool for group decision making. it can be used in the classroom or in a meeting. You may also have heard it referred to as Dot Voting or Sticky Voting.

A simple description of the technique is to get your participants to write down their ideas or predictions onto individual sheets and then place them around the wall. Ask the group to then go around the room and vote for the ideas or predictions using dot stickers. This will give a visual of the number of votes for each idea.

This is a really simple but effective technique. It gets the participants involved and of course out of there seats. They feel part of the session and will often be more willing to contribute than they would if they had to speak up in front of the group. Have you used this technique or something like it? If so, why not share your experiences.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jigsaw Learning

I will start my first session with strategies that will work in both the classroom and meeting room.

The technique I will draw on is known as "Jigsaw Learning". This is such a useful and easy technique to use. It is a good way of ensuring all of your participants engage and contribute to your activity.

Start by dividing your class into small groups. Assign each group a topic. Divide the topic into sub-topics and assign the research of this sub-topic to a participant in the group.

Set a timeframe for the research to be done and the date and time that the group will come back together.

When the group returns each will then present their findings to the group.

You can use this activity to provide an opportunity for the class to prepare individual reports based on the information presented by the other students.

If you have used this activity in your classroom please post a comment to explain how you used the technique, what your experiences were and if you would use it again.

Am I really an e-learning champion?

Interesting question, is anyone really an e-learning champion? I won't attempt to answer that but I will say I feel confident writing this blog and covering some key aspects of learning, pedagogy and e-learning. I base my knowledge on my own personal research and experience. I have been an educator for more than 20 years. I hold a degree in VET, Diploma in TAA, a variety of post graduate qualifications and diplomas. So does that make me an expert? Probably not! What it does give me is a pool of personal knowledge to start this discussion and facilitate your ideas into some meaningful form.

Over the years I have tried a wide variety of strategies and techniques in the classroom and in the online environment. My personal belief is that we should explore the technologies and strategies available to us, use what works and discard the things that don't.

I invest a lot of my time exploring new ways to deliver teaching but I never keep my knowledge or success to myself. My aim is to share my knowledge, admit my mistakes, highlight what I have learnt and provide opportunities for myself and others to learn from each other.

That doesn't make me an e-learning champion but it might make me a champion for the cause!

Why this blog?

I work in the VET sector and teach the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and mentor staff in attaining the Diploma in Training and Assessment. I love the world of teaching.

This blog will be devoted to innovative teaching practices to help teachers build skills in traditional teaching and blended learning classrooms.

Technology is a key strategy I use in my classroom but so are games and interactive activities. If you decide to follow this blog you will learn about the techniques and strategies I like and maybe even the ones I don't like. If you want you can also share to make this resource so much richer.

No point, being a lone ranger!