If you’re interested in micro-credentialing, capturing tacit/explicit knowledge and interests of potential team members,  and the future of tertiary education and lifelong learning – read on:

Whilst listening to a podcast called “Disrupt Yourself”, I heard of a micro-credentialing platform called “Degreed” (David Blake #77).

According to the Degreed site, the system works by individuals submitting statements, evidence and endorsement of their skills. The system awards a Skill Level Certification based on the evidence you submit. An RPL process with a badge/micro credential at the end of it.

Big name companies – NASA, CISCO, KIA, Mastercard, Bank of America, JPL, DELL EMC, Intel, GitHub –  use Degreed, so I thought it worth bringing to the attention of those of you interested in micro credentialling as well as all of us considering the future of tertiary education and how to make it relevant to industry and useful for students.

Degreed has the mission of “jailbreaking the degree”. Not only can you show what you know – but you can add what you’re doing to learn to show you’re advancing and you can follow others to see what they’re learning and how they’re building their skills and knowledge. The platform is also trying to index the world’s learning resources and then can use algorithms to make suggestions to you to help you achieve your goals.

It makes sense to me for those people who are not prepared to/can’t afford to/don’t want to get additional formal qualifications in their professional lives but do want recognition for what they know and can do. Another problem this sort of platform solves (in my humble opinion) is the bullshitting that goes on when people apply for jobs. A third is the ability to see what people you admire are doing to further their skills and abilities so you can follow in their footsteps.

Skills recognition, credentialling, suggested learning pathways, peer to peer connections and advice — could this be the disrupter that the tertiary education sector has been fearing?


Love it, hate it, want to ignore it – PowerPoint is part of many people’s working and academic lives. But it’s not all bullet points, crappy clip art and watermarked images of authors who forget good digital citizenship. PowerPoint can also be used as a simple image creator and editor.

Here is a video I created to help some students on a learning task — hoping it will be useful for you:

As well, here is a video on how to work with and export Smart Art in PowerPoint:

Conference season is in full swing. As we go out and learn, share and contribute to our shared knowledge of our chosen fields of endeavour – it is important to think of and include indigenous people of the lands upon which we meet.

Why? Well, whether you believe the lands upon which you meet are stolen, occupied or rightfully taken — acknowledging an indigenous history at minimum shows respect and understanding that there is a past with which we need to work in order to move towards the future. Problems don’t disappear because we ignore them – when we ignore problems, they fester. It is not divisive to apologise or acknowledge past hurts, it is a healing gesture that takes courage and honesty.

So, if you are presenting in a country where the lands were taken from those who once were caretakers, consider researching who those people were and acknowledging them.

This video from the University of South Australia presents a good format for doing so:

09. October 2017 · Comments Off on Students as Partners in Higher Education · Categories: My personal learning journey

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking around students having a say in the way they learn and the concept of students as consumers or customers. I read a scathing article about student experience surveys (SESs) on the Campus Review website  back in March and have started being far more aware of their impact.

For instance, I’ve suggested that perhaps we don’t link every damned thing in an online course – that we teach students the valuable incidental skills of working within an information architecture, of learning to browse and identify credible resources, etc. and have been told that students complain about it. When I said “Really? But what about teaching information literacy as a skill?” the replies I got basically boiled down to this: if a student complains on a student experience survey, the instructor can be held back from promotion or get their wrists slapped.

So when a round-table discussion day on Students as Partners came up, I went along to find out if this were a work-around to the extremes that typically respond to the dreaded Student Experience Surveys.

I’ll admit I went into this new area of learning for me with a certain amount of skepticism.

When it comes to students as partners in their own learning, all I have is SESs and some ad hoc conversations. Based on the SESs I’ve seen, most students either love a course or they hate it. Some have the typical remarks – lectures too long/not long enough, learning tasks too hard/too easy, lecturer interesting/boring, assessments too hard. Meh. To my mind the courses that would get the biggest ticks would be the “fun” ones and the ones that would get caned would be the “hard” ones. Not exactly a great tool. Plus, they’re a lagging indicator. Not exactly proactive. Once a student cohort finishes a course, there’s not much that can be done to improve the experience for them, let alone understand the nuances of the opinions they share. 

Another big point of cynicism for me is that we seem to be in an age where opinions don’t have to be based on experience or expertise or research or facts. 

The first presentations were from students who had been part of projects. The first had researched a project and shared their findings. They voiced some hard truths about how students often perceive our higher education institutions’ view of students: meal tickets.

The second presentation was from a student who, after taking a course on cultural competence and seeing it fail, had identified what she felt were the failures and how they could be solved. The institution let her partner with an expert and they produced a winning course.

It was great to hear from these students. I just wished the next to last presentation – from Professor Philippa Levy of Uni of Adelaide – had been the first. To position SaP from the start as coming from Inquiry Based Learning would have beneficial to a n00b like me.

We then discussed throughout the day what the structure of SaP looks like. It needs to involve leadership, academics, professional staff and students.

Leadership operates on KPIs – so SaP projects need to have clearly defined goals that are measurable. Leadership also needs to be willing to support the embedding of practice – writing it into strategy without slowing it down with bureaucracy. There needs to be change management strategies involved because engaging students as partners is a new paradigm for academics.

Academics need to be open to suggestions about their pedagogical decisions and learning designers need to be open to suggestions about how courses are designed. Students must be treated as equals at minimum. There needs to be a collaborative approach, with clearly defined roles and ensuring that there is agreement and understanding.

How do you decide on the projects? Well, typically that comes from the people holding the power – leadership and academics. However, at one discussion table I was at, it was raised that with multiple modes of communication perhaps ideas could and should bubble up from the students as well as being identified based on learning analytics and trends.

It was widely acknowledged today that the sorts of students that are going to participate in these sorts of partnerships, even when they are paid, are those students who have the time, passion to learn and make a change and are reasonably comfortable with learning to begin with. You aren’t going to engage the unengaged in designing engaging learning or solving problems.

A side note on engagement: one SaP was on engaging students as part of a community, and it was interesting to find out that students feel more a part of a learning community via their relationships formed in classes and programs with academics than with each other or through social clubs. It was also raised that professional staff need to shut up and listen more to student needs.

The benefits of SaP to students, academics and institutions were interesting to hear about and I’d like to find out more.. Some of the students said they were thrilled to find that the faculty cared so much about students learning. When they linked projects back to Graduate Outcomes and KPIS, Leadership were far more enthusiastic. Learning Designers had some of their cherished beliefs challenged and defeated – but we could pick up some things about designing group work.

The notion that there can be an attitude between Leadership, Academic, Professional staff and Students that “we’re all in this together, how can we make it better” is wonderful. Apparently the UK’s version of TECSA asks Unis to prove they are implementing some level of SaP. So it’s highly thought of and there is quite a body of work building up about it.

I really liked Philippa positioning SaP’s importance in an era where students are being asked to pay more for their education.  The emphasis she makes on giving students value for money. She posed the question “Will being a fully participating member of the academic community equate to getting value for money?”

To me, this goes back to the ensuring students get the incidental learning skills they need to be lifelong learners: information literacies, digital literacies, metacognitive approaches to learning. I believe that the more you think about how and why people learn the more you’ll think about how YOU learn and thus will develop strategies to keep on learning. 

There is a Students as Partners Australian Network that anyone can join to receive updates via email on projects, research and events.

I need to do more research into SaPs . Because even after today, I am not convinced about the value of one student’s viewpoint on pedagogy and learning design when academics and professional learning designers base their work on research that encompasses the viewpoints of many people over time. 

So unless a student has talked to a significant population of fellow students and is representing their views, I still don’t quite get SaP without quantitative research. But I’m willing to learn. Anyone care to partner with me to help me do so?

15. June 2017 · Comments Off on Introduction to ePortfolios and Mahara · Categories: My personal learning journey

ePorfolios have been around for several years now, but it’s not safe to assume educators and students who have been asked to use them in past understand what they can do for them.

I created a video based on workshops I conducted with UniSA students and have been told by colleagues that it is useful – so I’ll share it here.  The first 02:32 of the video discusses ePortfolios in general.

Mahara – introduction and basics from EASS Media on Vimeo.