18. May 2016 · Comments Off on Is VR leapfrogging over virtual worlds? · Categories: My personal learning journey
Years ago in Second Life, I experienced a sim that allowed you to add a small program to your avatar (HUD – heads up display) in order to experience the sites and sounds of a person with schizophrenia. It was chilling, heartbreaking and gave me a window into a world I knew little about.


Last night I caught the tail end of a BBC report on Radio National about the use of Virtual Reality headsets in the humanities and mental health.

There are two sides to it:

1) Helping people with mental disorders to safely experience situations they find threatening (examples included an autistic person practising for a job interview and a paranoid person taking public transport) http://europe.newsweek.com/virtual-reality-used-treat-schizophrenia-psychosis-bipolar-330365  andhttp://www.bbc.com/news/health-36053058 and 

2) Helping psychologists understand what it is like to be schizophrenic by simulating what a schizophrenic person not on medication might experience  

I found this nothing short of spine-chilling.  What this will do for people with disorders and people who need empathy towards those with mental health issues could be ground-breaking.  And the little I’ve learned recently about body-based learning seems to tweak that a virtual reality experience is going to be more impactful that guiding an avatar through 3D space.
28. July 2015 · Comments Off on Moodle groups, groupings, forums · Categories: My personal learning journey
This is a brain dump post. Groupings and news forums – to create a new news forum, duplicate an existing one. If you apply a grouping, only people in the grouping will get the messages. Magic! Groupings and Q&A and single discussion forums – do not mix.
27. April 2015 · Comments Off on Movie Maker – good and free · Categories: My personal learning journey
It’s been a few years since I last touched Movie Maker. At the time, I felt it was clunky and I was still missing PhotoStory 3 as a great, easy to use product for educators.

I revisited Movie Maker a few months ago in an attempt to find a readily available, cost-effective solution for staff and students at the university for which I work to edit videos they can create in our new automated green screen rooms.

I found Movie Maker easy to use and liked its feature set. It’s not multi-layered video editing, but it is an easy cut editor and using transition animations at the start of new sections allows for softening of your cut edits. You can either bring outside video in or record video straight from your webcam. You can also add narration straight into Movie Maker and then bring in a music bed underneath.
And for those of us who remember and miss PhotoStory 3 – all those features are here too. Import still photos, set duration, choose transitions and movements, add music — and now narration too!
There are also open captioning and titling capabilities.

This is not professional software. But, it’s not trying to be. 

Here is a look at some tutorials I’ve created for staff and students on how to use Movie Maker – this should give you a sense of the user experience. Or, download it from Windows Live Essentials and have a play – it should take you about 30 minutes to get the hang of it.

09. February 2015 · Comments Off on What I find puzzling, interesting, challenging about my work · Categories: My personal learning journey

Imaze‘m starting my Master’s degree study again and the first step of my first assignment is to think about my professional life and work identify a few areas or topics I find particularly interesting, puzzling or challenging or about which I feel passionate.

So here goes – some public free-writing:

1) I’m interested in how instructors could possibly dare to innovate when they are responsible for courses with hundreds of students.  What sorts of engaging activities can be planned for a formal, graded, non-MOOC course with hundreds of students? Is the secret to look at successful MOOC design and work with that? I’ve suspected this might be the case, it would be interesting to explore further. Interactive learning objects could provide some feedback, but in the end it’s about people. Can you get everyone engaging to the point where you feel confident they’re getting a quality learning experience in higher education when your course has hundreds of people? Even with tutorial groups, how do you manage that?
2) How do you help take people from being spoon-fed and used to top-down learning and help them to develop creative thinking skills? What people term “common sense” is often just pattern-making and information literacy. That’s what people need to be life-long learners, to be able to move up Bloom’s and apply information to new situations in creative ways. Do you throw them in the water and then teach them to swim? Do you throw them in the water and then arrive with a life raft? Do you teach them to swim first? Or do you point them to the water, suggest a few options such as snorkel gear, learning to swim or building a boat and let them figure out the best method? I’m learning towards this last.

3) How the hell can I break free from having to use an LMS with learners in formal learning situations so that I can track their access and use to ensure their work is “authenticated” properly? Dammit I think LMSs are like formal gardens with perfectly trimmed hedges, pre-set paths, formal fountains and every trace of wildness and passion stripped away. The tamed wolf. The castrated, toothless lion. It’s not where most of us live — and none of us should want to live there.  PBL intrigues me – how do you make it work with large, online learner co-horts? Can you put it to work to help people learn foundation knowledge?
4) What can higher education learn from the VET sector when it comes to crafting assessments that determine whether or not someone is getting what they need from their learning to help them achieve their professional goals? I came away from higher education largely thinking that it was all about figuring out what the instructor wanted and giving it to him or her so that I could get my piece of paper. The VET sector is about competency. It doesn’t ask that you understand something deeply or award on a scale – it asks if you can DO something to a certain standard.
5) What can technology do to support older learners (45+) who need to re-tool for the second careers they’re going to need? I know from previous research that older learners can excel their younger counterparts when their perception of their own self-efficacy is positive. So can or should we look at both the hardware and software available and re-tool or re-make devices that will be easy to use for slower, less sure fingers or the weaker eyes or the people used to getting 20-page manuals with their toasters?
6) What would an effective, engaging, accredited online course with no lecture or content summaries or reading lists look like? Educators focus so much on content. Some courses have wikis and group projects. Some have students teaching students. How much “foundation” knowledge does a learner need and does it vary from topic to topic? I wouldn’t want a surgeon who Googled his way through med school with no supervision, but neither would I want one who had to constantly be told what to do and when and who freaked out in new situations requiring quick decisions.
7) What are useful, authenticate-able assessments that don’t involve essays but do demonstrate knowledge and critical thinking in a relevant context and how soon in a learning program do you bring them in? Is it possible to do in a first year or foundation skills course? Would it have to be a course that was above a certain level of Blooms? 1 plus 1 can be taught with apples (or cookies). 

11. December 2014 · Comments Off on On the “authenticity” of reflecting for a mark · Categories: Blogging, educationaldesign, My personal learning journey, Research

I’ve been talking quite a lot with educators about embedding reflective practice and the use of ePortfolios throughout courses and programs. So in reviewing the papers and sessions that caught my eye at ASCILITE2014 in Dunedin, I wanted to share this one.

This cross-university team responded to student feedback that reflections that are marked are not “real” or “authentic” as the student is tailoring it for the teacher’s eyeballs. In fact, having it marked by different instructors across multiple courses in their programmes left many feeling confused about the purpose of reflection itself!

In a nutshell, the solutions the research team propose are:

1)      Use practice-based tasks as points of reflection

2)      Provide clear guides and models and give frameworks for them to work within and build on

3)      Allow students to privately reflect then “self-review” based on a provided framework – this way they can select excerpts of their private reflections and still keep the private stuff “real”. This self-review can be/count towards the assessment.

4)      Provide multiple contexts and opportunities. Ask them to reflect on readings/videos and the experiences they have in prac and their project work and what they’re learning in informal environments.

The concise paper is attached for your reference. For those of you who attended, it’s paper number 80 by Pauline Roberts, Helen Farley and Sue Gregory.

Concise paper -ePortfolios and Authentic Assessment PDF (193 KB)