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) 


20. January 2014 · Comments Off on Credibility and fact checking · Categories: Research

""Credibility is the currency of social media and online relationships, yet so many people impoverish themselves by passing on poorly researched information, false quotes, dodgy statistics and/or poor arguments.

For advocates, if you are out to build trust ensure you earn it by researching information before you share it with your network. There are a lot of authentic sounding stories out there that have circulated for years.

 Here are a few tools to get you started:

Your logical fallacy is

This used to be part of everyone’s education. Now the only people that learn about the fallacies are communications majors, lawyers and politicians. This site has downloadable posters listing all the sneaky strategies to try to “win” an argument or sway opinion that you can pretty much use as a bingo card when political speeches and debates are on – or during any Fox news editorial program.

Snopes (International)

Professional researchers and writers Barbara and David Mikkelson started Snopes in 1995 because of their interest in urban myths. They back up their assertions of true/false/partly true with verifiable references and citations.

 About.com – Urban Legends (Interantional)

David Emery is a freelance writer who has been researching urban legends since 1997.

 Fact Check.Org (US, Political)

Part of the US Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, Fact Check describes itself as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.”

Also see http://flackcheck.org – a web site that points out inaccuracies in the media.

 ABC FactCheck (Australian, Political)

ABC Fact Check “determines the accuracy of claims by politicians, public figures, advocacy groups and institutions engaged in the public debate. We aim to be available to all audiences by operating across multiple platforms, including television, radio and online.

 All verdicts fall into three colour-based categories: In The Red, In The Green or In Between – red being a negative ruling, and green being a positive.”

 MediaWatch (Australian, Media)

From the web site, access 20 January 2014: “Media Watch turns the spotlight onto those who literally ‘make the news’: the reporters, editors, sub-editors, producers, camera operators, sound recordists and photographers who claim to deliver the world to our doorsteps, radios, computers and living rooms. We also keep an eye on those who try to manipulate the media: the PR consultants, spin-doctors, lobbyists and “news makers” who set the agenda.

 Media Watch airs on ABC1 on Monday nights at 9.20pm and Wednesday mornings at 12.25am.”

 Google (Search engine)

If you can’t find answers on any of the above sites – copy a distinctive sentence or phrase from the post/article/email and paste it into a Google search. See what sites it pops up on. If it would be a major news story, search for it on Google news. Try major news outlets in the country of origin of the story. If you still can’t find anything – don’t re-publish it.

For scientific or scholarly articles and fact checking, try Google Scholar http://scholar.google.com

 Image: Head in hands, Alex E Proimos CC (b)

21. August 2012 · Comments Off on Give your brain a break! · Categories: e-learning design, Issues, My personal learning journey, Research

Overflow by Paul Quinn Photography

This weekend an online learner wrote to me saying she was feeling a bit overwhelmed with a unit of study.  She’d set aside a day to complete one unit and came away feeling stressed. I know she isn’t alone in trying to do this – catch up with a week’s work in one day. I know I have tried this in the past. I’d like to share what I wrote to her (which she said helped) and then some research that I found today that backed up my suggestions:

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with me.  Learning online can take some time to adjust to, and I hope you find the following to be useful to you: 

First of all, feeling overwhelmed is a universal experience for online learners. Part of it stems from the fact that in traditional learning settings, work is gradually assigned and spaced out whereas online, all the work is exposed . Our brains are goal-oriented, so when they see a whole pile of work, they want to tackle it all in one session and we end up feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.

When I started learning online I experienced this too, but talked to friends who shared the following advice: to keep from feeling overwhelmed (which I certainly did at times during the first online course I took), develop a strategy of skimming through the unit for the week and look at the readings and assignments, then break up the work into smaller chunks and create mini-assignments spaced throughout the week. As well, doing this at the start of the week helped me to identify any questions I needed to ask the course facilitator or to ensure I had time to learn any new tools I needed to use. 

For instance – for me, Mondays were scoping day, Tuesdays and Thursdays major reading days, Wednesdays were my night to cook, Fridays were social nights, Saturdays I did minor assignments and outlined the major assignment between housework chores and Sundays I’d tackle the major assignment for the week in the morning or afternoon and the other half of the day was free. That way I’d spread 9 hours or so hours of work over multiple days and give my brain a chance to absorb and reflect between sessions. (I’d like to add here that this also worked for courses taking 20 hours per week. I just had less free days…) 

Some weeks were easier than others due to my schedule and the nature of the work, but the “scoping” exercise at the start of each new week helped me feel more in control than when I would try to do an entire unit in a day.

The research I found this morning is Australian I’m happy to report.  Cognitive neuroscientist Dr Joel Pearson (UNSW) has published research findings saying that learners who give their brains a break during the course of learning allow for “wakeful consolidation”. While there are many studies that look at learning consolidation while sleeping, this study found that once you’ve done a certain amount of study, your brain goes into consolidation mode – so trying to push it to do more is not helpful. One hour seemed to be enough.

The study is available for download from the Royal Society of Biological Sciences web site in PDF form or you can download it here: When more equals less -overtraining

Photo “Overflow by Paul Quinn Photography CC (by)

28. October 2008 · Comments Off on Content filtering with NO Opt Out and government deciding what’s in · Categories: Broadband, E-business, government filtering, Internet filtering, Internet safety, Issues, My personal learning journey, Research, Social networking, Technologies · Tags: , , , ,
Don't filter me

Don't filter me

“I’m not exaggerating when I say that this model involves more technical interference in the internet infrastructure than what is attempted in Iran, one of the most repressive and regressive censorship regimes in the world.” Colin Jacobs, chair of the online users’ lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, as quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, 24 October 2008.

Nope, this isn’t a post about China or a dictatorship (at least, not an official one) that’s the subject of this blog post.  It’s the Australian government’s short on detail long on self-righteous rhetoric approach to “protecting our children”.

I don’t know why suddenly everyone is shocked.  Internet filtering at the ISP level has reared its ugly head on both sides of the Australian Parliament.  The latest effort was in March 2006 when then-Labour-leader Kim Beazley pounded his fist in righteous indignation “for the sake of the children”. Of course that led to the then Howard-government’s disastrous filter for every home mail-out that then year 10 student Tom Wood cracked in less time than it takes to watch an episode of that soft-core porn TV fav “Big Brother”.

In January, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy resurrected the cause and attempted to stifle debate on the issues, as I blogged in the post “Disagree and you are an anti-Australian pervert.”

Things seemed to go quiet until April with the government introducing amendments to the Telecommunications act that would reportedly “force all telecommunications providers to facilitate lawful data interception across fixed and mobile telephone systems, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Instant Messaging (IM) and chat room discussions”

Now it’s on again — time to educate yourself and choose a side.

This Thursday 30 October, the Hon. Stephen Conroy will be intereviewed on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) radio national’s Media Report program – 8:30am AEDT, repeated 8pm.  His interview will immediately be followed by one with respected futurist, educator and programmer Mark Pesce. Hopefully the audio and transcript will be up on the Media Report site not long after.

If you’d like to do some homework in advance, WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam’s web site provides a transcript of a conversation he had with Mr. Conroy in an estimates hearing — http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/transcript/cybersafety-net-filtering

Read up, listen in and take a stance.  Mr. Conroy says it’s early days yet – so we all have time to feed into this debate.

Finally, despite the fact I am not a Greens supporter, I have to say how blown away I was by Senator Ludlam’s blog and the Green’s site.  It’s the antithesis of Senator Conroy’s deadly boring web 1.0 pixel ghetto and proves who is in touch with how the internet is used and who gets “briefings”.

24. May 2008 · Comments Off on US net neutrality and have your say on future of broadband in Australia · Categories: Broadband, Issues, My personal learning journey, Research, Technologies

This is my longest blog post ever, but the way I see it – the future of the internet is at stake here, so I wanted to gather my thoughts and resources in one spot and ensure I understood what was going on.

First up, it’s all fang’s fault for pointing me towards this “open source documentary” on net neutrality  that links to the Save the Internet site: http://www.savetheinternet.com/

Net neutrality might seem like a US issue, but bear with me here.

Understanding Net Neutrality

Although the documentary and the web site did a reasonable job of explaining the issues, I felt I didn’t get the level of background detail I wanted. I also wanted to educate myself as to what is going on in Australia. So I started digging.

I started off by wanting to get to the background on Net Neutrality that was — well, neutral.  I found a May 2006 report by the (US) Congressional Research Service .

Here’s a summary as I understand it (please jump in and correct me if I need it):

A 2005 decision by the (US) Supreme Court upheld an earlier FCC ruling on the classification of cable and DSL broadband services as information services distinct from telecommunications services.

This ruling meant that neither telephone companies nor cable companies providing broadband services have to adhere to the more rigorous regulations for telecommunications services that impose anti-discrimination, interconnection and access requirements.

Although the FCC adopted a policy statement saying to “encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of [the] public Internet” this policy statement has no legal force and there was no call at the time to consider introducing it into law.

Because they are freed from those regulations, service providers feel they should be able to introduce a tiered delivery and payment system for network traffic. Basically – the more you pay, the faster your service gets to the end consumers.

There are two schools of thought — 1) current anti-trust and competition laws should protect from abuse and 2) unless Internet Neutrality is written into law, these organisations can and probably will get their way eventually and the Read Write web will be dead – because the larger, traditional media will get the fast lanes on the information highway and the citizen journo and grassroots video people will be on the dirt roads.

Why should Australians care?

Precedent and mind set.

The people who own the pipes in the US reportedly claim they should get a return on their investment, with the CEO of one company saying that competitors shouldn’t be able to “use (my) pipes for free” http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_45/b3958092.htm

What’s going on with the pipe ownership in Australia?

In a March 2008 speech at the 2008 Economic and Social Outlook Conference hosted by the Melbourne Institute and the Australian, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Graeme Samuel explains that the current copper infrastructure is unbundled, so where this makes economic sense, competitors can attach their own equipment to the exchange to provide different service offerings than those offered by Telstra. Samuel says this competition is “one of the principal forces driving incumbent operators towards continued evolution of networks…”

In March 2008, Telstra lost a case mounted against the Commonwealth, the ACCC and 11 other ISPs fighting the access to its unbundled copper, reportedly saying that this practice “had seen its shareholders’ property taken over without fair compensation.”

Now we get to the future of broadband in Australia: the National Broadband Network (NBN) plan.

This so-called next generation broadband involves a huge roll out of fibre-based networks across Australia.

Telstra plans to tender for this work. A group of Telstra’s competitors, calling themselves the G9 and led by Optus plans to mount their own proposal .

On their website, the G9 consortium (now a new entity calling itself Terria (who’d better get on the stick and register their domain name) claims that due to the nature of the Fibre to the Node structure of the fibre networks, rolling out parallel networks would not make business sense for those who are not awarded the contract.

They propose “structural separation”, which they define as “the entity which owns the network must be different from the entities which sell services delivered over the network in the retail market”.

Apparently, the state and territory Ministers on the Online and Communications Council agree with the G9, as the 15th Communique from the council states “The state and territory Ministers expressed their strong preference for a solution to be operated by a genuine wholesale provider that is separate from any retail service provider.” http://www.occ.gov.au/releases/fifteenth_online_and_communications_council_communique

When this was raised back in October 2007, Telstra reportedly warned that any move to force structural separation on them would “spark class actions from shareholders”, warning “This would mean the government of the day would not be laying fibre, but would instead be bogged down in court.”

This was foreshadowed months earlier. In an August 2007 speech by Phil Burgess, Telstra Group Managing Director, Public Policy & Communications, members of the Rotary Club of Melbourne were reminded “…we estimate that about $800m a year is taken from Telstra shareholders and given to subsidise other competitors in this marketplace because of the low cost pricing. Another problem we have is with the idea that Telstra’s community property. That everybody should kind of have a say in what Telstra does, forgetting that the Government sold Telstra to 1.6 million mums and dads in this country for $65 billion.” (Note, should I sue because obviously childless people such as myself were obviously not given the chance to buy shares?)

It would be premature of the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy to say whether he agrees or not, but he says the RFP released on 11 April 2008 calls for an NBN that will:

  • deliver minimum download speeds of 12 megabits per second to 98 per cent of Australian homes and businesses;
  • have the network rolled out and made operational progressively over five years using fibre-to-the-node or fibre-to-the-premises technology;
  • support high quality voice, data and video services including symmetric applications such as high-definition video-conferencing;
  • earn the Commonwealth a return on its investment;
  • facilitate competition in the telecommunications sector through open access arrangements that allow all service providers access to the network on equivalent terms; and
  • enable uniform and affordable retail prices to consumers, no matter where they live.

However, don’t count those lightning quick movie downloads before they hatch (in 2014 give or take a few years if Telstra wins and has to fight structural separation)…

Freelance journalist Stilgherrian comments http://stilgherrian.com/politics/rudd-government-delivers-yesterdays-broadband/ that the 12Mb per second network we’ll eventually be getting will be long out of date before the first fibre is rolled out – especially considering that a company in the UK is currently rolling out (minimum or so it’s claimed)100 Mb per second fibre connections. Of course, it took them 6 years to negotiate with the water companies for access to the sewers and it’s not a national program by any stretch, but at least their **** connection will only be that in literal terms.

Industry and private interest groups are invited to provide submissions on regulatory issues associated with the National Broadband Network — so if you want to have your say, get your submission in by 3.00pm AEST 25 June 2008. All submissions are to be provided to regulatory@dbcde.gov.au

Enquiries about the call for submissions on regulatory issues should be directed to regulatory@dbcde.gov.au.