30. August 2016 · Comments Off on Moodle filters – auto linking course activities · Categories: My personal learning journey
Here’s a quick brain dump post on a feature of Moodle that I had overlooked.

When the Auto-link activities filter is activated, you don’t have to use absolute links in a book or page on the Moodle course to link to an activity. You just need to type in the activity name verbatim and it will create a relative link.  Beautiful for when you restore a course and don’t want to make substantial changes.
07. June 2016 · Comments Off on Here’s why I’m advocating no choice in eportfolio platforms · Categories: educationaldesign, My personal learning journey

maharaAt the university at which I work, some instructors feel it is too restrictive to insist students use the ePorfolio platform provided. Some instructors allow students to use whatever they want, others are unsure. Is it okay to allow freedom of choice in the type of ePortfolio tool students use? Hmmmm… I pondered this for a while. But when I heard that students and some instructors felt that ePorfolio assignments could and should be submitted via presentation tools and website creation platforms – I decided to come down on the side of no. My argument is below and I welcome yours in the comments section.

ePortfolios exist to provide

  • persistent, online spaces to store and curate artefacts created or saved by an individual so they can track their learning over time and access and re-use resources they create and/or have saved
  • tools with which an individual can contextualise and aggregate existing artefacts and create new content
  • ways for the artefacts to be displayed and re-displayed to multiple audiences

Mahara is the tool that the the university for which I work has chosen because it works with their online learning platform, it is secure for file storage – and it is authenticatable in terms of assessment.

This last point – being authenticatable – is vital in meeting our obligations to ensure our assessments are robust. Unlike website platforms like Weebly, WordPress and/or Google sites; only a student account can be used to access a university-linked Mahara ePortfolio. When a Mahara collection is submitted for assessment, that collection is locked for editing – whereas a link to an external product could link to a website that was empty when the link was submitted and edited after the submission date.

Using Prezi or other types of presentation software to submit an ePortfolio assignment is missing the whole point of ePortfolios in an educational context. In addition to the authentication issues mentioned previously, a presentation tool is simply a way of presenting information and it is not output alone that is behind the use of ePortfolios in education. EPortfolios provide one space for reflecting on learning, of aggregating and curating useful resources and creating new content that students can return to over time. This is a vital part of the incidental learning ePortfolios provide. A consistent “home base” in Mahara to store, aggregate and display their work doesn’t limit students’ ability to use other tools for creation.

In addition to the authentication and pedagogical reasons behind using the Mahara ePortfolio, there are practical issues. Firstly, the university IT support service supports Mahara – so support is readily available. Secondly, markers will not have to familiarise themselves with the ins and outs of multiple platforms nor have to download and install specialised plugins to view assessments. Thirdly, students who use Mahara will develop proficiency in it over time – so as their assessments scaffold up in difficulty, the difficulty of using Mahara will decrease. And finally, the consistency use of Mahara across courses means students will be storing assignments, reflections and resources from their program and be able to access them after they graduate – starting them off in their professional lives with a single content-rich pool of resources from which to draw.



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.
21. April 2016 · Comments Off on Critical thinking, logical fallacies and spurious correlations · Categories: Literacies
Some great resources for teaching and learning about critical thinking…

Spurious correlations: What do pool drownings and Nicholas Cage movies have in common? 


Logical fallacies-  get the poster: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/poster

School of thought website: https://www.schoolofthought.org/

Free Mindmapping tools 

There are dozens of free mindmapping tools out there, here are three to start with.


Free web-based mind mapping tool that can be added to Google Drive. For best results, log into Google Drive, click on New and then More and select Mindmup. It will ask to be installed to your Google Drive. Can download work as PNG image, PDF, Freemind file format and more.



Device-based software program that requires download and installation.



A web-based presentation tool that can be used to create a mindmap. Students can send links to their work or can download the end product and present it on a computer.  Students and educators can have free accounts where they can control privacy/access to their work.


Image editing software

For Mobile Operating Systems, check your App store for the highest rated Apps.

GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program)

A downloadable software program for Windows and Mac OS that allows multi-layered image editing and the creation of animated GIFs.


MS Paint

Free image editing software that comes with MS Windows. Click the Start menu and type in the word Paint.

MS PowerPoint

Start with a blank slide, add images, graphics and text, then export the slide as an image. PowerPoint includes cropping tools and an easy drag and drop interface. You can change the slide size and orientation to anything you like – so could use it to layout posters or to create layered images.

All UniSA students have access to PowerPoint at no charge.

Multimedia creation/editing software

For Mobile Operating Systems, check your App store for the highest rated, free Apps in video and audio recording and editing.

MS Movie Maker – Windows OS

Microsoft Movie Maker is a free download from Microsoft and should be installed on all UniSA computer pools that run MS Windows. It does basic edits, allows for text overlay, music and voice-overs. It can create a video from still images imported into it as well as edit video. Tutorials are available here: https://vimeo.com/album/3369125

YouTube Creator Studio

Accessible by logging into YouTube.

For a video created from still images, click on Upload and select Create under PhotoSlide Show. YouTube can access photos and videos from Google image accounts or you can upload new photos.

For a video, click on Edit under Video Editor and select an existing YouTube video or upload a new one.  YouTube Creator studio features allow users to add YouTube music and create text overlays. At this writing (January 2016) voice overs/narrations are not supported.

MS PowerPoint

Yes, you read that correctly. Newer versions of PowerPoint allow you to save presentations as one of two video formats – MP4 or WMV.  (When in doubt, choose MP4). You can add voice over to slides and, if you embed video from your computer and set the video to play automatically, you can embed video and trim it. YouTube links won’t work.  See this video for a quick tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wcfm1wdPQbE

All UniSA students have access to PowerPoint at no charge.

Audacity audio editing software

This free, open source software download for desktops and laptops allows for multi-track audio production and post production. It works on Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems.