Monday, November 30, 2009

Research projects for 2010: Ako Aoteoroa National Project funding & CPIT Foundation funded research projects for 2010

Looks like a busy 2010 will be coming up.

I have had the good fortune to be one of  the projects to be awarded funding for the 2010 round by the Ako Aoteoroa National project fund. The collaborative project involves Nicholas Huntingdon from the Industry Training Federation as research mentor (overall reviewer of data analysis), seven industry training organisations (ITOs), Dr. Robyn Chandler from CPIT as research mentor (data analysis & report collation) and myself as project leader and researcher.

The ITOs involved cover a range of industries in NZ including primary industries (Agriculture ITO), manufacturing (Boating ITO, Building and construction ITO, Competenz – engineering & Joinery ITO) and service industries (Hairdressing ITO & Hospitality Standards Institute). The topic builds on some of the findings from my PhD and revolves around investigating the ‘experiences of first year apprentices of workplace learning’. The main research questions are to find out what are the main influences on young peoples’ decisions to enter into an apprenticeship, the support factors which support their initial experiences in the workplace and mechanisms and personal agency factors which help young people engage with belonging to a workplace and becoming trades people.

I am really looking forward to getting this project underway as there is so little research in the area of apprenticeships in New Zealand. Having the opportunity to be able to access apprentices employed in a diverse range of industries will help provide depth and no doubt bring forth important learning about the challenges facing young people as they embark into an apprenticeship.

This project complements my other research project for 2010 which is part of a larger research programme ‘studying the learning of trades students using multimodal discourse analysis’. The first project will be on ‘learning a trade @ CPIT: learning welding’ which will work through the logistical issues of gathering data using videos, voice recorders and mobile phones of students learning ‘How to adjust their welding equipment (to suit different mediums)? So besides learning the technicalities of multimodal data collection and analysis, I should pick up some learning on welding as well!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Learning trades skills - using multimodal discourse analysis

Doing some reading in preparation for next year’s research project which I now have some funding from the CPIT foundation to kick start. It is one of a series of projects on studying the learning of trades people using multimodal discourse analysis. The foundation has provided enough money to purchase hardware (2 digital videos, 6 digital voice recorders) plus research hours for one trades tutor (the redoubtable Flip Leijten) and myself.

Not much available but found Transmitting Craft Knowledge: eliciting and passing on the skills of craft masters with the help of interactive media. This project at Sheffield Hallam University draws on expertise in the role of tacit (unspoken) knowledge in design, interactive learning materials, contemporary craft metalwork, video production and human computer interface design, all based in the Cultural, Communication and Computing Research Institute.

"practice-led" in the sense that much of the investigation is pursued through making and evaluating things. The relationship between creative practice and development of new knowledge has been a feature of this and other design research at the university where creative practices may be an important feature of the methods, but the focus is on developing useful knowledge that has implications beyond the problems of designing.

youtube video by Nicola Wood on clog making, baskets, wooden bowls provides a sense of how some of the research was completed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Video annotation tools vs video analysis tools

During the presentation by Dr. Laurent Filliettaz, excerpts of videos and transcripts from the videos were provided as examples of the data gathering and analysis of workplace based interactions between apprentice and trainer. From this, I could see that it would be important to have a way to bring transcripts and the video together in order to save time and multiple screenings. Therefore I had a look in the library for articles or books on video annotation.

An article by Rich & Hannatin (2009) in the Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 21 (2) caught my attention. This article reported on a project ‘ scaffolding video self-analysis discrepancies between preservice teachers’ perceived and actual instructional decision’ used a customised video analysis tool (VAT) to annotate the videos using a ‘commenting’ process to add speech bubbles to the videos.

The previous review of video analysis software shows that many of the tools are used in the sports areas and can be expensive when all we need to do in our project is to annotate the videos.

I then began an investigation into video annotation tools, as opposed to video analysis tools. nVivo provides for the facility to run a video and to have a transcript entry along with a blank column (for comments). I did the usual google search for ‘video annotation tool’ and came up with the following.

Anvil is a free for educational and research purposes and requires a email to the developers to obtain a copy. Seems to work very much like Audacity. Not sure if we will need all the bells and whistles but will email to obtain a copy to do a comparison with nVivo.

A simple video annotation tool might be the way to go if all we need to do is to put simple tags on the video.

Project pad provides a comprehensive tool with more information provided at open cast projects

So will need to follow up with trying things out on nVivo. As future iterations of the multimodal analysis project at CPIT will include collaboration with other polytechnics, I will also explore the use of Anvil and perhaps Transana, which has appeared on several research papers which require video data analysis (does cost small amount).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Workshop & presentation from Laurent Filliettaz at Victoria University, Wellington

Travelled up to Wellington yesterday to meet up with Associate Professor Dr. Laurent Filliettaz, from the University of Geneva (currently on a one year sabbatical at Griffith University).  The workshop & lunch time presentation was hosted by Professor Janet Holmes, from the School of Linguistics at Victoria University.

Both the work of Laurent & Janet's team are pertinent to my 'studying the learning of trades students using multimodal discourse analysis' project.  I will begin stage one of this project with funding from the CPIT foundation early next year. The funding provides sufficient money to obtain hardware & pays for a small amount of research time for me and for one trades tutor (Flip Leijten who teaches welding).

Laurent's work & that of his team, Ingrid de Saint-Georges & Barbara Duc is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship programme. The project began at the end of 2005 and runs until January 2011. The main objectives of the programme is to understand apprentices' perspectives of how they gain knowledge, skills and experience identity transformation during their apprenticeship, the perspectives of trainers and teachers on what skills are required to teach or train apprentices & the potentials & limitations of the Swiss 'dual' traning system.

The overall programme was to study the Swiss dual training system whereby students attend school for 1 to 2 days and work as apprentices in the workplace for 3 to 4 days.  The current system has its challenges including difficulties with placing apprentices and poor completion rates. 

The main data collection method was to collect video evidence of workplace interactions between apprentices and trainers in both vocational school workshops (3) and at workplaces (7).  Three industries, motor mechanics, automation specialists and electric assemblers were involved.  150 hours of video evidence was collected, providing a rich corpus of evidence to study.

The main activities studied were knowledge transformation and transmisson, transitions and identity construction, the aspect of time in action and learning and the continuities and boundaries between schools and workplaces.

During the lunch presentation, Laurent presented 4 video vignettes with their accompanying transcripts and interpretations.  These were based on a case study of a new apprentice starting out in a electrical assembly workplace.  The presentation provided a good example of the power of using video based evidence in collecting workplace based apprentice / trainer interactions.  Especially rich evidence of how apprentices have to negotiate for their learning opportunities, the techniques / strategies workplace trainers use and the interactions apprentices have with other workers.  This reveals issues with power, communication or mis-communication in the workplace, language use in vocational learning and the transitional issues faced by school leavers as they are inducted into the workplace.

All in a worthwhile day to talk to many of the staff at the School of Linguistics and to have see examples of multimodal data collection and analysis.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ipod touch for enhancing student learning

The more I play with the ipod touch, the more I excited I am with its potential for enhancing student learning. There are many examples, mostly from the school sector to learn from. Last week, the local paper’s technology section featured the the ipod touch plus a cheap phone as an alternative to owning an iphone (cheapest option with $40 a month plan for 24 months comes to almost $2000) compared to under $400 for a ipod touch 8G & a couple of hundred $$ to purchase & run a phone.

As an alternative to using netbooks, the ipod touch is more suitable as individual student hardware. The smallness of the device means that doing group work on the ipod touch will be more difficult then with a netbook. Small groups of 2 or 3 will work though. However, maximising the use of the ipod touch must include the need for each student to have one and a robust wifi network to cope with multiple users all accessing the network at the same time.

Examples of the use of ipod touches in education are plentiful. Louise Duncan is one who has set up a good resource including a list of the apps she uses in class & a list of ipod touch tips from students.

Tony Vincent, always an great advocate for mobile learning provides a good overview of educational possibilities for the ipod touch including good tips & tricks.

Wired educator (Mr. Croy) has an Apple slant which covers all sectors of education and has good overview of the use of the ipod touch in education and examples from his students .

A good collection of resources for use of the ipod touch in education from Chris Webb. And a whole host of examples of using ipod touches in education from Classroom 2.0 a social network on Ning.

Apple also has a recently published (July 2009) official guide to educators for using the ipod touch. So lots of examples to distil, try out and evaluate. Plus to work out how best to make use of the ipod touches capabilities within a blended learning environment.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

ako aotearoa southern hub research projects colloquium

Attended & presented at the Ako Aotearoa research projects last evening. The Southern Hub (2 other hubs are the Northern & the Central, both in the North Island) is able to provide up to $10,000 to support research projects which lead to better learner outcomes. Nine projects presented on research progress & some findings. All in, an interesting session as each project had relevance to the tertiary sector, provided an interesting collection of research approaches and showcased the interest in research taken by each of the presenters. We had 10 minutes each (8 to present & 2 for questions!) but each presentation was supported by a one page handout which provided pertinent background & project details.

First up, Ronnie O'Toole from the University fo Canterbury with Alison Ogier-Price. Their project was on investigating the role of emotion in tertiary teaching. A pilot to gauge how emotions experienced by tertiary educators influence their teaching and student learning in the classroom. Collection of data was via 'emotion diaries' kept by 17 participants & based on Oatley & Duncan (1992) & Sutton (2004). Participants were also interviewed. Data still to be analysed.

My presentation followed on 'perspectives of new trades tutors' - interim report - which is on the intense vocational identity trades people have & how a process of 'boundary crossing' is required to help trades people accept & incorporate the identity of a teacher. A draft of my report has been circulated to the Southern Educational Developers (SED) group & will be discussed at a meeting next week. After that a final report will be completed by end of this month.

Next up, Gareth Archer from Community Colleges New Zealand on the influence of traditional sports & games on soft skill development for Maori youth. It involves the revival of a game ki-0-rahi (youttube video) which is played on a circular field & where one team (kioma) scores tries and the other (taniwha) scores by hitting a central target.

Nick Draper also had a sports slant, developing pedagogy for exercise science in tertiary physical education programmes. In particular to investigate how to consolidate knowledge aspects of exercise science which is often taught in 'chunks' & at different times during a course / programme so that students are able to bring together the a 'whole person' understanding of how physiology works.

Moving on the the early childhood sector, Elizabeth Elsworth, from the College of Early Childhood Education presented on 'sharing minds: promoting a research culture within a tertiary environment through mentoring relationships. Elizabeth used the concept of ako (knowledge & learning in Maori) to underpin the relationships between tutors and students, so that each learnt from the other during research mentoring sessions.

Then Gerry Duigan from CPIT poster/banner project. This project is in it's evaluation stage. The first stage was to select 10 sayings which were useful for adult educators to display in classrooms or web pages. Then banners were produced and dessiminated to 30 institutions in the South Island to gauge responses. These are now being collated & once evaluations have been actioned, the final banners will be produced and access provided via the Ako Aotearoa website.

A collection of health related projects began with Phillipa Seaton (plus 7 others) from CPIT & Pegasus Health presenting on 'practice nurses' learning needs'. The project is still in progress but has, to date, distilled five top learning needs and predominant learning styles of practice nurses.

Arindam Basu then presented on his project (involving 7 other researchers) on 'training for telehealth' which is a form of health by distance. the project reviewed current telehealth for teaching the concept/ process and based on the review, develop a 'best practice model'.

Last up, Paul Watson & Deb Sims from CPIT presented on their project which is to evaluate the quality of workplace learning for student nurses. The project was also to establish the validity & reliability of a 'clinical learning environment, supervision & teaching scale' -CLES+T developed in Finland, to find out if the scale would be usable within the NZ context.

All in a good session ably organised and hosted by Ako Aotearoa Southen Hub convener, Bridget O'Regan & Pat Robertson.

Monday, November 02, 2009

ipod touch and the MLE project

About a month a go, I picked up two ipod touches funded by the CPIT academic research committee. Renaissance computing, the agents for Apple in NZ kindly provided two ipod touches (an 8G & a 32G) for the price of one 8G :) So I have been busy over the last week or so having a play to evaluate the potential for it’s use with various mlearning projects. Being away much of October has provided time while travelling to work with the ipod touch and to utilise and evaluate its many capabilities.

Comprehensive information is provided on the apple site for using itunes, the main way to transfer information between PC and ipod without going online. Unfortunately, the ipod touch touch does not run with the mobile learning engine plug in for Moodle but accessing our normal Moodle using a web browser has always been an option.

Good starting point to the 1000s of ipod touch apps plus here is one which includes an app to turn your ipod touch into a remote control for itune PC! This one includes the app video piggy to download youtube videos.

I also downloaded stanza to convert ebooks to read on the ipod touch with a good guide from this site on how to read ebooks on the ipod touch.

From the education point of view, there is itunes u for courses, top tips on using the ipod touch for learning by Jonathan Nalder, a teacher from Queensland and a slideshare ppt providing examples of using ipod touches in learning.

The user interface for the ipod touch is intuitive to use, picture and sound quality also good. At just under NZ$400 for an 8G ipod touch, it is an accessible mobile alternative to a desktop or smartphone. The many apps available, many free and most at an affordable price provides an indication for the future role of software on mobile devices. Apps are also a cinch to download and although many are little ‘play’ apps, many provide useful utilities to enhance productivity at work and learning opportunities.

Only bugbear is no camera/video but the ipod touch does have a good voice recorder. The new ipod nano has a video camera so maybe a video camera is going to be in the next model of the ipod touch?