Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 overview

This has been a pretty intense and busy year as I consolidate research skills and complete several externally funded projects. Reports for the Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub project ‘learning a trade: Developing guidelines to study trades learning using multimodal discourse analysis’ completed along with the first eight reports (1 to each of 7 ITOs and a background report) for the ‘first year apprentices’ Ako Aotearoa National funded project also done (whew!) The final report for the ‘first year apprentices’ project due in June next year, allowing me time to consolidate the literature and my thoughts and to catch up on reading over the summer.

Final draft of the Phd also completed and awaiting final comments from my supervisor. Should be ready after that for delivery to the markers. Will be strange not having to continuously work on the dissertation but the Phd journey has been really worthwhile, providing the opportunity to learn, practice and hone a range of academic skills. I am forever grateful to my long suffering supervisor who patiently moved me through, using a range of impressive teaching skills including modelling the painstaking tasks of word smithing my early attempts literally word by word and sentence by sentence!

A busy year too with regards to continual professional development over a range of topics. I attended 10 conferences /symposiums presenting at 5, keynotes in 2 and helping with organisation of 1. Also presented in 8 other workshops / networking type meetings across a range industries / ITPs. On the academic side, assisted with reviewing papers for one conference and 2 journal articles.

At CPIT, research capability building begun and progressing with several projects moving on into 2011 and a couple to get started. Teaching commitments have been rewarding and there was re-development work to be done on some of the DTLT courses I teach as the programme is prepared for sharing with two other ITPs.

So lots of activities and I need to reflect on what has been achieved and how to build on these to move forward into the future. In particular, how to continue with development of vocational research capability both at CPIT and beyond and to scope and prioritise projects that will garner external funding support.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Learning welding #7 and building #2

About coming to the end (of the funding) for the welding project. Flip has good ideas on how to move the project forward, so my role will be to support him with a funding application for next year.

We have drafted a short report on ‘learning welding: Improving the learning of welding using peer-learning and feedback’ that will become one of the appendices in the ‘guidelines of using video to study workshop and workplace learning’ due with Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub this week.

It’s one of many small sub-projects / research questions we mashed about with over the course of the year. So much to study, so little time!! The students have been great, cooperating fully in the various activities. Perhaps the youtube generation is less camera shy. There seemed to be no worries from students whenever we appeared with a video, asked for permission and gathered data. We still have about 90% of the data to analyse more thoroughly as well!! In particular, the data collected with groups of building apprentices on worksites and at their training evenings still needs to be more thoroughly transcribed and analysed.

There is delay in getting an official copy of atlasti on to my desktop as our IT department is doing a mass roll out of Microsoft across the institution, replacing a Novell system. We have been using a trial version of atlasti which only allow for a limited number of files. So hopefully, we will have atlasti in place by early next year to do some concerted analysis of the video data.

From the learning accomplished over the course of this year, I will be drafting a proposal for funding into 2012. This project will include ‘trades’ tutors from several polytechnics in NZ and will possibly revolve around issues of competency based assessments. The tutors will either be tertiary teaching award winners or nominated by staff developers as being motivated to embark on a research project. The prime objective will be to build capability for vocational education research with trades teaching practitioners. On the whole, trades tutors are extremely student and content focused and research is one way for them to bring another perspective into the continual appraisal of their teaching. Embarking on the research journey will require some interaction with the vocational education, workplace learning and practical skills/knowledge learning literature. I am hopeful it will help open doors to relevant scholarship and help to contribute not only to enhanced student learning but more focused understanding and application of the vocational education literature.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Ako Aotearoa Symposium 2010 day 3

Day 3 dawns fine and sunny for the last day of the Ako Aoteaora Academy Symposium.

First up – Christine Rubie-Davies presents ‘G + T on the rocks’ – the experience of gifted /talented undergraduate students in a tertiary environment. No systematic or planned approaches towards fostering ‘A’ students in NZ primary / secondary and tertiary systems. However, this leads to an ‘untapped’ resource. Funded by Ako Aotearoa Northern hub and run across 4 faculties with 2 staff and 4 student focus groups. Research questions on ‘how talented students defined / identified’ and support provided. Definition of talented included ‘schoolhouse giftedness’ (school grades, creativity, innate, quick learners); multiple talents; personal qualities (people skills, work ethics, leadership, initiative). Talented students identified by staff mostly intuitively/informally. Support of students included individual lecturers; early identification; providing facilitation and leadership opportunities; providing specific provisions; and importantly for students, recognition. Issues included unsupportive individual lecturers; difficult to fit in; lack of opportunity; and assessments. Plans for future include piloting a ‘intervention’ study based on findings – identify at end of first year; differentiate assignment tasks; recognition for talented students; invitation to department and staff seminars; advice on scholarships; inclusion of mentoring scheme; and talented students to act as tutors. I suspect investigation of 'talented' in the trades area will reveal different definitions.

Secondly, ‘scholarly peer review of teaching’: returning ‘quality’ to teachers - with Mark Brown. Who is defining quality and for what purpose? Played video ‘we are the people we are waiting for’ as a challenge to academy members to consider their roles as educators. Challenges to enhancing quality include the tensions inherent in education. E.G. clear standards: creative flow; externally imposed requirements :internally owned commitments; central quality police: local professional responsibility; quality compliance: quality culture and quality assurance: quality enhancement. Introduced the concept of using a ‘scholarly peer review’ to form a quality enhancement framework. Need for academics to ‘own’ quality and the process – not just imposed by institution.

After morning tea, group discussion facilitated by Paul Denny on ‘did I jump or was I pushed – capitalizing on opportunities’ with Julia Bruce, Roger Nokes, Tracey Poutama-Mackie and Marc Wilson. Each presented on how they had moved on (usually through connections fostered through the academy) beyond their award. Julia talked about her journey since the award and support provided by academy (local and committee) on her growth as a staff developer. Also provided 4 videos produced as part of the ‘good practice’ grant. Roger spoke on leading and learning as Head of Department, member of academic board and acting chair of teaching and learning committee and the challenge of representing teaching but also wearing a ‘management’ hat. Tracey presented on the history of her institute – People Potential – as it played a big part in how she has developed as a teacher and now as academic leader and staff developer as manager of youth transition services in Whangarei. “my success should not be bestowed on me alone, as it was not individual success but success of a collective”. Marc presented on his experiences on how the award has contributed to his academic life. Teaching and researching can be very isolating and preparing portfolios for awards provides opportunities to introspection. Also, accepting positions of responsibility within institution should be taken as it widens perspectives and leads to connecting and contributing to the wider university community. Including how to deal with media in a structured way.

After lunch, a session on ‘the academy and YOU: your chance to contribute’. John Hoskin presented on what has been achieved by the academy thus far and workshopped the session to work out future direction for the academy. Also provided background on the separate roles / synergistic relationships between Ako Aotearoa and the Academy. Academy is an independent voice and how can we leverage on this. For next year, encouragement to bring forward more project;, establish ‘regional champions’ to strengthen links between academy and hubs and convene more regional events; establish a ‘teaching day/week/month?’; and portfolio mining. Committee to work on creating a voice for the academy (guide to media relations, training etc).; portfolios volumes; lobbying (internal/external) – how to do this as academy members within and without our own organisations; encourage collaborations; mentoring of PBRF; commission research – effect of PBRF?; finding our kaupapa. Good discussion followed on direction forward for the academy.

The symposium brought to a close with an adapted pecha kucha session organized by the Canterbury team led by Tim Bell.

Official conference closing with mihi Tracey Poutama-Mackie.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ako Aotearoa Academy Symposium 2010 - day 2

Day two opened with address from Hon. Steven Joyce, Minister of Tertiary Education with an introduction provided by Academy committee president, Dr. John Hosking. The minister reiterated his support for the work of teachers. In particular for the academy to contribute to fostering networks and strategies to improve learning opportunities for students. This comes from continued interface between institutions / teachers and industry to work on cost effective good quality education. He introduced plans for next year given financial constraints, the usual focus on completions being linked to funding.

Key note for the day from Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington on 'curriculum by design' or 'how to reduce the number of courses offered by your institution'. Presented the different ways 'curriculum' is understood by different sectors within the institution but also perceived in different ways by the students. One approach may be to use a ‘learning spaces’ platform to move curriculum re-visioning and perhaps an ‘ethnographical’ research approach to investigate curriculum design to ‘reframe curriculum’. Need to understand only the ‘formal curriculum’ but also the informal ‘co-curriculum’. So curriculum by design may be through understanding ‘flow’ (what does it feel like to move through the curriculum?); entry /exit (where do I go in, where do I go out?); formal and informal (what to ‘take on board and when do I ‘wind down’?). Strategies include course and unit reduction and/or renewal; timetabling and movement; recognition of formal and co-curriculum (the Monash Passport) and enhancing coursework approvals. Interesting concepts to take into account as CPIT moves towards ‘constructive alignment’ approach to programme design.

After morning tea, Selena Mize presented on 'not just a qualification: getting students to integrate what they learn into their lives'. Provided overview of ‘motivating students’ for a legal ethics course; using clickers; and influencing values of students. Need to ‘motivate students’ as legal ethics course was made compulsory! And change in student’s perception from ‘wanting to do it (intrinsic) to ‘having to do it’ (extrinsic motivation). Went through strategies to use to engage students in intrinsic motivation. Covered introduction to using ‘clickers’ effectively to enhance student’s intrinsic motivation including going through the various types of ‘questions’ possible and advantages/disadvantages of each type. Lastly, when through guidelines on how to ‘influence values’ and whether it is actually ethical to ‘instill’ values. In sum, to try to develop students’ self-reflection by exposing students to multiple viewpoints and difference methodologies; use examples that bring injustice and suffering from immoral behaviour into focus and include a real world focus (not just an ‘ivory tower’ perspective); make value challenges feel relevant and personal to student; encourage class participation; consider use of literature and narratives; guest speakers can also serve as role models; in some situations develop morality through doing; encourage reflection, introspection, deep thought; take a long-term perspective; be open and non-judgemental.

Lighter session introducing the new academy committee followed by a session with Professor Sally Kitt on 'quality and standards in higher education: recent Australian developments'. Presented the Australian context with parallels to NZ situation. Detailed the journey of developing the ‘threshold learning outcomes (TLOs) by using the case study of LAW as an example. Good overview of the various ‘fish hooks’ involved in trying to produce ‘generic’ learning outcomes for a range of disciplines.

After lunch three session on IT in the classroom. Beginning with my session on ' alternatives to powerpoint'. I provided 7 web 2.0 alternatives with 4 useful in f2f and 3 for online environments for everyone to play with and evaluate. Also included brief discussion on how to use powerpoint as a tool to enhance student learning.

Then 'fun with panopto - student feedback and teacher reflection' with Alison Campbell. Panopto allows lectures etc. to be recorded and then put on to a CMS to be available to students. Video of lecture, powerpoint, screen capture of board work and embedded videos etc. available. User friendly system with lecturer only having to turn things on before lecture commences and then turn off and download into repository. Especially good for improving teaching practice for reflective teachers and for identifying students who may be struggling and are uploading and watching the video.

Followed by seesion on using 'AVS video editor 4 in Teaching' with Christine Rubie-Davies. Showed process of uploading video clips from TV programme, how to select and trim the video and use these clips for learning activities.

After afternoon tea, an introduction to the new members of the academy, the 2010 winners of tertiary excellence award winners. TTE award past winners who are buddies of each of this year’s winners introduced the winner they supported and each winner provided a brief presentation and were given a copy of this year’s TTE booklet (fresh off the press).

Lisa Emerson and Ngahiwi Apanui then went through changes/revisions to the tertiary award criteria so that members may support potential applications to the award. Lisa also provided insight into the process from her perspective as being a member of the TTEA selection committee. All selectors do a quick scan of all applications and then have a telephone conference. Then committee meets to do the shortlisting by matching applications to criteria. At end of day 1, 12 shortlisted and on day 2, the list is finalised and then a ballot is done to chooses the Prime Minister’s awardee. Day after the awards, a debrief takes place.

Day ended with drinks and a convivial and entertaining symposium dinner.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Ako Aotearoa Academy Symposium 2010 - day 1

In Wellington for the annual Ako Aotearoa Academy symposim, with about 50 plus academy members attending and with many presentations from academy members. Began with short welcomes from Dr. Peter Coolbear, Helen Dobson and Dr. Sally Kitt as the symposium convened at 2 pm.
First keynote from Prof. Marnie Hughes-Warrington from Monash University on 'writing 'I' makes me ill: assessment and self assessment. Covered assessment policy - shift towards criterion based assessment; emphasis on 'authentic' assessment; and recognition of early, formative assessment. Came about because her peers did not see importance of assessments. Embarked on a project to find out where, how and from who students learnt history and found out most did not know how they would make use of their history studies! Introduced 'self-assessment' as a way to try to share with students, the learning process for history.

After afternoon tea, 3 concurrent sessions with one on 'putting the T into the PBRF' from John Hosking and Tracy Riley and a 'funding clinic' with Kirsty Weir, to keep up to date with various funding streams availed for projects, research etc. I attended , 'Teaching practically' with Sam Honey, Kelly Pender, Adrian Woodhouse and facilitated by LIz Fitchett. Adrian presented on some of the strategies used to engage his learners. For instance how to teach students the parts of a hogget or pork cuts. So project evolves from purchasing a pig to maximising the use of the pig by ‘adding value’ and having the pig become part of a ‘commercial venture’ i.e. selling the pork products with it’s accompanying relishes, breads etc. at a farmers market Students took ownership of the project, leading to much self-directed learning and responsibility for their own learning and assessments. Kelly and Sam presented on how to incorporate Kaupapa Maori into tertiary education (within a Certificate in Fitness (level 4) and preparation for a law enforcement career). Need to fully integrate so that it becomes enmeshed into the culture of the programme. Presented a good range of strategies provided to engage students, incorporating aspects of kaupapa Maori and enable students to explore their own beliefs and set future goals.

Good to meet up with many from the last symposium and to welcome the 2010 academy members (all of whom are attending). Look forward to a full and busy day tomorrow.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

ITF research network meeting 24th november

Yesterday I travelled to Wellington to attend and present to a keen group of ITO managers. The meeting convened by the Industry Training Federation (ITF) around 3 to 4 times a year as a fora  for ITF / ITO members to network and catch up on various issues. 2 ITF staff plus 12 or so ITO staff (some attended for part of the day). Good to touch base with familiar faces and meet new people.

A round of participants for them to introduce themselves and the projects each ITO is involved in or working towards. First session , Eric Krassoi Peach from the ITF opens the meeting with a discussion and direction for next week's meetings. All good background for me and to get into the ITO mindset.

Next up, I provide an overview of the vocational research projects at CPIT, concentrating on the Ako Aotearoa National funded project on 'first year apprentices' but also providing short summaries of the 'new trades tutors' projects from the perspective of identity transformation / boundary crossing and the 'welding project' plus details of projects begun by Barry Dowrick (interactive whiteboards and learning objects), future work with the engineering team (integrated learning and assessments) and with automotive with android OS tablets (interactive textbooks).

Schools update provided by Josh Williams, quantifications and quality manager at the ITF spoke to the group on sector pathways - making sense of secondary / tertiary transitions. Compared to other OECD countries , NZ retention of 15- 20 year olds in training is low. NZ curriculum refers to 'focus on transitions'. One pathway to university but other pathways not as clear as per On the edge of adulthood: young people's and out of school experiences at 16' - NZCER 2008 report. ITF presents sector pathways to service, manufacturing / technology, constructions /infrastructure, primary industries, social / community services and other industries as one possible way forward to provide 'structure' for career teachers. Perhaps to use the term 'majors' for each so that NCEA becomes more aligned towards one of the pathways rather than a 'pick n mix' which does not add up to any 'concrete' way forward. Went through preliminary analysis of NZQA data of u/s completed between 2005 - 2009 by provider by students to show what sector students were completing u/s in. Many students just completing 1 or 2 (credit harvesting??), and 'rural' schools tended to have students who completed more u/s (agriculture? Outdoor rec??) with many students also completing generic safety u/s 497 and food safety u/s 167. Breakdowns may now be needed to be done by ITO, student characteristics, longitudinal etc.

Then Paul Mahoney from Ministry of Education (Tertiary analysis) provides summary of Industry training stocks and flows - effects of the economic downturn pertient to ITOs. Stock is the number of people in industry training in one year and flow is the movement of these people in or out. 9-10% of population in industry training /apprenticeship as compared to 3% in Australia. Data is from 2001 - 20019. Economic downturn = drop in workplace based training participants as the is GDP contraction in 2009 across all industries, 2008 decline in agriculture, 2006 food & beverage with construction in 2007. Employment contraction also occurred especially for young people. Increase in Limited credits programme (LCP) which could be useful as they do not require a long term commitment but often lead to further training to lead to full qualification. Withdrawals increased. Some industries trained existing workers instead of employing new workers to train. Modern apprentice sign up decreased across many industries and terminations / withdrawals increased.

Last presentation from Erica Cumming from the Hairdressing ITO on work completed on Return on Investment (ROI). Using small case studies to understand and measure the ROI from apprenticeship training to selected and their apprentices. Studied 'phases' in apprentices' fit to business strategy - providing support, colouring, starting to cut and running own column - how much apprentice contributes to revenue at each stage. Intangible benefits to salon with apprentices has to be weight up with costs to salon. Key results - payback period is relatively short (y1/y2), how salon manages its revenue makes the biggest difference, what apprentices is compared against is important. Benefits for apprentices include earning while learning, hand-on training and off-job training. Strategies for salons to make the most financially of apprenticeships are to maximise benefits (ensure apprentice is productive quickly, optimal mix of staff), minimise cost (train efficiently, push cost to apprentice - not encouraged by ITO!!, minimise opportunity costs of training) and encourage apprentice to stay (recruit right apprentice & encourage apprentice, align salon objectives of salon and apprentice, undertake dedicated in-salon training, offer a wage structre for stylist which shows it's worthwhile staying, offer financial incentives to stay). Results used to produce a summary - well presented and aligned to industry needs. All useful for the 'first year apprentices' project :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

We have the technology and the pedagogy, but will education change?

I think that there is little doubt we have the technology (an example extolling the ipad from Graeme Brown – Handheld Learning) and mobile learning is about here (as per Oz/NZ Horizonreport for 2010 via Derek Wenmouth’s blog).
We have also have the pedagogy pitched about right – inclusiveness, participative learning etc. need for critical thinking skills etc. and bringing it together with constructive or curriculum alignment and sumarised in this slideshare (Biggs & Tang, 2008) 
But are our classrooms, institutions and IT departments ready?? As the horizon report summarises,

‘even when technologies are strongly promoted, professional development is still crucial’ and ‘there is a mismatch between pedagogy and the design of emerging technologies’ – which is becoming less of a challenge as with say the ipad’.

Two technologies to become mainstream within a years are ebooks and mobiles.

Ebooks are not pervasive in our polytechnic environment. Many of our students and some of our tutors are not ‘natural’ readers. There is also resistance to reading ‘off the screen’ with many people  printing off items to read, rather than reading on screen and storing the digital copies for later reference. I have lost count of the number of people I have introduced pdf readers with annotation tools (like FoxIT) but few have taken up the challenge. True, there is a learning curve and the need to relearn years of acquired skill through reading hard copies. However, the advantages of digital make the effort worthwhile. I now find articles easily, whereas in the past, I would have to fossick into my card catalogue and hunt down the article either in the library or through boxes of printouts. Now, most journal articles are archived in various folders under the references section of each project. I can use Endnotes to find the article and once the article found, use the search function on the pdf reader to find the relevant section. Usually takes all of 2 minutes compared to at least 15 – 20 minutes for the manual option or a couple of days for the library option if the article is at the university.

For the adoption of mobiles, concerted efforts to bring down the cost of mobile web access will be required OR better access to WiFi within out institutions. Without either, access to the www will be stymied and that makes mobile access slightly superfluous. The small screen of pdas, ipod touches and phones have always been a barrier to the uptake of mobile. Tablets like the ipad make web surfing a joy and reading off an ipad is much more 'book like' although annotation etc. needs to again be learnt.

So will need to work on both the above. An interactive text book approach using the advantages provided by tablets will be an interesting way to tap into both ebook and mobile technologies. The pedagogy underpinning the project will be aspects of using the interactive text book as a resource for both constructive and participative learning. So something wot work through and investigate more deeply.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Activity / information streams and conversations

As a follow up to last week’s blog I followed up on George Seimen’s blog on ‘activity streams’ that proposes the internet as the new way to communicate after the phone, fax and email.

Linked to the above is dana boyd’s Educause Review article on ‘streams of content’ and the keynote from Prof. Agnes Kuklska-Hulme at the recent mlearning 2010. Dana links Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of ‘flow’ to the current ‘flow of information’ through social networking. Agnes discussed the concept of ‘social network’ as a form of conversation and how, for instance. Tweets, may be seen as ‘conversation starters’ and directors.

Of note is dana’s summary of how technology affordances, collide with current social mores. Four areas are democratisation of information, stimulation / attention, homophily (where people connect with others who are very like themselves) and power. Some good ideas to think through as we assume technology will solve the world’s problems, yet what individual’s want may not be what is better for society as a whole (depending on which side you are on). For example, Prof. Mohammed Ali’s call to researchers to harness their energies and networks to provide education for all through mobile learning is a worthy goal. However, does every government/political organisation support education /democracy for all? How does one package learning (what is education?)? Will education be used to further repressive regimes objectives? Who decides what is learnt?

So again, things are not as straight-forward as they might be! We need to continually test our assumptions of what is appropriate and if we change tack, why and for what reasons. On to another interesting week.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

21st century learning - what is it?

I am preparing for a couple of workshops, framed around the use of technology to enhance learning. The first to ‘learning advisers’, the other to teachers across the NZ tertiary sector. In general, I take a neutral stance, introduce ideas, provide opportunities for some hands-on computer-based try outs and then consolidate the concepts of collaborative learning, student engagement and ubiquitous computing. Also important to discuss the ways in which educators critically think through the reasons for integrating technology into their teaching and how technology may be useful for enhancing student learning through collaborative activities and projects.

Have provided several on Web 2.0 over the last couple of years, so time to do a refresh and update to Web 3.0. A video on 21st century teaching was introduced to me by Kirstin Dofs, our learning centre manager. I will use parts of this to show the changes education has to undergo in order for students to learn 21st century skills.Also some of the ideas summarised an animation of Sir Ken Robinson's ideas on the need for educational reform but with proviso's as discussed by George Siemen in a recent blog arguing that trying to meet current needs just means we continually 'chase our tails'.

To add to above is a recent Becta report from Derek Wenmouth's blog which I skimmed over the weekend. The report finds (through a study of teacher's logs) ICT makes possible new forms of classroom practice AND creates the possibility of a wide range of learning practices. So change is possible, given educators who are willing to put in the time to become familiar with technology and be savvy enough to make the most of ICT in enhancing student learning.

A couple of months ago, I worked through Mark Threadwell's book which summarises some of the above and provides ideas for improving teaching and learning using ICT. His website has a good list of books and resources to start teachers up on adopting use of technology as ONE form of learning engagement.

Other resources previewed in the last couple of months, which I have considered via Greg's blog, a Dunedin school principal are 3 youtube videos – difference between 20th & 21st century teachers. One from John Seely Brown on 21st century learners,  David Willingham on – learning styles don’t exist and Greg Wilby on the importance of theory based practice.

So lot's of ideas to build the presentation on Web 3.0 and 21st century learning. Will need to sift through them and maintain a strong thread so that the overall argument is maintained - educators need to make an effort in order to help enhance student engagement, using technology to assist may be one option.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Augmented Reality with Olympus Pen camera

Did a bit of a catch up on Augmented Reality (AR) as a follow up to Andy Goff’s presentation at mlearn2010.  Looked at one of the examples provided, which was the AR demonstration for the new Olympus PEN camera. Downloaded the plugin to run the simulation which included downloading a 'marker' (2d image of the camera). Also need to have vidcam running. A youtube video shows how it should run as it does take a bit of time to get used to running the camera on the screen while you are also holding the marker to bring up the 3D image.
Other examples of augmented reality are available on the wiki for AR and an article from the Guardian with an iphone app. Educational perspective provided by Educause guide with usual recommendations and caveats.
I can see great possibilities but development will be time and money intensive.  Also the simulation will generally have a specialised use and nothing beats coming up f2f with the real thing! The AR will provide the 3D visual but not the smell and tactile feel. However, for mobile access where there is little other choice (e.g. under-resourced classroom / lab / workshop with limited access to situated learning) AR would enhance learning opportunities.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Reflections on 3 conferences in 2 1/2 weeks

Back in quiet and sparsely populated NZ after 21/2 weeks traipsing across a very crowded Europe and Asia. In addition to visiting 5 countries and 3 conferences, I also met up with my PhD supervisor to complete the final edit for my dissertation, shopped around for Android tablets and caught up with family in Singapore. Not sure if I will try to pack in as much another time!

However, time spent in airports was generally productive. The availability of free WiFi at most major airports helps plus on-board power for laptops on some aeroplanes assisted as well. Nothing worst then a dead laptop or no WiFi when trying to bring up Google maps to work out the best route and mode of transport from the airport to booked accommodation. I noticed in most airports, how people who were using the free internet desktops were mostly updating their facebook or similar. Road warriors seemed to have their own laptops and mobile web access.

On the shopping front, Android tablets were not as prevalent as I thought they might be. As in Hong Kong, there were very few in Singapore. I managed to play with one ePad which was being sold for Singpore $599, just $129 less than the 16G basic Ipad. Will need to wait until at least early next year for the market to mature.

Also, as people in other countries commute on public transport much more than the average NZer, the use of mobile devices was much more prevalent. As noticed in Singapore earlier this year, Italians, Romanians and Hong Kongers were all pretty much permanently wedded to their mobile phones. Almost everyone was twiddling with one on the bus, tram, subway or at the airport. In all countries, there were many shops selling mobile phones, often at very low prices when accompanied by a fixed term data plan.

I think the advent of ubiquitous computing is very nearly mainstream, especially in countries where the mobile web is not expensive. Even my 4 aunties (all in their seventies) who had all vowed to not become computer literate. They were all teachers who, aged 50 plus and early 60ish, had to attend PD sessions on using technology in teaching! However, everyone of them now uses a mobile phone and able to txt in both English and Chinese as it is the only way they are able to get hold of their children or grandkids. One has just succumbed to an iphone after being taught how to use it by her son-in-law. An ipad going to be the next investment (time and learning, not money) after I showed them how user-friendly mine was.

All in, a good time to catch up on completing the last edits towards dissertation, observe changes in mobile technology use, see some nice places, meet interesting people, play with a range of technology difficult to find in NZ and remember how lucky I am to live in clean and uncrowded NZ :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Adult Learning Symposium 2010 day 2

Today, 3 keynotes followed by one parallel session and concludes with a panel discussion. First keynote from Professor Peter Jarvis who spoke on ‘learning practice: developing the roles of the adult educator’. Although now officially ‘retired’, Professor Jarvis continues to write and research. Contents of his keynote useful in setting the scene for mine later in the morning. He presented a very comprehensive overview of ‘practice’ as ‘learning by doing’ (adaptation, imitation, by instruction, practice, follow thought, exploration and experimentation. ‘Learning practice’ involves practical instruction, experience (novice to expert and the 10,000 hours rule), reason , intelligence, wisdom and reflection. Included defining tacit knowledge. Forming the case for researching practice as practitioner and action research. Implications include concerns about the practice itself, continuing learning, effects of getting older and the practitioner doctorate. Finishing with the quote “we must learn to orientate our thinking, our teaching and our research to the arts (not science!) of practice’.
Next up, Dr. Peter Coolbear from Ako Aotearoa provided a background of the “further and higher education context in New Zealand: Issues, challenges and responses”. He provided a thorough overview of the NZ tertiary sector, covered the critical issues, presented the recent policy reforms and Ako Aotearoa’s role in how tertiary education may move towards in the next few years.
My presentation centred on a teaching practitioner’s perspective on: application of concepts of ‘learning as becoming’ to students’ effective feedback and learning of judgement. Basically, to begin to envisage learning as a holistic process (in apprenticeships as a process of occupational identity formation).  Discuss the importance of learning ‘judgement’ and the role of feedback in learning the skills to be able to ‘judge’.  Underpin with cognitive apprenticeships as a pedagogical approach and provide examples from CPIT programmes (baking, engineering, painting, welding, online learning, fashion design and adult education).
After lunch, I attended the parallel session with Dr. Helen Bound (IAL) on ‘helping learners learn: what do we know and what can we do’. Helen provided a workshop for participants to explore educators’ learning philosophy / beliefs about teaching and learning. Then to compare our beliefs with what we actually do. Proposed a ‘map of dialogical inquiry’ as a means for unpacking whether our espoused beliefs are matched by practice.
Followed by Dr. Soo Wai Man from Singapore Management University on ‘how to align learning facilitation and assessment of WSQ courses’. Presented on a model to assist with the design of courses and assessment activities. Used a series of tables to match course phases with the knowledge, skill and attitudinal (KSA) components as detailed in a CTAG (Singapore version of a NZ unit standard). In each KSA, identify ‘content types’ including fact, concept, process, procedure or principle. Then match the content type to instructional strategy, assess learning and evaluate course.

Last session a panel ‘discussion’ ably chaired by Professor Andrew Brown, where each keynote speaker summarised their perspectives on CET and the productivity agenda: reflections and insights. An overall discussion on aspects of productivity (increased innovation etc.) and concepts of competency, expertise and professionalism. Questions were also taken from the floor and good discussion ensued.
Overall an interesting conference. Picked up several different perspectives for approaching things. Some of these approaches are influenced by the Singapore socio-cultural milieu but many are useful in all teaching / learning contexts.

Adult Learning Symposium 2010 Singapore - day one

In Singapore for the Adult Learning Symposium, a two day event organized by the Institute of Adult Learning (IAL). Just over 400 delegates meeting for busy two days of keynotes and concurrent sessions, all with invited speakers.

The conference opened with a welcome from IAL executive director, Ms. Gog Soon Joo and an official address from the Minister of Manpower, Mr. Gan Kim Yong.

The overall theme of the conference is adult learning skills: productivity and professionalism. The first keynote setting the scene from Mr. Chris Humphries, Chief executive of the UK commission of employment and skills (UKCES) who provided a UK perspective on skills, jobs, productivity and growth. Provided a historical and contemporary overview and the plans for the near future. Focus on meeting the changes to workforce skills due to globalization, aging population, skill needs vs actual skills available etc. Included 5 priorities for world class skills and jobs including creating clear strategy, support economic development in regions and local communities, build employer ambition and capacity, transform individual aspiration and skills and develop more strategic, agile and demand-led skills and employment provision. Integration of these 5 priorities required.
Second keynote with Professor David Finegold on the ‘global race to transform national economies: are skills the issue’. Overview of a research project on the skill development for the 21st century workforce – to compare skill creation systems in China and India. Discussed and compared ‘low skill equilibrium (eg. UK) and the ‘sustainable skill ecosystem (eg. Silicon valley). Implications of globalization (e.g. off-shoring), technology (artificial intelligence, robotics etc.) etc. include having a college degree no longer a guarantee of success, new employment relationship, shift to new talent strategies and forms of organization. Both China and India working on moving from ‘low skill equilibrium’ to sustainable skill systems’, to move from low cost manufacturing (China) to an ‘innovation economy’ by dramatic expansion in research universities. For China major challenges with regards to meeting supply and demand issues, expectations of population towards education, a country without free access to the internet based economy and the impact of the one child policy. India seems to be a reverse of China model, has supply-side constraints, growing gap between have and have-nots and government solution to institute extreme form of affirmative action. India’s solutions may have to be a distinctive Indian solution with potential to draw on successful examples from Indian history.

Dr. Gary Wilmott who was the previous executive director of the ILS and now a visiting research fellow provided another Asian perspective on skills, jobs, productivity and growth with an emphasis on developments in Singapore through their 2010 Economic Strategies Committee (ESC) report. Provided an overview of Singapore’s skill development system and followed with discussion on current approaches and direction. Strategy to date based on comprehensive school and post-school compulsory education system (25% voc ed through ITEs, 40% polytechnics and 25% university). Challenges still exist through ½ million without O levels, growing and rapidly growing manufacturing sector but slow movement in labour skills training, growing number of older workers etc. Need to maintain skills training especially for people over 40 with low school qualifications. Singapore continuing education system developed over last 5 years or so which is industry-led, competency –led, open access, national accreditation system and national training system for trainers. Other countries have developed highly structured competency based training and assessment ‘frameworks’ for qualifications. Challenge is to match qualifications frameworks with what actually is required in the workforce and for the frameworks to be more flexible / agile.

After lunch, a series of parallel workshops ran (2 or 3 sessions). Attended the sessions which had a staff development or industry training focus. First up attended session with Dr. Christine Han and Professor Paul Morris (University of London) and Professor Stephen Billett and Dr. Ann Kelly (Griffith University). The session introduced various options available for the CET sector under the national training and adult education professional development programme. Including a Masters of Arts in Lifelong Learning from the University of London and the Masters of Training and Development from Griffith University. An overview of the CET landscape in Singapore and the Work Qualifications Framework (WQF) commenced the session followed by individual presentations from each of the representatives of the Masters programmes. Most workplace trainers / assessors complete a short introductory programme. The IAL also runs a Diploma programme in Adult and Continuing Education.

In the second lot of parallel workshops, attended the sessions with Associate Professor Michele Simons (University of South Australia) and Professor Andrew Brown (IAL) on enhancing the capability of continuing educational and training (CET) professions.

Michelle presented on a project examining the career pathways of TAFE / VET teachers, trainers and general staff (1095 responses, 955 paper-based and 140 on-line) in Australia (22 public and 21 private RTOs). The continuing professional development (CPD) of these teachers and their career trajectories was reported. Uses career capital (De Fillippi & Arthur, 2001; Bourdieu, 1986) to help understand the various ways these teachers develop. Uses metaphor of ‘know why’ as people who come through industry into teaching with high motivation. Also the ‘know how’ as people who come in with wide skill range. ‘Know whom’ career capital people have good contacts with industry and bring intangible values into their VET careers. Careers tended to be interplay between individuals and institutions (Walton & Mallon, 2004). In general, VET teachers usually a second choice career and not necessarily a long term career, high levels of occupational mobility, unique interplay between industry knowledge, specialist educational knowledge and current industry competency and changing modes of employment, driven by employers for a range of reasons. Engagement with formal, structured or informal (mentoring, job rotation etc.) professional development (PD) was high. However, management tended to be able to access PD which extends their career capital but for teachers, most PD was related to ‘how to do the teaching’ better. Important to try to understand consequences of access to PD and various movements within organisations of teachers into management.

Last speaker for today, Professor Andrew Brown spoke on ‘social research and higher professional planning’. Provided an overview of the IAL research – building capability and capacity; role of completing a doctorate; and professionalism and planning. IAL moving into research in the CET area with commitment to – develop research-informed practice and understand better how CET works in Singapore. Themes of IAL research include learning, work and impact. Discussed PhD outcomes and aspects of ‘transfer’ of the generic skills attained doing a doctorate. Compared outcomes of PhD and professional doctorates like EdD. Introduced the ideas for developing a professional doctorate programme for CET practitioners.

Planning for tomorrow’s panel followed at the end of the day and then a networking session. A long day but a good opportunity for me to catch up on the Singapore / Asian VET / CET sectors, sprinkled with acronyms, different strategic direction and funding structures. Provides a good background for me to springboard from for tomorrow’s keynote.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

looking for android os tablets

Had a busy day yesterday, doing the rounds of the computer shops around Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Lots of Android OS phones but a paucity of Android OS tablets. There was the Dell Streak which only has a small screen and was on the expensive side. Also the Samsung Galaxy Tab which was also expensive. Saw a few Archos 7" and it's smaller 5" cousine, which reminded me more of a PSP then a tablet. Plus also several ipad lookalikes (same box etc.) which were the Woof (for around HK2000), the irobot and a no brand one for (HK1500).

So the market for android tablets is yet to mature. The ones I tried out were generally lacking in responsiveness, the touch screens being a poor experience in comparison with the ipad. Uploading speeds also slower. The shops selling the ipad knockoffs were not that keen to advertise the products, which were generally kept on the bottom shelves and only brought out when I made concerted queries. My mangled Cantonese was understandable after all. Lots of Ipads around and these were showcased in most shops. So the brand conscious and savvy HK consumers have voted with their pockets, purchasing the ipad rather than considering cheaper options. 

Will have a look around Singapore if time allows. The market there is even more conservative so I am not holding much hope for finding many examples of android OS tablets however, always good to see what is the latest in mobile phones and netbooks as well.

Friday, October 22, 2010

mlearn 2010 day 3

The last day of the conference with morning sessions followed by a final social event – a tour of the ancient capital of Malta, Mdina. The day begins with a keynote from Riita Vanska who is a senior manager for mobile and learning solutions at Nokia. She presents on ‘mobile learning for mathematics in South Africa and Finland’. The time seems to be right now to promote opportunities and advantages of mobile learning to various governments as a scalable form of educational delivery. She provided an overview of the South African project which arose through a request from the South Africa presidency to find out if mobile phones could be used to assist with mathematics learning – even without a teacher. A interactive pedagogically sound approach adopted to engage children in active learning and for the learning to be undertaken both in and out of school. Provided details of the technical model (LMS used is Moodle and Mxit interface) and evaluation process of both pilot (400 students) and current project (4000 plus students) which is completed at the end of this year. A video showcasing students and teachers feedback also provided examples of some of the techniques used to deliver mathematics content, quizzes/review sand collaborative feedback. Of note is the change in attitude to mathematics by students, engaging students who have not had much interest in mathematics before the project. 83% access to the material occurred outside of school hours. Managed to obtain free IP access for learners for this project so need to lobby for similar access.

Concurrent sessions in ‘technologies’ and ‘user-centric developments’ follow. As usual, I move between the two. First session from Laurel Evelyn Dyson, Andrew Litchfield and Ryzaed Rahan (University of Technology – Sydney) ‘exploring theories of learning and teaching using mobile technologies: comparisons of traditional, elearning and mlearning’. Overview of theories on mobile learning, learning conversations (Sharples, 2003); Affordances of mobile devices (Herrington and Herrington, 2007); Theory of leanring for the mobile age (Sharples et al., 2007); Socio-cultural ecology of mlearning (Pachler et al., 2010) – all indicating a shift towards learner’s capacity to make meaning, existing uses of mobiles, socio-cultural and technological contexts. Proposes mlearning provides opportunity to move away from didactic / push content model (so no more mlearning as podcasts!) but to student generated content (eg. student vodcast). Student generated content includes learning not only content but learning many generic communication and relationship skills.

Second paper on ‘learning design for mobile and contextual learning’ with Anna Mavroudi, Hadzilacos (University of Cyprus) and Kalles (Open University). In mobile learning need to take into account context awareness – which is a distinctive mlearning process, service orientated architecture (SOA) and IMS learning design (LD) specification. A learning design information model proposed to allow mobile learning to leverage off context awareness.

Then on to the technologies sessions, starting with Mark Gaved representing a Open University UK team on ‘more notspots than hotspots: strategies for undertaking learning in the real world’. Need for a robust strategy as 3G coverage not always reliable – eg. in the UK, 95% 3G coverage refers to population. Therefore options need to be set up for using existing WiFi (eg. school grounds by extending existing network), carrying your own WiFI with you (eg. network in a backpack (laptop and good battery) which are accessed by students using netbooks or similar), 3G mobile network (set up using MiFi or 3G dongles) or work with no network ( eg. servers running on each laptop and do post-synching after data collected). Advantages and challenges of each presented and discussed. So always assume imperfect connectivity, inform participants of limitations and always have a plan B 

Then three teacher development focused ones starting with Nilgun Ozdarma Keskin and Abdullah Kuzu from Anadolu University, Turkey, on ‘ mobile system to support academic training and development’. Focus on providing professional development to academics in the area of research methods. Support was required in all areas of research and required just in time information, assistance with problem solving and research methods selection and data analysis. Mobile learning solution (Mobile academic research support (MARS)) developed to assist with research method and design PD process. 5 modules of content supported with lessons (watch, read/listen/ review) and discussion forum, facebook site, wikis etc. Currently iphone xhtml for all phones android OS versions.

Kevin Burden presents work with Paul Hopkins and Jo Pike (University of Hull) on ‘ identity and professional learning with trainee teachers ‘. Trainee teachers (secondary) provided a 3G phone (iphone) to find out what would happen. Having a mobile phone, changed the conception of / appropriation of identity as a teacher. Students made audio logs, semi-structured interviews also undertaken.

Last paper with Trish Andrews (University of Queensland) on developing a whole university approach to adopting hand-held student response systems (SRS)’. Mainstreaming innovation challenging as failure rate can be high, not often seen as core business, lack of support from managements, failure to create an organizational culture, failure to adequately manage projects and then not review / evaluate within an environment of continuous improvement. For innovations to work, coherent institutional policies, network infrastructure, provision for staff development and support (technical and financial) and pedagogical direction. A structured approach to implementing SRS included 10 question survey, prior desktop research on alternatives and evaluation of capability.

Conference closed with a panel discussion on the future prospects for mobile and contextual learning. Panel convened by Mike Sharples and with Jill Attewell, Agnes Kukulska-Hulmes, John Traxler, Hiroi Ogata and Herman van der Merwe.

Official closing with hand over to Beijing Normal University for mlearn 2011 - 18th to 20th of October at Beijing Friendship Hotel.

I was of two minds about attending this conference as the speed at which mobile technologies have moved and the breath of adoption of mobile devices by the mainstream means the notion of mlearning might not last for many more years. Delivery of learning to students will have to include mobile platforms and mlearning will just be usual learning delivery. However, the conference has been very productive, I have picked up a wide range of ideas and some concepts to take into several proposed projects. It is also good to be part of a community of people who are working towards using mobile technologies to help improve the lives of not only the privileged but who are also willing to use their expertise to assist the many people in the world today who do not have access to education. Mobile technology may offer some solutions. As always, bringing together academics willing to assist and the agencies who need assistance will be the main challenge. Will be interesting to follow how things progress. Meanwhile, will need to proactive and start contributing to the process.

mLearn 2010 day two afternoon

After lunch two sessions of parallel sessions. Firstly two streams running on user centric developments and future directions. First presentation from a group from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and presented by Sobah Petersen on ‘connectedness in practice based education: the why, who what. Based on ‘diary studies’ of teacher students on how students perceive connectedness in a mobile environment. Established the need for trainee teachers to feel connectedness with who they are, what they do and where they are practicing. Technology eg. mobile blogging helped the process.

Second one up ‘embedding moodle into ubiquitous computing environments’ presented with Christian Glahn and Marcus Specht from Open University of the Netherlands. Challenge to move existing virtual learning environment (Moodle) to become context awareness and integrations into a spatial learning environment. Based on adaptation and personalization, orchestrating learning and learner mobility. Adaptation / personalization requires contextualization and adapting to requirements of various devices, systems etc. Orchestrating learning requires understanding of the ways in which tasks, rules, roles and environment interconnect / interface. Need to acknowledge contributions of personal/stationary, mobile and social facets. Building architecture for Moodle to move it into spatial learning includes working through the sensor, semantic, control and indicator layers. A start may be made by making the learner logs more ‘intelligent’ so that learner activity information is more useful. Allowing teachers to configure this aspect, provides even better information. To assist, log aggregators should also check type of device accessing various Moodle activities and a trigger build in to flag relevant times when intervention may be required. Food for thought with this one.
Move across to the user-centric stream. Presentation with Claire Bradley and Debbie Holley from London Metropolitan University on ‘how students in Higher Ed. Use their mobile phones’. Used a platform called Mediaboard to support student groups and texted students ‘learning tips’. Integrated textools where students provide answers while in lectures. A survey carried out to ascertain how students actually make use of mobile phones. Also, tracked by loaning video camcorders to students to record their daily mobile learning use, supported by student interviews. More students now on contract (63% then pay as you go), range of phones diverse and 80% now own smart phones. Almost all phones have colour screens, cameras, video, audio recorders, internet, Bluetooth. About ½ have wifi and 3G. Most students used their phones (blackberry) for a wide range of learning processes including note making, record lectures, photos as reminders, access social networking site, access university systems, share files, saves txt messages as a form of note taking. Need to share this with library staff to update survey of students’ technology use.
Followed by Kathryn Macallum from Eastern Institute of Technology, NZ with ‘ integrating mobile learn into the tertiary environment: the educators’ perspective’. 4 case studies of educators, all technology savvy, of their perspectives on barriers to continuing mobile learning use. Reported on socio-cultural (issues of whose phone is it – ownership, trial and error, shared community), organizational (support), pedagogical (variety and interest) and technological (variety and portability, ease of use and cost) issues.

After afternoon tea, the two streams are technologies and future directions. I stay in the future directions stream beginning with Stockdale and David Parson from Massey presenting ‘cloud as content: virtual world learning with Open Wonderland’. Openwonderland is open source version of ‘second life’ platform to provide ‘developers’ with a place to share ideas and collaborate on projects. Has a series of virtual blackboard in various rooms with appropriate tools to draw ideas etc. Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) provide opportunities to do things which may be difficult to do in reality due to ethics, complexity, difficulty in building, too expensive etc. Evaluations indicate creating a viable virtual world is a major tasks, users seem enthusiastic about the technology is challenging and difficult to know yet if expectations met.

Then ‘remote fieldwork: using portable wireless networks and backhaul links to participate remotely in fieldwork’ presented by Trevor Collins of work with MARK Gaved and John Lea from The Open University UK. Described work with geology students undertaking fieldwork in UK and Nicaragua. Main objective to extend learning undertaken during fieldwork to provide access to students who are unable to get to places which are difficult to get to. Communication toolkit needs to be portable, weatherproof etc. with standard hardware and software (open source if possible). The kit consists of networking (both local and wide area), devices (netbooks, wifi still cameras, IP video cameras, encoders and android phones) and services (LAMMP web, Asterisk VoIP and Prosody XMPP). Examples provided from each of the sites and technical issues discussed.
Next up, Jean Johnson and Jonny Dyer (Inclusion Trust UK) on ‘use of mobile phones to develop learning with marginalized young people’. Young people who are not in education or employment might be between 10 – 40% in European countries. On-going work in adapting on-line learning guidelines to assist with mobile learning delivery to dis-enfranchised youth. Guidelines include a truly personlised and bespoke curriculum, learning has to be fun, a thriving on-line community, student-led project-based leanring, student-led work portfolios, destinations to reflect lifelong learning, NOT content delivery or teaching. Therefore, learn where I like, learn what I like and learn when I like = person centred constructivist learning.

Last paper of the day with Matthew Kearney, Marie Schuck (University of Technology Sydney) and Kevin Burden (University of Hull) on ‘locating mobile in the Third space’. Based on two projects – Mobalogy (community of learners from Higher Ed. Working with mobile devices in Sydney) and Bird in the Hand (trainee teachers and teacher educators in UK). Interest in time-space as fixed spaces, fixed times, contrasted with learning anywhere and socially negotiated time. Third space proposed as space separate from home or work and where social / leisure takes place or in education, space between formal (school) and informal space (museums, libraries etc.). Framework visualized as venn diagram with 3 characteristics of social interactivity, authenticity and customization and wrapped around these are time/space. Interesting concept to think through.

All in a busy day. Good to see and hear the focus of many mlearning projects moving from just pushing content (as per mlearn 3 - 4 years ago) to being much more student / user centric. The move into Web 2.0 and the cloud has accelerated emphasis on student / learner generated content. So now, mlearning, supported generally by pedagogical frameworks reflecting collaborative, problem-based or project-based learning, has matured. Hopefully, this remains the future direction of using technology to enhance learning as hardware, software and humanware come together to become mainstream everyware.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

mlearn 2010 day 2 morning

Day two dawns fine but cloudy and begins with keynote from Prof. Mohammed Ally (Athabasca University) who presents on ‘mobile learning to transform the delivery of education: Are we ready? Provided overview of mobile learning. Currently over 4 billion mobile subscribers with growth mainly in developing countries with younger people most comfortable with mobile technology. People now have multiple mobile devices, using each where most applicable / effective / cheapest. Perhaps in the future, no such thing as mobile devices but communicators embedded into our environment, cloths,ourselves and interact with these seamlessly as they are integrated into our lifestyle – no mlearn as such, maybe embedded communications /learning conferences  Still resistance by educators. professionals and experts but what about what happened with internet use in education? However, our students more accepting and interested in learning on the go. What will the role of the teacher in a world with open access to information? Mobile learning development needs to take into account aspects of social justice. (youtube video).
Call to researchers to ensure mlearning research taken one step further, to help make a difference to the lives of people who do not have ready access to education. Need to help change educations system!!, attitude of educators / managers, lobby for free connectivity, work with hardware/software developers to develop mobile education devices to achieve education for ALL using mobile learning.

Second shorter keynote from Inaki Berroeta , CEO of Vodaphone Malta on ‘how smartphones and data technologies enable mLearning’. Use of mobile phones is higher than PC use, especially with young people. Smartphones have evolved to become the ‘perfect enabler’ with examples including vision learning Provided examples of learning resources developed through partnership of University of Malta and Vodaphone Malta including science based quizzes (sci-roid) and interactive mobile interactive city adventure of Malta. Another example using SMS or WAP in India to help students learn English words – one word a day, at very low costs. (.35R)

First concurrent sessions for the morning divided into two streams of short papers. One on applications and the other on future directions. I pick the ones I am interested in and move between the two rooms.

First up ‘mobile question and answer explorative exercises’ presented by Chris Borgermann with Frank, Siepermann and Lackes. Explains how mashup of game-based learning and mlearning based on questions and answers. Potential of mlearning to provide for interaction, focusing on problem solving with feedback provided. Game-based learning perceived to be fun and may lead to exploration and experimentation. Well-known game concepts tend to only bring about lower level / surface learning, therefore learning game developers need to go beyond. Porting existing elearning to mobile devices also not always successful. Mobile learning should be based on the learners’ mobility (using location-based learning) and not be premised just on using a mobile device. Proposed concept of a ‘treasure hunt text adventure’.

Next up ‘mobile based group quiz to promote collaborative learning’ from Aljohani, Loke and Ng. Presented a descriptive overview of the development and implementation of group quizzes (true and false only) using Nokia E71 – mainly based on text messaging. Mainly a teacher-led approach as teachers input questions but students work in groups to answer questions. Evaluated 3 trials with small groups of students.

Then on ‘mobile collaborative learning’ presented by Chris Borgermann with work from Frank, Kushmood and Lackes. Based on trying to define what is learner/group-centred interaction (passive to active learning) and collaborative or cooperative learning. Learning paradigm changing from centralized, teacher-centred which is static to localized, student-centred dynamic learning. Mobile learning must not be just elearning on the go. Proposes need to cater to learners by changing to a location-sequence-based learning. A collaborative learning system enhances mlearning.

A large group represented by Cindy Kerawalla from the University of Nottingham present on the topic of ‘being a geographer: Role of mobile script inquiry for field trips’. Reported on a case study of secondary students working on a geography project on ‘urban heat) using a variety of mobile devices, laptop, GPS, thermometer and camera supported with relevant software. Students were videoed as they embarked on field trips using a process from Goodwin (2003) to analyse video stills on ‘symbiotic gestures’ and bodily measurements to develop ‘culturally organsed vision’. Process helpful in understanding the processes of students’ understanding of what it is to be a geographer.

Last paper this morning from Norazah Rahman from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia presented a group project on ‘student acceptance of mobile content of the research methodology course’. The post-graduate students are teachers attending a blended course on research methods. Mobile phone content in the form of course notes and access to discussion forum. Findings include acceptance of use of mobile phones as a source of learning content, learning support and course organization (communicate for group work).

mlearn 2010 day 1 afternoon

After long lunch concurrent sessions begin. I hop between ‘user-centric development’ and ‘applications’. First up, ‘social flow in mobile learning’ from Ryu, Cui and presented by David Parsons (Massey University). Raises the question, does mobile learning also mean social learning? Based on Csikszentmihalyi’s work on ‘flow’ – balancing challenge (excitement) with apprehension (fear). Walker (2010) proposes ‘social flow’ where doing things together enhances the experience and dampens anxiety. Can social flow be enhanced with mobile learning? Compared experiences of students (some on solo mlearning, others in collaborative synchronous groups and a face to face group but delayed) to see if social flow occurs. Mobile collaboration increased cognitive curiosity and interest.

Then R. Douch, G. Parker and presented by Jill Attewell on ‘mobile technologies for work-based and vocational learning’. Overview of MoLeNET which undertook mobile learning research and then embedded into educational institutions. Workbased learners’ challenges included limited access to ICT at work/home, workplace not set up for learning, disconnect from college and limited interaction with peers/tutors, collecting evidence can be a chore, impatient to complete theory and low literacy/numeracy, difficult to engage with learning, bored by key skills requirement and assessor visits can be disruptive. Case studies available on www.moleshare.org.uk practitioner led action research encouraged so that research led to improvement in teaching, learning and outcomes. Including mobile learning tools improved engagement and attendance, retention and achievement. Learning more flexible, relevant and teaching could be differentiated and personalized more often. Quantity and quality of homework and coursework improved. Advantages also to employers, assessors and colleges involved. resources and video resources  available,

Cooney from learnosity on ‘dialing for success in spoken learning and assessments’ firstly used in Ireland to assess spoken Gaelic and run on mobile phones including ipod touch and through Skype. Now scalable and used across Australia and Saudi Arabia as well. Use for spoken formative assessments, spoken self-assessment, spoken assessments practice and summative assessments. Assessments are recorded and available to teachers. Teachers able to generate own questions. In Ireland, increased spoken Gaelic practice for students leading to increase in competency. Future development to allow for peer learning so that students able to speak to each other instead of just running through set questions.

After afternoon tea, another lot of concurrent sessions beginning with mobimaths from a group from Dublin (Trinity College and the digital hub) represented by Brendan Tangley. This project uses smartphones in teaching mathematics in particular to address maths anxiety and to try to improve current maths teaching which is still didactic, behaviourist and assessment driven. Project creates contextualized, collaborative, constructivist learning opportunities for students based on set of standards-aligned maths learning activities and instructional materials.

Then a follow up on a Canadian nursing project I have been following – mobile self-efficacy in a Canadian nursing programme from Vancouver, presented by Rick Kenny (Athabasca University and Jocelyn Van-Neste Kenny from North Island College. Used Bandura’s self-efficacy (magnitude, strength /confidence to perform and generalizability) theory to find out how nursing students were engaging with mobile learning opportunities. Compared distance students and full-time students but only small sample responded to computer self-efficacy (Compeau and Higgins, 1995) questionnaire. Findings indicate familiarity and confidence in using various mobile phones /devices (ipod touch) however will need to repeat the study with a larger sample.

Next up, teachers’ perspectives on implementing science lessons using mobile phones from Ekanake and presented by Jocelyn Wishart from University of Bristol. Study undertaken in schools in Sri Lanka. Support of mobile phone required for teachers’ managerial processes, assisted teachers to link lesson to students’ prior learning and to implement a student- centred approach. Greater student participation, student-teacher interactions and student-student interactions. Challenges presented to students using a range of mobile phones and usual mobile phone technical issues. For teachers, challenges included time required for technical mobile phone support and cost of phones and data. In general, both teachers and students provided positive feedback on using mobile phones to enhance science learning.

Last one today on SCROLL: Supporting to share and reuse ubiquitous learning logs presented by Hiroaki Ogata with work also by Mengmeng, Hou, Uosaki, El-Bishant and Yano from University of Tokushima. How can we record learning experiences as they happen in the real world in anytime, anywhere? Idea of life logging not new (65 years at least!) but currently many apps usable eg. Evernote, 3banana. Aim of learning log project to record learning processes, primarily of overseas students learning Japanese. Based on some studies on ubiquitous learning log object (ULLO) and adapted to create SCROLL which is android OS, running off a web server to allow smart phones the capability of capturing learning on the move (text, photos with location, audio (asking questions of other users). Also allows organization of LO collected as evidence organized in a timeline and also locations of evidence so that the user is aware of these when they return to the same place. Quizzes used for formative assessment. Evaluation using pre and post-test of vocabulary words indicate improvement in recall.

A good start to the conference, good to catch up with various peopled from other mlearns. At least 20% of the attendees have ipads and well over 70% attend sessions with their netbooks / laptops on to take notes. Wifi a bit patchy when many people accessing the net at the same time 

Evening filled with conference dinner which includes a multimedia presentation on the history of Malta - the Malta Experience and dinner. A long but fruitful day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

mlearn 2010 day 1 morning

In Valetta, capital of Malta for mLearn 2010 this week.  Arrived yesterday to a wet and windy Malta. however, over the course of the afternoon, managed to walk around most of the sights in Valetta ( a UNESCO world heritage site).  The walls, several metres thick and at least 10 metres high are an impressive sight. Staying at the cheap Hotel British (room the size of my wardrobe at home) but the Grand Harbour views from the window are stunning – rated 10 plus and definitely better than the ones from the window of the hotel where the conference is being held! 

Conference begins with usual welcome from the conference committee and two keynote sessions. First up ‘conversations en route to learning’ from Prof. Agnes Kuklska Hulme from the Open University (UK). She overviewed forms of communications before, now and into the future. Humans have a innate preference for face to face conversations, so how can technology assist the process? Social networking assists somewhat and increase in ubiquitious computing furthers enhances the process. Examples in teaching include use of Twitter with trainee teachers and students using MXit mobile chat to assist peer interaction. Work by Pask 1976, Sharples 2003 and Laurillard 2002, 2007; provide a start in learning more about the role of conversations in learning. Work still needs to continue as conversations are now many layered, multilogues straddle multiple media, speech acts become artifact; more conversations with self (eg. this blog :); any questions answered etc. Some interesting initiative now emerging exampled by donate your SMS text to research; research data from conversation with self (mobile app mappiness mood monitor); digital jewellery as conversational prop; innovative ways of starting conversations; Perhaps, mobile communication is opening the door for a wider range of communications beyond just text to take place.

Second keynote from Andy Goff, from ConnectED (distributors of Playstation games) on augmented reality in learning. Began by setting the context of education and engagement and the status of augmented reality. Engagement not only with the students but also with teachers and with students using educational content. AR is when real life is enhanced by real time interactive digital media. Showed examples of AR on PSP games, android OS phone. Types of AR include mashup with GPS, accelerometer and compass, marker based tracking using camera reading a marker or markerless tracking.

Basically camera in phone or PSP reads a coded piece of paper and a 3D image comes up onto the screen eg. Shows up organs of body when you hold up a marker superimposed on to the person holding up the marker, or triggers a video to run.  Plus games exampled by eyepet (updated AR tamagochi), second sight – Romeo and Juliet pilot, safety for vocational education in Scandinavia, English heritage (Wroxeter Roman City) etc.and a workplace example with scaffold safety on-job training session. Various projects underway include links to text books, 'questing', accessibility (sign language and other langues) etc. Moving away from PSP, AR needs to move into other mobile devices and include capabilities for image tracking, face tracking, connect with interactive whiteboards, 'lustucru' app on iphone, citroen and BMW, olympus camera, alstom adverts; interactive book which triggers 3D images which you can interact with (move, tilt).