Monday, August 30, 2010

Ipad tips

As usual, the net is flooded with sites providing various ways to get the most out of your ipad. Gizmodo site floats up first on a google search. The most useful one here is to be able to take a screenshot – especially useful for maps of places you are about to visit.

Tech radar does a one up by providing 75 tips!! Many useful with iphone / ipod touch but a good review of the various shortcuts and ways to maximise use of the iphone OS. How to geek has a ‘definitive list’ with well laid out instructions and many tips not covered in the previous two sites, well worth a good look.  Also some interesting tips on ipad news daily including 12 little known features and the evolution of various technologies which culminate in the ipad.

All above useful toward how we can leverage the use of net tablets to enhance student learning at CPIT. Have just purchased the ipad camera kit and the ipad dock connector to VGA adaptor which I will test out over the next couple of days. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

CPIT research week - Outputs 2010

The annual CPIT research week ran this week with each school which had research capacity presenting a range of reports on various research activities the staff. Posters, produced for various conferences, were also displayed and the library featured their information retrieval / support systems supporting research activities for staff and students.

This is the third year CPIT has run the research week. In previous years, it has provided me, in my role as staff developer supporting research activities at CPIT, a good opportunity to gain an overview of the diverse research taking place. Many of research projects undertaken explore pedagogical aspects rather than pure subject focuses. In all, over 40 presentations of which about a third have a teaching/learning focus. Most schools have at least one or more project related to enhancing student learning, so lots of good work undertaken, of note are the presentations from the school of computing, all of which have a student focus.

On Tuesday, the week was launched by our new CE, Kay Giles. The School of Humanities started things off with three presentations. First up, Gerry Duignan with his work towards his Masters on ‘ cross cultural perspectives in adult education’ based interviews/ focus groups with Saudi teachers who have been doing short adult education courses at CPIT. Then Phillip McFedries presented on his proposed project, to produce a collection of stories of refugees’ experiences. The resulting collection will be disseminated via hard or soft copy which is to be decided by the students. Then I did a summary of the ‘perspectives of first year apprentices’ project, with good questions at the end.

On Wednesday, the invited guest speaker was Dr. Tim Lindley, who provided a very informative and interesting hour on the Food and Crop project on carbohydrates and how the research is now used in a fully online weight lose programme called Aspire. A good example of how research can have wide ranging applications and the ways in which fundamental research can be commercialised.

Thursday, I attended the presentations by the Schools of Computing, Broadcasting and Nursing. Unable to get to the School of Art and Design due to another meeting. School of Computing presented a four projects of relevance to my work. Rob Oliver presented work he has been doing with Dave Kennedy, using tablet computers. I have blogged previously on Dave and Daphne’s work using class presenter. Rob has now been working on a PC based variant of class presenter, ubiquitous presenter, freeware from the University of California) which needed some tweaking but now running via Firefox and used with database and programming classes. In summary, it allows students to submit answers to questions and for the whole class to see various submissions. The learning conversations which flow from the answers provide for great learning opportunities.

Then Malcolm Weick presented on how to teach classes of mixed abilities and why it is important to also support the ‘top’ students as well as the ‘struggling students’. Institutional support more prevalent for ‘struggling’ students but students who begin a course with prior knowledge and skills also at risk of not completing due to initial boredom and lack of engagement. Some good ideas Flip and I will be able to use on how to motivate more able students.
Chris McCartney presented 4 student ‘research projects’ where by students work with a tutor to produce a conference presentation based on student’s project work. Lastly, Armit Sarkar and Ranran (Monica) Bian did a energetic presentation on their ‘virtual vending machine’ using a unit testing framework with programming students.

Thursday evening, there was 9 presentations from the School of Nursing, which included items from the ‘social work’ team. Of note were Isabel Jamieson’s Phd project on Gen Y and what they think about nursing, Jane Maidment on ‘using craft as a vehicle for social cohesiveness’ , Chris Taua on ‘ people with intellectual disability as active participants in nursing research’ and Ada Campbell’s Diploma in Tertiary Teaching project ‘ searching for the threads of cultural safety in the Bachelor of Nursing programme’.

Chris Taua’s project is of interest as obtaining ethics for her project will be a challenge. Of note, her intention to use the approach taken by the Donald Beasley Institute which uses clear and simple language in their reports to ensure the reports are accessible to the intellectually disabled community.

On Friday, only managed to get to the afternoon sessions as I shifted offices in the morning. So attended a couple of sessions from the midwifery section and then 8 presentations from the School of Business and Recreation. In midwifery, Rae Daellenbach and Mary Kensington presented on the experiences of midwifery students of the blended learning programme now offered jointly by CPIT and Otago Polytechnic with students from all parts of the South Island.

In the school of business, presentations of relevance to me were from David Irwin on ‘exploring the roles of identity change and change agency within organisations moving towards sustainability’ - based on precepts of 'sense making'; Jo Straker on ‘meaning making: whose meaning’ (trying to define whose outdoors and which outdoors) and Adam Hollingworth and Teresa Schwellnus’ project on ‘ influence of numeracy ability on success rates in business qualifications’ using NZ numeracy progressions. as a base for diagnostic tests for students on entry to see if students who have high levels suceed better and to offer students who may struggle appropriate assistance before they start to have difficulties.

In all, a rich variety of research being produced at CPIT and it is always great to attend presentations and to shares the presenters enthusiasm and knowledge for their work.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Alternatives to Ipad

I had a chat with automotive tutor – Peter Sauer – who is interested in making use of the tablet as a resource tool in the automotive workshop. There is already a large computer screen and computer set up in the automotive workshop but the students rarely make use of it as it is parked in a corner of the workshop and using it means everyone else in the workshop is able to see what the user is looking for / at. Ipod touches may be a solution but the screens are too small. The mobility of the tablet along with the screen real estate will provide opportunities to use some very effective automotive reference resources to be accessible in the workshop. Some of the resources include 3D models of engines which can be ‘exploded’ out and the details of each engine part scrutinised.

The cost of ipads makes it expensive for apprentices to purchase. Also, we will probably need a robust tablet which will stand up to the hard surfaces in an automotive workshop. The screen will also need to withstand being continually prodded by greasy fingers! So the hunt is now on for an appropriate device which is not too expensive but robust. There are alternatives to the ipad including 7 here and 10 here plus a NZ specific report.

Android OS tablets seem to be about to take off and there is a blog with the latest news on various Android OS tablets about to be launched. We might have to source these on the internet as I can not see many of these devices making it on to the NZ market. I will need to keep an eye out for them when I am in Hong Kong and Singapore in October. I am only in each country very briefly, so will need to do some research before I go, to work out the best places to view and do some hands on try out with any that are available by October this year.

The Palmpad using Web OS might be also launched by then, although early 2011 seems to be a more likely date. I have always been a fan of the Web OS on palm devices having used 4 palm devices. So it will be interesting to see what comes about.

Windows 7 powered tablets seem to have struck a bit of a challenge, with several reviewers, including this one, providing poor reviews. So, there seems to be many about to be launched and a few already available.  The ipad will still be the standard most people will use as a reference point for other tablets.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ipad - convenience and mlearning tool

The mobility of netbooks / ipad along with Wifi has changed the way in which my family interacts. Both my ‘kids’ (one 22 , the other 25) are currently back at home. The younger establishing herself into work after completing uni. last year & the older back home a month ago, after a 6 month break in Thailand and a couple of years working in Melbourne. He is now back at Polytechnic doing a Cert. in Fitness course. Most evenings, we are gathered around the TV, each with netbook (2 eee PCs), ipad or ipod touch (2 of them), surfing the web, playing games, reading etc. while the 6pm news does its best to bring our attention back to things happening in the big wide world. The husband now has the daily newspapers all to himself but does borrow the ipad for his bit of web surfing as well, he finds the ipod touch screen too small. So besides comments on what is happening on the news, we also share sites we are surfing, latest videos, music, compare scores on games (Scramble2), plan movies to see or walk/tramp/ski trip over the weekend. In the past, we tended to each be busy at our computers & four to five years ago, just before both of them left home, they had TVs in their rooms. We actually now interact socially much more in the evening then we used to!!

From the education focus, I have never been a great fan of teaching in computer suites. The students ‘hide’ behind their computers and group activity, peer interaction is difficult when the physical barrier of a large computer screen prevents people from seeing each other properly. Access to WIFI and encouraging students to make use of laptops/netbooks/ipads presents teachers with a much better physical environment which can be flexibly reorganised to enhance learning activities taking place in the classroom. Untethered web access leads to mobility and the opportunity for students and teachers to centre learning on the tasks at hand.

The classroom then becomes a true learning space as access to information relevant to the lesson is much more easily sourced. This information can then form the basis of learning moments for students and teachers.
Here and here are comprehensive lists of links to various ipod touch/ipad apps – many educational including a good list from Rasmussen college. Also an example of an interactive book in the digital form of a well loved NZ book - Hairy Maclary of Donaldson Diary with a video trailer.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Integrating competency standards into project work - example from engineering section CPIT

Attended a lunch time session from staff of the engineering/manufacturing section in the Trades Innovation Institute (TII) today. ATheir presentation was a subset of one presented at a the recent Adult Literacy and Numeracy Symposium 2010 held at Unitec in Auckland. John Morgan, Tony Smith, Bernie Streeter, Chris Cato, Rayn Baker and Peter Harrison presented on “Embedding Literacy, Language, & Numeracy into Project based learning” – their M-WAU project.

Basically, the delivery of the 6 months pre-trade engineering courses will be re-structured to remove the current 28 summative assessments and be replaced with completion of projects (I.E. making products).  Enbedded into the projects, will be the various performance criteria required to be completed. Numerary and literacy will also be included in situated learning activities. Assessment then involves completion of the projects which requires a complicated set of spreadsheets to track student progress and match their progress to the competency standards completed. 

Of interest is the way in which marks are allocated to projects, changing a competency based assessment into a 'norm referenced' one based on 'tolerances' achieved by students as they work through various projects.  The marks then appear on a graph which can be linked to affinities students may have to various dispositional aspects of the manufacturing trade identifies in vocational roles (toolmaker, fitter /turner, fabricator, welder etc.)

A worthwhile and well throught through project which will be interesting to follow as delivery begins next year.  As all the material related to course delivery is now available digitally, it will be a good project at some stage to see how mobile technology (ipods, ipads, phones) may be useful for students to access learning materials, revision and self track progress.

Monday, August 02, 2010

ITP Trades Forum @ Weltec

At the ITP trades forum on Friday, held at Weltec in Petone, Wellington. This is an intermittent one day forum attended by tutors and managers from trades faculties/ schools throughout NZ. The forum was opened by convenor, Ken Whittle after welcome and housekeeping messages from Alan Peck (from Weltec) who was the convener/organiser of the forum. Ken provided some background on the history of trades training which was set up just over a hundred years ago in NZ. Message is of change as various political /social changes influence the way in which trades training is delivered.

First up, Peter Mellow on '21st century learners and Web 2.0 - implications for learners' with a focus on learning environments / learning spaces and role of teachers in setting up / bringing about change within trades teaching. Peter ran an interactive session supported with multimedia clips. He began with a warm up to start and provided opportunities for participants to work together on several feedback sessions. He ran through characteristics of 21st learners, how technology now connects people (not only young people), how elearning can help students assess learning where & when they need to. Many teachers at level 1/2 (competent but still need help) with technology, need to be at level 3 - automous explorer in order to make the most use of technology for teaching/learning - perhaps teachers as educational technologist/technological educators. Good, M. (2001)- in the book Teaching and Learning online: New pedgogies for new technologies.  On the way to online pedagogy. Learning spaces involve some lateral thinking. Whiteboards on all walls (Resene sells white board paint), whiteboards on tables, lecture chairs which turn 360 degrees etc. to assist with building learning communities which can then be continued after class either physically (whole campus learning space) or virtually. 'your primary influence is the environment you create' Peter Senge. Web 3.0 - semantic web, 3D AI driven, data driven, web 4.0 all about activity, not data. gotoweb20 is a website which collects web 2.0 sites. Used blogging as an example of using web 2.0 to enhance student learning and showed Seth Godlin/Tom Peters video on blogging - and openforum event. also covered wikis, podcasting (Pt England in NZ as an example & AUT Maori language on ipod/ipod touches), eporfolio (Mahara), microblogging (Twitter - flash cards or announcement system). Ends with encouragement to give it a go :)

After morning tea, my session on 'becoming a trades tutor - crossing identity boundaries' went well and touched a cord with several tutors who are new to the ITP sector and their roles as trades tutors.

Then Lee Baglow from Unitec on 'self - exploration - a fresh look at pre-trade auto education. Programme change driven by staff dissatisfaction with the current ways things were being done. Involves a 'living curricula' which involves complex conversation, curiosity etc. creative skills. Examples provided of how programme adapted with improvement in retention, completion rates and increase in staff:student ratio. Includes the use of Web 2.0 to create eportfolios. Begins with students obtaining gmail accounts, use google docs. as repository for learning resources which students use to access resources and templates for students to work through, tutors are able to mark and feedback. Material also available via class blogger site. Students issued with Dell netbooks but all information stored on the cloud. Also 8 HD JVC video players to increase access to video material/powerpoints etc. Students are encouraged to store to maintain a learning journa/eportfolio on Flexibility in delivery allows students to lead their own learning and set individual learning goals. Tutors build capability by using youtube videos to teach them how to use google docs etc.

After lunch, Julia Bruce from Wintec presented on 'principle-based teaching practice' and encouraging students to live their dreams. Developing her own teaching philosophy was a key towards becoming a better teacher and also in helping her students learn better. Her presentation provided examples of teaching resources aligned to her teaching philosophy. She started things out with a 'speed dating' activity in order to get conversation going on how to bring about change in tutor's approach to change, being change agents and working in an environment which is continually changing. Strategies to bring about authentic and collaborative learning including the use of photo shoots to collect hairdressing students' work, production of 'newspaper' by groups of students on theory aspects of the course, presentations by groups of students on other students' work, review teams to revise concepts using group work & kinesthetic resources (play dough, paint, markers etc.). Online discussion groups also used to explore case studies based around customer relationships etc. students encouraged to use journal tool on Moodle to reflect on learning. Possibilities for hairdressing beyond local opened out by using comparative tasks. Quizzes on Moodle also used for revision. Web based books turned into ebooks which are accessible on ipod touches. Julia has a Ako Aotearoa funded project to build guidelines for hairdressing tutors to engage with online learning. Work experience and polytech salon/client days assist with the attitudinal/dispositional skills. Salon teams are used so that each 'salon' has a concept of ownership and sense of purpose. Second interactive session with groups working on individual tutors' approaches/philosophies to teaching followed by groups sharing their discussion. Good sharing and discussion ensued :) opportunities for feedback on the session or for further questions offered as the presentation completed.

Then Ken Whittle from EIT on the development of new trades facilities at EIT which replace facilities that were 35 years old. Design of the facility driven by 'the curriculum' and focused on future industry needs. Curriculum based on feedback from industry / employers for greater emphasis on employability skills (communication, lit/num, info tech. time management etc.) rather than just technical skills. There is an increase in use of flexible learning materials to allow for smaller class numbers and greater access to p/t students. Therefore facilities designed to allow flexible use of space, integration of practical/theory and technician support centralised. Professional development provided to staff to adapt to teaching in new learning environment and in project based learning. Change over in curriculum along with implementation of embedded lit/num has increased both outcomes and retention.

The last session of the day was with James Cannan from MIT on 'Tertiary High School' a concept which CPIT is also going to put in place in 2011. This is for students still at high school to attend courses usually offered at tertiary institutions, so not only trades subjects but also computer studies, horticulture etc. Presentation began with a video from Dr. Stuart Middleton who blogs on edtalk. He has been championing the concept of tertiary high school but is out of NZ and unable to present f2f. He introduced the 'leaking education pipeline' in NZ including 20% of students disappearing from education by age 16, 30.000 secondary truants a day!, 4,000 excluded from school, 85% of youths who present in the youth courts are not attending school on a regular basis. All sobering stats. This 'leak' presents social issues, disengagment, youth inactivity and skills shortages. Disengagement - physical (not in school), virtual (at school but no school quals) and unintended (good intentions, right move, but little or no success post school - esp. in first year of tertiary ed.). Tertiary high school have a programme at polytech offered collaborative with secondary schools. Students identified as having potential but likely to not complete at year 10 are targeted for the programme. Mix of polytech and school qualifications offered with high credit bearing activities based on NZ curriculum. Included with be the development of work and personal skills including the development fo personal pathway plan, literacy (lit/num/digital) support and structured self-directed activities. Year 1 to inform student choice and provide discipline foundation skills. years 2 - 4 in mainstream polytechnic programmes.

Forum clossed with last thoughts / summary from Ken Whittle. An interesting day which the ITP sector needs to continue organising. There does not seem to be any other forum, apart from specific trade groups, in which trades tutors are able to meet and share ideas.  Most other ITP conferences are focused on elearning or on general teaching & learning, so a specific forum, open to all trades tutors, should be considered for the future. In particular to allow innovative tutors to share their work and for tutors to network beyond their own specialist areas and teaching institutions.