Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sino NZ TVET educational research forum - proceedings

Proceedings, edited by John Clayton, from this year's Sino NZ Vocational Education and Training (TVET) conference are now available via this link to my paper which provides access to the entire document as well. The conference was held in Tianjin at the Hai He educational Park, visited last year.

I was unable to join the contingent this year but paper on using video to improve learning of skills and dispositions was presented by Debby Taylor, the hospitality tutor who has worked on honing the process over the last 3 years. Debby presented a 'demonstration workshop' of how the process worked, using videos of hospitality students learning how to check-in guests, the app coachs' eye and the feedback cycle.

The papers in the proceedings provide a good overview of adult educators' and vocational educators' work, with representation from across the NZ institutes of  technology and polytechnics (ITP) sector.

Papers cover a range of pedagogical approaches applying learning centred teaching across a range of discipline areas. Of note are:
- Project / problem based learning (PLB)(Mary-Jane Duffy and Richard Finn; James MacKay and Clifton McKenna)
- related to PLB are papers on role play (Richard Finn), using videos (Selena Chan et al.), self-review (Kaye Jujnovich et al.), learning contracts in the form of 'living consensus' (Julia Bruce) and reflective frameworks (John Clayton and Sarah-Jane Saravani).
- On-job training had papers from Jenny Gibbs and Competenz (William Wang et al).
- technology enhanced learning featured in papers by Competenz on case study of elearning programme design with engineering apprentices, using videos (Selena Chan et al.), and reflective frameworks (John Clayton and Sarah-Jane Saravani)

Cath Fraser provided an overview of the excellent Ako Aotearoa resources Signposts and Goalposts pitched at beginning ITP tutors and also the posters produced by the South Island Educational Developers group.

Important topics on cross cultural education (with Brenda Saris and Deb Donnelly) and sustainability (Mary Panko and Rashika Sharma) round off the selection of papers.

In all, a worthy collection of papers, showcasing some of the best of NZ VET practice.

Monday, December 15, 2014

reviewing 2014

This year has been quieter that some others, but also productive in many ways. I have been able to improve my understanding of a range of topics, notably, in the ways neuroscience may be able to inform us on how humans learn. See here for summary and here for neuroeconomics MOOC notes.

Publishing still moving along with one article published and one published open access and awaiting assignation to a volume/issue next year. My learning is that articles take up to a year or beyond to go through the peer review process and publication. I usually peck at constructing ideas, collating thoughts etc. over the year and then have a concerted writing focus in January / February to ready articles for submission by March / April. This year, I have tried to push things forward so that articles are closer to being complete by Christmas. I hope to get the articles ready for submission by end of February, so articles will be published within the year, rather than carried through into the year beyond.

My educational developer role has centred on project surfacetablet. Some project teams have progressed beyond their planned objectives but several projects have been slow to start due to the need to concentrate on building staff capability before launching the tablets into courses. The need to learn how to operate the tablets windows 8 OS has taken some people time to get to grips with. We have also had major technical challenges incorporating some technology tools into tablets. The main issue has been the slightly different operating system operating on the RT surface tablets and the non-mobile configurations of our existing suite of technology tools. All good learning for the institution, but frustrating for tutors and students if things do not work.

Apart from the above activities, my role has also involved evaluation of some of the technology tools we currently use. The findings have provided a better understanding of the institutions current deployment of web conferencing and learning management systems. Therefore, next year, will need to come to grips with the implications of learning analytics (see workshop notes from Ascilite) and how LA can be deployed to improve learning opportunities for students.

As the year closes, the institute is reviewing the academic division, of which the centre for educational development, is part. We should find out early next year, how the division will be re-structured. Early indications are that the centre will be disbanded and resources distributed to three functional units. Always good to review what works and what doesn’t and will await what transpires when we return to work after the Xmas/new year seasons.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ako Aotearoa academy symposium

At the end of last week, I was at the annual meeting of academy members held in Wellington at the Brentwood hotel. Largest symposium with over 60 members participating.

Symposium opened with mihi from Ngahiwi Apanui. Academy president, Phil Bishop provided update on the last 12 months and work between academy and Ako Aotearoa board. 

This year, the symposium was open to non-academy members for the afternoon. The theme of the day - tackling tertiary teaching challenges, retaining and developing capable graduates not just for today but for tomorrow. Tomorrow we work on the theme - leadership in education.

Symposium welcome followed by official welcome to the academy of this years excellence in teaching awardees into the academy. Then the hub managers introduced themselves. The objectives of the symposium was introduced by Eric Pawson. Professor Geoff Scott provided an overview of what he would like to see is achieved over the next day and a half. 

After lunch, a welcome from Dr. Peter Coolbear, Ako Aotearoa director who also read out a letter from the Minister for Tertiary Education, Hon. Steven Joyce. Peter provided background and reminded academy of their leadership role on the direction taken by government for tertiary education. 

Following, the first keynote from Professor Geoff Scott from the University of Western Sydney who is leading the afternoon's sessions. He presented on retaining and developing capable graduates not just for today but for tomorrow. Updated on what is happening around the world, to frame the discussions for the afternoon. Covered key themes on how learning can be enhanced to engage students. What can the graduate do after they have graduated?  Retention needs to be whole system, before tertiary, in transition, orientation and during and following. Backward mapping to find out if programme is working. Is it the right assessment, grading, calibration, learning design and resources. Change does not happen but has to be planned.

Measurement and funding for tertiary education tied to outcomes- not only enrolments but retention, completion and impact post graduation. Shift to quality of inputs to outputs, value added, employability, competency-based assessment, work ready plus graduates. Multiple reference points to validate programme level outcomes. Growing. focus on learning and assessing personal and interpersonal capabilities. Common searchable good practice clearing houses eg. MERLOT. 

Framework for quality is learning design, aligned support and infrastructure, delivery and impact. With aligned governance, policy, strategy, quality management and resourcing system.   Ensure everyone understands important vocabulary of standards and education.   Used case study to illustrate comprehensiveness of approach to ensure effective transition and retention strategies plus strategies to make sure graduate developing capabilities that count. 

Then break out sessions occur for participants to work through key themes from the keynote. Groups shared topics that were helpful and a topic they wanted to know more about. Geoff responded to the topics requiring more information. 

Dinner in the evening enlivened by songs and skits from members and a quiz, hosted by James Patterson and Kelly Pender. Good to meet new members and several who were awardees several years ago but at the symposium for the first time. As usual, diverse viewpoints and good opportunity to find out what has been going on at other ITPs over the year.

Day 2

Dr. Peter Coolbear provided a 'state of the nation' presentation followed with question and answer session. Covered themes the government level and Ako Aotearoa's reading of response. NZ priority areas include Maori , Pacifica success, NEETs, outcome, employability, literacy and numeracy, STEM, opportunities with new technologies, impact of NCEA on learning, impact of social media on learning, learning analytics, international students' experiences. Some congruence between government and providers but also some items missing. Missing from conversations include assessment, learner voice / information for learners and re-evaluation of what it means to be a professional tertiary educator. Themes from Ako Aotearoa perspectives include how projects are framed perhaps, important to use an approach that identifies success, understand why and sharing; need to be clearer about values related to tertiary education e.g. Cross cultural referencing; changing dynamics of tertiary teaching and learning - away fro content; and helping students how to learn. Tertiary education is complex, how do we assist developing, promulgation and socialising accessible ideas and tools to enhance learning. 

Second keynote from Professor Geoff Scott on 'turnaround leadership in tertiary education'. Presented analogies of being a leader in their institutions. Revised dimensions of capability from yesterday- personal, interpersonal and cognitive capabilities and role specific and generic competencies. Personal involves self awareness regulation, decisiveness and commitment. Interpersonal requires influencing and empathising. Cognitive includes diagnosis, strategy, flexibility and responsiveness. Competencies to manage, operate, self organise etc. shared the top ranked capabilities by learning leaders. Effective leaders not at top or organisation need more interpersonal capabilities. Change capable culture is built by change capable leaders. Pick your battles, prioritise and listen, link then lead.

Groups discussed the topic presented which they found most useful and the topic they wanted to find out more about. 

Closing presentation on constructing and testing a change leadership framework. A response to the Ministers invitation to report on outcomes to the symposium worked through. 

Symposium ended with field trip to Zealandia for last opportunity to catch up with academy whanau. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Resound linx hearing aids - user review

I have started to struggle with poor hearing, so took the plunge and went to the audiologist a couple of months ago for a hearing test. Results did not come as a surprise. Moderately severe high frequency neuro-sensory hearing loss in both hears. I suspect its partially genetics as my eighty plus mother is very hard of hearing and when my son started school his hearing lost was picked up. High noise levels while working in bakeries and teaching baking for almost 30 years probably didn’t improve things. Cake mixers and other bakery machinery can run very loud and the sound reverberates through all the hard surfaces in the bakery.

Over the last year or so, I noticed difficulty at meetings and when running workshops with hearing people who were a meter or so away. Also, nearly impossible to hear people talking in the car when I sit in the back seat but recently, also difficult to hear someone seated in the car next to me, due to the noise of traffic and car mechanical noise. Ditto in restaurants and anywhere where there is lots of background noise. Sometimes even difficult to hear someone sitting right next to me when the environment is buzzing with extraneous sounds.

The audiologist recommended a few options, all expensive and all digital. So, decided on the resound linx hearing aid as you are able to connect to an iphone or ipad through Bluetooth - see cnn review and review from uk. The hearing aid can then be adjusted to suit different conditions – outdoors, restaurant etc. Audio from the phone can sent directly to the hearing aid and the phone can also act as a microphone. So the techie in me decided to shell out the $$ and become part of the wearable computer brigade.

There is a $1022 subsidy from the NZ Ministry of Health which is helpful and one is eligible for the subsidy every six years after making the first claim. Technology in the hearing aid field must move quickly as friends of mind who have had hearing aids ‘installed’ all have different models which all claim to be the best at the time. So six years is quite a long time to wait between hearing aids. It will be interesting to observe how the wearable computer trend develops with regards to hearing aids.

During the first two weeks, I found out how much I was missing out on with regards to sound!! However, noisy meetings / places were very intimidating as the hearing aid magnifies all sound and my brain had to try to learn again, how to filter out the things I needed to hear and everything else. I persevered by having the hearing aids on at last 10 to 14 hours a day and only by the end of about a month, did the noise level become manageable. Even then, I turn off my hearing aid at scrabble tournaments where I only need to have one on one conversations and do not need to be distracted by other noise.

Connection of the hearing aids via Bluetooth to an ipad mini was straight forward. Especially handy to have music / audio books etc. beamed directly into the hearing aid as you cannot also use ear buds when the hearing aids are in. Adjustments to the hearing aid can then be made via the resound linx app. So, all in, this aspect works well. Have now listened to a backlog of podcasts and a couple of audio books while gardening or walking the dog. Bluetooth has to be turned off during flights, so still need to bring ear buds to watch videos on the ipad mini.

Monday, December 01, 2014

iPad mini 2 - review

Purchased an ipad mini (32G Wifi model)while in Oz for a family wedding a few weeks ago. Last week, all the Ascilite notes were taken using the ipad mini with no peripheral keyboard. So this is a brief review of use to date. I agree with isource.com about typing on the ipad mini. At first, I was a little hesitant as to how the small screen would cope. However, being blessed with small fingers means typing on the ipad mini has not been difficult. I used the notetaking app and copied across via blogger app. All straightforward. As usual, good to follow up a week or so after a conference to tidy up the conference blogs as it leads to actions lists and other connections that arise from various presentations.

On the way back from Perth, I flew Virgin Pacific. There were signs in the waiting room to download the Virgin Pacific app which I dutifully did. On the plane, it was just a matter of opening the app and selecting what you wanted to watch. Screen was a tad small for watching video and you need to ensure you have your ear plugs or similar with you. However, beats not having any video to watch at all when on a flight and you have not paid for seat that comes with entertainment.

One of the reasons for the purchase of the mini was to run the resound linx hearing aid app (more on this next week) and the Bluetooth pairing worked without any hassles. All sound from the ipad mini is now bluetoothed to hearing aids, which is great when I am out walking the dog or catching up with gardening. Over the last three weeks, have been able to catch up with a backlog of podcasts and audiobooks.

So overall, happy with the ipad mini. Its lightness and size are a real advantage compared to the acerswitch 10 or the surface pro. iOS is still superior in terms of user friendliness. The real advantage being the way all apps work in a similar way and ease of use. On signing up for the itunes account on unwrapping and powering up the mini, all the apps, music, books etc. from my previous ipad was ported across. I just had to select the ones I wanted to access on the mini and download of the selected items was straightforward. Ditto for kindle app, Seamlessness just has to be the way to go when you move from an older device to another. 

Access to the cloud is especially important as ipads have no usb port. The ability to link easily to dropbox similar is essential, along with the function of downloading files from the cloud to reside on the ipad so there is access to files when there is no WiFi. All in, happy with the small size of the mini. It is perhaps not the ideal device for a business road warrior but works well enough for those who need a device to surf the web, take notes, upload photos and read.