Those of you who have known me over the years, will vouch for the fact that I’m often going on about ‘baby steps’. Sorry guys…but I’m still doing it! [grin] Getting into e-learning has never been a simple, easy road and I’ve always advocated that baby steps is the way to begin and importantly, the way to move forward. Technology is changing so swiftly and sometimes you feel like you will never catch up, but as long as you keep taking a step forward (doesn’t matter if it is a teeny, tiny step), then you will soon be running! Just like those first, tentative baby steps turn into the running feet of a two year-old! ROFL
Thought I’d start with Internet Buttons – “a webtool that … removes all the complicated bits of the internet and makes it easy to keep going back to the places you want to go to.” There’s a good video on the front of the site, but basically it’s a tool that will set up a ‘jump off point’ to lots of different websites, from a single, easily remembered web address that you pick yourself. So…I got to thinking [sound of creaking gears]…this might be useful for those of you who have a student cohort which isn’t that tech-savvy. You could set up some ‘Internet buttons’ to a number of websites which relate to your course, or which are useful/interesting for your students. What do you think?
MAKING YOUR ONLINE COURSE MORE ENGAGING
What makes a ‘good’ online course? Is it a list of resources with directions on how to use them? Check out this video:
I often chat with people about various aspects of their online teaching, especially in Moodle, and together we come up with solutions to their specific issues. Often these solutions can help others though, so I’ve put a number together on a wiki called Teaching with Moodle. Of course the names and faces have been changed to protect anonymity. [cheeky grin]
Wrong! Facebook can be an incredibly useful tool and 100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom details just some. Have you thought about following news feeds…polling your class…sharing websites…posting class notes…? And that’s just a few ideas. Another useful resource is The Why and How of Using Facebook For Educators – No Need to be Friends At All! If you are concerned about whether using Facebook as a learning tool will distract your students from their studies, comments from Educational Benefits of Social Networking Sites Uncovered appear to disagree. “...students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today.”
E-PORTFOLIOS…A GOOD OPTION FOR RPL?
“An e-portfolio is a learner-driven collection of digital artifacts articulating experiences,achievements and evidence of learning” – this is a quote from the VET e-Portfolio Roadmap however a new report (Australian e-Portfolio Project) refreshes the picture of e-portfolio use in adult learning, showing that VET is more practical in its use of e-portfolios and is more likely to use e-portfolios for RPL or a CV, whereas Higher Ed tends to use them for reflective learnings. If you’re interested in e-portfolios, then get along to the 2011 ePortfolios National Australia Conference , being held on 17-18 October in Perth, where you’ll be exposed to lots of ideas and case studies from those who are already using them. Never heard of e-portfolios? This might be a good start…..
Well, that’s the question this teacher asked herself…”A blog would just be more “work”—that’s all I could see“, she said at first…but she began to change her mind. If this story encourages you to start your own blog, I would suggest Blogger as a good place to begin as its a good, basic, blogging tool. The video How to Create a Blog with Blogger is a helpful tutorial but if you’re more of a ‘just give me the written instructions’ kinda person [grin], then How to Create a Blog Using Blogger.com is the printable version. You can even blog ‘on the go’ with mobile blogging! Too basic? If you’re looking for something with more bells and whistles and widgets than Blogger, then try WordPress. What’s that like? Well…that’s what I use for this Newsletter so you’re now reading a WordPress blog. Heh, heh..
To put it simply, MyStickies allows you to place little yellow squares of digital paper anywhere and everywhere you feel like in the whole wide web. I’m sure you all have many websites ‘Favourited’ (is that a word? [chuckles]. Well this tool extends that usefulness as it gives you the ability to put a sticky note on any web page. When you come back to the page, your sticky note is still there, where you left it, together with your notes.
X…THEN Y…NOW IT’S GENERATION C!
“This is the first generation that has never known any reality other than that defined and enabled by the Internet, mobile devices, and social networking“…The arrival of Generation C [to business and employment] will have an impact comparable to that of the Industrial Revolution, but it will take place much more quickly”.. This is a quote from a really interesting article called The Rise of Generation C…thanks to Stephan and Bec from TAFESA for the link (I was eavesdropping on their Twitter conversation [chuckles to herself]) On the topic of youth, I’ve been working on a resource called Creating Rich Learning Environments which focuses on how to use different technologies to engage 15 – 25 year olds. If you teach that age-group, have a look and let me know if you have any suggestions that I can include. I’ve run out of ideas in some categories and could use the help. [smile]
Do you feel it is distracting? In the article Teachers vs. Cell Phones: Mobile Devices Win, the author says “Not raging against cell phones in the classroom means students show up more and leave class less often—at least in my experience. “ What do you think? Why not go the whole hog and actually tell your students to use their phones in class…and vote on a poll! PollEverywhere is an easy to use tool which allows you to gather live responses to your questions. Better still, you can have them appear straight into your Powerpoint or website. You don’t even need to log in (unless you want to keep the poll for more than 2 weeks) and its free for up to 30 respondents. Check the FAQ for your questions but it looks easy to use….and your students will think you’re really cool! [cheeky grin] Want to try it? Go to my poll about phones in the classroom, and vote via text message (cost of a normal text). You’ll see the results (including your vote), straight away.
CONTENT DEVELOPMENT – FOR EXPERTS AND OTHERS
One for all you content-developers out there…did you know that an updated set of standards for creating accessible and reusable e-learning content has been published? It’s called the VET E-learning Content Standards and it’s been reviewed and ratified by the E-standards Expert Group…which is the National Senior Officials Committee (NSOC) endorsed technical standards body for the VET sector. All kosher and highly official then! [winks] It’s all a bit technical for me, but I love the Software Analyser Tool, which automatically check your computer setup and plug-ins. Fabulously easy and gives you the necessary evidence you might need to argue a case to one of those (rare, I know) IT Administrators who gets grumpy. If you’re still at the ‘baby steps’ stage of content development, then have a look at my Creating Content resource. By the way, e-Skills workshops on some of these tools are coming up soon!
A REWARD FOR GETTING TO THE END
Here is a chocolate bar, as a reward for getting right to the bottom of this Newsletter [laugh]. Next time one of your student’s excels at something, give them chocolate too!
Hopefully you found something interesting in the topics above, and remember that sometimes a ‘baby-step’ can just be an increased understanding…or a slightly different attitude…or a simple change to the way you do things. Whatever, it’s all good! Don’t forget that I’m here to help and happy to chat about your own needs, or that of your colleagues. ‘See’ you next month!