S.A. E-Learning Newsletter

News from SA (supported by the National VET E-learning Strategy)

August 2012


Hi everyone,SA E-learning Services

I’m feeling a bit chuffed about the fact that so many of you seem to be visiting my new SA E-learning One-Stop-Shop.  Thanks for your support!  [beaming grin]  Mind you, I’m no website-creator and what I know about HTML you could fit into a (very small) shot-glass, however this site is simply a Wikispace and even I can handle that. [chuckles]   Wikispaces has heaps of tutorial videos plus the Help area is pretty good. If you sign up as a teacher you can have an education account..which means it is free, with no ads.  Cool, huh? I made the icons from clip-art and screen grabs, then stuck them all in a table and turned them into links.  No rocket science there!  If you need a website for anything, why don’t you give this ‘cheat’s method’ a try. 🙂


DCFundamentalsWe talk about creating ‘engaging e-learning’, but what actually does that mean? Have a look at DC Fundamentals: The Role of Electrons.  What do you think? Now check out Broken Coworker.  What is the difference? Well…they’re both full of colour and sound (and a long way from slabs of boring text), but essentially the first was fairly lineal and the second required you to make decisions.  Sort of a ‘choose your own adventure’ …remember them? [nostalgic look]  Something similar is HeartRescueNow.  If you’re inspired to apply the basic principles yourself (and you can do quite good stuff with simple tools like Powerpoint and photos or free clip-art), then check out A Simple Approach to Interactive E-Learning and/or Elearning example: Branching scenario. Get your learners making decisions instead of just clicking the Next button!


Remember those magic eye images back in the 90’s, and when you looked at them ‘cross-eyed’ a picture just popped out!  OK, so moving forward into this century and there is now the ability to ‘see behind’ a static image to something quite different.  Aurasma Lite is a free app for iPads, iPhones, and most Android devices, and it creates augmented reality ‘layers’ that pop-up when you scan objects with your phone or tablet. Big deal, you say? Well, consider how this technology could change how our students interact with printed materials. You give your students a hand-out with diagrams or pictures…they scan one…and voila, it comes to life! Maybe as a video demonstration, or a map, or just you talking to them. [grin] The video below shows how it works…and this is a video tutorial if you want to get started.


OdysenPerhaps you’re managing a small project, or simply need an online and private place for collaboration, sharing and file storage.  I recently came across Odysen which seems to fit the bill….it’s free for up to 6 people. Take the tour to find out more, but it looks like a neat, centralised place for small groups to get organised (and avoid the constant email traffic [groan]).


You may have come across the word ‘MOOC’…Massive Open Online Course… and wondered what it’s all about. Watch the video below to find out – “What is a MOOC”?:

So….what do you think?  Is this where teaching and learning is going? Could you learn via a MOOC? Here is a past MOOC on Artificial Intelligence, and a blog reflection about running  ESL language courses via the MOOC model. This BBC News Report quotes “The first online course from MITx earlier this year had more students than the entire number of living students who have graduated from the university” …but Online, Bigger Classes May Be Better Classes says “The question is whether open teaching has a future beyond early adapters.” Hmmm…but this is all Higher Ed – I wonder if we’ll see MOOCs in VET???? What’s your opinion?


SoundBibleOh dear, my brain is tired after all that thinking, so let’s dance!  For that we’ll need music and the question is often “Where can I find music online, that I don’t have to pay for?” Maybe you want background music for your video or Powerpoint, or maybe just a sound effect for your e-learning…maybe a ‘ker-ching‘ when students click on the cash register image in your Moodle? [chuckles] Jamendo and Free Music Archive are useful to find music, and SoundBible is great for sound effects. Friendly Music is a video soundtrack tool that makes it easy to find the perfect soundtrack for any video.  If you want to record your own, well you can’t go past Audacity (PDF instructions for how to use it here).


WordsLikeYou know what it’s like – you’re writing a report, or an assignment, or a blog posting and you can’t think of the word you need.  A quick little tool to have ready in your Bookmarks is WordsLike.net, which “is a free service that allows you to find words and phrases that are similar or related to each other.”  A bit too basic for you?  Wanting something more..ummm…visual?  Then try VisuWords and see words in a whole new way.


National E-StandardsMaybe an online thesaurus is handy, but realistically you don’t absolutely neeeed it for e-learning.  So what do you need?  The very latest VET Teacher E-learning Toolkit has just been released, and this specifies the minimum web and desktop-based functionality requirements you really need…very handy to pass on to your IT manager.  If you’re a trainer/teacher though, you’ll be interested to see the latest List of Commonly Used VET E-learning Applications/Tools, as this provides information on commonly-used e-learning applications and tools.  Mind you, as it also includes functionality, examples of use, known issues, and basic technical and network configuration requirements, it is also something you can pass along to your IT department…always good to have National E-Standards on your side. [grin]


Which is more engaging…video or text?  Silly question! [rolls her eyes] But did you know that text fonts have voices?

Enough silliness…however we’re agreed that video provides a unique medium to teaching and learning.  In the article 100+ Video Sites Every Educator Should Bookmark the author says “Bringing multimedia into the classroom is a great way to engage students in learning. Supplementing lessons, opening up new interests, and offering inspiration, online videos make for an incredible teaching tool.” And wow…what a list! Videos are easy to embed into your online course – here’s a short video tutorial showing How to Add YouTube Videos in Moodle (2).


OK, so I’m on a roll with video here [grin] but this one’s a beauty.  It’s called WeVideo and it is all about collaborative video production. How about getting your students all in together, creating a class video!  Or working on a video assignment! Or creating ‘how-to’ demonstrations that you can use for class resources, saving you the time but teaching them heaps! Nothing to download so your students can access it from campus, home or library. WeVideo also offers an Android app that students can use to capture images and video footage to add to their projects. Here’s an overview of how it works:


RescueTimeHave you ever looked at the clock and thought “Gee…where did the day go?”  Happens to me all the time! There are heaps of productivity tools around these days to help, so why don’t we try to reclaim some of that time.  One such tool is RescueTime, which says “Having the right information leads to good choices about how to spend your time.”  Apparently we’ll be able to spot inefficiencies in our day and become better at self-managing time.  There’s a freebie Lite version so … nothing to lose. Hmm…now, if I could only find the time to install it… [grin]

MarleneAnyway, I’ve run out of time so I hope this is enough to keep you entertained for a month. [grin] Oh…one last link…in my foray around the internet looking for video resources for you, I came across this one.  Probably something to check out in your lunch-break (17min) but …well….I think it’s lovely. 😉
Bye for now,


2 thoughts on “August 2012

  1. I love the new look e-newsletter. Some great ideas there too.