S.A. E-Learning Newsletter

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

October 2013

eggHi everyone,

I like things to be simple.  I don’t care how ‘you beaut’ it is…or that it does everything except make coffee….or that it looks amazing.  If it takes me more than 3 minutes flat to figure out what it does then I’m afraid that I lose interest.  I also get frustrated when things don’t work.  Gee….I’m starting to sound like a grumpy old woman! [grin] OK, I’ll stop stamping my foot long enough to share one of my favourite (and simple) tools I use to work out if a website is actually down, or it’s something on my computer that’s causing the issue.  It’s called…ummm….actually, it’s so simple it doesn’t even have a name!  You’ll need to go to http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/ and give it a whirl.  It’s prevented the occasional temper tantrum.  [chuckles] Speaking of…..


Boredom BarometerI’ve seen some examples of e-learning which, quite honestly, would annoy the most easy-going student (and we’ve already established that that’s not me [grin]).  If you develop e-learning courses, you’ll find some hints and tips about walking that fine line between engaging and annoying at How to Engage Your Learners Without Annoying Them. One of the things that annoys me most is really bad compliance training – not only does it give a bad name to e-learning, but I’m personally forced to work my way through it as it is compulsory.  I think they all use the same model i.e. <Info><Info><Info><Quiz>….then <Info><Info><Info><Quiz>…..then <Info><Info><Info><Quiz> etc.  Sheesh!!!  The article 3 Simple Ways to Improve Compliance Training suggests that “Compliance training does NOT have to be a chore” and is a good start, but I love the simple barometer and explanations in The Different Levels of Boredom in eLearning Content. Hmmm….. I’m looking at that barometer and mentally assessing the last OHS ‘course’ I had to do…but check out this video for an example of a (very funny) OHS resource….definitely less boring!  LOL


LogoThat’s a good question, and luckily it’s fairly easy to answer thanks to Jane Hart’s annual surveys which she has conducted every year since 2007.  The results of the 2013 survey have just been released and there are some interesting results…for example, Twitter has retained its top position for the 5th year running, and Evernote has continued its upward rise and is now in the top 10.  You’ll find the 2013 results here, but I wanted to point you particularly to the full list at Top 100 tools 2007-2013.  Where I find this so useful is….say…. somebody tells you about a tool called Animoto.  Now you could find the website and try to research it by yourself, but from this list you get a one-sentence explanation, a link to the website, what it costs, where it sits in the ranking and what people have said about it.  Now, that’s handy!  Of course if you’re looking for an Aussie version of what VET trainers are using, you can’t go past the VET Teacher E-learning Toolkit.  Also handy. 🙂


TelevisionIs there anyone out there who remembers Tony Barber hosting a TV show called Jeopardy? Yeah…I know…showing my age.  [laughs] It was a good show though…lots of fun and very educational!  I thought I’d let you know about eQuizShow  as it is a free tool for educators to create simple ‘Jeopardy-style’ games for the classroom.  Start by browsing through what has already been created (how about Basic Maths?) but keep in mind that these are not technically ‘online games’…..they are simply classroom activities meant to be facilitated by you as the teacher, and you have to provide the answers.  Could be great for setting up some competitive fun though! Why not have a go at setting up your own game with your own questions.  Or….divide your class into two and get each group to set one up for the other…then they can battle it out!  Who said learning was boring.  [chuckles]


There have been a series of what has been called ‘Social Media videos’ which seem to come out every year.  I’m sure many of you have seen them but maybe update yourself with the 2013 version:

Now that’s all very impressive, but I want to talk about social media from a learning perspective. I recently came across another little video called The Networked Student which explains quite well how the ’21st century student’ relates to learning in this more informal, networked, technology-enabled arena. The problem is…most of us grew up in a time when teaching and learning were more traditional, and changing our teaching practice so that the Gen X  Y students can relate better is…well…challenging! [nods to herself]  I think the answer is to start somewhere.  You’ll probably find that your students forgive your mistake-ridden experiments because unlike many of their other teachers, you’re at least trying! Maybe glance over 7 Ways Teachers Use Social Media in the Classroom or  10 Tips To Effectively Use Social Media In Formal Learning for some ideas.  If you have a cohort of students who seem to spend a lot of time on Facebook, why not set up a specific group for them…you’ll need the  Teacher’s Guide to Creating a Facebook Group for Students.  If you’re unsure but at least ready to give something a go (good on you!!) then start with The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media.


Wikispaces Classroom logoWikis have been used in education for quite a while….project spaces, class noticeboards etc.   But Wikispaces Classroom is a bit different because, as they explain “Wikispaces Classroom is a social writing platform for education… where you and your students can communicate and work on writing projects alone or in teams. Rich assessment tools give you the power to measure student contribution and engagement in real-time.”  You’ll find an explanation on the Wikispaces Blog but basically, if you’re already a user of Wikispaces you can change any of your current wikis into a Wikispaces Classroom just to see the difference (you can change it back again).  It is a bit like social networking with a newsfeed on the front page, but it’s also a learning environment that integrates a way to manage assignments, announcements and resources.  I actually know of some small RTOs who are using it instead of investing in (sometimes expensive) learning management systems!  Start with Easily Create Classroom Wikis Using Wikispaces Classroom or if you prefer somebody to show you and you have ten minutes spare, watch this video.


view of ARAugmented Reality (AR) is the integration (or overlay) of digital information with the user’s environment ….in real time.  Here is a Commoncraft video which explains the basics. In fact, it won’t be long and we will use AR as a way to ‘try on’ clothes in a virtual changeroom when we are buying online!  I’m thinking back to a couple of purchasing mistakes…hmmm…would have been useful.  😀   Importantly though, it is becoming a useful educational tool.  You’ll see it used in lots of areas from student induction to Occupational Safety Scaffolding to Mechanisms and Progression of a Building Collapse to Warehouse Security. You can even get to examine precious objects!  (More examples on the Augmented Reality in Education site).   Basically, AR gives you the opportunity to demonstrate something that might otherwise not be possible, or allows students to explore an environment where you can’t actually take them.   To get started, check out the Teachers’ Guide to Augmented Reality and How to Use Augmented Reality in Education and 20 Augmented Reality Experiments in Education.  Think of the possibilities!!


laptopI came across a blog posting called 5 Free Online Courses Designed for Teachers, and it encouraged me to do some searching for what might be available closer to home.  (OK, I get the strangeness of that comment when we’re talking about online courses, but you know what I mean [grin]).  Anyway, I trotted along to our Aussie MOOC site Open2Study and quickly found 3 free courses which run for 4 weeks each – Becoming a Confident TrainerEducation in a Changing World Teaching Adult Learners.  You might not be ready right now, but they tend to run courses every 5-6 weeks, so check back later for the next time it is run.  For anyone wanting to learn Moodle, the free course I told you about in a previous Newsletter probably won’t be run again until next year but you can still access all the material from the last one at LearnMoodle.  Also, let’s not forget all the amazing free PD on the SA PD Calendar! [pats herself on the back] 😉


Filesnack logoI’ve told you about a few of these tools, but I’ve come across another one that might be worth checking out.  It’s called FileSnack and it lets you upload large files (up to 100MB) that never expire and you get 2.5 GB free storage without registration.   You can share files with anyone, even with non-FileSnack users, by activating the sharing options and sending them the link to your file or folder….this might be useful to share large files like movies or huge Powerpoints with your students or colleagues.


In a paragraph above I told you about Wikispaces Classroom, but maybe you’re way ahead of simple tools like this, and want to get your teeth into something a little…ummm…meatier!  Last year, Google launched a free online course (MOOC style) called Power Searching with Google. It included content, video, webinar-style get-togethers and lots of other interactivity.  But this isn’t about that particular course….it’s about the platform. In a nutshell, Google packed up the code with some instructions, and they’ve made it freely available as Course-Builder.  If you’ve ever wanted to deliver your own online course, then this might be your answer.  It does take a wee bit of technical know-how, but you certainly don’t need to be a code-monkey to set up your own online course.  Here’s the 2 minute explanation:


AppsLots of you tell me that you’re always on the look out for apps that are helpful for your students, so I’ll finish off this Newsletter edition with a few ideas.  I was sent a link to a free learning/assessment iPhone App for employability skills which might be useful (thx Cathy Beitz).  Or perhaps the Top 6 Study Apps are what your students need….or 6 Math Apps That Support Common Core State Standards.  You might also find some winners (literally!) at the 5th Annual Awards for Best Adult Education App website.

MarleneWell that’s been fun!  I’m not sure who that grumpy old lady was who started writing this Newsletter edition, but I think we’ve seen the last of her for a while.  [chuckles]

Let me know if I can answer any of your questions about e-learning….after all, it’s what I’m here for!