S.A. E-Learning Newsletter

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

February 2014

PostcardsHi everyone,

Did you go away for the Christmas/New Year break?  I escaped for a brief trip away from the city and had a lovely, relaxing time.  On the journey I listened to my favourite music via Spotify, I took photos with my phone which auto-uploaded to Dropbox when I came across connectivity, updated family and friends via Facebook, charged souvenir purchases with a tap of the credit card and used a GPS to find my way around.  How times have changed…and how quickly!  I recently came across 50 Things Technology Changed in Our Life and it brought back some fond memories.  [grin]  Remember making a ‘mix-tape’ to play in the car on your road trip? Or spreading the map out on the bonnet of the car to see where you took that wrong turn? Or sending postcards?  Aaahhh…them’s were the days.  [smiles nostalgically]  But nothing stays the same and perhaps that’s a good thing!  Although it can feel comfy to stay with the known, taking on the challenge of the new and unknown is good for the brain.  Anyway I certainly hope so…I’m using it as my ‘prevent yourself getting senile’ strategy.  [chuckles]


SignUpGenius logoIt’s the start of a new year, and with it brings the need to get organised for the busy months ahead.  If you’re the one who is looking down the barrel of a zillion emails/phone-calls to pull everything together, then you might find SignUpGenius useful.  The website claims that it’s a good way to organise volunteers, events, contributions and resources….but I’m also thinking of the need to organise classroom tutors, staff rosters, fundraisers, conference presenters, study groups, training sessions…it’s open to the imagination!  A basic account is completely free and there’s a series of video tutorials to get you started.  Make 2014 the year that you do away with those paper sign-up sheets and reply-all email nightmares!  🙂


Sometimes it’s good to start the new educational year with a ‘gee-up’ for training staff….get everyone inspired!  The video 21st Century Education challenges teachers to “Make your classroom as dynamic as the world around you.”  The video below (coincidentally the same name but quite different) states… “learning can happen anywhere and everywhere.”  Is it time for change (or more change) in your teaching environment?  You might also like to print out this excellent infographic Morphing into a 21st Century Teacher by Mia MacMeekin, and pin it up on the wall of the staffroom.


Lets Moodle logoIf you’ve been using Moodle since the dawn of time (only kidding! [grin]) then you might be interested in this video showing the features of the very latest iteration…Moodle 2.6.  It has some great usability improvements such as new course editing interfaces and improved course management.  If all this is just so much jargon though….because you are right at the very beginning of Moodle the new series of tutorials called Let’s Moodle will be lots of help to get started.  Note that the list is upside down though…..if you’re a beginner you need to start from the bottom at lesson 1.  Mind you, you can also ‘dip in’ if you only want to know a specific topic eg How To Mark Assignments in Moodle.  If you are still struggling with that ‘What on earth is Moodle?’ question, the video Moodle Overview explains it well.


carDid you know that the Ford Motor Company use games for their staff training?  Or that ‘game motivation’ is used to run an office fitness program…getting 67% of employees into the gym? Or that it’s been a successful strategy for Local Government training programs?  The article 5 Ways Games Add to the Learner Experience explains “Gamification is a hot buzzword right now in e-Learning and everywhere else…[it] uses the principles of play to make real-world activities more engaging.”  If you’re responsible for staff training then you’re probably well aware that it’s difficult to engage employees when…quite frankly….it’s not their idea of a fun time! [grin]  But games? Isn’t this trivialising the serious nature of staff training?  In the article How to Use Gamification to Engage Employees, the point is made that “Gamification is a word that just throws a lot of people off. The thing you have to make clear to people is that it has nothing to do with games. Gamification is about driving business objectives...”  Starting to be convinced that it might be worth a bit more research?  Have a read of Top 10 Enterprise Gamification Cases That Will Make Employees More Productive.  Or if you’re looking for something more practical, try 10 eLearning Game Ideas for Instructional Designers.


We’ve all done it….left an assignment to the last minute and then sweated and stressed to get it done. Well, I have anyway…..more times that I would like to admit! [chuckles] I guess that’s why we try to get our students to be more organised but often without success.  Which is why when I chanced across the site ExamTime I sat up and took notice…because it seems to provide some good strategies and tools. In their words “ExamTime is an online study environment that helps you revise and prepare for exams. It gives you different study tools such as Mindmaps, Flashcards, Notes and Quizzes and allows you to set yourself Study Goal, share and connect with your friends.”  There are a stack of tutorial videos, but for a brief explanation  view the short video below.


Image from Pixabay.comWant to get into putting together little videos (perhaps for e-resources) but not sure where to start?  It’s not difficult to shoot a bit of video footage with your smart phone (and that’s all you need unless you’re aspiring to be a Spielberg!) …but then what?  For a brief explanation of the editing process, I’d suggest starting with the Commoncraft video Video Editing and then maybe back it up with WikiHow’s How to Edit Movies for a step by step tutorial.  Once you’ve mastered the basics, you might want to get a bit more ‘professional’ rather than putting together random bits of footage…and this is the time to think about storyboards.  A storyboard is basically a series of images or drawings or ideas which shows the sequence of your movie…so it can be visualised before actually filming anything.  Get started by following the tips in Creating Simple Storyboards – you can use something as simple as a big sheet of butcher’s paper to get your thoughts flowing, although if you find it problematic to manage the big piece of paper in the bus on the way home from work (which is when that great idea will hit [grin]), then perhaps 11 Storyboarding Apps To Organize & Inspire Young Writers may provide an alternative.  Most important tip though, enjoy the process!  🙂


Keep Calm-o-Matic exampleYou know that saying ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’….well I found a Keep Calm-o-matic! Seriously!  You can create your own graphic or poster, with your own words on it…like the one I’ve done here for e-learning.  If you’re looking for something a bit more inspiring….or funny…..or serious…..you could try Quozio for simple quotes (find some using Google) or maybe Quotes3 (they have some nice backgrounds).  You might be wondering why you would……but now’s the time to use your imagination!  You could use them to decorate your classroom….or your online course.  Perhaps as an image for your Facebook page, or to prompt a class discussion.  If you’re looking for something more mobile (eg an app), check out Notegraphy.


Image from morguefile.comI remember when I first mentioned m-learning in this Newsletter some years ago now….the idea that a student might want to study using their mobile phone was something really ‘out there’ at the time, and the comments I received indicated that trainers were thinking “this will never happen in my lifetime”.  [giggles]  Of course we now know it is well and truly here…so let’s address it from the beginning with The Ultimate Guide to Mobile eLearning which explains “…what mobile learning is, why/why not to do it, how to do it, what it will cost, and who has already done it so you can get an idea of what it actually looks like.”  It isn’t just a case of your student viewing your web-version course on their phone though, as it is necessary to consider the smaller screen size and reduced ability to navigate.  Keeping it ‘clean’ and engaging is important, and you’ll find some ideas at Top Tips to Make Your Mobile Learning Engaging.  If you’re not sure how your regular site stacks up for mobile viewability, you can use mobiReady to generate a scorecard for you…just drop the web address of your site you want to check.


TextType 2Waaaay back when I was in school, my father insisted I learn how to type so I would be able to get a job while I was waiting to find ‘a good man’ and could then stay home and be a housewife. [falls around laughing]  My poor old Dad was a sign of his times, however his insistence that I learn to touch-type was a gift as although he could never predict computers, the skill has proven to be hugely advantageous as keyboards became commonplace everywhere….and not just in the typing pool. If you would like to help your students improve their skills (past using two thumbs!) then you could encourage short sessions using TextType 2 from Doorway Online.  According to the site, it is the “touch typing tutor that takes learners from the home keys to mastery of the whole keyboard and typing sentences.”  I’ve had a play and it’s quite intuitive, with lots of variety in the exercises.  Taking on the gamification idea in a previous paragraph, why not start a competition (complete with leaderboard!) in your classroom.  If you have students with a physical disability, the Single-Handed Typing version might be worth a try.


randomnessLet’s finish up with some bits and pieces related to e-learning that don’t seem to fit under any particular topic, but I think are worth sharing.  I had to smile when I came across 9 Things People Hate About ELearning….because I recognised some aspects of past compliance courses I’ve had to take in this list! [smirks]  The  infographic What is e-learning…and what is it not is fairly basic, but worth a look.  The table at Education 1.0 vs Education 2.0 vs Education 3.0 is a good comparison of education in the past…now…and future.  And finally, a browse through the Top 50 eLearning Resources for eLearning Professionals should well and truly keep you busy for a while.  [smiles]

MarleneI could keep going, but the whole purpose of this Newsletter is to point you to some (hopefully) useful links and resources without taking up too much of your time.  I hope there that there is at least one thing in the paragraphs above which has piqued your interest.  If so….my mission has been successful.  🙂