S.A. E-Learning Newsletter

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

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September 2013

Hi everyone,Drawing book and laptop

I’ve always wanted to learn to draw.  I looked into classes at a local Community Centre and they do run them….on Mondays at 10:00am. [sigh]  Not useful for somebody who works full time!  But then I had a brain-wave and thought I’d try searching for a MOOC which might teach me some basic skills.  The good news is that I’m now learning Figure Drawing from Life…and really enjoying it! It’s a free course, I can watch the video lessons when I get time…. and best of all, there is nobody around to laugh hysterically at my pathetic efforts. [chuckles]

How did I find it?  The whole ‘MOOC thing’ is absolutely exploding and there are zillions around but I certainly don’t have time to trawl all the course websites.  Enter…. a new phenomenon….MOOC search engines!  So I started my search with MOOC List and Class Central  and found what I wanted quite quickly. (My Education Path and MOOC Advisor are other ones).  Roll on retirement…..so many courses….so little time….. [grin]


Girl on computerI won’t rattle on too much about MOOCs, but if you work in education and training then it’s good to get a running knowledge about them.  The article The ABCs of MOOCS:  What It’s Like to Enroll follows the experiences of a journalist who ‘gave it a go’.  The author says: “The question isn’t whether a MOOC with a great MIT professor is as good as what MIT students get on campus…but how the experience compares to the alternatives they do have. On that, the answer is not bad at all….”  Another user perspective is How to pick the best MOOCs: 6 tips from a Coursera junkie.

Maybe your perspective is more from an organisational viewpoint though, in which case I’d recommend you have a read of The business of MOOCs: how to profit from giving away something for nothing and How MOOCs Will Revolutionize Corporate Learning And Development.  But even if you are only interested in MOOCs as a manager of learning, I’d still recommend you give something a go yourself – otherwise, how will you really understand what it’s like ‘on the other side’? 🙂


ScreenHunter_241 Sep. 13 15.07

You’ve collected some great links to pass on to your students, but now what?  Email?  Dump them in your online course?  Either way, you can end up with a long list of links, so wouldn’t it be cool if you could just send them ONE single link to access everything, all in one spot?  And what if it generated it’s own QR code so students could scan it with their phones?  Got you interested? [grin]  I recently came across FatURL which is a service that does that, and more.  I couldn’t find any examples so I made one myself, and dumped a whole lot of links to online games and scenarios that I’ve been collecting- which you’ll find here: http://faturl.com/6dl7q4/ – click the links across the top to access them.  Or….you could try scanning the QR code.


LogoWouldn’t it be cool if there was a tool to build course objectives.  Well, there is, and it is a simple little tool creatively called Objectives Builder.  This little tool has been created by Arizona State University – I would highly recommend starting your review by using the Tour on the front page to get a ‘feel’ for how it works.  I must admit that I found the site a tad slow, but by all means check it out and see how you go.  They provide a guide at Writing Measurable Learning Objectives.   Looking for something a bit…ummm….less academic? 😉  Then how about Here’s an Easy Way to Create Learning Objectives or 3 Tips for Writing Measurable Objectives.  Write away!


Rewordify logoMaybe ReWordify might help.  From the site:  “Rewordify.com is powerful, free, online reading comprehension and vocabulary development software. It helps people understand difficult English faster, and helps them learn words in new ways.”  I gave it a whirl with Mobile Technology  Research and the tool came up with this version.  I’d say it’s a bit of an improvement….but why don’t you have a play.  You can either paste in a URL to get a whole website ‘translated’, or just a slab of text.  I’m thinking it might be a useful tool for students to use, as they could copy something they don’t understand and paste it in themselves to get a re-worded version.  There’s a nice little demo but perhaps start with the following video explanation.


projector“...there is a correct way to deliver online training videos, and then there is the wrong way.”  This quote comes from How to Effectively Use Video for Training, and I’m inclined to agree as I’ve spent a fair bit of time over the years, steering people away from their original  idea to video their 3 hour lecture and put it online!  Chunks is the go ….small chunks!  [grin]  Quite honestly though, there is sooooo much in the way of educational videos that I would suggest creating your own only as a last resort.  You’ll find a list at 23 Great Sources For Free Educational Videos Online but if that’s not what you need, trot along to Wikipedia’s List of Educational Video Websites…..or Refseek Educational Video sites.


VideoNot.es logoScreen shotI mentioned earlier that I’ve begun a drawing course, and it uses lots of little videos to demonstrate techniques.  Many course platforms actually have a built-in ‘note-taker’, but the disadvantage is that then one’s notes end up ‘stuck’ inside the course.  I first tried using Evernote to record my notes while I was watching the videos, but that was a bit clumsy because…well….I spent a lot of time trying to switch between them.  But then I found VideoNot.es…..and…quite frankly I’m in love! [spins around with a silly grin].  It loads the video inside the application, and lets me take notes on the same screen.  When I’m going back over the notes (so I can practice using real paper and pencils [grin]) I can just click on a note, and it jumps back to that part of the video…no guessing where that bit was in the video timeline!  Best of all, the notes export straight into Google Drive or Evernote!  Simple, and very effective.  You might want to pass this one on to your students if you use lots of video in your training.  I tracked down these instructions and also a video demonstration.


OopsWe all do it…make mistakes that is.  And I’ve made some doozies!!!  😀 Some of my most valuable learning has been derived from when I seriously stuffed something up, and then had to work out a way to fix things!  [chuckles]  So you won’t be offended if I suggest to everyone teaching online that it is probably worth checking out the list  12 Things You Should Never Do When You Teach Online.  Another one along a similar line is 15 Mistakes You’re Probably Making With Technology In Learning. I must admit I’ve been guilty of quite a few mistakes when I first started out with teaching online.  You live and learn…..we all do.  [grin]  But that’s enough dwelling on the negative, so how about a positive little infographic showing 27 Ways to be a Better 21st Century Educator which clearly shows that while good teachers do use technology, it’s not about the technology….it’s about being a good teacher.  🙂


LaptopAlcohol?  No…..something much more difficult to deal with….when they want to bring their own device! BYOD!  In other words, they don’t want to use the computers at your RTO, as they prefer to use their iPad, or their smartphone, or their Netbook…or….laptop…or….whatever.  If you find this thought a bit scary, perhaps have a read of What Teachers Need to Know about BYOD.   I also enjoyed this article BYOD – 5 Lessons for Success which begins with “I knew it was going to be an interesting phone call (any call usually is before 8:00 in I.T.).    When the teacher asked why she couldn’t get to “insertwebsite.com” and her kids were arriving in 15 minutes for the first BYOD pilot class, I took my first deep breath of the morning …”  😀  BYOD: 10 Reasons Why It’s a Good Idea has some really sensible perspectives such as “Studies find that Generation Y is highly reliant on wireless devices and phones. And rather than fight it, educators can use this to their advantage.”  Another great resource is What Schools Can Teach Us About BYOD.  So….are you game?  [cheeky grin]


Multiple-choice quizzes can be a useful way for students to assess their own progress, but there has been much debate about their value in learning.  The article New Reasons to Dislike Multiple-Choice Testing presents a somewhat negative opinion, however the article In Defense Of Multiple-Choice states “...there is no right or wrong answer regarding whether multiple-choice is a valuable tool in education. Rather, it is the careful creation of each question and the environment in which it is used that makes it a worthwhile teaching mechanism.”  So….”careful creation of each question”……hmmm, they make it sound so simple! [smiles and sighs]  Perhaps Tips for Writing Better Quiz Questions might provide some general assistance, and if you’re a Moodler, the following slideshow has some good hints and tips about setting up your multiple-choice quizzes:


A recent webinar session promoted on the SA PD Calendar was ‘I Have an iPad. Now what?’ facilitated by Stephan Schmidt.  It reinforced the reality that trainers are keen to use new technologies, however that doesn’t necessarily mean they are supremely confident and know how to proceed! [grin]  For this reason, I thought the article A Practical Guide For Teachers Who Just Got iPads might be useful, along with 15 Must Have Apps for your New iPad.  And if you’re thinking….”Oh bother, I should have attended that webinar so I could get a demonstration”…then you’re not too late because it was recorded and the slides are also available.

MarleneThat’s enough for now, as I’m temporarily abandoning technology…..I have pencils and paper awaiting!  My figure drawing still looks more like stick figures but I’ll learn more as I go along.  And if I don’t…well…..I’m sure it won’t have anything to do with my lack of talent [chokes back laughter].  I’ll just find another MOOC!

Don’t forget that I’m here to help with ‘all things e-learning’….you only have to ask.  🙂