Visit to Australian Science and Mathematics School - Flinders Uni 
Link to movie of ASMS and an innovative teaching space at UQ This is a big (26Mb) Quicktime movie so don't try it from home without broadband.

On Wednesday June 27, Leeanne Pitman, Carmel Grant, John Dixon and I (all from Information Services) went to Adelaide on UB business. The trip included a visit to the Australian Science and Mathematics School that is located on the campus of Flinders University. This is an extremely unusual secondary school covering years 10-12 with a strong emphasis on (yep!) Science and Mathematics.

Their website is at so you can read about it there. We went to look at it for some background to the planning for the Technical Education Centre being established on the SMB campus. The configuration of teaching spaces, management of students and curriculum are all quite different to a conventional school. We were fascinated by what we found. Not for everyone, or for all teachers but an exciting and stimulating environment. The openness of the spaces, the overlap of activities and the general hubbub were testament to the capacity of the current secondary school cohort to operate in visually and aurally busy environments seemingly without loss of concentration, something others of us find challenging.

I have taken some video footage and will edit it into a short presentation soon. Keep an eye on this spot for the link to the video.

Posted: Ian Wright

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 1120 )
Useful eLearning resources 
I just thought I would share that the entire programing schedule of the BBC will available for free on-demand download from the end of July.

Another page that I subscribe to that has some interesting articles at the moment is elearningeuropa. The EU is putting a lot (millions) of Euros into eLearning and open learning.

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 1120 )
Moving ahead 
Some Good Progress

Funding from Learning and Teaching Fund
I attended the last Learning and Teaching Committee meeting and spoke to our proposal (see link to original document below) for using the $50K we'd been allocated. The Committee approved our plans and provided some constructive feedback. I will rework the document very soon and post the modified version here. The key components were approved but with some slightly altered priorities.

I'll be looking to the next eLearning Interest Group (eLIG) meeting to set in place plans to start implementing the proposals.

Learning Environments Positions through HR
With the exception of the Learning Designer position, the other three positions have been classified at agreed levels by HR. This clears the way to advertise these positions. This will take a couple of weeks and we'll need to ensure that the timing allows for maximum exposure.

While the views of HR and me on the appropriate level for the Learning Designer role are different we have a way forward with the classification being a HEW 7 but with an option for a loading for experience and expertise. This may get the position to a level that will attract applicants of suitable calibre.

Staffing Illustration

The following image is a work in progress of the blend of existing and proposed positions within the Learning Environments project. Some of the titling will change as I'm working with an earlier image.

Posted: Ian Wright

[ 1 comment ] ( 17 views )   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 1048 )
Meeting Outcomes June 6 2007 
A small but animated group met on Wednesday June 6. We looked at the Starbak Streaming Media system in use at UB and had the usual stimulating chat about what's happening, what's possible and what's useful.

Meeting Times and Participation Rates
Given the relatively small turnup at the last couple of meetings we're wondering if the time is a problem for people or if there's some other reason. Please email me with your feedback and suggestions for more suitable times, themes, presentations, locations etc.

Learning and Teaching Funding
Last year we were allocated $50k in funding from the Learning and Teaching Fund. DVCAR was keen to know what this has been spent on and the answer is, nothing yet. We discussed some options at the meeting and followed up with another discussion on Friday. I have put together a proposal that has gone to the DVCAR and which I'll be speaking to at the Learning and Teaching Committee meeting on Tuesday next.

We can initiate these projects very quickly and following Tuesday's discussion I'll let you know how we'll be proceeding.

Get the document from this link.

Learning Environments Project
Work is progressing on the Learning Environments project. I have just finished the PDs and am trying to get them through HR at the levels I know they need to be at. This is proving difficult but I think we'll get there.

I'm working to move my two page overview document into a project management format and when that's done, I'll make it available. I was to speak to it at the Vice-Chancellor's Senior Team meeting next week but it's been moved off the agenda for now. The funding has been approved so now it's just all the grinding administration to get ready to employ people.

The roles again are Learning Designer(s), Learning Technologies Support Officer, Educational Resource Developer and Learning Management Systems Support Officer. The last is to understudy Lloyd in the administration and support of Blackboard.

Access to eLearning Mailing List
At present you can't access the eLearning Mailing List I've set up in Groupwise. I can make it available to you on request so you can post to the full list. Does anyone want this access? Does anyone not want this done? Let me now either way and I'll make a benevolently dictatorial decision.


Ian Wright

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 1028 )
A couple of interesting Web 2.0 applications 
Hi, all. I have been using a few applications lately that may be of interest to some of you. The first one is Ning which is a great social networking page that allows blogs, forum, video, pics etc on a theme. I have a travel page at KazbaahNing by way of example. I can see it being really useful for group projects. Another great new service is teamsnap. This is a page for human movement - it supports anyone trying to organise an amateur sports team.
Finally, I use wiki pages a lot. I find that students love them, particularly if you include a sandpit (a page where they can experiment and share information). I use pbwiki but there are many free wiki hosts. I thought we could perhaps consider attaching a wiki to this blog. This is an example I have set up. I have embedded a video on it that is about Web 2.0. If anyone wants to have a go at editing the page the password is just ballarat. I use both blogs and wikis all the time and they both have strengths and weaknesses. Blogs are orderly and a great way to present weekly information for a class, but I find they are not great for encouraging participation. They are more formal and I find students can be shy about making entries. Wikis are great for participation, my students love them, but they can look like a dogs breakfast! Cheers.

Ian K.

[ 1 comment ] ( 5 views )   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 1015 )
eLearning Meeting: June 6, 4.30pm, C004 
Media Streaming, Update on Resources for eLearning, Discussion on Blackboard

Media Streaming Demonstration - Eammon Jones
Demo of UB's Media Streaming System: Starbak, by Eammon Jones, Media Streaming Administrator/Producer. Now's your chance to see what this is, does, can do, can't do.....

Update on Learning Environments Project & eLearning Staff Resources - Ian

Discussion: Blackboard at UB led by Phil Taylor, School of Business
Phil has submitted the following as background to his discussion:

"The School of Business is collecting and reviewing all teaching and learning materials for distribution to partners and use on Blackboard. A number of serious issues regarding the quality of existing content have been uncovered. The primary concern is copyright restrictions on the use of publisher slides and amendments made to them. "Lecture notes" based substantially on publisher slides cannot be posted to Blackboard without time-consuming and/or costly permissions. Even in the cases where slides are the sole work of the lecturer, they are usually just "prompts" to aid in face-to-face delivery. The School will continue to use its Moderated Materials Website to distribute these "teaching aids" to guide Partner lecturers and to help ensure integrity of the Unit when delivered at other locations. But these "teaching aids" are not really suitable for delivery to students through Blackboard as "lecture notes". It is a timely opportunity for a total rethink about Blackboard and the quality of "learning resources" we intend to develop.

In the meantime SoB will only use Blackboard at Mt Helen in TP3. The minimum requirement is to deliver core documents such as Unit Outline, Unit Description and assessment tasks. This is obviously much less than was expected of the Blackboard investment.

It is assumed that Blackboard is intended to be part of a "blended learning" experience for students, where face-to-face teaching is supported by comprehensive "learning resources". In other words, the SoB Blackboard focus is not on a distance education model, but rather intended to go some way to ensure consistency and fairness of access to the same high-quality resources no matter what the delivery mode or where the location. This is critical for the SoB brand, quality assurance and accreditation. In this regard, Blackboard and other web technologies are assumed to be part of the solution, but they also spotlight the deficiencies of current content.

To use Blackboard as a document delivery system misses the point that the web technologies are a new medium requiring a rethink about what constitutes comprehensive or high quality "learning resources". The print paradigm is fading. Just rewriting "lecture notes", downloading tutorial tasks or reading about assessment in the Unit Description is not nearly enough. The potential for interactive engagement, podcasting and vodcasting, whiteboards, wikis and blogs suggests it is time for stategic refocussing. There is a need to establish what will be best practice pedagogy and standards.

The School of Business has quite independently of eLearning Interest Group started to address and quantify the need for professional input and resources required to "update" our offerings. The School is planning a workshop to explore examples of online teaching and learning, to distill and adapt to suit our "blended learning" approach. The goal was to look at the feasibility of establishing a learning development unit employing an instructional designer with graphic design support. A proposal and funding request is to be put to the DVC. It is assumed that each School has wrestled with the implications and frustrations of Blackboard during TP1 in a similar way. Gathering existing content, creating folders, letting lecturers explore the new medium independently, and watching the innovators go their own way.

The centrally-funded support for a new professional learning design unit with a senior Learning Designer mentioned in El-Blog is a welcome development. The School would like to align its initiatives in this context. Perhaps it may lead to an extension of the learning design unit to have support embedded within each School?

I look forward to participating in the next eLearning Interest Group meeting.

Posted by Ian Wright

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 1048 )
Second Life Presentation 
Hi Ian

Any chance you have a podcast or vodcast of SaeRa's second life presentation given at the last eLearning group meeting?

Sally :)

[ 2 comments ] ( 13 views )   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 1025 )
News on eLearning Resources at UB: 3 New Staff 
Hello All,

I am the bearer of good news regarding support for those struggling with eLearning support and development at UB. The Vice-Chancellor has identified some significant funding for a new initiative to provide tangible support to those using and developing online resources. Darren Holland has been working to frame up a project proposal and this has been through a number of iterations and continues to evolve.

However, the recent experience of the academic community working with Blackboard, particularly in Higher Ed (who have lacked the equivalent of a TAFE Development Unit), has been less than satisfactory in many respects. In response to that, the Vice-Chancellor's Senior Team has signed off on the release of some of the tagged eLearning resources to support HE content development and whole-of-University systems support. Three new positions are being created in my team. These positions are for a Learning Designer, a Learning Technologies Technical Support role and a Learning Management System client support role.

This will give us the capacity to assist academic staff in the design and planning of their online programs, to evaluate, implement and support emerging learning technologies and to provide support to Lloyd for much of the basic administration and user support he provides. This is three additional positions until the end of 2008. It is highly likely that after 2008 we'll see a confirmation and consolidation of this approach and probably additional resources. There is also capacity to seek additional funding along the way for more staff if we can demonstrate satisfactory outcomes.

The roles as I currently see them operating are:

Learning Designer: a resource for academic staff to facilitate the production of quality learning resources, assist decisions around the appropriateness of particular resources, assist with structuring course content, facilitate the transfer of learning design skills to academic staff, all couched within a sound understanding of pedagogy in online and flexible learning. I see this as primarily a HE resource as TAFE currently have access to similar support from the TDU. (HEWA 8)

Learning Technologies Support Officer: to investigate, evaluate, make recommendations on and support learning technologies across UB. This would include being able to evaluate extensions to Blackboard; explore emerging technologies like blogs, wikis, podcasting etc.; install and evaluate alternative Learning Systems such as Moodle, Sakai and LAMS. (HEWA 6)

Learning Management System Client Support: this will be a support role to the Online Systems Administrator (that's Lloyd to us), performing much of the clerical work the OSA currently undertakes and providing phone support to academic staff. This will both improve our backup capacity for Lloyd and free Lloyd up to undertake more investigation of Blackboard's foibles and potentials, provide more advanced training etc. (HEWA 4)

These two positions would be whole-of-University in their focus.

This is a small start. We are still extremely limited in terms of production capacity such as for writing/editing, video, audio, multi-media, photography etc. It is, however, a start.

The location of the resources within my team is not confirmation that they will remain there indefinitely. I believe there's scope in future for a more fully provisioned Learning and Teaching initiative that may sit outsite my area and effectively encompass TAFE and HE. I'll be working closely with the TDU to blur boundaries and try and achieve the best possible functional symbiosis.

In the short term I'll be formalising a project around these resources that will include deliverables, timelines etc. I'll keep you informed.

There will be opportunities for this interest group to have a role in shaping the project.

(Posted by Ian Wright)

[ 2 comments ] ( 19 views )   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 1033 )
Looking for International eLearning Conferences 
Clem and I (but mostly Clem) are putting together a list of good international conferences around eLearning and Flexible Learning. There may be a possibility of the University funding attendance at some conferences. If you're aware of something coming up, please let Clem know and we'll collate them into some sort of list. We, as a group, can then put forward some suggestions to DVCAR for consideration.

It would be good if we had the list ready for the next meeting on May 9.

Clem's email is:

(Posted by Ian Wright)

[ 7 comments ] ( 77 views )   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 1052 )
John Lennon Tour Bus Video 
An example of a mobile educational music production facility in a bus. Very swish. Large Quicktime movie (15Mb).

John Lennon Tour Bus Video

(Submitted by Ian Wright)

[ add comment ]   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 1000 )

Back Next