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Category Archives: GCTE

Graduate Certifice in Tertiary Education

Wiki! Wiki!

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This program has already given me many new experiences and challenges, partly in the form of assessment tasks I’ve never undertaken before – annotated bibliography, teaching philosophy statement [writing in the first person?? crayyzee!], teaching folio – and also of course the formal study of education itself. Well I’ve now another couple of new tricks up my sleeve: Creating a wiki, and online collaboration for assessment. Luckily for me I had the opportunity to work with a fantastic partner, and my experience with rather a few other web 2.0 wotsits also came in handy with regards to the glossary section.

Wikis however were largely new to me before undertaking this course, as despite having a small amount of interaction with one I wasn’t very au fait at all (we weren’t at all shown our way around it, and it was used mainly for file sharing). For this reason, and due to the massive potential I can see for wiki use both within course facilitation and for general online community building, I chose wikis as my topic for assignment one of this course. For this assessment we were to form small teams – ours being very small, just the two of us – and collaboratively produce a wiki in which we considered the utility within the higher education context of a web 2.0 tool of our choice. As it turns out wikis are brilliant fun to use, are versatile and flexible, and the best part of all is the ability to integrate other web 2.0 tools to create a kind of social media amalgamation, a virtual rocky road choccy bar of Twitter, YouTube, and other widgets, all mixed in and held together with text, images, documents, and smooth chocolatey wiki goodness.

Yum.

It has gone one am and I really do think that I am very, very, overtired. And hungry.

Using Twitter [et al] to support learning

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As this term we’re considering the value or otherwise of various technologies and tools for education, I want to share this great article from the Campus Technology blog, Using Twitter to Support Learning by Ruth Reynard, on the use of Twitter in teaching. The introduction:

Twitter has become ubiquitous and many educators use it or a similar micro blogging technology to maintain connection with students in terms of announcements, information flow, and assignment updates. While some instructors have experienced success in community building and numerous articles detailing the more common uses of the platform are available online, a couple core questions have emerged.

Can Twitter help support and facilitate the instructional process itself? If so, how, and in what ways can instructors successfully integrate the technology with existing courses?

..CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE..

The great strength of Twitter to me is the connectivity, the ease of use, and that it is naturally addictive to so quickly put something out there and receive real time response from classmates and global peers. As I have mentioned before on this blog, I have made many professional connections on Twitter that I would never have had the opportunity or venue to have made otherwise, and it is this, in conjunction with news and link sharing, that is Twitter’s greatest strength. As an example, for a clinical governance assignment last year I asked Paramedic peers through my feed what their organisations’ drug therapy protocols were for ondansetron, an anti-emetic drug, specifically in terms of stated precautions and contraindications. This information is hard to find online as ambulance services do not always make such policies public, but within hours I had contacts from paramedics of several services across the world who collectively provided for me just the insight I was seeking. Another example? I spotted this article not because I was already on that blog tonight, but at the moment that it was shared on Twitter by Kevin O’Rourke, and an hour later I am now sharing it onwards myself.

To foster twitterings of learning amongst a student cohort would be beneficial in generating enthusiasm, sharing thoughts, stimulating discussion, and introducing students to the wider community of peers online. It would be perfect to run ‘in the background’ during a course as a task that would generate such a community for students, and would ultimately provide for them a resource with value beyond that particular course and assignment, whilst not being a heavy workload for students to bear. This last point is important, as whilst Twitter and other web 2.0 tools may possess varying potential for educational use, these technologies have nonetheless not usually been designed for primarily educational use.

Whilst discussing and giving some practical tips on how Twitter’s micro-blogging services may be of educational value, Ruth asks:

  • Is it necessary to use every new technology in a teaching and learning environment;
  • Are teachers always going to be on a learning curve with new technology; and
  • Is it ever acceptable to not pursue the latest tools and integrate them into one’s teaching methodology?

I think the answer to the first question is an emphatic NO!, and that to attempt to do so would be nightmareish. The rate at which technologies are being birthed and are evolving is phenomenal, and frankly I feel that we all are on a constant learning curve just managing and keeping up with the more ubiquitous everyday technologies. Attempting to adopt anything that looks remotely useable in the educational context would make the learning curve exponential, and not just for the teachers, but for the students too; whilst they may be required to only use two web 2.0 tools in your course, consider that full-time students typically take four courses at a time, and that each of those facilitators may also involve such technologies, though not necessarily the same ones! [Clearly there must be some guidance or restraint in exactly what students are asked to do or use, and consensus within faculties or at least schools as to which tools and platforms they will choose from to integrate.]

On that point, the first question is one that must be asked whenever considering the addition of something new to one’s repertoire, though rephrashed to read “…to use this new technology…”, and with added emphasis on necessary. I must say here that I do think it is important to continually assess these new tools for potential pedagogical benefits, and that it is necessary too to keep in mind that the world in which our [usually] younger students live may be very different to our own, in that social media and multimedia in general are an enormous and ever-present part of that. However my point is that determining the validity of the tool’s potential contribution may easily be forgotten in the rush to try everything new, or when responding to the ‘need’ to include web 2.0 and other tools into one’s teaching, and that every newly adopted tool will come at a price, that of the time spent on learning and using something that may not be a potent enough instructional tool to be of true educational benefit.

I feel that in the end any adoption of e-tools that are outside of current teaching methods must be in consideration of these points:

  1. Is it necessary? What educational gains will it achieve that may not be reached so well by other means?
  2. Is there another tool already in use that can achieve this? If so, is this one better in some way?
  3. Is it easy to learn and use? Is the interface complex? Could a student naïve to the technology pick it up in ten minutes?
  4. Will the tool have benefits to the student outside of the course? For other classes? Professional life? Personal life?

Once adopted, the differing nature of these tools may be managed through weighting per the educational value of each; for example, a collaborative class project upon the wiki platform may be of greater value and meet more course outcomes than semester-long commentary on weekly topics and interaction through a Twitter activity, and attributed 30% and 5% total weighting respectively. Whilst this should indicate to students where they need spend their time, the biggest problem I see in the use of Twitter in particular is for the lecturer. There is no tool on earth so powerful in inducing deep procrastination as Twitter, and creating the need to regularly check one’s feed ‘in the call of duty’ sounds a slippery slope to “whaddaya mean, it’s five o’clock already?!” syndrome!

Social media, social learning

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It's nice to share.

Encouraging use of social media in education at first seems counterintuitive; after all, social media is often what students are busy engaging with whilst supposedly typing lecture notes on their portable devices; it’s a tool of procrastination, and hence the work of the devil (or his online memey alter-ego, basement cat?)! But consideration of social media in education is not necessarily in an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” sense, but more an appreciation of  the social part, rather taking the opportunity to harness the engaging and addictive qualities of social media and use their powers for good, not evil. I’ll just mention some of the more useful contenders..

Youtube has obvious application for teaching in the sharing of lecture videos, though the public nature of this venue means that such videos are not private. For short video messages to a student group this is less of an issue, but for an entire course of hour-long lectures there may arise concerns of intellectual property and copyright. Youtube’s greatest benefit for learning is the proliferation of videos by every kind of author on all sorts of topics – no matter the subject matter there’s almost certainly a video out there for it, including several featuring feline protagonists. Videos are organised into various categories, including a large education section, which is further segregated into videos relevant to primary, lifelong learning, and university contexts. Searching may be undertaken within these groups, and results may be filtered by lectures and courses. In addition to being a venue for uploading your own or downloading somebody else’s information, Youtube may be useful in education as a collaborative task for students, for example the creation and sharing of student presentations.

Twitter is a social networking tool that may be used in teaching by helping to establish and support the kind of learning community I discussed in the blog post, but it also has greater potential for social learning in tertiary education that one might expect from a micro-blogging tool hobbled by a stilted word character limit. It is a fast, low-effort way to get in touch with all students for various reasons, including to make quick announcements, to share blog posts, or to report on interesting articles, research, or other links. Intended recipients may receive posts by subscribing to your Twitter feed, and also by use of a searchable hashtag to designate and locate tweets of a particular topic; eg. #EDED20485. There is functionality also for actual teaching and learning; many Twitter accounts by paramedic and medical groups feature regular question/answer tweets, brief mindbender challenges that may be followed up by an answer in a subsequent tweet, or link on to further information or an actual article or lesson on a full website. I feel Twitter would be a good adjunct to blogging for this reason, and another way to increase interaction between students and faculty. Twitter also has great professional application as a networking tool – I have met many paramedic colleagues from across the globe, and have shared with them much information either directly or in the form of links and referrals. Many professional bodies share news and updates via Twitter, for example MedPage Today post daily updates on peer-reviewed medical research and industry news. It takes just a moment to sign up and get going, and one’s tweets on news, study, and other Very Important Things may easily be embedded into other websites via widgets (as I have done to the right of this page), and integrated directly to bidirectionally share updates with other social networking sites such as Facebook and Google+.

LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that may be of more use for connectivism in teaching than for actual teaching, but may help engage in social media, start putting themselves out there and making connections, and as such form a peripheral part of their study and work-related social media activities.

Facebook is the quintessential space for your face, but does it have application as a learning place? One of the most versatile features of Facebook are the many applications available within the platform, including the ability to create groups, pages, and forums, and easily link them all together and share amongst select individuals and other groups. For example, it is possible to create a Facebook page for your learning group, and to add students via their own Facebook profiles. Those added to the group are able to still maintain privacy by using account settings to limit the amount of access other group members have to their profile, whilst remaining easily identifiable and able to interact with staff and other students upon the Facebook page. Creation of a page is quick and easy – I’ve just now created one here for this post, and the entire setup took just ten minutes. The page can be used for making posts for others to comment upon, to publish course information and announcements, and restrictions may be put in place regarding publishing and viewing rights to the page. I have found that is quite limited in functionality as you are unable to use html, share files, or adjust the layout much beyond the Facebook timeline, so as a tool it remains more social than functional. It does that well though, as the ability to integrate with other tools and applications is a major feature, such as using the Social RSS app to share blog and Youtube feeds. Facebook pages are well respected by search engines, and this is enormous potential reach through sharing and advertisement if desired. See the Pages help page here, or download Facebook Pages Product Guide for more information. There is also the ability to create a Facebook Group – my test example – which may be more suitable than the page. The layout is simpler, featuring just a wall, with ability to create simple text documents and both private and group message functionality to all group members.

Blogs – Blogger, WordPress, et al – I have already covered in their own post.

Overall, whilst the choice of social media is mindboggling, the applications and use of many of these do overlap to significant degrees. I’ve only covered some of the largest and most recognised tools but even within this small group there is some redundancy in features, so choosing which tools to involve in your teaching will mean pruning away those potential choices with less to offer. Of the few I’ve looked at today, whilst many students will already be very familiar with Facebook, and it is easy for group members to see and contribute to posts, there are enough limitations that using a more functional tool such as Wiki would be a better option despite the fact that students may be unfamiliar with this platform.

Cogito ergo blog

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Or, blogito ergo sum?

Obviously a fan of blogging myself, they’re a nice place to start in considering how web 2.0 technologies may be useful to my teaching context. I’ll group my thoughts into a couple of main categories – facilitation of teaching, including limitations of the blogging medium for this, and professional representation. I was thinking to stick with this format when considering other technologies too in future posts, but I don’t think any other tools would have nearly so much application in terms of the second category; I can see nothing so powerful in representing yourself as putting your own words, images, and multimedia upon your own website, and sharing the lot with the world. Even published books would not have such potential reach, and all for free! Anyway, more on that later.

Facilitation of teaching

Blogs as a teaching tool seem an indirect method to me. They’re not specifically designed for this at all – they are, first and foremost, a personal self-publishing medium – and I think any teaching benefits would result from firstly the sharing of information, and secondly, to a lesser degree, the potential for encouraging your students to engage in blogging for reflective learning themselves. Whilst there a few ways to provide a lot of course information upon blogs, I think overall to use a blog as one main medium for course facilitation would be clumsy at best and deleterious to the student experience at worst, and one obvious limitation stems from the temporal focus of the blog: all information is displayed according to date of posting, making it too difficult for students to find core information within the blog proper. It is possible to provide static information upon subordinate pages, as I have done on this blog by summarising posts for each GCTE course I do (see here and here), but as these are still formatted as pages of a blog rather than flexible web pages one must re-jig the entire thing when you update it, a hassle I experience everytime I update those pages with my blog posts. Blogs are better suited as an adjunct only to a course facilitation tool such as Moodle or Blackboard, both tools in which the entire course, from announcements to assignment submission, student discussions to documents and course information, can be accessed from the one site and without too much bother. Whilst it could be used for course announcements, and the reverse dating of post order would suit that use well, these would be available anyway from their Moodle.

What is important to remember with all these web 2.0 goodies is that students have enough on their plate without adding extra extraneous cognitive load, and that every time we ask a student to go to a different website to access different core facets of a course or to use any 2.0 tool that is exactly what we are doing. The best option is to embed such tools into more central web pages if possible, so that everything may be reached from one spot. If such things cannot be embedded then the percentage of use of separate standalone tools such as blogs, wikis, etc. should be directly related to the amount of time students need to spend there, and what they can actually achieve and gain whilst there – there must be a cost/gain analysis. For example, students cannot interact directly with blog content, only indirectly by reading posts, posting comments, and by responding with their own blog posts. By comparison, on a wiki they can have editorial rights to add and edit information, and directly and in real-time participate in social learning by collaboration on assignments and in creation of the wiki itself.

All things considered, here are my ideas for use of blogs as a teaching tool:

  • An ‘added extra’ that teachers produce to encourage deeper thinking around a topic, such as by posting about interesting research relevant to each week’s coursework; eg, if the weekly topic is “assessment and management of head trauma patients”, then an article considering a new neurological assessment guide would throw different light on the the matter and have students think more deeply about why we do such things the way we do, and the need to constantly be looking to improve our practice.
  • The blog could be incorporated into tutorial sessions by posting early questions on what is upcoming in the tutorial, and then following the tutorial, post a discussion piece on what was covered. This could reinforce for students what parts of the course material were really important to learn, and helps them to learn it by simply presenting it to them again in a different way, or summarising class discussion that was had.
  • Part of the course requirements could be to engage in reflective learning through a blog. Many of my paramedical science courses require posting a weekly discussion of only around 300 words or so in response to a question around each weekly topic. Instead of submitting these the usual way, either sending only to the lecturer or posting upon a discussion board, these could be posted to a student’s personal blog. This would establish an instant blogging community comprising the student cohort, and students can easily catch up on others’ posts without traipsing around many websites by utilising an RSS feed that the teacher could establish and link to. Part of the assessment could include the need for students to embrace this community of blogs by commenting on their peers’ blog posts.
  • Blog pages could be used to provide course documents and information for download. As mentioned earlier these static pages are more awkward to update, but if they are established early in the course and are put there only as a second reference location for students then they may not need too much editing. The benefits of this could be that if students are reading something on your blog and want to relate it to the course profile, or assignment task, they may access these on that site rather than heading back to Moodle.
  • Teachers could use the blog to comment on student blogs and assignments. Recognition of work is a strong motivating factor, and the teacher may also demonstrate to their students the benefits of blogging and their online community by mentioning excellent points made on student blogs and essays. It can also be used to address questions raised by students, such as further discussion around a more tricksy clinical matter raised in student assignments; eg. were an essay on a student’s choice of respiratory ailment, one issue that may come up in those done on acute pulmonary oedema may regard the use of salbutamol in such cases. By reflecting student work publicly it provides instant value for them that extends beyond the achievement of a grade in the coursework. This brings me to my next point..
  • Learning engagement theory. Setting student blogs as an assignment task ticks many of the main facets of learning engagement theory:
    • Relate: Collaboration is not direct, but social learning opportunities are fostered in establishment of a community of student blogs, and
    • Create: Creation of a project with real-world value beyond university coursework
    • Donate: Student work is available worldwide upon the web, and may also be linked directly from a student page on the faculty website. It’s a nice idea to link to students’ public work and again encourages the establishment of a community of learners in the online environment.

Professional representation

Academics are meta-professionals, engaged in many concurrent activities and the owners of many skills. Experts in their field, researchers, teachers, authors, administrators, and miscellaneous (website coders, multimedia producers, student counsellors, etc etc!), they have a lot going on and a lot to share! The blog is an exceptional tool for online professional representation, and can form the basis of one’s outgoing connections to other academics, industry groups, students, and employers. From our readings last term, Segrave, Holt, & Farmer’s approach to academic professional development championed the importance of “the three C’s: communicating, collaborating, and community” in the area of professional capacity enhancement, and the need for storytelling and sharing with other academics one’s tales of teaching successes and challenges. The potential of blogging as a main tool for professional representation is enormous, and I’ll brainstorm some main points here:

  • It is YOU. You, on the internet, your chance to put yourself out there! Use your blog to tell the world who you are, what you do, and how you do it. Whilst a website might take more time to set up and organise, it takes mere minutes to sign up for a blog and to publish your first post, and so is very accessible for even the most pressed for time!
  • Putting a bit of yourself out there also makes you much more accessible and relatable to your students; to them you will gain further dimensions than just that of their ‘teacher’, as they may see that you are additionally a researcher, future colleague, fellow student, and human. Providing some history also will give context to your teachings and shared experiences.
  • By providing the ability to share and champion the importance of your work and discipline, blogs assist you to more firmly establish yourself as an expert in your field, and provide a venue to engage in social and commentary aspects of your work such as publishing opinion pieces on emerging research or news relevant to your industry or discipline.
  • Whilst research may be published in journals, a blog and website permits more conversational discussion of your work, with additional scope to inform the world of your current research undertakings and upcoming publications. This would be especially beneficial for those who have published several related articles covering a specific matter.
  • Connecting with other academics both within and without your discipline to share war stories, all kinds of news, to discuss teaching strategies, or to seek advice from the collective pool of experience, and so on. You can share your blog and find others in your discipline on sites such as Edublog, who also have a blog hosting service and have yearly awards for excellence in educational blogging.
  • One excellent example of a blog used for professional representation is that of Stephen Downes. On his blog Stephen makes daily posts on technology in learning, lists his published articles, provides information on upcoming and past presentations and keynote speaker roles, details his professional affiliations. Stephen’s blog is also available to read as a daily newsletter via RSS feeds, making his contribution even more accessible.
  • Readership and reach may be expanded by use of RSS feeds, and those who do achieve wide readership may also generate revenue by publishing on the Amazon Kindle Store!

The workload and time consumption of blogging may be as much or as little as you please, but it is best to publish regularly to retain readers, ideally establishing a set schedule. Collaborative blogs written by two or more authors create a stronger voice with a wider range of opinions and less individual workload, but can dilute authorship. A collaborate blog is however very suitable for a group such as your faculty, and would be a great way to represent the school, to share news of research (and potentially recruit research subjects!), and to engage students and working professionals whilst sharing the workload around the staff. Some collaborative blogs / websites such as Faculty Focus encourage reader submission of articles by established professionals, and contributing to sites such as this is another excellent way to use blogging as a professional development tool.

Reference.

Segrave, S., Holt, D. & Farmer, J. (2005). The power of the 6three model for enhancing academic teachers’ capacities for effective online teaching and learning: Benefits, initiatives and future directions. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 21(1), 118-135. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet21/segrave.html

Web two-point-oh

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I’m now learning more about web 2.0 technologies, which seem to me distinguished from web 1.0 in the following ways:

  • User-friendly and universal. Everybody from grandchildren to grandparents can use web 2.0 with its user-friendly WYSIWYG interfaces to self-publish and make their voice heard, and this is surely one of the greatest changes in the sharing and use of information this century, that anybody – everybody! – can create and share their own story and own view of the world. I rather love that, I think it’s just an absolutely incredible thing when you think about it..
  • Dynamic. Create what you want and then change it tomorrow, work with others on a website and add pages where you want, shift elements around with just a click, and incorporate high-impact elements such as multimedia, streaming live footage, graphics, and embedded interactive tools.
  • Community. I’ve met some of my best friends in the world on forums, and these are people I never, ever would have had the opportunity or venue to have met in real life. Web 2.0 tools such as forums and message boards have created infinite communities with as many varied themes and interests as there are stars in the sky! From the original simple Messenger internet messaging application and online chat rooms to modern video conferencing tools, Skype, Blackboard Collaborate, and other virtual meeting rooms, web 2.0 has made the world a very small place indeed, but our communities have become boundless.

There are now myriad web 2.0 tools available now, often for free and with the option to purchase what extra functionality you desire, and I expect there are more being invented and released everyday. I have no hope of course of even coming close to learning much about them all in the space of one course – it’s probably worthy of an entire degree alone!  - but I’m going to go through and learn the fundamental points of difference of the main categories of these, share my thoughts on the use and suitability of them as educational tools, and also list a few examples for each.

There are some that I do really want to learn about in more depth, and these of course are those for which I see genuine and gainful benefit from implementing in my teaching (and, possibly, learning too). Off the top of my head I know I have real use for wiki, blog, forum, and online quiz technologies, so I am looking forward to spending more time on these and investigating just how useful they will be for me. For example, I’ve been keen on the idea of conceptests that was raised in the Seven Principles readings of last term, and so learning more about quiz and flashcard applications and tools will be essential for adding these skills to my repertoire.

I think overall that it is very easy to become utterly overwhelmed by the sheer depth and breadth of web 2.0 technologies out there, and there is risk of trying a little bit of everything here and there but inadvertantly using things just for the sake of it. We need to remember that when using these tools there is an inevitable period of adjustment for both us as educators and for the students who also use the tools, as well as ongoing increase in cognitive load every time they use the tool. Students and academics alike each have varying levels of technological savvy, so at the end of the day it’s essential to keep in mind that whatever we choose to use we also force upon our students, and the last thing anyone needs is to be endlessly sending or fielding support-related questions and requests!

In considering the use of web 2.0 in our teaching I expect I’m going to find that less is absolutely more, and that finding maybe two or three tools that really have great functionality, usability, and provide authentic learning opportunities would be absolute gold. I’m very open-minded about the tools I’ll be meeting, but just for fun I’m going to make a prediction about what these select few for me might be:

  1. Wiki: For class collaboration, file sharing, discussions this is likely to become indispensable.
  2. Quiz: I don’t know what’s out there yet, but as mentioned I love the idea of these and see real use for them. I’m very interested to find out what I think once I do get to learn about and try them – will I still be sold on the idea?
  3. Blog: A no-brainer really, but for now I expect blogs to remain a more personal publishing tool for myself rather than an outright teaching tool. By which I mean I’d use it to discuss paramedical / tertiary teaching stuffz, which may or may not include student input (would be awesome if they did!), but perhaps not explicitly for course facilitation. So far I adore the blog for reflective learning, professional representation, and sharing of information with colleagues / co-students.

INTP, mmmhai

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One of our active learning tasks was to determine our own learning styles and personality types, which involved undertaking this index of learning styles test and by completing a Jungian / Myers-Briggs analysis. Now I have done these before for work and have always found this kind of thing rather fascinating – especially how personality tests often know seem to more about me than I do! When taking these the idea is to click your first intuitive response without lingering over and pondering the questions too much.. everybody can think of instances in their lives in which they have associated with both alternative answers to each question, so by always going for your first instinct the test is more likely to give a truer response. Any departure from your ‘true’ nature you may think you’ve created by not chosing one answer that best suits is balanced out anyway by the fact that in full versions of these they ask a literal zillion questions, and determine your expression of each personality facet as a degree of expression, rather than an outright You! Are! Extroverted!

Anyway, although as usual I thought I’d answered all of the questions much differently to the last time I did one of these, as usual I ended up INTP once again. *cue twilight zone music* There are a lot of neat sites out there with more information on personality types; one of the best is mypersonality.info which gives an in-depth analysis and a ton of fantastic information on each type, as well as comprehensive tests with in-depth results (eg. mine). Fun facts that I learnt today: Apparently INTPs are logical, individualistic, reserved, and curious. They are also less common – and, let’s face it, almost certainly a bit peculiar – which probably explains the need for an abundance of support groups out there in which they may huddle together and shrink away from the strange outside world..

As for the ILS test, my results for the four learning dimensions - active/reflective, sensing/intuitive, visual/verbal, and sequential/global – came back as:

Reflective – 7 | Intuitive – 3 | Visual – 3 | Global – 3

These marks extend in both directions from a mid-point of zero to a high score of eleven, and whilst I showed only mild preferences for three learning dimensions, I did demonstrate a strong preference for reflective rather than active learning. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy the reflective process of blogging? (Or perhaps I just ‘talk’ too much..!)

So what is the value of knowing all this? For students it can highlight strengths and weaknesses in personality and learning style, such as identifying for example that one learns best by visual means, and that perhaps drawing mind maps and diagramming information would help knowledge acquisition and retention. Personality typing may also inform choices about aptitude for various professions, though I’d probably not take this last point too seriously.. mind you, one information page does note that INTP folk make suitable university professors, so perhaps if I do gain a lecturing position down the track I could use this as evidence for promotion, haha!

And what about for educators? Knowing your students’ learning style would be lovely if tutoring one-on-one and so able to adjust your teaching style and learning activities to best suit your visual-kinaesthic learner, but how does one do that for a class full of Jungian mismatches? The answer is to use a range of learning activities, each of which may focus upon different kinds of input. For example, instead of always teaching by verbal lectures using few visual aids, which would favour auditory learners only whilst leaving visual or kinaesthetic learners out in the cold, mix it up! Represent information in different ways, such as text illustrated with diagrams, and where possible augment these practical or otherwise ‘real-life’ examples; these are things that much of us do anyway to keep things interesting, but it is useful to remember too that this levels the playing field so far as acknowledging the individual differences amongst our learners are concerned. As a wise man once told me, rather than dishing out a set menu (or, heaven forbid, alternate drop!), offer your students a smorgasbord.

"I have captured the signal and I am presently triangulating the vectors and compressing the data down in order to express it as a function of my hand." *points finger* "They're over there."

The most entertaining parts of this of all is in discovering which famous or infamous people you are in league with, though I can’t help but point out that the professions of them all are so diverse as to pretty much debunk those career suitability pages! I also must share my favourite personality test of all time, one which determines which cast member of The Simpsons you are most like. Whilst working as CSO last year taking this test was part of the initiation to the station I was then based at, and I’m still not sure whether it was a good or a bad thing that I was picked out by others as Professor Frink before I’d even taken the test! Click here to download the Simpsons Personality Test, and cross your fingers you don’t wind up with Monty Burns or Barney Grumble!

Relate, Create, Donate

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In their paper Learning Engagement Theory, Kearsley and Schneiderman discuss the benefits of online collaborative exercises for tertiary student engagement and retention, and detail three core principles upon which their theory is based: relate, create, donate, which refer respectively to relating to each other during the collaborative process of working as a group, the joint creation of a project of tangible value, and the donation of that project to an external audience.

This concept really makes sense to me, especially the creation of an innovative, meaningful, and authentic project as a learning tool – it’s no wonder that students respond so well to such projects when they can see that their work will have authentic and tangible value beyond the assignment marking sheet and course grades. The real-world application of the completed project would give great satisfaction and  is a genuine accomplishment that may deserve inclusion in a professional portfolio, or be suitable for use within the workplace or campus setting (or simply be great to show Mum & Dad!). I really like that the student will complete the course, and in time, their degree program, and may have projects such as these to include in a professional portfolio, rather than leaving with a degree certificate but with little tangible evidence of their workplace-ready abilities. For example, such projects would be excellent for computer programming students, whose potential employers may be impressed to be presented with visible evidence of the applicant’s abilities to create a novel program or debug complex system processes along with his or her resume!

The paper provides some guidelines and examples of suitable activities, and for our coursework we were tasked this week with using these principles to create such a learning task for our own discipline and student cohort. The learning activity I’ve created is centred upon the use of scenario-based training and assessment in paramedic education. Scenarios are traditionally a nerve-wracking experience for both student and qualified paramedics alike, yet it is imperative that they are done well and that students demonstrate their competencies in patient treatment. It is important therefore that students are not overwhelmed by the assessment task, and that they are familiar with the scenario situation. For these reasons I have planned a small group collaborative exercise to be completed over half a term in which students work together to create scenarios for other student teams to undertake. Students need to:

  • Choose a relevant medical emergency, and create a case scenario for this
  • Detail the patient presentation and pattern of deterioration by using their knowledge of pathophysiological processes
  • Detail the ideal paramedic treatment of this case, and expected pattern of patient response to approrpriate treatment
  • Detail alternative response / deterioration pattern of the patient if the case is not managed well
  • Consider additional case management matters their ‘students’ need to address

In creating these scenarios, students will also need to:

  • Collaborate effectively in an online environment such as a group wiki
  • Create a marking rubric, thereby gaining an understanding of how scenarios are graded
  • Learn how to assess their own and their peers’ performance in scenario situations
  • Gain familiarity with the scenario situation by seeing the process from both sides

This exercise builds upon clinical knowledge gained by students in their current and previous courses, and the collaborative nature of the task encourages sharing of group members’ own understandings and clinical experiences from on-road practicums. It also allows them to gain an understanding of how scenarios are constructed and what markers are looking for, so that they are no longer mysterious and scary tasks but tools that they can make the most of in their studies. Students will also be then able to conduct scenarios as training for each other not only whilst as students themselves, but also as part of their normal ongoing clinical maintenance once qualified, as well as when mentoring and training students themselves.

The donation component of the task is realised during residential week for distance students, or a couple of practical sessions for on-campus students. Each of the groups will conduct their scenarios for the other groups during practical sessions / residential weeks. Groups are assessed on the quality of their scenarios, including underpinning clinical knowledge, and the practical component assesses their facilitation of the scenario, including the assessment and debrief of their own ‘students’. Long-term value of the assessment task is gained by the pooling of all group scenarios into a pool of examples that are created by students for students, and which are available as a resource for university studies and practicums.

References.

Kearsley, D., & Schneiderman, B. (1998). Engagement theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Educational Technology, 38(5), 20-23.

Lecturing: First do no harm?

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Lecturing by Socrates, 440BC

Lecturing in the 1780's

Lecturing in the 1880's

Lecturing in the 1980's

Reading Kearsley’s Learning Engagement Theory this week reminded me a good deal of our readings on the Seven Principles last term, in particular the emphasis on social learning through collaboration and group work (I summarised some of those readings back here). Most relevant to Kearsley’s work from the 7P readings was this paper discussing the challenges and benefits of online collaborative environments, including the problem-based learning and group work activities so relevant to teaching paramedicine. One thing that very much stuck with me from that reading was the authors’ commentary on class results following interactive versus didactic lessons, where they found that “..even the best lectures achieve student gains that are at the low end of student gains in interactive engagement classes“, a statement which very much echoes my own experiences as a student.

On that note we were asked to consider our own learning experiences this week, specifically which of these we found to be the most and least valuable. For me, teaching others is by far the richest learning experience, for as the saying goes ‘to teach is to learn twice’, and when teaching others you always need to learn just a *little* bit more so that you’re one step ahead of that student (yup, there’s always one!) who lobs the inevitable curly question at you! Lectures, then reading, were the methods with least student retention of material, and by viewing the learning pyramid it is clear that of the various methods of teaching the best learning is obtained from those which engage more of the senses, and demand more back of students in manipulation and use of the material to be learnt. For me this underlines once again the need to really focus students with every lesson we conduct – whether these are on-campus or on-line classes – and to be creative in fostering active engagement with and deep learning of the material.

It also leaves me pondering the place of the lecture in our teaching repertoires, and whether or not it still belongs in modern tertiary education. Compared with the other ways in which we might engage students in learning, is it the best use we could make of the limited contact time we have with our student cohorts? Five percent retention, and even then only from those students that are awake AND not otherwise engaged in Facebook / texting / work for other courses?! Well perhaps it does still have a place, albeit not in its traditional guise, that of the venerable lecture hall where students squint down upon their lecturer from the lofty heights of their pews. Whilst lectures originated from the simple need of ancient teachers to speak to and instruct many pupils at once, modern technology has provided teachers with far more reach than simply that of how far their voice will carry; podcasts, audio and visual lecture recordings, and other forms of digital presentations may still be lecturing in a sense, but the convenience of ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning I feel does at least outweigh the limitations of this otherwise unidimensional form of teaching.

I’d be interested to see how many tertiary courses still offer on-campus lectures, compared with how many have moved from the lecture hall to providing purely digital lectures in either audio or audio-visual / multimedia formats. Given the poor performance in student engagement and material retention of lectures in the traditional sense, they just don’t seem a high-yield, value-added way to spend academics’ or students’ valuable time.

“I lecture only when I’m convinced it will do more good than harm.”                                              ~ Wilbert McKeachie

Lecturing today! If I'd desaturated the entire photo, what difference would remain from the others?

References.

Kearsley, D., & Schneiderman, B. (1998). Engagement theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Educational Technology, 38(5), 20-23.

Smith, K., Sheppard, S., Johnson, D., & Johnson, R. (2005). Pedagogies of engagement: class-room-based practices. Journal of Engineering Education,  94(1), 87-101. Retrieved from http://www.ce.umn.edu/~smith/docs/Smith-Pedagogies_of_Engagement.pdf

Weebling!

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Second week of term and I have not yet fallen down, so I guess I’m doing good.. in a so far, so good kinda way! I created a website for EDED20485 this morning on Weebly and found it easier than expected once I got used to their setup. I don’t have a great deal to put upon it yet other than what I already have on this blog, so it’s hard really to determine what layout would best suit my needs when I’ve no material yet to organise!

In the future I plan to establish the website itself as hypocaffeinic.com and have the blog located as one page within that (still upon the WordPress platform). The pages I have organised on this blog would be much better suited on a website format, as the greater control over navigation, pagination, and overall layout means that I could adjust each page to best suit the needs of each topic. For example, under the GCTE tab on my blog homepage I have links to sub-pages for each of the courses comprising the GCTE program; however on each of these pages all I can do is list the posts / material upon one page (eg. EDED20484), rather than have a nice layout with clearer organisation of the articles.

Something to work on for the future perhaps, as one of my hopes for the blog / website would be to post articles and discuss journal papers relevant to both paramedic education and tertiary teaching in the profession. Also for the future will be a proper discussion of the potential uses for a website in education with use of a SWOT analysis – I’ve jumped the gun a bit here as I wanted to talk about the website setup and my own plans for it ahead of actually covering it in the course syllabus!


ETA 1900hrs: Things I have somehow managed to do on Weebly so far today:

* Create one!
* Bugger around with CSS a bit to make the theme my own.
* Upload own images for use within CSS [title].
* Create pages.
* Use columns and html to create structure and separate elements.
* Upload files for download and transfer [EDED20485 course profile].
* Created a Google Custom Search Engine to search this website and my blog. Make yours here!
* Added site stats tool.
* Created a survey to encourage feedback.
* Created site forums to establish a community around the website. [Go join! I'm lonely!]
* Not accidentally delete or irreversibly sod anything up.. yet!

I didn’t mean to get quite so stuck into working on the website today; I created one to add to the my list of blog, wiki and website for the forum post, but found I couldn’t just create a site and let it lie without sorting it out a bit! Just as well I was up early, I got most of it done this morning before shift, then after work further potterings created everything from the search bar down..

Netiquette

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This term I’m studying technology in education, EDED20485 at CQUni. Our course has started with a discussion on netiquette: etiquette and manners in the virtual & online environments. I did well on the netiquette quizzes but have been very active online within forums for many years, so am long familiar with the environment and ‘terms of engagement’. I must admit that others’ poor netiquette really does annoy me – I get that same twitch that arises whenever I see wanton grammatical abuse of some poor apostrophe!

I only correct others on this though if I see somebody’s poor manners repeatedly causing genuine issues; in such cases I would drop them a private message or email and just suggest that their message may not be well received due to them (for example) using all caps, or posting an oft-asked question without first doing a search. Most forums or other online environments do have their own stated rules so it’s often useful to direct people to those for more information, or when designing the online environment it helps to provide clear links to these guidelines. Everyone enters these environments for the first time at some point, and it’s important to remember that poor netiquette may be entirely unintentional, perhaps especially in adult learners.

The netiquette issue that bothers me most is flaming, trolling, and other blatantly antisocial behaviour that people wouldn’t engage in were the online conversation be conducted in ‘real life’ (well, usually!). I love this cartoon by Randall Munroe of xkcd on the matter of remembering the human..

My contributions to the class netiquette wiki:

  • If you have a problem with somebody, speak to them privately in a private message or by email or phone, rather than raising your issues upon the more public online environment.
  • Remember the human! Think – would I say this to them in person? What elements of tone or meaning in the conversation might have been lost in the aether between your computers? Online text-based discussions are more one-dimensional than discussions in person.
  • Use the entire keyboard – ‘text speak’ is gr8ly annoying for others reading it, and is unnecessary when you are not using a mobile device (and even those all have full, easily used keyboards now!).

Ternimology:

  • Trolls: Those who purposefully cause disruptions to discussions or blatantly stir up fights with others for their own enjoyment.
  • Flaming: Harsh attacks or putdowns upon others, or expressing strong opinions against the prevalent views of others or topic in question.
  • Lurkers: Those who consistently log in to read others’ posts, yet never contribute to discussions themselves.
  • Moderator: The people who run online environments such as forums or wikis, and who ‘clean up’ troll posts, respond to problems, keep the place running smoothly.
  • Grammar Nazi: Somebody who gets their knickers in a twist over apostrophe abuse. blush
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