VCC Receives NSERC Applied Research Eligibility Status

2011_employee_excellence_awards_051_CroppedCongratulations to Dean Karen Belfer and to Vancouver Community College (VCC) for this great achievement.

Dr. Karen Belfer, VCC’s Dean of the Centre for Teaching Innovation and Applied Research & Interim Dean of the School of Arts and Science, attained eligibility for VCC.  Dr Belfer meticulously completed the rigorous application for Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) eligibility status to apply for research funding.

Dean Belfer’s education and experience in applied research and active participation on VCC’s Education Council Policy Committee and her work as chair of the VCC Research Ethics Board greatly assisted with VCC’s NSERC application.

NSERC aims to make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians. The agency supports university students in their advanced studies, promotes and supports discovery research, and fosters innovation by encouraging Canadian companies to participate and invest in post secondary research projects. NSERC researchers are on the vanguard of science, building on Canada’s long tradition of scientific excellence. (Cited Sept 3rd 2013 at http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/index_eng.asp)

This status is only granted to institutions that meet NSERC’s eligibility requirements to administer funds granted by them. The eligibility sets out the general terms and conditions governing the institution’s administration of grants and awards by federal granting agencies.

NSERC eligibility status is not a guarantee of funding. Each research proposal is investigated and assessed further by the NSERC peer review committees which assess the excellence of the applicants and the merits of their proposals on an individual basis.

The eligibility agreement is a document common to three federal granting agencies including NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council    and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

VCC’s eligibility is confirmed by NSERC only. The eligibility status and the agreement between NSERC and VCC represents an important and tangible element in the accountability of granting agencies and institutions in support of research and in their responsibility for the effective management and use of the research investment made by the Federal Government of Canada.

Congratulations to Dean Karen Belfer and VCC for this great achievement!

Enhancing Post-Secondary Students’ Work Readiness for Multicultural Environments through Sociocultural Competence Training

On July 9, 2013, the Centre for Instructional Development proudly presented the Learn @ Lunch Workshop “Enhancing Post-Secondary Students’ Work Readiness for Multicultural Environments through Sociocultural Competence Training”, presented by Dr. Anita Mak.

In order to develop post-secondary students’ work readiness in culturally diverse societies and international environments, educators have advocated that program leaders should engage faculty members in embedding intercultural competence development in the curriculum, and evaluate the subsequent impact on faculty and student outcomes. This approach has been adopted in an Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Project titled “Internationalisation at Home” (IaH), which involved providing Business and Health faculty with professional development adapted from an established sociocultural competency training resource – the EXCELL (Excellence in Cultural Experiential Learning and Leadership) Program.

This VCC Learn@Lunch seminar reported the action research processes and outcomes of the IaH Project implemented at two Australian universities. Also, Vancouver Community College faculty and professional staff members shared their reflections on teaching innovations and first-hand experiences with embedding sociocultural competency training in the curricula of diverse disciplines.

About Dr. Anita Mak:

Dr Anita Mak is currently Visiting Professor at the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology & Special Education, Faculty of Education, UBC. She is Professor of Psychology, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Australia and a fellow of the International Academy of Intercultural Research. Anita’s specialist research areas are acculturation, sociocultural competence training, adolescent and immigrant mental health, and employment-related stress.

Anita is a co-developer of the EXCELL (Excellence in Cultural Experiential Learning and Leadership) Program. EXCELL is an evidence-based behavioural program for developing sociocultural competencies that has been introduced into over 100 educational institutions in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK,
and Europe.

Mobile Devices at VCC: From Purchase to Practical Use

This blog post re-purposed from the Applied Learning in the Digital Age Learn@Lunch IMG_2067workshops for the VCC Day 2013 presentation.

The following information supports the VCC Day 2013 workshop ‘Mobile Devices at VCC: From Purchase to Practical Use’ as presented by Robin Popow on October 25, 2013.

Session Overview and Resources

1. Introduction

  • Session Overview
  • Socrative Setup
  • Early Years of Pen/Touch Technology
  • Devices changing lives
    • Developmental [Fattemeh, offline video]ipad
      • Apps used: Bitsboard, IXL Math Practice, 5 Little Monkeys
    • Accessibility for auditory and visual impairments
      • iOS
  • Trends/Tablet Petting Zoo

2. Teacher Tools

  • Socrative – Student Response Devicesocrative
    Price: Free
  • Swivl – Camera base that follows you as it recordsSwivl websitePrice: $219 US (plus shipping – with AC Adapter)
    Availability: Order online – manufacturer ships to Canada

    • Mike Tunnah [offline video]
  • Justand – Mobile Device Stand – Use your smartphone or tablet as a document camerajustand
    Price: $89. US (plus shipping)

    Availability: Currently n/a at local retailers.
  • Mobile Devices as Document Cameras
    • Smartphones and tablets, cross-platforms
  • Whiteboard Apps
    • Educreations App – Recordable cloud-based whiteboard application
      Price: Free
  • Note Taking Appevernote
  • Wireless Media Streaming
    • Apple TV – Project your device wirelessly  in your classroom
      Price: $110
      Availability: Apple StoreIMG_2068
      Notes:  Once purchased, this device must be programmed by IT to function within the VCC WiFi. Unit can be permanently installed by IT or, purchase an audio-enabled HDMI-VGA adapter ($20-$40) to connect to classroom Educational Technology Units.

      • Educreations demo
      • AST Demo [offline video]
    • Options for Androids

3. Moodle Integration and Classroom Managementipad-field-work

  • Attendance
  • Grades
  • Database
  • Passive media management
    • Educreations Lessons via Twitter
    • Embedded Youtube/Vimeo playlists
  • “Micro-Moodle” or Moodle 2.5 as an app

4. Student-created Contentepub-sample

  • Videos/Interviews
    • iPhones and Youtube – Mandy Davies
  • ePublishing with Creative Book Builder

5. Future trends

  • Active reading research and Pen+Touch [02:00 video]
  • Wifi – BYODGartner's Hype Cycle
  • Media server

6. Purchasing tablets at VCC

  • One size fits all approach obsolete
  • Predefine use a must
  • Funding sources
  • Educational Technology Advisory Committee (ETAC)

7. Petting Zoo

Additional Resources:

Motivating Students: Peter Fenrich

On May 13, 2013, the Centre for Instructional Development proudly presented the Learn @ Lunch Workshop “Motivating Students”, presented by Peter Fenrich.

This session discussed the ARCS motivation model and how it can be applied to address the attributes of attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction.  Attendees were asked to reflect on their own experiences and how the model can apply to their own classes.

Peter Fenrich is an Instructional Development Consultant at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. He supports instructor and curriculum development. He also creates innovative computer-based training and simulation software. His work has won international awards.

Peter’s book entitled, “Creating Instructional Multimedia Solutions: Practical Guidelines for the Real World”, provides practical information gained through years of experience. Peter also works internationally as a consultant.

Peter Fenrich, Motivating Students, May13/13 – Clip 1 of 3

Peter Fenrich, Motivating Students, May13/13 – Clip 2 of 3

Peter Fenrich, Motivating Students, May13/13 – Clip 3 of 3

Conference Notes Continued: WIPTTE

By Robin Popow, Instructional Associate

Notes from Days 2 & 3

Click here to read Day 1 notes…

Pen + Touch Computing: From Research to Resource

Professor Andy Van Dam, Brown University.  "Inventor of hypertext and father of digital graphics"

Professor Andy Van Dam, Brown University. “Inventor of hypertext and father of digital graphics”

Andy Van Dam, Professor of Technology, Education, & Computer Science at Brown University kicked off day 2 with a look back at the origin of pen and touch technology. Considered by many as the inventor of hypertext and father of digital graphics, Van Dam has spent the last four decades working on systems for creating and reading electronic books with interactive illustrations for use in education and research. He has contributed a great deal of industry leading research and taught many of the current leading researchers.

Fujitsu tablet PCsVan Dam expressed general dissatisfaction and frustration towards Apple and Microsoft, suggesting they have been developing products without paying attention to leading research that suggests people benefit from using pen + touch technology (as opposed to the current pen OR touch). Current products such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro and Fujitsu’s Stylistic Hybrid tablets offer the ability to use a pen OR touch but none offer the ability to use pen AND touch at the same time. Van Dam suggests pen + touch is what is needed to attain a truly natural user interface (NUI). Van Dam referred to the original two-handed technology and the origins of this research in a 1963 project called Sketchpad where Ivan Sutherland at MIT’s Lincoln Labs developed, “A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System”, described as one of the most influential computer programs ever written.

Van Dam showcased Hands-on Math as another example of affordances offered by pen + touch technology (I loved the crumple gesture). It was interesting to see how much negativity there was towards Apple and Microsoft from University researchers in attendance. It was suggested that while the iPad brought a great deal of popularity to tablet devices, it’s touch-only technology is somewhat shortsighted in the context of leading research. And although Ken Hinckley of Microsoft seems to be paying attention to the research (as noted from his Day 1 keynote) Van Dam and others at the conference acknowledged the progress Microsoft has made but were critical in pointing out that Microsoft has not yet developed consumer versions of pen + touch products 50 years after their original conception.  It will be interesting to see what happens in coming years.

Large Artwork Display on the Surface (LADS)

Van Dam also showcased a cool program developed at Brown University called LADS (Large Artwork Display on the Surface), a platform built for museums for viewing large, digitized artworks in a novel fashion. It uses Microsoft’s DeepZoom technology to dynamically load portions of images at different resolutions. This allows a user, in the case of the Garibaldi project (see video below), to see an entire 370 foot long panorama at once or the brushstrokes on the ocean in one square inch of the piece. Additional information can be accessed via hot spots in the image. LADS is open source and available as a free download for institutions that wish to use it. I couldn’t help but think how a program like this could be used by students as a group project to build interactive timelines, etc.

InkSurvey

InkSurvey is a free, web-based software designed to facilitate real-time formative assessment by collecting graphical, white board style responses from students. During our session I used my iPhone to submit my hand-written responses to questions asked by Frank Kowalski (the person next to me used her Kindle tablet), featured in this comical video. A major affordance of this software is that instructor can provide direct feedback to graphical student responses. This software appeared simple to use and quite effective,  and works across most mobile platforms (Android 4+). Click here to begin using it now…

Courseload

Dale Pokorski showcased Virginia Tech’s use of Coarseload, a company that provides source-neutral aggregated digital textbooks at up to 70% savings by integrating open source as well as (or in place of) proprietary content. In the spirit of active reading, students are able to highlight, annotate, share notes with other students. For additional functionality Virginia Tech students export materials to Microsoft OneNote.

Screen capturing

iPad image

Eric Marco’s iPad featuring a Doceri pen to prevent palm-drag and an “indestructible” M-edge neoprene case. (Click image to enlarge).

On Day 2, middle school teachers Eric Marcos and Stacey Roshan provided more tips in support of video in a flipped classroom. Select takeaways for me included screencaptuing apps such as Doceri for iPad, with a pen that effectively eliminates palm drag, Educreations (one of my favourites) and ScreenChomp. (ScreenChomp is about the simplest screen capturing tool you’ll find). Also, Eric made his tablet seemingly indestructible with a M-edge neoprene case (see image at right).

More on Tablets

In my Day 1 post I noted the popularity of the tablet PC hardware with interaction/sharing software such as ClassroomPresenter, DYknow and Microsoft OneNote. On Day 2 I had chance to use more of these tablets and must admit that they do provide functionality beyond that of touch-based tablets, laptops and desktop computers. A major take away from this conference beyond the affordance-rich tablet PCs has been the potential of cost effective technologies that can be used to innovate based on affordances rather than just integrate technology as a flashy tool. While some delegates rattled off bold statements like “every student in America should be using OneNote on a 11.6″ Fujitsu tablet PC” some institutions have dropped their brand-specific tablet programs altogether in favour of a bring your own device (BYOD) option. Some have found that free software such as ClassroomPresenter provide enough usability to support their learner-centred initiatives.

(BTW, during the conference I also learned that $20 Android tablets with VGA camera are being produced in India – 4 million on order).  

In Closing

VCC offers such a wide variety of programming that it is impossible to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to educational technology while maintaining pedagogically sound teaching and learning strategies. While I sometimes find myself envious of the relative ease to which K-12 and Academic institutions chose and implement blanket technology solutions I quickly think of the depth and richness of learning we can offer our students as an applied learning institution and the potential to go even further!

Click here to read Day 1 notes…

Conference Notes: Workshop on the Impact of Pen & Touch Technology on Education (WIPTTE)

By Robin Popow (Instructional Associate, Centre for Instructional Development)

Notes from Day 1

Well it sounds about as obscure a subject for a conference you could imagine but the 2013 WIPTTE workshop kicked off today in Los Angeles and just couldn’t wait to share my experience.

peperdine

But first, a bit of background. As per their official website, the Workshop on the Impact of Pen and Touch Technology in Education (WIPTTE) exists to share research and effective practice on the use of these tools in education.

It quickly dawned on me that these aren’t bunch of app-mad ipad users as I had anticipated. On the contrary, I think they are truly aware that they have discovered the one educational technology tool most able to help us move towards modern teaching and learning pedagogies. Yes, that world where knowledge is socially constructed and teaching is learner-centred.

Back to earth…

The day began with a truly revealing and visionary look at the future of pen & touch technology

Ken Hinckley

Ken Hinckley, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

from Ken Hinckley, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research. His research on sensors, mobile devices, pen computing, and pen + touch interaction has been widely covered in the press and tech blogs and left us pondering what is to come.

Ken suggested that we are currently shifting from indirect to direct input (from keyboards to touch screen) noting, “You can’t type the soul of an idea”. Research into reading shows that there is more to it than just reading and this is why the Kindle readers are not thriving. Ken suggested that we are active readers – we read with both hands, constantly moving the page or book while reading, writing notes and flipping pages back and forth using our fingers as active bookmarks. Ken shared several concept projects he has been or is currently working on that aim to serve active readers.

Some of the concept projects he shared with us can be found on Ken’s blog including:

Ken’s keynote left me with feelings of eager anticipation turning immediately by anxiety for determining how to fund and implement this exciting future technology.

After Ken’s keynote I learned about an interesting classroom presentation program while using a really cool Fujitsu tablet PC (very powerful with Windows 8). Classroom Presenter (developed at University of Washington) provides some core features of the popular DYknow software (enterprise) but as a free download.

tabletIn the words of the developer, Classroom Presenter is a Tablet PC-based interaction system that supports the sharing of digital ink on slides between instructors and students. When used as a presentation tool, Classroom Presenter allows the integration of digital ink and electronical slides, making it possible to combine the advantages of whiteboard style and slide based presentation. The ability to link the instructor and student devices, and to send information back and forth provides a mechanism for introducing active learning into the classroom and creates additional feedback channels.

Also of interest to me was a self-study done at Boston University with the following select findings:

  • While ipads were provided for student use students prefer to use their own devices. Tablet PC were favored but bring-your-own-device (BYOD) selected as best solution
  • Faculty preferred to use Dropbox to collect student work
  • Windows 8 allows for touch screen so Smart Boards no longer necessary
  • Wacom Bamboo tablets preferred for image annotating

Conference host, Pepperdine University actively promotes student created content and provided staceysome great resources and examples such as creationsforlearning.net and the ironically named, teacherscreate.org. Teachers and several students from Long Beach Unified School District presented a series of student-created math tutorial videos featured on this site using Camtasia with minimal technical instruction. Additionally,  Stacey Roshan of Maryland showed samples of videos her students made using Screenchomp on iPads.  Stacey, also shared with us one technique she is using to flip her classroom by providing them with Camtasia videos she created. While long in duration by today’s standards at 15-30 minutes she wowed us by showing new Camtasia features in her videos such as intermittent quizzes and popup glossaries.

A significant theme emerged on day 1: Tablet PC + Microsoft OneNote provides a powerful teaching tool and Andrew Asikainen of St. Lois showed us how in a hands on session. Teachers in Andrew’s schools use OneNote as a personal learning environment for their student and require them to produce a portfolio of their work for all classes. Students use MS Skydrive to access and store their files (currently available to VCC students).

On this same theme and also building on the inspiring morning keynote, John Cristy of Virginia Tech presented an innovative add-on for Microsoft OneNote called VText. VText provides a framework for the creation and display of eTextbooks adding features such as:

  • Linked Split Screen
  • Window focus change on hover (as opposed to click)
  • Gestures for navigation and bookmarking
  • Bookmarked pages for quick returning
  • Notes Page
  • Bluetooth Scanner
  • Simple quiz system

Download John’s presentation

Click here to read the Day 2-3 notes…

“Blow up the Learning Management System!”

By Robin Popow (Instructional Associate, Centre for Instructional Development)

DavidP_color

David Porter, BCcampus Executive Director

This though-provoking statement made by BCcampus Director, David Porter sparked an interesting debate at the 2013 Canada MoodleMoot in Vancouver.

Porter made the statement during a panel discussion suggesting that educators have more freedom using the rapidly growing community of cloud based applications versus affordances offered by the learning management system (LMS). In a followup interview Porter added,

“The LMS is about the “management” of learning, something I oppose in higher education. Don’t mind scaffolding, but dislike management. LMS are managed for instructors and students. I want instructors and students co-manage the learning environment. It’s a new literacy for instructors. It needs to be under their control. Most LMS are just labour-intensive, confining electro-gradebook environments. Instructors need to wean themselves from the electro-pablum of the LMS.”

As you might expect, Moodle founder Martin Dougiamas disagreed with this and presented a good case in support of the LMS but I thought I’d offer my opinion from a Vancouver Community College perspective – I think they’re both right!

I loved Porters analogy of the LMS (Moodle in our case) as a “Swiss army knife” of educational technology. In a very practical way, Moodle does offer a tool to accommodate every popular e-learning strategy to some degree as well as enabling consistent standards of development, delivery and e-learning process College-wide. Porter was keen to follow up on this as well adding,knife

“Swiss Army Knife (SWK): A SWK is a general purpose tool that confines its users to a limited range of very general activities. I’d rather pick the tactical blade to do the job I need. Cloud-based apps give us a whole range of choices for more targeted application and open-ended learning experiences. An LMS is an artificial learning environment, and Moodle represents Martin’s particular worldview, that I do not accept as an autonomous professional.”

To some extent I agree that some Moodle tools tend to provide only rudimentary solutions but I do feel that it generally provides a great platform from which to begin. By that I mean, both from the perspective of an instructor just beginning to use e-learning strategies as well as an instructor who establishes Moodle as a base and sends students off to cloud-based apps that provide more flexibility, advanced features, etc than those in Moodle (Porter’s point I believe). For example and as the later suggests, an activity that focuses on student collaboration to develop a webpage or document would likely be better served using an app dedicated to the purpose of being a wiki such as MediaWiki. Likewise, an activity focused on student folios may be better served using an app such as WordPress.

moodle-platformDuring the MoodleMoot I had a chance to further discuss this with Dougiamas who agreed that the “walls” that once boxed us into Moodle have been effectively removed with the additions of external repositories such as YouTube, MediWiki, Google Docs, etc.

So, I guess my point is that the LMS provides a practical, cost effective and convenient way to manage e-learning. That said, Porter really has a point and we should always encourage those innovators to venture into the clouds. Their explorations blaze new (safe) trails for all of us.

Moodle Moot Canada 2013: Day 3

MoodleMoot2013From February 13-15, 2013, members of the Centre for Instructional Development (CID) attended the  Moodle Moot Canada 2013 conference in Vancouver.

The CID and the DL Support team attended a variety of educational and technical sessions at this stimulating two and a half day conference. (Many attendees tweeted out URLs, notes and quotes using the hashtag #mootca13.)

Session: Moodle Development Best Practices – Justin Filip

Justin Filip is the Manager of Software Development for Remote Learner Canada (http://www.remote-learner.ca), an official Moodle Partner. Remote Learner builds custom solutions for Moodle clients, and in particular, integrates Moodle with other systems or products.

In this session, Justin covered:

  • Overview of Moodle plugin systems and available APIs
  • Working with the Moodle Tracker; Peer review process
  • Maintaining a custom plugin using GitHub
    (Templates for Activity modules are available there.)
  • Submitting core patches and bug fixes to Moodle HQ
  • Accessing Moodle Developer Docs at moodledocs.org
  • Discussed using Selenium to do automated browser testing

http://www.slideshare.net/justinfilip/moodle-development-best-pracitces

Plenary: The Business of Social Learning – Bradley Shende

Bradley Shende is the Founder and CEO of M2O Digital Agency, as well as Global TV’s resident Technology Commentator. At Moodle Moot Canada 2013, he spread his passion for technology’s influence on our daily lives. In addition to inspiring international audiences as a keynote speaker, his infectious content stimulates his audiences to embrace a future where technology is understood, accessible and fun.

He touched on our multicultural society and the related diversity in information and education by relating them to his own diversity: His Father was from Trinidad, and studied Medicine in Winnipeg. His Mother, a native Winnipegger,  spotted him at a social event, and the rest is history. Bradley feels that his parents were early adopters of globalism the importance of shared connections.

Bradley’s number one technology tip:  “Just click things.” Don’t be afraid to click things and play with gadgets.

His analogy for crowd-sourcing in Twitter: “It’s  like having a group of people together in one room. Write a question on piece of paper and pass it around. When the paper came back, you’ll have some great answers to your initial question.”

Bradley proceeded to rouse his crowd to action, getting everyone on their feet to take part in a meme from YouTube:

Moodle Moot Canada 2013 Does “The Harlem Shake”:

What has changed for our generation, or our children’s generation? Touchscreens have radically changed our expectations of what media can do and how we expect to access it. Bradley told a story of how when surfing the Sesame Street website on his laptop, how his 2-yr-old son (who was more familiar with using his Dad’s iPad) wondered why Elmo was “broken” because there was no touch-screen response on the laptop’s screen.

We (as a culture) have changed the input method – no longer strictly text-based papers or essays – and we’ve changed the way information is sourced. Wikipedia has grown larger in a few years than Encyclopedia Britannica did over hundreds of years.

The “Shift has Happened” video:

This video challenges us all to imagine the future. and as educators ask ourselves the question “Am I preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist, or for jobs that will no longer exist by the time they’re trained?”

Other Observations from Bradley Shende:

  • Increasing user-generated content leads to increased-self publishing and self-curation.
  • “Gamification”: Kids are bored, and often seek novelty. It’s important to challenge yourself, think creatively, and to network.
  • Social Media can transform students from individual silos of knowledge into connected nodes.

Bradley closed with some inspiring suggestions:

Reconnect the soul of education to the world.
See through the eyes of a child. That’s knowledge.
We all need to become Learners, together.

Moodle Moot Canada 2013: Day 2

MoodleMoot2013From February 13-15, 2013, members of the Centre for Instructional Development (CID) attended the  Moodle Moot Canada 2013 conference in Vancouver.

The CID and the DL Support team attended a variety of educational and technical sessions at this stimulating two and a half day conference. (Many attendees tweeted out URLs, notes and quotes using the hashtag #mootca13.)

Keynote: Tony Bates – “Quality in eLearning”

The keynote speaker on Day 2 was Dr. Tony Bates, President and CEO of Tony Bates Associates Ltd, a private company specializing in consultancy and training in the planning and management of e-learning and distance education. He is a recognized expert in distance learning theory and practice, has authored eleven books, and has worked as a consultant in over 40 countries. Clients include the World Bank, OECD, UNESCO, national ministries of education, and several U.S. state higher education commissions as well as many universities and colleges.

Tony commented on the current “MOOC hysteria” happening in higher education: “What is disappointing is the continual lack of recognition of the research, design and best practices that have come from earlier work on online learning. Frankly, this shows a lack of scholarship that would not be tolerated in other disciplines – and it is coming from those very institutions that place most emphasis on scholarship. They should be incorporating best online practices into MOOCs – as far as the format allows – before throwing them at learners. But that would mean acknowledging that MOOCs are an evolution of online teaching, and not something new invented by Ivy League universities.”

When he described his concerns over “quality” in elearning courses in general, he made reference to his previous research into elearning quality standards. “Coursera MOOCs”, he said, “don’t seem to follow rules of rules of elearning quality.”

Other comments and observations from this session:

  • The roles of students, instructor are changing with the affordances of web2.0.
  • Students are gaining more control over their learning, but credentialing is still an issue.
  • Learning as Development: The student moves along a continuum progressing from dependent learning to independent learning.
  • Don’t think of just how to move classroom instruction online. Think of how Web2.0 gives you new ways to teach.
  • Look for research that shows which activities are the most beneficial in classroom or groups.
  • Student diversity in purpose and prior knowledge-determine student requirements
  • Determine subject requirements – which can be done online and which needs to be on location – more and more remote capability is available
  • When considering teaching students HOW to learn online, consider the whole program, and not just one course.
  •  eLearning requires a team approach and mastery of the tech. Instructors need to be trained, and need to know “how can I do this in the LMS.”
  • Some skills are best suited to online – especially 21st century tech use
  • Design activities students can actually do considering their environment
  • Instructor presence and communication are critical to online learner success.
  • Follow quality steps, but do not fail to innovate and keep up to new possibilities. Then evaluate and disseminate.
  • Quality standards tend to follow innovation. Then, instructors need strategies for capturing innovation so it doesn’t remain isolated. Once innovative practice is identified and understood, it can be evaluated for quality.

Session: Mobile Learning – Paul Hibbitts

Paul Hibbitts teaches User Experience in the Computer Science program at SFU. He established Hibbitts Design in 1998 to provide personalized user-centered design, interaction design, and training services. He provides hands-on design and coaching to improve user experiences for desktop applications, mobile devices, and the web.

Mobile is the new reality in the world of online learning. With a focus on user experience (UX), Paul shared his design insights and techniques on how to leverage Moodle to better support anytime, anywhere learning on an ever-expanding range of mobile devices.

Drawing from his experiences in creating and designing mobile blended learning materials on a variety of platforms, Paul presented his preferred mobile design approaches and field-tested techniques. Topics included the fundamentals of mobile learning UX, the ongoing evolution of the “mobile first” design viewpoint, and the increased importance of design for emotion. Paul also presented how open-source responsive HTML frameworks like Twitter Bootstrap can help to make Moodle more mobile friendly.

Issues: Trends and Influence of Mobile Web Platforms

By 2014, mobile web use will overtake desktop use. Soon, a student’s first or only web access will be via a mobile device.

Paul recommended the book, Mobile First, which proposes that user interface designers should begin their design considerations and requirements from a mobile platform perspective first, and then build on that design to accommodate the needs of desktop platforms afterwards.

This “mobile first” philosophy is the reverse of how design has traditionally approached mobile, designing for the desktop first, and then removing or reducing the GUI to accommodate mobile users.

Paul suggested that interface designers and online course designers need to focus on the mobility of the learner, whether they use a tablet, smartphone, or something in-between (“phablet). Responsive Web Design (RWD) is the best answer for multi-device user experience design (HTML5, javascript, viewports).

It’s now a multi-screen, multi-context world. Ask yourself “How is my content going to follow me around?”

Implementation: Twitter Bootstrap – framework for RWD.

Moodle Bootstrap is a mobile theme that takes advantage of the Titter Bootstrap framework to provide a responsive, multi-platform user interface that adapts to desktop or mobile displays.

You probably have more of an emotional attachment to your mobile device than to your desktop computer. (Emotion aids engagement.)

Slides from this presentation are online here:
http://www.paulhibbitts.com/mobilelearningux/moodle/index.html

Here is a MindMap of the topics Paul covered in his presentation:
http://www.mindmeister.com/233818108/moodlemoot-2013-canada-mobile-learning-ux

Integrating a Moodle Course into Facebook

Rafael Scapin, the Coordinator of Education Technology at Dawson College in Montreal, presented on a survey project he did with 3rd year Presentation Illustration students.

The goal of this project was to leverage Facebook’s popularity amongst their students to provide a communication and collection space  – a Facebook page – where the Moodle-based instructors and students could chat as a group, and where instructor could post information about course news and content updates. Being the most popular social media service in the world (with 1 Billion users in 2012), Facebook is already in use by most if not all the student population. It can provide them a useful space in which to stay in touch with students “out of class”, or to reconnect with students who haven’t logged into Moodle recently.

His slideshow presentation is online at http://www.slideshare.net/rscapin?nomobile=true

Moodle Moot Canada 2013: Day 1

MoodleMoot2013From February 13-15, 2013, members of the Centre for Instructional Development (CID) attended the  Moodle Moot Canada 2013 conference in Vancouver.

Vancouver Community College has made a strong commitment to using the Moodle LMS platform for delivering online courses. Moodle Moot is a major annual event that brings educators, technologists and industry reps together to share ideas, show off projects, and discuss issues in online learning, educational practice and the implications of digital technology.

The CID and the DL Support team attended a variety of educational and technical sessions at this stimulating two and a half day conference. (Many attendees tweeted out URLs, notes and quotes using the hashtag #mootca13.)

Martin Dougiamas: “Why are we in education?”

The keynote speaker on Day 1 was Moodle’s creator, Martin Dougiamas.

Although he’s known primarily as a software engineer, Martin has an educational background. This is evident from his Moodle design philosophy, which  is based on Social Constructivism – the idea that learning happens through the knowledge that we grow by actively working and constructing with others. (Wikipedia: “Groups construct knowledge for one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings.”)

This open, collaborative philosophy also parallels the goals of the Open Educational Resource (OER) movement in general. Openness in its many forms (free and open code, open course content, and open collaboration) is the underlying quality that sets Moodle apart from all the commercial LMS competitors (which are neither free nor open).

Features coming to Moodle in versions 2.5 and 2.6

Martin said that Moodle HQ has spent a lot of time over the past few releases improving Moodle’s architecture and performance.

Here are the features Martin said we can expect in the Moodle core, in versions 2.5 or 2.6:

  • The Open Badges open standard will be supported in 2.5 and 2.6
  • An HTML5 app for smartphones is in development (PhoneGap). This will provide a better user experience for Moodle users on their mobile phones. (A beta version may be available this week.)
  • Offline marking of assignments was a much-requested feature, and the new mobile app may accommodate this.
  • An LTI interface will provide much easier integration of plug-ins (mostly of use to plugin developers)
  • More instructional videos are on the way to the Moodle.org site!
  • The TinyMCE editor in Moodle will have an “auto-save to browser” capability in version 2.5 or 2.6.

Efficiency has been the major focus of Moodle’s engineering efforts, but Martin also admitted that while advancing the technology is crucial, he personally wants to go “back to the classroom” and revisit his earlier research. So, he looked to the audience and asked them the question that he was, in effect, asking himself: “Why are we in education?” Audience members responded with brief, personal statements which sometimes were quite blunt and essential: “to make the world a better place”, “to help others have a better life”, or “because it’s fun”.

After seeing how he connected with the room in that brief exchange, I could not see Martin Dougiamas as just a techie or an engineer. He was saying that he’s continuing to reinterpret and redefine his role against the dual backgrounds of technology and education – something that I suspect many of the people in his audience had likely been doing as well.

Martin said “the tools we use change us” and affect our behaviour. I’d find that theme coming up again in later sessions, particularly where social media in education is concerned.

Session: Teaching with Moodle – Beyond Bloom’s Taxonomy

This small breakout session was led by Jason Maitland and Kristina Thomson – two high-school teachers from Rundle Academy, who aimed to show how they’d extended their learning practice “beyond Bloom’s Taxonomy” by integrating Moodle with other online services. (Their Prezi slide deck is available online.)

They described how they applied differentiated learning, using various types of content for their adolescent learners. In one example resource for teaching literature (in this case, Shakespeare), text was displayed in simplified English, and accompanied by audio and video clips, all embedded on the same page. This multi-modal approach (promoted as a UDL standard), allows learners with different learning styles to absorb information in more than one mode using multiple forms of media. It was neat to see the principle applied so enthusiastically by young teachers in the first few years of their careers.

Key Topics Raised

How will Moodle fit into the 21 Century Competencies?

  • Creativity and innovation
    Critical thinking and problem solving (metacognition)
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy  – moving beyond this to metacognition (a blending of all of the learning steps – understanding, evaluation, creation, etc)
  • Differentiation – make content accessible to all students in different ways
    • Teacher needs to understand content
    • Needs to understand the interests and learning profile of students

Other observations from this session:

“Moodle is a frame to consolidate different apps or plugins. Moodle is the house students can always use to access their content.”
I thought this was a particularly strong message, and a practical approach to organizing the presentation of features from other services into a common learning environment.

Use Twitter as your back channel. Use it to compile issues as in an exit survey.
Put embed code in HTML block (some templates don’t like Twitter embed code).

Other Example Uses of 3rd-party web services

  • Students may be asked to Tweet current events or other content as part of their homework. The teachers found that it was easiest for their students to all use a common communal Twitter account for this.
  • Collaborative Doc Sharing (Google Docs or PiratePad, embedded in Moodle.
  • Use issuu.com to publish a “class book”
  • Geogebra.org for embedding math simulations.

These teachers have discovered that they can embed outside services or rich media into Moodle resources or activities by using the IFrame HTML tag. Technically speaking, it’s a simple technique, but logistically it’s a good approach, giving the student a common context (Moodle) while taking easy advantage of 3rd-party features which Moodle doesn’t have. Embedded outside services of media into Moodle resources or activities also gives them the ability to grade activity in Moodle’s Grader report, and to use the activity logs to see if an embedded resource has been visited recently.

For these Teachers, Moodle became the picture frame through which other services and media could be seen and used. Moodle became the context or framework within which a variety of web technologies could be used (especially ones with which their students were already familiar).