Sunday, 4 September 2016

#smartevidence #procurement

I'll get back into blogging about whats going on in my UC work life soon, it's been a mammoth year and a bit, procuring a number of major TEL and Library systems in one go. However, we are getting through, and I hope by the end of the year or early next we will be able to write up our experience doing that.

For now, I just wanted to alert readers to a project called SmartEvidence that is an idea forming into code thanks to the amazing people at Catalyst like Kristina Hoeppner: https://mahara.org/user/anitsirk

For current news about this exciting project see https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmartEvidence?src=hash

This enhancement to Mahara will enable storing and tracking of achievement against competency frameworks, a practice long held in education using paper based competency grids, but now with a 21st century take. Enjoy! And of course contribute!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Notes from recent #education conference #ascilite2015

Here are some highlights from my point of view arising from the ascilite 2015 conference - see the schedule here: http://www.2015conference.ascilite.org/#schedule



A traditional smoking ceremony opened the conference.


One project from the opening day of workshops showed a significant positive difference in engagement with a technology enabled activity when a) it is assessed and b) when students have experience with the tool.


There are a number of analytics modules for Moodle in development, or already out there. Macquarie University has been developing another.


Deakin is moving further ahead with badges, in this case badges for leadership skills.


Have a look for this interesting report: Establishing a framework for transforming student engagement, success and retention in higher education institutions. An OLT funded project.


My biggest take home: Jeff Gomez, the guy who designed one of my favorite games "Turok: Dinosaur Hunter" and someone to follow. Jeff overcame significant adversity in life through others ability to tell stories to become a leader in transmedia storytelling and has worked for some big names including Disney. Check out his site: http://www.starlightrunner.com/transmedia
The biggest conceptual revelation for me is that through introducing Scenario Based Learning, video, Gamification, badges, interactive lectures, ePortfolios etc, etc, we are bringing transmedia to education. Sometimes new technologies are interpreted as "yet another thing for everyone to learn", yet a Transmedia storytelling way of thinking turns that new medium into an opportunity for "yet another way to engage students in the story" of my discipline.


Jeff Gomez will be working with Curtin and Indigenous students on programs that incorporate transmedia education. Here Jeff highlights the age old use of transmedia in indigenous culture.


The HIVE at Curtin Uni supports research and teaching using a range of visualization technologies, including The Cylinder (curved stereoscopic panoramas, 3 meters high and 8 meters long), The Tiled Display (10 square meter surface area with 24 million active pixels), The Dome, and The Wedge, see video (non-3D).



I'll close with a beach shot from Fremantle, WA. 


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Supporting #ePortfolio practice across disciplines in #HigherEd


Jennifer Rowley is providing a link to the September 24 ePortfolio webinar held at CSU (Wagga Wagga Campus).


This is for an OLT extension project focusing on supporting staff interaction with ePortfolios that will end this year.  and Jennifer hopes it has been of assistance. I would say no doubt!

To keep the conversation going she has started a blog on ePortfolios to support creators and users of ePortfolios in higher education across disciplines where research and L&T discussion is generated

Jennifer encourages sharing with your colleagues.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

#ePortfolio Australia Forum ( #eportforum ) 2015 reflections

This year the ePortfolios Australia Forum was held at Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia. A big thanks to Edith Cowan, Vanguard Visions and the community.

The Rendezvous Hotel at Scarborough has a great location.

It was fantastic to catch up with the community after so long, I didn't attend the 2014 forum last year and really missed the enthusiasm and energy it brings to ePortfolio practice. There were the long time implementers as well as people new to ePortfolios wanting to find out what they can offer and how to go about implementation. ECU offers some fantastic learning spaces as well, with now common design trends being applied to their flexible and collaborative learning spaces. Note the fixed monitors that groups can orient around. An interesting thing we noticed was a small team doing the rounds before classes, re-configuring the rooms according to the preferences of the teacher, I assume the preferences are collected at the time of the booking.



PebblePad is a leading ePortfolio application from the UK, and had a strong presence at the forum, hosting some of the workshops and presentations. I was able to learn more about this offering and compare against the system we use, Mahara. In terms of assessment the software can be run independently of an LMS as the software has built in marking and feedback functions. This is quite different from how we use Mahara, which is tightly integrated with Moodle's gradebook function. PebblePad also has functions to support and streamline competency based assessment and evidence collection and assessment, in contrast with Mahara's very flexible but 100% user modifiable template based approach. For Mahara a nice balance might be achieved with SmartEvidence, a new feature that models established practice in paper based portfolios in various parts of the world.

Overall I was impressed with the support PebblePad offers clients and the community. For example they have created a deck of cards, each card shows a particular principle, pedagogy, policy or plan that needs to be implemented to ensure a successful full implementation of PeddlePad. However the cards contents could apply to the implementation of almost anything, and are fantastic. We allowed to keep them without charge, in fact as far as I know they don't charge for them at all! So don't wait, ask them for a set.

They also produce a learner journey map, showing how ePortfolios can be used by your learners. Fantastic!


Kristina Hoeppner from Catalyst IT beamed in via video to tell us about templates in Mahara, how to create them and how they are being used by students to create highly personalized portfolios. Kristina had a few overlapping conferences and other commitments so couldn't make it in person this year.

On the second and final day a number of workshops were run. In one of these the Allison Miller raised the notion of the community working together on a project. I put forward a dormant research project proposal that I had developed for my Masters of Higher Education looking into ePortfolio practice and assessment. If supported by the home institutions it looks like this would be a great community project.

For more information such as the forum program and workshop details visit the 2015 ePortfolio Australia Forum Homepage: https://eportfoliosaustralia.wordpress.com/forums/2015-eportfolio-forum-home-page/


Sunday, 9 August 2015

A bit of history, long live #XML

In 2005 a small team of four designed and developed an online system to collect academic software needs for the student Standard Operating Environment at the Australian National University.
Brian Molinari (Concept) Myself (Programmer, Concept), Adrian Burton (Academic Liaison, Concept) and Patrick Byrnes (Graphic Design).

Today Adrian, still working at the ANU, informed me the biannual call had just gone out for academic SOE needs and that they still to this day use DIANA, the system we developed.

I'm not sure who maintains it now but the About page still has all our names, and is up to version 3.0.0. Given the details on this page I assume it is still the same code base using XML, SOAP (+WSDL), XPATH, AJAX, etc.

It's rare I think for something you helped build 10 years ago to still be in use, especially in the software world. Maybe XML really is extensible and will help extend the life of projects that use it, like we hoped it would in 2005.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Workshopping the design of a faculty building #refurbishment

At my university a couple of buildings are up for refurbishment. This is a complex task with many stakeholders, stakeholder groups, conflicting needs, limited budgets, etc. The challenge is to deliver a space that works on multiple levels for multiple people. The worst case outcome of this process is a space that is not welcomed by the users and that everyone complains about until the next refurbishment.

When gathering requirements the challenge is to ask the right questions. But what are the right questions? 

The project manager and I began drafting questions and they tended to be functional questions like "what should a work space be", "what is a teaching space" that would have provided answers like "open plan/ individual office space" or "a 20 computer lab/ dry lab/ messy lab". These are questions that may lead to functional answers and do not really help in designing spaces that staff will like to be in, or welcome students, or that foster creativity, etc.

We need to ask different questions to obtain the deeper more meaningful and experiential answers. But what questions do I ask? Funnily enough this was the right question to ask at this stage, and I found the answer in this paper.  Lim, Y., & Odom, W. (n.d.). On the importance of framing questions for user research in the experience-centered design process. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from http://goodgestreet.com/CHI09/submissions/Lim.pdf

After reading this I designed a short 1.5 hour workshop aimed at gathering the kind of information the project manager and architects could use as a foundation for designing a space people could really relate to and like to be in. Because they seek personal meaning some of the questions are possibly confronting, and I wasn't sure if this would work at all, but it did, and the feedback from the project manager indicated he would have me back again for the next project.

Using the following worksheet I employed a very simple Design Thinking Workshop approach described below.



The approach used:
1) Provide context, why are we here? (preferably from a Head of Faculty/Business Owner)
2) Describe the process we are about to go through.
3) Everyone spends 30 minutes providing responses. Advise to only write down what people are comfortable writing down - some views can also be conveyed to the project team or others out of session if desired, or not at all.
4) Going around the table everyone gets to present their views (the facilitator must ensure this happens).
5) Themes: During the presentations some discussion will happen but try to keep it moving - in the mean time someone writes down emerging themes.
6) The captured themes are presented and everyone has the option to add missed themes.
7) The resulting documentation (completed worksheets) and the themes are collected and later disseminated to the participants and other relevant stakeholders such as faculty heads and architects.

Hope this helps someone, give it a go!

Friday, 19 June 2015

#edutech 2015 - great conference, what's trending in #education?

Quite a few things actually!
I'll be elaborating during the week but here were the big things for me:


  • 3d printing based courses, services and the emergence of library maker spaces
  • Robotics and programming in education, the next key literacy
  • Rise of AI in all sorts of services from identifying  research frontiers to answering students frequently asked questions (e.g. Watson at Deakin)
  • Predictive analytics - helping students make decisions about future directions and advising staff which parts of the curriculum need a redesign
  • VR is coming to education in a big way, with students both creating world's and learning from VR experiences
  • Keep an eye on Microsoft's Hololens - this will take augmented reality to the next level
  • Active, authentic learning and assessment - often seen as hard to scale up, but please see the work of Eric Mazur for solutions
  • And of course the rise and rise of mobile device use to access educational environments
Feel free to comment!