Friday, November 5, 2010

TEDx Adelaide (#TEDxADL)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Exploring the ePortfolio Platform 'Mahara' - Uni SA

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Using Skills Productively Conference - Day 2

Using Skills Productively Conference - Day 2

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Using Skills Productively - Day One

Friday, August 13, 2010

Moving governments from solely being service providers to community/civic enablers

This blog post about 'Code for America' explains why/how 'local governments' (aka city governments in the US) should be moving to more of a community/civic 'enabler' role, as well as improving its services, by utilisting technology better (see the 'How can 'the next generation of Gov 2.0 apps for city governments" help address some of these issues' section).

The following are some other ideas for better use of technology (cloud computing and mash ups) in local government includes:

- Water Quality Officers using data aggregation to compare and share real-time suburban wetland data can immediately report any health safety concerns.
- A Health inspector investigating a local restaurant after receiving notification of a food poisoning incident shares relevant data and can immediately source similar incidents in the area via a ‘Food Poisoning Outbreaks’ visualisation map.
- Environmental Land Management students are about to source, map and contribute to a group database of toxic waste incidents.
- A Building Inspector has received numerous complaints about XYZ Trading Pty Ltd, and is able to contribute to a collection of data about their poor workmanship by uploading images taken on her mobile phone to a workplace repository.

This will require the 'early adopters' (that's us) to take some risks and have a 'crack' and so I am interested in establishing a similar non-profit entity as 'Code for America' in Australia so we can help make this happen sooner.

Businesses are already developing the applications to enable this to happen, but as this blog post explains, local governments need to make sure that their data is available through 'platforms', ie websites which can be shared freely (Platform thinking)

Always open to ideas and input :)D

Thursday, July 22, 2010

AAEEBL 2010 National Conference - Day 3 - 22 July

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

AAEEBL 2010 National Conference - Day 2 - 21 July

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

AAEEBL 2010 National Conference - Day 1 - 20 July

Monday, July 19, 2010

AAEEBL Workshop - Web 2.0 and your digital self - Helen Barrett

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Making educational resources available to all through OER & OCW

For a long time I have believed that access to education is a basic human right.

I follow with great interest the Open Education Resource (OCR) and the Open Course Ware (OCW) movement, which has just over 13,000 OCW courses available in 20 languages (OpenCourseWare (OCW) Consortium Newsletter, June 2010 edition), and I admire MIT's, the UK's Open University's and others' leadership in this area.

I also have a strong belief that any educational resources development with government funding (ie our money) should be licenced as open resources, and so it is refreshing to see some countries are taking this lead, including:

- Brazil's OER movement aiming to transform a law to allow all publicly funded educational material to be made available as OER
- The Netherlands' Minitry of Education initiating 'Wikiwijs', a national repository of digital teaching and learning materials published under open licenses
- Korea's K-OCW website where all e-learning content produced by government grants are available as OER
- Indonesia's NEXUS national repository containing open content from around the world
- USA's ManorLab, which aims to strengthen continuing education of the 6,500 City of Manor, Texas citizens because the government 2.0 agenda "cannot succeed without catering to the educational needs of citizens"

The African Virtual University (AVU) states that sustaining an OER website is difficult but see their OER website as an opportunity to make their organisation 'more relevant' as it will attract more partners to work with them.

To support the growing open content movement, the OCW Consortium supports online 'Communities of Interest', covering such areas as:

- OCW in Developing Countries
- Primary and Secondary Education
- Policy and OCW/OER,
- OCW for Business
- Technology in OCW
- OCW in Community Colleges
- OER Health

The OCW Consortium also runs regular webinars on the first Thursday of each month.

As OER allow people to not only share their content but offer others the ability to adapt it, educators can contextualise and translate existing OER content for their own learners, making it possible to increase the diversity of educational content even for 'thin markets' like remote indigenous learners.

However, in order to make OER/OCW mainstream in education, we will need to see major changes in educational policy, as currently in Australia any content developed by government employees, including educators, becomes the 'property of the Minister of Education' and can not be licensed as 'open content'.

By making all Australian government funded educational content available as OER, we as a nation not only have the opportunity to showcase the breadth and quality of our work to the world but we will attract partnerships with other nations to work with us. We will also encourage a culture of openness and sharing in our own educational communities, something which is sadly lacking in education and training at the moment.

Similar blog posts:
Open Courseware (OCW) and Open Educational Resources (OER) – the pros & cons
The different dimensions of open content and resources

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Getting to know NCVER Workshop: Finding and using data and research

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

NCVER No Frills Conference - Day 2

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

NCVER No FrillsConference 2010 - Day One

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Expanding, supporting and sustaining lifelong and lifewide learning

Learning is a continuous, collective, life long process.

A lot of vocational learning occurs in our workplaces and in our communities through informal learning which complements our formal (accredited) vocational (VET) learning experiences. Learning can be individual but quite often it involves others in the learning process.

To ensure equity and recognition of existing skills, individuals need mechanisms (such as e-portfolios) to capture their informal individual and group learning experiences. This requires teachers/trainers/educators to shift from being information sources to information mediators and guides, and that learner have effective information and digital literacy skills to access, evaluate and transform information. These skills are best learned in the context of a workplace/community and so learners need to be given the strategies to build their confidence to be life long learners who can seek new knowledge as required (just in time learning).

New knowledge is gained through our workplace and community networks, however, sometimes this new knowledge may cause conflict in our existing networks (ie family or community) as the new knowledge challenges existing knowledge and traditions. Learners need support mechanisms to manage these conflicts.

Learning involves our cognitive minds, our emotions and interaction with society. The changing nature of learning has implications on our education systems through changed pedagogies, funding structures and support mechanisms, however, it is unrealistic to place all of our society's learning only in these places, as we also need to support the learning which naturally occurs in our workplaces, families and societies.

This blog posted is based on some writing I recently read by a colleague which is currently in draft format.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Commercial Marketing 2.0

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My thoughts on what needs to happen for workforce development in SA

The South Australian Training and Skills Commission (TaSC)is the peak advisory body to the South Australian Government on skills and workforce development and recently circulated a ‘Stakeholder Consultation Paper’ to help inform their 2010 Five Year Plan for Skills and Workforce Development.

The following is a summary of my response to this Paper:

Foundation and generic skills
Knowledge can be shared and gained in a number of ways, and in more traditional cultures this was done through story, song and dance. However, being able to ‘codify’ knowledge into symbols (ie letters and numbers) enables us to capture and share information more effectively and permanently through words, sentences, paragraphs, timeline, graphs etc. These symbols allow knowledge to be externalised and they don’t rely on another person to directly provide the information.

The skills to be able to interpret this codified information are known as ‘language, literacy and numeracy’ (LLN) skills. These skills are the foundation skills to all learning and development, and if Australian society is going to be able to move to more of a 'knowledge economy', it will need innovativers and entrepreneurs and people willing to participate in community and civic activities with these skills. This requires an adult working population with these LLN foundation skills, as well as digital and critical literacy skills and a range of generic skills.

Statistics about adult language, literacy and numeracy skills (from Skills Australia’s Australian Workforce Futures, A National Workforce Development Strategy (2010)) include:
“- A one per cent higher national literacy score has been found to be associated with 2.5 per cent higher labour productivity and an associated increase in GDP per capita” – source: Coulombe et. al. (2004), Literacy scores, human capital and growth across fourteen OECD countries, Statistics Canada)
“- 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey indicates that 40 per cent of employed Australians and 60 per cent of unemployed Australians have a level of literacy below the accepted standard needed to work in the emerging knowledge-based economy” - Australian Bureau of Statistics (2008), 2006 Adult literacy and life skills survey, Australia, Cat no. 4228.0

There are a number of adult LLN programs, including the Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) Program. This program has just received an increase in funding in the Federal Government’s 2010 Budget in recognition of the need to raise adult LLL in Australia.

However, if Australia is going to be able to increase these foundation skills of its population, it will also need to improve people’s attitudes toward 'life long learning' and its associated benefits ie we need to develop a culture which values and utilises learning.

For example – when low paid workers gain higher skills and qualifications they are often not utilised in the workplace for fear that the workers might take the managements' jobs and/or ask to be paid more. (Pocock B. (2009, Low-paid workers, changing patterns of work and life, and participation in vocational education and training: A discussion starter, Centre for Work and Life, University of South Australia, NCVER)

Employers need to understand that the productivity of their business will improve as their employees' skills increase. They also need to know how to effectively manage their employees to utilise these improved skills.

Another major change to support improved skills and knowledge in Australia will need to be the way our current schooling system fosters a culture of 'academia' and if you don't fit into this neo-liberal view of the world that you are not consider to be a 'learner'. Culturally we are sending unspoken messages that if you can't get to university you can't be a very good learner. Hence, the likelihood that you will return to formal education and/or training later in life is very slim. Hence, people’s LLN skills decline.

And if people do return to formal education and/or training it is done so poorly in terms of learning and assessment and looking after the general well being of the learner that it re-enforces people's attitudes that this type of environment is not for them.

Skills for the ‘new economy’

The key skills for a ‘new economy’ of innovation and advancement in Australia include:

• Independent thinking – being able to analysis information and apply it to new situations.
• Reflective thinking – analysing the past and applying to the future
• People and community skills – willingness to help others develop and grow – empathy and concern for other's well being
• An understanding of the benefits of applying a 'continuous improvement cycle'

This will only happen when there is a major paradigm shift in the way people are learning in formal learning environments ie when we need to move from a 'transmission' model where the educator is seen as the holder of all knowledge and determines who has skills and who doesn't, to a 'participatory' model where learners learn how to learn, self assess and are not just asked to regurgitate facts, and where the educator is a 'facilitator' of learning, and fosters a culture of life long learning.

We need to develop an Australian culture which values life long learning.

This would happen though increased funding and reduced political interference into our educational institutions, as education and training organisations are managed by budgets and bureaucrats and the learner is the lowest factor of concern in the equation. Our schools and training organisations are simply 'factories' churning out 'numbers of faceless students' and they are not funded well enough to enable effective and innovative teaching and learning.

Also, our teaching and education support staff are not innovative themselves, and often don't have the higher order skills which we are seeking for our workforce. We need to start by upskilling the teaching and education support staff first, and improve front line and middle management leadership and people management skills of these organisation to help them value and utilise their workforce's skills.

Currently, innovation and bureaucracy in education and training is a miss-match.

Some of the ways we can overcome the barriers to the adoption of entrepreneurial practices in education and training include:

• Allowing public RTOs to retain the profits they make to be invested in Research and Development strategies, and establish Research and Development departments which have the resources to apply their outcomes to a wide audience.
• Encouraging education and training organisations to use Open Education Resources (OER) to promote quality and consistency of content.
• Providing learner content and records in digital formats which are easy to share, aggregate and search.
• Developing life long learning skills ie helping people to develop the skills to manage their own learning better.

Completion rates
Some of the reasons why so many people never complete their qualification is:

• Lack of support for student well being (ie supporting the whole person and recognising their external needs)
• Not everybody needs a whole qualification
• Poor teaching and learning practices
• Qualifications which are not relevant to them or their job and/or a miss-match in the course chosen to the individual’s training needs – ie not enough easily accessible and searchable information about what's involved in a course and course outcomes
• Lack of career development skills ie having the ability to map one's skills against the course requirements
• Lack of cultural perspectivenees of the value of life long learning and qualifications

What I believe defines ‘successful’ outcomes from publicly funded training is:

• Employment outcomes
• Happy functioning communities
• Improved workforce productivity
• People happy in their lives/jobs
• Matched skills to the economy
• Skills sets/clusters relevant to industry standards and needs

One possible way that funding arrangements could promote completions of qualifications could be bonus payments to RTOs for students who actually complete their qualification as an initiative to support their learners better.

Professional development for the tertiary workforce
Currently the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment is not a suitable entry requirement for trainers in VET as it only focusses on the understanding of the jargon used in the sector and not about what is learning? What is life long learning? What is assessment for learning, as well as of learning? What are the philosophies around learning? etc. The ability to get a Cert IV in TAA in less than 7 days at some RTOs demonstrates the lack of quality of this qualification in the industry.

Imparting knowledge and helping people learn is a skill developed over a number of years through continuing professional development (CPD), mentoring and professional conversations.

Some of the ways that VET practitioners could be encouraged to pursue pathways from VET qualifications to higher education and then post graduate studies could be:

• Salary structures and career pathways linked to qualifications
• Qualifications relevant to current job roles
• Flexibility in the way qualifications are offered, the cost and release time to do the study

Some of the key elements of a workforce development strategy for the South Australian tertiary workforce could be:

• Development of a competency matrix for the different skills required for different job roles in the tertiary sector, then mapping/creating qualifications for these competencies
• Effective performance reviews/management processes which aim to help staff gain the competencies identified in the competency matrix mentioned above
• Mandated continuing professional development (CPD) and re-registration of teaching staff

Recognition of Prior Learning
The impact of recent funding of RPL initiatives has had on the uptake and delivery of quality RPL services to clients include:

• More client focussed services
• Resources to support client focussed RPL
• Skills profiling of retrenched workers ie Mitsbitshi and Bridgestone

The factors impacting on South Australia’s progress towards achieving its RPL targets are:

• Lack of understanding about effective RPL process and what auditors expect in an RPL process
• Lack of trainers with the skills to undertake holistic RPL
• Lack of training, mentoring and coaching available to gain these skills ie not part of the Cert IV in TAA
• Lack of opportunities to have professional conversations about what works and what doesn't
• Limited ways to effectively share good practice amongst the VET community

The way employer knowledge of, and confidence in, RPL could be increased includes:

• Use language suitable to employers ie don't use the term 'RPL' but skills profiling of staff
• Employers valuing life long learning and the need for qualifications
• Helping employers understand how to manage their employee’s productivity better, and deal with issues around increases in salary or retention issues related to increased skills/qualifications
• RPL'ing employers first so they know what's involved and what they will need to do to support their staff when they go through the RPL process. Also, demonstrate how RPL provides an opportunity for continuous improvement in their business

Training Packages
I don’t really have many thoughts on the impact of Training Packages as I am currently not working with them directly, however, a ‘coaching and mentoring’ approach to improve the way RTOs are using training packages would be useful, as would a more State wide co-ordinated approach to professional development (ie Victorian TAFE Development Centre) and the development and sharing of quality content through Open Education Resources (OER) and Creative Commons Licensing.

We can now only wait for TaSC’s next Five Year Plan for Workforce Development in South Australia and HOPE that the State government allocates the necessary resources to deploy this plan.

What are your thoughts on regional, jurisdiction and/or national workforce development planning???

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Requested review of a Mahara E-portfolios Beginners Guide (for a freebie)

I've been asked by Packt Publishing to do a blog review of a recently released Mahara E-portfolios Beginners Guide:

Mahara 1.2 ePortfolios - Beginner's Guide -
Create educational and professional ePortfolios and personalized learning
communities By: Kent DM, Bradbury GG, Hand RW, Kent MA

in exchange for a 'free e-book' version :)

"This book is for:

- learners who want to maintain online documentation of their projects and share it with a particular teacher or trainer (a learning / assessment portfolio) for feedback,
- educators who want to set up an ePortfolio for their students in order to encourage and advance personlised and reflective learning, or
- professionals who want to share journals and project doucment with their team, capturing and sharing their existing knowledge and creating new knowledge in communities of professional practice (knowledge management/organsiational development)" pg 2

There is also a chapter for 'Institution Administrators, Staff Members, and Group Tutors' too, and appendixes which help you consider what's involved in implementing your own instance of Mahara and installing Mahara.

The book is well written and presented, using simple language and scenarios (case studies) to describe what are e-portfolios and how to create an e-portfolio using Mahara. I like the 'sense of humour' style of writing ie "Have a go hero" activities which encourage you to get amongst it and create your own e-portfolio.

The book is structured for 'inchworms', who like to be 'taken through a new process step by step' pg 24 (which I find a lot of educators and people new to ICT like) - but don't fear you 'grasshoppers' (like myself), you will still be able to 'hop around bits of information' as they are needed.

[Bracketed Exerts] help highlight and explain concepts ie 'What is a view' pg 11, and there are activities to ensure you understand the information being presented ie 'pop quizzes', 'Time for action' activites, and 'what just happened' recapping of information. A thread of 'Case studies' throughout the book illustrate how and why information can be presented in your e-portfolio. There's even answers to the 'pop quizzes' in the back of the book (of course).

The book offers some great reasons why you would use an e-portfolio (pg 9-10 - Ways of using Mahara, pg 16-18 Why Mahara?). There are even references to 'presentation' styles ie considering the 'aesthetics' of a 'view' (pg 103).

Although not a cheap resource (Book = around 22-24 UK pounds or e-book = 14-17 UK pounds), when you calculate how much of your time it would take (cost) to produce such great step-by-step resources you can quickly justify the outlay.

Demonstration Mahara site to practice using Mahara here:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

AVETRA 2010 Conference - Day Two

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

AVETRA 2010 Conference - Day One

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Victorian Applied Learning Association (VALA) Conference - 19 March 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

IDEA 2010 - Technology in Education Open Forum - Friday 12 March 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

IDEA 2010 - Technology in Education Open Forum - Thursday 11 March 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

IDEA Lab - Workshop - Wednesday 10 March 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Technical Standards for Digital Education (Focus Group Notes)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Creating an 'Innovation Ecology' in education and training

In 2009, Jane Figgis and Yvonne Hillier wrote research reports and carried out workshops around innovative trends in teaching and learning in vocational education and training (VET) from within Australia and from an 'international' perspective for NCVER.

Figgis and Hillier's work describes what's required to enable an 'innovation ecology' for educators and trainers. Not unexpectingly, the 'culture' of an organisation plays a major role in nurturing and supporting innovation, with aspects like supporting:
- the development of critical reflective skills
- providing incentives and opportunities for learning especially informal

through personal/continuing professional development (CPD) which enable educators to take risks and not have to be 'perfect'all of the time.

Developing this type of workplace culture requires:
- supported mentoring,
- development of partnerships, including team building,
- developing networks and having networking opportunities, and
- deploying effective change management and continuous improvement processes

It also needs to consider:
- the individual educators' existing values and experiences,
- the different perspectives of the educators/trainers about the innovation and change process,
- the timing of introducing something 'new' into an organisation, from incremental ie you need to learn how to walk before you can run, to disruptive, where changes to work place practices is almost immediate.

The flood of technology into the education and training environment is building, but still a lot of education and training organisations have not fully embraced this 'innovative practice'.

The internet is creating an "emerging force of the collective" which "will shape the direction of society and business", which will mean that education and training organisations are going to be forced to take a 'disruptive' approach to adopting innovative ICT practices. So instead of ignoring (and blocking) technology, they should be embracing and learning how it can enable innovation and improved business practices. ("Shape of things to come", Beverly Head, Campus Review, 2 February 2010)

Can innovation become mainstream? Or is it no longer considered 'innovative' when everyone's doing it?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Open and Public - but for everyone?

A recent article on an 'Open Source Embargo' highlights that US Law prevents 'sanctioned nations' from accessing Open Source software from websites hosted in the US, such as

US Law states that sanctioned nations such as North Korea, Cuba, Sudan and Syria can not post to or access content from SourceForge, the "largest Open Source applications and software directory", prevented through having an identified sanctioned nation IP address.

I understand that these 'sanctioned nations' are embargoed by western nations due to their poor human rights or potential terrorist activity, but surely offering the people of these nations the opportunity to 'better themselves' should improve diplomatic relations.

I don't imagine that by allowing the people of these sanctioned nations to download the 'hottest software' they will treat their people any worst or lead to more terrorist activity.

But these type of restrictions are not just restricted to 'sanctioned nations'.

Whilst investigating a UK Mobile Learning Network - MoLeNet - I discovered that because I didn't have a UK educational domain email I was not allowed to join and participate in their 'community of practice'.

And locally, we have similar 'embargos' on accessing educational resources, with some jurisdictions not allowing their neighbouring states/territories to freely access their publically funded 'intellectual property' - as this should only be for the benefit of their residents.

And finally, the 'closed shop, re-selling of public resources' attitude ie content and resources developed by public education and training organisations, whereby anything produced by an employee of these organisations 'belongs to the Minister', even if the resource is produced in the person's own time.

Surely Open Source ethos means EVERYBODY is allowed access?

And with the emergence of Creative Commons licencing for Australian Government information, publically funded educational resources should also be put into this category?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Content and Media Creation - fraught by digital evils?

Over the last decade, the Internet has shifted the power of access to information and knowledge, potentially making content the 'lowest common denominator' in learning, just like it did (together with cheaper storage and burnable DVDs/CDs) to the media, music and movie industry.

Jane Hart,and Jay Cross, and their colleagues at the Internet Time Alliance, state from their experience that the real strength to learning online is 'social learning'.

And with the release of the Apple iPad, the move to 'reading' content electronically will become status quo.

However, this week we've had a couple of media giants, Rubert Murdoch and Mark Cuban, speak out about how 'content not just king, it's the Emperor', and "Google as a Web giant ... reaps rewards from the labors of others" (respectively).

Locally, we've also had the media trying to sue an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for 'allowing' their clients to illegally download copyrighted material - isn't that like sending parents to jail when their children have broken the law?

Are we at the 'cross roads' of 'free' access to content, music and movies? And is it morally ethical to freely use the 'labors of others'?

Or are we seeing the captains of media (and shortly educational organisations) rambling as they are going down with their 'sinking ships'?

Or is the internet forcing companies and educational organisations to re-think their business models to cater for the emerging expectations of 'digital tribes'?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Effecting the change of Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills

In my thoughts about what's required for effective 21st teaching and learning I realised that the key to changing teaching pedagogy, policy and practice is 'assessment'.

This realisation came after speaking with some young Year 12 teachers at a national event, who stated that they couldn't introduce anything extra into their teaching program as they had to make sure they covered what was going to be in the 'end of year' exam.

A light bulb went on.

I know as teachers we don't want to 'teach to the exam/test' but the actual reality is that we all want our students to be successful, so making sure they are competent and confident to tackle the final summative assessment becomes paramount over innovative teaching and learning.

This realisation attracted me to be a participant of an international project called "Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills" (ATC21S).

This project, sponsored by Cisco Systems Inc, Intel Corporation and Microsoft Corp, and in Australia managed by the University of Melbourne, states:

“What is learned, how it is taught and how schools are organized must be transformed to respond to the social and economic needs of students and society as we face the challenges of the 21st century”

This project has recently published their Working Group's 'White Papers' about the project's progress.

The ATC21S project recognises that:

"Assessment plays a critical role in setting standards and influencing curricula at the local, regional, national and global level, so it is expected that these new assessments will motivate schools to do more to instill 21st-century skills."

Some key points I found interesting and progressive were:

- Finding new ways to measure, monitor and assess how people process information - "Evaluating not just students’ answers, but how fast they arrived at them and the processes they used — what the working group called making the students’ thinking visible" - GROUP 3 : Working Group on Technological Issues

- Determining how people collaborate to generate ideas/outputs to create change/improvement - "Collaborative knowledge building — how individuals work together to understand new material — as a key feature of modern workplaces and an important 21st-century skill. It noted that assessments in the future need to look not only at individual performance, but also at group performance." - GROUP 4 : Working Group on Classroom Environments and Formative Evaluation

Have you seen or been involved in any interesting/innovative projects to influence "Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills"?