Free handouts: Education technology trends in 2015

Jo NorburyJoanne is the content services manager at eWorks and a self-confessed e-learning geek. Specialising in learning solutions using digital technology, it is her job to stay up to date with the latest trends and innovations in this area. And that’s great – because then the rest of us can simply ask Jo. Here Jo shares key messages from her ACPET 2015 presentation on the latest emerging trends in digital learning, and – as promised – tells you where to access:
  1. An educational technology glossary of terms.
  2. An overview of commonly used software tools and applications used by vocational education and training (VET) teachers and trainers to deliver e-learning.
  3. A Totara 2.7 component overview.

How do you transform your learning delivery…

and get creative using educational technology? By staying up to date with emerging trends in digital learning. That means anything and everything from learning management to social learning, to mobility and accessibility, and voice, touch and gesture technology. But chances are you don’t have time to keep an eye on it all – there seems to be something new just about every day. How do we know which technologies are transient toys? Are they respected by educators and will any of them be around for the long-haul? What is everybody else doing? Most importantly, when is it safe to invest? These are just some of the questions that we considered at ACPET 2015.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

What a great turnout at the ACPET conference 2015. I was thrilled (and slightly terrified) to see that it was standing room only at my presentation on the latest emerging trends in digital learning. We started off by looking at the Internet of Things (IoT). The Internet of Things is made up of billions of smart devices using wireless technology to talk to each other. It is expected to grow from two billion objects in 2006 to 200 billion by 2020  – that’s around 26 smart objects for every human on the planet! So why all of these smart objects all of a sudden? Well, they give major industries the vital data they need to track inventory, manage machines, increase efficiency and save costs.

Flying cameras (aka drones)

Then we moved on to cameras more specifically, considering how technology has come such a long way, and that at the rate things are going we will soon be able to access cameras that have face recognition capabilities. And what about flying cameras – affordable, simple to fly drones? At around 800 dollars they are becoming far more affordable – there is even one in the latest Aldi (supermarket chain) catalogue. $99 gets you a drone with a camera that flies at a 50-meter distance. It only flies for seven minutes before you need to recharge, but even then – wow!

Point of view glasses

We also talked about point of view glasses, which allow you to film video and capture still images. These glasses are great for showcasing skills, creating point of view tutorial videos, recording assessment and more. Part of what makes them so great is that they are smart too (think IoT), so they record and Bluetooth the video to your device where you can use a smart video app (on an IOS devices I use YouTube’s Capture) to quickly edit and produce the video.

3D printers and holograms

What about 3D printers? Like flying cameras they are becoming more affordable. Imagine for a moment that instead of inkjet your printer prints with plastic dots that join together to form a 3D object. This isn’t sci-fi, it is actually coming to life – apparently Bunnings (hardware chain) will soon be selling them! This lead to holograms. One day, instead of sitting down to contact your students via phone or Skype or online forum, you could hologram into their lounge room. Yes, this could become reality. If Elvis, 37 years after his death, can perform a concert in Los Angeles (I’m not joking), it won’t be long before we can join in.

The 2015 Horizon Report

Assistive technology and student/user experience, including big data and what to do with it, are currently big trends according to the Horizon report of 2015, which states that Education is embarking on a … pursuit into data science with the aim of learner profiling, a process of gathering and analyzing large amounts of detail about individual student interactions in online learning activities. The report also suggests that a lack of comfort with digital strategies and how to use them to improve instruction is one of our greatest challenges. If you are a trainer or teacher it is important to remember that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking. If you make yourself just a little aware of what is out there, so that you can ask questions, things will become more affordable and easier to access, manage and use.

ACPET 2015 – been there, done that, here are the handouts

As promised we created a huge glossary of educational technology terms for 2015 for you, E-Standards for Training released the 2015 commonly used tools in VET, and we have also included an LMS component overview for Totara 2.7. Enjoy!

  1. An educational technology glossary of terms.
  2. An overview of commonly used software tools and applications used by vocational education and training (VET) teachers and trainers to deliver e-learning.
  3. A Totara 2.7 component overview.

Do you know of any similar documents that might be of interest to our readers? Do let us know

Sharing technical innovation in education

Francis Kneebone, eWorks Accredited ConsultantFrancis Kneebone is CEO of Cognition E-learning and an eWorks Accredited Consultant – a training, learning and development specialist offering consultancy across the spectrum of digital learning and associated solutions. Not surprisingly, Francis is passionate about the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning, so much so that he has launched the E20 Best of 2015 – a digital showcase to share innovative teaching and learning. Here Francis tells us a little more about the showcase and how to enter.

Teachers innovating teachers

When it comes to digital technologies in education there is so much to learn from other sectors. It surprises me when RTOs in particular don’t realise that they can get relevant and practical ideas about e-learning from sectors outside their own. Take early childhood, workplace training and special education, for example. These sectors might have different groups of learners, but the challenges and triumphs of each sector in digital learning are sometimes best shared through cross-pollination of ideas. With a little creativity and innovation, a solution implemented by one teacher in a particular educational setting can be effectively applied to your own context and learners.

Let’s consider early childhood in more detail for a moment. A prep teacher needs to solve problems around the implementation of digital learning through mobile devices (iPads), cloud storage and privacy issues, manage bulk app deployment and peer device-sharing issues. An RTO trying to solve the same issues could find the best solutions to these issues have been resolved not by another RTO, but by passionate educators like themselves from other sectors. So you see my point – sharing ideas and innovation can only enhance the teaching experience for both teachers and learners. Unfortunately, however, we often miss the opportunity to share best practice across sectors – that is where the E20 Best of 2015 comes in.

Do you have an innovative teaching and learning project?

If you have run an innovative teaching and learning project this year it is time to share it with the world! Entries are now open for the E20 Best of 2015 – an exciting digital showcase offering passionate teachers, also known as passionate learners, the opportunity to:

  • share ideas and experiences
  • learn from other teachers across a range of sectors
  • be recognised for their work (with awards), and
  • win prizes
  • share best practice with other sectors.

E20 Showcase of innovation in education


The only condition of entry is that your project was run in a teaching and learning setting between January and October 2015. We mean this in a very broad sense including K-12 schools, libraries, higher education, special education (SPED), workplace training and more. We already have some exciting projects that you can view on our digital showcase website, such as The Future Builders project entered by Brett McCroary of TAFE ILLAWARRA. This project shares the restructuring of a fully face-to-face, hands-on trade course to utilise a blended delivery model to:

  • increase student numbers
  • allow greater flexibility, and
  • Improve completion rates.

The course is now delivered over one year using Moodle and Adobe Connect.

How to enter

To enter a project you simply need to make a short video and write about 400 words describing your project in terms of:

  • impact on teaching/learning in your sector
  • innovation and use of technology (eg. SAMR), and
  • embedded practice and long-term impact

Entries close October 2015, but the earlier you enter your project the more exposure you get! View the digital showcase or enter now.

The E20 Best of 2015 is a not-for-profit activity in collaboration with the E20 Network, State Library Queensland, JNXYZ and Cognition E-learning.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about the E20 Best of 2015 or the world of digital learning in general, simply ask Francis. You might also like to consider his excellent advice about designing for accessibility.

Language, literacy and numeracy skills – how technology can help

Allison Miller, eWorks Accredited Consultant

Did you know that one in two adult Australians are below the internationally recognised level of literacy and numeracy to effectively function in the workplace and beyond? Allison Miller explains the implications of this shocking statistic for the VET sector, and how technology can help to address the issue.

What’s all the fuss about language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) and foundation skills?

The need to raise people’s language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills is becoming more evident within the VET sector as new units of competency now incorporate and map explicit foundation skills. This move is being supported by VET practitioners now undertaking the TAELLN411 Address adult language, literacy and numeracy skills unit of competency as part of their Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40110).

These changes come as a response to the low skills levels of literacy and numeracy in adult Australians, with only around 50% of working age Australians with literacy and numeracy skills of a Level 3 or above (Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, Summary Results, Australia, 2006). This means that 1 in 2 adults are below the internationally recognised level of literacy and numeracy to effectively function in the workplace and beyond.

Service Skills Australia defines:

  • Language as the main way we make and understand meaning as humans.
  • Literacy as the ability to read and use written information as well as to write appropriately, at home, at work and in the community.
  • Numeracy as the ability to use the mathematical concepts needed to function effectively in work and social context.

In other words we are talking about basic skills required in order to effectively navigate our world.

Leap into action with the best ways to build your learner's foundation skills

What does this mean to VET practitioners?

It is crucial that VET practitioners not only support learners with low LLN, but also develop and help improve the LLN of their learners. This means that all VET practitioners need to identify strategies to recognise, support, and build these skills into their existing training programs.

Technology to the rescue!

You will be pleased to learn that it’s not all doom and gloom – the effective use of digital technology to develop digital literacy has been shown to be a traversal enabler of key competencies such as language, literacy and numeracy (LLN, Ferrari, 2013).

Here are some of the ways people are integrating technology into their training program to help build their learners’ LLN:

  • Providing video/audio and text – including the text version of a person speaking means that learners can listen to what is being said while reading the words.
  • Scripting and recording audio answers – allowing learners to record their answers verbally means that they can practice their language skills, and then listen to check whether it makes sense.
  • Storyboarding and recording video – allowing learners to provide video answers / stories means that they can brainstorm and storyboard their work before recording.
  • Writing forum/blog/micro-blog posts and commenting – getting learners to write forum/blog/micro-blog posts means they are writing for a wider audience than just their teacher. This helps learners focus on the quality of their writing, and also encourages the analysis and response on other people’s posts.
  • Setting up online calendars – asking learners to schedule their assessment due dates and set up regular reminders in an online calendar helps learners manage their study commitments while improving their time management.
  • Utilising online mind-mapping tools – getting learners to visually brainstorm and link ideas through online mind-mapping tools mean that they can build connections between ideas and concepts while improving their spatial awareness.
  • Accessing open online content and activities – the Web is full of free online activities to help develop LLN. One good example is the Khan Academy, which provides online tutorials and seminars on maths and many more areas.
  • Incorporating social media groups – encouraging use of groups in social media sites like Facebook and Google+ allows learners to view video/text content as well as share their own work and ideas for review and critique by their peers.

Connecting digital technologies and LLN

You have now read about several ways in which digital technology can be used to build the language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) of your learners. The following table summarises the skills upon which each technology will have impact.

Technology Language Literacy Numeracy
Video/audio with text X X  
Audio X X  
Video X X X
Forums / blogs / micro-blogs X X  
Online calendars   X X
Online mind-mapping tools X X X
Online content and activities X X X
Social media groups X X  

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander

The beauty of using digital technologies in your training means that all learners will get the opportunity to improve their LLN, resulting in better engagement with their studies in general – not to mention the positive impact this will have on their careers and lives. It does need to be acknowledged, however, that not all learners have ubiquitous access to the internet. Alternative options should therefore be considered for these learners such as providing access to internet enabled devices or computer labs.

Yes there is support out there

If you are looking for cost-effective and time-efficient ways to build and increase your learners’ language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills you might like to review the resources and events on the LLN and VET Meeting Place website. If you are not sure how to incorporate this approach into your online content, then contact eWorks’ content development team.

How World of Warcraft prepared me for facilitating online

Rita ChiuRita Chiu has over ten years’ experience as a learning designer across the VET, corporate and government sectors. But guess what? She also has ten years’ experience as a gamer. And it’s through gaming that she developed her online facilitation skills – skills that are crucial to her current role and associated flexible working arrangements.

Since 2004 I have been playing World of Warcraft

I have played since it first came out when it initially only had five player dungeons (an instance where you can play privately). If you’re new to the game you might be surprised by this! The game soon evolved to 40 player raids (a large private instance), then ten players raids which had to be organised prior to even joining the adventure. The ultimate goal of World of Warcraft (WoW) for player vs environment (PvE) (ie when you compete against the game) is to down the final boss (enemy) and to see the cut scene, as there is a strong narrative that you engage with throughout the game (for example the end scene for Mists of Pandaria). For player vs player (PvP) (ie when you combat other players) the goal is to be the best in the arena battles.

In the beginning guilds were where players congregated and helped each other out, and it was important that five players balanced out the class requirements (characters and their skills) in order to complete ‘runs’ or dungeons (quests). It was also fun to play with a group of friends where the ‘run’ could be completed through typing short instructions or hosting LAN (local area network) parties. Communication was key when you had bad gear and players of varying skills. Ultimately it was all about team work and surviving boss (enemy) attacks, and with a group of five people communicating via Skype we could give directions quite quickly.

The World of Warcraft learning curve

World of Warcrafters quickly learn about typing quickly, when running to avoid boss attacks (ie enemy attacks) using emotes (different actions). We also learned – early on – the importance of internet speed and how to time attacks or instructions when dealing with delays. In the beginning period of WoW, the quests were like riddles that you needed to solve and the quest item could be hidden in an obscure place. As a player you also quickly learned about the importance of the WoW wiki to:

  • support your game play
  • work out how to build your character
  • balance out your game play style and gear through your selected in game skill specialisation
  • find professions to support your class (characters with different skills and weapons)
  • figure out where to farm resources
  • determine areas for levelling up
  • find maps for dungeons.

The introduction of 40 men raids

The first two 40 men raids were Molten Core and Onyxia’s Lair. With the need to gather 40 people online at the same time, guilds or partnerships between guilds became essential. This meant networking online and proving one’s worth during five player ‘runs’ (adventures), where your skill and item level is on display. Guilds were merged to form larger guilds and guild management and hierarchy became important, as well as better communication tools during raids.

During the day-to-day management of the guild, guild chats and officer chats were important. To maintain and build guild relationships guild forums were used. The purpose of the forums was to:

  • communicate information to guild members
  • record participation points which would allow players to roll for gear dropped
  • provide a chat service as well as links to videos and recruitment information.

During the raids (attacks) we used Ventrilo, where we can talk as a group of 40 people or break up into teams of five. This depended on the needs of the raid. Sometimes we needed to work in small groups of five as part of a raid and manage our section of the boss. We utilised the chat function in WoW to give direction to the group of 40 and Ventrilo for the mini groups. This was important because we were trying to dodge fire balls, earth quakes, falling shards or random minions attacking our healers. We needed to communicate as each player had his or her own, unique view of what was happening in the raid.

What is it like for raid leaders (online facilitators)?

As an online facilitator you need to take into account different internet speeds. Participants with fast internet speeds will be able to have Ventrilo or Skype running while playing WoW. Other players with slower internet connections will only be able to have WoW running. Internet connection speeds will determine how you communicate – you will need one person to give direction on Ventrilo and one person typing the instructions in raid chat.

As to giving instructions to defeat a boss it is important to use several different methods to communicate to your raid members as everyone learns differently. Some members can follow after listening to instructions, others will need markers and physical demonstrations. When it comes to getting raid members to act out the fighting sequence, you will need to have one person typing out the instructions for people to follow, while others will need to see the fight in action. You might provide a youtube link for a particular role, for example, such as healer or DPS (Damage per Second – Attacker).

What happens when you fail? When things don’t quite go to plan, the raid leaders (usually you have a main leader with several officers supporting the raid) will reflect on the situation with the team. Weaknesses are analysed and suggestions made about ways to improve the fight next time. After retrying the same strategy several times the raid leader may propose a new strategy. The other supporting officers are there to raise morale and to discuss any concerns with raid members. Sometimes people give up after a couple of ‘Wipes’ (when the boss kills all 40 players), so officers will need to recruit additional players. There are also situations when players become abusive – after conversing with them you may find that you need to remove them from your raid.

There are times when all 40 players are not ready for a certain boss. In this situation we might we might go and ‘down’ another boss to ‘gear –up’ in an effort to raise morale. From there we can work on something as a group, such as helping each other improve our gear, and reflect on where we went wrong before we try again next week.

So what have I learned?

World of Warcraft has helped me to develop a range of skills that I now apply to my working life as a learning designer. Honestly – it’s not just an excuse to spend my free time gaming! You may already have thought of some of them, or even have your own to add to the list:

  • Using multiple avenues when communicating with other participants (players) – links, wikis, images, online demonstrations, practical experience and so on.
  • The importance of activities (raids) that both stretch our skills and capability and those that are achievable, in order to build confidence and team cohesion.
  • The impact of technology on learning and group work, as well as planning and implementation of activities (raids).
  • The importance of clear, calm verbal commands to reinforce information and instructions. This is a good technique for running raids and online classes with 40+ learners.
  • Managing disruptive behaviour This may occur during an online session, via forums, or outside of the institution on social networking sites.
  • Networking and forming partnerships. I have made a lot of friends and even professional contacts through World of Warcraft.
  • Project management: planning, risk assessment, resourcing and managing resources, lessons learned and so on.
  • Typing at the speed of light, especially when the boss is shooting out beams of light while minions are after you and there is FIRE ON THE GROUND!

Sound like a typical day in the office?

We would love to know your thoughts on all of this.