conVerge12 and Twitter

A presenter in front of her audience

Nancy White at conVerge11

I was asked recently to provide a list of tools for displaying and collecting Twitter feeds for our next e-learning conference, conVerge12.

The wonderful thing about using Twitter for a conference is that it extends the conference beyond the time and space of its various presentations. Outsiders who can’t make it can get a sense of what’s going on in the conversations. Tweeting of keynotes at conVerge11 has helped improve the reputation of the conference as others in Australia got a taste of what was happening in real time.

Another great advantage of using Twitter is that it can enrich presentations: questions to the speaker can be put through the feed, and speakers can sometimes ask the audience to insert their own content into the feed (such as pictures).

So a few tools are available for displaying tweets on a big screen, along side the presenter’s PowerPoint or live video feed. I decided to go for Twitterwall, as it’s free and works great, but there is also Tweetwall.

What makes these tools especially cool and powerful is that they allow tweets to be validated before they appear on the screen. This is very interesting as it prevents spamming, and it allows the administrator (me) to exclude irrelevant and non-suitable tweets (ie. tweets that contain aggressive or disrespectful language for instance).

If you want to have a more attractive display of the tweets, you can use Visible Tweets. I’ve used it during presentation breaks in the break areas to give reminders of what was said.

After an event you may want to have a record of all the tweets. Last year I used tweetdoc which saves all the tweets with the conference hashtag into a PDF document. I also like the look of If This Then That for directing a set of hashtags into the cloud service Evernote.

Photo: Nancy White, by howard61 on flickr.

E-portfolio Project Findings

A man wearing a hat with a camera

Mahara Give’n’Get PD workshop

An e-portfolio is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user. Utilised in education, an e-portfolio can support entry into training, progression through learning pathways and transition to higher level courses.

Managed by the E-portfolios for Learner Pathways business activity and funded by the National VET E-learning Strategy, exemplar projects have enabled registered training organisations (RTOs) with existing mature implementations of e-portfolios to draw recommendations on how to effectively implement e-portfolios in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.

The E-portfolios for Learner Pathways website presents a list of videos of the current case studies. You can also read a description of each of the projects’ outcomes below.

Australian Financial Management Organisation (AFMA) has reported on its reasons for moving to a Moodle assessment-based e-portfolio for its learners and subsequent experiences with this e-portfolio. The team’s finding that students were more likely to complete a case study than to post workplace evidence (due to the privacy implications of financial management), highlighted the requirement to find a more user-friendly and intuitive platform.

Box Hill Institute considered how learners use and feel about e-portfolios by tracking learning analytics such as reuse, average time of visit, diversity of use and teacher adoption. The researchers found that their students and teachers want to use e-portfolios in different ways, and that paraprofessionals are the greatest users of e-portfolios – generally for the purposes of job applications and resume building. A direct link was found between teacher training and support in using e-portfolios, and success in implementing them.

TAFE NSW Western Sydney Institute gathered data and documented good practice models of e-portfolio usage that motivate and support learners to manage their learning evidence. Some students new to e-portfolios were surprised by their user-friendliness. Teachers who participated in an eLearning Facilitator Program (eLF) were very positive about the potential of e-portfolio use in teaching and learning, to encourage learners to formalise their thoughts, to reflect on their learning, and to record and share their achievements.

“We strongly believe in the capacity of e-portfolios to permit individuals to set development goals, upload evidence to demonstrate that the goal has been achieved and to reflect on professional practice,” says Director of Education Programs and Innovation Strategies at AFMA, Karen Barrett.

“E-portfolios can be powerful instruments for career development and professional reflection,” says Karen.

For more information on the findings of these trials, please visit the E-portfolios for Learner Pathways website and follow VET_Eportfolios on Twitter.

Photo: Mahara Give’n’Get PD workshop, by theother66 on flickr.

Wikis and Online Presence

While doing an online induction recently, for some of the latest round of the E-learning for Participation and Skills Project, I went on to Wikispaces to look at shared workspaces for projects. It seems to work well for collating knowledge into an easy and familiar place for educators (as well as getting them familiar with the learning advantages of wikis :-)).

Live-Chat window showing one message: 'Hi there! Thanks for dropping by. Can I help you in any way?'

Live-Chat with Marlene Manto

It was wonderful to see written in the bottom right hand corner of the screen “Marlene is Online”. It was Marlene Manto, the Strategy E-learning Coordinator for SA, who also provides technical support on Wikispaces for all teams. The new Wikispaces functionality opens a 1-on-1 chat with Marlene enabling instant personal support. Unfortunately, only one person can chat with Marlene – or whoever is available – at a time. However, in this age where we expect to see presence in online spaces as we do in Facebook, it is a terrific innovation that will translate well into teaching.

The functionality, called Live-Chat is provided by ClickDesk and integrates with a number of platforms including WordPress and Drupal, alas not Moodle just yet.

Wikispaces has also just released its app for the iPad. Until now, Live-Chat has not been working well on the device, although I was able to get it working in Skyfire.

To those in E-standards who are running the Emerging Technology Trials, you can take advantage of this functionality right now: E-standards are going one step further by getting projects to blog their progress as well as reporting into Wikispaces, taking advantage of the many features of blogging platforms that wikis cannot provide, and hopefully mixing content from blogs into wikis in some interesting and innovative ways.

M-learning Standards Update

A computer and an iPad on a desk

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

With the proliferation of mobiles, tablet devices and e-readers, teachers and training organisations delivering e-learning have a myriad of delivery possibilities.

In addition, the emerging phenomenon of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in training and education is adding a layer of complexity to how learning can be achieved.

VET M-learning Standards assist e-learning practitioners to keep ahead of current m-learning developments. The revised and updated standards can now be downloaded from the New Generation Technologies for Learning website, together with a practical guide for teachers.

Funded by the National VET E-learning Strategy, and based upon research commenced in 2006 and reviews undertaken in 2008, 2010 and now 2012, the revised documents include:

  • recommendations on technical standards to support the creation, storage, discovery, delivery and usage of mobile enabled content;
  • findings and recommendations on m-learning good practices in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector – from educational, technical and standards perspectives;
  • information about new ways of utilising m-learning in VET, identified in the 2010 and 2011 Emerging Technology Trials; and
  • advice for teachers, trainers and content developers seeking to create, select or use mobile learning content and technology for teaching and training, with consideration to the educational purposes it may support.

Mobile learning can be defined as learning that is facilitated and enhanced by the use of digital mobile devices that can be carried and used anywhere and anytime, such as mobile phones and tablet devices. Challenges specific to m-learning are related to the use of devices with reduced screen sizes, lack of standard input devices (such as a mouse and keyboard) and reduced computing power.

For more information, please visit the New Generation Technologies for Learning website and follow VET_Estandards on Twitter to receive updates and be notified of media releases.

Photo: byod, by howard61 on flickr.