Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Being succinct, being focused

This is a short Christmas post to record the fact that I have probably created my project and written my MSc TEL design project rationale 10 times over simply because I cannot decide on the angle I'm taking. How do other people do it? Choose one focus area and zoom in on it? Especially if you only have 1000 words! I'm as bad at this as I am at shopping - I can never decide if I have too much choice and I tend to walk away empty-handed. Unfortunately, walking away empty-handed is not an option when the deadline is looming! So many possible perspectives and so little time. My compromise is to store up all the ideas that don't fit into this one 'episode' for the future, and to focus on getting this one small bit polished and ready.
Things I've learned about essay-writing so far:
1. Start with a question or a stance when reading a book eg "This is not going to work for me because", or "This is going to work for me because..." Record key ideas relative to your stance.
2. Mind map the various ideas and for a small essay, focus in on one idea only. You can make reference to the others to show you thought about them
3. From the moment you pick up a book or go to a website, record the reference, otherwise it's a pain to go back and collect them!
4. After writing your essay, look back at the brief from the point of view of a tutor and see if you can 'mark' it - does it meet the objectives?

Does anyone have any other tips that helps them?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

'Podcast' about using textwall in a flipped classroom context

Here's a recording of a conversation a fellow Masters student, Ono, and I had this week about using textwall in a flipped classroom context. I've never put the two things together before, so thank you, Ono, for a fabulous idea!
Select this link to listen to the recording (20 min)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Disposable email addresses

I've always liked the fact that Yahoo mail provides me with a way to set up disposable email addresses and now I've learned a way to do this in Gmail!

What is a disposable email address? 
Have you ever been in a position where you have to enter an email address (for a competition or some other promotion) but you dread the unwanted marketing that is going to flood your email inbox? Disposable email addresses allow you to receive the email in your inbox, but if you decide you no longer wish to receive the emails, you can simply set up a rule in your inbox to delete all emails coming into that email address.

Why not just unsubscribe from the marketing campaign?
The company who had your email address may sell it on to other similar companies who will then send you emails too! You don't want to spend your time unsubscribing from emails you didn't ask for! Setting up the rule to 'dispose' of any emails that come into your disposable address makes it simple to manage.

How do I create disposable email addresses in Gmail?
You simply add +something after your gmail username. Yes, it's that simple. Here's an example.
If my gmail address is somebody@gmail.com, you simply give out a disposable email address like somebody+anything@gmail.com, or somebody+goaway@gmail.com or somebody+001@gmail.com

Try it on your gmail account and you'll see what I mean.

Now you can sign up for stuff and after the initial novelty has gone from receiving voucher codes, great tips or trivial news, you can simply dispose of it once and for all from your mail box. Simples. :-)

PS I learned the Gmail tip from an LMS supplier whose system requires unique email addresses for each learner. It's much more efficient than setting up disposable emails in Yahoo mail.

(pix from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gmail_logo.png)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Design of multimedia learning v pedagogic approaches to elearning

In my current work, I create e-learning modules for learners who access these through a Learning Management System (LMS). I'm keen to develop some guiding principles for my team based on theory and research by Richard E Mayers, Ruth Clark and John Sweller. In addition, I'm influenced by industry leaders in this field like Cathy Moore and Anna Sabramowicz.
However, I'm also looking forward to collating the theoretical principles that will guide and underpin the development of our e-learning. While reading Mayes and Freitas (2004), I've come across some useful 'language' that I believe will help me to sell my ideas to the company. Up to recent times, the company has been putting out e-learning based on an industry-wide 'understanding' that colourful pages with narration and interaction will sell e-learning. I was pleased to read that "there is no real theoretical base, but rather a strong folk tradition that compelling explanations will lead to better learning" (Mayes and Freitas, 2004). I've wanted to have a good reason for moving away from the digital chalk and talk to a more scenario-based, constructivist approach and I think I'm building up some good arguments to move us in that direction. (We've already started by shoe-horning in some scenarios but we've not yet re-designed our whole approach).
Using Biggs' model of constructive alignment, we should be looking at our curriculum or learning outcomes (LOs), our teaching and learning activities (TLAs), the learning environment and the assessment methods. Because we work in a compliance industry, we have no say in the LOs. Our learners have to use our LMS to access the learning, so the learning environment is fixed. We have the most control over the TLAs and the writing of our assessments and I intend to use theory to produce our e-learning guidelines 2.0 and start to move us away from the 'presentation of facts' mode to a more learner-centred approach.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

MSc TEL Day 1

Started on the MSc TEL, looking forward to engaging with theory and getting some underpinning support for things I know work! Pop over to the MSc TEL tab for my assignment related work as they develop.

It's been a while since I've posted actively on the blog. I've not been under a rock; I've had to sell myself to the private sector. ;-) Over the last two years, I've developed further skills in VLEs (known as Learning Management Systems or LMS in the private sector) and the development of multimedia materials. I've been developing a community of practitioners globally through a video channel and trying to engage them through forums. The next step is to implement badges and to see what happens. Perfect for an action research project, perhaps? I'm looking forward to putting some of my current work under theoretical interrogation and also to developing more theoretical frameworks for the effective use of textwall.