EdTech for Export conference Wellington 12th April 2013

On the 12th April I was fortunate to be able to attend the first EdTech4Export conference in Wellington New Zealand. This post is my reflection on the conference, thank to Otago Polytechnic for sending me.

To get me in the mood the taxi driver from the airport had national radio on and they were discussing 3D printers. This whole concept is happening now and is so revolutionary. It seems that we are not in the middle of a technological revolution at all but we are just at the start of it. There is so much more just around the corner and we, in New Zealand, need to be prepared and ready to take advantage of this.

Following are the key points I took from speakers I heard at the conference. Note that the best quote is in my own words and may not be the actual words that were said at the time, but were what I had scribbled down.

Keynote

Karen Billings, Vice President, Education Division, Software and Information Industry Association (SIIS) U.S.

Key message for me

There is growing interest in personalised learning. However there is also interest in mass media, mobile, global blended and MOOCs (massive open online courses)

Best quote

“Learning is mobile and global.”

What I learned

Innovative Ed Tech solution could help to address the issues of; Disengaged students; Unrealistic expectations; Diversity; Unemployment.

We need to lessen dropout rate; Improve communication and collaboration (with mobile devices) More out of class learning (virtual tours etc);  support education reform; Technology however will never replace instructors. Real human interaction will always be needed.

More

Ed Tech opportunities in the U.S. exist in: Multiplatform aggregation/ Professional development/ Data analysis and integration (identifying students with problems)

Keynote

Carl Engkvist, Senior Vice President of Business Development Asia Pacific, Pearson (involved in the development of Blackboard)

Best quote

“Think global- Act local”

“China wants to modernise, not westernise.”  It has a long proud history in education, predating our own

What I learned

Asia needs more education than can be provided locally.

75% use mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) to go online, not desktop or laptop.

One week every year Singapore has an Elearning week, all schools, colleges and universities close and all learning is at home. This is pandemic planning.

When entering the Asian market need t long term view and work to that vision, adapt product to local needs.

More

Mobile learning is the way to go.

Keynote:

Tim Brooke-Hunt, Controller of Children’s programming, ABC TV

Key message for me

Linear television will not be around in the future. Television needs to be aware of what is happening with print media, it needs to adapt as it is going in the same direction.

What I learned

Very young children are using touch screen technology to learn, as young as 2 years of age. ABC is doing incredible things for education in Australia. They have developed wonderful resources to support teaching and engage children.

 Breakout sessions

Breakout 1

Stephen Knightly; Chair, New Zealand Game Developers Association

Key message for me

Games engage learners and provide great learning experiences if the pedagogy is aligned.

Best quote

Analyse everything and develop content accordingly.

What I learned

Games are effective pedagogically. They need to be enjoyable and challenging, they provide experiential learning experiences.

Identify Clear goals – use the right tools – provide challenges – give feedback

Do not let students stay stuck on a level. If they do not achieve, offer hints or tips.

The learning needs to be made apparent. Students need to know what they are looking for in the game. Play game, stop, reflect, learn.

More

Maru Nihoniho (Metia Interactive) http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/WhatsOn/allevents/Pages/13AprilMoveoverBoys.aspx

Maru developed a game Sparx which has been found to help teenagers deal with depression as effectively as having counselling sessions. This has been published in the British Medical Journal http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e2598

Breakout 2 first speaker

Rachel Bolstad; New Zealand Council for Education Research. http://www.nzcer.org.nz/research/rachel-bolstad

Key message for me

Lifelong learning changes the way we need to teach

Best quote

Knowledge is not a noun it is a verb. Knowledge is a tool to help us learn how to learn.

What I learned

Personalise learning – built around the learner

Work with diversity – diversity is strength. Plurality valued and students engaged.

Use Knowledge to develop learning capacity – collaboration and connectedness

Rethinking learner and teacher roles – building learner capacity, building curriculum

Continuous learning for teachers and education leaders

Partnerships between schools and community.

Breakout 2 second speaker

Garry Faloon; University of Waikato

Key message

Researched 5 year olds use of touch screen games for problem solving and learning.

Best quote

The best apps model good teacher practice.

What I learned

Rewards should be appropriate. Smaller achievements should get smaller rewards and completion should gain a larger award. Giving big rewards frequently reduces the effectiveness.

Formative feedback is important. Where students have tried and failed come in and ask “have you tried this?”

Breakout 3

Nick Billowes, Director of Development, Core Education

Best quote

It is not

Key message for me

Technology is a transforming agent in education.

Best quote

It is not about doing old things in new ways but doing new things in new ways.

Andreas Düesner. Senior research scientist. HITLab.(Human Interface Technology.)

Key message for me

Increasing costs of education means we need to be more efficient, effective and ecological.

Best quote

It is not about doing old things in new ways but doing new things in new ways.

What I learned

Asia is our market

More

Ubiquity:

Learning in the 21st Century is any time, any place, any pace and with or through any device

Agency:

Learner controlled, learner choice. Empowerment to act. Personalization. Lifelong learning. Universal design.

Connectedness:

High level collaboration. Rethink concepts such as ownership. How knowledge is controlled and how it can be shared

Conclusion

David Copeland, from Learning Media was MC for the day. He was very skilled at keeping things to time and identifying the underlying threads from speakers. He really made the day fun. It was great to get together and have the opportunity to chat with people interested in using technology in education. I was amazed at the number of people who had great ideas and some great products that they were developing and looking for investors to take their ideas further or looking for a market for their products. If I had one criticism of the conference it would be that there were so many there looking for these things but not so many investors or markets represented to take their ideas further.

It was really interesting to hear what these people had been doing and developing. Some wonderful educational gaming activities being developed by many, one I spoke with was Dan Milward from Gamfroot, something I will need to explore. I also spoke with Stephen Clarke and his sister, from pixelBook, who can create wonderful Ebooks with any content.

It was great to catch up with John Enlow from ADINSTRUMENTS. This is a company who already provide software packages to Otago Polytechnic and I will be talking more with them about how there software may be used in our midwifery blended learning programme.

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End of first year of new Bachelor of Midwifery Programme:Reflection on “intensives”.

Introduction

The academic year finally ended yesterday for  first year students in our new undergraduate midwifery programme in the South Island of New Zealand. This is the first in a series of posts reflecting on the year. I wrote extensively in this blog about my development process for the first year practice skills course. It has been a very busy year one way and another, and I have been somewhat less diligent in blogging about progress during the actual first year of course delivery. Now that we have reached the end of first year it is timely to reflect on how the programme in general and the practice skills course in particular have gone.

We started the year a couple of weeks before other Polytechnic students began and have ended the year a couple of weeks later than other students. This is because we are now delivering the equivalent of a four year midwifery degree programme in three years (more about that later).  As a lecturer it has been challenging to be working with students from virtually the very start of the year right through until  my last day in Polytech. Anyone involved in undergraduate education will know that the start and end of the year are times of preparation and consolidation when a lot of administrative tasks are undertaken. Having to do these things while also continuing to be involved with preparation and assessment of students is a challenge. In this post I will overview the class “intensives” where the student all come together as a class at Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin. Our programme involves the students coming to Otago Polytechnic for classroom learning and assessment four times in the year. We call these blocks “Intensives”.

Intensive 1

Students arrived at the beginning of February. We all went off for a couple of days stay at Wairua Scout camp after a couple of days looking around campus and introduction to lecturers and courses . Staff from the sports school came along and ran some activities for us. We also did some work on communication as well as having fun and getting know each other. During the second week we started formal learning with face to face lectures and skills practice. In the practice skills course students learned about standard precautions and vital signs monitoring.

As the year progressed we have reflected on what we are doing. Everyone seemed to feel the camp was a good activity helping us all to get to know one another and particularly useful as we were then going to be working at a distance from each other. I felt there was a problem with the second week. Lectures are now all online as self learning packages and the idea is that students learn online first then come to class ready to focus on learning the practical skill. There was no time for this online learning to occur so we had to deliver some lectures around the topic before the students could start to practice the skills. This meant that there was not really enough time for the class to work together on the practice skills. As a result of this reflection in 2010 we will split the first two weeks of the course. Students next year will arrive for the first week of the intensive and will then have a couple of weeks to work with the online learning resources before completing the second week of face to face intensive course work.

Intensive 2

It was good for all to get together once again in intensive two. This was also a two week intensive and had been planned as we felt there would be things that required face to face  delivery to the whole class. While this is the case for some  courses items we discovered that there was less needing to be delivered face to face than we have previously thought would be necessary, as a result this intensive will be reduced  next year from two weeks to one week.

Intensive 3

As with intensive two there was actually less teaching that needed to be done in this intensive than we had thought would be required. Students began the course on Maori health during this intensive and students and staff spent a couple of days and one night on a local Marae learning about issues around health care and birth for Maori women and their families. Students commented on how relaxed this was and how good it was to have another activity where they had an opportunity to come together in this way, but this time knowing each other a little better. I have to admit that I was somewhat skeptical about these two overnight activities before we began the new programme but I do now admit that they are valuable additions to a distance based blended programme such as ours. I would recommend this to any other institutions considering adopting a similar approach to midwifery education.

Intensive 4

The first week of this intensive  is the time for assessment and of course nerves are high at this time. Our students had some traditional class exams to do. The first was a three hour bioscience examination. The next was an exam loosely based on an “OSCE” type practice skills exam. Here student are randomly allocated one of 5 scenarios that they are already aware of and have had the opportunity to practice. Within these scenarios are two practice skills that the students have learned during the year. Women from our local community role play for these scenarios and a lecturer marks the students practical skill ability while the women are able to comment on students communication skills. Finally the students sit a one hour mathematics examination on professional calculations including drug calculations and infusion rates. We had intended to bring all students to Dunedin for all of these examinations but, in response to students feedback, we arranged supervised examinations for Bioscience and Procal in the students own area, with their practice facilitator invigilating, and they were only required to travel to Dunedin for the OSCE.

The final week of the year for students is the second week of this intensive. It is taken up with Midwifery Integration. This is a short course which is completed in both first and second year of the midwifery programme. Students are given a scenario and are  randomly allocated to groups. They have to explore the scenario with consderation of all the different aspects they have been learning about, in all their courses, over the year. At the end of the week they give a presentation to the class and lecturers about their scenario. This is an opportunity for students to integrate learning and consider a practice scenario from a variety of professional perspectives. This is a course we have run over the past five or so years at Otago Polytechnic. We usually run it over two weeks, one in the middle of the year and the other towards the end of the year. This year we dropped the first week as it has always been a challenge to find things the students can explore at this early time. The work the students did in this final week was extremely good. The presentation were generally excellent and the scenarios were well explored. As a lecturer it was very satisfying to see how the students were able to work with these scenarios and suggested that our new programme is working well and students are learning. Some of the work was well in advance of what we would generally expect in first year.This was a good way to complete the year and a nice way to say goodbye to the students.

Final reflection on the intensives

The intensives will always be an important part of this blended programme of midwifery education. It is interesting however that we did not need as much time for these as we had thought we would. In part this is probably because of the weekly tutorial groups which students attend and support a great deal of their practical learning . In my next post I will reflect on these tutorial groups. Students are aware before they enrol that these intensives are a key part of the programme and that they will be required to travel to Dunedin for them. This did not stop some students from complaining about the cost of travelling to Dunedin, of course, understandably, money is always an issue for students. As a result we did do more in the local areas with students than we had thought we might. Student also made connections with Dunedin based students and all our distance students were able to find billets during their stay in Dunedin which would reduce the cost to them.

Back in class for the undergraduate midwifery students in our new blended learning programme

I have been blogging about the development and progress of our new programme for undergraduate midwifery education. Class of 2009

This photo graph and article appeared in the Otago Daily Times during our first intensive in January.

Our new programme has a longer academic year than our previous programme, beginning earlier in the  year and finishing later. Instead of being divided into two semesters our new programme is divided into three trimesters. Each trimester begins with the students coming together in class for two weeks of sharing, learning, doing class presentations (which are part of the assessment processs) and having some face to face lectures.  It is really good to see everyone back together. We all know each other quite a bit better and there is an air of cammeraderie and friendship.

How is it going?

We decided to get some feedback from the students about how the programme is going for them. What is working well and what they feel needs to change.

Yesterday the students got into groups and discussed this then fed back to the class. This is what I took out of this discussion.

It was overwhelmingly postive. The students said they are enjoying the course and the online learning. There were only one or two who said they felt they would prefer to be in class and have lectures, most are more than happy with being able to engage with the learning resources when they want to and in the way that suits them.

Online resources:

Feedback on the online learning resources was very positive. Most like this way of learnign and enjoy the quizzes and activities.  They have aparticular topic that they cover each week and are given a list of questions related to that topic to investigate and discuss in the Elluminate session later in the week. The students wanted the questions to be posted at the same time as the modules.

Online quizzes

The learning resources are interspersed with quizzes and case studies to make the students think and to improve the learning experience. Most of the students enjoy these althous some acknowledge that they feel now compulsion to do them and so do not bother.  They felt it might help if the Quiz had to be completed before progressing on with the module and this is something I am going to look into. They particularly liked doing the crosswords but some of the quizzes were less useful. In particular they mentioned a memory game that I had set up so I will not bother with that one again. I have had trouble getting crowwords to work for me so I will have to find out how I can do this from those that are managing to get crosswords up. I was told Hot potatoes was a good programme for this and I have tried but have not managed to master it yet. I have done some lovely crosswords in Eclipse but i cannot get them to load properly so that the students can use them. These activites are formative assessments which are recognised as an integral part of online learning and so it is important that we find ways to help the students engage with these to improve their learning and the retention of the material they are covering.

Elluminate,

We use Elluminate for weekly class tutorials which the whole class can attend online. Again most really appreciate this and find these tutorials useful the questions that have been put to them in the online learning for the week are discussed here. A couple of students said they would prefer video conference . There was also some discussion about the possibility of having a class session for those in Southland and Dunedin who can attend while doing the same think on Elluminate for those who cannot attend or prefer to be online. This would be very tricky I think as there is alot for the lecturer to consider in facilitating an Elluminate session, text chat, voice chat and running the material on the white board screen. I think trying to manage this online and face to face at the same time would be too difficult and we do not have the manpower to run session twice.

Some students are very willing to discuss issues in Elluminate, some prefer just to text. some said they would be happy to speak face to face but do not feel so confident online. They wanted to point out that if they do not speak it does not mean that they are not engaging or learning. Some just like to sit and listen and learn. This is very similar to the classroom situation and it seems to be the same people who are happy to talk in class that are the ones who are happy to speak online. The lack of body language cues was discussed as a disadvantage.

Practice skills

The students are really enjoying the midwifery practice experiences they are getting. They are aware that thsi is much more than the previous students had and they really appreciate this. I had hoped that some of the skills assessment would be able to be done in an actual clinical setting with the midwives in practice but this is proving very difficult to achieve. The midwives feel a bit threatened and overwhelmed by these skills assessment forms and this is not happening so we will have to go back to doing this in the class room setting.

Small group tutorials

The students really like the small group tutorials and most feel that these are working really well for them, helping with the course work and learning and providing an opportunity to debrief and learn together.

Reflection

Overall it seems that the programme is working well for the students. I would like to try to do something to help them engage more with the formative assessments we have in place and will look into the idea of making these compulsory to complete before moving on. At least for some of the quizzes. I think the change to doing some of the skills assessment in the weekly face to face session will be positive. I have been reluctant to do this previously as it would be outside the topics time tabled for the week and was worried that this may confuse the students but I think they can all see the rationale and I think this will work. It is very pleasing that this feedback was so postiive. We also gave the students a questionnaire to complete and that is being analysed. It will be interesting to see if these results are any different to this feedback.

Bringing together some key points in blended, distance and online education

Hazel Owen

I found these videos from Hazel Owen for the DEANZ conference 2008. This is her Bio from you tube. “Hazel Owen is an Academic Advisor (Education Technology Consultant) at Unitec, NZ. She has been involved with implementing ICT enhanced learning for nine years and provides training for faculty, as well as developing blended and online courses. Her research interests include communities of practice/ICT enhanced learning and teaching (ICTELT) underpinned by Sociocultural principles”.

Although the programme she is discussing is far removed from midwifery education none the less aspects of the course are applicable and share common features with our programme.

Facilitating learning communites

Hazel discusses the previous students’ educational experience as being teacher led, content specific and didactic in nature. This may also be the case for our students. The need for student to be supported to move to a learner centered system is described and the tools which facilitate this are demonstrated briefly. In particular is the need for students to develop learning communities which will not only support their current learning but will also prepare them for life long learning. We have discussed this in our programme development but I believe it is integral to the success of the programme and needs to be considered each step of the way. for example in the midwifery practice course we have been working on the preparation of content. We have not yet completed this but we do need to consider how the students will use this content. How will they communicate with each other and share their learning. We have decided to have weekly face to face tutorial groups meetings with the practice facilitator and this will meet this need in part. There needs to be a clear understanding that these tutorial sessions and not for the delivery of content but are to facilitate open discussion and shared learning. We also need to facilitate opportunities for students to connect with each other and we need to make some decisions about how we will encourage them to do this.

Developing a glossary of midwifery terms

Some of the resources that Hazel describes in these videos have been included in our midwifery practice course. For example she discuses the students developing a translation dictionary and, in the CPIT Moodle LMS, Lorna and I have started a Glossary of midwifery words and terminologies which we hope the students will add to and create for their own use. I am a little concerned that perhaps we have been adding too much content already to this, which may make the students feel that they do not own it and discourage them form contributiing.  However it is a useful tool.

E-Portfolios

Hazel also discusses the development of an e-portfolio as one of the assessment requirements. The requirements for these students to be computer literate for their future work is very clear and may not be seen as a high priority for midwifery students, none the less there are some good ideas which could overlap into our courses. I believe the importance of online communication is a universal requirement. It will be as important for midwives in the future to be able to access information and communicate with each other through online resources as it will for any other professional group. Providing this learning opportunity for out midwifery students is therefore of particular importance to their future learning and professional development. The importance of clear guidelines and instructions and making sure that the links between what is being learned and the applicability to future practice needs to be apparent in everything the students are doing.

I am embedding only the first and third videos which have more generalisability. The second video concentrates on the specific programme for the arabic male students to a greater extent.

I found these videos interesting and they have helped me to consider once again some of the key points which I believe are fundamental to the success of our programme.

Beginning to construct a course which supports flexible learning

While completing courses myself around flexible learning and course construction I am also working on the development and construction of the midwifery practice skills course. There are several features of this course which could be described as ‘flexible learning’. Students will be able to enrol from a  variety of locations and study predominantly from those locations supported by a local facilitator. They will also be able to come together as a larger class for some face to face  learning. Learning resources will be delivered face to face during the class ‘intensives’ and during tutorials with their local facilitator, students will also have midwifery practice time, working alongside midwives. Learning resources will also be available on-line for the students to access. They will be able to pace themselves through these learning resources and move backwards a forwards through them as they wish, however there will be  structure around the course and students will e expected to have completed the learning resources at each stage so that they can discuss and gain practical hands on skills in the face to face intensives and tutorials. Some features of this course delivery will be (following categories from; Gluc, 2006)

Individualised learning – As part of  this course students will be developing a portfolio which will include a learning contract. This will allow them to idenrify their own learning needs and to track their own learning and progress towards their individualised learning goals.

Peronalised learning support – Students will  have support from their local facilitator and the course co-ordinator and will be able to meet and discuss with them both within the class or local groups and on an individual basis as required. This contact and discussion can take place face to face or online through Elluminate meetings, discussion forums, personal emails, cell phone text messaging or telephone or cell phone chats.

Collaborative learning – Students will meet together as a whole class and will be supported to develop connections and networks with each other through a variety of online resources such as skype, weblogs cell phone text and chat groups. They will also have a local group which will be 2 or more students in a particular location and will be encouraged to support each other through the learning journey. Some course work may be required to be completed in group activities which will involve them working with other students from different locations and networking with them  online or by cell phone.

Virtual learning environments– We will not be using virtual worlds initially but we are continuing to explore the possibilities for using a virtual environment for scenario based learning. Each aspect of the learning resources will be accompanied by formative assessments scattered throughout and some of these will include case studies, where the students are invited to consider situations, decisions and actions that they might make.

Flexible study– All aspects of the course will have a thorough online component, which will allow the students to study at their own pace in their own time and wherever they have internet access.

The first step in course construction

After considering our learners and different learning styles that need to be incorporated. We established our collaboration teams to work on course development. I have been working alongside a Christchurch colleague Lorna Davies .  We started by brainstorming  with everyone from the two schools what the content  would be. We then had to consider how this content might be divided up into the three trimesters (This course will be delivered in three trimesters rather than two semesters) of the year.  It seemed important that the skills the students would be learning should have some context around them rather than task specific skills. to do this it made sense to develop modules focused around antenatal, labour and birth and postnatal care. These are all in the context of normal uncomplicated birth at this stage of the students learning journey. Some basic skills that need to be covered do not easily fit within these aspects and so a fourth module was decided on which would focus on therapeutic interventions that may be required, either in the community or hospital setting. We then divided these modules Lorna is developing the antenatal and postnatal modules and I am developing the labour birth and therapeutic skills modules. Lorna and I decided very early in the process that we needed to have good communication between us and established weekly meetings on Elluminate where we can discuss progress and brainstorm issues as they arise.

Using EXE as a development platform and moodle for course delivery

Lorna was able to attend a conference where she learned about EXE for developing course content which can then be loaded onto moodle. We decided to give this a go and found it very easy to use, none the less getting to grips with these two new technologies has been a learning curve which is ongoing.

Developing the modules

It became evident that these modules would need to be broken down further into learning units otherwise they would be too large. This has largely been up to our own discretion but we discuss and share ideas in our weekly meetings. I decided that I would like to evaluate the material that I am developing with current students. I would also like to get some feedback from midwives in practice eventually. To this end we have established a separate development portal on our Moodle to allow current students access to modular components that have been developed. I will develop an evaluation tool to get some feedback from these students about the resources.

References

Gluc, E. (2006). Using Blended Learning to Accommodate Different Learning Styles. University of Hertfordshire. Online retrieved 17th October 2008 from: http://escalate.ac.uk/downloads/2917.pdf

Image: Red sky construction from poagao’s photos on flickr.com