Monday, May 25, 2009

eFolios for Learning and Life

This year we are "establishing and implementing a Polytechnic ePortfolio strategy" across all campuses. A significant part of this work will be informed by a 2009 E-Learning Innovations Project 'E-portfolios are 'living' evidence' supported by the Australian Flexible learning Framework.

This project focuses on using efolios (Mahara) as an integral part of the learning process - a process described in the 2008 JISC report as 'e-portfolio-based learning'. Last week saw the first orientation session into Mahara for the group involved in this project.

Graeme and I presented some background information on folios and learning processes and we spent some time playing with Mahara - uploading artifacts, setting profiles, linking with 'friends' and creating views.

Unfortunately the laptop links through a hub failed only worked for a couple of people so we had to resort to external broadband wireless connections through mobiles phones and pre-paid USB modems. Fortunately we were able to get a surprising number working.
I've decided I love my ultra-notebook and pre-paid broadband. No more worries about being able to connect at different locations and no more firewall hassles - I use Telstra services... I can load all my own applications - and they work as expected.

At 1kg the ultra is great to carry around - my laptop is 3.5kg and more when it's in its bag.

I've notice a few other staff going down this path as well - and some students. But I digress...

Here are some of the slides we presented during the day:

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by regor2012

The efolio project is part of a bigger picture of the range of ICT services used by learners - how and where and when they access them - and who provides them. The 'bigger picture' for the new Tasmanian Polytechnic is about flexible, connected, applied and supported learning which can be enabled and/or enriched through
  • efolios
  • portals
  • LMSs
  • virtual worlds
  • augmented reality
  • serious games
  • communication and collaboration environments
  • media channels
  • galleries
  • open courses
  • learning commons
More on these later...

Last Thursday I attended an RMIT 'roundtable' on efolios and RPL. It was very useful - partly because we heard that we have been doing what everyone else is doing and partly because I made links with several institutions that are using Mahara. I also got to meet Alison Miller after following her for a couple of years on Twitter and journals. She provides a great channel to what is going on in the efolio world - and other things.

Towards the end we started to talk about the broader use of efolios for learning and life. This is definitely a conversation to continue in the near future.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Measuring Flexible Learning - Breadth and Depth

We are thinking about how to establish benchmarks and measure progress in flexible learning across the Tas Polytechnic - 16 campuses and 1500 teaching staff. But before we can decide on some key performance indicators we need a common and agreed definition of flexible learning.

Flexible learning is often defined as providing learners with choices about where, when, how - and sometimes what - learning occurs. The goal is personalised learning that meets the needs of each and every student - both on and off campus.

The degree of flexible learning that an educational organisation can provide will depend on a range of factors including:

  • learning, teaching and assessment principles and practice
  • facilities and support structures
  • course and learning designs
  • learner engagement and responsibility
  • accountability and quality assurance

Strategies which have been used to increase the level of flexibility in learning include:

  • eLearning and Flexible Delivery
  • Flexible/Open Learning Options
  • Curriculum/Training Package Frameworks
  • Learning Environment/Space Design
  • Professional Learning, Sharing and Collaboration
  • Facilities and Infrastructure for Access and Equity
One objective of the Tasmanian Polytechnic is to "establish flexible learning as part of every teacher's repertoire" - broadening the availability of flexible learning options beyond 'champions', early adopters and specialist areas and deepening the degree of flexible learning beyond the provision of simple content and delivery alternatives.

Flexible learning is not new to the organisation. Many - if not most - teachers already provide some form of choice for learners and there are numerous examples of individuals, teams and learning areas that provide very effective and innovative options for personalised learning, learning spaces and learner support. We need to learn from these and 'mainstream' them.

There are many examples of flexible 'elearning' including some that not only offer content, delivery and communication choices but go deeper to collaboration, reflective assessment and blended learning.

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework suggests a range of elearning indicators that we could adapt for measuring flexible learning. A number of these could use data that is already being collected to establish some early benchmarking.

Does anyone know of any other measures or KPI lists for flexible learning in that go beyond superficial adoption of ICTs?