Saturday, April 24, 2010

Playing TAG

Many staff and students are using web services for displaying, organising and sharing their work. A number of Creative Arts teachers have been looking at how work might be tagged within these services so that staff and students can search for products created

  • by Tasmanian Polytechnic students and staff
  • in the same course or qualification
  • on the same campus
  • using the same media

In addition to facilitating searching a state-wide tagging system could allow teachers to easily collate student work for quality assurance/moderation across the state.

One issue to be addressed is the fact that students and staff are currently using a range of different web services for the same function. For example photos are uploaded into Flickr, Picasa, Deviant Art... We can create a single RSS feed from multiple web services by using an RSS aggregator that creates a new combined RSS feed such as Yahoo Pipes - rather than mandate a single web service.

We would also like to showcase student work by tagging items so that they automatically appear in RSS feeds within embedded code set up for our intranet, Facebook and public website. This will be archived by creating a Flickr group (linked to a state-wide Creative Arts Flickr account) where students can display their best work. Some of this work will then be tagged for showcasing - as well as being organised into sets and galleries.

This cross-campus tagging can also be applied to web services for video, audio and other media - any services that provide an RSS feed from tag searches.

Some of the thinking behind the use of tagging is presented in the following slides created for Creative Arts staff considering using Flickr for the first time to encourage student comment and reflection. They would also like to use it to facilitate some mentoring and critique from the arts community outside the organisation.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Learning to Walk...

Above you can see teacher Hilary Reader making some final head adjustments before taking her avatar to the hairdresser. On the right on the big screen one of her Tourism students flies over Jokaydia in Reaction Grid while on the desktop a Hospitality student walks her avatar through a forest on the Island Campus of the Tasmanian Polytechnic in Second Life.

Over the last week 4 classes (60 students) have been introduced to virtual worlds - well virtually introduced... we had a few technical issues but we are almost there.

The students are from a range of courses in Tourism, Hospitality and Events Management at the Hobart and Drysdale South Campuses. They will explore and work in both Second Life and Reaction Grid - and perhaps some other virtual worlds.

Evidence for assessment including photo's, movie clips and reflective journals will be displayed in ePortfolios that all the students have now set up in the Polytechnic's Mahara. The students have all joined a 'Virtual World' group in Mahara that contains links to help and tasks, and most have added classmates as 'friends', customised their profiles and made comments on each others 'walls'.

Avatars have been registered and some students have begun to learn how to walk, talk, sit down and fly. After Easter they will learn to eat, dance, teleport and take photo's.

Some technical issues with graphics cards and ports meant that some students used Open Sim on USB memory sticks to practice customising their avatar's appearance. To make the USB world more interesting some of our buildings from the Island Campus in Second Life were copied across to the USB world using the Meerkat Viewer.

More classes will be joining these students after the Easter break.

And in news just in... We've heard that funding has been approved for the project: Virtually Here by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. Project descrition:

Virtually Here

"To improve opportunities for collaborative interaction and communication for students who are geographically isolated, using the virtual world of Second Life (for adult learners) and Reaction Grid (for students who are under 18 years of age) as the primary learning platforms."