Thursday, April 28, 2011

State-wide iPad Management

Click graphic for PowerPoint

Efficient and effective state-wide management of iPads for Health & Wellbeing staff and students has proven to be easier than first thought - with help from a colleague. By using a Gmail account to create an Apple ID it has been possible to provide the required iPad functionality without making management too onerous.

Multiple iPads are set up and updated using the same iTunes account in different regions across the state.

MobileMe provides a service to locate each iPad on Google Maps and to send any iPad a pop-up message, make sound to help in locating it and even lock it from further use if necessary.

DropBox and the DropBox iPad application are used to transfer and share files between the iPads, desktop PCs and with any user on the web with a DropBox account.

Google Reader is used as an RSS aggregator to manage blogs and specialised news feeds which can then be displayed through the Flipboard app on the iPad - along with Twitter lists.

Custom backgrounds are set up on each iPad to assist with identification.

See the iPad Management PowerPoint for more detail.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Designing for the 4th Bottom Line

Designing a virtual meta-campus for change may be more like gardening than building. Applying a Meta-Design Framework will probably be an organic process where the meta-campus is nurtured to grow and evolve - sometimes in surprising ways. It may even be like curating large and diverse gardens with local ecosystems and a range of complex challenges related to inputs/outputs, people and the planet.

Perhaps we need to think of the virtual meta-campus as both an organisation and an organism - and even a self-organising system. Many organisations now report against multiple bottom lines - even to a 4th bottom line. How would consideration of four bottom lines influence the meta-design of the virtual meta-campus?

1st Bottom Line: Profit
Learning outcomes, retention rates, financial sustainability...

2nd Bottom Line: People
Equity, social justice, social capital...

3rd Bottom Line: Planet
Ecological sustainability, ecological footprints...

4th Bottom Line: Presence
Personal meaning, fulfilment, being and becoming, spirituality...

How would the meta-campus meet goals, model processes, enable participation and empower users in each of these areas of accountability?

How would each bottom line shape the following attributes of the virtual meta-campus?

Information, places, spaces, processes, services, worlds, story telling, dialogue, challenge and exploration, growth and transformation, experience and reflection, roles and goals, creativity and innovation, imagination and play, partnerships and collaborations, sharing and generosity, celebration and inspiration, courses and special interest groups, connecting and networking (PLNs), help and guidance, citizenship and advocacy, local and global, open courseware and OERs, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meta-Design of a Virtual Meta-Campus

"In a world that is not predictable, improvisation, evolution, and innovation are more than a luxury: they are a necessity. The challenge of design is not a matter of getting rid of the emergent, but rather of including it and making it an opportunity for more creative and more adequate solutions to problems." (Fischer & Giaccardi, 2006)

Designing a virtual meta-campus is a complex systems wicked problem. There isn't one solution, technologies are changing, goals are shifting, unexpected possibilites emerge and the results are unpredictable. Traditional elearning design principles may not be the most productive in this type of dynamic challenge where 'perpetual-beta' is often the norm.

Fischer & Giaccardi present a conceptual framework for 'Meta-Design' that addresses design-for-change issues and recommend 'co-adaptive' processes that can be used to develop an agile system that evolves with its designers, developers and users.

Meta-design uses social and technical infrastructure that isn't designed completely before use, is flexible and evolves in the hands of users. At the same time users adapt to system functionality and a dialogue is developed in which the user helps design the design process.

The Meta-Design Framework has several elements:
  • Design for change - user participation and empowerment
  • Underdesign - create flexible environments rather than solutions
  • Open systems approaches - that can be modified by users and evolve during use
  • Seeding - working components that can be evolved through small contributions of large numbers of people
  • Unselfconcsious design culture - slow adaption and error reduction

According to Fischer & Giaccardi Meta-Design approaches need to consider:

  • Interactive Art - focus on collaboration and co-creation, often exploring feelings and emotions
  • Collaborative synchnocity - allowing 'power' users to interact with the community, the project and ongoing collaborative processes
  • Social creativity - building a shared user understanding and user voice leading to new insights, new ideas, new artifacts
  • Balancing standardisation and improvisation - avoiding the disfunctional extremes of both
  • Consumers and Designers - Some users (not all, not at all times, not in all contexts) want to be designers: "engage the talent pool"
  • Ease-of-Use Revisited - Over-specialised easy-to-use systems may not be that interesting. Users will learn to operate a system if it has personal value - and is empowering, engaging and fun.
  • Motivation and Rewards - Users will persist in tasks if the 'design culture' includes simple motivational activities - particularly those that build 'social capital'.

The Meta-Design Framework includes three integrated 'Design Spaces':

  1. Designing Design - higher-order design that allows for change and even transformation
  2. Designing Together - facilitating participatory design processes
  3. Designing the 'In-Between' - supporting and creating social networks and their interaction with technology and systems. Relational, reciprocal and recursive interactions that trigger co-creation.

Participatory design requires new paradigms and cultures. Can we create the design spaces and facilitate the deign processes needed to build the virtual campus? Indeed how can we embed these in an evolving virtual campus?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Virtual Campus Framework

Regional meetings have recently been held to progress the Virtual Campus Project discussed in previous posts on this blog: Imagining the Polyverse, Building a Sustainable Polyverse.

While the Polytechnic has an 'official' LMS and public website there are a plethora of other online services, resources and environments independently developed by innovative individuals and teams to meet the needs of learners. So much so that it's valid to ask if we already have a 'virtual campus' in the sense of a rich and diverse online capacity that provides required functionality for remote and local students to engage in learning and training.

What is clearly absent however is any sense from a student perspective of a coherent and connected Polytechnic online service/space. Most online students are isolated from each other and from other classes, campuses and learning communities. There is little sense of a 'virtual campus' and navigation between online spaces is almost non-existent.

Rather than launch into planning and building a 'virtual campus' after hearing (for the first time for many present) about the numerous online services beyond the official LMS all meetings recommended:
  1. Defining the notion of a 'virtual campus' for discussion
  2. Listing some guiding principles that might form a conceptual framework within which further online innovation might take place
  3. Develop a model or models to provide systemic views of virtual campus infrastructure, navigation, standards, data flow...
Several people expressed the desire to ensure that any processes put in place to build a coherent and connected virtual campus continued to support innovation within and outside the project, as well as being agile enough to cope with changing technologies, diverse pedagogies and genuine student choices in learning.

At some meetings there was discussion about the use of designs/technologies to connect existing online spaces such as
  • tagging and meta-tagging
  • visual ecologies such as 360 panorama
  • immersive 3D environments
  • gamification and levels
How does one navigate a complex and rapidly growing virtual campus where anything is possible?

What should we call the virtual campus? The staff intranet is called Phoenix. Any suggestions for the name of an inspiring online meta-campus that blends the physical, the virtual and the possible?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mix'n'Match Learning Environments

Teachers are joining the re-mix culture - in a bold way and at their own pace.

While some are thinking about which LMS the organisation should use from 2012 an increasing number of teachers are customising their own learning environments to suit their personal eLearning journey, learner needs and course requirements.

These teachers no longer feel bound to one system and are exploring different combinations of environments - often challenging themselves to take another step on their journey at a measured pace. In this way they are taking control of their own professional learning and having more say in the provision of ICT services for their learners.

In a surprising number of classes teachers are further customising their mix'n'match learning environments with components or services suggested by their students.
Some mix'n'match examples this year are:

Generally teachers have a learning 'base camp' which is often in a Moodle or Wiki with links from their directly to groups, channels or 'secret urls' in other services. Students are required to manage the different usernames/passwords but this has provided an opportunity to discuss password management systems and Open IDs - something many students are happy to learn about.

More tech-savvy teachers are integrating a range of services back to Moodle - usually through one of the many outside hosting services available which have become easier to use and cheaper.

Many of the above DIY learning environments are used for 'blended learning' and take advantage of student access to mobile computing and home broadband. In fact some components of the mix'n'match combinations are not accessible on campus due to bandwidth or firewall issues. This has not been a significant problem because either these components are optional or students access them through wired, wirelesss or USB broadband at home.

Teachers are also setting up student ICT support models - usually somewhere within the mix'n'match learning environment. For some it's a forum in Mahara, for others discussion pages on a Wiki or a closed group in Facebook. While visiting a class last week I over-heard students designing their own 'help network' independently of the teacher.

One interesting change I've noticed in classes where mix'n'match environments are used is in student attitude and ownership. Students are asking questions about the learning environment and the following discussion is often about learning and learning processes. Students have referred to "our" page/site/group and often come up with suggestions to customise it to make it easier to use.

There is also a new respect for the teacher who is clearly making an effort to construct a useful online learning environment and can be seen at times to be stretching themselves beyond their comfort zones - by choice.