Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sustaining elearning innovations

While participating in the nationally funded Flexible Learning Leaders in New Zealand Project back in 2005-2006, I began to study the processes through which elearning innovations aim to grow to become sustainable tools or products. The experience of colleagues on that Project made me realize that existing organizational environments and cultures did not make life easy for elearning innovators, despite national and institutional agenda that aimed to promote elearning capability across the higher education sector. Part of my professional role is to provide support for elearning innovation and capacity building within my own institution, so I undertook case study research to analyze the problem with a view to devising workable solutions.

The study has since been extended well beyond the original scope, discussed, presented, published and hopefully put to good use in the New Zealand HE sector and beyond. The final push came with a grant from ACODE (The Australasian Council for Open, Distance and eLearning) to extend the study to include a number of Australian case studies, and publish a hard copy report - just to be different in this digital age!

I have circulated copies of the report to various people who may find the contents of interest, and welcome any feedback. My aim to raise this issue on the institutional agenda would be well served by further discussion, dissemination and collaboration to address these topical challenges. Email me if you want an electronic copy of the report, and post any comments below.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A digital literacy related site from Australia

To complement the JISC site featured in the previous post, these resources from University of New South Wales focus on How to Teach Online, and a project funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC).

Developing digital literacies

Its a relief to see that, despite heavy cuts to UK higher education budgets, some priority areas are still getting the investment they need to move the sector forward. JISC has announced a two year Developing Digital Literacies project that aims to ensure graduates are well equipped for the 90% of new jobs that are expected to require excellent digital skills. An informative and useful website presents research, recommendations, best practice examples, workshop materials, an organizational audit process and case studies. This is another five star resource from a world class organization that leads developments in educational technology, and this post in a note of appreciation for the benefits this offers to practitioners and tertiary sectors within and beyond their borders.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A-head in the cloud

I often used to envy the governance, funding and resources available to the UK higher education sector - less so in the past year or so admittedly - but today's announcement of 12.5M funding to develop cloud services for education and research brought the green eyed monster roaring back into my life. This initiative is not only exciting pointer to the technology of the future. It could go a long way to solving some of the sector's financial challenges by gaining efficiencies at a national level, without squeezing more life - or quality - out of a public sector that is already careening rapidly towards the lean end of the spectrum.

When I first came to NZ in 1995, I - foolishly as it turned out - thought the collaborative model pursued by the UK higher education sector could work even better in a country with just 7 (at the time) universities. There is potential here, and some great initiatives, but we fall far short of the scale of leadership and cooperation happening in the UK. Maybe our crisis needs to get worse so it becomes the only way forward :-(

The monster that thought conjures up is anything but green!

Monday, May 30, 2011

End of an ERA - journal ranking scrapped by Australian politician

Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr has announced the scrapping of journal rankings as part of a shake up of the Excellence in Research for Australia initiative. Carr said he wanted to address the contested nature, and improper use of these quality rankings. His action in scrapping the system could be read to imply the belief that, in the absence of surefooted people or an effective fence at the top, nothing at the bottom of a cliff is a better option than an ambulance.

The value of journal ranking and impact factors has been the subject of debate for many years, and such systems are admittedly less than perfect. Chastizing the research community - as the Australian newspaper reported Carr as doing - for learning to 'play a system' that is imposed without necessarily making sense is one way to address the problem. The scenario is not unfamiliar.

I hope Minister Carr's move has cleared the way for a process of broad consultation to devise new measures of quality through transparent collaborative process. I hope any new measures make obvious sense to people whose work they relate to, and reflect the value of publishing in up and coming, national, and specialized journals as well as the ones that were top of the class ten years ago. Last time I looked into how rankings were determined, I found none of these factors in place.

Quotes that 'these reforms will strengthen the role of the ERA Research Evaluation Committee members in using their own, discipline-specific expertise to make judgments about the journal publication patterns...' and 'the change empowered committee members to use their expert judgment to take account of nuances in publishing behavior' do little to instill confidence.

If I believed that experts on committees knew everything there is to know about the realities of life on the research 'factory floor' I might have more faith in the prospects. I really hope what happens next will expose me as a change_resistant_bore!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teaching and Learning Vision Conference

I haven't attended one of these conferences, but understand they come highly recommended.

Head to Australia's Gold Coast in November for two days of expert opinion, networking and sharing ideas about teaching and learning with vision. The Teaching & Learning with Vision 2011 conference will bring together practitioners and experts in the use of learning technologies for education and training. Keynote and featured speakers will challenge and extend your thinking. Our case study speakers are real-life educators who are using these new technologies to engage and extend their learners in ways that are not possible with traditional methods. A conference exhibition will allow delegates to investigate the latest technological innovations. Visit the conference website for further information.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More on OER Debate

Sir John Daniel, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning has now posted a statement to open the debate on the Open Educational Resources movement being a flawed because it is based on the unsupported assumption that academics are willing to share their materials. All readers are invited to comment.