Learning styles discussion

Recently during the BlendKit2016 MOOC with Florida University I stumbled across this discussion.  Learning styles for years bandied about in Education nothing really new and as a dyslexic visual learner made perfect  sense to me.

Then the post extolling the myths so called about these styles drove me to comment which is by the way the power of Forum activities in online education in my opinion. Is it the Term learning style that  are being questioned or the concept, I thought.

Here is my resonse to all of the dicussion post.  It is difficult to put into content without the rest of those comments but I feel the point is made and a link to the posts.

Post. Learning Styles Myth

Variety I think is the key to this professional conversation. They maybe learning styles, they may not be, but one thing for sure is that all or nothing is no good at all. All text however well wtitten, all vudeos, all power points and Prezis. It is planning the content and delivery using resources of all types that engages the student’s mind. My motto is ask the question get the current answer early. Provide a discovery period and text, video, power point, wsebsite the ask the question again and discuss how views and knowledge have changed and assess the results. Variety is the spice of life and learning. Sometimes it is too much content that can be the issue, give options and let them choose which one they take using their own preferences.
My humble opinion anyway for what that is worth.

I love these professional discussions, mainly because I leave my mind open to the possibility of change based on new information and exchange of views woth others. If only we could have many more if these discussions perhaps people would be able to see other perspectives more readily given new points of view.

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Week 4 BlendKit2016 Reaction

Four weeks in, plenty of reading, thinking and writing. The Blended aspects of this week’s sessions and activities has really focused my attention onto the relationship and documentation between the Face to Face and Online content and interaction.

Documenting how they interact and fit together seamlessly brings more clarity and purpose to the panning and documenting stage of the course, its content and assessments. Considering all these aspects more carefully provides much more clarity of design.

Little nagging things that don’t seem to fit, mapping back to the unit of competency and proving to yourself that:

1. You know your subject matter
2. You can document it correctly that anyone can follow it
3. You don’t over assess at the level you are working on. (Certificate 1,2,3,4 Diploma)
4. That you are aware of the Language, Literacy and Numeracy implication
5. Cater for all learning styles and Accessibility guideline and best practice

The unit I have chosen presents particular issues around delivering and assessment online with a cohort that has little experience with personal computers and using them.
This section of the BlendKit2016 course has highlighted the shortcomings and traps in designing and developing blended courses that can run well and achieve the results expected with no unusual issues.

Assessment and text wording and explanation, balancing the face to face with the online delivery sessions in a self-paced delivery style can be quite a challenge. The documentation is the hardest to get right developing the content falls into place much easier when that is complete and this course has helped me get that clearer in my courses.
Having my assessments validated and looked at by fresh experienced eyes and with feedback really guides you to better student focused course designs that are actually blended. The link below is to the Chapter of this course that this post is about.

This weeks Readings and D.I.Y. assignments have lead to an updated version of the assignment and instructions as a result of last week’s feedback with defined information on the assessment criteria and clearer instructions. Some progress is definitely being made to my thought processes.

This is the reading that prompted this reaction response.BlendKit2016 Week 4 Chapter

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Week3 BlendKit2016 focus

What is it about the timetable for a course that catches you unaware?  You do the first 2 weeks all on time and completely, then week 3 arrives almost unannounced and then is gone.   Good intension are not enough it seems.  The one thing it does do is focus you.  What is it hat really has to be done, forget the side tracks to see ne wthings, look at the tasks and do what has to be done.  Does this really help us learn things?

I wonder about the structure of my courses now, I thought they were doing the best they could do, allowing for varied learning styles trying if not completely succeeding to be accessible as per the WWW reguirements.  Planning and breaking down learning to smaller bights or is it bytes now?  It appears that the discovery section of the courses may need more scope without relecntless Assessment/Assignments in the earlier stages.

This MOOC has focused my thinking on the discovery in learning and how when we are discovering new things time is required to investigate explore and examine the new, concept, method, approaches an dall this is learning.  However like learning anything new, say music,  you may pick up the concept quickly, even get all the notes rights, tempo and timing, but it is the feel and nuances that allow you to transfer these across your your playing.   My next course will take this on board and it will influence the course design.  Testing will tell if the results are worth the change and show me if there are any unexpected results.  Who knows and to Quote Jim Carey in the Grinch “Airbags are a little slow. That’s what these tests are for!” Continuous Improvement.

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Week 2 of the BlendKit 2016 Interactions

MoodleImageFromMoodleIt is so important for lecturers, designers and developers of online courses to be involved and be a student in a blended course.  It is easy to sit in an office, well easy is not the right word really, it can be difficult work to get done well, but people who design and create these courses who haven’t actually completed one lately lose sight of the student’s experience.

The Blended learning course needs to be experienced to appreciate the design considerations and traps that students get caught in.  The clear layout, design, common sense and logical flow of the course allows a student to seamlessly complete the course with a minimum of confusion while getting the most out of their experience.

Taking a free course like the BlendKit 2016 accomplishes two things, at least two.  The experience provides an opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of the student, see the good, bad, confusing, the hurdles and experience the barriers that some course contain.  After beginning a course and passing through the initial lack of knowledge phase of how the course operates, navigates and flows, your mind is focused on successful completion of tasks and assignments.   Knowing what is required to successfully complete your course, task or assignment is critical to the student’s experience and after all that is really all they want to do.

Past experience as a students has shown me that it is great to have a beautiful course with bold images and graphics, all the bells and whistles on it however after the initial selling point of a beautiful course has passed finishing the course is all the student is looking at.

What do I have to do to get the course finished, pass and move on.

Having said all that there is something about achieving a Badge that still appeals to a student isn’t there?

Interactions Face to face, online, student to student, peer assessment, forums, group chats and live and asynchronous sessions online these hold the key to a successful engaging course.

A course I participated in many years ago delivered this interaction on a grand scale.  The facilitator posted an image to a forum in the first activity in an online course, but it could easily have been face to face.

The Interaction

The Image a present day Qantas Commercial plane in a cabinet at the airport with other Qantas planes from the past.

The Post What do you see in this image?

The Result 200+ posts from the 15 students in the course.

Summary 

The image was the key to the interaction.  A simple image, well not really. Simple subject in the image, but the question and image had been seriously considered before selection.

The first Post “A Qantas plane…” Some of the last posts involved future space travel using Qantas planes to fly around the world in hours in more fuel efficient sustainable planes, while preserving the planet.  Not a bad interaction form a simple question with all students engaged.

The Facilitator only made two comments during two days of posting at the beginning of this course to say that he hadn’t thought of that.

This is discovery and learning in action during and interaction. The exchange of ideas encouraged by other student’s posts expanded the discussion in almost every direction.  Everyone learnt something from this experience because of the diverse backgrounds and experience levels of the students.

Benefits

Minimal cost, minimal facilitator input, maximum discovery, student lead, seconds to set up and the resulting discussion unleashed and amazing amount of knowledge and sharing thought while engaging all students in the process.  It also formed a part of their formative assessment.

That is the power of an effective interaction.  They need to be very carefully thought through but are very effective in adding engagement to a course and learning experience.  That is the aim the student focus.

My Subject course

The course I have been looking at on this course is BSBITU101 Use a personal computer and interesting choice for several reasons.

  1. How do you deliver a course online to someone who doesn’t know how to use one?
  2. Most of the resources are online and require an email account
  3. The course is aimed at students who may not have access to a computer

There are other considerations and we have completed this training in a Blended way in the past as it can only be done using Face to Face hands and involves Online content.

I look forward to setting out the Blended Learning Plan and really examining it to see how well the existing course stacks up with the revisited course blueprint.  Seeing whether and how much the course can be improved for the student experience and deliver the outcomes intended in a consistent reliable cost effective way.

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Back to learning BlendKit 2016

Blended Learning is the key to educating students across our state, but till now it has been used as a silver bullet for delivering training to students to reduce costs and cover the state.
This couse came up and I always think that the best way to learn is by going back to your roots and the basic concepts to enhance your own Guild knowledge.  As a by products of the learning process it focusses you thoughts and clarifies what works and work doesn’t.
Finally a course like this can confirmthat you are heading in the right direction for your organisation.
Here is a sample of my first assignment in the BlendKit 2016 course.
Chapter One Reaction assignment
Rob Beckett
The design process for online courses in my opinion is even more critical because the student is working alone a lot if the time.  As we know with communication the words are only a small part of the communication cycle.   Many courses I have have seen are merely repositories for text based resources used in face to face delivery.  My issue with that format is that learning styles are not well catered for, engagement is low and students must learn mainly from text documents and several assignments.
As most of my courses are competency based they involve a blend of past experience, practical tasks and case studies,  face to face or recorded sessions and videos. .  Mapping the course directly to the National training package competency is where I feel the design planning process begins and the primary focus needs to be the student and their learning experience.
I favour using the Elements of the unit of competency as Topics.  I like using the points of the element to ensure all areas are mapped and covered in the design of resources, layout and sequencing of tasks and discovery and assessments.
These points in the competency element provide valuable information and this combined with the range statement guides the planning and design stage.
I found that asking the simple questions early can also clarify the purpose of the course and the outcomes.
A picture of competence
“What does a competent person look like?
What do they need to know, do and remember”
At the beginning of the course having exemplars of competency and examples of excellence, up to standard and below standard also assists students to see what competence looks like.  Introduction Forums can provide opportunities for students to input and engage in a discussion of what a competent person might look like and do in a situation.
This clarifies my view of what the course design needs to achieve and assists my planning.
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Onsite assessment of Apprentices Adelaide Oval

Wall & Ceiling lining apprentices on site at the Adelaide Oval site.  Good apprentices with potential.  These are images from the site visit to assess competency in a work situation.

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As you can see the pride on the faces of these apprentices showing off their skills.

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One Year Really “A Moodle Project update”

MoodleImageFromMoodle_orgIt’s over a year now and where did that year go?2741_170MeStaffPhoto

180 Moodle courses later, numerous qualifications and lecturers right across the state of South Australia in the Business Services section of tafeSA, that’s where the year went right there! Continue reading

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Business Services Moodle

Business Services Moodle

Moodle Icon

I am starting to upgrade and unify the existing courses and help others to get their courses compliant with accessibility and HTML5.

Any ideas on innovative ways to engage students, accessibility anything about your Moodle experiences?

I would love to hear your comments!

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Discovery Day One Tonsley tafeSA site

The new and impressive building hums with building activity still as we are welcomed to the newest of tafeSA Campuses in South Australia.

Faces looking up at the project and education managers and hearing about the visions and goals. Trades working together in the same building for the first time, introductions and getting lost, nervous moments all starts today.

the atrium at Tonsley tafeSA.jpg

The team meeting/intro session shows the systems, on-line delivery options and current electronic devices to use at the site, some eye are glazing over but overall there is active interest in learning how they fit into the blended learning vision.

The trades working close together are Carpentry, Cabinet Making, Painting & Decorating, signwriting, Wall & ceiling lining, Bricklaying, Tiling, Upholstery, CNC and furniture design, Furniture polishing, Civil Construction. Quite a collection of skills and knowledge in the one space. Looking forward to the future.

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Audit

If said slowly and quietly it doesn’t sounds so frightening, does it?

The pressure is building and there seems to be an air of concern bubbling away in the background.  The Cooperative for the industry keep mentioning it with following posts of trauma recall, but really does it mean the end of training as we know it.  Is it just a phase or does it as its purpose tells us assist RTO’s with “Continuous Improvement?

Training evolves out of a need, then agreed outcomes, resources, assessment, feedback, reflection and review and finally reasonable adjustment and improvement.  A natural occurence, and an audit is like having your teeth checked at the dentists.  The thought is usually worse than the act.  Even the noise of the dentist’s drill seems preferrable to the audit process, yet as with the dentist you only need the drill, the injection and the filling if there is a problem.

The Audit process forces RTO’s to focus on their core business and the standards that are required to apply for and maintain their registration.  The auditors are people too and really do they want to shut down an RTO with jobs and businesses under threat if they can see reasonable effort is being given over to Improvement.  I think that would be unlikely, are they looking for RTO’s not doing the right thing most definitely.  Will they find things wrong, if they look hard enough.  I would expect to see areas that would need attention in almost all RTO’s.

I am looking forward to the auditors comments on my efforts and showing me how to comply with the RTO’s requirements.  Do I want it tomorrow?  Probably not, but I can show reasonable efforts and given time and resources to complete the process as far as possible, most RTO’s would want to comply and it helps to really understand the training, you deliver, resources you use and the outcomes that we need to achieve to be successful and comply with our responsibilities.

What do you think?  I would like to hear from you.  Cheers Rob

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