Looking forward to 3 days of RecentChangesCamp

Posted on January 27th, 2011 in not yet categorised by Kirsty

For info about the event see – http://recentchangescamp.org/wiki/Canberra

Here’s my intro post – what I’m hoping to get out of it

Intro and Questions for RecentChangesCamp 2011 Canberra from Kirsty Sharp on Vimeo.

Trawling through memory banks for Visual Basic

Posted on December 14th, 2010 in not yet categorised by Kirsty

It’s been a while since I had any use for Visual Basic, but recently it came in very handy to help solve a crazy workflow issue for a colleague.

The problem:

Basically some form letters need to be prepared on a regular basis but the database spits them out as flat text files. No fields, no delimiters, not even regular spacing between different records in the file. So to tidy up the files it has been a manual process to copy and paste from a .txt file into a .doc file, format and tweak so they fit in the plastic windows of the envelopes. All thanks to a new computer system that hasn’t got it quite right yet from that perspective. Paul, our new team member, spotted this crazy workflow and decided there must be a better way. Perhaps mail merge or similar? But what to do when the data is not presented in a logical framework?

Enter Macros and Visual Basic to the rescue!

We worked out the steps that needed to be completed, used a fair bit of Find/Replace and a bit of basic formatting. The only stumbling block depended on being able to input the date. In our macro recording of course the date information in the Find/Replace was hardcoded into the macro. Useful for today but won’t work tomorrow. Input boxes were needed. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what the code or syntax was but I knew it was possible. So a quick googling later, we have a working solution. I think the first time I experimented with macros and visual basic was back in 1994 or 1995.

We need to test the new process for a week, and get some others to test also to make sure we can transfer the solution.

Update: Process has been tested and today (14/12) is being rolled out to other staff members.

I’m a happy geek. Nice to know some skills stick around a lot longer than you think they will. Yes, I am feeling pretty pleased with myself.

eBook Exploration

Posted on November 5th, 2010 in not yet categorised by Kirsty

This idea and exploration was kicked off by exploring what we wanted from a first foray into iPad app development. With the change in Apple’s rules about using flash for app development we could now consider doing app development work in house.

As a team we talked about what materials we already had at our fingertips and also which teams either had, or would soon be getting iPads for student use. The Health Services team were a key target as there have been several elearning innovations projects with them in recent times and iPads were on the horizon. Jacquie highlighted the many videos and a Policy & Procedure manual in use by the team, Anita wondered out loud about PDFs with embedded video, and Google then answered a whole series of questions. iBooks on the iPad can display .epub files that have video embedded using the new HTML5 <video> element.

Basically we had to combine the instructions from a few sites

http://amalthia.mediawood.net/tutorials/ebooks/index.html for the overall process

And Liz Castro writing at http://www.pigsgourdsandwikis.com/2010/05/html5-video-works-on-ibooks-on-ipad.html for the video part.

It took a few goes to get the steps in the right order but we got there.

Next week I’ll run am initial training session on how to work through this process with my team which will mean documenting the steps a little more and also typing up the html code so we can copy and paste it easily.

Oh, and yes, you can use any word processor that will do the export as filtered html with heading styles, and any html editor that allows you to manually edit the code element.

The output can be viewed in iBooks after transferring via iTunes, and we wait to see which other ebook readers will support the embedded video.

Virtual worlds, Real Learning session

Posted on October 27th, 2010 in not yet categorised by Kirsty

After lunch session at the Southern Worlds event.
Roger Stack and Angela Cooke

We started with a “round the room” section inviting audience members to state where they are coming from in relation to virtual worlds.

Roleplay in a safe environment.
Access to history – immersive archaeology
Art gallery
Design on a human scale – architecture, engineering,
Fashion and jewelry

Potential for small business and employment in Second Life

Quest Atlantis is based on 7 core values and relationships, teachers and students are equals.

Credibility of teaching team was enhanced by a team member’s gaming prowess.

WOW, Neverwinter nights, Myst, Age of Empires, etc all offer possibilities for development of key skills.
Commercial games are more restrictive eg can’t build own areas and activities as easily as in other spaces such as SL, Open Sim, RG.

Future? Access is getting easier, including potential to access through a standard browser. Open grids opening up that are meeting the needs of educators including jokaydia grid.

Hillary Reader and Maree Swanson

Posted on October 27th, 2010 in not yet categorised by Kirsty Tags:

Hillary was working with Reaction Grid for Hosptiaity Training.
Studemts were able to make their avatars and clothe them and that worked fine, but when they started to go online into Reaction Grid the network would often crash. More time spent working with students who were not engaged, so they divided the class into those who were interested, and those who weren’t. Students staying in the online section were assigned spaces such as rooms, restaurants, front office and so on. Many of the students had not actually been into real life hotels (beyond restaurants etc) before so that was also a learning curve as they started to build their spaces.
Teacher issues were not having a clear enough idea about what the students would be doing in the world, how they would assess what was being done, and not enough preparation. Hillary felt she was spending far too much time putting out fires rather than making the most of the opportunity. Network issues were a major factor in disengaging students especially at the beginning.

Chris (student) “it was quite annoying as it would be so much easier to build in another environment and bring it in to SL using tools you already had.”

Maree Swanson (Virtually Here) presentation.
Networking in virtual worlds is one aspect which is an added bonus of her project. Maree gave a brief introduction to her project. A major reason for adding virtual worlds to her existing blended online program for Certificate 2 in Hospitality was enriching the social presence for her learners.
Maree showed us a video from EducationAU about virtual worlds and gaming. “Immersive Learning: it’s game on”
students were scattered around the state with Yr 11-12 students based in District High Schools, with a few Yr 10 students enrolled in Cert 1 units also.
Practicalities: informed parent consent, networking access, cyber safety education, updating of policies.
Students were in SL/RG for 90 mins per week for 10 weeks including getting started, role plays and assessment. Invited two hospitality experts to come as guest speakers who mainly joined in via Skype although one did already have an avatar.
Pods for reflection / discussion, tool purchased from Terra Incognito (UQ).
Would not be able to determine full competency from this activity, but there are a myriad of different ways in which evidence can be gathered from SL, and it is part of a broader blended learning delivery of the units.

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