Blended Learning revamped

Posted on January 30th, 2008 in Learning Resources,Learning tech by Kirsty

This wiki has brought together information about:

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Pros and Cons of Templates

Posted on January 23rd, 2008 in Learning Resources by Kirsty

The Template Dilemma: This article came via Robin and sparked some interesting conversation about the value and risks inherent in using templates. At lunchtime our talk turned to the risk of templates being used, without then taking the critical step back from a page or project and looking at the created entity.

In a lot of ways, templates do ‘lower the bar’ for skills required to achieve relatively good looking, and functional elearning or more general webpages. The explosion of blogs, wikis, social networking sites all depend to a large extent on templates that the user fills in, and the advanced user individualises to their own preference. eXe is a template driven approach to elearning, consisting of building blocks the user fills in and combines to suit their learning design approach. In our Learning Resource Support work with teaching teams, having tools like these available certainly makes it easier to get people going. Yes, people do bump up against the wall when the templates don’t ‘let’ them do something they want. But it is a small pay-off. Saves having to learn Dreamweaver upfront!!!!!

When we get requests for templates for print based work, I have to admit we don’t have a decent response (yet!) for this building of a resource. I’d like to promote the use of approaches such as used for the Learner Guide development, and also processes such as that facilitated by the Learning Design Toolkit. That is now on my to-do list to address after writing this post.

Where do templates get messy?

  • when we try to make them fit another purpose without really tweaking (eg, I like the colour, now I’ll apply it to a completely different problem)
  • when they are seen as the way it must be (but I thought it had to be exactly like that, I didn’t know we could change it)
  • when there is not a connection between the content and the template (we’ve all seen powerpoint presentations where the graphics are fighting with the content)
  • where one template is used for everything (just plain boring, plus at risk of all of the above being true)

So what could be best practice in creating and using templates?

  1. Create templates that allow and encourage different pages or layouts and presentations of information
  2. Make it explicit the template is a framework not set in stone, or that it is set in stone, if the circumstances warrant it
  3. Make some elements of templates really easily customisable
  4. Provide instructions for using the templates
  5. Provide ‘worked examples’ of how the templates can be applied
  6. Build up a library of templates and their examples for people to view
  7. Use clever approaches like creating stylesheets for eXe

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Online Flickr Photo Sharing

Posted on January 22nd, 2008 in Learning Resources,Learning tech by Kirsty

Another great ‘cutout’ animation from Commoncraft explaining a web-based service, via Hey Jude.

Embedded Video

I can see us using this with teachers and other staff to explain why Flickr photo sharing is so great.

Other topics from the same author hosted on Youtube include:

  • Blogs in Plain English
  • Zombies in Plain English
  • New Light Bulbs in Plain English
  • Social Bookmarking in Plain English
  • Social Networking in Plain English
  • Wikis in Plain English
  • RSS in Plain English

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Virtual Office Hours

Posted on January 17th, 2008 in Learning tech by Kirsty

Via the Elluminate Newletter, this article “Professors help students virtually” from USA Today describes some American uni/ college lecturers practices of keeping virtual office hours. I found the conversation in the comments nearly as interesting though – for those who have the luxury of being on campus, and available when their lecturers are, yes face-to-face is pretty good, but the comments showed a lack of understanding about the amazing functionality available through virtual classroom tools. The notion of off-campus students didn’t come up either. A lot of our students aren’t on-campus a great deal so these tools are simply brilliant. One of my teams uses this type of technology for fortnightly team meetings – and now I can’t imagine operating statewide without it!

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Viewing our libraries through our clients’ eyes

Posted on January 17th, 2008 in Libraries by Kirsty

The Transparent Library: Coping with Anonymity

By Michael Casey & Michael Stephens — Library Journal, 1/15/2008

Your best response to this new world is to audit signage, library policy, and staff communication. Walking through the library with a customer’s eyes might lead you to change inappropriate signage. A user-centered look at the public policy manual may yield less rulebound guidelines. Finally, establishing a way for staffers and patrons to comment freely fosters openness.

For a while I’ve been thinking about the differences in practices in our libraries across the state – some relate to local needs and differences, others reflect a difference in the path travelled so far. I wonder what would happen if someone were to wander around the different library settings with a camera and document the spaces and signage?

This might be an activity to be undertaken at a statewide meeting – staff could be invited to ‘document’ their space and compare. It would certainly open up the discussion about where printers are located, or whether mobile phones or food are allowed.


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