Options for Poly Wikis

Posted on August 24th, 2010 in Planning & Plotting,Polytechnic by Kirsty Tags: , ,

Options for Poly Wikis

This shows my current thinking about a way forward for wikis at the polytechnic. I’ll test it with some colleagues, project team members and through the student evaluation coming up.

Draft recommendations

  1. A combination of external and self-hosted wiki pages will give the following benefits:
    Branding and online presence as a leader in Open and Connected Learning.
    Participation in a wider, global community of educators and learners.
    Support with technical issues and ongoing maintenance. and so on
  2. Teachers use Wikiversity/WikiEducator to create and host their learning materials. Student group and collaborative work is also done on Wikiversity/WikiEducator.
  3. All materials from the Category “TasPoly” to be mirrored on a Polytechnic hosted wiki.  This builds in risk management as well as raising our profile in the global education community.
  4. A blog platform for learners and teachers to be hosted by the Polytechnic. Support also given to those staff and students for a limited range of externally hosted services eg Flickr, YouTube, Blogger, Edublogs…
  5. Staff and learners supported to use RSS readers to streamline accessing information from multiple points. This can be achieved through Outlook and/or Google Reader.
  6. Policy will support teachers releasing learning materials through a Creative Commons Attribution – ShareAlike licence.

Comments welcomed!

Report from Recent Changes Camp Participation

Posted on August 24th, 2010 in Planning & Plotting,Polytechnic,Reporting and Reading by Kirsty

Wednesday August 11th 2010

Recent Changes Camp was held at the University of Canberra, and organised by Leigh Blackall. It was held as an ‘unconference’ which means that the schedule and agenda are framed by the participants at the start of the day around a central theme, in this case, wikis. The group formed a list of potential sessions and then placed names against which sessions they would like to attend.
URL: http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/University_of_Canberra/RCC_Canberra
Through the day there were four sessions held:

  • Usability and accessibility
  • Wikiversity
  • Wikis for learning and education
  • Conversations and community behind wikis

My expectations prior to the event were to learn more about how other individuals and organisations were using wikis, both for learning and other purposes. I was also seeking wisdom about implementation and hosting implications.

During the sessions I captured my notes in mindmap form on my iPad as shown below (click thunbnails for larger images). The process I used is documented here.

Wikis in EducationCommunication behind the wikisSummary of my notes from #ucrccUsability session

One happy feature of an event like this is the shared note taking – notes were taken on the events Wikiversity pages (http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/University_of_Canberra/RCC_Canberra) and also in Twitter (link to hashtag archive for #ucrcc)

What came from the event for me?
1. I was able to start making decisions about our wiki solution for the Tasmanian Polytechnic. More here -
2. A recognition that the names Wikiversity/WikiEducator may actually be a barrier to teachers and students in our VET context or maybe not. This needs to be tested in student and teacher consultation.
3. Initial research suggests that an alternative to wiki pages is needed for student reflection/ journal type information for privacy, ownership and longevity.
4. A recognition that with the wiki work underway at the Poly we are actually a fair way down the path in terms of organisational approach, and there is much further we could go.
5. It would be useful to have a program on net safety and digital literacy that teachers could adopt and also be available to all learners. This is not just related to wikis, it is broader.
6. Participation in future events will be very useful as we move forward, and in terms of organisation it may be fairly simple to host a RCC event ourselves (plan for 2011?)
7. It reinforced the direction that we are taking with this year’s project, and that it is of strategic importance in relation to the development of learning activities and support materials that we adopt an open approach to facilitate collaboration.

Edit: Update links in post

Corralling gadgets and cables

Posted on August 14th, 2010 in Learning tech by Kirsty Tags: ,

Un-filled Gadget Corral

Measures 19 by 14 cms.
Made from regular elastic, cotton drill as the covering material under the elastic and on the back. Stiffness given to panel by a piece of  the plastic that comes at the bottom of reusable shopping bags. Just need to find an A4 sized piece somewhere for the larger version.

Home made gadget corralling panel

This little prototype holds a pocket video camera and desktop tripod, smartpen, cable, USB modem. The next one will be made of more resilient elastic, be larger, have more solid stitching around the edges for holding the thin elastic cords.

This one is a good everyday one for the handbag, gathers the iPod, cables, headphones, smartpen. Pushing it to take the video camera while traveling proved I need a larger one when I am out of the office for longer, or at an event when multiple recording gadgets are an advantage.

Graphic Recording on the iPad

Posted on August 14th, 2010 in Learning Resources,Polytechnic,Reporting and Reading by Kirsty Tags: , , , , ,

Various threads have led me down this path – I’ve always liked to draw on a whiteboard, doodle mindmaps with an array of fine textas, and do free form notes on graph or dotted paper. When equipped with a lined notebook and a pen the words stream out of the pen, it does help with retention more than just listening, however I find structured but not linear notes help me to structure my thoughts better, see connections and have more insights as I’m listening or participating.
Nancy White is an inspiration in this area of graphic recording and facilitation. I love colour, bringing ideas to life and highlighting and linking and drawing a sense of the process for a group. Being able to do this on paper is something I’ve toyed with. I’ve often used hand –drawn mindmaps to summarise, structure and tease out ideas. Mindmapping software is a bit of a hit and miss effort for me. Useful when I know a document will be coming out the other end, handy when I want to reorganise sections, possible to share and collaborate with others. So the software has its place.
When I got my iPad, I wondered about the possibilities for creation. The early criticism of the iPad, especially in the learning area was that it seemed more a tool for consumption than creation. What a challenge! So my early questions to myself were about how I could use it for creation and how that opened up use of iPads for learning.
Notetaking was an area I wanted to explore. Yes, text based notes are possible and functional, but what about mindmapping?
Then Rachel Smith and Visual Raccoon posted about graphic recording on the iPad and that got me going. Based on a number of comparative reviews I bought Sketchbook Pro, and tried a bunch of free apps as well.
Testing some tools

  • Adobe Ideas ($free) Nice tool, smooths lines so looks better when you zoom. Brush controls are harder to control than Sketchbook Pro. Free form drawing. Can’t type text in. Blank Canvas.
  • Popplet ($free for Lite version) Text, drawing and images in boxes that can be moved around, resized and linked to each other. More mindmap-like than others.
  • Sketchbook Pro ($9.99 AUD) Recommended by several reviews. Multiple (too many?) brush options, fine level colour controls, multiple layers, ability to import images, flexible output options.

I also tried, in no particular order:
AirSketch free, iBrainstorm, Stickyboard, Draw, Paperdesk LT, iPocketDraw, MindMash ,Idea Sketch, Iditia Free and some other ones I’ve since deleted. Some are better for different styles of recording than I’m talking about here.
My basis for comparison
What is important to me:

  • Ease of use including quick colour change and eraser tool access
  • Zooming in and out intuitively
  • Cost
  • VGA output option
  • Export options and formats

Preparation for Use
I knew I’d soon want to use this approach for a real event, so I tested out tools and got to know them through doing graphical records of TV shows and evening conversations around the house – low risk and I wouldn’t be annoyed if I accidently deleted the lot! Through this process I settled on Sketchbook Pro because of the zooming, layers and colour changing speed possible. So I ended up with some pretty random images but it was fun. I played around more with a visual note taking approach, more so than my traditional mindmap technique and appearance.
Real life Use
Recent Changes Camp came up in Canberra and that was it – my challenge to myself was to use the iPad for note taking.
What I discovered:

  • Found not typing/ writing with a pen shifted my focus from capturing words as such to capturing thoughts and ideas.
  • The freeform conversational approach of the unconference gave a starting point to the notes, and suited my default mindmap style. I reverted pretty quickly to my standard style – you could put my handwritten maps from months ago next to my iPad ones and they are definitely both mine!
  • When in a session where I talked a fair bit at the start I wanted to capture what was being said but graphic recording required too much brainpower to allow for talking. I relaxed when I reminded myself that other people were taking notes and I could access them later.
Usability session

Usability session

Wikis in Education

Wikis in Learning and Education

  • Use of colour and brush controls still requires conscious thought, much like picking up a different colour texta when starting a new subtopic.
  • I found I captured what was for me the right balance of quality and quantity of notes while still participating reasonably in the discussion.

After the event
After the formal sessions I wanted to pull some of the overarching thoughts and issues into a more graphic style than my mindmaps. I planned it out roughly on paper and searched for visual cues to suit the topics. Being able to colour in areas of the canvas on a layer to allocate space and arrangement, and then put my actual text and graphics on another layer meant I could end up with a well organised output. I simply deleted the ‘underlayer’ when I was done.
What I learnt:

  • I didn’t save often enough. Sketchbook Pro would crash occasionally and I couldn’t see a pattern as to why.
  • Learnt about the layer transform tool and how that could be used to manipulate or edit an image you’ve imported from elsewhere.
  • I would like to spend more time playing with the brush options
  • Practice of large lettering styles would add more visual interest and variation.
Summary of my notes from #ucrcc

Summary of my notes from #ucrcc

I love it!