Friday, January 13, 2012

eLearning Observations, Codeyear and Web Tools

As our teaching staff here begins to take advantage of the training and resources that we have in place for including, it has come to raise for me an important issue with regard to classroom observations. As part of Learning and Teaching QA, observations by the quality team are carried out at regular intervals. The thing is this; observers are looking for a number of activities and practices that should be taking place in a classroom particularly, learning, collaboration, engagement etc and as such these will be recorded with comments in an observation record, this then eventually finds it way into the staff appraisal process; a practice that I feel certain is pretty much standardised everywhere in teaching.

The question arises however, if and indeed when learning activities such as these take place beyond the class, as for instance as part of an eLearning experience, how are they going to be captured by observers? After all just as in the classroom scenario, they are indeed equal to not only in value but by the same token have been facilitated by that particular member of the teaching staff in the first instance! And so should we not also recognise this within a teaching observation profile. Well not surprisingly we decided to schedule a further, more by way of a heads up session, where I took the opportunity to show where and how observers could capture eLearning activities and participation, along with some examples of good practice from trials that I had run in the past. I am looking forward to seeing how we implement this particular consideration, and will certainly post our experiences. I do invite comments from anyone who has had the same issue arise.

Well I must say I did not imagine commenting in my blog that upon discovering my class had abandoned a programming exercise I had set, and were all fully immersed with some page on the Internet, that I would be happy, but I was. Over the previous weekend I had posted a forum message asking everyone to try-out the new Codeyear initiative. If you have not come across this yet, its basically an interactive introduction to computer programming. I must say it seems to have become just a little addicted at the moment for many of my students. I guess one ingredient of Codeyear that is missing in my own classes is the competitive aspect of point scoring. A couple of days after this I was covering a class of students currently taking one of our Networking courses, a course by the way that does not feature a programming module, and it was all received very well with one student completing the first set of tasks within the lesson timeframe, excellent. Si I recommend giving this one a try, though at the present time you will require either Firefox or Google Chrome browsers to run the service.

A couple of new stumble-upons for me this week have been with new sites, new to me anyway, that offer free services for producing web presentations

The first was Glogster, this is a free sign up, that allows you to create presentation poster style glogs as they are called, really mashups of music, photographs, videos, links. If you already subscribe to photo / video sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Picasa then you can connect to these also. Glogster tools include rotate, resize, image effects and animations. And if you are a serious social networker as I suspect you are to some degree, then a single click will publish your Glogs to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Tumbl. Worth a look

The next was Vuvox. The presentation styles here are created using three default toolsets of Express, Collage and Studio.

COLLAGE to quickly produce dynamic interactive panoramas with hot-spots.
STUDIO to build a personalized media presentation... and, place it in your COLLAGE.
EXPRESS to build presentations with dynamic content from RSS feeds and online albums.

Looking through examples they do present a new a refreshing approach and alternative to the more traditional presentations styles and approaches that we have become accustomed to using, and again I think you will find its worth looking this one over.

Be sure to stay in touch for future posts, regards Barry


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