Monday, November 22, 2010

Social Media Monopoly via Dan Martell

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pixelpipe HD

Pixelpipe HD - should be a cool app to use on the iPad for blog posts and status updates! Test post from the iPhone.

Pixelpipe HD

Pixelpipe HD should be a cool app to use on the iPad now for blog posts and status updates.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Boat Building Students - a milestone achieved

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Project Gran Turismo 5 - CAME Proposal (Game-based learning and Web 2.0)

Project Gran Turismo 5 (GT5) - CAME Semester 1, 2011

Proposal By:
Vickel Narayan
Academic Adviser (Learning Technologies),
Te Puna Ako
Phone: ext 7413


The CAME created waves around the institute and to some extent in other institutes in modeling effective pedagogy. It is also the first course at Unitec to successfully go through the rigorous Living Curriculum tick process. Institutionally the CAME has put Department of Automotive and the Faculty at the forefront of effective practice in learning and teaching and has set a model of others to learn from.

The CAME managed to successfully move from teacher-content to student generated-content, a process where students take ownership of their own learning and the teachers in the course playing the role of a facilitator. Feedback to students on their work in class became a critical feature in the learning process along with building relationships with students and encouraging the same between students. The course has had positive impact on student's learning (Narayan & Baglow, 2010) and hopefully the students will move on to achieve greater things as they begin their career. Even though there are a number of things happening in the CAME that is having a positive effect on the way students learn, there is still room for improvement. Herrington (2006) expresses the importance of authentic learning contexts in promoting higher student engagement, success and for creating an opportunity for students to explore a 'real world' situation over a sustained period of time to deliver a solution.

This proposal outlines how GT5 will be integrated in the course to create an experience for the students to learn from. The proposal also ensures CAME and the Faculty maintains the lead in innovative approaches to learning and teaching and continues to set a model for it's staff, other programmes and faculties to learn from.

About Gran Turismo 5

My Page user options

Figure 1.0 - My page on GT5

Tuning Shop - Customising the Car

Figure 2.0 - Tuning options in the game

Is a multi-player online gaming device however it's not just about racing:
  • Personal online message board to keep in touch with friends.
  • You can gift car parts to your friends.
  • You can take pictures and share it with your friends.
(As outlined in figure 1.0)
Dynamic weather hence gives a feel of how the vehicle behaves under different weather conditions (temperature, pressure, humidity).
Over 900 cars from different car manufacturers, all on HD with crisp clear picture and graphics.

Cars are customisable meaning one can build a car down-up
through the Tuning Shop (Pictures from the tuning shop: and This is how the game flows (Career Mode):

  • You start with 3,500 Cr (iPad version). This credit is used to by a car but before you can buy a car you keep to get a drivers licence to drive one in the game.
  • You race to gain extra credit.
  • Using this credit you can buy parts from the After Market Store (this ranges from tyres to pistons and suspension). This website shows the tuning options in GT5:
  • Next you take the car to a Diagnostics Centre to run tests on the customisations you have made. There are various tests you can perform for example: compression, torque, speed, variations in behavior under different conditions (Pressure, stress etc). After the test, make the changes as needed and
  • You take the car for a spin on the track.

Theoretical Underpinning

The most critical ingredient to students' succeeding at learning is motivation, 'a motivated learner can't be stopped' (Prensky, 2003. p. 1). Contrary to this well known fact and in this digital age, student learning still remains 'dry' (Eck, 2006; Prensky, 2003). This said there is a platform available for educators that achieves high level of engagement and motivation to utilise and can be found in almost all homes in some form: computer and video games. Prensky (2003) claims that students attitude towards computer/video games is totally opposite to what some of them have towards school. The attitude students have towards video/computers games in what is desperately needed in the schools: 'interest, competition, cooperation, results-oriented, actively seeking information and solutions' (p. 1).

Prensky (2001) suggests that games can facilitate as many as 36 vital and effective learning principles. These include instant feedback, decision making roles, a student could be punished by being given a tougher task if they failed (sets higher expectations, challenges hence becomes a motivational factor), engaging, lets the user experiment many ways to learn and allows flexibility to create different thoughts (Prensky, 2001).  Pivec et al. (2003) also suggest that games can create a collaborative learning environment. The use of multi-player gaming platforms allows users to exchange thoughts and ideas with other users who are interacting with the content simultaneously under shared circumstances. This takes collaboration to a new level where the level of critique and exploration of a concept or event is negotiated between individuals to create new understandings and meanings (Johnson et al., 2010). The New Horizon Report (2010) outlines number of case studies where game-based learning was successfully incorporated in the curriculum. Prensky (2001) states 5 affordances of video/computer games for students that renders it as a powerful learning platform: (1) engage (2) explore, (3) explain, (4) elaborate and (5) evaluate. These elements when mixed with the right pedagogy create an environment, which could be beneficial to both students and teachers (Eck, 2006; Prensky, 2001).

Design: GBL, Constructivism, Authentic Learning

"Knowledge is not passively accumulated: rather, it is a result of active cognising by the individual" (Doolittle, 1999. p. 6)

The table below outlines the relationship between the 3 (GBL, constructivism and authentic learning) and how GT5 and Web 2.0 tools bridge the two into an effective learning environment.

GT5 (Game-based learning)
Authentic Learning
The situations presented in the game are realistic scenarios a racing driver and his crew face. This also creates an urgency/relevance for future tasks/actions
learning context should be authentic and where possible should be real-world

the learning should have immediate relevance to the students
'real world' learning - the learning situation has immediate relevance to the way learning will be applied in real life
All digital games presents an ill defined problem but 'in-time' promotes are in place to guide them through the process
learning should be situated in a social environment to enable collaboration and sharing
learning activities are ill defined - one complex problem that the students can explore over a period of time
The diagnostics centre, teacher in class and because GT5 is an online gaming platform expertise from around the world is also available

students have access to expertise and the use/process is modeled
As a driver, owner, crew member, analyst. This enables a learner to bring any prior knowledge they may have into the current situation they are/could be facing.
the learning should take into account the learners prior knowledge and should build from it
learners are able to explore an issue from multiple perspective and through assuming different identities (roles)
Blogging/student portfolio, Google Buzz all situated within a student CoP - all geared towards building a student community - community of learners
should be student-centred - students given the ownership of their own learning
learning is situated in socio-cultural setting - students construct knowledge together through interaction each each other
Reflection and articulation is at the core of students blogging, learning activities designed also take this into consideration and feedback a regular event
formative assessments should be embedded within the course to create opportunity for the teacher to guide and lead the student into further learning.
Reflection and articulation is a critical element in the learning process
Scaffolds are built into almost all the games as an engagement factor, teachers in class as coach, and other resources on the web as guided by the teacher. Vickel Narayan as a technology steward and support in class for students/teacher, every week for 1-2hrs.
the teachers role in the process to be as a facilitator and not an instructor.

'Scaffolding and coaching' - support mechanisms are out in place to help the students through the process - digital resources, readings, teachers
ePortfolio - every activity and events within make up a post(s). An assessment rubric will be discussed/created with the students at the start of the course.
teachers to create an environment that nurtures student views and perspectives and allows students to deliver content in multiple formats (multimedia - pictures, videos, audio, storyboards etc).
Authentic assessment - embedded assessment - activities and assessments are not separate and distinct from each other rather they should implement each other
(Doolittle, 1999; Herrington, 2006; Lombardi, 2007)

Gran Turismo 5 allows students an opportunity to experience learning in an authentic context. The game will be embedded in the course which will allow students to learn basic car parts and the functions in a fun environment. The teachers in the course will have a set of questions to look at after each gaming session to reflect on. A possible learning scenario is presented below:

The class will be broken down into smaller groups of up to 4 students in each. (Groups maintained for the whole course.) The groups begin by having a gaming session to decide who is the best driver of them all. This exercise will  help build a team as in many cases students don't know each other and it takes a while to establish a relationship to get a team going. The person who wins the contest becomes the driver for the team and other members the pit crew. Learning activities here after are based on analysing the performance of the car and tweaking the parts for better performance on the race course. The diagrams below outline how the gaming aspect will be used in student learning and integrated in the curriculum.

Pedagogical Affordances of the Game

Figure 3.0 - Pedagogical affordances of the game

Figure 3.0 outlines the features of the game and further details in the diagram outline possible use in the course. The CAME students this year (2010) had to learn about parts and its functions by reading books, watching videos and through communal discussions however the students had very limited opportunity to explore the parts in an authentic context. GT5 will allow the students to explore various models of a part and put them through a number of diagnostics to determine the impart of certain variables on the performance of the car. Figure 2.0 shows a screen capture from the game of the tuning features available, in this case the engine block, piston and ECU. Other options are available for example the chassis, tyres, body (fibre and alloy), turbo charging, exhaust, etc. Figure 4.0 outlines the process each group and group members will have to go through after a session on the console. The teachers in the course will be heavily involved in the process providing guidance (feedback), setting up conditions and requirements for the activity and observing the activities for expected deliverables. The reflective blog posts will add towards the student portfolio as an assessed activity.

Embedding it in the course - It's not just about gaming

Figure 4.0 - Use with Web 2.0 tools to enhance students learning.


The use of technology in learning and technology is only effective if it is underpinned by effective pedagogy and careful planning for embedding it within the curriculum is done (Johnson et al., 2010; Prensky, 2003). Prensky (2001) floated the concept of what he called digital natives (born after 1980) and digital immigrates (born before 19980). From the data collected this year, majority of students in CAME could be categorised as digital natives and according to Prensky digital natives are attracted to technology as a metal is to a magnet. This was apparent with technology used in the course this year, again the data collected from the students indicated that they were happy with the use of etools in the course (Narayan & Baglow, 2010). The indications are that the students enrolling in the CAME and many entry level courses here at Unitec will be getting younger every year with different expectations of how learning should be (Horizon, 2010).

Literacy and numeracy is still an area that needs attention, while literacy is being looked at GT5 can help with the numeracy issues. The diagnostics students can run in GT5 requires them to gain an understanding of what the numbers mean and how they arrive at the result. This requires them to gain an understanding of the process and the method, the motivation in the process is to get the best performance from the car they have customised when it comes race day against other groups and win. This when combined with blogs allows the teacher to identify and help the students/group where needed, this could even happen at an early stage. GT5 creates an opportunity for students and teachers alike to tackle numeracy issues which under normal circumstances would go undetected.

Also keeping in mind future plans CAME has of moving into schools this pilot project will help make a difference in the lives of many students who drop out of the school system by engaging the students in a fun but effective learning environment. This project will also create an opportunity of the CAT students to be involved and hopefully will get the staff teaching excited to try out new and informed methods of teaching.


Doolittle, P. E. (1999). Constructivism and Online Education Retrieved January, 2007, from
Eck, R. V. (2006). Digital Game-Based learning: it's not just the digital natives who are restless. EDUCAUSE, 41(2).
Herrington, J. (2006). Authentic e-learning in higher education: Design principles for authentic learning environments and tasks. Paper presented at the E-Learning Conference.
Johnson, L., Levine, L., Smith, R., & Stone, S. (2010). The 2010 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Lombardi, M. M. (2007). Authentic learning for the 21st century: an overview: EDUCAUSE.
Pivec, M., Dziabenko, O., & Schinnerl, I. (2003). Aspects of game-based learning. MIS Quarterly, 3(1).
Prensky, M. (2003). Digital game-based learning. ACM Portal, 1(1).
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital game-based learning. New Yorke: McGraw-Hill.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 6.
Narayan, V., & Baglow, L. (2010). New beginnings: Facilitating effective learning through the use of Web 2.0 tools. In C. Steel, M.J. Keppell & P. Gerbic, Curriculum, technology & transformation for an unknown future. Proceedings ascilite Sydney 2010.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Boat Building - Small Craft Build

Test post

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Boating Building - Student showing me how to find the Centre Line

Students are doing similar things on their portfolios. I'll be posting links to their portfolios later-on.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Test post from my iPhone using seesmic and hope this works. I have added almost all my web 2 accounts possible to seesmic to test if it will update all or just some. I am intentionally typing to go beyond 140 characters let's see if it will update twitter or just my blogs - blogger and typepad .... I should be over 140 characters by now so here it goes.... Also attaching a picture .... To teat the limitation.... Here it goes ok uploading picture failed!!!!! I wonder why something wrong with tweetpic?

Friday, August 27, 2010

iPad - iCommunicate, iCreate, iShare and iLearn?


Students in the Civil Engineering course have to buy a calculate worth some where around $400NZ. The calculator has very limited use in class, basically calculations and programming only. The course itself is very hands-on. Students meet once in a week for a 4 hour lecture followed up by a practical session using the equipments for surveying and many calculations that follow later.  In the practical session the students record data they would have taken using these equipments and is later used for calculating 'things' (sorry I have no knowledge of surveying hence wouldn't pretend to know what they calculate from the data collected) needed from it. Data is recorded on a sheet of paper and is later (when the students have returned back to the classroom) checked by the teacher. The reason why it couldn't be checked out in the field is, students are not at the same location they could be few hundred meters apart doing their own bit in groups. This creates a few problems for the students and teacher alike:
  1. teacher is unable to give feedback or check for accuracy. This is only possible after the students are back in classroom. The students miss out on being able to correct their mistake and take readings and data again.
  2. Because data is recorded on a sheet of paper it limits what calculations could be done out in the field.
  3. other problems not relation to practical sessions:
  • the 4 hour lecture. I did a quick survey in class with the students and they admitted that they find the 4 hour lecture overwhelming and boring. The staff teaching the course reflecting on his 4 hour session stated standing in-front of the class talking and going through PowerPoint presentations and pdf's to deliver the required knowledge to the students.
  • 'Learning' and 'assessment' are seen as two distinctively separate process. Learning is where the teacher is in-charge - talking and explaining and lecturing most of the time (Teacher - active, students - passive participants). Assessment, students are expected to recall and regurgitate the knowledge 'learnt'.
The iPad .....

iPad was designed primarily as a 'consumption' device- watching videos, pictures, reading book, browsing the net and as a portable gaming unit. The apps designed for it available on the App store however take this even further. It potentially turns it into a portable computer that not only allows content to be received but can engage the user into creating it too. Some key elements not available on the iPad however make it a bit difficult, for example:
  • lack of a camera (no photos or videos)
  • iPad runs a mini or lite version of a browser Safari and now many other available on the App store. This creates a problem for using applications like Google Apps and other -  they need a full browser to function properly. We can however overcome these limitations by using Apps from the App store, like Documents on the go,  Documents 2, Connect - these apps allow you to connect to cloud platforms like Google, download the documents edit and sync it back. Some even allow you to create a document on the iPad itself and can later be uploaded to a cloud storage. Blogging that is a crucial tool we use in our course. However again because iPad doesn't have a full browser blogging is made difficult and the lack of a proper blogging app on the store compounds the issue. We can do email blogging but this means we'll be restricted to text only. Other digital artifacts like pictures and videos are critical elements when blogging to engage students in cognitive processes.
Vox has been the best blogging platform for use in class, well at least for me, Blogger is close but not as good. However Blogger is flexible when it comes to blogging on the iPad unlike Vox. It gives you a HTML compose window and throws an error message when you try to change to WYSIWYG saying "the browser you are using is not supported."

What we are doing with it?

16 Civil Engineering students and 2 staff teaching the course received an iPad (Wifi version 16 Gig) each for use this semester.

The concept map on the left outlines few tools we'll be using in the course. Others tools will be added as needed. m48 is an App that can be downloaded for free from the App store. This is the same calculator students buy for around $400NZ.

Documents 2 is a free App again from the App store that allows the user to create/download documents from Google docs to edit, this can be sync'ed back to Google Docs. Students setup a Blogger account for use in the course. My experience with Blogger has been: it's hard to create or get the student community going hence Google Buzz will be use to and an auto-feed will be activated meaning every time the student make a post on their blog a message will be posted on Buzz hence all the students can see and participate*. The teacher can also use it to initiate discussions and to engage the students. To make things simple Google Mobile App for iPad will be used, this adds a short cut on the iPad making access easier. Buzz Buzz is another app that can be used to access and post to Google Buzz only.

So what do these Apps do?

Let's call it Web Surfing 2.0  - the old way was browsing the net using a web browser, FireFox, Internet explorer, Opera, Safari etc. The browser was the portable to accessing information. Apps on the App store for the iPhone do the same but each service have there own version and with customisable options. You select the services you want delivered when you open the application on your iOS device. It has a more personal touch to what a browser can deliver. NZ Herald have an app for the iPad, TVNZ also have an app for portable Apple products. Will this change the way we have browsed the web since its invention, only time will tell. Portable devices have replaced desktop and laptops as the leader when it comes to accessing the web according to recent research done in USA.

Given the limitation of the browse on the iPad and other portable Apple products these apps allow the user more capabilities, for example Google Docs doesn't function properly using iOS version of Safari but other Apps like Documents on the Go, Connect etc allow you to edit and create documents. Similarly blogging has always been seen as a primarily web based event because of browser capabilities on the iPad, blogging using the browse is not possible hence Apps like iBlog, Blogit, TypePad etc enables the user to perform these actions. Moblogging (Mobile blogging) is also gaining momentum, you compose a message and flick it to your unique Moblogging email address and your blogging platform does the rest. Portable Mobile devices are changing the way we have done things, enhancing the experience and delivering a more personalised experience.

In the project above we have selected Douments 2 for accessing Documents hosted on Google so enables the user to upload to Google from iPad. Documents 2 delivers functions like font formating (bold, italics, underline etc) and basic calculations while using Spreadsheet.

Buzz Buzz is an app for buzzing - service similar to Twitter - Google version of it. It takes Twitter a step further by allowing users to share pictures, videos, links etc and it is treated as a conversation unlike Twitter which treats every post as an individual blurb. Connecting Blogger to Buzz will automatically posts updates on Buzz hence people following you can quickly see what you been up to, for students it makes a huge difference - collaborative learning.

The aim of this project is:
  1. Does the iPad provide any additional value to students in Civil engineering course?
  2. To explore its affordance for use in a student-centred learning environment.

More updates from the project to follow.

Reflections from the Lecturer

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Future of Computing and Learning ...iPad,iPhone - iDock

The problem

Okay so in brief this is the story ...... I have an iPhone, iPad, a Netbook (Dell mini 9), MacBook Pro and and Mac Mini would ask where do I use all this technology and what for:

  1. iPhone - almost everytime, probably the best investment of all the technology
  2. iPad - in meetings and as an entertainment unit
  3. Netbook - sometimes use it, haven't used it for a while now .... but are handy in conferences due ti its portability
  4. MacBook Pro - @ work and home when I need something decent to work on
  5. Mac mini - well again use it only when I feel I don't need to use the MacBook pro ......have to start it up, connect to power ........ Mac mini is always convenient, just jump on and get started....
So where does the iDock concept fit in the already long list of things at home and work?

Well the iDock is to solve the problem. The new iPhone 4 comes with a A4 processor (1GHz speed), 512MB RAM ...... well if this is the way than future phones will be much faster with bigger RAM meaning almost as powerful as a normal desktop or a laptop or even faster ...... let's put it this way, there is more potential .... the number of apps on Apple store for iPhone is growing at an exponential rate ... not just growing but growing with more features enabling the ability to do more on a cellphone. For example things possible on an iPhone: editing Videos, Audio, Pictures, Edit/Create Documents (excel, ppt, word an more), eMails, web browsing, entertainment (high end graphics better than same desktop and laptop games, geo-tagging, and more)

The iPhone (or other smartphones) will have the capability to perform complex and big tasks almost the same as a computer ...... the iDock concept does what a docking station for a laptop does .... provides more power and ability such as USB ports, monitor out, printer port etc. The iDock will do the same and in doing so convert the iPhone into a desktop computer .... better, it allows the user to carry important documents and data on the phone and still have to power to do anything at anytime...... the iDock will provide a DVD drive, USB, Firewire and monitor out this of-course depends on Apple and other smartphone manufacturers to open the platform and upgrade the hardware in future handsets to allow these capabilities ...... it's not that we don't have the technology or ability it's more that we need time and perhaps vision from leading phone manufacturers to take this further.

How it will work?

Dock your iPhone on the iDock and away you go. Plug in the peripheral devices you use for example, USB keyboard, an external monitor and perhaps an external harddrive. The iDock is a dumb unit (meaning it has no operating system), the iPhone and the apps on the iPhone is the main unit. Although the iDock may have RAM and a processor to ease the load on the iPhone processor, it is to 'enhance' the ability on the iPhone. The apps on the iPhone are like apps you have on a desktop or laptop.

The way things are moving at the moment, you wouldn't really need a huge processor to perform your tasks. Cloud computing is growing at the same rate as the smartphones are growing in power and ability perhaps leveraging off each others success and complementing each others strengths and weaknesses.

What is the future than?

The future is cloud computing and in mobile technology like smartphones. Ubiquitous computing - being everywhere and having the power of a computer and more in your hand.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Autotronics Project Semester 2

Outline of the course this semester.
This is the concept map for a project with semester 2 (2010) Autotronics students.

Again the first step for this project was working with the staff teaching this course (Community of Practice), unfortunately staff teaching the students in the first semester is still a long way off and needs sometime to reflect and to take in the transition from transmission to student-centredness. We have hence inherited some problems that I'll discuss later.

This would be my second project where I have established a CoP to work on pedagogy, facilitation and assessment at the same time looking at how we can use learning technology to enhance student experience and learning.

Reflections on the CoP

The beginnings

The first get-together is always hard on everyone especially for staff who are coming in not sure what to expect and importantly what degree of openness would be required. I approach this carefully hence an informal location and a cup of coffee puts everyone at ease (thanks @thomcochrane for the idea). Next getting a touch on what people feel about use of technology in class and what they think is good or bad about it. This normally creates a space for me to talk about other projects and discuss the similarities and what the outcomes were. I have so far found after the first gathering that you are likely to get a couple who are really interested and hence go away looking for more information and case studies. These people in my experience have come the conveners (people who work within a CoP to keep others informed and enthused). These people in my experience have played an important role in keeping the CoP afloat. I have reflected on this and the reason why this happens is: 1. these people are already are a member of the CoP that has existed for a while hence I am considered an "outsider", and 2. these people already have a relationship with others in the CoP while I am still establishing myself. Working with staff in a faculty or a department it is important to recognise these people and work along side them while you are still establishing a relationship and identity. Spiky profile of staff is a major challenge, some staff are early adapters and are willing to give a go while others need more time to digest what we had discussed. Again it is important to allow time for this to happen, it is an important stage of the process.

What follows
Revisting Pedagogy

In my experience discussing teaching practice has been a very sensitive issue. For some in the CoP the practice could be years long and hence you have to be very careful how you approach this. I have faced some real resistance from staff and some even choose to leave the CoP. I have found discussing a 'new approach' in my case social constructivism creates an atmosphere for people without realising to open up. Mostly the questions are either inquisitive or defensive of whatever their current practice maybe. There are always those who choose to sit back and listen to what is being said again there is nothing wrong with this. So without pointing a finger at anyone or without asking for someone to openly discuss their teaching practice we have created a surrounding where people reflect on their practice voluntarily. This in the following meetings materialise into questions leading into discussions and case studies of others in the CoP to learn from or add to with their own experience.

Having an online presence for the CoP is not critical at this stage but I have found it to be beneficial. Staff who are on-board by now start to use the space to post constructive comments, useful questions, case studies to backup what we would have discussed on the other hand it also gives members who wouldn't normally engage in discussion to open up. At times discussion could continue online after the meeting had concluded. I am very aware of the fears people have especially when it comes to technology hence at this stage having an online presence is beneficial hence making participation voluntary works best. The priority at this stage is to discuss and lay a foundation to build upon. To get the staff to reflect on their practice and identify areas they could improve upon at the same time raising awareness on advantages of social constructivism as most staff I have encounted predominately teach in a transmission mode - delivery of  knowledge from the teacher to student.

Designing courses for collaborative learning

Remember all this happens in the CoP over several meetings in formal and informal spaces as required.

In my experience achieving the change in mindset from traditional teaching methods to constructivism has taken somewhere between 9 months to 1 year. You'll have some staff who make this shift in a few weeks or in a matter of few months but for a majority in my case it took them 9 months to 1year. I didn't collect any data especially age but knowing the members in the CoP's I have been involved in, staff over the age of 40 have taken a longer time to achieve this change. However there were few in the same age group who took few months. I found the main difference between the members in this age group and those who made the change quicker to be their attitude - willingness to change and try something different.

Once we have achieved the change in pedagogy it is time for planning, what will be done in class. Over the projects I was involved in last semester, I have come up with this sheet to help staff plan for the lessons.

When we talk about student-centred learning we are somewhat limited to what degree we can involve students in the process. Most courses offered at tertiary institutes outline the learning outcomes hence we have to walk with this limitation to design a student-centred environment or learning experience. The course design framework takes this limitation and provides the staff teaching a way to create an engaging, student-centred learning experience. The design framework is based to Laurillard's conversational model for learning.

The course design framework discussed above is a "Scaffolded approach" to student-centred learning. Critiques of student-centred learning say that students enrolling to master a discipline may not have any experience or may have some but not relevant. Hence students are not in a position to know where to start from and are unable to create a context for themselves for learn from.

Scaffolded Student-Centred Learning

Figure 1: Three phase Scaffolded student-centred learning
Figure 1:
Key: T = Teacher involvement, SC - Student Community, PLN - Personal Learning Networks

Phase 1: Teacher plays a critical role in setting the scene. S/He designs learning blocks per each learning outcome or could be just one. Teacher directs the learning but ensures students are actively involved. The focus in this phase is establishing a students community and on engaging student with creating content - Teacher designs questions that provides direction to the students on what content to create. This could be individual or group activity. Students are encouraged to give peer feedback on the student community (individual blogs). There is very little or no context.

Phase 2: The the end of phase 1 students are (1) familiar with the tools, (2) have acquired skills needed (digital), (3) now have the base knowledge which they can build upon, (4) recognise the importance of students community and collaborative learning and (5) begin building their critical thinking skills. This provides them and puts them in a position to now start negotiating the learning context. They could collaborate with the teacher in creating one for themself or a group could negotiate one for themselves. At this stage and would probably happen in the first phase implicitly students would start developing their own learning environment and learning network. The focus for students stays with the student community but the PLN becomes a source of knowledge.

Phase 3: At this stage students are entirely in the driving seat and hence a true student-centred learning emerges. The teacher is there as a guide, student community and the PLN take a greater part in the students learning.

Use of Learning Technologies

So far we have talked about pedagogy and facilitation, we haven't seen where technology fits into the puzzle. As the students progress through the scaffolded continuum, technology plays an important role in keeping the learners and teacher connected. It also plays a part in bridging the gap between learning and context as context is not always in the classroom or other formal learning spaces. Technology for collaboration, creation and communication. Use of technology in phases 1 and 2 is determined by the teacher however the use of tools in phase 3 is determined by the student.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Education vs Creativity

Models for Reflection - ePortfolios

Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle (Read the original post)

  1. Description - What happened?
  2. Feelings - What were you thinking and feeling?
  3. Evaluate - What were the positives and negative of the experience?
  4. Analysis - What did you understand/learn from the experience?
  5. Conclusion - What else could you have done?
  6. Action Plan - if it happens again, what would you do differently?
(Picture source:

Peter Pappas' Taxonomy of Reflection (Read the original post)

Very closely aligned with Bloom's Taxonomy.
  1. Remembering
  2. Understanding
  3. Applying
  4. Analysing
  5. Evaluating
  6. Creating
(Picture source:

The iPad ..... Finally

Blogging from the iPad Wifi: 

Now that I have an iPad, I can finally have a play. Here is my initial reaction, typing on the notebook app:

"First play with the iPad ..... Testing the keyboard ..... Awesome love it love it" ..... just a suggestion please don't try to use your thumb to type .... turn the iPad around to landscape mode this will give you a bigger and better virtual keyboard to type.

Ok now to some serious stuff:

It is good to know that the iPad has thousands of apps already on the store and I am sure many are on the way but surely you wouldn't have an app for every possible case, at some point you'll have to use the web and for that you'll need a browser. It's not that the iPad doesn't have a browse, the problem is it's not the full version. Safari for the iPad and iPhone has limited capability to that you use on your computer, this causes a few problems.

I tried to format some topics in this blog post on the iPad, I wasn't able to this because of limited java support. I tried running Google documents ... again Google popped up a message saying the browser you are using doesn't not support full capability.

The lack of a camera combined with the limitations discussed above, iPad will be a nightmare to use with students for learning. For students to blog they'll need to download a blogger app, this may cost money, no camera means they'll have to use something else ...... just makes a simple process for students so much harder and painful. Ubiquitous learning yes but could be limited to transmission only ...... careful planning and choice of tools is recommended if you were thinking of using an iPad with your students.

Gaming front:

Enjoyed a short game .... loved the experience. I think I'll now sell my Xbox ....don't have time to play it and when I do, I don't have the Xbox anywhere near me .... I guess an iPhone and having an iPad makes total sense.

One month later ......

I bought an iPad 3G in Singapore and have been using it for sometime now. Most of the free apps I was using on my iPhone cost money to use on the iPad :-(. This may change when iPads are available globally ....... my frustration still reminds with the limited browser capability on the iPad. I downloaded some paid apps that allows me to work around the limitations mainly being able to create/edit Google docs on the iPad. This however is a concern if we required students to use it. The 3G model gives me ability to run navigation apps. I found some apps I installed in Singapore really useful for moving around the city.

Here is a list of some apps I have on my iPad at the moment:
  1. Mobile Maps by Sygic (New Zealand and Australia) (Paid) - Turn-by-turn Navigation app that I paid for for use on my iPhone, works fine on the iPad.Having a bigger screen is really cool.
  2. Tumblr (Free) - blogging/note taking app
  3. Evernote (Free) - blogging, note taking and more
  4. IM+ Lite (Free) - messaging
  5. Tweetdeck (Free) - Keep in touch with your Tweeps.
  6. Quickoffice (Paid) - gives you ability to create/edit documents and sync it with Google and others.
  7. FeeddlerRSS (Free) - access your RSS feeds from Google Reader
  8. GoodReader (Paid) - file management with VGA out
  9. Expedition (Paid) - Web browsing with VGA out
  10. HelloTXT (Free) -  aggregate your social sites in one place, you can update your status or post to your blog from one place. It supports upto 52 social networking sites this includes Blogger, Twitter, Buzz, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Facebook and others
  11. RunKeeper (Free) - trace where you are going. I downloaded this app for my iPhone but my use has been different. This app keeps a record for how far you have ran, speed and traces your route in real-time. I have used this app to walk around new places ..... being able to see whether you are heading in the right direction makes a difference.
  12. Acrossair (Free) - augmented reality app designed for use on iPhone. The iPad has now camera but this app still functions minus the camera view ofcourse ..... found it useful on my recent trip to Singapore and Malaysia. I used it multiple times to find restaurants, and other POI.
  13. N.O.V.A (Paid) - You gotta have fun!!! I downloaded this for play on my iPhone and found the graphics to not too bad on the iPad.
  14. AccuWeather (Free) -  best free weather app for the iPad.
  15. Google (Free)
  16. QuickVoice (Free) - Pro version allows longer record time.
  17. Facebook (Free) -  using the iPhone version since there is none available for the iPad.
  18. AudioLite (Free) - write (free hand or type) record and sync with the text, you can also share via email, Pro version allows other options! Lite version allows upto 20 minutes of record time.
  19. Kindle (Free)
  20. Wikipanion (Free) - wiki search made easy.
  21. Google Earth (Free)
  22. Remote (Free) - control your iTunes music from your iPad, iPhone or iPod.
  23. Tunes Remote (Paid) - control the music on your iPad, iPhone or iPod. So your are playing music from your iPhone now you need an app to control the music from another portable device like the iPad or iPod, this is the app.
  24. Documents 2 (Free) - access your docs on Google, create or edit.
  25. Quick Graph (Free) - graphs for mathematical equations.
  26. Atomic Lite (Free) - multi-tabbed browsing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Motivators in Learning - Great Youtube Video

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Curatr Review

Curatr - Review

I have had sometime (maybe 1 hour) to play with much talked about Curatr ..... first impressions:

1. The so called Gaming Aspect of Curatr. 

It works by collating scores whenever you view a resource and either you like or dislike it (Yes, it's mandatory, you can't move to the next lesson unless you have done this!). I was quite disappointed to find out how scoring worked (I could be wrong).

2. No place for feed on an activity

I have been through a few resources on the account I was given and I couldn't see any place to leave a feedback or to comment on existing content.

3. Content driven - driven both by the teacher and students

Curatr is unfortunately content driven and is limited to Websites, Youtube, Text box (it didn't work for me), Pictures and Audio. This of course assumes that you have created the content before hand and uploaded it to appropriate platform for use. Curatr however allows peers to create or lets say collate contents to help others in class.

4. Difficult user interface

I initially found the user interface difficult to use. I couldn't make out where I was going and what I was meant to be doing or looking at first.

Where's the Pedagogy?

The burning question, what was the pedagogical underpinning for Curatr? You couldn't really say social constructivist .... maybe a beginnings of something bigger to come? The only bit I would say that would very least be called social was creating or collating resources that you found useful for others in class to use. Curatr allows you to create a profile but again it is very basic and you can't see the profiles of others in class. There is very little opportunity to network with other learners in class to discuss collectively and create new meaning and knowledge.

I was left asking .... it is a portal? Is it a basic social bookmarking tool .... I am still a bit confused. It seems the only thing you can do is create a portable (works on iPhone) collection of different digital artifacts that may help you in your learning or peers in some way.

Mobile Front - Comparing to Evernote

Yes Curatr has an iPhone app, so does Evernote. If I was to compare these two applications and it's suitability in learning and teaching, I'd say Evernote would be my choice. The difference I am talking about is huge.

  1. Teacher vs Student content (Curatr allows students to collect content not necessarily their own)
  2. Networking opportunities between the two apps is again a problem. Curatr - hardly any evidence. Evernote - and online profile viewable by others.
  3. mLearning - even though Curatr has an iPhone app, it hardly uses the powerful features the iPhone is equipped with. Evernote on the other hand allows - on spot - audio capture, picture, video and text. Evernote empowers the students, enables them to create content and hence their own meaning from it. It enables students to share with each other what they have done and build collective understanding at the same time supporting each other.
I was expecting more from Curatr. The promotion video and hype that surrounded Curatr before launch of beta painted a totally different picture in my head to what was delivered. The claims around game based learning and the inclusion of what makes games so appealing didn't really work for me. It is not still about scores when playing a game but the challenge that comes your way, constant feedback and helpful hints that pop-up every now and then, creating that safe competitive environment where you can do a single player or a team play, having the ability to choose the level of difficulty to begin playing, the audio, visuals and constant connectedness with your team members (audio and chat if playing multiplayer online game), strategising, immersive environment and finally clever scoring.

Automotive CoP - eLcc's running the show

Today I was invited to a CoP get together that my eLcc's (eLearning Community Coordinators) had organised.

I in a prior conversation I had told my eLcc's that I will come and sit somewhere in the corner and would only observe the session. I wanted the eLcc's to take control and to drive the community. I am not a member of the Automotive department hence I didn't want to intrude on the staff in the department.

I have to say I found it very difficult not to get involved in the discussions. I however had to get involved in some discussions and when some questions where directed at me. For example, I was put on spot when someone asked me what the acronym URL stood for ....... to buy sometime while I Googled the answer .... I yelled out let me Google it. I guess it played to the moment and to say that none of us were experts. (URL - Uniform Resource Locator)

I am slowly getting to know the staff in the department and understanding what their believes are. The session the eLcc's facilitated yesterday was to get the members in the room and to talk about issues and fears around eLearning. Chris had put a Fear Wall in the room and he started by putting his own: Too quick ... things were just moving very fast and Chris feared that he may not be able to cope with it. Scott on the other hand was showing the DTT (Department of Transport technology) online Community space and explaining the purpose. Scott tried to demo the forum and it wasn't working properly. Someone in the room suggested that Scott try Firefox. This person also shared with all in the room his experience with FF and Internet Explorer. I guess one thing we achieved yesterday for certain was the move away from IE and into FF. I really enjoyed this discussion because it had true characteristics of a CoP.

One member in this department shared the Moodle resource he had created for his students. The teaching staff are now interested in having a look at it and evaluating if it will help them with using Moodle.

Chris shared how his students were using the Flip Camera in Boat  Building. It was surprising to see how many staff were interested in knowing more about it while few in the room where clearly wondering how or what difference it would make for their students.

Youtube was a major topic .... mainly the copyright issues. I had to sum it up "If it's yours, upload. If you are not the creator/owner, don't." The discussion moved to eLearning. Many in the room were suggesting Moodle was eLearning and that uploading documents and videos was enough. I was hoping someone would just yell out, eLearning is NOT Moodle and just uploading content is not enough, luckily Chris did. He corrected that eLearning not just Moodle and most innovative/creative learning and teaching actually happens out of Moodle in the Cloud (Web 2). Chris showed them what you had done with his students and the use of portfolios - Blogging.

Google came up and the information available if you searched for something, some questions: how do you make out if the information is correct? How to do know if its authentic, Too much information, information overload. I had to chip in: Google is a great place to start looking and for gathering opinion. If you are looking for authentic data that is verified and critiqued then our Library offers Online Journal databases. The information available on these DB's are peer review and verified. If you require your students to present correct, up-to-date information, you would probably direct them to seek information from these DB's. This itself could be a huge topic of discussion, academic skills and writing.

Something that came through explicitly in the gather together yesterday was the different needs staff in the department have mainly learning styles. The 'Little Book' came up -  a notebook (book and pen not the Netbook PC) most staff curry with them to note important details and they frequently refer to the information they would have written down. Some comments: 1) workshops are organised and the presenters come in and show them how and what but don't provide any hard copy resources they can keep for later use (problem remembering things) and 2) they present too fast. I was dragged into this discussion, I and few others in the room suggested that you have to speak up and let the presenter know that he/she was going too fast. I suggested that if they don't provide you with the printouts, you can create your own by simply noting down the important points in your notebook. You can then circulate this between other staff members and expand it. I could have gone on to suggest doing it online but this I felt wasn't the right time .... maybe at a later stage when people have come to grips with Moodle, some Web 2 tools and the Internet.

The session concluded with a challenge for the staff present: create a Google Account and have a play for our next meet.

Another update soon.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

GDHE Re-design

Over the last few months Thom Cochrane and I have been busy re-designing a Unitec course Technologies for Social Learning.

Course aim: To explore the implications of new and emerging learning technologies to enhance student learning and own pedagogical practice.

What the course is all about (Prezi presentation below).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Qik - Mobile video by Vickel Narayan

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Teaching and Web 2.0

This is a test blog post .... testing Vox and Blogger crossposting.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Moodle4iPhone project some thoughts


Julian Ridden demoed a web based Moodle site for iPhone, they have called it Moodle4iPhone Project. It's not just all about iPhone, they have one for Android phone as well.

What I was expecting from the session.

Well I was expecting to see an iPhone platform that takes Moodle into mLearning territory. Unfortunately Moodle4iPhone is replicating all what Moodle on a computer would do. What I really found disappointing was the start of the session where the presented stated mobile phones are for assessing content and information. It was as if the only purpose mobiles could be used for was for transmitting content to students who are sitting idol somewhere doing nothing :-(

Delivering content to students who are some where out there doing nothing is a good idea but can we call it learning? For me learning is a result of someones experience and the experience will result in user generated content. Moodle4iPhone offers features that are present on Moodle like forum (you can reply to the forum) and almost all activity that can be found on a standard Moodle install.

What's missing from Moodle4iPhone

I still think this is a opportunity lost if we are just trying to re-create something that is doable on Moodle through the computer. To make Moodle a true mLearning system we need to leverage on things that are offered to us while using a mobile phone rather than just seeing it as a delivery tool. Things like geotagging, video, pictures and audio now offer users to create rich content at a touch. Why not use these to allow students on Moodle to create and share their experience with their network. We have to remember that learning doesn't happen in classrooms only, it's about capturing these moments and mobile phones make it easy. There is a touch of authenticity to a persons learning experience. The term Ubiquitous learners comes about whenever we talk about eLearning, the ability to capture a thought or take a snapshot of something interesting is a part of learning.

In my opinion Moodle4iPhone totally misses the strength of mLearning altogether. It renders itself to a teacher driven learning environment.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

ePortfolio sessions

This week I have had 2 ePortfolio sessions with 2 different group of students. One group with a good age mix and another with students arranging from 16-24 year old with a couple probably in the 30s.

About the session:

Well the sessions went well. I always begin by saying use of portfolio in education is not new. It gives the students a sense of believe that what they'll be doing in the session and later in the course is not new. I normally follow this with a question, how did it use to be done. The answer mostly is on paper. I follow this up with, so what problems arise from doing things on paper? Students are normally quick to point out that things begin a nightmare to manage, forget about sharing and collaborate. Now that the students themselves have identified the problem I introduce the E.

Throwing in the mix Facebook, Bebo, Myspace and Youtube helps and also pointing to students who have profiles on any of these systems that they already have a portfolio.  Facebook, Bebo, Myspace and Youtube could be classified as a SOCIAL Portfolio. ePortofolio - e meaning electronic or going digital. Asking the students now to identify the benefits works wonders. In the two sessions I did this week, students in both sessions identified the ability to share, communicate, collaborate and co-create is vastly increased in an online environment. The concept of leaving feedback on Facebook or Myspace and Youtube is not very different to what the students will be needed to do in their course portfolio. Having discussed this and pointing out that your Facebook portfolio is SOCIAL and what is needed in the course is a PROFESSIONAL portfolio seems to help students understand the concept better.

I like to start talking about ePortfolios by asking students to explain this diagram that was done by my former colleague Hazel Owen.
The diagram outlines three very important elements of an ePortfolio, audience, the stage and back-stage. Knowing who you are developing the portfolio for helps you with the content and also helps you keep the portfolio focused. Students identify their two main audience as teachers and potential employers. The stage I find to be very interesting especially if you have teachers in class. The stage is where you are performing and this rises a very interesting question, who is the performer, the teacher or student? The obvious answer is student, it has to be if he/she is expected to talk about it in the portfolio. But if the teacher takes the centre stage in learning everyday, how can you expect the students to hand-in a good portfolio. An eportfolio for assessment in learning only works if students are handed a fair chance to create its own experience on the stage hence creating a event to reflect on. The content becomes the back-stage, what the student did to prepare for it, planning, time management, documentation, reading, writing and research all spiced up by reflecting on the performance on the stage.

After I have established this platform, I take the students through this plan. The session follows, what an eportfolio is, why create one, getting started and finally posting the first blog to get over any initial fears. We are using Blogger as the platform for students to create their portfolio. The choice to go with Blogger was because it makes managing the content easier since it hookers up with Picasa, Youtube and Google Docs very easily. Students are asked to create a Google account first and in the session I take them through Gmail (Video and Voice chat), Documents, Youtube, and Calender. This combination of tools makes Google a very tempting choice. There is not a huge learning curve for the students to get started with most of Google tools.

Now back to the two groups of students I mentioned earlier in the post. I found the students in the class of age group 16-25 years very open to the idea of ePortfolios, whereas the older students out right commented 'Why would I waste my time'. I don't believe in comments like age is a factor in using technology for learning. I believe it is a persons attitude or fear that is holding them back. In the session at regular intervals I run polls and surveys to assure unwilling students in class that you are not alone in this journey. The lecturer and the number is willing students are always available for help, all you have to do is ask. I also at this stage open the room up for discussion and encourage the willing students and persuade and assure the unwilling students why they think eportfolio is the way to go. I found it valuable to get a discussion going amongst students to help them help each other.

Follow up sessions with these students are planned.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Technology and Literacy

The use of technology in learning is increasing and it will grow to be an important tool for the students. Not to say it is not at the moment. Some schools have really embraced learning technologies and really see it as the tool to improve learning. It is no different at Unitec, New Zealand. The eLearning strategy that is being rolled out this year together with the Living Curricula will certainly put technology as the tool for improved learning and teaching.
While talking about a project I am involved in today at a meeting, I was asked how the use of technology in this course was meeting the literacy needs of the institution and other interested stakeholders?

Well for me personally any learning that is driven by technology has to be better than the old traditional transmission method. Technology empowers the students, helps them form their own identity and also helps students identify how they learn best.

It is all good to say a questionnaire can help determine or find the literacy need of a student but is it a matter of asking someone who knows no better? For me literacy is a transformational journey, the needs of a student changes, it does not remain the same every time. Well for a transmission style teaching the questionnaire will work wonders! Things are prescribed for the students hence the literacy needs of a student can easily be determined.

True learning for me happens when a student is responsible of its own learning. The teacher is facilitating learning by encouraging student generated content. 'If I am creating, I am learning', student centred learning hence is the platform you want to be building on if you went to improve literacy in students.

I came across this interesting blog post by Clive Thompson about Andrea Lunsford. Lunsford is a professor at Stanford University where she embarked on a project called Stanford Study of Writing to analyse students use of written and spoke language. Lunsford collected 14,672 student writing samples dating from year 2001-2006, the samples were made up of in-class assignments, formal essays, and journal entries to emails, blog posts, and chat sessions.

Having reviewed the samples Lunford states,"I think we're in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization". Technology was identified as the catalyst that was driving the revival of writing and not only this, it is also creating use for it in many different ways (you can read more about this here).

If you would just take a step back and reflect on what's driving the Web 2.0 craze? Communication, collaboration, creation and networking all of which is underpinned by use of language either written, spoken or visual.