May 24, 2013

AR4VET: Augmented Reality for the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector

On 29th and 30th April 2013, the Queensland VET Development Centre (QVDC) hosted an Augmented Reality workshop presented by Danny Munnerley and Matt Bacon from the University of Canberra. Danny and Matt are designers in the ARStudio team  Held at The Edge (State Library of Queensland) in Brisbane, workshop participants included trainers from both public and private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

Augmented Reality (AR) is a term used to describe a convergence of digital technologies (such as tablet and mobile phone devices, GPS location, WiFi Internet connection, mobile phone Internet connectivity, 3D drawing objects, audio and video clips and smart phone optical recognition) that is used to produce a layer of virtual objects on top of reality. This layering links printed images and actual locations to renderings of images, audio, video and 3D objects viewed through a mobile digital device, thereby enhancing the viewer’s experience.

Action learning project

During the workshop, presenters Danny and Matt led participants through a series of structured activities, exploring AR and its possible application in VET sector training and assessment. Participants learned to build and view an “augment” – an instance of objects combined in Augmented Reality – using web applications BuildAR and Junaio.

Danny and Matt’s shared their workshop presentation and their AR resources are listed in an Amazon wish list

Retuning to my work at SkillsTech Australia, I searched for existing knowledge about 3D technologies. STA Corporate Sales Manager Garry Hargreaves has a wealth of digital media development skills and knowledge and is developing a map for the Acacia Ridge campus using software application Unity. Garry is developing the campus map as a marketing tool for SkillsTech Australia, so that remote clients can get a feel for the location via an Internet browser. Garry is also keen to use his campus map as an AR tool to assist first-time visitors find their way around the campus.

I approached several Engineering teachers (who teach AutoCAD to STA students) and asked for access to their 3D drawing objects and will follow up this request in the near future. I plan to use these objects to demonstrate how AR can be used to facilitate the production of 3D drawings from a 2D drawing by linking the 3D object with the printed specification.

STA Staff Day

STA Institute Director Mary Campbell requested an AR session at Staff Day  2013 (27th July) and I am working towards this goal, using the two examples – the campus map and the 3D AutoCAD objects.

Designer Ori Inbar will be presenting a paper at ISTAS’13 27-29 June 2013 (The 3 Laws of Augmented Reality Design: How to design Augmented Reality Application that add value and delight users) and he will elaborate on three points that are applicable to AR in my context:

1. Augmentation must emerge from the real world and/or relate to it

2. Augmentation must not distract from reality, but rather make you more aware of it

3. Augmented interaction must deliver a superior experience to alternatives, or better yet – there’s no alternative.

2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 7 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 74 posts. There were 19 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 5mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 10th with 35 views. The most popular post that day was Online course communications – tooling up for e-learning..

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for google calendar logo, cafechat, network tools, networking tools, and sharing knowledge.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Online course communications – tooling up for e-learning. June 2010


Using social networking tools to connect with clients October 2008


Hamilton’s grave – visualising places by geo-location October 2009
1 comment


Recording POV video in the training workshop March 2009


ANZAC Day 2008 April 2008

Mobilizing VET – Towards Paperless Assessment

December 16, 2010

Vocational Graduate Certificate in Master Trade Applications (Sustainability projects)

Six students met at Acacia Ridge today to present and critique project briefs assisted by Vikki, Peter and Rob. For me, it was a most useful exercise in clarifying my project, as well as gaining insight into how I might plan and evaluate my progress. I was able to compare my project with other students’ ideas which further assisted me to make connections and contrast my methods of research.

My project so far…


Mobilizing VET – Towards Paperless Assessment


Current assessment practice at SkillsTech Australia relies heavily on assessors visiting workplaces, and apprentices attending TAFE on-campus. Assessor vehicle trips to site are excessive, as are apprentice hours spent in TAFE classrooms and workshops. Students are frustrated at repeating practical tasks (normally carried out at work) in the TAFE workshop, and assessors waste time visiting distant work sites where apprentices are carrying out repetitive tasks using a narrow range of skills. Students face either a delay in getting to TAFE due to heavy bookings, or long periods between visits due to limited assessor availability.


Development of an institute-wide process whereby a transformation of the current paper-based assessment practice into a type of paperless assessment model takes place by students recording their activities on video, uploading the video files into a secure storage system, and then sharing the video files with an assessor. File sharing is followed by “competency conversations” in which the assessor engages the student and directs further video evidence gathering, until sufficient material is gathered for judgement to be made about the student’s level of competence. The video recording is carried out by the student under supervision in the workplace, presenting validity in an authentic workplace setting. Ideally, the workplace supervisor is qualified in Cert IV Training and Assessment.

Triple Bottom Line (Environment, Economy, Social)

The three TBL aspects of sustainability are addressed in this project:


Unnecessary vehicle use is reduced due to efficiencies in communications between assessor and student.


Assessor time is efficiently managed; Student time is efficiently managed


Student engagement in practical tasks is increased; Student satisfaction in the course is heightened; Student outcomes are strengthened

Current knowledge

  • The Mediasite server is used to store and stream Videolinq presentations for teaching and professional development – it is limited to teaching resources
  • The Web server at SkillsTech Australia (Acacia Ridge) has been identified as having sufficient space to host video files – there is insufficient management to guarantee security and data organisation
  • BlueDog Training provides onsite and online training for construction apprentices – there is no provision for video assessment

This project addresses elements of the SkillsTech Australia Strategic Plan 2008-11:

  • Leadership and positioning
  • Products and services
  • Our people
  • Our business systems
  • Our clients
  • Environmental sustainability


Using rich digital media to asses and train apprentices and RPOL candidates in a user owned and operated secure portfolio – engaging students and assessing their competency in a supervised, authentic work environment.

Comments and questions

  • TAFE attendance builds social skills- What is the impact of denying access to face-to-face training for students?
  • Recording and manipulation of digital media requires extant skills
  • The paper based system works – why change it?
  • Cost savings must be quantified
  • What is the likelihood of threats from more agile organizations who are likely to easily adapt to using this system for their own business activities?

SWOT analysis

S: Ease of use
W: Some training required
O: Scalability
T: Other similar projects in more agile organizations; Resistance to change


  • SkillsTech SET (Directors)
  • Streamfolio portfolio product developers
  • STA Electrotechnology team
  • STA Skills Recognition team
  • STA workplace assessors
  • STA teachers
  • STA Facilities vehicle management officer
  • The community


  • Learning about project management techniques
  • Learning about techniques used to evaluate a project:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Realistic
    • Time-bound

Vocational Graduate Certificate in Master Trade Applications ~Sustainability Projects

October 30, 2010

Expression of interest: 25th October 2010

What do I believe I will learn, and how will I benefit from this course?

This course will assist with improving my personal and professional skills in using digital media for workplace assessment. Achieving this goal is an important strategy in my aim to rise to the challenges of increased productivity and improved skill utilization, in a changing labour market, amidst emerging occupations and industries.

How will I apply my learning in a practical way, in my work environment?

Employers require a streamlined approach to training staff, and while they may recognize the value of training generally, they need off-site training to be minimized, lessening disruption to production whilst maximizing skills transfer.

The skills learnt during this course will assist me to provide an effective service to employers, apprentices and ‘recognition of prior learning’ candidates, leveraging employers’ productivity advantage (by using the workplace as a training place; by engaging the workforce in training partnership; and through skills training time-reduction and decreased off-site training), enhancing Vocational Education and Training skills acquisition in a cost-effective, sustainable best practice.

Why should I be selected to complete this qualification?

I have maintained an active interest in developing educational technologies to enhance my teaching practice since I began full-time TAFE teaching in 2000. This has been an ad hoc process of self-discovery, due to the very nature of new media trialled by me in response to opportunities arising in the training workshop. Completing this qualification will formalize the research process to which my curiosity has often aspired.

Online course communications – tooling up for e-learning.

June 7, 2010
Trade Honours Program Certificate IV in Post-Trade Technical Applications (Supervisor)

Cert IV Supervisor course

This semester, I’m piloting a new Trade Honours Program course – Certificate IV in Post-trade Technical Applications (Supervisor). Because the course is delivered online, and my students are spread around Queensland (with just a few in Brisbane), it’s unlikely that I will get to meet each person face-to-face. To enhance the learning experience for my students, I’m including a guide for communicating with me (Cert IV Mentor), and with each other.

About the course.

Certificate IV in Post-Trade Technical Applications (Supervisor)

THP Cert IV Supervisor core and elective units

The course is designed to provide tradespeople with supervisory skills in a post-trade situation. Some students are already fulfilling the role and need a qualification, and others are moving into the role and need the skills. The first phase delivered in semester one focuses on technical skills, and phase two (semester two) addresses people management skills.

Meeting students where they are.
The course is also designed to fit around a student’s busy work schedule and home life, so it is delivered entirely online. This can be both a selling point and a barrier for students – while they wish to access learning using their home or work computer without ever visiting a TAFE campus, they are also hands-on practical people who do not identify with the advanced computer user – they are not “geeks”. Hence, there is a need for extra online support to replace the face-to-face contact in a computer classroom and to tailor the training delivery support to suit each student.

During the pilot, I’ve introduced a few online communication tools that will be useful for other course mentors to consider in their own course inductions. Described briefly in a list here, I understand that it can at first appear as a bewildering display of geekiness – but I am only too happy to help with guidance and further explanation. Just ask me!

Course comms: Advice to students.
This list is subject to change, according to developments and improvements in the my.TAFE Learning Management System (LMS).

Using hashtags.


hashtag 'thpcert4'

The course ‘tag’ is ‘#thpcert4’, and each student cohort is identified by the semester in which they start– for example, the current class starting in 2010 semester 1 is ‘#thpcert4_1001’; the next class starting in 2010 semester 2 is ‘#thpcert4_1002’ and so on. Course events, student assignments and announcements are all tagged to make them easier to find.

Voice call: Students call the course mentor 24/7 – if there is no answer, they leave a message and the mentor returns the call as soon as possible.

SMS txt:

Students send a Short Message Service (SMS) text message 24/7 and expect a reply when it’s convenient for the mentor to do so.

SMS text message

sms txt msg

It’s a good idea for students to send a text message each time they upload an assignment to the LMS; likewise, the mentor should send a message when feedback is provided by email, and when an announcement is broadcast by email.

Optus Redcoal

Optus Redcoal

The institute subscribes to Optus Redcoal which supports mass texting, facilitated via the Web.

Email: It is critical that students provide a correct email address to enter the course. Email and mobile phones are the most important ways of communicating with students.

Upload to LMS: Each assessment item in the course has an “Upload to LMS” facility so that student activity is recorded. It is necessary to do this to track student activity for marking and recording results, and to prove student participation for audit purposes. The action of uploading to the Learning Management System (LMS) triggers a notification email sent to the mentor so that the assignment can be marked, and feedback provided, as soon as possible.

YouCanBook.Me, GCal and GMail:

YouCanBook.Me logo

YouCanBook.Me logo

The meeting booking tool YouCanBook.Me integrates nicely with Google Calendar (Gcal).

Google Calendar logo

Google Calendar logo

Displayed on a “Calendar of Events” page in the LMS, the YouCanBook.Me application lets students book straight into the course GCal. Both applications were registered using the course Gmail account set up for this purpose – all emails sent to the course Gmail inbox are copied straight to the mentor’s personal Gmail inbox. Doing this allows activity to be monitored without logging in separately to each account.

Chat with Yammer:

Yammer logo

Yammer logo

The course Yammer is a discrete student community within the DET Yammer, and it requires a student’s work email for registration. Students cannot see mainstream DET messages, nor can DET staff see students’ messages. Several DET colleagues have been invited to share membership in this network to preclude an exclusive relationship between mentor and students. Yammer is useful for sharing files and web links, and the threaded discussions are searchable using tags. Yammer is particularly useful for hosting discussions between students, and it also allows private messaging.

Tweet in Twitter:

Twitter logo header

Twitter logo header

The course Twitter account is not currently subscribed to by students, but it is a useful way to broadcast information about the course to participants.

Webconference in Flashmeeting:

Flashmeeting logo

Flashmeeting logo

Flashmeeting is a sophisticated but cost-free webconferencing facility that provides video recording, text-chat recording and meeting analysis at the close of each session. Access to the recording of each meeting is gained using the same web address that was used to access the meeting, which means that the course GCal can be loaded with future meeting details, and then the archived recording accessed for an indefinite period afterwards without editing the calendar entry. Flashmeeting is useful for engaging students using a whiteboard, voting, web link sharing, and uploading, downloading and screen capturing of images and slide presentations. During a Flashmeeting session, one participant at a time broadcasts video and voice to a large main screen by clicking ‘start broadcasting’ and ‘stop broadcasting’ buttons, while all participants (who have a webcam connected) are visible in individual, smaller windows on the main screen. A session text-chat conversation is maintained on the public screen, while private text chat conversations take place via participant windows.

Scribble on an online whiteboard: I considered that an online whiteboard could be useful to explain mathematics concepts which require sketching and maths symbols. Scribblar was the best of a series of online collaborative whiteboards trialled for use in the course, selected for its ‘freemium’ features which include embedding capability, and multiple pages suitable for ‘breakout-room’ discussion. However, the embedded whiteboard did not display well in the LMS, and consumed too much bandwidth when used in conjunction with Flashmeeting.

TTS Easi View:

Desktop web cam and document camera

TTS Easi View

A better alternative to an online whiteboard is a gooseneck, high-resolution desktop web camera which can be used as a document camera for capturing hand-drawn explanations on paper. This device is simple to use in a classroom (displaying objects or notes via data projector) as well as for sending almost instant feedback to a distant student.

Post a note student survey:



The WallWisher application is good for a quick and easy survey among the student group. Students receive a web address in their email, which when accessed, displays a screen for posting responses to a survey question. Students post notes by double-clicking the screen and then typing their comment which remains visible to all invitees. When trialled, the LMS survey tool may prove to be useful, but would need to be very good to compete with WallWisher’s elegance.

Online mentoring – how will it work?

March 11, 2010

THP mentor

Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

Teaching and mentoring is something that everyone does in varying degrees. I’ve been doing it full-time for the last decade, but now it’s to be done with a new intensity. My block-release vocational students (who require occasional support between classes) are being replaced by online trade contracting students – I need to explain how mentoring works.

Sharpening the axe.
It can be argued that teaching and mentoring online is no different to classroom teaching. “Just do what you do face-to-face, only online!” Sounds simple, right? Well… I’ve honed my technology skills during the past few years, using Gmail, Twitter, Flashmeeting, Flickr, Youtube… in fact, every Web 2.0 tool that I could play with, so I’m ready for the challenge. My EdTech friends from Australia, New Zealand and around the world have been a wonderful support network for me as we’ve tried out many communication tools together.

It’s a familiar situation to me, only in a different context – when I was trade contracting, I’d spend part of my non-working time searching hardware stores for tools to make my jobs easier, and cleaning and maintaining my gear. I decided that I’d never be like the timber-getter chopping at a tree with a blunt axe, who complains how there is never time to stop and sharpen the blade.

Cooperative learning – somewhere between Constructivism and Behaviourism.
Online learning is easy. It’s meant to be! That’s what I keep telling myself, but what if my students don’t find it so? Then I’ll need to help. They’ll be ranging widely in ages, experiences and expectations, and I can’t be all things to all people. Perhaps some might like to learn alone, but I’m expecting that these students will be rare. The majority will need support at a number of levels, and communication barriers that can be overcome in a face-to-face setting will only be intensified.

Success lies in encouraging peer interaction, collaboration and individual accountability. Students will be arranged into work groups so that individual success follows group success.

ePorfolio assessment.
Assessment by ePortfolio is not a new concept, but there is an opportunity to embed student assessment items in an industry portal website, open to examination by potential clients and fellow students. This gives a chance for students to show their work after the course is completed, and their enrolment ended.

Social benefits.
Studying at home means that less time is lost at work, as well as travelling to classes. Provided that students have a computer and an Internet connection, as well as webcam and microphone headset, then study times can be arranged around work and family schedules.

I’m planning to ask students to provide regular updates on their progress, as well as reflections on their learning, by podcast. The web service makes this easy – it’s literally takes just a phone call to upload a conversation to a website or blog.

Email timestamps.
It’s always difficult to get busy people together, so I’m planning to use data collated by observing email time stamps – meeting students when it suits them. Web services and will also be useful for planning meeting times.

Including team members.
My responsibility as a mentor extends beyond teaching and managing students. I will also help to coordinate the team of teachers delivering many subjects in Certificate IV, Diploma and Vocational Graduate Certificate.

The mentor is responsible for managing the team’s email inbox – this is an important communication tool for the group of delivery, design and administration staff.

Sked forum.
A ‘sked’ is a scheduled online meeting, and I’ll be starting and maintaining skeds for student groups, with a view to students claiming ownership of them. Skeds will be one of the main support tools in the course.

Induction, Blog updates and FAQs.
A page of answered Frequently Asked Questions is just one way to manage distracting emergency phone calls, recognising the fact that students often prefer the reassurance of human contact. A course induction will be undertaken during the first week, followed by friendly blog updates written to engage, encourage and redirect learners.

Virtual student lounge.
Students need a place to meet casually in between skeds, discussions, completing assessment tasks, work, family, life… just somewhere for a virtual cup of coffee and a chat. Perhaps even in Second Life?

Graduation ceremony.
Whew! After all that, a time for celebration – this will be a special event to thank learners for their efforts during the year, taking the time to mark their achievements.

TROPICii session 1

March 5, 2010

At Lefkas

Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

TROPICii is an integration of two programs: Teachers Reflecting On Practices In Context (TROPIC) and Instructional Intelligence (II). Together, they will form a suite of strategies and tools to help teachers plan and manage delivery and assessment in Vocational Education and Training (VET).

TROPIC team members Martha Goldman, Phil Harrison, Meredith Jackson, Lisa Erbacher, Terrie Paterson, Vicki Crooks, Robert McIntosh and Simon Brown are being trained in Instructional Intelligence in order to apply it to TROPIC.

Martha Goldman adapted the work of Christine Richmond and Mark Davidson to build TROPIC for VET delivery. It is a teacher-led network using specific techniques to mentor teachers by observing training delivery and reflecting on it.

Vivienne Scott is a Professional Development trainer at Central TAFE in Western Australia. Vivienne will be visiting Queensland three times in March, April and June to deliver Instructional Intelligence units in a compressed format over nine days. Instructional Intelligence is a program developed by Barrie Bennett and Carol Rolheiser, using a wide range of strategies to help teachers bring teaching theory to life in practical programs.

The first session (March 2-4) introduced participants to Cooperative Learning, Tribes Learning Communities and directed reflection. Vivienne modelled Social Learning activities for the class, and participants developed a lesson plan which they progressively updated as Vivienne led the way through a variety of new concepts.

The TROPICii team will meet online before the next face-to-face session in April, discussing applications of Instructional Intelligence in each member’s context.

ipadio:Simon’s phlog – 1st phonecast

March 1, 2010

Visit to hear my latest ipadio phonecast

Or listen here:

Yammer B2B Social Graph

February 26, 2010

Yammer logo

Communities in Yammer is a new feature available 1st March 2010 following a Yammer redesign, where users can create a community to connect with partners, advisors, customers, parent company, suppliers and consultants.

The first phase of Yammer released in September 2008 enabled secure internal microblogging communications within a company. Presently, a company network is only available to users who share a work email domain. Phase 2 extends these networks to multiple partners associated with the company (using any email address) called “B2B Social Graph.”

The Yammer interface will have a new look as a result of the redesign, with new tabs so that users can easily create a community, switches between networks, and link networks. The desktop client will also look slightly different, and an iPhone app has been introduced.

The advantages of communities created in Yammer’s B2B Social Graph are that content is readily available to users, and that the content is secure. Communities are still available within in the “Freemium” pricing model set up in phase 1, that is, access is free, and ‘silver’ and ‘gold’ levels buy added features.

To date, the use of Yammer has been attractive due to its ease of use. The introduction of communities has been designed so that users don’t need advanced technical skills to operate them.

A risk that would need to be controlled is enabling “e-discovery” that is, the court-ordered hand-over of electronic communications. A data back-up would only be possible with a premium account.

My experience of using Yammer in a Government Department since September 2008 confirms it as an easy-to-use social communication tool, handy for keeping in touch in with friends at other workplaces and helpful for making new acquaintances – I like to visualise my social/work structures. I am keen to investigate how Yammer’s B2B Social Graph can strengthen interactions with my client groups.

Hamilton’s grave – visualising places by geo-location

October 30, 2009

William Hamilton’s grave on Buckabie
Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

I recently travelled to the Adavale district of south-west Queensland to place a grave marker at the resting place of a pioneer. Boundary rider William Hamilton was buried where he died in the bush in 1910, and the location of his lonely, unmarked grave was known to just a few people.

Hamilton's grave on Buckabie

Hamilton's grave on Buckabie

William Hamilton lies at rest on what was Milo Station near its boundary with Nickavilla Station, between Goombie Creek and Buckabie Creek.
My grandfather John and his business partner Ralph selected Buckabie Station by ballot when it was cut from Milo after the Great War in 1919, and my father Malcolm grew up on Buckabie after this time. Marking Hamilton’s grave fulfilled a long-term wish for my father.

Quilpie set on Flickr

Simon's Quilpie set on Flickr

Flickr map of SW QLD

A Flickr map of photos taken in southern Queensland, Australia

Flickr hosts my Quilpie photo album, displaying images from successive visits. I usually choose to display the place where each photo was captured, using Flickr’s ‘map’ tool, but the map does not have fine-grained control in regional areas. I wanted to display the locations in greater detail.

Hamilton's grave location in Google Earth

A screenshot of Hamilton's grave location in Google Earth

Lacking a GPS navigator, I located Quilpie in Google Earth and ‘followed’ the track 70km to Hamilton’s grave. Adding a placemark bookmarked the location for future reference, and also gave me the latitude and longitude reference – located in the ‘properties’ field of the placemark. However, not everyone can access Google Earth. This requires free software download and a reliable Internet connection – I needed a URL for this spot.

Hamilton's grave locted in Google Maps

Hamilton's grave located in Google Maps

Google Maps let me link Hamilton’s grave location to a URL. Copying and pasting the Google Earth co-ordinates, I then added the URL to each Flickr photo in this place.

Canaway Downs Rd turnoff on the Old Adavale Rd

The Canaway Downs Rd turnoff on the Old Adavale Rd

Canaway Downs Rd turnoff on the Old Adavale Rd

The Canaway Downs Rd turnoff on the Old Adavale Rd

One disadvantage is that the photos do not show up in the Flickr map, but must be added separately as an approximate location. Google Earth and Google Maps, however, show signposts I’ve photographed that are visible in detail right down to their shadow along the ground.

Editing Hamilton's grave photos in Picasa

Editing Hamilton's grave photos in Picasa

I thought that my students might like to see photos of how I built Hamilton’s cairn, so I edited and uploaded them to Youtube using the Picasa movie maker.

Hamilton's grave video on Youtube

A video clip of Hamilton's grave pictures on Youtube

I added a caption to each photo which displays as the video clip plays, and selected an audio track to accompany the images after uploading.

Hamilton's grave video in the stonemasonry ning

Hamilton's grave video in the stonemasonry ning

Youtube allowed embedding the video in the stonemasonry Ning community website, however, as Youtube is blocked in the student network, I instead uploaded the movie file to Ning from my computer hard drive.

In turn, this also allows embedding to other websites. I guess that all this would have been easier using a SatNav? It was fun doing it, though.