4-5 December 2008
There was no WiFi available, but at least I was informed well beforehand, and so was able to borrow a SkillsTech Australia laptop, and buy a Telstra USB wireless prepaid modem to connect with others outside the room (and the country) during the event.
As well as meeting old friends (some of them face-to-face for the first time) I met new friends who share my interest in educational technologies.
My main learning
The gaps between “closed” learning management systems and open, online social networks are closing fast.
Apart from the three plenary keynote sessions, breakout sessions ran ten at a time over three levels of the building during the two days. A self-choice ticketing system helped to keep attendances ordered. Presentations were mostly grouped by complementary topics so that delegates could gather information without moving too far between sessions.
I’ll briefly describe the events I attended.
Opening Thursday 4th December at William Angliss Institute, the traditional Welcome to Country was a lesson in indigenous culture.
Keynote Robyn Archer: Training in the modern world with an aging workforce.
Robyn spoke of her long journey overseeing cultural change within Connex, a Veolia Transport company.
My CoveritLive notes from this session are at https://cafechat.wordpress.com/2008/12/04/converge08-keynote-robyn-archer/
John Collins: Integrating technology and pedagogy at the Chisholm Institute.
John told how Chisholm Institute is implementing e-Learning in their programs.
Andrew Bloye: Capturing next generation learners by infusing gaming and 3D.
Andrew explained that school students wishing for a career in multi-media design often missed their calling because of a lack of opportunities. Andrew is a multimedia designer for the ASPIN online consulting company which encourages the use of open-source multi-media authoring tools such as Blender.
Keynote: Sue Waters: How Tweet it is. PD in the 21st Century.
Sue used the results of a SurveyMonkey survey in a blog post to gauge delegates’ skills levels prior to the conference. Sue involved the entire audience in her story about how she came to be helping teachers with PD advice, and used the event to launch her new wiki.
My notes from Sue’s session are at https://cafechat.wordpress.com/2008/12/04/converge08-keynote-sue-waters/
Ken Gooding: RPL in the TAFE VC.
Ken demonstrated how the TAFE VC Learning Management System is being used as an RPL evidence collection and assessment tool. Each RPL tool is first written by content experts in MS Word, and then uploaded to the LMS with Wimba Create. In every competency, key questions are imported into TAFE VC and set up as a quiz, and are scored using binary scoring (requiring yes/no answers). The quiz results reveal the gaps in an RPL applicant’s knowledge.
RPL evidence submission is managed with the TAFE VC assignment tool, which can accept almost any file format. RPL candidates can also upload notes to comment on their submitted files.
Elluminate! is used as an online consultation tool using audio-visual communications.
I presented a session: Using online social networking to engage trade students.
My slideshow and notes are viewable, downloadable and comment-able at my Slidespace.
The slideshow is also embedded at the conference Ning.
Welcome reception at Digital Harbour.
The Series 11 Toolboxes was launched at this event, and various toolboxes were demonstrated.
Friday, 5th December.
Keynote. Deane Hutton: Engaging learners with show business techniques
Deane’s polished performance was a highlight of the conference for me. He listed three crucial elements of story telling effective in the classroom or training workshop:
• Using visual and verbal “hooks” to catch attention
• Using the element of surprise to disrupt assumptions, thereby provoking learning
• Using a “call to action” so that students relate learning to their own contexts and then reflect on changes that need to be made
Sue Waters and Simon Brown: Show me the tools: the connected trainer.
Sue polled the audience with a show of hands, gauging their skills levels (unfortunately I lost this data during the rush to clear the decks afterwards!) Demonstrating the power of Personal Learning Networks, she asked delegates to SMS questions to our phones which we then forwarded to our respective Twitter and Plurk networks to answer.
The question chosen was: How do you find time to Twitter/Plurk?
My Plurk page is viewable at : http://www.plurk.com/p/9odaj
Giving time for responses, delegates were then invited to write their responses to four questions on A1 sheets:
What are the barriers that are stopping you from connecting now?
How would you connect if you didn’t have any barriers? What would your choices be?
How will you find the answers to learn how to become more connected?
What are three actions that you will take as a result of attending this conference to become more connected?
Delegates’ contributions will soon be viewable at Flickr.
Jasmine Kildea: e-Portfolios at the Indigenous Education Centre.
Jasmine’s case study of engaging Indigenous youth in presenting their work online resonated with me because of my students’ low digital literacy levels. I was interested to learn that the TAFE VC e-Portfolio tool is relatively easy to use, and that the trial provided useful digital literacy skills for both staff and students.
Troy Crawford: e-Portfolios for artefacts of the learning journey.
Troy’s students are enrolled in multimedia design, so their use of Adobe CS3 Flash to create e-Portfolios was (not surprisingly) on a different level to Jasmine’s students. Troy’s e-Portfolios trial participants published their work on CDROM and to the Web.
Cameron James: RPL and Facebook.
Cameron discovered that very few people in his session have used Facebook at all, so instead of describing at length how he was using Facebook Groups to facilitate RPL support consultation, he focused on delegates starting up their own account.
Linda Mitchell: The MEET Project: Ning and VoiceThread.
Linda and colleague Ron demonstrated how their funded MEET project built a social network around an existing TAFE VC Learning Management System using Ning, VoiceThread and mobile phones. Linda’ school-based apprentices uploaded photos from the workshop floor directly into the project’s Ning network using mobile phones, and students added comments by uploading text and recording audio in the VoiceThread which was embedded into the Ning. Delegates were invited to join the Ning, and then upload their own VoiceThread comments to experience how the project team are using the new technologies to collect assessment evidence from students.
Plenary: Panel session.
I participated in the last sessions of the conference, role-playing one of six fictitious people representing a make-believe private RTO and corporate enterprise whose teams were negotiating the development and suitability of learning objects, in the context of work culture, a deflating economy and technology shifts.
I can’t resist adding some interesting artefacts gleaned from the VirginBlue “Voyeur”
• An interactive problem-solving web community: http://www.Sidetaker.com
• Modular homes and relocatable buildings: http://www.Prebuilt.com
• “Goodvertising” – an ethical, moral and responsible advertising revolution: http://www.contagiousmagazine.com/resources/Goodvertising_extracts.pdf
• Pro Bono Australia’s Volunteer Match – a specialised service matching Skilled Professional Volunteers and Not for Profit organisations: http://www.Volunteermatch.com.au
Thank you, eWorks.