Monday, July 13, 2015

Can innovation and compliance coexist?

One of the joys of working with other RTO’s is the opportunity to meet innovative and inspiring people. This month I’ve had the pleasure of working with a couple who are tackling training innovation head on whilst keeping their RTO status. They are identifying training shortfalls, accrediting new courses and bringing new product into the marketplace, to meet that gap. 
Last week we discussed opportunities for using Skillets as a framework for industry short courses and value adding to other Qualifications. 
Agile response to industry requirements can occur within the AQF and NVR Standards when you apply a little ingenuity. With the advent of skillsets the opportunity to create accredited short courses and industry responsive programs has never been greater. 
Why not deliver a skill set with added non-accredited elements? Package it up as a Short Course, award the statements of attainment for the units and award an overall Certificate of Attendance for the course.
Write your own course and get it accredited. All the information and templates are available for download on the ASQA site for writing and accrediting a course.  You can include units of competency from other qualifications and shape the new course to meet your industry partners requirements. You'd be having to do the TAS and mapping for any Qualification you offer anyway, so why not tailor one to suit your market? 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Carpe Diem and Rapid Design

So, according to the NYE resolution I made, this month's blog should really be titled:
What are the major changes in ID theory over the past 20 years?

However I got distracted along the way. There's a lot happening in my ID world at the moment.
I had to dig deep into my horticultural roots and design and present a workshop on making compost last month, then my daughter said she wanted to make a video short for me to use on my (soon to happen) website and I needed to think about how I was going to present myself! Next, I have signed up for yet another MOOC. This one is titled Carpe Diem (Swinburne University) and is about rapid design, something I've already said I don't do! The course starts this week and already there is activity on Facebook. 
I guess `Rapid' design is one of the major changes of the last 20 years, so I think I'm on track with the blog!

Designed for SPEED, but not through 'Rapid Design' techniques.....

Monday, January 20, 2014

How do I define ID?

How do I define ID?

For me, Instructional Design has always been aligned with formal curriculum. I came out of the Australian TAFE system, with a Bachelor degree in Adult and Vocational Teaching, followed by various iterations of the Australian standard for Trainers and Assessors, the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. I spent 10 years in the TAFE classroom, followed by 13 years in various (Training) management and consulting roles, mostly within Registered Training Organisations. This means I have a very structured approach to ID. I am used to working with Course Outlines, Units of Competency (standards), Training Package requirements and workplace procedures. I have difficulty with the term 'rapid' development, because I still need to work through all the process requirements of the preceding items. I come from a background of designing programs intended to be delivered over 40, 80, 200 hour and longer, timeframes.
I find it difficult to conceptualise anything under a 4 hour program as 'real' training! Yet, I know that each time we observe something new and integrate it into our thinking or our actions, we are in fact 'learning'. I see you use the camera on your smart phone as a mirror to apply lipstick, and I copy you. I've 'learnt' a new trick! Demonstration of skill is probably the oldest teaching strategy in the world and ID's spend hours working out how to set up or simulate the demonstration of a skill to students.
However, designing the demonstration of a skill is not all of an instructional design for a learning experience. We know that we must consider the desired learning outcomes, learning environment, the progression of the learning plan. We consider the learner with all their ability, distractions, prior learning and  readiness to learn, and the opportunities for methodology that the content lends itself to.
ID blends analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation but does this (ADDIE) describe it all?
My daughter (a digital media producer), said to me recently, "You're not a Designer, Mum!" as I struggled with some visual materials that I wanted to produce. She's right, and yet she's not entirely right.
I am an Instructional Designer, I design the implementation of teaching and learning methodology. As with all good designers, I analyse prior to designing and implementing. A Designer, (think: architect, engineer, artist, publisher, choreographer etc.), analyses the purpose for which they are designing, the audience who will interact with the design, the environment in which the design will be implemented, the influence of available resources on their design, the opportunities for the use of various techniques and technologies in constructing their design.
Instructional Design is a design based skill, it takes the application of knowledge, thought, creativity, technique, skill and experience to implement successfully.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A New Year's Resolution.

In a sleepless moment in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago I made myself a promise.
I promised that I would start blogging regularly. I've let this blog slip a little in 2013, after the excitement of #EDCMOOC in the early part of the year, nothing else seemed to excite me enough to write about. I bet this sounds familiar to quite a few of you out there.
I also have a tendency to think that blogging is a little self-indulgent, who really wants to read anything I write? There's so many people putting stuff out, out there, why would anyone read me?

Well here I am and it's another new year. It's time to put this promise into action. However, I'm a little stuck. I need some help. I decided that to keep myself to my promise I'd select one topic and pursue that topic through out the year. Then today, I thought that what I actually need to do is make a list of the topic and sub-topics and work through it over the year.

So, today I announce that this years blog will be about Instructional Design.
Here's the list of twelve ID sub-topics for 2014, one a month. (There may actually be more than one blog in the month, but they should stick to that month's topic.)

  1. How do I define ID?
  2. What are the major changes in ID theory over the past 20 years?
  3. Who uses ID in Australia? How is ID used in Australia?
  4. Has the audience (i.e. the learner) for ID really changed?
  5. Should ID practitioners spend time as a teacher or trainer in the classroom?
  6. Is Education Technology pushing (your) ID around?
  7. Just how many skills do I need to build?
  8. Is ID the same, the world over?
  9. What did teaching Horticulture teach me, about ID?
  10. Where will ID go next?
  11. ID and the budget squeeze.
  12. IDo need a break - Happy Holidays.

All right this is where I need your help. I'd love your feed back on my list of sub-topics.
Please use the comments box below. You know I will be excited to see what you think, good or bad!
Let me know if you think the topics are relevant, or if they've been 'done to death' elsewhere, or are just daft.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Refreshing and reinventing materials

Wordle: Team roles & repsonsibilites

This week I've started updating some older materials on Team Leadership. Without the aid of video or other expensive tools, it's a challenge to find ways in which to increase the visual content to suit a digital environment. One of the easiest is to use `Wordles' to get powerful visual language connections across. This leads me to thinking once again about the rise of visual media in the field of communications, and the inter-relationship between 'media' as in TV, news-publications, internet, magazines and education. Specifically, how much does the daily barrage of 'media' manipulate the expectations of our learners about how information should be presented to them? We know that attention span has been affected with shorter and shorter attention spans being recorded in the juvenile student population. Does this translate to adult learners? Can adult learner behaviour be changed? I recall listening to a presenter from an organisation that built simulators for heavy machinery training. He discussed the way in which the training program built around the use of the simulators could encourage young males, notorious for their inability to focus on theory in the written form, to change their behaviour and master the theory component, including the written assessment, by the with-holding of the right to drive the real machine, until all OH&S theory and simulated learning tasks had been completed and a 100% pass rate attained. 
This story is a fairly classic example of a well designed program tailored to suit learners with particular needs. When we target a more generalised learning population we have to use more generalised engagement techniques and visual aids are one of the primary keys to our engagement with our immediate environment. 
Using them in learning situations relates to our most basic instincts. When we are in a state of high alert, we constantly scan the environment around ourselves for visual clues to let us know if we are safe, if there is food, shelter, 
safe passage nearby. The visual clues help us to interpret our environment quickly. Using visual aids in learning can help the distracted learner interpret and key into the deeper information they need to know. They may help memory recall and may create a feeling of a more relaxed (safe) state of being when confronted with new knowledge. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Paperless Office enters a new phase

I'm working with a client to engage their staff in transitioning to a paperless office in the education environment. They have been challenged by the need to help their facilitators and staff speed up the learning process and get on board with all the changes posed by online courses, mobile workforces and remote working environments.

They are a particularly 'good' organisation. Their workplace is a delight to visit, they are well resourced and keen to move ahead. They have invested a good deal of money in both hard and soft technology to support these changes.

As I think through the processes I am being asked to engage in, I find myself reflecting on technology and the journey over the past 25 years. In 1990, when I was just starting out in my career as an educator, I was confronted by the move into computers as a work tool. I was excited yet overwhelmed by the computing environment. This was pre 'Windows', pre WYSIWYG, and pre internet in the commercial workplace. Word was a blue screen with white text and you had to remember lots of short-cut key strokes to do anything. We took a course in DOS and tried to learn binary code.

Someone promised me that these computers would create a paperless office! All they seemed to do was create ten times as much paper, as drafts were printed, scribbled on with pens then updated on the computer and printed again.
Software began to be built that could do pretty much anything for a price, and the price was often astronomical. Empires were founded on programs such as SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Office and Sharepoint.
The last 5 years have seen yet another radical shift in the world of computer and internet technology.
Two things have converged.
The world of (internet enabled) Social Networking.
The introduction of tablets.
These two things have brought together the power of creative minds driven by a desire for mobility and low cost to begin the next phase of software creation, the 'Ap'.

The jumpshift change needed by organisations and individuals is that we must stop seeing social networking and fooling around with Aps as 'playing'. This is serious business in the office. Already the commentators have dissected, discussed and debated about whether social networking at work is a good thing or a bad thing. As always many offices tried to ban it, simply not seeing the rise of the 'smart-phone' that would undermine their attempts at control. As smartphone and intuitive Aps have stormed the market, so too the use of telephony has been challenged, recent reports are showing that many people now use sms on their phones, rather than voice calls.

Free ware is infiltrating the office, we use Skype and Viber to make internet telephony and video calls. We use Slideshare and Prezi to make presentations. We all love YouTube. Google Docs and Dropbox are becoming commonplace, especially amongst 'remote' or contract workers.
All of these changes create challenges for our business's. How do you maintain control whilst allowing creativity?

I suggest that you do two things.
1. Learn to put all these technologies in the box where they belong. The ToolBox.
2. Look at your basic IT and communications structure.

Make sure that your basic structure has sound governance and process supporting it.
Who controls your public image?
How are your documents managed? - (Library, version control & security).
How is access to your IT/communications system managed? Who controls uploads & security?

Now look at that Toolbox.
Make some decisions about which platforms, Aps and Multimedia tools you are going to use.

Train your internal staff in the policy and process applicable to your IT/Communications Structure.
Train your internal staff & external partners in the tools that you have approved for use in your system.

Remember, they are all just tools. You still need to apply the controls.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

EDCMOOC postnote: The RealValue of mooc's

Justin Ferriman of LearnDash has posted a blog titled 5 Reasons Why MOOCs Provide Little Real Value

I took exception to the title and decided I needed to respond, so following Justin's format here are my responses.

1. Free isn't always a good thing

Who says that the free moocs are expected to be `better than' the paid thing? Interestingly people have complained very loudly when one course ran into problems. I have received extraordinary value from the ELearning and Digital Cultures mooc presented on Coursera by Edinburgh University over the past month. I have learnt a vast array of new digital skills, I have communicated with educators from all over the globe, I have had my own thinking challenged, and best of all I've had fun and re-discovered my own passion for learning. `Free' has been a very good thing for me and thousands of others.

2. No one really "gets it" yet.

"wandering aimlessly through a spattering of random courses. Professors are probably more confused, likely thinking: “Oh, I’ll just put up a video from my lecture in 2004 – sure the textbook we were discussing is about 18 versions old, but it’s good stuff…and hey, it’s FREE!” … before you know it, the poor teacher’s assistant is trying to answer 12,000 forum posts from confused participants trying to fully understand the dated content."
Gets what? The fact that course material prepared by university professors is being made available to anyone with internet access for free? I don't think that professors are uploading just any old material. If they are, then I don't think that it's because they are loading it for free. There has always been a problem with educators presenting old material and not updating frequently enough. I remember this from my last Masters course in 1998 face to face with lecturers! Don't blame the medium Justin, blame the system that expects educators to place more value on administration, research and responding to university politics than on preparation and presentation of great materials.

3. Grades and/or feedback carry little to no weight.

".. if you have a passion for the topic, then you probably would take on that five page writing assignment. But would you cancel your plans to get it done? If your peers are reviewing your work and they slam you for it being all wrong – do you think you would try to understand “why”, or would you become defensive? At least in formal institutions, there is an incentive to understand your mistakes on poor grades and feedback. MOOCs lack this, so when does the real learning take place?"
`Real Learning', are you serious Justin? What is it you have forgotten about intrinsic motivation and the questionable practice of teaching only what is to be graded? Real learning is demonstrated in the workplace or in applied situations where the knowledge is put into practice. I have rarely seen anyone's university grades looked at in the job recruitment & selection process, other than to see if they actually passed. 

4. Badges will never replace Diplomas

I haven't yet researched the Mozilla Open Badges, however I do agree that badges and certificates that are not verified / validated by organisations against some sort of standard, are unlikely to be wholly acceptable to employers or to other institutions when seeking credit for courses. I think that the question of validity of certification is going to be the major parameter of how much change open learning brings about. If we are to achieve true change, we need to re-think the separation of learning and assessment. The use of recognition of prior learning in the vocational studies field is now an established practice in Australia. Can it be extended to Higher Education and what sort of model should be adopted? Who should the ultimate arbiter be? Should there be Assessment Centres with standardised assessments - agreed to by cohorts of the providers? How would the financial transactions work? Or are we simply going to accept that some organisations run great courses and their `badges' are acceptable?

5. Support infrastructure isn't mature enough.

"I feel bad for the administrative personnel behind MOOCs. It literally is a monumental task to support hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people asking the same questions. The teams behind MOOCs simply aren’t large enough, and they probably can’t realistically become big enough either. The end result is that some people will inevitably become angry and frustrated – and they’ll likely blame the user experience."

Yes, you're right there, Justin.  However I think you're waving your own flag here for LearnDash.
I think this will largely resolve itself as the Instructional Design product and the facilitators experience of eLearning environments mature. It's the same old story. My peer teachers and I would spend all summer preparing the information for new students so that on orientation they would receive all they needed to know about attendance, assessment process, grading, resources, course outlines, local fast food outlets, buses, trains etc. This would be delivered to them face to face, in writing and with illustrations, maps etc where necessary. There would always be at least one student who came knocking on the door with a questions such as "How many hours of study do we need to do?" or "Where's the local bus stop?" and so on. Part of the mooc experience is about building the virtual resources, student networks, peer groups, traffic direction and so on.