E-learning enthusiasm alive and well!

I recently attended the Hume ACFE regional conference in Beechworth, to present a  session on the AccessACE project, togehter with the team from Yackandandah Community Education Network, one of the funded projects.

It was great to see that the conferecne had a dedicated e-learning stream, with Janet Hayes, the resident  expert delivering sessions on E-tools such as blogs, wikis and podcasting, as well as the region’s own delivery platform, studyzone.

We also had the good fortune of having Dr Kaye Bowman available who shared with us some of the insights  from the research into the impact of the Community Engagement project funding to communities across Australia over the past 3 years. Participants in the session  were asked to comment and reflect on her research findings, and discuss ways forward for the Hume region.

Although I had  the graveyard shift ( the last session on the Friday) we had a good  session looking at the AcccessACE project, its aims and objectives, and in particular the role of personal learning environments in shaping the AccessACE online presence.  Thanks too to Gail and Tony for their contribution to the discussion and  giving participants a feel for what they are doing in their proejct.

As Pat commented on the evaluation outcomes:

The evaluation report for the conference last week showed great enthusiasm for e-learning. I was surprised at the number of small providers who have suddenly woken up to e-learning and would like to know more. I spent some time re-assuring them that the workshops were for beginners- they wanted to go to the workshops but were a bit tentative. So, it was very pleasing to see that they responded so well.

Great to see a region that covers such a diverse  geographical area, embrace tools that will widen particpation for all.

Project induction session a great success!

 On the 20th of June – yes I know – it is nearly a month ago! The AccessACE project gathered at the CAE for an action packed induction session. All ten projects were represented by both their mangers and in some cases a trainer as well!It was a very positive and particularly stimulating day. No doubt due to the calibre of our presenters, Delia Bradshaw in the morning, and Clint Smith in the afternoon.

The research Framework  with  Delia Bradshaw

 Delia make a point Delia spent the morning working with the group on the to research questions.( see the post of the 12th April – clever us of ICTs in ACE). Participants started off by exploring what they thought clever use of ICTs meant to them. The answers demonstrated the great inventiveness and diversity in the use of ICTs – communication, research, interactive learning, reflective research, development of multimedia skills, and provision of resources for distance students and communication tools for students.

Organisations had the opportunity to plot their organisation on the perspectives/ continuum document.To see where everyone placed their organisation on the continuum – please visit the individual organisational pages on the wiki at: http://accessacetrials.wikispaces.com 

Organisations then had an opportunity to share a particular strength they had identified as a result of their  discussions. The strengths showed a definite shift in complexity and sophistication across the organisations who are participating the trials: organisational readiness  emerged as a strength in most originations – they reported that there were strategies in place to support and help reluctant teachers. 

Others reported that community readiness and teacher capacity are very well matched – a powerful combination! Other reported that the passion was there but the teachers were very much lacking in skills. 

Others reported that change is an integral part of the  course they offer to the community – constantly responsive, dynamic and changing – a great asset to the community. 

Delia's slide Organisations also reported that they are using mobile phones for administrative purposes – M-learning in ACE is becoming more of a reality!  More soon… I promise!

Visit to Grampians region

wimmera.jpgI travelled up to  Ararat in the Grampians region this week to present the AcessACE project to the managers who attended the provider forum at the NMIT campus there. What an adventure that was!

I decided to go by train – as I wanted to do some work  – and that was indeed a good move. The  ticket salesman at the box office was a bit bemused to see that I was travelling two hours and spending only 2 hours  in Ararat to then travel back again for two hours.

But, all in all it was a very productive day. I loved the trip on the trian – laptop, phone and ipod at the ready I got a lot of very productive work done, pretty much until my laptop ran out of puff. I had some lovely scenery to inspire me on the way. Great to see that some of the fields are looking a lot greener and with lambs everywhere!

The session was packed – literally  – as we all grouped together in the computer training room and the audience was very lively and responsive. We got straight into the relative merits of blogs and wikis and how they could be used in education.

I am hopeful that many more ACE organisations in the Grampians region will  contribute to the wiki – specifically the section entitled e-learning around the regions  in the Grampians page. I am very impressed with the contributions made by the various regions and the fabulous work that is happening everywhere!

More on the AccessACE project inductions in the next day or two!

AccessACE projects selected

During May and early June, some 17 organisations nominated by their regional offices, were invited to develop and expression of interest to be part of the AccessACE blended learning trials. 
The centres were asked to compile a short document outlining a particular learner group, and a particular challenge they had with this group.  They were then asked to describe how they felt technology could assist in   addressing this challenge.

The project selection committee considered all the expressions of interest earlier in June and selected 10 trial sites across ACE in Victoria.
Learner groups
 Across the 10 projects there are clusters of particular learner groups that seem hard to reach or difficult to engage.  They are:

  • Young people- specifically those aged 15 – 19. This is one of the fastest growing learner groups in ACE, and ACE organisations are more and more looking towards technology to provide them with innovative solutions for continued engagement with the target group.
  • CALD – language and literacy students – specifically from Africa.  ACE organisations report that providing continuous access to education for this target group can be a scheduling nightmare. Providers are looking at ICT  for innovative solutions in  providing flexible learning options for this student  cohort.
  • Mature aged learners and particularly women – a variety of organisations who teach accredited courses such as return to work, Childcare and Aged Care find that their learners are not keen to take on thechnology as part of their course work. ACE organisations are looking  at some innovative strategies to support this student cohort in taking up the ICT  challenge!

We are  currently developing a companion wikispace for the projects at:http://accessacetrials.wikispaces.com. The space will be ready soon!

Visit to ACFE Geelong

It has been a while since I have written something – and I am quite mindful of that. I enjoy blogging- but  I agree with and article I read in the paper the other day about how few aspiring bloggers realise how time consuming it can be!  I can’t believe it is mid June already.

For me it is very relaxing, and gives me time to reflect on activites and progress so far. SO, what have we been up to?

I had the great pleasure of being invited to the provider forum in Geelong at the end of  May. I really enjoyed the experience. I have  refelcted upon why I got such a buzz from doing that. Probably soemting to do with the saying that you can take the teacher out of the  classroom but not the classroom out of the teacher!AccessACE--069--april07

We met at Rosewall Neighbourhood Centre in Corio. A typical neighbourhood house. Lots of peo0le, all buzzing with lots of activities. Having worked in commuity centres all my working life here in Aus, I felt right at home. Our room was  a typical ACE classroom and the providers gathered there were an interested, responsive audience.

We talked about the project, and looked at all the web 2 tools  – this blog, the wiki, the bookmarking and the podcasting site. We talked about how everyone could get involved.

Great fun and most informative.  I look forward to hearing more about what is happening in ICT enabled teaching and learning in Barwon, through the project wiki at:
http://accessace.wikispaces.com/E-learning+around+the+regions

Personal Learning Environments

I have been exploring the  very interesting world of iGoogle of late – where I have set myself up  with a very entertaining AccessACE--094--april07personalised learning environment, or PLE.  I like the idea of a PLE- possibly more familiar to some as an e-portfolio. I have been reading  Graham Attwell from the Wales wide web blog. I particularly like what Graham has to say about the potential role of PLEs in lifelong and  more specifically informal learning.

To quote him at some length:
The promise of Personal Learning Environments could be to extend access to educational technology to everyone who wishes to organise their own learning. Furthermore the idea of the PLE purports to include and bring together all learning, including informal learning, workplace learning, learning from the home, learning driven by problem solving and learning motivated by personal interest as well as learning through engagement in formal educational programmes.  Personal Learning Environments could also facilitate different styles of learning.”

For me my PLE is fun, but it does everything Graham outlines above – it is a  very personal space where I can organise my documents for example - as a portfolio worker I travel amongst various workplaces:-)

I also have a list of all my most requently visited bookmarks, I can check the time, my horospcope, have a to do list , catch up on my RSS feeds… the list is endless. It certainly caters for my particular learning style. At the moment I am doing a tremendous amount of informal learning arounnd social software tools, while I discover how they work and research how they  can support our educational goals.

I will continue to explore other spaces such as eduspaces to see how we can use them in ACE to support learning pathways for students engaged in non – accredited learning.  I think it is a great way to engage learners and teach them some essential learning to learn skills  as well as develop ICT literacy skills.

 I would love to know if any ACE organisations in Victoria have explored the use of PLEs in their delivery, and what the results are…

E-business in ACE – a snapshot

At the recent Flexible ACE foccus group session, the project team conducted a survey of all the participants to get their feedback on  their e-business practices and intentions.

The small  but representative sample (there were representatives from all the ACFE regions)  revealed some interesting trends…

90% of resondents offered course information online.

80% were either offering or planning to offer online information on student support services.

60% were either currently delivering or planning to deliver online access to or delivery of student  support services to their  stduents.

A third of respondents indicated  that they  currently offered online payments and electonic forms, whilst another third indicated that they were planning to move in that direction. The final third indicated that  they had no intention of doing so – cost of a secure systems cited as prohibitive.  This could be indicative  of the size of the organisation.

50% of respondents indicated that they were not planning to provide students with online access to results or their student records – security issues cited as a hurdle for most.

A positive sign is that  many more organisations are thinking very strategically about how they can use e-tools to expand, enhance and sustain  their business.

Flexible ACE research revisited – part 1

Below is the presentation to the focus group who met at  ACFED on Friday  27th April to revisit the Flexible ACE research.  The 15 members of the focus group represented metropolitan and rural ACE prvoiders,  from all  the regions.

The discussion was wide ranging  and very robust.

Providers reported that since the research was conducted in 2004, there has been as definite shift in organisational readiness and learner demand. There was still a reluctance by some older tutors to embrace the uptake if ICTs in their classes, with many  still of the opinion that  ICTS had the potential to  isolate learners. But, managers and tutors present were of the opinion that student demand  and the proliferation of easier to use free Web 2 tools was fast changing this perception.

There was consensus, though,  that embedding the tools in delivery was still somewhat ad hoc, but that projects such as LearnScope were making a big difference in supporting the embedding process. Managers were  quick to acknowledge the changing role of the teacher, and their role in facilitating the embedding process. The sessional nature of the ACE workforce  is still a problem, as is access to computers – very few  classrooms have computers and  datashows.

You can find out more about the Flexible ACE research by visiting our  project wiki  page, or check in here soon for more updates.

Thanks to everyone for attending and making it such a  productive day. Below is a copy of the presentation that formed the basis of our discussions…

[slideshare id=43322&doc=accessace-focus-group-presentation-19715&w=425]

Clever use of ICT in ACE – research questions refined

On the 4th April the project working group met to discuss the research methodology for the project. The group consists of representatives from eWorks, ACFE regional councils, CAE, AMES, and TAFE. The session was facilitated by Delia Bradshaw, educational consultant, and project mentor.

Robyn Downie, SMR ACFE regional director set the scene by pointing out that the reality for many small and regional ACE organisations is that they are struggling with sustainability. They often have low numbers enrolled in their courses and limited opportunities to engage skilled tutors or present their community with a variety of programs.  The result is that many small organisations are struggling to meet their targets.

With this in mind, the meeting started with an overview of the project, and then entered into a discussion on  defining blended learning, and specifically the role of online / e-learning in  that definition.

The attached mind map outlines the group’s thinking around the role of ICTs in teaching and learning and the constraints around blended learning. (blended learning mindmap (blended_learning.pdf)

A considerable amount of time was devoted to a discussion around the lens or focus of the research. The group was presented with a range of options; of which then had to choose the one they thought would be of most value for ACE organizations. The group narrowed the focus down to two main areas: learners and organizational commitment/ capacity / readiness.

If you would like to listen to a short pod cast of some of the discussion around models, you can listen to the latest AccessACE podcasts on http://accessace.podomatic.com/

Possible research questions to support and guide the project were also discussed.  They ranged from questions such as:

  • What are the problems being solved?  Issues of sustainability, new futures, new possibilities, models and identities.

  • What are the distinctive contributions of ACE – and what is the role of e-learning in this?

  • What does community mean?

  • What /where are the models of successful blended delivery – not only ACE?

  • Who sees the need to change?The learner, the fundign body, orgnisatiosn themselves or business?

  • What does clever use of ICT for ACE look like?

  • What does clever use of ICT in ACE mean?

  • What could clever use of ICT in ACE look like?

The group agreed that a combination of the last three questions – i.e. describing current clever uses of  ICT, together with a view to the future  -specifically around sustainability would provide most value for both the Division and ACE organisations.

Consultation session at the Loddon Mallee ACFE region

Yesterday Josie travelled to Bendigo for an information and consultation session at the Loddon Mallee ACFE region. We had a fabulous group of providers from as far as Kyabram, Donald, Swan Hill and Maryborough as well as some local providers.

Everyone shared information around the use of computers and the Internet in their centres,  and  in every centre the use of computers to support classroom delivery is very well established and embedded.

Many providers confirmed that they had more than one computer room at their centre. Many are working towards providing at least one computer and a data show in their classrooms for teachers and students to use during class time.

We had a lively discussion around a range of topics, and specifically around the eventual three models of blended learning that we would be trialling.  

Presented with a range of options, but having to choose only one, most of the participants opted for either a focus on organisational capacity or a focus on the learners.

Everyone agreed at organisational commitment – from the top down – is crucial, as well as  a commitment to supporting the technology needed and  developing staff  skills necessary to  make e-learning delivery a success.

It is no surprise that there was a strong case made for a focus on learners.  More specifically determining learners’ needs and establishing if there was a demand for e-learning and if so, what blend of e-learning they would   prefer.

Erica will be doing a similar information / consultation session in Mildura on Monday and we are planning to meet in Eluminate to discuss the outcomes of that meeting, soon after.

Thanks to everyone in Loddon Mallee region for your interest and support.

March is marching on…

Welcome Kathy 

March has been a busy months for us, and we are very happy to welcome Kathy Jagan to the team. Kathy will be working part time on both the AccessACE and LearnScope projects to provide valuable administrative support.

Speaking at your regional forum

This month I will be travelling to various regions to speak at provider  forums and  other regional workshops to promote and discuss the AccessACE project.

If you would like to me to come and speak to a provider forum or workshop in the next few months, please respond by leaving a comment on this page and I will be in touch.

Project working group established

We have established a project working group, who will be advising and supporting me in the research part of the project. We have representatives from CAE, AMES, e-Works, TAFE and ACE.  Everyone has a good understanding of e-learning, pedagogy and research.

I have also been working with Delia Bradshaw, who will be facilitating a session with the project working group in setting the parameters for the research and establishing a methodology for researching models of blended learning in ACE.

First information sheet published

We have also produced the first of a range of information sheets about the project. The first one is entitled What is AccessACE and provides information about the project as well as this blog and the wiki. If you would like a copy of the PDF document, please visit the wiki – there is a link on the right hand side of your screen.

Your input required:

We would really appreciate it if you could contribute to the wiki by giving us and update of what is happening in your region around ICTs in teaching and learning in ACE. This will add to the  body of knoweldge around what is currently happening and  give us valuable information  to draw on for our models.

To access the wiki:

Click on the wiki URL (http://accessace.wikispaces.com/)

Click on the link called  E-learning around the Regions.

Scroll down until you find your region.

Click on Edit this page.

Type your information and click Save.

You will find more informaiton on the  hompage of the wiki, or give me a call on 97869466

More soon…

Josie

Welcome to AccessACE

Welcome to the first entry tothe AccessACE project blog. A very exciting time for us in community education in Victoria, especially those interested in adding more E to their teaching and learning.

Throughout the next few months this  blog will become the main point of contact for anyone who wants to catch up with what is happeningng in the project, and also to join in the discussion and debate. We encourage everyone interested in blended leanring , e-learning and community education to join in.

If you want to know more about the project,  click on the About link under the Pages heading on the right hand column.

Please leave a comment and tell us who you are, where you are from and how you are currently using ICTs in your programs.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Josie Rose – project leader