Monday, November 02, 2009

Digital Education Revolution Resources

The Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) has a useful list of Digital Education Revolution Resources. Unfortunately these are on a very poorly designed web page. It is a shame that this excellent work, which is costing Australian tax payers many hundreds of millions of dollars is so poorly presented. A few hours work would make the material far more accessible. The page is headed "Experience the Digital Education Revolution". The web address is not linked to a web page and entering that web address manually ends up back on the same page on the DEEWR web site. The list of links to resources on the page do not seem to work. These are supposed to link to further down on the same page, but actually go nowhere. This is unfortunate as the education resources listed are excellent, if you can find them. Many of the materials are in the form of hard to get, hard to read, poorly formatted, large PDF files.An example of this is "Listening to Students’ and Educators’ Voices: Research Findings" which is so poorly formatted that DEEWR offer to mail a printed copy.
  • Listening to Students’ and Educators’ Voices: Research Findings
  • Digital Education Revolution Fact Sheet – March 2009
  • Review of Legitimate and Additional Financial Implications of the National Secondary School Computer Fund
  • Better Practice Guide - ICT in Schools
  • Cyber-safety in schools
  • Exemplar Schools: Using Innovative Learning Technologies Report and Digistories
  • Partnerships in Information Communication Technology Learning (PICTL) Report and Case Studies
  • Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)
  • Australian Information and Communications Technology in Education Committee (AICTEC)
  • Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
  • Curriculum Corporation
  • MCEETYA ICT in Schools Taskforce (ICTST)
  • – through Teacher PD/PD forum
  • the Le@rning Federation

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Leadership Training for the Australian Government

Austrade have issued a Request for Tender for "Harvard Business Publishing Online Content". Perhaps they should have made the RFT about materials for leadership and management education, not specifically the material which only one company has the rights to supply. Harvard Business Publishing supply the materials Austrade has asked for, so it is not clear how Austrade were planning to have a competitive tender process.

The contractor is required to provide Harvard ManageMentor, Essential Leader, Case in Point, Stepping Up To Management, Leadership Transitions, Harvard Business Publishing Centres, Leading for Results, Fifty Lessons, Harvard Business Review Reprints and Faculty Seminar Series. These are all good materials, but other organisations provide other similar material. In addition, Austrade might want to consider online collaborative education for their staff, rather than just passive reading of web pages.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Distance education for millions of unviersity students

Greetings from the famous room N101 at the Australian National University in Canberra, where Professor Uma Kanjilal, Director of the School of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi Open University (IGNOU) is speaking on "Standards and distance education". The talk is being recorded and I will provide a link here, when available. The Professor is visiting Australia and will speak to federal government agencies later in the day and at University of Canberra, later in the week. The visit is funded by the Australia-India Council, University of Canberra and Flinders University and the purpose is for knowledge exchange around ICT in education. I will post some comments here as the talk goes along.

Initial distance education in India was printed material by post. Integrated multimedia is being added, with TV and radio. It needs to be kept in mind that infrastructure is needed, including libraries and A/V facilities, computers, and Internet.

India has a Distance Education Council to oversee provision of courses. This sets standards for materials, registration processes, support services for learners, ICT infrastructure and assessment. Before creating a course, the institution has to do need assessment to show there is a requirement for a course and who the target group are.

The Indian Distance Education Guidelines are available online:
  1. Norms and Standards for Management Programmes
  2. Norms and Standards for IT Education
  3. DEC-GUIDELINES, for regulating the Establishment and Operation of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Institutions in India
  4. Norms for ODL
  5. Norms for Online Programmes
The India PM has set up a National Knowledge Commission as a high-level advisory body. There will be an advisory group on Pedological Content and a Technical Advisory Group.

India uses its own satellites for broadcasting educational material. More interactive and feedback techniques as resources permit. Few Indian students have Internet access at home, so some methods being used are cyber cafes. Mobile phone SMS is being used for student support and 3G smart phone support will be offered when these phones are more widely available.

ps: For my own experiences of Indian cyber cafes and wireless networking, see: Living in an Indian Village in Goa for Three Weeks

pps: Unfortunately the battery went flat in my MP3 recorder, so only the first 10 minutes of the talk were recorded: Uma Kanjilal ANU 2009 05 11 (MP3 4.48Mbytes)

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

DimDim Web Conference for E-learning

DimDim is a web conferencing product popular for education. This is because it offers a free service for conferences with up to 20 participants. It also claims to require no software download and be open source. However, it uses Adobe Flash for the audio and video, so that needs to already be installed on the computer used. I found DimDim very easy to sign up for and start a conference with. It has the usual whiteboard, desktop and presentation sharing features of such products. One interesting feature is web co-browsing, where the presenter selects a web page and it is displayed on the participants screens, scrolling synchronised with the presenter's screen.

Co-browsing works very well with HTML Slidy presentations, such as my "Learning to lower costs and carbon emissions with ICT" (slides). This could be very useful for bandwidth efficient presentations, as the Slidy slides use a lot less storage than the typical Powerpoint or OpenOffice.Org presentation. With the video frame rate turned down (or off) and the audio reduced to telephone quality, the web conference would use very little bandwidth. USQ's ICE open source e-learning content creation system produces Slidy as part of a course package, which would then work well with DimDim.

One catch is that, for security reasons, DimDim does not work with web sites which require you to enter a user-id and password. I found that this stopped access to Moodle courses, even those which allow access without a user id (I will ask DimDim to fix this). Another limitation is that the web browsing is not recorded along with the audio, video and other content.

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