29 March 2011

Manaiakalani meeting

Warning: It's late, parts of this post might not make sense.

We had a great Manaiakalani meeting tonight. We did our usual update on where we are at with issues and current development objectives, but then we revisited our design principles. This was a very useful exercise as there have been changes since the design principles were written. These changes were made because of indepth honest discussions that we have had over the last six months at our meetings - rowdy, passionate discussions where lots of points of view were brought to light and thrashed about.

We had lots of guests at our meeting and we were given feedback which was very useful. Helen Barrett in particular as she gave us her feedback in terms of a change process as well as suggesting we invite teachers to come to the meeting. Also really useful feedback came from Erin Barrett who said something along the lines of: everyone in this room has got it (the process, the risks etc), we need to educate the stakeholders (connect them to what we are doing). There were others who gave feedback so it was a really rich opportunity.

I want to come back to the inviting teachers feedback. Dorothy and I spoke about this later in the evening and she reminded me that it is voluntary to attend. When she said that I saw that it is the same problem as we experience with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) community. There are lots of developers in the olpc community but not anywhere near as many teachers. No matter how much OLPC emphasise "it's an education project" not a laptop project, many people still perceive OLPC to be about laptops and perceive that you can only contribute if you know how to write code. The reality is very far from the truth. There are lots of other ways to contribute, whether that be translation, distribution, funding, education, promotion, research, the list goes on. I am not a developer and I am contributing to Manaiakalani and OLPC. In both Manaiakalani and OLPC the voices that need to be heard and need to lead the decision making are the voices of learners and teachers, and I think the role of the developers is to facilitate the changes, so technology is developed to be appropriate to the pedagogy desired.

An absolute highlight of the meeting was having three students with us. They were invited to participate as equals to us, to raise questions and put forward ideas, but I think they were quite shy. We had some time at the end of the meeting which we used to talk with the students and we ended up talking about their career aspirations and fields of study in science. I look forward to seeing their blog posts about their experience attending "the Manaiakalani Hackers meeting".

22 March 2011

Manaiakalani and School Camp

Last Tuesday night was Manaiakalani meeting night. We meet every second Tuesday at Pt England school usually and talk about the hot topics current in the Manaiakalani project. We can be talking about the netbook hardware, software, OS, or the wifi within the participating schools and the municipal wifi, authentication, the financial status, the logistics, the provisioning, the teacher preparation and feedback, parents, security, rollout process, documentation, you name it we talk about it.

What made last Tuesday special was that it was camp week at Pt England school and we got to mingle with the students at dinner time. I asked some of the students about life with the netbooks. They told me they liked to play games, read each others blogs, do writing. They were interested in who the people were and what they did for the project.

Pt England students camp at the school (some Monday to Wednesday, some Wednesday to Friday). They enjoyed the activities they had been doing, particularly dunking (where someone throws a ball and if it hits the target someone else gets dunked). They liked to be the one who got dunked. The students sang for us, they are just great.

I was impressed with their dish washing system and asked permission to take some photos for my blog.

There was also a concert which we watched a little of after our meeting. There was some singing and dancing, as well as guitar playing. There sure is talent to be found in Pt England school.

06 March 2011

eLCC Workshop 2011

We had a three day workshop for eLearning Community Coordinators last week. It was a full on three days with a lot of us looking exhausted at the end of each day, but a really enjoyable and worthwhile event. There seemed to be something for everyone and it didn't matter if you were a technology whizz or beginner, had a thriving elearning community in your department or if it was early days, everyone was learning new things and getting reinvigorated for jumping in with both feet this year.

The programme included:
  • iPadagogy - an intro to the iPad with a three day loan of the iPad to each participant
  • Twitter for Collaboration Collating Student eportfolios via RSS
  • Communities of Practice - a year in, where are we now and what is the next phase for us in our elearning communities
  • Digital Storytelling, e-Portfolios and blogging
  • GMail - students use it, we need to now how to use it to better support them
  • The Matrix (course evaluation tool) and our Moodle Roll-Out Process - having evaluation conversations with our departments
  • Educational gaming - games you can use and how you can create your own games
  • Moodle Break-Outs (a time for asking questions and talking about best practice use of Moodle tools)
  • Using and creating EBooks (session led by an eLCC for his peers, yay!)
  • Moodle 2.0 - overview of the exciting new features and opportunity to ask questions
  • How enrolment works in our institution
  • eLCC Show and Tell
eLCC Workshop 2011
There was lots of talking with other eLCCs and sharing which was fantastic to see.

The absolute highlight for me was the eLCC show and tell time where quite a number of eLCCs took the stage and showed the peers something they are doing in the elearning space. Each eLCC really did offer something quite different too, with Chris talking about making his first movie with his phone and iMovie (thanks for the offer to help others Chris) and Ganeshan talking about how he used self directed blended learning to learn wind surfing (giving his perspective as the learner). The only disappointing thing in the whole three days for me was the invited people who did not come and show their support of eLCCs and the eLearning strategy. It was great to see Ray and Peter there and I hope to catch up with them to get their feedback.

The eLCCs who attended seemed to get a lot of out this time together and the feedback has been positive. One of my personal aims this year is to help eLCCs build confidence and their perceptions of their capabilities and I think these three days were a good step in this direction. I am going on maternity leave in June and I am hoping the eLCCs can support each other more this year so they are stronger as a community and can improve their ability to find resolutions amongst themselves, relying less on the elearning team and eLDAs. If they can do this, they will be in a better position next year when the funded positions supporting the eLearning strategy end.

01 March 2011

Moodle 2 setup

Last night we setup Moodle and Mahara integration on tabitha.net.nz (single sign on, auto creates accounts on mahara from moodle), google docs and flickr repositories, and had a bit more of a play. We also did the update to 2.0.2 while we were in Moodle mode.

The Google docs, Picasa, Youtube and Wikimedia repositories were easy to setup, but it took a bit longer to get Flickr working (had to get the callback settings right).

To setup the Mahara integration we used instructions that we found on the Mahara wiki called Mahoodle. If you follow the instructions make sure you don't skip ahead! There were quite a lot of steps and it took a while but we got there eventually.

Playing with all of these now I am so glad we got it all setup, they are great! It is much easier to put images in if you can use the repositories. This week I am going to be showing quite a few people some of the features of Moodle 2 so this setup is "just in time".