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Use the arrows to navigate through the lightboxes. Ctrl + to zoom in. Download the PDF print version or view the alternate plain text version.
How to use Google Apps for ed.
Teacher's guide for Google Apps.Download (720 KB PDF)
Mobile phones for assessment (Teacher guide)
Using mobile phone for assessment, a guide for teachers.Download (2.7 MB DOC)
Mobile phones for assessment (Learner guide)
Using mobile phone for assessment, a guide for learners.Download (2.6 MB DOC)
Learner survey TEMPLATE
Template for a learner survey about preferred technology and types of devices.Download (500 KB DOC)
How to use Moodle (Learner guide)
A brief guide for learners.Download (1.8 MB PDF)
How to use Mahara (Learner's guide)
A brief guide for learners.Download (3.5 MB PDF)
How to use Big Blue Button (Learners guide)
A brief guide for learners.Download (890 KB PDF)
E-Learning readiness survey
A template and checklist of an organisation's readiness for e-learning.Download (300 KB DOC)
E-Learning strategy template
A template and guide to formalising goals for e-learning.Download (290 KB DOC)
Memorandum of Understanding
An MOU template.Download (120 KB DOC)
Example evaluation form
An example evaluation form.Download (65 KB DOC)
Copyright clearance template
Template to keep records of the source and license for media files.Download (230 KB DOC)
Example of learner orientation
An orientation guide for learners.Download (710 KB PDF)
Example interactive PDF
Teacher generated e-learning content using MS Powerpoint.Download (5 MB PDF)
Example teacher preparation
A tool to assisting teachers become familiar with the changes.Download (21 KB DOC)
Example learner preparation
An example of guiding learners into the new environment.
(Service no longer available.)
Example of pros and cons list
A list to help explore and refine technology options.Download (19 KB DOC)
A guide of important items to check during implementation.Download (340 KB DOC)
Example copyright clearance
Licensing and source details for media used in a project.Download (1.44 MB PDF)
Moodle course creation checklist
Key points to check when developing a Moodle course.Download (223KB PDF)
The uptake of e-learning across the vocational education and training (VET) sector has been steadily increasing. Recent research shows 48% of all VET activity includes some form of e-learning (FLAG, 2013). However, there are major misconceptions about what e-learning is. For example, 95% of VET teachers identify as using technology in their delivery and assessment, yet only 72% say they do e-learning (FLAG, 2013).
This e-learning implementation toolkit is to assist Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) implement e-learning. The range of projects showcased shows the broad range of technologies used in e-learning as well as the range of contexts the tools can be applied in.
The framework of the toolkit is based on project management processes, the ADDIE (analyse, design, develop, implement, evaluate) instructional design model and research into factors that sustain e-learning (Callan and Bowman, 2010).
Please note that this is not a prescriptive process. Some steps may overlap and the length of time it takes will also vary. This is designed to assist in decision making processes.
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Prior to commencing an e-learning project it is important to be prepared. Preparation is about ensuring the elements needed to enhance sustainability are present. These elements include; having a strategic alignment of goals, senior leadership support, a strong business case, identified resourcing as well as people and IT supports (Callan and Bowman, 2010). The eight projects used as case studies recall that preparation was critical to their success.
A key lesson from the case studies is starting with a decision on what the problem is that you are trying to solve.
When asked about organisational readiness, a common response from project managers was: "You are never ready". When implementing new technology you face new problems and will develop new solutions as you go. Being innovative requires an organisation to be responsive to the environment. As a result, working with new technologies may raise new issues to be resolved and negotiated at a senior level. These may include, bring your own device (BYOD) and firewall policies, Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) between partners, IT and staff supports and resourcing.
For externally funded projects, preparation is done as part of the application process. Therefore, for internally funded projects an explict review to ensure the organisation is ready to sustain the innovation/s is vital preparation.
E-learning readiness survey (template)
E-learning strategy (template)
A. Strategy and senior leadership support
Despite being a smaller RTO we had enthusiastic management and flexibility due to less bureaucracy and institutional policies.
We spend a day a year dreaming about what we want to do in e-learning. Our entire team meets and each contributes their ideas. We apply for funding to help get these research projects off the ground and provide us with the chance to be more innovative.
Having support from senior leadership and adopting a longer-term view around e-learning is crucial to sustaining e-learning innovations. More innovative users of technology tend to adopt a longer term view of e-learning and gain senior leadership support to attain this (Callan and Bowman, 2010). Senior leadership support can be provided in a number of ways, from setting a vision to the provision of resourcing and the identification of key stakeholders. However, approximately 57% of registered training organisations have e-learning incorporated in their business strategy and with only 9% having a standalone e-learning strategy (FLAG, 2013).
For all teams, having strategic alignment with organisational priorities was a key feature of the preparation phase. Each project described how their projects aligned with organisational goals, which included:
- increase student engagement (and retention)
- trial new models of engagement with community/industry partners
- expand delivery and assessment into rural and remote areas
- build internal capability (aligned to areas in the strategic plan)
- develop and expand e-learning into new areas (aligned to strategic plan).
The strategic alignment also included alignment with e-learning (and mobile) strategy, learning innovations, workforce development planning and BYOD (bring your own device) policies.
Most teams had senior leaders directly involved in the projects from commencement; this was made easier by strategic alignment of the project to organisational goals. Senior leadership support facilitated a number of processes including:
- identification of key stakeholders
- communication with internal groups
- communication with external agencies (government, community and IT partners)
- setting priorities.
When it was clear there was strategic alignment and senior leadership support, the projects were able to commence project scoping.
B. Scope project
We talked to each Faculty to identify priority areas. Maritime was selected, as they were already somewhat tech savvy. They were local champions in some aspects of technology so we thought they were best placed to step into a slightly higher level of technology use.
The scoping of a project provides an outline of what will be included in the project, and what will be excluded. The Training Package and qualification/units must be decided before the project commences. The eight projects here covered a range of Training Package areas and units and rather than starting with whole qualifications, the majority of projects focussed on units to identify those that would be enhanced by e-learning.
There are a number of ways to approach the scoping process. For example, new and updated Training Packages or certification requirements can be opportunities to incorporate technology into delivery and assessment plans. During this time, projects often started to develop the project plan.
C. Business case and resourcing
Put most of your resources into the first three steps of analysis, design and development. The evaluation step is the easiest to sacrifice due to time constraints, yet vital.
A business case is key to sustaining e-learning (Callan and Bowman, 2010), especially as a large barrier to implementing e-learning is financial (FLAG, 2013). For our eight projects, the allocation of resources and development of a strong business case was an early indicator of success.
The return of investment (ROI) varied across projects. Some saw a direct savings in printing costs, teaching hours, more efficient administration or communication. For others, there wasn't an easily quantifiable ROI, as the benefits were long term, like increased engagement, increased enrolments, increased retention and internal capability building.
Innovative use of new technology can result from financial drivers. The New South Wales project was a result of learner requests to continue study in Aged Care. However, Kiama Community College didn't have this qualification on scope, so they partnered with Coffs Harbour Community college (who had the qualification on their scope and low enrolments). Teachers shared delivery across classrooms using cameras and shared screens. This 'multi-site delivery' method, was made possible through high-speed broadband technoogies. The six enrolments from Kiama were combined with seven from Coffs Harbor to make this a viable option for delivery. In the future, it may be possible to implement this across other qualifications and and to more locations.
The Tasmanian project is an example of technology enabled delivery that would have been cost prohibitive using other methods. The team used technology to beam in "Rock Star Chefs" as trainers via high-speed video streaming. Students used multiple cameras and two-way video, to perform cooking tasks under the direction of a Chef who was located in another town. This would not have been possible without the technology.
Developing a business case can be approached from a user-based design method. That is, organisations assess learner needs and engage them to provide feedback about what sort of things in the existing online system they struggle with. The Queensland project used this approach through "an environmental snap-shot and student feedback" and combined those to make a project plan.
Often teams aren't sure how to allocate funding or resources across a project. Interestingly, no project provided a firm idea of the allocation of budget across the project. All the teams agreed a majority of funding should be allocated to the analysis and design steps of a project, with an amount of time devoted to the change management processes. Project responsibilities should be flexible to balance with the competing needs of staff.
To assist RTOs with their planning, research suggests the approximate allocation of funds across an e-learning content development project:
- Analyse - 10% of budget
- Design - 36% of budget
- Develop - 35% of budget
- Implement - 4% of budget
- Evaluate - 7% of budget
- Contingencies - 8% of budget
Note that this information was based on US research into e-learning content development projects, and is provided to illustrate one way of allocating budget (http://www.slideshare.net/bchapman_utah/how-long-does-it-take-to-create-learning).
D. IT and people supports
Our technical partner works full-time in the area of education, technology and training. They were extremely experienced in dealing with software and hardware conflicts, browser conflicts, web development.
A major threat to the sustainability of innovations is a lack of technical and 'people' supports (Callan and Bowman, 2010). These supports can be in the form of organisational structures, provision of professional development as well as infrastructure and other IT supports. Having the right mix of technical support and subject matter experts is crucial to a successful project.
Partnering experienced technical support with excellent teachers is a key to success. The approach used by the New South Wales project was to focus on teachers with strong pedagogical skills, strong training and people skills. This approach required the selection of teachers who were flexible and could be partnered with technical supports. For this team supporting capability development was a key outcome of the project.
For the Victorian and Western Australia teams, securing the time of the content experts proved vital. They showcased the work of local champions to build enthusiasm with others. The Western Australia project team allocated the majority of funds for staff release to ensure the skill development and sustainability of project outcomes. The Victoria project team formed a partnership between teachers and developers, with the teachers being key stakeholders in the project. Both projects were positioned as professional development opportunities. For the Victorian team, it was like 'dropping a pebble in the pond and watching the ripples', being as much about change management as e-learning.
It is worth nothing that external funding can develop an environment that allows more risk taking, creativity and 'safe spaces' to trial technologies. Therefore, in internally funded projects it is important to allow the time and space for staff to innovate. Further, developing teacher profiles is a way to ensure staff are ready for the implementation of the e-learning innovation.
Step 1: Analyse
After the preparation process, the first step is to analyse. The information gathered during this stage will be used throughout the project. During this stage, develop learner profiles and gather an understanding of their learning locations. Research what learning resources are already available and plan delivery and assessment strategies.
1a: Develop learner profiles
We survey all new learners to find out about their learning styles and what technology they are using, and expect to be using, in their learning. Their feedback is that they want access 24/7, and they want to capture their learning digitally. We also run regular mobility and e-learning workshops with RTO managers, and employers to see what they expect from learners.
The analysis step starts with developing a profile of the learner group. Consider questions like:
- Who are the learners?
- What are their characteristics and demographics?
- How do they prefer to access their learning?
- Why are they enrolling in this course?
What special needs might they have?
During this time benchmarking surveys of learners can assist in the information gathering. The National VET E-learning Strategy have a learner survey that can aid in this process.
All project teams started with an understanding of their learners' needs and expectations. The Victorian team implemented a learner survey for all students, so this was part of their normal business operations.
The South Australia project found value in asking their Industry partners to assist in the process of creating learner profiles. They asked employers what skills, including language, literacy and numeracy (LLN), were needed in the workplace and conducted site visits to better understand potential needs. For example, they found that greater-than and less-than maths symbols (> <) were assumed to be widely known, but weren't. The South Australia team advises “to start with the learners and work backwards from there; remember to consider their Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LNN), cultural needs and employability skills.”
All the teams were committed to learner experience being paramount at every step. Their aim was to leave the learners with something interesting and productive and ensure their engagement in the learning process was positive and satisfying. Examples of ways to develop learner profiles include:
- talking to your students
- gathering quantitative information through online forms, web-based survey tools, and individual learning plans
- reviewing existing research
- discussing learner needs with teachers and Industry (employers).
1b. Identify learning places and devices
Our main learning place was an on-campus collaborative learning space we call Interactive Technology Hubs. Trades areas set up the equipment they need to use these areas as mobile classrooms but there are no computers available. The use of learners' mobile phones for assessment was the ideal scenario.
Gathering information about the places where learning happens and devices can be done in conjunction with gathering a learner profile. Consider asking questions like:
- Where do they expect to be learning: on-campus, off-campus, at home, the train, at their workplace?
- What computer devices do they expect to be using: tablets (iPads, Android), phones, laptops, RTO standard desktop PCs, Home PC's?
- Will their Internet access be fast/slow, intermittent/ubiquitous?
- What do their potential employers expect them to be able to do?
It is important to remember the main barrier for learners is access to computers and the Internet (FLAG, 2013). Therefore, it is important to gain a clear understanding of what access to technology the learner has during this stage.
One way to deal with issues of access is through a bring your own device (BYOD) strategy. The Victorian team's BYOD survey revealed 73% of their students have smartphones, and that laptops (67%) and desktops (42%) are still significantly more common than tablets (19%). They incorporated this knowledge into their project and developed an app that allowed the collection of assessment evidence offline with the files uploaded when they were in a wi-fi enabled area.
The Western Australia project conducted a technology survey asking students:
- about the type of electronic devices they own and how they use them
- how they prefer to receive communication
- what online activities and tools they use
- what they would like to use as part of their training.
Finally, students were asked if they were familiar with the RTO's BYOD policy and were provided the opportunity to make open-ended comments in relation to the use of technology as part of their training. From the information gathered, the team found out that offline access was important due to limited Internet access and difficult security restrictions. Ideally the learners wanted to be able to read and prepare offline before coming to the classroom.
1c. Research learning resources
To create engaging, motivating, and intellectually stimulating learning resources from scatch might be a false economy. There may already be endorsed materials that you can map to your delivery and assessment strategies. Contact your Industry Skills Councils.
An important component is to research existing resources available for the qualification and units selected. There are a large number of resources available for RTOs, including free resources, fee for purchase or license of resources as well as supporting resources from the National VET E-learning Strategy.
In some cases, project teams found that there was an abundance of apps, learning objects and Open Education Resources (OER) ready to be used or adapted. In selecting resources, preference was given to those that would work in a web browser because they could be used across many devices. This approach was especially prevalent when the team's organisation had a BYOD policy.
If ready-made cross-compatible learning resources were not available then teams would search for specific apps or software that could only be used on single Operating Systems (eg either Windows, Android or iOS). Often large RTOs would commit to providing standard computing devices in a computer lab or providing each learner with an iPad (one-one programs).
When there were no pre-made resources or solutions teams developed their own. They used the research process to inspire ideas of what they could do within their own context.
1d. Determine delivery and assessment strategies
I have seen distance education models of e-learning without facilitation further disengage young learners.
Once learner profiles are in place and resources found, decisions can be made about delivery and assessment strategies. These strategies are different depending on the planned innovation. The level of support to be provided has resourcing implications later in the process. Decisions should be made around the role of the facilitator, the use of synchronous and asynchronous communication and the assessment methods.
Decide the role of the facilitator
The facilitator can have a strong presence (live or virtually) or a small presence (traditional distance delivery). E-learning can be used in face-to-face settings or be completely online, or sit anywhere between this continuum as a blended mode. The projects used facilitators in a range of ways:
- The South Australian team blended face-to-face workshops with online web conferences. They found that online relationships were lifted to a new level because they took the time to meet face-to-face first. It is costly, but worthy especially for Aboriginal learners. They also recommend scheduling a follow up face-to-face session to plan 'where to from here' and to reinforce key points.
- The New South Wales and Tasmanian teams partnered teachers with IT specialists, to stream video to remote students.
- The Western Australia and Queensland teams had teachers develop the technical skills required to integrate the new technology with normal teaching practice.
- The Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory teams used technology to enhance face-to-face teaching, exploring different technologies to engage learners.
Consider synchronous vs asynchronous
Each project team made decisions about whether learning would be synchronous or asynchronous. The New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia projects had already established high engagement with learners and continued this via video streaming and conferencing. They found their learners enjoyed being together and following a synchronised learning schedule. In comparison, the Queensland team showed how asynchronous learning through social networking tools can be an extension of the learner's life into their learning context. Faster bandwidth and ubiquitous availability of the Internet made synchronous delivery easier than it was previously.
Define e-assessment methods
Due to remote towns and workplaces, our dream is not have to travel to assess learners. If they have visual tools they can video themselves or Skype. We need better bandwidth to move away from the on-campus workshop model.
Easessment can be defined as the use of technology in the assessment process. The projects show that this is more complex than simply running online quizzes. The collection of evidence for assessment activities can be anywhere from 100% computer aided assessment to the use of technology to enhance methods.
The Victorian project focused on assessment. After extensive collaboration with learners, teachers, and industry partners, their goal was to provide a way for mobile phones to be used in (non-computer) TAFE rooms using mobile assessment templates and checklists designed by teachers. Learners were able to use these assessment tools offline and then uploaded the media (often large files) when back on a faster Wi-Fi connection.
The Northern Territory project explored how cameras and microphones in tablet devices could be used to capture evidence of learning when off-site. Social media sites were used to upload and share this student generated content later when better network connections were available.
Step 2: Design
Once analysis reveals a clear picture of learners, environments, technologies and available resources, the next step is to design the innovation or e-learning. A critical element, and easy to overlook, is the process of storyboarding, designing prototypes, identifying the network capabilities and designing the online spaces.
How to use Google docs
Example interactive PDF
Example of pros & cons list
2a. Storyboard the design
We designed storyboards for mobile devices using Balsamiq mockups for wireframe to prototype and aligning the navigation structure to Moodle LMS.
Storyboarding is the process of designing the learner's experience. Depending on the complexity of the project, this can be as simple as some sketches and workflow through to a fully functional specifications document. The storyboard is the document the final product is built from.
Most project teams used mock-ups and simple sketches to communicate and discuss ideas before creating the final products. Teams found it helpful to involve lecturers/trainers in the design process, as their ideas could be refined and improved to meet learner needs before going into final development. The Victorian team said that using Balsamiq software to storyboard mockups felt like drawing, but because they were done digitally they were easy to tweak and rearrange. In a collaborative environment, teams come up with a design and iterated in real-time during the course of a meeting.
2b. Plan and test using prototypes
We worked with IT experts to test out our options. We met once a week to try out a different web conference app: Skype, Google Hangout, Adobe Connect etc. The quality of the technical support became a deciding factor for us.
After storyboarding, testing prototypes will ensure ideas are going to work prior to development. A prototype is a miniature version of a plan built purely for testing and often a few prototypes are developed and compared. After this comparison and evaluation, the team may return to the storyboard to incorporate the changes. An alternative form of development is called 'rapid prototyping', where the prototype is developed in iterations (rather than storyboarding then developing).
Teams found it useful to have expert advice at this stage. Larger RTOs often have this capability in-house, whereas smaller RTOs outsource this capability. Smaller teams (eg New South Wales and Queensland) bought in the support. The New South Wales team purchased audio visual equipment and made use of the vendor's advice. The Australian Capital Territory decided to develop their prototype in-house when their external provider wasn't able to meet their requirements.
2c. Identify network capacity requirements
Initial speed tests gave us a 10Mbps download speed and a 4Mbps upload speed - not much, but enough to run around 5 cameras with reasonable definition. However, at the exact time when the virtual excursion to a remote coffee lab was to begin we were ‘kicked off’ the network. It was lunchtime at the neighboring school and despite everyone’s best assurances that this would have no effect on the connectivity, the best speed we could get on Wi-Fi was 0.41Mbps!
Any technology impacts on bandwidth. In the design step, it is important to get an idea of the network requirements. This is the process of considering the impact on network infrastructure and the effects for learners.
Once a plan was in place each project team decided on the network bandwidth required to deliver e-learning. In some cases intermittent or low speed internet access was sufficient. For video streaming high-speed reliable Internet was a requirement. The Tasmanian project needed spaces that were cabled to high speed broadband with wireless access points sufficiently close to the action to sustain about a dozen cameras and around five Bluetooth headsets streaming simultaneously.
2d. Design online learning spaces
Our theory was that if students were able to use social networkingand webmail regularly in their own personal lives, then by mimicking those processes in our online learning system using the same tools that they use in their social time, we would hopefully improve engagement making it a simpler and enjoyable process for those students who are at risk of disengaging from learning and in many cases have low literacy and numeracy abilities.
To design online learning spaces, consider the learners' experience. This may include access to the content, materials and technologies used in the project. Much of this is related to what is already known, including the role the facilitator will play, but it is also worth considering the role of a help-desk and how learners will access help and support. This may include the set-up of a formal Learning Management System (LMS) such as Moodle.
The Queensland project decided to build on existing skills of learners rather than expecting them to navigate a new learning environment. Learners were using YouTube, Facebook and Google products regularly, so using those for e-learning reduced learner anxiety and confusion.
Like the Queensland learner cohort, the Northern Territory project’s learners were already using social networking tools. The Northern Territory team found that when using public spaces like Facebook to share learning students will often use them in different ways (which is to be expected), and to great effect. They recommended not prescribing (at least not initially) what has to be done and how. Their approach engaged the learner as it removed the formality of the learning context.
The Western Australian team used their LMS (Moodle) for handling confidential student data like assessments and grades. However for preliminary reading and research, a secure space was not necessary so the project team chose to use a public Wikispace for learners to access readings and research. The feedback from staff was positive, especially around the ease of creating and building content.
2e. Explore and refine technology options
Consider free online tools like Google Communities and Hangouts. We think that this breaks down the barriers, or some of the barriers, to organisations who want to more their training from paper based or face-to-face to an online environment in that it reduces the initial set-up cost and allows them to begin to explore this space without a financial barrier. We also believe it includes more people and makes it easier for students, particularly those with low literacy and numeracy or who have an aversion to engaging in regular online delivery platforms that are not as user friendly, we believe that it will help these students to engage.
A priority in exploring technology options is to cater to the needs of the target learner group by using technologies relevant to them. This can increase learner confidence and expand the knowledge of teachers/trainers across a range of e-learning tools.
Some of the teams selected technologies that work on any computer. The Western Australia project searched for content that adjusted in response to the size of the device’s screen. The team discovered a freely available app (Adobe Reader) that enabled highly accessible interactive PDFs to work on tablets, laptops and desktop computers using any operating system. Since teachers were already comfortable using Microsoft PowerPoint to create content, a workflow was designed with the aim of any teacher being able to create and convert content into an interactive PDF.
The Queensland team also said they were amazed at how much they achieved using low-cost, readily available technologies.
2F. Consider repositories for documents and media
We use Google documents to collaborate and to publish documents online making them extremely easy for trainers to change for various cohorts and to update. We are excited that the version in control of Google docs means that we will have a record of all changes and contributions and the Google accounts that we set up will also be used for YouTube accounts, e-mail and the Google Plus social space will be used for interaction between our staff team as well.
Often there is a need to handle large documents and media files and there are many options for storing these types of files. Document repositories can be an important inclusion in an e-learning project; Dropbox, Google Drive, Flickr, Evernote, YouTube and Vimeo are convenient places to store content and offer many features.
Many teams used cloud-based repositories and found issues of security and privacy across the variety of the platforms that students access. One issue of concern was data back-up. The Queensland team solved this by synchronising Google Drive with a local computer and then backing that data up directly from the computer. Learners were asked to agree to their data storage to comply with Google Terms of Service.
An advantage of keeping digital files online (in the cloud), is the reduced need to upload and download. Worksheets created in Google Docs for instance could be used in any web browser and could be downloaded and converted into a variety of formats. The Queensland team recommended that worksheets be provided for learners to complete and then share with their teachers and other classmates. Comments could be made directly on the document to simplify feedback and assessment. They found this level of collaboration impossible with offline documents.
Step 3: Develop
So far the analysis step (step 1) has clearly defined the problem and the design step (step 2) has looked at creating and testing possible solutions. Now the development step (step 3) is about putting final products together into a deliverable package.
The level of development depends on the size and complexity of the projects and may include making decisions about whether to insource or outsource, conducting testing, ensuring security requirements as well as copyright licensing and accessibility consideration.
Copyright clearance (template)
Example copyright clearance
Moodle course creation checklist
3a. Choose to insource/outsource
Our technical partner works fullt-ime in the area of education, technology and training. They were extremely experienced in dealing with software and hardware conflicts, browser conflicts, and web development.
The decision to outsource may be made earlier in the project. However, it is during the development process the decision will be implemented. Research shows that smaller organisations tend to outsource development and larger organisations tend to insource (Callan and Bowman, 2010). This is because smaller organisations may not have the internal capability or capacity. To make this decision, project teams weighed up the benefits of utilising and improving internal skills of e-learning specialists.
An important goal for the Western Australian project was to enable each lecturer to have a simple process to develop and publish their own content without needing high-level computer skills so they decided to insource. Further, the Victorian project chose to insource because they had an extensive mix of internal skills and wanted to build capability in these areas. Both teams noted a downside to insourcing was that there were often competing priorities when developing in-house (e.g. server performance issues due to increased use became a higher priority than the project). The teams’ advice was therefore to be clear about the project objectives, and to outsource when the ramifications of choices are not understood.
The Tasmanian and Queensland teams both decided to outsource the development of their e-learning. Both teams had strong relationships with their provider and suggested that if the organisation does not understand or connect with their provider then ‘they should find another one’. The teams believed that full-time technology specialists have a great knowledge network to tap into, and viewed IT as collaborative partners in the development phase. The Tasmanian team recommended not restricting IT partners to agree to what may seem to them as ‘stone and chisel solutions’, but to instead respect their profession and experience and empower them to be innovative. These supportive partnerships gave both teams confidence to make decisions.
Interestingly, the Australian Capital Territory project team started with the decision to outsource. During the project, they realised their budget was going to be too small to be a priority for the company they had outsourced to. As part of their investigation during the design step, they decided to build their internal capability to develop their innovation. They released the technical partner and moved forward themselves.
3b. Conduct testing
We used Google presentation slides (similar to Microsoft Powerpoint) with hyperlinks to guide students to learning activities. These slides were easy to create and use, quick to load within any browser, and automatically resize to fit on phones, tablets, and desktops.
The analysis step created learner profiles that became design guidelines and testing benchmarks of products and processes developed. Thorough testing should be carried out on many types of computers from the perspective of a range of low and high skilled users. Testing may cover different aspects for example:
- Can the learners use this easily?
- Are there problems with performance of the software (e.g. too slow or unreliable?) Can learners use it the product on different sized screens and devices?
- Are we discriminating against learners with temporary or permanent disabilities?
The feedback should be incorporated to improve the final products before being implemented.
An unexpected challenge for some teams was considering responsive web layouts that work across multiple devices. They had to develop interfaces that worked well from phones to tablets to computers, designing and testing across several brands, models, browsers and operating systems.
For the Queensland project, using mobiles and smart phones was extremely simple as all of the Google services they used were designed to work on mobile devices. Some work natively in the browser on the device and others worked through an app interface which was freely available from either the Apple App Store or the Android Google play store.
3c. Ensure security, back-up and access requirements are met
Using cloud based services brings in challenges to back-up data. We set up synching to a desktop PC so we could keep copies of the documents for our records.
An important consideration before implementation is balancing easy to access content with securing content in private networks. Project teams explored the process of setting up accounts for students and also looked at security and accessibility issues for each technology.
The Queensland team set-up Google accounts, and these could be used for YouTube, e-mail and the Google Plus social space for interaction between our staff team as well. Having a single password to access the wide range of resources was highly valued by the learners and teachers.
The Queensland team also synchronised Google Drive with a local computer and then backed that data up directly from the computer.
3d. Confirm licensing, copyright and accessibility
Embrace copyright and Creative Commons early to prevent double handling. The ease of “Google image search” makes it standard operating procedure for most. The time spent searching for appropriate images is better spent taking your own!
Consideration should be given to understanding licensing terms and respecting copyright of images and media. Learning basic creative commons licensing is essential for developing e-learning.
The WCAG principles are embedded in our processes. There are some limitations around mobile application, especially as we move into more Web 2 student generated content and virtual realities we need new standards. Accessibility is fundamentally about making it easier and mobile devices are incredibly enabling. Voice-overs, accessibility mode, zoom, touch control and display choices are very popular with tablet users.
Meeting accessibility requirements is a fundamental consideration. Many of the project teams had issues with accessibility, and utilised the support provided by the National VET E-learning Strategy's E-Standards for Training. The teams agreed that the earlier accessibility is discussed the easier it is to implement.
Step 4: Implement
Once the preceding steps are completed - the project is ready for implementation. For training organisations, the implementation step is often the delivery and assessment of a unit.
Using mobile phones for assessment (Teacher guide)
Using mobile phones for assessment (Learner guide)
How to use Moodle (Learner guide)
How to use Mahara (Learner guide)
How to use Big Blue Button (Learner guide)
Example of learner orientation
Example teacher preparation
Example learner preparation
4a. Prepare teachers for e-learning
The facilitators were initially overwhelmed. It felt too hard, I’m too busy, that’s not our job, my students wouldn’t like that. As we got to know them we could see what technical skills they already had and built on that. They couldn’t see that eLearning was value adding until we came up with some examples. We tweaked what they were already comfortable with instead of something entirely new. This was a very effective way of getting them on side and only slightly out of their comfort zone.
Preparing teachers is a critical component to implementing an e-learning innovation. Benchmarking data shows that while 65% of teachers feel confident in their own use of e-learning, over 20% don't believe staff have the skills to effectively use technology-based teaching tools (FLAG, 2013). Further, the enthusiasm and support from champions is an enabler to the sustainability of innovations (Callan and Bowman, 2010). Insights from the teams show the importance of preparing teachers.
The Northern Territory project team selected local champions who were already keen, and already experimenting with iPads and social media and wanted to explore this in their delivery and assessment. They published examples from these local champions to ‘infect others’ with their enthusiasm and demystify technology. The local champions were the driving force in the project.
The Tasmanian project made a quick induction video to show guest (content expert) presenters what to expect during remote video streaming in response to some of the guest presenter’s feedback that they would have liked a few fast tips on how best to connect with participants remotely and speed up the settling in process at the beginning of the sessions. This reinforces the importance of online facilitation skill development.
4b. Provide an entry point for students
The lessons should begin with sufficient time allocated to the establishment of a connection between the remote participants to warm people up to the idea that the teacher could see and hear them perfectly. This process seemed to take around 10 minutes (depending on the number of individuals involved).
Learners need orientation and induction to their learning spaces; this is no different in an online environment. Orientation provides an entry point to allow time and coaching for learners to become comfortable with e-learning and the technologies used.
Many project teams used easily accessible (often public) learning places with familiar interfaces as a first contact with e-learning content. Wikispaces, Facebook, Google +, Vimeo and YouTube were successfully used to communicate and share resources.
In the Australian Capital Territory project, each participant was sent an email with class dates and times and a link to download apps onto their device before class. Furthermore, the project team had spare technology devices on hand and scheduled a half hour introduction at the start of every class to familiarize learners with the technology.
4c. Conduct delivery and assessment
We determined that we needed to state to the learners exactly what they needed to find out or which skill they needed to be able to perform by the conclusion of the session in order for them to remain actively engaged in the sessions. This coupled with the extra efforts to ensure that the remote teacher knew the names of individuals (we stayed low-tech and simply put name tags on the learners’ uniforms and onto their chopping boards for the “hand cam”) meant that people got into it and began to interact as though they were in the same room. This trial was thrilling for everyone involved - it was like magic!
Delivery and assessment will look different for every project. Refine and modify the models of delivery and assessment developed during the analysis and design steps.
A few tips have emerged from trials in facilitating e-learning:
- Multimedia in a small room and lots of devices is distracting and noisy; make sure learners have ear-phones.
- If relying on BYOD, have spare devices on hand and a spare Wi-Fi close by if 3G fails.
- Make sure video conferences elict active participation from the learners, every 10 or 12 minutes there needs to be a point of interaction.
- In web conferences clear sound is more important than crystal clear visuals, though ideally both should be excellent.
- Teachers want a fully integrated solution with a simple ON switch, so keep things simple for them.
- Blending high tech and low tech solutions works well. A good old fashion white board and whiteboard marker is a totally valid tool in a video conference.
- Go into every session with a ‘plan B’ (and ‘C’); having a backup of the asynchronous learning system can be a risk management strategy in case of technology failure. .
Some facilitators for the New South Wales project were stressed by the prospect of technology failures to start with. The project managers reinforced that the project was about what they were good and planned for better IT support, resulting in anxiety around failures being significantly reduced.
4d. Provide tools for learners
The students in these programs all have varying degrees of English literacy. However, the iPads are firstly very user-friendly and very tactile and therefore good at engaging these students in connecting the learning to their own contexts. The additional part to this was that students took great pride in sharing their material with family and friends once they had a link to it on YouTube.
The tools provided to learners depend on the innovation that is being used. Benchmarking data shows an incredible increase of mobile devices in VET delivery and assessment - up from 19% in 2008 to 55% of all VET delivery and assessment in 2013 (FLAG, 2013). The projects showed a high level of integration with mobile systems and devices.
Some project teams focused on how mobile devices could be used to read and consume content, while others intended the devices to be used as video cameras, audio recorders, and e-portfolios of sense-making artefacts produced by learners. Some used devices in the workplace to capture evidence of learning through photos, text and videos of real life experiences in a daily work journal. The spin-off from this approach was that by sharing the learners’ work on social media sites promoted the course to potential new learners and reinforced the connection between learners, their workplace, their family and the classroom.
The Victorian project designed a mobile-based assessment plugin for Moodle. Their objective was to allow teachers to view submissions and provide feedback using the Moodle gradebook. A range of media could be integrated into these assignment submissions, including photos video and audio. To reduce impact on student data charges, the app allowed for submissions to synchronise when a Wi-Fi connection was available.
The Northern Territory project used social media to create opportunities for learners to share the products of their learning with family and community members, to create a sense of pride. The use of iPads gave learners a sense of control. For example the Cert III in Land Management & Conservation took photos of weeds in their lands, they went back to campus and searched online to identify the weeds. They added captioned words and added music in iMovie.
Step 5: Evaluate
Although evaluation occurs throughout the entire process, formal evaluation is the fifth and final step of an e-learning project. Evaluation ranges from formal data collection using surveys and the informal sharing of outcomes.
5a. Collect, interpret and understand data
We outsourced the creation of our digital story. We needed a good storyteller and a good script. It was worth every cent! Our video has over 7000 views and has been entered into an Asia-Pacific e-learning competition. We are travelling internationally now promoting this project.
Various formal and informal methods were used to collect feedback by each project team. The common theme for all projects was that although they appreciate the value of collecting and sharing feedback this step is at the greatest risk of being dropped due to time and budget constraints.
The outcomes were measured in a range of ways:
- numbers of people enrolling and completing the course (against benchmarks)
- discussions with partners and colleagues who participated in the training about how they will implement in their workplace
- student outcomes - numbers receiving accreditation
- student satisfaction surveys pre/post
- teacher satisfaction surveys pre/post
- levels of student engagement in comparison to earlier delivery of programs
- retention rates
- interest shown by other organisations and training providers
- numbers of clicks (in social media)
- feedback through social media (e.g. Google Plus)
- user experience (e.g. learners, staff, IT or technical support)
5b. Share results
There has been a great deal of evaluation of outcomes along the way. The monthly meetings with staff from Nganampa Health have given us an update on the Aboriginal Health Workers perspectives. During the course there has been updates from Nganampa Health and also comments and feedback from the participants as we met up each week. We'd often invite feedback in the sessions, asking how they found certain activities. Learners loved the web activities, which often involved game features and drills with measuring various lengths or reading gauges, starting with simple tasks and often progressing to more complex examples. They again gave feedback about collaborative exercises, often talking amongst each other at the same location to solve a problem. These comments and conversations assisted in guiding activities that would be effective. Word has spread about the course and we had requests from other Aboriginal staff at Nganampa Health to join the training. We took these requests as a positive recommendation from others.
Capturing and sharing the evaluation of a project has potential benefits yet is often neglected when developing a project plan. Imagine the most brilliant e-learning solutions that may be lost in cyberspace, lost on a USB stick in someone’s office, or lost when a person leaves the organisation. Allocating this task to an ‘outsider’ not only provides a different perspective but also avoids this step being avoided when budget and timelines create pressure on busy team members.
The Western Australian project successfully shared the new skills obtained in this project with other faculties. They focused on offering professional development at very basic levels and then watched how each lecturer negotiated with their learners on how they want to use e-learning. They found that when they stripped it back to the basics, with no bells and whistles or new toys, lecturers began using these tools in innovative ways.