I am part of the Fresh Thinking Program 2006/07 which is funded by the WA Department of Education and Training. Each year a few lecturers from each of the different TAFEWA colleges are selected for the program, to run workshops, on request from other Colleges, on their area of specialty, and the Department covers the cost of the workshops. I was selected to be part of this program as a result of my m-learning work in 2006.
Today was my first workshop commitment as part of this program and I had to present two 1hr 20 min workshops on “E-learning’s evolution into m-learning” at two of SWAN TAFE campuses (Midland and Thornlie). Participants were from a wide range of industry areas (e.g. building and construction, horticulture, aviation) and had differing levels of exposure to e-learning. However most do not use e-learning with their students and were interested to learn more about e-learning. Bit of a problem as the workshop’s focus is meant to be on m-learning.
All was good though, because my presentation started by first looking at how technology has changed dramatically since 1991 and how this has resulted in the evolution of e-learning. As I worked through some of the key dates, in terms of e-learning, in the evolution of the World Wide Web (e.g. World Wide Web; WebCT; Elluminate; Wikipedia; blogs; wikis; Youtube) I was able highlight different types of e-learning that they could use with their students. I then moved onto m-learning and they each got to use a PDA (to see how they work and to check out some of the student resources); try out the spyglasses and some checked out the video ipod. End result I certainly had a good time and I hope they all did as well.
Probably for many of participants the major issue is time; most lecturers, especially those in trade areas, are struggling to keep up with training demands. Western Australia currently has an unemployment rate of 2.7 % (which is the lowest in Australia). So while e-learning can assist their programs they do not necessary have the time to learn the skills to use it effectively.
My suggestion to lecturers new to e- or m-learning is to focus on learning one main skill so they do not feel overwhelmed. There are some many possible starting points – probably the best idea is to first think about what you are trying to achieve and then consider the possible e- or m-learning solutions. For example with remote students, loss of face-to-face student interaction is an issue, and Elluminate (using web conferencing technology) is an excellent e-learning solution for enhancing the program and it is very easy to use (TAFEWA has the licence for Elluminate which means all TAFEWA lecturers have access to it).
This has been a very hard post to write. Not because it was hard to think of what to write but because tonight my girlfriend came to visit. She convinced my husband that he has to set up his own blog (I would not exactly say he is into technology – for example – insists always on spending days reading instruction manuals and then still have to ask me for help) and then proceeded to help him set it up (they have been sitting next to me all night chatting – very hard to concentrate). If you would like to check out his progress with technology, marriage to an Internet addict and kids who are almost as addicted as their mother you can find his blog at The Blog of a Technology Widower. Please, I beg you, do not subscribe to his blog or post comments, the family has too many people into the Internet (and I do not want to share my computer!).