Image of Fish on iceI’ve been away since 31 July-7 August at two aquaculture conferences (in Queensland, Australia) where I got to network with other aquaculture educators and people from the aquaculture industry. The days were long but we all gained so much from networking.

The reason I was invited to AquaED (the aquaculture conference for educators) was to do a 15 minutes presentation on e-learning in aquaculture training which was reduced to 10 minutes due to sessions running overtime. With limited time available and so many e-learning options available I decided to focus on my key messages:

  1. There are many free online tools that we can be using to enhance our aquaculture training for both on-campus and off-campus students
  2. We should be using these tools for our own personal learning to connect with each other to share resources such as photos, videos and collaborate with one another.
  3. We have greater opportunities to innovate if we use these tools to collaborate.

While emphasizing my key messages I demonstrated a few online tools that could add value to their programs.  Below are the ones I covered:

LORN

LORN is the Australian Flexible Learning Object Repository Network where people can find free online training resources developed for the Australian vocational education and training (VET) sector. Most of the learning objects are SCORM complaint so it is just a matter of downloading the ZIP file, uploading it to your Learning Management System e.g. Moodle and opening as SCORM. Alternatively they can be unzip and viewed in web browsers or a Learning Object Viewers.

Video Sharing Web Sites

There are lots of videos already created available online on aquaculture that are excellent for showing our students. I mostly search Google Video since it searches most video sharing websites and regularly use online videos for my live classroom sessions (using Elluminate) with my remote off campus students because it helps them visualise better what I’m talking about.

Normally I download the video and play them locally on the computer in a classroom situation due to issues with buffering, lack of Internet access and sites being blocked. The following are just some of the free online tools that can be used to download videos from sites like YouTube:

  1. Zamzar – I use ZamZar for downloading videos as well as converting a range of file formats e.g. converts PDF into Word Documents, converts video formats.
  2. KeepVid

Also showed them delicious and explained how I bookmark all the aquaculture videos I use in my sessions using delicious.

VOIP

Highlighted the benefit of using Skype and Gtalk to connect with one each other and our students via chat and talk. I went on to share how Simon Brown is using Skype to connect his stonemason classroom and workshop with his remote off campus students.

Ning, Wikis and Blogs

I showed them the eTools and Tips For Educators community on Ning to demonstrate how we could use this type of community to share resources and connect with each other. During my presentation I kept emphasizing the benefits of sharing knowledge, videos relating to aquaculture in our regions with each other.

Briefly explained how wikis and blogs could be used with students or for collaboration.  Here is more information on using wikis and blogs.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While I talked about each online tool I asked the conference participants to raise their hands if they had used or knew of the tool I was discussing; of approx. 50 participants only about 5 participants had heard of the different tools.

Several participants spoke with me over the next few days to say they hadn’t realized there are so many free online tools available and several have started investigating how to use them.  We also set up an AquaED online community and hope to connect regularly using Elluminate.

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