Hazards Of The Job!

Image of frog

I’m not ‘afraid of no ghosts’!

But frogs living down the U-bend of the toilet at the fish farm we visit with our aquaculture students TOTALLY freak me out! For some odd reason the males just don’t seem to understand!

At least I don’t have to worry about students failing into the water and being eaten by Great White Sharks! Check out below this video of a field trip by Peter Preece’s aquaculture students to watch harvesting of Tuna cages (courtesy of TAFESA).

Find more videos like this on AquaED

So what’s the worst part of your job? Does anything freak you out?

Photo by Aiden Jones licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0.

E-Learning in Aquaculture Training

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 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.


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.


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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Queensland Here I Come!

Sad puppyBeing based in Western Australia I don’t get much opportunity to get out and about!   So the good news is next week I’m going to be in Queensland for two Aquaculture conferences.

Trouble is — lets be honest here — there aren’t probably that many people in the aquaculture industry who are into blogging, podcasting, Web 2.0 like me.  So I’m definitely concerned that I may get lonely and would really like to maximize my visit by also catching up with other people interested in social media and Web 2.0 technologies.

My schedule is as follows:

  • Mooloolaba – Thurs 31 July – Sat 2 Aug
  • Brisbane  Southbank  Precinct –  Sun 3 Aug – Thurs 7 Aug

Simon Brown is organizing at meet up somewhere, lunchtime, in Brisbane  Southbank Precinct for Sunday 3rd August.

PLEASE help me out!  If you’re interested in meeting up please let me know!

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Photo by Mubblegum licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative Works 2.0 Generic.

Interested In Fish For Your Classroom?

trout3.JPGOkay I’ve got an idea but I need your help to move it from the idea into making it work :).

The Idea

Let me explain. My real job is training people how to farm fish.

I’ve had this idea ever since I read Kevin Jarrett’s Struggling with integrating technology into your curriculum? How about integrating … FISH?!?! which highlights the opportunities for educators to connect with an aquaponics facility through Ocean of Know.

Kevin explains:

Ocean of Know uses videoconferencing and Internet-based monitoring/control systems to connect kids from NYC schools to this research facility. Once linked, kids and teachers learn through a series of projects and routine farm maintenance – as if controlling an aquaponics facility via the Internet can be considered routine! You only have to spend a few minutes on this site to see how creative and engaging the lessons are.

My workplace provides training for the maritime industry; encompassing fishing operations, seafood processing, seafarers & engineers on the large ships, marine tourism, marine science and aquaculture.

Putting it simply we employ highly qualified people from a range of maritime industries, with wealth of experience and we have great facilities — plenty of opportunities for educators to connect their students to learn about the maritime industry.

Check out the short video below that I created to give you show you aspects of aquaculture I could share. I’d even be prepared to talk about Goldfish with your students :).

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-8413461073236124764" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Where I’m At

So as I said I need your help to move it from the idea into making it work :). I’m hoping if I list my thought process you can provide suggestions.

Here’s my thought process so far:

1. Simple Lessons and Provide Information on Aquaculture

aqauculture.jpgI’m thinking we could develop simple lessons, similar the concept they’ve used on Ocean of Know, which educators could use with their students plus provide access to us using Skype, webcams, videos, Ustream etc and obviously site tours for local schools.

Happy to involved international schools as students from throughout the World train at our centre.

Can you tell me whether/how this might fit into your curriculum?

2. Getting Others Involved

Ideally it would be good to get K12 educators involved especially with lessons.

Who should I contact? Science Teachers Association? Curriculum Development at Education Department? Who else?

3. What Type Of Site To Use

I’m thinking of keeping it simple using a wiki because it’s probably better suited and provides an opportunity to showcase various Web 2.0 tools to new educators.

My preference is wikispaces. Your thoughts? Wiki? Wikispaces? Or not a wiki?

4. Forum Facility

Want include the ability for students/educators could post questions –the discussion tab isn’t the best for forums — could embed a forum? Ideas?

5. What haven’t I thought of?

I’m bound to have missed something. But what?


My managers can see merit in my idea — even if they don’t quite understand where I’m going with it. Who can blame them I’m still working it out myself.

I’d really appreciate it if you’d take the time to help me out by leaving a comment with your thoughts and ideas; so that I can start to make it happen 🙂

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A fishy tale – studying aquaculture online

While most people enjoyed the weekend with their families I was working hard at work. Get out the violins please…. Several times a year I get my online aquaculture students to attend f2f workshops so that they can learn aquaculture skills and be assessed on their skills.

My online students are all based off-campus and study their theory online. They work through interactive course material in WebCT which I supplement with fortnightly virtual classes using Elluminate. Most study aquaculture because they are interested in setting up their own fish farms, but are unable to attend classes on campus due to personal commitments (most are time-poor) or due to their geographical location.

A question I am commonly asked is why I don’t use more Web 2.0 tools with my online students….well picture it from their point of view. They want to be fish farmers. Many have limited computer skills…many will go out and buy a computer just to do my program. Just getting them to feel comfortable joining an Elluminate session is hard when you are working remotely with students; for someone who is into technology this is not overwhelming but if you are new it can be very daunting. We do have a blog however it has not been so successful.

When they come to these practical workshops, it is always fun… Why..because while I may have been communicating with them for months I have absolutely no idea of what they look like. LOL on Saturday I saw a person waiting near the area I had specified. So I went and introduced myself only to find out he was from our maritime courses and was waiting for fellow students from his class to turn up. Oops 🙂

Here are some photos from the weekend. They all had a great time getting wet with fish!!! And no they did not get to take any fish home……