SITE 2017 – Austin, Texas, 5–9 March

Last week I attended the 2017 international conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) with support from the USQ Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts where I work in the School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood. I’m thankful for that support and for the patience of students in my classes who may have experienced oddly time-shifted responses to queries resulting from the time zone differences and long haul flights.

With my retirement locked in for 31 December this year and accumulated leave to be taken from early July (77 working days to go) I anticipate that this will be my last visit to SITE and likely my last conference in any working capacity. I’ve attended SITE each year since 1998 (20 times). It has been my core professional community and a major benefit in my work as an academic. Whether I would have the motivation and fortitude to attend a conference beyond my years of paid employment remains to be seen but I’m doubtful.

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It’s time to MELLO

For one thing I’m about to go on annual leave for 3 weeks and plan to mellow out a little after I’ve dealt with a couple of tasks that just didn’t make it to the top this week despite my plans.

For another, and the real point of this post, we are beginning our publicity push to recruit participants in our MOOC for Enhancing Laboratory Learning Outcomes (MELLO). We is Alexander Kist, Andrew Maxwell, Victoria TerryLindy Orwin, Ananda Maiti, Hannah Jolly and me at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). Toward the end of 2015 we secured an extension grant from the Office of Learning and Teaching to develop a MOOC that would extend on a previous project about planning for laboratory learning. The project also has support from the Global Online Laboratory Consortium (GOLC).

MELLO is designed to assist educators at all levels, from school to university, to improve the quality of laboratory experiences in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. Experienced educators seeking to review and revise current practices or beginning educators are all welcome to participate. Everybody can benefit from reflecting on practice and there is much to be learned from other practitioners at all stages and levels.

MELLO is designed in six modules, each of which can be completed in a couple of hours or less for a total of 10 hours of activity. Information about the modules, which address all phases of laboratory classes from planning through implementation and review, can be found on the MELLO website. Registration is through that site and the MOOC itself has been developed on openlearning.com.

The MOOC is being offered in 2 modes. It can be taken in a self-paced mode by those who prefer to work independently at their own pace with occasional asynchronous exchanges with other participants. For those seeking a more structured experience there is an action learning option that will include small group interaction to support work on a personal laboratory learning project informed by the MOOC content.

MELLO is scheduled to begin on Monday 16 January 2017 and run for 6 weeks. Further information and registration is via the MELLO site.

Open Education Resources & Practice

I’m working on a project with a colleague from UQ and two others here at USQ to explore how we can open up practice and resources within and across institutions. We are each working on courses that address the Australian Curriculum: Technologies alone or in concert with The Arts.

I’m feeling just a bit guilty that I’m once again late to the party. I had good intentions yesterday but … In no particular order here are some thoughts from our discussions on Wednesday and Thursday that might have some bearing on our project and writing. Institutional takeup of OER/OEP Despite rhetoric and some action […]

via Bringing up the rear — OEP @ UQ & USQ

SITE 2016 – Savannah, Georgia, 21–25 March

I attended SITE 2016 with financial support from the Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts. I’m grateful for that support and for the patience of students in my classes who experienced slower than usual responses to queries via email and the LMS. While at SITE I was involved in four presentations and a couple of organisational meetings as well as informal interactions with colleagues from around the world.

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Teachers, design and technology

David Jones (@djplaner) posted a piece, Teachers as designers of technology enhanced learning?, earlier today. Although he didn’t identify us, I am one of the colleagues he referred to in his introduction and I was tagged in his tweet about the post. I’ve been doing some reading of my own, intending to write with David and elsewhere, and felt a need to comment as I read his piece. Eventually the somewhat random thoughts I had amounted to more than a simple comment or two so here I am.

David commented on Kirschner’s (2015) observation that Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) is not new because teachers have been using technologies since the invention of the printing press. The truth is it started earlier than that and probably before Socrates famously railed against the invention of writing. At least some of the marks made on cave walls probably had an instructional function. As David notes, the question then is whether digital technologies are sufficiently different to break that historical line.

He refers to Kay’s identification of the computer as metamedium and has previously written about the protean nature of digital technologies. The implication is that digital technologies are shape shifters and the ground we are standing on may move beneath our feet.

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SITE 2015 – Las Vegas

I spent the first week of March (1 – 6) attending the 26th annual conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) in Las Vegas. That was also the first week of semester so, when I was not at the conference, I was kept busy responding to students in the course discussion forums. I’m grateful for the support of my School and Faculty to attend, including partial financial support. I’ve attended SITE each year since I first attended in 1998 and have always found that it is the most useful conference for me in terms of interest in the papers presented and connections with colleagues. This year was no exception.

I had booked my travel in mid-2014 and expected to arrive in Las Vegas on the morning of Saturday, 28 February, before we left Brisbane according to the clock and calendar. As it happened there was freezing weather in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and our 9:20 am flight from LAX to Las Vegas finally departed at 5:30 pm after the plane was thawed and able to depart DFW. I had hoped to use the time on Saturday to arrange an excursion to the Grand Canyon on Sunday but that didn’t happen. Instead we spent Sunday exploring The Strip and I eventually booked for a conference excursion to Red Rock Canyon on Monday. That trip did yield some interesting landscape photos to complement some from Las Vegas itself.

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Australian Computers in Education Conference 2014

This time last week I was in Adelaide to attend the Australian Computers in Education Conference (ACEC2014), the once annual but now biennial conference of the Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE). ACCE is the peak national professional group for those interested in ICT in education. It brings together state associations like the Queensland Society for Information Technology in Education (QSITE) and EdTechSA, which was the host on this occasion, and is the national affiliate for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The members of these associations are predominantly K-12 teachers but also include teacher educators with interest in the field. That makes their conferences, and especially ACEC, interesting as sites where academics and teachers come together with research papers mixed with presentations with a strong classroom focus. ACEC is a rare opportunity for interactions across the school-university spectrum.
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Things for building research profiles

This post appeared first as Research profiles (Academia.edu / ResearchGate) where it fulfilled my commitment to the USQ 23 Things project.


My brief for the USQ 23 Things project is to write a short (200 to 400 words – but who is counting, I’ll easily exceed that) post about ResearchGate and Academia.edu with focus on their applications in Higher Education (particularly teaching and learning). I’m interpreting my brief as dealing with online things that might profile and promote my research outputs.

I’ll begin with some general thoughts on the topic, comment on those specific sites, and then refer to other sites with what I consider to be related purposes. Finally, I’ll look at some more ‘out there’ alternatives and suggest some things to try.
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23 Things?

A while back I was invited to participate in a USQ Library pilot of a 23 Things project. I was specifically invited to contribute to discussion around the use of sites like ResearchGate and Academia.edu for building academic profile but I was also encouraged to participate in the rest of the project. My specific part comes toward the end of the project.

It’s actually 23 Things – Lite because there are 10 things rather than 23. At one per week who has the endurance to slog it out for 23 weeks? The project has a blog at USQ 23 Things where contributions about each of the ‘things’ will be posted and discussion is possible.

Participants are encouraged to establish (if necessary), and use, their own blogs to reflect throughout the project. Not surprisingly then, the first thing is blogging. That kicked off last week with a blog post about blogging. Ever since I’ve been meaning to do some renovations here and post something other than automated links from Diigo. That week has passed; the next thing, Twitter, is up and running; and I’m still running behind on this one. I did contribute to the comments on the project blog and in the private Facebook group but I’m only now getting to write something here.

The project is evolving as it goes. Somewhat paradoxically, in the interests of making navigation to the posts about ‘things’ easier, the project blog initially began putting those posts into pages rather than posts so that there was no RSS feed for following them. Neither was there any other subscription mechanism. That has changed now so that the project blog is more bloglike – probably a good thing if the goals of the project include having participants learn how the ’things’ function in the real world.

At least the activity has prompted me to get back to writing something here and to tinker with the theme and generally renovate the site. Perhaps a few weeks of attention and being challenged by what other participants are doing will get me back to doing more than auto-posts of Diigo links.

SITE International Symposium – University of Canterbury

On Monday and Tuesday of this week I attended the SITE International Symposium 2014
Future focussed teacher education: Inspiring with digital technologies at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. I am grateful for support of SoTEEC and FoBELA for financial and logistical support for my attendance.

This was a small symposium with just 2 keynotes, 17 refereed presentations, and some posters and panel sessions. The proceedings will be available soon in EdITLib. My own immediate reflections on various presentations are recorded in my Twitter stream with the #SITENZ hashtag.

Most of the attendees were from New Zealand but there were 3 from Australia, and one each from Fiji, USA and UK. The small attendance made for focused conversation around the various presentations.

I presented a refereed paper, Pre-service Teachers’ TPACK Confidence in a Regional Australian University, which was an updated version of one that I had presented at SITE in 2012 using data from the first national survey conducted as part of the Teaching Teachers for the Future (TTF) project. This paper was able to include data from the second national survey conducted as part of TTF. The instrument used for TTF was based in part on one developed by Romina Jamieson-Proctor that was used by USQ and Griffith to collect data in 2009 and 2010. That allowed for longer term comparisons of USQ student responses on some sub-scales. On the first national administration in 2011, USQ students scored significantly higher than the national average on the measures of TPACK confidence and it was clear that there had been significant increases across the period from 2009 to 2011. As happened nationally, USQ had a further increase between the two administrations of the survey in 2011attributable to the TTF intervention but the major increase for USQ students had occurred prior to TTF implementation. The most likely explanation for the difference is the restoration of the ICT Pedagogy course (EDC3100) beginning in 2010 and the cross-program adoption of online and blended approaches from 2009. Exposure of students to explicit teaching about pedagogy with ICT and to its frequent application in their own learning appears to have increased their confidence for working with ICT in their own professional practice.

The first keynote on Monday morning was presented by Dorothy Burt, who is the eLearning team leader at Pt England School in Auckland and the facilitator of the Manaiakalani cluster of schools. The schools in that locality are mostly decile 1, that is, they fall in the 10% of NZ schools with the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic backgrounds. A large proportion of students are from Maori and Pacifika background and average household income is as low as $19000 pa. Despite the challenges the schools have embraced a 1:1 digital technologies program following work that established $3.50 per week as an affordable cost for devices. The use of social networking and other approaches that open up learning to the community have been a good match for the cultural background and there have been substantial gains in learning for students in the schools. As the NZ assessment authority plans to move toward digital administration of tests the students from these schools may be ahead of the trend for once. Among the issues raised by Dorothy was the challenge of finding teachers with the appropriate preparation to work in the digital environment especially with students who have been working that way for a couple of years. Current approaches to teacher education are not ensuring that all graduates are prepared for working in that mode. The same challenge exists for us at USQ as more schools move toward 1:1 programs for younger children.

The second keynote on Tuesday morning was presented by David Gibson who is Director Learning Engagement at Curtin University. David is founder of simSchool, a simulation for teacher preparation, and spoke about games and simulations in teacher preparation. He began by presenting some material about the work he is doing at Curtin using cluster analysis with large data sets brought together from various university systems to investigate patterns with the immediate aim of reducing student attrition. That provided a basis for discussing the value of computer based games and simulations for collecting data that can be used to guide learning and teaching. There are certainly possibilities worth investigating in our programs, both for use directly in teacher education and for preparing our graduates to work effectively with games and simulations as they become more common in classrooms.

The other sessions also provided insights into how teacher preparation is being approached in New Zealand and prompted thoughts about what might be applied here and how.

A piece of news that may be of interest to colleagues is that the 17th Biennial ISATT Conference will be held at the University of Auckland from 13-17 July 2015.