February 18, 2008

The NSW Learnscope blog has now been archived.

The Learnscope moniker will no longer be used by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework as a project title.

Please re-direct all your inquiries to the Australian Flexible Learning Framework.


Signing off

December 21, 2007

Since June 2006 Connections and Conversations has been the primary communication channel for NSW LearnScope. It has encouraged and supported critical reflection and debate around e-learning matters, highlighted new resources and concepts, and provided exposure to a diverse and rich range of thinking and ideas.

In NSW we have actively pushed boundaries and buttons to support innovation and to move e-learning forward.

Our work has been based on the premise that:
– the needs, interests, lives and potential of learners is central
– every one of us is a small but important link in a dynamic, globally connected learning community
– we must continually critically analyze policy, practice, strategies, tools and philosophies and be mindful of how these position and exclude particular groups of learners
– risk-taking fuels innovation and passionate commitment gives it legs
– that what we give through a spirit of open collaboration comes back a hundred fold
– no one tool or approach will address all needs; choice and suite of options are essential

We work within a system that over the past 15 years has swung away from a focus on the rights and potential of individual learners towards an economic rationalist agenda and a focus on the needs of industry. 15 years ago I had the freedom and resources to negotiate learning plans with individuals who the education system had failed. Their self confidence, well-being and self-esteem were acknowledged; their interests and goals and needs were central.

They may laugh at me for saying it, but I have faith that the tide will again turn; that the skills and strengths of individuals will be not only acknowledged and celebrated, but USED; that the focus of educational policy will find a balance between the prosperity of the nation and the well-being of its population; that the rights of adults to acquire basic skills will extend beyond those with income earning capacity. The pendulum swings.

This week again I was ask to justify the use of a long list of web resources in VET; above all I am confident that one day systems will trust the judgment of professional teachers and support access to the spaces and tools that enrich teaching practice and improve outcomes for learners whoever and where ever they are located.

It is through projects like LearnScope that we can influence and enable change. LearnScope unashamedly has focused on developing the capability of teachers to facilitate effective educational opportunities and ensure positive outcomes for individual learners. It has provided teaching staff with time out to reflect, collaborate, explore, trial and engage with new and challenging ways of working. In 2007 over 600 students worked with our 35 project teams learning new skills and evaluating the potential of new technologies.

It is with sadness that we lay LearnScope to rest and with it this blog. It will remain accessible and archived but after this week no new posts will be added.

I would like to celebrate the achievements of a large number of individuals who have battled against all sorts of frustrations and odds to make huge gains in moving e-learning forward. These people have been championed in this blog and the consequences of their work live on.

Thank you too to those who have supported LearnScope in all sorts of ways; by giving time, trust, expertise, positive feedback. Thank you to Maret Staron, our manager here at ICVET, for allowing us the space to explore and permission to take the risks and journey we have.

And finally, a very special thank you to Alex Hayes for his passion and commitment, his creativity and his friendship, and for giving me courage through some challenging times. It’s been an exciting and challenging 18 months as a team.

So, with these words I close our conversation.
I hope 2008 brings you happiness and contentment across your life, and the strength to keep forging onward.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

 Happy Christmas!

Final Post | The Bugle Sounds

December 21, 2007


[image : Mr Jaded]

We folks that’s it for another year.

I’ve worked out how to feed my Google reader into my blog and so begins my reading for the next month or two.

I’ll be dis-organising the FLNW2 trip over January and with Barbara Dieu’s arrival my participation at EVO will also keep me busy.

I now have four projects on the go otherwise.

NSW LearnScope will live on in my archive.

It’s been an immense and exhausting experience.

Treasured because of the people.

Loved, lived and part of the story.

Drive safely, drink moderately and be assured that the connections and conversations that developed this year will lead to amazing projects in the next.

Be good to one another over the break.Over and out.

See you on the other side 🙂

A sense of place

December 21, 2007

In 2005 a number of us worked on an inter-state LearnScope project with Feral Arts in Brisbane.

They have been exploring tools and issues around digital storytelling and place for many years.

Today thanks to Kathie Warren I revisited their website and discovered the progress they have made.

How beautiful is this.

Place stories resource
[screengrab from Place Stories website]

I hope we can make use of this to connect teams nationally in 2008.

Busy work

December 21, 2007

In economics, a business is a legally recognized organizational entity existing within an economically free country designed to sell goods and/or services to consumers or other businesses, usually in an effort to generate profit.
In predominantly capitalist economies, where most businesses are privately owned, businesses are typically formed to earn profit and grow the personal wealth of their owners. The owners and operators of a business have as one of their main objectives the receipt or generation of a financial return in exchange for their work and their acceptance of risk.
The etymology of “business” relates to the state of being busy either as an individual or society, doing commercially viable and profitable work. ………..However, the exact definition of business, like much else in the philosophy of business, is a matter of debate.

Indeed it is.
If our services are to be truly equitable across, and reflective of, all aspects of employment in Australia we must view ‘business’ in the broadest possible sense. In NSW we plan to target many organisations that have slipped through cracks in the previous Framework; non-profit organisations, volunteer organisations, Land Councils, local government, support organisations, small business, land care and so on.

Projects funded in each state via the Innovations Program in 2008 will be based on a clearly articulated ‘business case’.
So what is a ‘business case’ and what might one look like in an e-learning context?

A business case is the concept of having a non-technical reason for a project or task. The logic of the business case is that any time resources such as money or effort are consumed, they should be in support of the business. An example could be that a software upgrade might improve system performance but the “business case” is that better performance would improve customer satisfaction. Wikipedia

However these business cases will be finally structured RTOs will need to ensure that their proposal has value and will be properly managed, that the organisation/s have the capability to deliver the benefits, that resources are used effectively and appropriately and that the investment is sustainable.

Information on business cased development suggest a range of common elements that would need to be covered:
1. The focus or problem: brief statement
2. Context
3. Background and current processes
4. Deliverables or outcomes
5. Resourcing
6. Critical analysis of alternatives
7. Action plan including timelines and milestones
8. Risk analysis

In NSW we acknowledge that this kind of development may be new to many RTOs. For that reason we will be selecting projects based on the merit of concept rather than the ability to write a business case. Successful projects will be supported to develop their case early in the project and at a planning meeting.

Framework 2008 is a new beast. It’s time to start pondering how you will engage in the new opportunities offered.



Australian Flexible Learning Framework 2008-2011

December 20, 2007

Screen grab of new Framework banner

The Framework’s business plan for 2008 has been officially signed off and information is now available on the revamped Framework website.

Click on the Funding Opportunities link for information on 2008 project opportunities.

breathe 2…3…4…

December 19, 2007

Among hundreds of sites, I requested Ning to be unblocked for TAFE users here in NSW. I’d forgotten about it – written off as another victim of the ether. But then yesterday I received this reply….

You have requested access to or a social networking group established at this site. Currently the DET matrix does not allow social networking for any users. I have undertaken to structure a review committee for the filtering policy but this group is yet to be fully formulated and that process of any review may take some time.

It is my solely personal view that a more satisfactory answer to this matter is for intranet hosting space to be made available for these purposes. This would leave the contents accountable within the DET infrastructure and would obviate the need for filtering to be involved.

In order to progress this matter I have determined to allow social networking sites constructed on the ning platform under the following criteria.
1. The network should be accessed by invitation only
2. The network should be private
3. The network posting should be moderated
4. The network should carry an acceptable usage statement.

In order to allow any network please forward to me screenshots of your settings to indicate the matching of these criteria.
I invite you to visit as a sample allowed social network. It also carries the TAFE logo to identify its bona fides. You may wish to contact XXX at OTEN for an agreed sample of an acceptable usage statement to adopt or modify to suit.

[image: base2wave]

My response:

Re your email about Ning…..
Thank you for responding.
I look forward to some positive outcomes and genuine consultation with the next web filtering committee.
You no doubt are aware that Agnes and I spent long hours working on the first iteration without any satisfactory outcome.

A few comments if I may ….
a more satisfactory answer to this matter is for intranet hosting space to be made available for these purposes

Unfortunately this is not the solution. There is a much larger world out there. Teachers do not want to solely communicate with people in DET. There is a wealth of skill, talent, knowledge, willingness to share internationally that TAFE is/will miss out on unless it moves beyond a lock down policy.

The aim of these sites to allow professionals and courses to connect globally AND to also enable access and upload/sharing outside DET – eg at work, at home. If we are serious about the sentiments outlined in the 21st century paper then have to start looking at TAFE services extending far beyond the reaches of the intranet.

Employers will not waste time registering with multiple spaces to support learners. The benefits of an open policy are far greater than any perceived risks. Certainly we need some teachers agreed guidelines on usage with learners/clients but let’s engage with teachers around this, not set imposed restrictions and inappropriate rules.

Re privacy….
While there are some occasions in which a totally private site is needed (use of SharePoint or the TAFE websites are suggested where private student data/info is required) there are also many more times when teachers want to connect courses and classes and themselves beyond DET.

Really it is unlikely that anyone other than those interested in specialised network topics would go to or use a particular space anyway. Most require invitations to add content – that is the key rather than access to the site
See for example

Interestingly it was Ning that provided content for xxx’s presentation to India this year.
Had it not been for the generous spirit of Simon Brown’s network in TAFE QLD we would not have had the rich resource we did. One of the winners of the 2007 Edublog awards also uses Ning – see and as a result have gained international standing.

There are numerous examples of universities placing content on the open web. It’s the quality of teaching that wins clients not content. I understand TAFE wanting to own spaces and to control intellectual property, but it’s a losing battle in a day and age of globally networked communities and professional educators. If you make it too hard teachers for teachers to do their job they will simply go their own way and do their own thing. Support them and their need to connect and communicate outside DET and at least you have some idea what is happening.

A simple template could be possible but it would need to be very user friendly and adaptable.

Have you investigated the great work done with wikispaces by Sydney Institute? They are public and very widely used with great uptake. Teachers and students can access anywhere anytime. This is the way TAFE is heading on the ground. This is what teachers are demanding.

I know it’s a challenge, but TAFE is going to have to bite the bullet and accept that teachers demand a suite of tools of differing levels of style, accessibility and functionality, to be globally networked and to access what they want when they need it.

Ning is just one of 100s of sites, tools, spaces used by teachers today. They are being created every day – more refined, more responsive to teachers needs, more connected globally. TAFE needs to be part of the global network, rather than fight against it.

Let’s provide the opportunity for teachers to evaluate spaces, and for learners to learn how to use them and navigate online safely.

I’m so tired of this. I feel like a broken record. Roll on Christmas.

Open & Accountable

December 13, 2007

We live in an age where to be public means to be accountable.

We all understand bullying, harrassment and cyber-bullying as no more nor less than those taunts we endured as children in the school grounds or perhaps on the way out from them.

There is no place for randoms indiscriminately targeting others nor using tactics to get a point across behind faceless and false email identities. Robyn and I have raised this as one of the first points of call in establishing a community accord for our wiki with NSW LearnScope, allowing others to contribute to understandings of the use of online spaces and places……..guidelines rather than rules.

Sporadically, those challenged by our mandate to progress the use of information communication technologies in educational organizations have “fronted” up to our challenges and some have not.

I consider randoms, have not’s and whatevers to be gutless. Just phone us directly, leave your name and email address and speak to us.

We are accountable, employed to challenge and to persist. We are educators who care, who critically analyse protocol and who challenge the status quo.

We need to. It’s important to us to find ways forward.

We are listening.

Firewalls, Standards and Safety Procedures

December 12, 2007


[images : mikecogh]

Robyn Jay has committed an amazing amount of time and effort this year in progressing the way forward with organisations who preclude access to online learning tools, spaces and places which may benefit learners and paradoxically the organisation themselves alike.

An acknowledgment has been proffered from the AFLF today via the E-zine which wraps up the extensive review:

Finding the functional balance: The impact of computer network access and firewalls on E-learning

The PDF version is now available.

I was interviewed by Brian Gresham it seems a long time ago and now we have the report which is a wrap up of the findings and recommendations of new ways of working with organizational gate-keepers.


We are sure to be visiting many more conversations in this capacity next year and beyond so a big thankyou to those who have explored, implored and resolved even the more minor misunderstandings.


Something about having a big mouth.


The Skills Gap

December 12, 2007

Brilliant. Why ?