Have blog will travel….too much

I started this post to create a set of links for How To’s and interesting articles about Blogs, Wiki’s and all things related. I had a list of links that I have emailed to others when asked and thought I would add to this and that is when the trouble started. The more I looked the more I found. So I just kept adding and adding links. Sometimes I would stop and read articles and even found a comic that certainly rings true with me and I was very restrained and only added one comic. This post was getting very large so I decided to add a What is that? page and have placed all the information there.

So go have a look, any additions welcome.

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker.

Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

eLearning and IT Students – The Chicken or the Egg, Which comes First?

At the end of my post Future Shock – Future Focus I pondered on whether in the IT teaching sector we could use the technology of ‘virtual worlds’ to help engage our students. A comment from dswaters (Sue) pointed out that she felt that I and others in IT appear to be reluctant in embracing eLearning strategies and content with our students. So I thought I would start by clarifying my understanding of ‘eLearning’. A simple search in Google “What is eLearning” returns many definitions with the Wikipedia definition:

“E-learning most often means an approach to facilitate and enhance learning through the use of devices based on computer and communications technology. Such devices would include personal computers, CDROMs, Digital Television, P.D.A.s and Mobile Phones. Communications technology enables the use of the Internet, email, discussion forums, and collaborative software.” Wikipedia

Where I was heading was a bigger picture than the usual content used in eLearning, I was thinking of a bigger and definitely more expensive adventure into eLearning. The creation of virtual islands and worlds that students can move around in and actively take part in. When studying computer hardware they could ‘virtually’ put the computer components together, subjects like OH&S which students can find dull and sometimes don’t realise how important they are until they have finished study and started work. Imagine students being given the task of setting up a computer room to a set of specifications. When they had finished this ‘assignment’ the lecturer could take a ‘virtual walk’ through the environment the students had created.

Now with a better understanding of what eLearning means my personal experience in teaching Information Technology students makes me now realise that I have used eLearning techniques regularly but not really thought of it in that way. We use WebCT, we have a student web that students can place their own websites on and also access all their class files from on whether they are on campus or at home. The student web also holds all students programs of work, assessments and resources that the students need to complete their course. My Cert IV Web students will be using a wiki for their project management component of their major assignments. Use Wiki with MS Project | What Is a Wiki (and How to Use One for Your Projects)

To develop more specific eLearning content in the IT learning area for delivery would involve more time than I have and the material I have for my students is adequate and up to date. With things changing in the IT field so rapidly we always have to create or find extra content for our students so we do cover the latest topics.

Today I spoke with my students studying Diploma in Software Development about eLearning to get feedback on whether they think that as they have progressed through the IT Certificates eLearning could have enhanced their learning. The first comment was about how quickly things in IT change and that to develop things that were too detailed may not be worth the time or expense. When asked about blogs and wiki’s to share information it appears that by the very nature of the subject they are studying IT, the ‘WOW’ factor that blogs and wiki’s and other online components may have in other learning areas does not exist. Its something that the ‘do’ everyday as part of their course and to spend more time ‘doing’ it and to even contemplate using their own free time to be involved in these sort of things did not have a very big appeal. A large proportion of IT students have dabbled in these areas before they even attend training and unless they pursue these sorts of things for their own private purposes they are not really interested in study related participation in these things.

As for the ‘Chicken or the Egg, Which comes First’ in my heading. We are teaching the students the technology that is used to create the things that are used in creating many of the eLearning content. Web content, Multimedia, animation, presentations and programming and the list goes on………

BUT if anyone out there has a way that I can become a better lecturer in delivering things like ‘Using a Word Processing Application’ or ‘Using a Spreadsheet application’ that involves eLearning please point me in the right direction as I am always willing to try something new, especially if it will benefit my students.