down to earth portfolios

By robynjay On February 27th, 2011

On day 2 of DEHub I enjoyed a workshop by Debra Hoven (now at Athabasca) on e-portfolios. Although plagued by internet problems (will conference venues EVER get it right!) that meant we were unable to build ideas in Debra’s wikispace (some great resources here) it was an engaging conversation across a very diverse group. Debra’s approach was very much one of student choice/ownership and a focus on narrative/ digital storytelling.

Here’s a few notes I took during the session:

  • E-portfolios are about the development of personal ‘brand’ not about proving something
  • A purposeful and cumulative aggregation of digital items/ artefacts – ideas, reflections, evidence, feedback
  • How to select? – choose 5 artefacts and justify selection
  • The repurposing of content has implications for use in recognition/RPL
  • We must be careful of validity – what is actually being assessed? the ability to reflect? technical skills?
  • Attempts to implement an e-portfolio system that is scalable and manageable assume something being DONE TO students
  • The benefits of being electronic (discussion) – portability, varied voice, connections, multimodality, updating anywhere/anytime, easier, variable access, sorting/categorisation potential
  • Avoid showcasing (as opposed to assessment) which tends to only highlight the best aspects – encourage discussion of things that didn’t work
  • How can we scaffold reflection? – this is particularly of interest to me as I continue to experience teachers, let alone students, who lack the ability to engage in critical reflection around their practice

Debra’s students shared the following pointers for supporting the use of e-portfolios:

  • Provide top 10 tips and best practices
  • Give examples of model e-portfolios
  • provide examples of artefacts
  • develop tutorials
  • provide access to one person who has completed a portfolio
  • offer videos of past students discussing how they used their portfolio to gain employment
  • set up facilitator/student discussion forums
  • record podcasts from staff explaining uses and how assignments are relevant to the portfolio

[CC FlickR image shared by nickrate]

transvic reflections

By robynjay On January 31st, 2011

A few reflections and notes from last week’s Transmedia Victoria event…

So what IS transmedia? It was clear that the form and definition remain quite loose still (which is good).  Here are a few pointers…

  • ‘cool internet based scavenger hunt kinds of things’
  • alternate reality entertainment
  • overlay of entertainment space onto the real world
  • interacts with you via phone, email, browser and the street where you live
  • puts audience in the story
  • brings a story to you
  • story surrounds the audience
  • non-linear : newly found evidence builds on from past
  • about enhancing experiences, not repeating them
  • dynamic/ engaging

Tassos Stevens from Coney spoke of the principles of play:

  • adventure
  • reciprocity and
  • loveliness

It struck me that there is little of any of them in adult education. How do we reinstate the joy of learning and creativity?

Flint Dille said ‘treat me like an interactive object’ (nice – a shame many educators are simply megaphones), and spoke of media franchise (franchise being defined as intellectual property’). The key elements of a franchise:

  • hero
  • home
  • vehicle
  • friends and allies
  • enemies
  • iconic gadgets
  • a unique world

OK am lost a bit here with any possible cross over to education….

Quote: ‘if you want to keep control of your franchise, don’t sell it to anyone’

There was a constant allusion to ‘production’ and ‘rights management’; how do we put the strategy in the hands of learners and teachers? Key concerns were who owns what, in what territories, for how long, what is it worth, is revenue shared?

Quote: ‘It is the ‘inconsistencies’ in a story that makes an audience feel ‘smart”

When asked about the role of a franchise in SIMS Flint responded that SIMS = simulation which is not a game. A simulation aims to recreate something real.

It strikes me that the storytelling/ narrative in a simulation still exists but is placed in the hands/ minds of the participants.

Steve Peters introduced himself as ‘experience designer‘ – nice term for teachers/ learning designers I thought

Steve listed the roles needed for a production to be:

  • writer/s
  • experience designer/s
  • producer/s
  • graphic artists
  • IT/programmers
  • QA testers

Props in a story can include any manner of things including:

  • foreign language
  • digital files
  • old documents
  • artifacts
  • music lyrics
  • sky-writing
  • hidden USB drives
  • maps & GPS
  • live events
  • architectural projections
  • receipts
  • Facebook pages
  • clothing
  • games
  • action figures

The ability to react to audience moves or sticking points requires a lot of tap-dancing Steve said – 20% of the design needs to be left open to respond.

Andra Sheffer spoke of online staying power. Only 3 minutes for adults but over 10 mins for kids. She urged us to design what makes sense not whats cool, that simpler is often better and that the transmedia element should be tagged onto other platforms – ie. that transmedia design must be integrated.

Sound familiar?

She also stressed that ‘there are no more borders – think WORLD’ and that ‘promotion never ends with digital projects’

Clear relevance for education….

Kerrin McNeil from Hoodlum spoke of ‘making stories irresistible’ (read LEARNING here), that ‘life is multi-platform’ (and so should be learning), that ‘audiences are ‘moved’ when content is personalised’ (again relevant for LEARNING) and that we need to remember that audiences (and learners) want to interact in different ways – watch, play, share.

Final thoughts…….

If transmedia has a place in learning and teaching it’s potential will need to be transferred into the hands of ‘normal’ people (in the same way we did with digital stories). Scaffolds are needed to guide the process and support the integration of media. We need to harness the transmedia-like elements of good teaching practice and extend them. Community projects are a good stepping stone/intro but I could not get a sense of anything on the day that was not being ‘produced’ (done for/to audiences). My big take-away …. we need to strengthen the fun/joy, problem solving, choice and multimodal aspects of education.

[CC FlickR image from Powerhouse Museum Collection]

transmedia: teaching a dog old tricks?

By robynjay On January 25th, 2011

I’m heading to Melbourne on Thursday for the Transmedia Victoria conference. At this point I’m not sure what I’ll be able to contribute but I’m interested to see where the cross-over might be for education.

I’ve had a long term interest in digital storytelling. In 2003 I was lucky enough to visit Daniel Meadows at the Capture Wales project and in the following year a group of us began to experiment with how the concept (and technology) could be simplified enough to be placed in the hands of teachers and students. It has been pretty successful and I think I’m safe in saying that it’s now a pretty much accepted/ mainstream strategy for engagement. What DST lacks, on the whole, is interactivity.

Transmedia takes narrative/ storytelling to another level. It’s multi-platformed, non-linear, multi-pathed networked storytelling with multiple entry points and outlets. I think where it differs significantly from digital storytelling and where it hold promise for education is that it supports audience interaction, participation and collaboration.

There’s some interesting overlap with what Margaret Turner (University of the Sunshine Coast) discusses in her paper ‘Contemporary Approach to Writing Non-Linear Online Learning Resources’ (Journal of Learning Design 2(2)) . She describes the structure of the content as distributed, connected, multi-directional, potential, open and ephemeral.

‘What is needed in writing for networked media’, she says, ‘ is a way of writing learning content that will clearly signal to participants the following characteristics of the medium:

  • That useful meaning can be developed following concepts that are distributed rather than presented together.
  • That there is no hard edge to a discipline, it spreads out to connect with other disciplines and the real world.
  • That concepts can be connected along multiple paths in diverse directions to reach similar meanings.
  • That there is never-ending potential for expansion, growth; more and more data to be connected and made available to the conversation.
  • That things change—information is updated, ideas are modified, links expire, data is moved.
  • That control of information is spread and all who connect are potentially stakeholders’

Technology and online spaces are becoming accessible enough yet sophisticated enough now for some really exciting development (make sure you check out Inanimate Alice if you have not already done so). But it does strike me that transmedia in essence really is nothing new. If we consider the project-based approach taken by many GOOD primary school teachers, the learning design employed, while not often digital, certainly has a multimodal approach. Kids develop understanding of a topic via stories, games, art, movement; they build, talk, listen and present.

Whatever comes of the day I’m looking forward to stepping outside the education zone again; hopefully there will be fresh ideas and new connections to power me onward.

[CC FLickR image by crissxross]

2011 reading list

By robynjay On December 16th, 2010

Alex Hayes asked for a list of what I’m reading. I have to say it has not been a big reading year for me but here’s a couple I can certainly recommend:

Cognitive Surplus – Clay Shirky

The Element – Ken Robinson

I have, however, a rather large pile awaiting my 2011 change of direction.

So here’s my as yet unread bookshelf of non-fiction (somewhat work related) :

The future of ideas – Lawrence Lessig

The wealth of networks – Yochai Benkler

Leadership for the disillusioned – Amanda Sinclair

The new influencers – Paul Gillin

Made to stick – Chip Heath & Dan Heath

What do you do for a living? – Stephen Johnston

What is your dangerous idea? – J Brockman (ed)

What makes us tick? – Hugh Mackay

What’s mine is yours – R Botsman & R Rogers

Multipliers – Liz Wiseman

Drive – Daniel Pink

Socialnomics – Eric Qualman

The power of pull –  J Hagel et al

Digital Habitats – Etienne Wenger et al

The brain that changes itself – Norman Doidge

What I find interesting is the underpinning themes and how they differ to Alex’s list over here.

Same field; different directions

CC FLickR image by lanier67


By robynjay On November 6th, 2010

I ran a digital storytelling workshop this week for the first time in several years.

I have to say I spent time pondering whether a) the emergence of easy to capture and distribute video had superseded the digital story medium (largely still images + voice over) and b) the extent to which the digital story methodology had reached mainstream in a learning facilitator’s toolkit.

I remember clearly my first exposure to the concept. I was sitting at an ACAL conference keynote by Glynda Hull with adult literacy/ESL colleagues late 2001. For 10 years I’d been experimenting with the means to engage learners the education system had failed and to give them a voice in a world of written text. It was one of those aha moments. Exploration of the concept was pivotal in my 2003 FLL research and travels (including visits to Daniel Meadows and the Capture Wales project). Despite early frustrations with the lack of easy to use non-MAC software, we’ve seen technology increasingly become more accessible and supportive of multimodal user-generated content. In this weeks workshop, being in a Windows environment, we were using Photo Story 3 (with recommendations to progress to Premiere Elements). I continue to find PS3 very clunky and limiting but it remains a good entry point for non-techies.

The 15 participants yesterday came from all areas of VET- hospitality, business studies, adult basic ed, English language, child studies etc. The broad mix enabled some fruitful brainstorming around potential uses.

DST in VET mindmap

In addition to my planned agenda (largely hands on in PS3) a few things arose and were covered. I’ll build these into future sessions:

  • how to identify image size
  • how to resize images in Photoshop
  • how to create plain coloured title slides/images
  • how to find creative commons images in Flickr using FlickR CC
  • how to document image attributions

It was a great session. The digital storytelling methodology has not lost its appeal;it still has a place in an engaging learning design.

Thanks to SWSI and the group for making it possible. My slides used are available in slideshare.

participatory education

By robynjay On October 28th, 2010

enough procrastinating, I’m back to the blog…

I’ve been exploring the notion of transmedia, particularly in relation to it’s potential in engaging learning experiences. A little late maybe; it’s interesting how we operate in our communal shared discourse and miss what’s happening elsewhere.

I’ve been talking about multimodal education, digital storytelling etc for years and in a sense transmedia is simply putting a label to those thoughts. Too often though we think of multimedia as a means for offering choice to students; a variety of means to access the same information. and what’s worse it typically aligns to discussions around catering for diverse ‘learning styles’. SO what I particularly like about the discussions about transmedia is its participatory nature; different ways of engaging with aspects of a concept (or story). It’s about developing a comprehensive understanding by looking at the concept through a variety of lenses and piecing together the ‘learnings’ from each. It allows individuals to explore aspects that are of particular interest to them and to articulate what has been learned to a shared group understanding. So, in an learning context this might include design, video, mapping, fiction, reports, interviews, history, scenarios, quiz development, opinion etc. Kind of like a ‘choose your own adventure’.

I’m not sure if ‘transmedia’ adequately captures the concept and potential but it’ll do as starter. I’m looking forward to watching the TedxTransmedia videos for further inspiration