In the process of weeding and re-vegetating 3 acres of land, I often wonder if I’m ever going to get on top of things. There’s just not enough hours available… or energy.
So today, with a cool autumn breeze blowing, it was with relief that I looked down over around 600 square metres of land 99.9% free of creeping succulent and snake weed. I’m over half way with it – just the top section to go, but I’m pleased to say that it’s under control and not at risk of escaping further. It’s a challenge though; every piece of root and runner sprawling out under thick forest mulch as the potential to re-infest. Lucky I have helpers!
The energy for creating new opportunities comes from the tension we feel between an inspired vision for the future and our current reality. When we feel stuck or unclear about our careers, often it’s because we are either compromising our vision or denying reality–sometimes it’s a little of both.
We’re considering some 30 day trials, side projects, stretch assignments, courses, volunteering options etc. After a long week of ‘slog’ to overcome my procrastination I’m finally free to give this some attention.
As usual we’re inspired by some practical thinking (rituals in our lives) and great posts from Michele ( dreams ).
Interestingly (and perhaps thankfully) I had already begun down the enrichment/ visioning/ project path but I’m also inspired to trial a couple of other things that have been lingering in the back of my mind for some time. So here are my ideas for projects and experiments:
I’m already finding time each day to draw. This has become an evening ritual to relax after a busy day. Uploading to FlickR (something each day) is a driver but not an onerous one – if I don’t make it, I don’t!
I’ve applied for a small community-based contract – I if I get it, I know I’ll love working outside the regimes of formal education. I can see opportunities for REAL outcomes and opportunities for creativity within it.
I’m instigating a blog for creative kids activities – I’ll need input to make it sustainable
I’m going to have a go at creating a multimodal e-book publication and will use the next month to research production options. The new Apple releases are very timely, and
I’m going to test the water to host a monthly conversational gathering for people I know think and/or work on the boundaries of or outside the mainstream. I see it as an opportunity to affirm non-conventional thinking, generate and share new ideas etc. Now for a name ….
With the conclusion of yet another Framework iteration looming and what could be the possible demise of the Framework as a whole, I’ve been thinking about what worked and didn’t work with the old LearnScope projects.
While team-centred action learning projects were well loved, it was because they:
Provided time to explore, reflect, practice, play
Allowed members to focus on particular interests and needs
Allowed freedom and space for diversion
Had practical, concrete outcomes
Fed/grew into future projects
It was NOT that the projects were scoped and facilitated by the teams themselves.
It strikes me that the old LearnScope model could be reframed at a local level at least, drawing on the strengths of the previous model but tightening the design and extending the timeframe.
What if a TAFE Institute or cluster of small providers (as an example only) scoped and facilitated a series of action learning staff capability projects drawing membership from across all sections based on interest (and commitment)?
The scope of the projects, designed and facilitated by workforce development expertise, could reflect strategic directions, input from staff, national agendas (in a practical sense) and international trends.
The projects would be carefully designed around action learning principles allowing space for individuals to diversify and time for learning, trial and design. The diverse teams would offer rich cross-fertilisation of ideas and enable new connections and cross-industry collaboration. The team members would act as champions to demo their learning and ideas back in their sections. The extended time frame, if well designed, would allow plenty of time for workshops, meetings, individual projects etc and the outcome would be concrete resources and case studies presented at a staff forum.
I have unashamedly been an avid FlickR user and advocate for the past 4 years. At this point in time I have 8,357 items and 32,147 views. Paying the annual USD$24.95 is worth every cent for a PRO account that allows me full access and organisational ability. Of my 73 contacts about half are personally known to me. Others .are people I value for their content, photography and design skills. I’ve found FlickR to be secure, spam free and reliable. I use backupify to archive.
I’ve been increasingly interested in how FlickR might be used in educational contexts as a visual portfolio platform. To that end I’ve put in an application for 2010 Flexible Learning Framework for some innovation project funding with the ACE North Coast Community Colleges. We’re keen to target a group of students undertaking the Certificate II in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts based up at Nimbin.
Now I’m most definitely an “E-portfolio” skeptic (note the capital E). Instead of equipping learners to capture their learning and progress, and make real connections within authentic professional networks we feel a need to over complicate and formalise platforms and hide them away behind gates along with the blessed LMS. Rhetoric about student ownership and ‘migratable’ content is all very well but how practical is it really? How attractive is that prospect for the learners? How many will do anything but stick a DVD in their drawer?
And how financially within reach are commercial portfolio platforms for community providers and their learner cohort?
So what I hope we can prove if funded is that a free web-based platform such as FlickR can equip individuals to establish and manage a personal online portfolio for their art work. As well as enabling a self managed visual portfolio that is free and easy to use, the course facilitator will have the means to establish course and community Groups for display, assessment and promo. We’ll use local community centre facilities and equipment to support the digitisation of work and by placing images online the learners will be able to connect and communicate with artists and communities way beyond their current community. Students will immediately create and manage a personal portfolio of their artistic work that will extend across and throughout their lives.
Within their free (or if they wish, Pro account) students can upload images (scanned or photographed paintings if necessary) and determine permissions for access and reuse. Each item can be made public or private for example, and assigned an “all rights reserved” or a Creative Commons licence. Tags can be applied – both individual and course related. Each image online can have annotated ‘notes’ or hotspots added to it to highlight and describe specific areas of each piece of work and there’s room for a description of the process or final work, and viewers (peers, teacher, community members or other artists) can comment if given access. Here’s a slideshow example using my recent mosaic table project:
At the course level a FlickR Group can act as a central hub for group activity. Students are made members of the Group and are able to control which of their images are assigned to show up in the Group area.
Teachers can also create FlickR based ‘galleries’ of selected images that could be used to showcase exemplars, or RSS based ‘badges’ or slideshows based on users, groups or specific tags that can be embedded into other course sites, an LMS, blog or wiki etc.
I’ll be redeveloping my existing FLickR in Education guide for their local context; into a plain English minimal text wiki with screengrabs or short instructional video (housed in FlickR of course) and plenty of scope for discussion, sharing and evolution. Question is, will such a small simple platform be taken seriously and given a chance?
I’ve been asked for my hints and tips on preparing a submission for the 2010 Framework Innovations funding.
All I can do is to note a few things based on my past Framework experience but priorities and requirements change each year so my list is certainly no more than a rough guide to supplement advice from the Framework team.
It’s a pretty painful process to trawl through around 100 applications in a short amount of time. It never ceased to amaze me how organisations (nameless) would send in 10 applications with content and budget pretty much identical! And some of the budgeting was, to be kind, inventive. The selection panel are highly experienced e-learning and project management leaders
So here’s my list…
Research what has been done before in Framework projects
Build on from, and acknowledge, past projects
Describe your current practice and what works well and what doesn’t – fill the gaps and accentuate what works – think of what can be done to make your program better still
Research other Framework research work, Toolboxes etc – you won’t get funded to replicate
Narrow your project right down – don’t try to do too much
Treat your project as a model from which you can extend
Describe how you will roll out, extend and embed your project
Describe how your project will survive long term – it must be sustainable
Have senior management buy-in
Don’t be a one person show
Make business partnerships REAL – build on existing relationships rather than establishing new ones
Involve students – get their input and feedback
Photograph and document each step – these are really useful for your report• Don’t be afraid to take risks, make mistakes and ask for help …. early
Be realistic in your budget – don’t overcharge and don’t make up items – the selection panel reads them carefully and know what things cost
Make connections with other Framework teams, in and beyond your RTO
If your RTO is submitting more than one application allow each ‘owner’ their own look and feel – don’t copy/paste unless standard RTO data/info