Coach Carole Ramblings

Celtic, Mythical and More …


Embedding Digital Storytelling in Teaching and Learning

Digital storytelling is an embedded innovative practice in the Vocational Education and Training organisations as well as community based adult learning centres in Australia. Digital stories have been woven into educational environments as ‘new’ ways of managing and distributing knowledge; capturing learning journeys and demonstrating competence; as well as celebrating achievements and project outcomes. Digital storytelling now features regularly and frequently in the social networking practices of many Australian educators.
Digital storytelling is a powerful ‘new media’ and has caught on in primary, secondary, community and tertiary education. It has captured the interest and hearts of teachers and students as an easy and engaging method of learning. Australia is following in the footsteps of other nations who have embraced the DST phenomenon, such as USA, UK and Europe. Organisations in all states of Australia are now seeking opportunities to implement the DST process into their practices. The support for this innovation seems to be growing organically. 
The number of champions of DST has grown rapidly in the last few years. Educational practitioners now have easy access to workshops, advice and resources from a wide variety of local sources and enthusiasts. Champions (the DST enthusiasts) are making a difference to the way in which DST is accepted within the educational environment. They are the ones who are enabling further skill development among teachers and are leading the way in implementing the DST process into teaching and learning. 
DST has overcome the usual barriers of cost, technical complexity and time allocation for the development of learning resources. Teachers are now doing it for themselves. The Digital Storytelling Network has encouraged and supported the use of DST throughout Australian educational circles, overcoming the barriers of isolation and disadvantage. DST is popular among the indigenous, the youth, the elders and everyone who has a passion for storytelling. 
Word has spread quickly, allowing for a rapid acceleration in the uptake of DST methodologies. The popularity of DST for personal narratives, family and local histories has captured the imagination of communities in metropolitan, rural and regional locations. People in all walks of life are embracing and promoting DST as the next best thing to – digital cameras.

Digital storytelling is a ‘moving’ experience – try it for yourself, you’ll be surprised!

 

Text for voiceover for the Innovate and Integrate Research Project 2007.

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Celebrating and showcasing: horses gets their sashes

1. What have you accomplished that you are most proud of by using social software? What enabled you to achieve this?

• Some participants completed their personal digital stories and uploaded to their personal websites.
• Others were able to complete their stories for viewing on PC and in the family home DVD as well as showcasing for others at a final showcase event.
• All tutors in the program learned confidence in the delivery of the digital storytelling methodology
• All participants were able to master the use of digital cameras, manage digital images and optimise for the web
• Tutors received online training in various web 2.0 tools using Elluminate sessions online.
• Tutors were provided with editing rights to the Moodle Study Zone to prepare their own ‘course’ materials, promote within their group and to collaborate across the groups
• The use of email was a new domain for some and they were able to manage an email account as a result of their participation in the program
• By the end of the program the trainers and facilitators were feeling more confident to
a. make use of the Study Zone
b. see the potential of its impact on their delivery
c. appreciate the opportunity to apply this in real course delivery scenarios
• Dedication of the steering committee members to manage, create a framework, create resources, show how to schedule, train and delivery the program – was a successful support mechanism for all tutors and facilitators in each centre
• The use of the Elluminate Live Lite room for the train the trainer sessions enabled these to take place simply
• The provision of new digital cameras for the centres and in some cases new data show projectors.
• 1 gb memory sticks for each of the trainers for storing materials
• Provision of hard copy resources for use in their delivery
• Use of Moodle Study Zone to aggregate, store and distribute all learning resources

1. So far, what have you valued most about using social software for capability development and/or knowledge sharing?

• Free software that did not incur cost for people
• Easy to use – no high tech skills required
• The variety of choice of tools for different purposes e.g. blog for reflection, PS3 for story making, Moodle for collaboration
• Easy to understand as a method of sharing information
• Leads to other opportunities to explore yet more tools, and gather more information whilst immersed in one e.g. Elluminate brainstorming
• Tools not restricted to their use in the project only, but are available freely for anyone to use at any time
• Bridging tool for the development of second layer skills to produce new products or access more networks
• Use of all the tools increased their ability to network beyond their own community and to be part of a global community
• Willingness to use these tools to explore the practices of others e.g. sharing forum postings in Moodle sites

1. What would you say have been the 3 or 4 key benefits? – for you, other participants / users, your organisation in general

• Managing the project – these tools enabled a saving of money, meetings or partners and tutors were done online;
• Budgeting for the project – saved on costs of printing of resources for five centres (all resources stored online)
• Training the trainers – enabled an equitable arrangement for delivering these sessions online e.g. Wednesdays at 8 pm
• Education – benefits for the matching of tasks in the program to a selection of units of competence – a pathway to the Cert 1 in IT
• Workshops for tutors – ability to use multiple social networking tools at the same time – cross referencing from one tool to another e.g. teaching Moodle in Elluminate
• Pedagogy – awareness of the interconnectedness of these tools
• Participants – an awakening of what’s out there – the use of new learning strategies that engage and encourage people to explore new ideas of how to learn and connect with others

1. What needs to change for your experience using social software for capability development and/or knowledge sharing to be even better?

• Take small steps one at a time – and reinforce the use of these tools for reluctant users
• Avoid taking on too much new learning in short time frames
• Start the program earlier and build confidence slowly and in a relevant manner to their own environments
• Provide a holistic view of the use and relevance of the web 2.0 tools
• Encourage the participants to use these tools from their own PCs or on their own laptops brought in to the centres

1. From your experiences so far, and thinking into the future (say 5 years or more?) what is your vision of the role of social software in capability development and/or knowledge sharing, and what 3 things would need to happen in the next 6 – 8 months to make this happen?

• Increase scope of people with the skill base to use the social networking tools confidently
• Encourage the development of mixed mode delivery in the centres e.g. blended learning training
• Need for further funding for the management of any further training for centres – consolidation of prior learning to enable implementation
• Package up resources and distribute on CD for new tutors and facilitators
• Library borrowing system for borrowing of hardware e.g. cameras, laptops
• Marketing within the community of the success and application of Web 2.0 tools.

1. What hints and tips do you have for the use of social software for capability development and/or knowledge sharing.

 Schedule and apply the use of web 2 tools into their daily practice, and use frequently.
 Maintain the knowledge sharing comfort zones – they still like the hardcopy and like to be able to take it away with them.
 Start with the socialisation uses of the tools in the beginning, explaining the application and use of the tools to others in context.
 Encourage them to publish on-line in a safe environment. Make sure that they are encouraged to communicate with each other and make progress reports.
 Equate the use of the tools with flexible and e-learning and the potential for future application in the community.
 Ensure that we have a reliable source of the tools, eg. owned Lite Elluminate office.
 Research and select the most appropriate brand of tool, to suit the needs of the community eg. Wet paint.
 Good to provide the opportunity to celebrate small successes in both progress and achievements.
 Use a simple and secure blog to encourage reflection and help people move forward in their confidence in using web 2 tools.
 Use public forum based web 2 tools to keep a record of these achievements or project outcomes for future use and learning.


Stories of the journey: horses are approaching the finishing post

Here we are in the final month of the Harnessing Rural Skills projects across the NE Victorian towns of Beechworth, Corryong, Mt Beauty, Tallangatta and Yackandandah. The race has been a fast one and one that faced lots of hurdles. To continue with my metaphor I’d like to think about what has been the winner here, not who has won the race. We had different starting times for the program in each town, and we had different objectives in each place. Therefore it would not be appropriate for us to compare and contrast the achievements of each in the context of a competition. They have all been engaged in a similar ‘race’ or ‘journey’ and have reached their own finishing posts in their own ways. The winner is ‘e-learning’!

Each facilitator has a different story to tell about the success or challenge of the experiences in the People, Place and Pastimes project. Some would also wish to report that they had a completely different perspective to their participation in the project. For some it was another way to engage with reluctant learners; for others it was an opportunity to experiment with elearning strategies. The project steering committee had clear purposes and expected outcomes for the program and it was most evident that these have not always been the purposes and outcomes experienced by the participants in each centre.

The learning from this, for me, has been that it is crucial to ‘unpack’ the purpose of the program in consultation and collaboration with the centres. This will enable them to place it within their local environments and modify to ensure its correct fit for their participants.

We have progressed a ‘very’ long way in our program and it has opened the opportunities for elearning as one of the many they choose from for their local communities. We have news from the ‘front runners’ that some participants have completed their program and have their digital story ready. We have feedback from others who are still participating and learning and creating, but wanting to tell you about the absolute ‘power’ to enable them to achieve that this program has provided. We have centre facilitators, wanting to progress to another level with their elearning endeavours next year; we have tutors who have been inspired and are now incorporating their elearning techniques in other parts of their teaching landscapes. We have communities who are ‘talking’ about the innovative ways of learning on offer now in their towns, and the pathways to other learning along with the motivation to pursue life wide learning opportunities. We have program managers who wish to pursue further programs in the new year to enhance learning in other facets of learning such as those initiated to deal with folks struggling with existing businesses affected by the droughts in the region. We have other community learning centres eager to join in with elearning events and we have others looking on who are celebrating the successes of their colleagues.

All of this does not happen in a vacuum – it is influenced and affected by the cultures, the economics, the climate, the experiences, and other community criteria – and will certainly be a model to be examined and restructured for future implementation.

The next and final stage for this project is the celebration of successes and the showtime for viewing the stories. Stay tuned.

Coach Carole


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Digital Storytelling, blogging and eportfolios: horses are racing

September Progress Update:

Check out the Protopage, our front page for the Harnessing Rural Skills project, for an update on the start dates for each of the People, Place and Pastimes program in our NE Victorian centres. http://www.protopage.com/harnessing_rural_skills

Latest groups to begin include Corryong, Yackandandah and Beechworth.
Both the Yack group and the Beechworth groups have a web presence in the Study Zone, Moodle environment. The newest course on the block is the Tallangatta Elearning Zone:
http://www.studyzone.net/course/view.php?id=108 This one gets underway next week.

Participants are now getting down to the tasks of learning digital photography, digital storytelling, using Moodle, using Blogs, using ePortfolios and generally getting upskilled in all things ‘e’.

October events will include further online tutorials in the use of the Study Zone and eLGG.net – our preferred eportfolio tool. If other would like to join us for these Elluminating events, they are being held in an Elluminate room near you on October 18, 25 and November 1. Please contact carole60@bigpond.net.au to register for these events. Details are also displayed at: http://www.protopage.com/harnessing_rural_skills

More news in October.

Coach Carole


People, Place and Pastimes: horses are in the paddocks

The first centre has launched their program and successfully conducted their induction event. The centre coordinator is now most proudly spruiking about the enthusiasm of the participants in joining the program – and performing the best form of promotion there is. This is the most successful point of the project so far – to hear the pride and ownership and the confidence about the potential successes for their participants.

Another first has been the Train the Trainer programs being built in on the fly to cater for the learning needs of the tutors in the program and the mentors involved. Both community leaders are striving towards a supportive model of ‘lead, follow and get out of the way’.

More successes in the acceptance of the printed materials being produced for instructional purposes in the program workshops. Some reservations are being reported about the level of competence required and the need for teaching notes to be provided for the basic computer training components. A timely reminder that this program was always meant to be a ‘pathway’ to learning Cert I in IT, not the delivery of this program in its entirety. Although the first centre is in fact enrolling participants in that course as part of their SCH.

Evaluation tools are now in place and all project team members are asked to fill out as a form of reflective practice. The Measuring Impact tool from ACFE is being used along side some specific evaluation strategies of our process.

Budgeting issues have crept in as an issue but are being handled by the project managers as effectively as possible.

Social networking tools are now being embraced by the teams as the major form of communication during the program.

Informal reporting of progress is be attended to via the Elearn EdNA site and good ideas and support are sourced from these discussions.

Some ‘storming’ processes are still being felt by the partners but a shared focus is now drawing them in to a closer tightknit group. Natural leaders in some quarters are now emerging and the group is responding positively.


Harnessing Rural Skills – horses still in the stables

What a flurry of activity there has been just getting up to the launch of the program for the participating centres (partners) in the NE Victoria Elearning precinct. We have five partners located at:

Beechworth, Corryong, Mt Beauty, Tallangatta and Yackandandah.

During May – July we focussed on marketing, building community relationships and learning materials

There were some really big hurdles during that time and I’ve learned once again the value of creative collaboration. When immersed in a project it is so easy to ignore the real needs of the communities themselves – when really they should always be right up front. For instance you cannot contemplate the centres delivering online if they themselves have not a) experienced being online or b) feel confident in using online techniques.

Sure that’s not rocket science, and it is foolish to assume certain skills – I’ve learned to make sure by asking and looking for clues to that confidence required.

Standard, generic materials won’t do either, they need to be specific to the ‘project based’ approach. So we needed to come up with a context for the learning materials and the environment itself.

Lot’s of extra time spent in ‘building community’ early in a project would be beneficial. Hey, that’s not rocket science either, but sure is easy to forget. Tend to apply it to other course delivery why not the same for any project like this one.

Now have a collection of great photos and materials for sharing in Study Zone.

Oh some steep learning curves experienced by all participants, partners, steering committee and project leaders.