Integrating e-Learning into the Instructional/Learning Processes

AMES ( www.ames.net.au ) is Australia's largest specialist provider of education and employment services for people with a language background other than English.AMES has worked towards client focused, flexible delivery of programs for several years and has made an organisational commitment to introducing new learning technologies as part of this strategy.AMES takes an integrated approach to delivery in a number of programs which are delivered via a combination of “in person, on paper and online” modes.AMES has explored and trialled the use of new and emerging technology through participation in a number of LearnScope and Australian Flexible Learning Framework New Practices projects. These projects provide an opportunity to further embed new practices across the organisation.AMES has also provided ongoing professional development for staff and supports a number of internal special-focus networks.In 2004 the ICT Skills for Teachers Professional Development program was delivered to teachers across the organisation.
In 2005 the e-Mentor Network was established to develop a network of skilled teachers whose role is to support staff at their sites with both ICT skills development and integrating e-learning into program delivery.AMES participates in LearnScope and seeks funding from other state and national funding bodies to develop projects which provide professional development and resource development opportunities for our staff and students.
In addition to specifically equipped computer labs, many AMES sites today have at least one networked computer in a classroom with access to a data projector. Teachers use it in a number of ways, depending on the profile of the class being taught and program focus:
  1. To introduce a new program or activity before students go to the computer lab. This ensures all students are listening.
  2. To reinforce or check students’ knowledge/skill(s) after their session in the computer lab.
  3. To show or illustrate a concept. Easier to bring up an image or even a video clip on the screen than to try to explain.
  4. To show/teach an aspect of using ICT.
  5. To find information asked by student(s) in class (e.g. settlement etc.) thus illustrating the search process and how helpful ICT can be.
  6. To play DVDs/CDs (no need to bring in TV/DVD player etc.)
  7. It is one form of activity for students when they break up into different activity groups. E.g. they could be looking something up on the internet. Using computers in class extends the function of ICT in the learning/teaching process and helps to connect classroom work with work done in the computer lab.

Participation in Collaborative Projects (2003)
project.JPGAs part of the International Classroom Virtual Visit Project initiated in USA, students and staff at Springvale and Oakleigh AMES participated in a collaborative project, aimed at promoting multicultural understanding and world peace through international collaboration and communication. Both staff (Maureen and Gladys) and students found the whole experience very interesting and rewarding. Participants engaged in exchange of information, learned about different cultures, developed their communication and ICT skills. At each centre the students created web pages using Front Page. These pages were uploaded to the internet for each to share. Students emailed each other, contributed to message boards and had weekly online live chats using TAFEVC. In addition, each class had contact with an international learning institution where students exchanged emails and shared web pages. Springvale worked with a group in Germany http://www.geocities.com/spring_vale2003/index.html and Oakleigh worked with a group in Wichita Kansas http://www.geocities.com/oakleigh_ames

Australian Flexible Learning Framework

VET @ AMES - LearnScope 2003

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AMES VET teachers 2003
VET teachers in AMES are a geographically dispersed group, and while the network meets face-to-face during the year, there was an opportunity to expand the network through online technologies.

The project was also an opportunity for these teachers to participate in formal professional development targeted specifically at their needs. Professional development for this group needed to be closely linked to practice and their immediate VET delivery imperatives.The VET @ AMES LearnScope project worked with VET teachers delivering Childcare and Aged Care courses to students from non-English speaking backgrounds. The project:
  • provided teachers with ICT skills (as required)
  • encouraged teachers to evaluate the potential the Children’s Services and Aged Care Toolboxes with their particular learner groups
  • provided supported opportunities for the teachers to use the Toolboxes and other online tools in their current course delivery
  • provided these VET teachers with skills to access and participate in professional collegiate networks of practitioners involved in flexible delivery of similar programs with similar client groups. The professional development program was designed in two streams - Flexible Learning and Delivery and Enabling ICT Skills.

Flexible Learning and delivery
  • Research and evaluate online resources including Toolboxes & VLC
  • Different learning styles
  • Incorporating online resources and tools into course delivery
  • Applications for the VET classroom

Enabling ICT Skills. These may include:
  • File Management
  • Word and PowePoint for teaching and learning
  • Preparing to deliver online
  • Introduction to WEBCT as an online management tool
  • Using online communication tools -email, discussion and chat - to facilitate learning and teaching.
VET Voices Online - LearnScope 2007


Offering programs which allow maximum flexibility in terms of access and delivery is one way to address the issue of low participation in VET training by people from CALD clients. Online voice technologies, especially Voice Boards, can provide significant support and increased access for learners with low levels of literacy and non-native speakers of English who are disadvantaged by online text-based delivery and communication. Voice board activities can provide an opportunity for both independent and collaborative activities which can be particularly valuable for learners addressing oral competencies such as communication skills, language development (ESL) or pronunciation.

The project focuses on the use of online voice technologies (Horizon Wimba Voice Tools) to support language and literacy learners enrolled in Aged Care and Children Services courses.
The project will provide an opportunity for teachers to explore both the technologies themselves and their application to teaching and learning within the context of these courses.
Intended outcomes
Outcomes of the project for teachers will be:
  • skill in using and understanding the application of online voice technologies to support learners
  • appropriate and engaging learning activities designed to support learners enrolled in Aged Care and Children Services programs Outcomes of the project for learners will be:
  • increased access to support and learning activities for learners with literacy needs
  • flexible access to language and skills development activities
  • development of eLearning skills and increased ICT literacy and confidence
  • employability skills development

New Practices In Flexible Learning Projects

    • Beyond text: using your voice online

http://btresrource.flexiblelearning.net.au/beyond_text_resources/bt/index.htm
Practices in Flexible Learning 2005 project explored the application of online voice technologies (Horizon Wimba Voice Boards, Voice Email and Voice Chat as well as audioblogs) in different learning contexts and with different learner groups. The aim of the project was to develop models of practice and practical guides for teachers wishing to integrate online voice technologies into online delivery, assessment and support services.

Many teachers engaged in flexible learning have experienced the restrictions imposed on online teaching and learning by the text-based nature of online communication. Written text, even with visual support, limits the range and type of learning activity and communication that can be delivered online. This is especially true for language and literacy learners. Online voice technologies offer a range of unique advantages and opportunities to support innovative teaching and learning. The project worked with TAFE and industry as well as AMES teachers and learners to develop models of practice for teachers wishing to move beyond text and integrate online voice technologies into online delivery, assessment and support services.

Two CSWE 1 classes and their teachers at AMES were involved in the project and the response from both teachers and learners was very positive.

One of the challenges that we needed to overcome was finding a way to give students individual speaking practice. And we found that using the voice boards would give them this opportunity because it provided the model and they could work at their own pace. They could repeat as often as they wanted to and not depend on the other students.
Another challenge was getting the more reserved students to speak in public. And the voice board gives them a level of privacy because it gives them their own private space. So, no one was really inhibited from speaking.
Teachers, I think, will be keen to use these kinds of tools in future because they are of real benefit to the learners
.
AMES teacher – CSWE 1 class

Media on the Move 2006


http://mediaonthemove.flexiblelearning.net.au/ Alos available on CD
The goal of the Media on the Move New Practices in Flexible Learning 2006 project was to investigate the recent phenomena of podcasting, around which there has been much discussion and media coverage. The aim of the project was to take a broader view of online casting and to look at the educational values of this from an organisational perspective.
Younger learners
Much of the current research into mobile learning and younger learners seems to assume that mobile learning engages young learners, and we wanted to test the reality that assumption.
Organisational practice
We also knew there were a lot of instances of individual teachers experimenting with and exploring online casting, but that this was happening on an individual basis. What the project wanted to examine were the implications for an organisation if this were to become an embedded practice. Given the technology involved, this is not an eLearning practice that could become an organisational practice without the involvement of the whole organisation.

The project worked with a number of TAFE institutes, ACE providers and Radio Australia as well as the AMES Virtual Independent Learning Centre (VILC) team to develop models of organisational practice that would integrate online casting technologies (podcasting) into online delivery and resources.



VILC

vilc.JPGVILC (www.virtualilc.com) was started in 1997 with funding made available through the State Office of Training and Further Education (OTFE) to develop online learning in Technical and Further Education (TAFE) providers throughout Victoria. In 2007 it is celebrating its 10th birthday with a revamp, a new look, new activities and new stream of content: downloadable resources in Listen to this! These audio files can be downloaded onto individual computers or to mobile devices such as mp3 players for listening to later.“I think that when people think podcasting they think of seeing somebody with things in their ears, bobbing away on their own, and think of it as an individual initiative; maybe an individual initiative by a teacher with individual students off-campus somewhere, benefiting. I think it’s really important to raise consciousness about the largely unseen and invisible organisational implications of online casting. I think that’ll be another benefit as well, that will actually broaden peoples thinking about what it means to get involved into online casting.”Delia Bradshaw, New Practices project team member.
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Networks and Professional Development



ICT Skills for Teachers
In 2004 the ICT Skills for Teachers Professional Development program was accessed by over 100 AMES teachers. This program was aimed at developing and strengthening teachers’ ICT skills for teaching and learning. In 2005 the e-Mentor Network built on that work by establishing a network of skilled teachers, from each AMES site, whose role was to support staff at their sites with both ICT skills development and integrating e-learning into program delivery. The e-Mentor Network continues to support and champion e-learning in AMES.

e-Mentor Network
e-Mentors at each AMES Education site work with the local leadership team – Unit Manager, Assistant Unit Manager, Learning Advisor and Education Development Coordinator – to support and mentor staff with implementing blended learning models and in the development of the skills and knowledge needed to integrate e-learning options.
e-Mentors are supported by the Research and Learning Innovations Unit (RLI) in undertaking the following duties:
  • keep informed of e-learning options and their application to AMES learner groups and share this information with staff at their site
  • support staff with the use of AMES e-learning resources
  • undertake local level PD initiatives which can address the specific e-learning skills development needs of staff at sites
  • assist with the development of under-pinning ICT skills as needed by teachers in their site
  • attend network workshops and report back to local leadership team and teaching staffProfessional Development for e-Mentors**RLI provides four professional development workshops for e-Mentors during the year. The workshops are negotiated with the network members and will focus on:
  • exploring and sharing successful models of blended learning and e-learning
  • further developing skills in ICT for teaching and learning

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