there is a feeling of spring in the air; let’s hope it lasts.Rhubarb, radishes and raspberries are already sticking their rednecks out.
I read an interesting article in our national paper on an announcement from the Ministry of Education regarding online learning:
How to be ‘COOL’ in education. This information appeared quite recently in the New Zealand Herald:
School age students will be able to enrol in an accredited online learning provider instead of attending school, under new Government legislation.
The move has dismayed the primary school teachers’ union who say education is about learning to work and play with other children’.
The radical change will see any registered school, tertiary provider such as a polytechnic or an approved body corporate be able to apply to be a “community of online learning” (COOL).

NZ Herald Tuesday, 23 August 2016 full article

Some in academia believe this is the death knell for education!
Hello, shift your thinking about the changing nature of learning and education:

Content-Centered Courses

In my opinion,the move is long overdue. I think it adds much to the smorgasboard of opportunities and choices for students of all ages to learn the way they want to.Online learning is only one dimension of blended, e-learning; one size doesn’t fit all in education.
From my experience teachers should be using their undoubted skills to support, encourage, engage and inspire the students to learn and achieve through whatever medium they are comfortable with. Students also need to be self motivated and have the ability to stick to the task in hand.
This COOL approach subscribes to the concept of ‘communities of practice’ of which inclusivity,collaboration and communication are at the core. Parents whose children enroll for COOL will also have an important facilitator role.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is ensuring that the level of digital literacy that the user has will enable them to gain the maximum learning and achievement through the medium.
I have a feeling that this ‘COOL’ subject is likely to engender some circuitous mass-debating amongst those academics who wish to remain blind to the challenge and potential of positive change.Which is unfortunate, especially when that change is aimed at supporting student learning and achievement of outcomes. Hi ho, opinion piece over.
In the posting this month there are links to research, resources, study skills, worksheets,mind-mapping,open education resources,instructors and the online environment,open source assessment tools,literature management, online learning guide,project management for instructional designers, conferences and the odd one out.
That’s it for this month
1.WorksheetWorks: This is a revisit as this site definitely improves with age. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s worth a visit and bookmarking. It enables you to create all sorts of interesting worksheets in a wide range of disciplines and levels. It’s still in ‘Beta’ after 6 years in existence, so some things are still under construction, but there has been plenty more worksheets added. It’s extremely fast, produces high quality worksheets in pdf format for instant download and it’s free. Well worth exploring and creating.
Excellent resources for all ages methinks.


2.Open Educational Resources at the Internet Archive. Apart from the wealth of learning and teaching resources in all sorts of subject areas, there is also an interesting Blog. The topic this month is around some interesting issues with the Chrome browser.


3.Visual Understanding Environment[VUE}. This is an interesting ‘free’ tool that takes the concept of mind mapping to another dimension.
Extract form the site:
‘The VUE project is focused on creating flexible tools for managing and integrating digital resources in support of teaching, learning and research. VUE provides a flexible visual environment for structuring, presenting, and sharing digital information’.
Have a look at some of the samples in the Gallery, then download the tool and start creating.


4.Instructor’ Perception of Instructor Presence in Online Learning Environments.Richardson.J.C.,Besser.E, Koehler.A.,Lim.J and Strait.M. Purdue University. IRRODL Volume 17 Number 4.
An interesting paper that throws some light on the various aspects of the role of instructors(tutors) in online learning. Makes some useful observations and comments on implications for online teaching.[enter full screen to view or download the pdf]


5.TAO: Open source assessment tools.
‘Almost as easy as putting pen to paper, and with results that are a lot more impressive, TAO enables educators and other test-writers to create E tests on the fly, and easily administer them to students from classroom to nationwide in just minutes. Furthermore, grades can be ready for review and evaluation moments after the last test is submitted.It’s QTI compatible (The IMS Question and Test Interoperability specification (QTI)’
Just started to explore the capabilities of this software. So far so good. Very comprehensive, powerful and easy to follow. Download and give it a try. The guide is worth reading to help with your endeavours.


User Guide


6. PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNERS: This book is designed to provide an overview of project management principles in instructional design.It is based on a pre-existing openly licensed textbook which was donated to the commons by a benefactor that desires to remain anonymous, and has been collaboratively revised and remixed by faculty and students at Brigham Young University.[This site seems like a pretty good place to publish your own Tome]


7.Online learning for beginners: 7. Why not just record my lectures? From the prolific digital pen of Tony Bates. Part seven in the series about online learning. All of the series are worth perusing and contain much useful information, guidance, advice and informed comment.


8. Zotero: is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. Another one of those free resources that are the result of community collaboration. If you are research intensive , then this could be a value added resource for your work. Even if you only do research occasionally it’s still worth a look.


9.A Practical Guide to Study Skills: Amy Himsel,El Camino College. This is a useful resource for those who want to examine and improve how they study. Some good tips and guidance to help students focus and concentrate on what it is they have to learn.


10. Docear – The Academic Literature Suite. ‘This is a unique solution to academic literature management, i.e. it helps you organizing, creating, and discovering academic literature’. Could be a useful resource for you and your students.It’s free and open source. Feedback from users looks very positive. Interesting comparison between Docear and two other similar applications.


11. Conferences
11.1 ascilite 2016
The ascilite2016 conference will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 28 to 30 November 2016. The conference is being hosted by the University of South Australia.Book your place for what promises to be another excellent event.


11.2 ALT Annual Conference 2016: Connect, Collaborate, Create.
The 2016 Annual Conference of the Association for Learning Technology will take place at Warwick University, 6 to 8 September 2016.
The conference provides an international platform for Learning Technology research, practice and policy work from across sectors. Confirmed speakers include Josie Fraser, Ian Livingstone CBE and Lia Commissar.
Interactive programme:


To book please visit:


12. Odd one out: The Skeptic’s Dictionary. Well you can have some interesting forays into this site to explore and evaluate myth and reality. Arguments abound as do interesting’facts’ and figures. There’s also some deep and meaningful stuff. Have a look at critical thinking. Worth perusing in your leisure time.


OctoberEfest will follow shortly
Richard Elliott
The Eternal Macademic
New Zealand

Back to top