Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter
Issue 7 January 2007   Saturday, January 27, 2007

ISSN 1748-3603

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Leitch: another skills report
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Leitch is no Occam
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The Tribal Education Innovation Challenge
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mLearn 2006: Across generations and cultures
ASCILITE 2006
LAMS 2006
Online Educa Berlin 2006
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Using Wink to create software presentations
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LAMS 2006
The first LAMS International Conference 6-8 December 2006
by Simon Walker

LAMS is one of the first, robust open source learning design (LD) systems to have emerged from the IMS LD specifications (http://www.imsglobal.org/learningdesign/index.html). Developed at MELCOE in Macquarie University, Sydney, LAMS was the subject of a JISC and DfES evaluation with schools, further and higher education in the UK. LAMS is currently being used in a number of JISC Design For Learning (D4L) projects. This includes our own eLISA (eLearning Independent Study Skills Awards: http://www.gre.ac.uk/schools/education/consulting/elisa/) and eLIDA (e-learning Independent Design Activities for Collaborative Approaches to the Management of e-Learning) CAMEL (http://elidacamel.cms.gre.ac.uk/index.html) projects. This conference, which followed Ascilite, used the same Conservatorium of Music venue and podcast team. Aimed at a more specialised audience, it attracted fewer delegates and the number of refereed papers and presentations was comparatively small.

Professor Diana Laurillard gave the opening address online from the UK, using pre-prepared slides and live chat. Her talk, which considered pedagogical planner tools, demonstrated a prototype of the tool her team has developed for the JISC D4L project that she leads (http://www.wle.org.uk/d4l/). Pedagogical planning tools and approaches was a theme picked up by a number of presenters, including James Dalziel, director of the LAMS project at MELCOE, who presented his ideas on a LAMS lesson planning tool as part of his keynote. The outstanding paper award went to Jeffrey Earp and Francesca Pozzi from the Instituto per le Tecnologie Didattiche Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Genova, Italy, for their paper “Fostering reflection in ICT-based pedagogical planning” which examines the evolution of pedagogical planning. The authors report on the theoretical and pedagogical frameworks for experimental classroom activities based on innovative digital tools: a good read for anyone involved in teacher education or professional staff development.

An interesting online presentation entitled “VLE 2.0 and future directions in learning environments” was given by Martin Weller from the Institute of Educational Technology, Open University. This was another demonstration of the way in which simple technology (Powerpoint with Skype) can be very effective conference presentation tools. Martin made the point that Web 2.0 is an attitude as much as a technology. I presented a paper co-authored with Liz Masterman from OUCS, on the community aspects of LAMS and the findings on reusability/repurposing of learning sequences from the JISC eLISA project.

Ron Oliver, (keynote) Professor of Interactive Multimedia at Edith Cowan University, spoke on the theme of connecting learning and teaching. He discussed ways in which teachers who promote the use of ICT, active learning and knowledge construction, have yielded many responsibilities to the learners, a process which, he suggested, raises major issues for planning for learning. In one of his slides he presented research which reported on the 60:30:10 time relationship between information access, information organisation and information processing. He proposed that it is only the latter, on which is spent the smallest amount of time, that promotes conceptual understanding.

Penny Carnaby (keynote), Chief Executive of the National Library of New Zealand, presented a paper entitled “Content is king? E-learning and digital library convergence”. The potential to erase digital content is as easy as creating it, and her challenging presentation explored how her country was developing its National Content Strategy. She spoke of the importance of capturing both formal and informal content for cultural development. To do this, she suggested, raised difficult issues of what should be retained.

The value of attending conferences is always in meeting the people, developing ideas and exploiting opportunities for social networking and future collaborations. I learnt about CPsquare, http://www.cpsquare.org/, which is a community of practice for developing communities of practice. Here people share and develop ideas and techniques for accelerating the formation of CoPs. It is well worth a visit if you are involved in managing change in your organisation.

I had some very interesting discussions with Angela Voerman, Robyn Philip and Leanne Cameron from MELCOE and the School of Education at Macquarie University about their use of LAMS with pre-service teachers as a scaffold for understanding lesson planning. This enabled students and their tutors to visualise lessons providing a more fully formed ‘picture’ of the lesson and its content with a clarity not available in traditional written lesson plans. We spoke about setting up a online group to pursue thoughts and experiences. If anyone is interested in teacher education, please get in touch with me (s.walker@gre.ac.uk).

Conference papers can be found at http://lamsfoundation.org/lams2006/ and the podcasts are at http://lams.edublogs.org/ .

Dates for your diary
A proposal to host the next LAMS International conference in the UK at the University of Greenwich on 5 July was warmly recieved. This will follow the e-Learning@Greenwich Conference on 4 July which is entitled Designing for Learning (www.gre.ac.uk/e-conference). 

Simon Walker
Principal Lecturer in Education
The University of Greenwich
s.walker@gre.ac.uk

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