Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cool Connections Conference, Sydney, 21-22 November 2006

The Cool Connections Conference was an opportunity for participants from around Australia to showcase their e-learning initiatives which were funded under various programs within the Australian Flexible Learning Framework.

If funding for this PfP blogging activity continues, I will report in detail on the ideas, tools and resources offered during the Cool Connections Conference.

In the meantime, it is worth noting that the core topics covered were:
. building collaborative networks
. moblogging and mobile learning
. podcasting
. digital storytelling (major emphasis - more on this later!)
. e-portfolios
. e-learning for indigenous learners
. voice technologies
. e-learning in trades and management

The highlight of the Conference was an Elluminate Session with George Siemens (Instructor, Red River College, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada). We also had participants from Brazil and the USA joining the Conference group in this on-line session that incorporated video, voice, electronic whiteboard and three on-line moderators.

George's presentation focused on his concept of Connectivitism, that he describes as A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. George's Elluminate presentation is available on his wikki - it incorporates an excellent summary of online tools and their functions (with hot links):

George's superb blog, Elearnspace, is well worth a visit. His menu buttons are particluarly seductive:
Starting Enabling Doing Evaluating Managing Resources Home

George's blog also provides an integrated model of e-learning:

What are the Characteristics of a Collaborative Person?

From my observations during the PfP project (reinforced by prior experience!), I concluded that a collaborative person typically possessed the following characteristics:

- Internal locus of control (depended on themselves for motivation; did not blame the external environment for their own inaction)
- Robust self-esteem (a positive self-regard, not dependent on others’ views)
- External orientation (outwardly looking)
- Engaged in lifelong-learning (pushing their own boundaries; developing new learning edges)
- Persistent and resilient (could take knocks and disappointments)
- Strong focus on relationships (valued others and connections with them)
- A bias towards innovation
- Passionate about meeting the needs of their client group

When I completed this list, I realized it resonated with Daniel Goleman’s concept of Emotional Intelligence. He identified the three core personal competencies that determine how we manage ourselves:
1. Self-awareness
2. Self-regulation
3. Motivation

He also identified two core social competencies that determine how we handle relationships:
1. Empathy (awareness of others’ feelings, needs and concerns)
2. Social skills (adeptness at inducing desirable responses in others)

I concluded from this that an indirect way to build collaboration in the VET sector is to help people in the sector to develop “emotional intelligence”. My own research and experience suggests that action learning is an excellent way to build emotional intelligence, particularly through the use of facilitated action learning projects.

(Note: This is an excerpt from my final report to Stakeholders and my presentation at the Cool Connections Conference in Sydney, 21-22 November.)

Email survey results - Partnering for Professionalism Project

I would like to extend my thanks to the 31 people who responded to the email survey for the PfP project. The data provided was invaluable for my final report to stakeholders.

You will be pleased to know that the Federal Government has approved $15 Million for the Australian Flexible Learning Framework for 2006. This means that LearnScope will continue next year as will a range of other programs under the Framework.

The following suggestions put forward by respondents to the email survey, and participants at the review workshop at Southbank Institute of TAFE, are currently under consideration:

1. Maintain the PfP Blog as a communication channel and anchor for the the network (encouraging continuous contribution from “team bloggers”)

2. Conduct inter-sector and cross-region, face-to-face seminars focused on a core issue identified by participants during the project and incorporating live case studies

3. Share current research and development outcomes in an abbreviated, written form via the PfP Blog

4. Funding of facilitated, collaborative projects focused on specific areas identified by participants

5. Funding of a facilitated project to look at ways to build inter-sector collaboration

There is very strong support for continuation of this blog and we should have news on this front shortly!