Newsletter - May 2005Welcome to the first edition of the ascilite newsletter for 2005. The lead article in this edition has been produced by Jeremy Williams of Universitas 21 Global. It reports on the increasingly prestigious ascilite awards that are presented each year at the annual conference for members' exemplary use of electronic technologies in teaching and learning in tertiary education.
In an era when many of us are being asked to do more and more with fewer resources, receiving the recognition of one's peers for innovative work is an important element of our professional lives. The awards also perform an important information dissemination function. Without the publicity that surrounds the awards, it is quite possible that many of the excellent ideas to emerge in the e-learning space will not get the 'air-time' they deserve. As a community of educational technology practitioners and researchers, we need to build on one another's successes, and the ascilite awards assist in this endeavour.
The ascilite newsletter is produced three times a year and we welcome suggestions for themes from our readers. Please send these to any of the editors. Please also consider submitting a short piece yourself if you think it might be of interest to ascilite members.
Editor for this edition: Jeremy Williams
Editorial team: Joe Luca, Meg O'Reilly, Linda Pannan, Jeremy Williams.
Web Editor: Allan Christie
Rewarding Excellence in Technology-Enabled Learning Design
What's interesting on the ascilite website?
What's interesting elsewhere?
Rewarding Excellence in Technology-Enabled Learning DesignOne of the highlights of the ascilite calendar is the ascilite awards ceremony held each year at the annual conference. The tertiary educators' equivalent of the Oscars or the Emmys (without the tears and the corny speeches), the "ascilites" have become highly coveted awards in recent years. The main reason for this is that the quality of the prize-winning entries continues to amaze, pushing forward the frontiers of knowledge each year in terms of how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be harnessed to enhance student learning. To win an award is thus widely regarded as a significant honour, conferring a great deal of prestige on the winner and their institution.
Each year we receive a broad array of entries that draw on the full gamut of technological formats (i.e. web, DVD, CD-ROM) ranging from full scale projects through to small innovative teaching and learning experiences. The top prize is the President's Award for Excellence which goes to an individual (or group of individuals) clearly leading the way in the use of electronic technologies in learning in tertiary education through exceptional product design and development. All entries are judged on their merits in regard to this over-arching goal along with the following criteria:
- Appropriateness for the target audience
- Appropriateness and effectiveness of the Learning Design
- Significance/impact on teaching practice and/or learning outcomes
- Creativity and Innovation
- Evidence of effectiveness (Evaluation)
- Overall quality
While the ascilite President's Award for Excellence is presented to the single entry recognised by the judging panel as representing an advance in learning technology design, application or implementation of international significance, there are also ascilite Awards for Outstanding Achievement in design, application or implementation which are presented to those nominations considered by the judging panel to be exemplary in terms of any, or all of the judging criteria.
The winner of the 21st annual ascilite President's Award in 2004 was 'Road Risks - Your Choice'. A CD-ROM based package developed by University of Wollongong (UOW) researchers for the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA). It is designed to help students think more about safer behaviour on the road, particularly using skateboards, travelling in cars and as pedestrians. It is based on key messages about identifying and reducing risk, making safe decisions and being proactive about personal safety in the road environment.
While the actual software was designed for school students, its development within emlab (educational media laboratory) - a research lab in multimedia development - involved students and staff at the university working and teaching in the area of multimedia design and development within several programmes of study.
The impetus for the project came when the RTA conducted research into the key messages they needed to get across to Year 7 and 8 students and then called for tenders to design and produce the teaching resource. Emlab won the tender with an initial concept design and then produced each of the resource elements which included work with Relativity, a local film production company, to produce the video elements.
The road safety package contains interactive CD-ROMs, video and activities and it has been incorporated into the mandatory Personal Development, Health and Physical Education syllabus (PDHPE) for years 7-10. The new PDHPE syllabus has been implemented throughout all NSW high schools this year.
The CD-ROM interactive activities and accompanying Teaching Ideas Resource Book were developed by emlab designers and then trialled gathering feedback from a wide selection of curriculum managers, teachers and students in order to fine-tune the product.
Dr Gregg Rowland, a Senior Lecturer in UOW's Faculty of Education, was involved in the writing and production of the package, together with a research team comprising Rob Wright (Director of emlab), Owen McKerrow (web designer), Karl Mutimer (graphic designer), David Elsner (programmer), Grant Farr (senior programmer), Russel Sinfield (technical support), Matthew Fifield (support manager), Dave Skoumbourdis (programmer) and Karl Rudd (programmer).
The UOW team won "an ascilite" award for 'exemplary application of ICT to teaching and learning in tertiary education' before taking out the President's Award for Excellence based on the overall quality and content of the road safety package.
All individuals and teams of educational innovators in the tertiary sector are encouraged to consider nominating for the 2005 ascilite awards. The only condition of entry is that you must be a financial member of ascilite. If you are not a member, you can join online by making a secure payment at https://secure.ascilite.org.au/vc_ascilite/register, or you can contact the ascilite Member's Secretariat via firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange membership, or you may simply enclose the appropriate membership fee with your entry form.
The closing date for entries is 30 August 2005.
Short listed nominations will be judged by an international panel of judges which, in the past have been drawn from the US, the UK, New Zealand, as well as Australia. As in previous years, the awards ceremony will be held at the annual conference. The 22nd Annual Conference is scheduled to take place in Brisbane in December 2005. Nominees will be notified of their short listing prior to the annual conference, and support to attend the conference will be provided. All short listed entries will be provided with a copy of the judges' reports, but the judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
To see examples of past winners you may wish to contact your campus 'ascilite rep' to obtain a copy of a promotional CD. This CD contains a sample from all the 2004 short listed entries, and it has been provided for showcasing at your institution to disseminate exemplary work as widely as possible (as well as to promote the ascilite Awards themselves). If you or a team from your institution are considering entering the awards this year, you should email the Chair of the Judges' Panel, Bob Corderoy, on email@example.com to indicate your intentions. This will facilitate the efficient processing of your nomination.
What's interesting on the ascilite website?The 22nd Annual ascilite Awards
To enter, simply download the application form using the following links below (which are also provided at the Awards section of the ascilite website):
|General Information (pdf) and (doc)
2005 Application form download (doc)
Administrative fee payment form download (pdf) and (doc)
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Once logged in take the opportunity to update your membership profile and have a look at recent postings on the ascilite General list. Did you know that you can search the ascilite General list for any message posted since mid-1999!
Whilst on the topic of searching, take a moment to search the conference papers from 1995 to 2004 inclusive.
What's interesting elsewhere?Have your tried RSS?
If you are one of those people who would love to browse all your favourite news sites and blogs each day but simply don't have the time, then a news feed service could be the answer.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) allows you to keep up to date without browsing through a whole pile of web pages which can be a little time consuming, particularly if you are only interested in a certain section of a particular web page (e.g. the op-ed in the New York Times). An RSS feed contains headlines, summaries and links to full news stories, you just pick those that really pique your interest.
If you click an RSS link (try one at http://news.bbc.co.uk/ for example), you will see XML (or eXtensible Markup Language) code in your browser. This is because you do not view RSS content through a browser. To view the information you want, you must use an 'RSS news reader' (also called an 'RSS aggregator').
RSS readers are small software programs that aggregate RSS feeds and display the story information. They allow you to scan headlines from hundreds of news sources in a central location. A wide range of RSS readers are available for download on the Web. A nice simple one for Windows is Feedreader (www.feedreader.com). For the Mac, NewsFire (http://www.newsfirerss.com) is pretty popular. There are many others to choose from as a search on Google or Yahoo will reveal (try: RSS reader freeware).
For a non-technical guide on RSS, visit http://www.commoncraft.com/archives/000528.html
Can't choose between Google and Yahoo?
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