Monday, October 11, 2010

Final Posting for my Special Topic

My special topic has come to a close. I can sit back now and reflect on this last eLearning journey. Of course a part of reflection and action research is to consider whether you have achieved the intended outcomes.

Overall, I am pleased with the way that the course came together and more importantly that I learnt new things along the way that I can utilise further in my teaching.

This is also my last course in the Graduate Certificate of Applied eLearning and if I am to reflect back where I was 18 months ago, I have certainly had a great “elearning” journey. I cannot say it was a “smooth ride” all the way, however, the “rocky” parts made for an interesting learning experience.

I hope that I will not totally desert this blog, but use it to reflect on future elearning experiences.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Displaying Information (Moodle Books or eXe)

There are a number of different ways that information can be displayed Moodle. You can use a ‘book’ or an eXe package. I have trialled both and have found that each one have their own pros and cons.

The eXe project was developed a freely available Open Source authoring application to assist teachers and academics in the publishing of web content without the need to become proficient in HTML or XML markup. Resources authored in eXe can be exported in IMS Content Package that can be easily uploaded into Moodle.

I have found it to be easy to use, allows you to be a little more creative than the Moodle books, you do not have to load individual files and then link or add to books. Great for embedding information such as my Camtasia screenshots and other YouTube videos used.

Moodle books have been useful for more text based information, allowing for students to read through notes or required information and providing links to other readings.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Using Camtasia

A key aspect to this part of the course is for students to have knowledge of Fidelio (a property management/reservation system used in hotels). At present the face to face students have access to the programme on campus and the distance students have had access to the programme at their host institution. With the use of a manual students are able to work their way through the system, however, I wanted to be able to provide students with some visuals of how to make a reservation, add traces, profiles and routing instructions (as a start – more will be added later!).

Camtasia Studio is a screen video capture programme that is published by TechSmith. The programme allows the user to define the area of the screen or window that is to be captured. As well as capturing the visual information you can record instructions that go with the material.

I know that there are different tools available to do this, such as Adobe eLearning Suite, however I had access to Camtasia through my workplace and I had attended an hour workshop on the use of Camtasia a couple of years ago. The brief notes I made back then, plus the easy format of Camtasia have made it a very simple programme to use.

Having seen the results, I have wondered why I have not used it more in my teaching, but certainly see the benefits of using it, especially with more flexible and blended delivery methods in the future.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

PowerPoints & iSpring

A little time has passed since my last post, however, that does not mean that I have been idle! The time has been used to progress with the resources that are being used to engage students with their learning.

I understand that students do not want ‘death by PowerPoint’ in any situation (face to face, distance or blended learning) – however, in saying that I think there is often a time and place to be able to provide some information on PowerPoint’s, along with narration.

Under reservations I have three PowerPoint slides that explain a booking (contract), the traditional guest cycle and the reservation process.

I have created this using PowerPoint and have used the PowerPoint narration tool. This is a simple way to create slides and narration and there is no use for other software. Some of the pitfalls of using this narration tool in comparison to Audacity would be that you are unable to edit the narration, if you make a mistake, you have to start again.

To package the PowerPoint I have used the free version of iSpring. Again this has been very easy to use and follow and creates a Shockwave File of the PowerPoint that was then inserted into my eXe package.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Learning Management System - Moodle

The starting point for the special topic has been to set up my Moodle site for the course. Otago Polytechnic made the decision to move to Moodle at the start of the 2010 academic year. This meant that resources that were originally housed in Blackboard could be transferred over to Moodle.

Moodle may be referred to as a Course Management System (CMS) or Learning Management System (LMS). It is a modular object-orientated dynamic learning environment which is a free and open-source e-learning software platform.

The move to the new learning management system also coincided with a directive that courses should be offered using a more blended approach. The course Rooms Division Operations Management is usually delivered as a fully face-to-face option, however, students from CPIT have been able to enrol on to this paper and therefore there has been the need to develop resources for these distance students.

The Rooms Division Operations Management course has been set up on Moodle using weekly settings, following the structure of the paper (14 teaching weeks with a 2 week break). Each section within Moodle will then have information relating to the topics being covered in that week (2 sessions per week).

ELearning Guidelines

As a point of reference for the development of this eLearning module I have referred to the ELearning Guidelines (Milne & Dimock, 2006) which provide an overview of elearning guidelines developed to assist the tertiary sector in its use of elearning.

The guidelines provide information on best practice and help with the design of elearning materials and a basis for evaluating the quality of elearning teaching and resources (Milne & Dimock, 2006).

As part of the development of my own elearning resources and teaching I will take into consideration the following guidelines:

TD2 Do students get clearly defined learning objectives that assist them in focussing on their learning activities?

TD5 Has a representative sample of students tested the elearning materials and any necessary modifications been made?

TD12 Is the design of learning informed by research on effective elearning?

The main purpose of the course is to support face to face students and to provide distance students with the necessary information to achieve their learning objectives.

The first guideline, TD2 looks into clearly defined objectives and how it can assist students on focussing on their learning outcomes. The second guideline that has been chosen, TD5 ensures that the material is tested by students and gives them the opportunity to give necessary feedback so that modifications may be made if required. The third guideline, TD12 ensures that the design and development has been informed by research.

Milne, J., & Dimock, E. (2006). eLearning Guidelines. Guidelines for the support of e-learning in New Zealand Retrieved 15 June, 2010, from

Monday, July 19, 2010

New focus for Special Topic

I am back on board for completing my Special Topic as part of the Graduate Certificate in Applied eLearning. A slight change of focus from what I had originally planned, however, having just completed one of the other papers Educational Design for eLearning, have decided to use one of the Hotel Management papers – Rooms Division Operations Management sites as the focus of the Special Topic.

So here is my plan:

Planning and Learning Outcomes

This post will hopefully outline my plan for my Special Topic, concentrating on the learning outcomes of the paper. This will also become a guide for me for the semester to ensure that I keep on track. I will also consider setting up my own timeline for the semester to ensure that milestones are met.

What do you want to do?
The overall plan is to develop a face to face course into a course that may be taken by students studying at a different institution (that we collaborate with). Although it would be predominately seen as a distance course, I would like it to be more blended learning so that there is interaction between the facilitator and students.

The key reason for choosing this course is that there is the need to offer this paper online for students at another institution (it is a core paper that they must take as part of the Hotel Management major which is only offered at our institution).

By creating an online option this could allow other students to be able to take this course who may not be able to make on-campus classes.

Over the past few years there has been a push for more flexible learning offerings among our programmes.

What are the learning outcomes/project outcomes?
There are two different learning outcomes, obviously my own personal learning and the actual project outcomes.

I would like to explore some different eLearning technology that I have not previously used before. As an institution we have just moved to Moodle (open learning management system) at the start of 2010 (from Blackboard) so I am trying to navigate my way round Moodle, which will be used for this project. I would like to be able to use some videos or quizzes within the project that will assist the learners. Use of Camtasia to demonstrate the use of a reservation package and to ensure more interaction between students and facilitator as well as students to students.

In terms of the project outcomes, it will provide an efficient way of delivering a course to remote students, as well as providing a very comprehensive resource and support for f2f students as well.

Why are they important at this time?
My own personal learning outcomes are important as I know that I have students wanting to take my papers online and I do not want to offer them an inferior product due to location and therefore want to understand the requirements of elearning. Through the project I hope to have a better understanding of the needs and requirements of students studying online (of course I am myself one of these, so through this blog I can also give my own reflections of the process).

Does it require a budget?
I will of course try where possible to not have a budget! Where possible I will look to use software that can be downloaded for free or use existing software that is available through the Polytechnic or resources on Moodle.

Does it require approval and from whom?
My Head of School has given me approval for the project.

What is the underpinning literature and practice that you can draw on?
My research will be underpinned by current literature in elearning such as Mason and Rennie (2006). I will also need to consider the different learning styles of the students and augmented learning (how the student interacts with the technology). I will explore different online materials. The Elearning Guidelines (Milne & Dimock, 2006) will also be a valuable resource for this project. I will also draw on Gilly Salmon’s (2000) five stage model which try’s to create greater interaction and participation between participants in elearning courses.


Mason, R., & Rennie, F. (2006). Elearning: The key concepts. New York: Routledge.
Milne, J., & Dimock, E. (2006). eLearning Guidelines. Guidelines for the support of e-learning in New Zealand Retrieved 8 March, 2009, from
Salmon, G. (2000). E-moderating: The key to teaching and learning online. London: Kogan Page.