eLearning Conference – Converge 2012 – Thursday 22 November 2012

Thursday 22 November 2013

Sorry got to figure out how to get my mug shot off every page on WordPress site….must be annoying for the reader (just ignore my photo on the right).

Here are my notes taken from the Converge eLearning Conference Day 1.  Please excuse the brevity of the notes but I’m not a talented multi-tasker.  Hope you can make sense of them.

This annual conference gathers together people from the Australian Vocational Education and Training sector.  You may ask why am I attending such a conference when I’m in the corporate learning and development field.  Simply, I like to get the different perspectives of learning across various sectors: academia, VET and corporates.

There are some aspects where we have similar challenges namely what came out very strongly today was:

  • Severe cuts in budget/funding (seemed to be mentioned in every presentation)
  • Many of the people at the workshop were on redeployment or waiting for the axe to fall on their jobs (for a moment I thought I was at a corporate gig for that)
  • The need to “do something different to what we have normally been doing” – ie new technologies making us rethink, redesign, repackage or even throw what we know out of the window and start afresh.
  • Tracking learning on LMS (don’t need to say anything more here but it is also a point of difference where VETs open to open source; corporates cringe but I know that some use Moodle but put their hands over ears and say, ‘la, la, la’ to not hear you mention that it is open source

The differences between the VET and Corporate sector:

  • Evident that VET has way more resources, references, tool kits  professional development, mentors, support groups to share and upskill their people  (I was left wanting to have our corporate L&D teams attend some of ACPETs professional development sessions but then quickly dismissed it because once again, employer may not spend money on staff professional development or alternatively  they would just recruit people with the skills into the role).
  • Some mention of plagiarism and learning assessments which is not a main driver for corporates unless linked to mandatory compliance learning
  • Acceptance of using open source software and tools (what’s that saying about a snowflake in hell?)
  • Policy and governance seems stricter – I feel that for some corporate roles you can be a little bit more creative and innovative around learning certainly some teams I have worked in allowed me the opportunity to do so – as long as it was within IT guidelines – see above comment about snowflake and hell.

Introduction & Opening Notes

eLearning Surveys shows that Victoria has got highest take up of e-Learning across Australia.

  • 86% of Victorian teachers access content online and highest down loaders.
  • eWorks taking a new initiative – eLearning Content Centre – to access, manage, elearning under social media called ‘VET Commons in 2013″

2012 was a challenging year in VET with reduction in budgets and impacted many people and courses. Any VET funding reduction has indirect impact in VET funding and innovation.  But attendance at Converge over the years has not reduced meaning that eLearning and new technologies are still important and front of mind and these forums are the way to present and learn about more cost effective delivery models and flexible learning.

Technology intrinsic to our lives; flexible; access to content anytime and anyplace but what are we doing for our students to prepare and engage them for future workplace?

  • Need to embrace the new and emerging technologies and how to incorporate innovation into our programs on a daily basis.
  • Need to reimagine our teaching to serve students the best way they can.  “Unstinting willingness to adopt new approaches of how we incorporate innovation into our work.”

Who will be the next Steve Jobs? Are schools preparing students to be the next innovators? Students who became innovators became this way despite their schooling.  Education is a passive experience but innovative learning is hands on, they create.  Need to have Play, Passion and Purpose!

Victorian Government support $million in new technologies and understand that innovative solutions come from market. (This comment generated lots of cynical tweets about how their jobs have gone into this research!)

VET challenge is to ensure students are prepared for this reality when they enter the workforce.  Through grants, they have funded new innovations – tablets, mobile, gamification etc.


Guest Speaker – Tim Longhurst – The New Waves of Education, Surf’s Up!

Three trends for future builders:
  1. Power of Small;
  2. Barriers are Collapsing;
  3. The Wisdom is in the Group.

Create futures that are inspiring ours and future generations.  Everyone in the room is doing the work of a futurist but probably doesn’t know this.  Futurists ask these questions:

  • What’s going on out there?
  • What are the possibilities

Our responsibilities as futurists is to bring others on the journey.  But if you believe the future is more depressing or negative then you will make your choices to suit,  Futurists are meant to inspire and tell the good stories.

We are all Cyborgs: We’re part person, part machine

1. Web search

2. Social Media (any part of the web where we can contribute)

3. Mobile devices

Foster Our Edge

Innovation means “is there a better way?”

  • Core:  If you are a core person, you like the current systems and status quo
  • Edge:  If you’re on the edge, you’re someone who sees possibilities;

If we foster our edge, then over time organisations grow.  The core people may drop out (my words, not his – don’t stress out).

He encourages us to have ‘edge conversations’ over a coffee or tea with someone (like your manager or colleagues) at least 20 mins per month.

Have an Abundance Mentality

Open up and show people what you have so it inspires people to pay for the product or service.  Beware of OBSCURITY.


1. Watch a TED video.

2. Have an edge conversation – tea or coffee with someone

3. SMUG – free online course in social media

4. LinkedIn – Get onto LinkedIn! Join a group! Connect with someone in your profession

5. Twitter and #educhat



There are Global  Trends Acting on the World of Education – Can we Afford to Ignore Them? [Michael Coghlan, TAFE SA]

10 Global Trends…

1. Work is increasingly global and collaborative

2. People learn anywhere anytime, BYOD

3. Mobile

4. Openness (content, resources, courses, research, attitudes)

5. The cloud

6. Ownership (copyright, and privacy)

7. Access and scale are redefining success (MOOCS)

8. Notion of literacy being redefined – video literacy

9. Rise of informal learning

10. New business models

Michael says that the world is work is increasingly global and the TAFES seemed to be working in a one way while the world is moving in a different way.  The above factors are GLOBAL trends so it doesn’t matter if you’re in Africa or Australia – the issues are the same.

The Changing Learning Agenda

  • From formal learning to informal learning
  • Mass learning to Personalised learning
  • Competitive to Collaborative learning and assessment
  • Restricted and constructure to creative and extended
  • Instruction to Personal author and innovator
  • Content to Knowledge and Understanding

These links to the employability skills for people coming out of VET:

  • communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Initiative and enterprise
  • Planning and Organising
  • Self management
  • Learning
  • Technology

For VET, we have been wedded to ‘content’ but really, it shouldn’t because there’s so much out there so it’s better to just focus on knowledge and understanding but Mike asked, as educators, “How far should we move to the right above?” ie don’t move wholesale to the right but you want to have a continuum – not all or nothing.

It’s only a matter of time before a TAFE will create a MOOC (this generated tweets that @NixStix (Nicolas Vardaxis) said that MOOCs are currently being developed “as we speak”)



Is there Really an Open Source Alternative to Commercial Virtual Classrooms? [Tim Morrissey, Trainspace Pty Ltd]

Big Blue Button – a presentation on how it compares to Adobe and Blackboard.

BBB is not the only source such as Open Meetings (with Moodle integration).  Fred Dixon started project in 2005 to create a fully functional open source video conferencing tool.

BBB has streamlined user interface with no top line menus. Presentations, chat, presenter, listeners and video dock. VOIP, text chat, record and playback sessions, simultaneous webcams; whiteboard; slide presentations (PDF and any document readable by OpenOffice); runs on Macs, PC, Unix. Community help group.  35 languages; simple interface (no drop menus); easy integrations; Ubuntu server only.

No breakout rooms; No polling



Key note speaker: Professor Gilly Salmon

Picking technology and learning approach to make a difference – pick one thing and make sure that it’s your objective to learn and use for 2013!

“What do you want to do next?” (it will be different for everyone)

Do you want to stay in well established pedagogies University owned and invested technologies?

  • -LMS: Moodle; Blackboard;
  • – Mobile
  • -Illuminate/Collaborate – virtual classrooms
  • Creating different environments to change the thinking.
  • Microsoft collaborative tables similar to an interactive whiteboard.

Do you want to respond to challenges and opportunities university owned and invested technologies?

  • Do something you do well but in a different kind of way.
  • eg Seek university and Swinburne Online
  • Do you want to stay with established programs but respond to them in new ways and technologies?
  • – stuff that we use in our daily lives were not originally developed as learning technologies.
  • – start off with something you are familiar with rather than innovate across the areas eg mobility; digital connectedness  and open educational resources

Digital Connectedness

If FB was a country, it would be the third largest country in the world.

Open Educational Resources



MOOCs – universities that have enough of their material in an open format to offer it. They are sharing information and not creating knowledge,  The business models have yet to be defined as people are doing it experimentally.

Do you want to learn about New Approaches, New Ideas, New activities, Riskier Technologies, New types of students

  • – Horizon reports: Technology Outlook 2012-2017 (note to self – check these reports out)
  • – Follow the Sun Conferences: Online Learning Futures Festival – educators to educators – Follow the Sun 2012 Recordings
  • – Augmented Reality – web 3.0 – combine an internet app with something you’re doing anyway.
  • – Wearable computers

Key Message:

Find what quadrant you’re comfortable with – and then pick something and learn it for 2013.


Photos by Howard Errey (@Howard61)


  • Standby for this….

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Food Report

For those so inclined, happy to report that morning tea delightful with huge fresh raspberry muffins; but coffees too small in paper cups served in a massive marquee to the drone of building construction going on next door.  Lunch was really nice with a nice selection of salads, wraps and mini baguettes all served with some wonderful conversations with fellow attendees and guzzled down with fresh orange juice.  Afternoon tea bikkies and green apples, respectfully declined (as I had gorged on multi-coloured jelly beans that made my molars ache as I bit down on them and had them stick in the groove of my teeth –  but gave me the sugar rush I needed).

Key Learning for Me and This Blog Post:

Learners more visual so I automatically created a really long text based blog post that probably lost all my readers.  Should have done what Craig Taylor did for Devlearn by giving video messages of his key takeaways from this conference.

Note to self: get comfortable with the camera and learn this for 2013.

Until tomorrow!

About Helen Blunden

My unique super power is that I see learning experiences in everything I do. #alwayslearning
This entry was posted in Development, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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