See-fit Western Australia 2009

Central Institute of Technology


Background

This project was designed to expand on the use of technology to support the delivery of traineeship learning and assessment both within and outside of the metropolitan area.
Central has trialled a range of technologies, such as iPods, PDAs and the use of laptops to make it easier for staff to deliver in the workplace and apply a range of delivery models that suit different enterprises/industries.
Central TAFE has adopted Blackboard as the preferred learning management system and has defined minimum standards for its application with the aim of improving the services we offer to our students (and their employers), while at the same time aligning to established standards such as E-Standards for Training. Staff can access support from several Innovative Practices Mentors and are encouraged to think about the implementation of other technologies to deliver an improved, more contemporary and flexible training and assessment experience.
The tools identified for use during this project (to be linked with the current Blackboard courses) included:
a) EDUPOV (EDUcational use of Point-Of-View). This product is still under development, but will ultimately support real-time online video conferencing and video upload/download, while meeting the needs of an educational environment.
b) Camera glasses. Otherwise referred to as “spy-glasses”, this hardware includes a camera which is concealed within the nose-bridge of what looks like a regular a pair of sunglasses.
Full details and examples of this technology in process can be viewed at www.edupov.org and there are several challenges that the Institute was hoping to address using this technology combination:
The initial focus of this project was to focus on metropolitan or regional students who were enrolled to complete the Certificate III in Fitness (D029) in a work based or traineeship capacity.
The lecturers involved in this project had spent time prior to this project learning Blackboard and developing resources for this learning environment so this online experience, together with a passion for exploring new teaching methods, meant that they were well suited to this project.


What was done

There were two lecturers who worked on this project – Justin Vaughan focussed on utilising the camera glasses with trainees in a range of contexts and Jeremy Sorensen was responsible for implementing EDUPOV and also trialling the camera glasses. Both lecturers focussed on using these technologies for audiovisual evidence collection and communication.
The focus was to be on developing communications, video instruction and directed assessment tasks for some of the core and stream units, dependant on individual learner needs.
As previously mentioned, this trial was intended to support students who are completing national qualification SRF30206 Certificate III in Fitness (TAFE ID D029) in a work based or traineeship capacity. While the Institute has a recommended pathway of units, traineeship plans are designed to suit each individual and can therefore cover a wide range of units, particularly electives. However, with approval from Diane McLaren (Innovations Program Projects Manager), the initial scope of the project was expanded to include any trainee currently enrolled in a sport or fitness qualification.
To ensure the project was as successful as possible, Jeremy and Justin were required to become familiar with the technologies and Geoff Lubich acted as the mentor, providing just-in-time professional development as required. When the cameras arrived, Jeremy and Justin spent time taking footage in a range of situations to use as exemplars and also to learn the pros and cons of the camera glasses in different environments.
When they went to transfer this footage there were some initial problems as the cameras purchased required some additional software to be downloaded before footage that was captured could be transferred to a computer for editing. Geoff was able to assist the lecturers to overcome this hurdle.
The camera glasses were then trialled in a range of situations, specifically:
• Central Institute of Technology gymnasium with traineeship students completing gap training.
• Kings Park.
• Employee workplaces (both indoor and outdoor).

There were several benefits of the camera glasses that became evident very quickly:
• Useful for remote assessing in that the glasses can be handed over or posted with instructions to trainees.
• Availability for ‘hands-free’ recording which is helpful in both the fitness or sporting context.
• Unique POV’s (client perspective, role-plays, scenarios).
• The clips obtained are an ongoing source of resource development.

Unfortunately, along with the benefits, several challenges occurred along the way. The first challenge that occurred was that many of our traineeship environments are taking place in public areas such as a gymnasium, schools and parks. While they are conspicuous if used indoors, the tinting made it difficult to see and it is understood that Geoff has since arranged for a non-tinted version to overcome this issue. Whether indoors or outdoors, it is not always clear that you are filming and obtaining permission from all parties is not always possible. This is particularly important in gym or school environments, to the degree that it’s usually impractical and time consuming due to the scope of video captured.
To some extent, the camera glasses were superfluous due to other technologies such as mobile phones with cameras inbuilt and portable video cameras. While allowing for hands free usage, the buttons to operate the camera glasses are on the inside. The buttons are therefore not clearly visible which makes it difficult to ensure that you are recording. This meant putting down equipment etc. to remove them and push buttons which interrupted the flow of the training session.
Once the footage had been obtained, the next challenge was to transfer the footage to a PC and edit the video footage before uploading on to EDUPOV. Unfortunately, our students had trouble with this section and the decision was made to accept non-edited footage which resulted in decreased efficiency for marking, the opposite of what was hoped for.
At this stage we were still working on developing the EDUPOV site to suit our needs and as the video file size output was large (1 minute = 57Mb) this meant that the footage couldn’t be e-mailed between parties and had to be transferred to a disk. There were also issues when training outdoors in that the wind and distance impacted on the quality of audio.
The second phase of the project was to trial the EDUPOV system. The plan was to trial a combination of the Blackboard learning management system with low-bandwidth video streaming with two-way duplex audio that would enable users in various locations to either broadcast their activities or receive transmissions. Transmissions were to be recorded and accessible via an e-portfolio archive for use, view or re-use as a digital learning object.
Again, Jeremy spent a significant period of time learning from Geoff how the site worked. Due to this product still being in a development phase there were a number of issues that arose, and both Jeremy and Geoff worked through these together. The first challenge that occurred was that all students could see each others work. Based on Jeremy’s feedback, Geoff developed the software to allow one-to-one student and lecturer interaction where materials could only be viewed by these two parties, yet still allowing for group broadcasts to occur.
Once this was established, trials of the software commenced and before trialing with students, we made the decision to trial this with two staff members who had different set-ups – one had a laptop on wireless broadband and the other had a PC on standard broadband. In both instances, it took over two hours to get EDUPOV up and running to allow for both student and lecturer to broadcast effectively.
During the broadcast the audio quality was higher than other products which are more widely used on the internet such as Skype and MSN.
Obviously this trial highlighted the concern regarding the length of time it took to become operationally effective. Some of our students are not tech savvy and the decision was made not to trial this software with them. There was also some frustration in getting to the point where it was operational. However, given that connection had been made the next step was to do a trial with students.
The next issue that arose was that of confidentiality. There was no permission in place from the student to view, store and share their video and audio materials. Jeremy discussed various solutions to this problem with Geoff, including the possibility of having a “terms and conditions” agreement which students are required to tick when they first use the product.
One of the trials conducted was with three students from Christmas Island. A series of visits are scheduled over 2009 and 2010 for Jeremy to meet with these students, assess them and view their portfolio of work. It was hoped that if this technology was successful we would be able to widen the range of qualifications that students were enrolled in and obtain positive cost / benefit for this delivery (currently heavily subsidised by the employer). Unfortunately, the internet connection was too low and intermittent to permit this exchange to occur.
EDUPOV was then trialed with another regional student in Kondinin (wheat belt region of WA) on two separate occasions. However, again the same problem arose with logging in taking extensive time. These attempts were eventually abandoned and substituted with a regular teleconference and written communication.

In Summary, the issues that were experienced while using EDUPOV included:
• Confidentiality and privacy (for trainees, lecturers, colleagues, general public, minors, trainees’ or employers’ clients, etc).
• Copyright – limited suitable products available (eg EDUPOV).
• Broadband internet capability – insufficient in regional areas (generally unviable).
• Immature IT systems and products (“bleeding-edge”).
• Ongoing training and support requirements.

In Summary, the issues that were experienced while using the camera glasses included:
• Privacy issues when filming.
• Conspicuous when used indoors.
• Superfluous (due to other technology such as phones).
• “Clunky” to use (eg no viewfinder, buttons near ear).
• Editing footage (“.3gp” file conversion software, etc).
• Microphone inadequate in some situations.
• Cost and logistics (eg purchase, distribution, monitoring and control).
• Huge size of video files (eg. 1 minute = 57Mb).


Benefits experienced

While these have been discussed throughout this case study paper, one of the key benefits that has come from this project is that lecturers have explored two significant technologies in a range of situations and while experiencing significant personal professional development, within the team this has also generated a large number of professional conversations. These conversations have challenged staff to change or enhance their delivery and clarified the scope of benefits associated with online video technology. Two staff members who previously were not engaged with flexible delivery are now keen to be involved which is a benefit that was not expected.
These technologies hadn’t been trialled within a program that has fast movements and often conducted in public places - this case study has clearly identified the limitations and benefits of utilising them in this context. We believe that this provides other registered training organisations with a valuable starting point as they can consider the issues that have been highlighted before investing in equipment and ensuring that the learning environment is an appropriate one to introduce these technologies.
By identifying these specific requirements for online video technology in the context of traineeship delivery and assessment, much more effective planning on holistically integrating them within a range of programs can occur. The increased awareness of confidentiality and privacy issues, combined with the improved and updated talent release procedures, will ensure that organisations, their staff and students are more protected than they were prior to this project.


Lessons learnt

The use of new technology needs to focus on supporting the principles of assessment and delivery. Technologies such as EDUPOV and camera glasses add some value to these principles, but only in specific circumstances. For example, EDUPOV may record video conversations between lecturers and trainees, but the questions that this led us to were:
• Is live video absolutely necessary?
• Is this the most effective and efficient communication channel?
• Do other technologies supply the same outcome and how do these compare on a cost-benefit ratio?
A this point in time, our conclusion was that EDUPOV is a luxury that currently takes more time to set up effectively than the outcomes that were generated however this will not be the case for much longer (refer reflections comments below). The camera glasses were superfluous in most circumstances where mobile phones or digital cameras can capture the same images and video footage.
Confidentiality, privacy and copyright issues are critical. When utilising video as evidence and for communication purposes (particularly when recorded), these issues are exacerbated (in comparison to the use of other forms of communication and evidence).

The results

While this has been covered in previous sections as the outcomes and how they were achieved have been an integral part of discussions, there are some additional results we would like to highlight.
In the application we advised that we would complete monthly on-line surveys. Given that the technology was not as advanced as hoped for, and we weren’t able to trial with as many students as hoped it was not appropriate to conduct these surveys. There has been extensive correspondence between Jeremy Sorensen, Geoff Lubich and students regarding this trial and we welcome a meeting with Diane McLaren to further discuss any outcomes of this project.
In 2010 there are three presentations scheduled
• Portfolio meeting presentation - approximately 45 staff from the Sport, Education and Disability Programs portfolio will be attending professional development regarding the learning outcomes of this project in February 2010.
• The Traineeship Advisory Group will be inviting Jeremy and Justin to present to other Central traineeship lecturers regarding this project and then a professional conversation regarding which areas may be interested in utilising the camera glasses and EDUPOV site will be held.
• Jeremy and Justin offered to present at the whole of Central professional development day in October 2009, however the project had not progressed sufficiently in terms of outcomes when the program was decided (May 2009) and instead Jeremy and Justin will present their findings at a professional development session advertised on the Central calendar – date yet to be decided.


Reflections and suggestions

The current standard of broadband internet connections in most parts of regional WA are not ready to effectively support educational outcomes. EDUPOV has improved significantly in its suitability to support educational outcomes since the beginning of 2009. However it still has some way to go. Within the next 12 months or so it will most likely be our preferred product. Fully-duplex video and audio capability is important in this regard and this aspect, which we had hoped would be available towards the end of this project, is currently not available.
At this point in time, the capability of EDUPOV to allow upload and download of video files is not there, but this is imminent – and would allow a very effective, secure and user-friendly video portfolio system to be implemented in a traineeship setting. The manner in which this product ensures the privacy and confidentiality of students’ video files is effective and should be promoted as a good example.
The camera glasses have a more limited use, and it is unlikely these will be used in future within our industry area of delivery. This product should only be promoted for use within specific courses which have a defined and specific need such as trade-related programs.
We appreciate the funding that was granted to our Institute and the learning opportunities and alternative delivery and assessment methods that have been trialled as a result. We would welcome a follow-up meeting to discuss any aspects of this report/project further should you require more information/clarification.


The Framework connection

The national training system’s e-learning strategy, the Australian Flexible Learning Framework (Framework ) funds and supports E-learning Innovations projects which aim to embed e-learning into the national training system by supporting and enabling innovation in training design and delivery, at the state and territory level.
The intention of this project was to explore technologies with the hope of embedding them in traineeship delivery however the technology needed to do this does require further development (full-duplex video and audio), and this work is currently being undertaken by EDUPOV developers. In a further 12 months, we believe that a combination of EDUPOV with other video / audio technologies will enhance delivery and assessment for a range of RTOs.
Our Institute has shared our experiences through our Online09 conference presentation and we hope that this case study report, once published, will assist other RTOs across Australia who may be considering trialling these technologies.
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For more information

For more information on Central Institute of Technology See-Fit Project
Chelsi Roberts or Jeremy Sorensen
Learning Portfolio Administrator and Lecturer Traineeships
Central Institute of Technology Phone: 08 9202 4325
Email: chelsi.roberts@central.wa.edu.au or jeremy.sorensen@central.wa.edu.au

For more information on the Australian Flexible Learning Framework:
Phone: (07) 3307 4700
Email: enquiries@flexiblelearning.net.au
Website: flexiblelearning.net.au