Guiding e-learning


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Presentation for the Association of Learning Technologies Conference September 2012. See notes for dialogue and documents for abstract.

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  • I’m Claire Spiret and I am looking at guiding e-learning in the guiding movement
  • This project is organised as part of a KTP or Knowledge Transfer Partnership. This is a UK government initiative that joins businesses and universities to help develop new practices. In this way universities are able to integrate organisational experiences and businesses are able to integrate academic advancements.
  • Our partnership is between the University of Reading and WAGGGS which is nothing to do with footballers but is the umbrella organisation for the girl guides and girl scouts around the world. They are a truly international organisation working in 145 different countries, in three official languages. They focus on developing the skills and experiences of women, and I am based particularly within the leadership and programme development team which provides programmes, events and support for leadership skills. Combined with the experience of our partners in Reading university, including Shirley Williams as our led advisor, this partnership gives a strong support to our project.
  • The project in particular is focusing on the WLDP which is WAGGGS’ flagship leadership development programme. Currently these programmes are week long events hosted in various locations around the world. These courses offer a fantastic international experience to our members to develop their leadership work and to share their experiences with others. However this approach is very limited as the costs involved are very high with participants being flown across the world, as well as suffering from difficulties such as visa requests being declined. It was therefore decided that this needed to be extended so that the development opportunities are available to more of our members. This is where e-learning comes in. The objective for our project is to use modern technologies to facilitate leadership development and international sharing via the internet. This will allow for more open access, for increased diversity of participants and for the development of digital skills.
  • The objective for WAGGGS is to enable girls and young women to develop their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the world, and to support this we want to create an online space which reaches more of our members to enable their development, in a way that maintains the interaction that is central to our non-formal approach.
  • We have been working on the project for over a year now and there have been many interesting developments. These developments included many challenges, as you would expect within a project of this scale, but they have all been educational none-the-less. We have now completed our first course run and have learnt a lot about improvements to be made and challenges going onwards. These include….
  • Internationality. One of the greatest aspects of our organisation is that we work in a truly international context. This brings diversity which we embrace and share; and it is therefore important to embrace within our e-learning context. It was therefore crucial to ensure that our participants represented this diversity, and our approach ensures that none of the work, or groupings were organised according to language, culture or time zone. However this also brings difficulties. (transition) One such difficultly that was particularly important for our e-learning course was our time-zone differences. The difficulties of this were not only crucial within the structure of the course but also within the communication channels. This can be very difficult and often we forget that we are on different times, resulting in participants being awake at silly hours to join a call (something I’m sure you have all had to do!) (transition) It was therefore immediately obvious that we could not use synchronous technologies (such as conference calling), so we have used forums. These allow participants to join conversations on particular topics to connect and learn. There are course forums which are available to all on the course and group forums for more in depth discussion.
  • Language is another problem represented in our diversity and this takes three different sides: written content (the materials which we supply), navigation and platform (the buttons and directions on the online platform), and user generated content (the content written by our participants, such as blog posts) (transition) Whilst there are three official languages which will be included there is also the frustration that for many users this will still be their second, or third language. This is especially true of languages which are very different, such as Arabic or Japanese. (transition) there has been use of Google translate, however as we know it is not always very accurate! So there are a lot of discussions and actions being put in place to assist this.
  • To understand the different environments in which our participants may be working our team carried out research across the organisation to form a technological audit which looked at our member’s technological availability and capacity. Overall there is a high use and appreciation of technology within WAGGGS, across ages, cultures and languages. However there is not equal access to technologies and their technological capabilities vary around the world and within neighbourhoods. This raises an important challenge for our project. (transition)The availability of technology therefore requires a level of flexibility to any course. Our courses provide for individuals different times of access and different levels of engagement, for example some many check in several times a day for short periods and others may check in for an hour at a specific time. As well as providing printable materials, and offline access to information.
  • So over the past year we have had several successful developments, during our research stage we carried out a technical audit which formed our understanding for the need for flexibility, a pedagogical audit which allowed us to develop our learning materials for the online course. I then developed a prototype on Moodle which allowed us to run a prototype with about 20 participants worldwide and our first full course with about 50 participants worldwide. From these developments we have learnt much
  • The course that we have developed is five weeks, and is run with girls and young women from around the world. We have developed concise online learning materials on some of the key aspects of leadership development which are made available to the participants at the beginning of each week. We then have discussion forums with key questions for each of the topics covered in that week. These are in small groups who remain together throughout the course, with about 16 participants and two facilitators. The facilitators are trained volunteers who support the participants to question, explore and further develop their understanding of the topic. Alongside this we have a group task, this is carried out in groups of about 8 with peer support from a buddy who is a previous participant. They then work together over the weeks to produce something, in this instance some promotional materials for this course.
  • We have therefore developed four different areas of integration for e-learning and communication within our organisation. We will continue the closed courses that I have described, running them regularly each year. We are also looking to develop more traditional e-learning materials so that we can offer our current programme to a wider audience and develop our training support for staff and volunteers. We are developing and have already run some events support courses, which help to develop the communication processes for our face-to-face events. These will make use of the tools and online communities to enhance our events support before, during and after an event. We are also looking to develop online communities in the form of working groups, so that our staff and volunteers around the world can use the platform to communicate and work together.
  • In this way we are working towards a new approach to the organisations already successful development opportunities in a highly diverse organisation, opening it up to more girls and young women. Whilst also incorporating the non-formal education aspect such as flexibility and interaction with digital tools and the development of practical skills in technology and leadership development. We are by no means at the end of our journey, and we look forward to further development, however we have developed an understanding of our environment, its challenges and we are making clear steps towards a more united approach. Thank you are there any questions?
  • Guiding e-learning

    1. 1. Guiding e-learning: from theory to realisation Claire Spiret @shibbysavvy
    2. 2. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) is thegovernment’s premier knowledge transferprogramme that helps businesses andorganisations improve their competitivenessand/or productivity through the use of theknowledge, technology and skills that reside inacademic institutions.
    3. 3. The University of Reading is ranked as one of the UK’s 20 most research-intensive universities and is in the top 1% of universities in the world.We enjoy a world-class reputation for teaching, research andenterprise.With ten million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from 145 countries acrossthe world, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts(WAGGGS) is the largest voluntary movement dedicated to girls andyoung women in the world
    4. 4. Enables girls and young women to develop their fullestpotential as responsible citizens of the world, through: Non-formal approaches Values based learning Create an online space which: Reaches more girls and young women Enables development Feels personal and connected
    5. 5.
    6. 6.
    7. 7. Despite offering the potential for ubiquitous education, there are concerns that the use of technology for educational delivery will further marginalise the deprived (Carr- Chellman, 2005). A similar vision and concerns about the use of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) applies to their employment in the voluntary and community sector. It was felt that they would enhance active participation and support democratic practices (Trench & ODonnell, 1997). However, in practice a very top-down approach seems to exclude more internet- based community organisations from decision-making processes (Moll & Shade, 2004). Article available:
    8. 8. Re-think
    9. 9. It was really well We all understand things organized, not only for us differently and have to be able to learn aboutdifferent methods of doing leadership but also to anything so it was really practice it. -Participant form great to be in Argentina communication with • Communication around the world everyone- Participant from • Teamworking South Africa It was great to be involved • Development of communities a project in discussions and with a wide variety of different WAGGGS members, developing and understanding leadership in a more in-depth level. -Participant from Australia
    10. 10. Thank you very much Thank you very muchAre there any questions?Are there any questions? Claire Spiret @shibbysavvy