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The New Zealand government is in the process of discussing measures to strengthen the existing copyright laws.  They are collaborating with other countries including Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Singapore, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the United States on the Anti-counterfitting Trade Agreement.  Based on reports on the Ministry of Economic Development’s website, It appears that all countries involved in the discussions have agreed to the premises of the agreement, and are working towards implementation.  While domestic consultation is said to be part of the process, this is the first I have heard of it.
While on the surface this may seem a good idea, the terms of the actual agreement appears to threaten the openness of the internet in New Zealand.  Mark Harris’s submission covers the main concerns which many have with this act.  Colin Jackson believes that the implementation of this act could lead to ISPs filtering content from sites such as Youtube, and blocking incrypted services such as Skype.

Is it too late to do anything about this?  Officially submissions on this act have been closed since July 28, 2008, and the government does seem to have made it’s decision.

There’s a battle going on in the states.  The telecom companies are scrabbling to gain control of the internet.

Here’s an informative video which relates what’s currently happening to the establishment of corporate control over previous media channels.  It’s worth a look.

The Wiki-Educator Massage Therapy Educational Resources project has just been launched.

It’s intended that the wiki project page will act as a hub for international massage educators to collaborate on open-content educational resources.  I’ve now established the initial structure of the page (expecting that this will change over time somewhat as others become involved).  After a discussion with Leigh Blackall, have decided that it would be best if there were two categories on the front page

  1. The Library section is intended to be fairly unstructured to make it easier for contributors to load their resources to the wiki-page
  2. The Learning Outcomes section is intended to provide a logical structure for the placement of learning resources.  The learning outcomes are based on some which are commonly used in New Zealand, and it’s also hoped that as international contributors become involved, some discussion will occur around these learning outcomes.  I’m hoping that through this process we can start moving towards some internationally recognised standards for massage therapy education.

Someone will need to transfer the material loaded to the library into the structured learning outcomes section.  This will probably be me in the short-term, but there’s a prospect for government funding through AKO Aotearoa.

I’m about to send an email out to all massage education providers within New Zealand asking for interest, and from there will get in touch with my contacts in Australia & the US.  It’s going to be interesting to see how this goes.

Wayne McIntosh of Wikieducator visited Otago Polytechnic yesterday, and provided an interesting talk/discussion regarding Wikieducator and it’s place in contemporary education.

As part of his talk he brought our attention to the Commonwealth Computer Navigator’s Certificate project.

The Commonweatlh Computer Navigator’s Certificate (CCNC) is a free content project to improve access to computer skills training. Building on the foundations of the Open ICDL project, the certificate is unique because it enhances the freedom of learners to aquire and enrich their basic ICT skills using free software.

… so it’s got some strong commonality with the Computer Literacy Resources for Teaching (CLRT) project I’m involved with. Helen Lindsay (the CLRT project leader) and I discussed this after the meeting, and agreed that we needed to have a look at it. I’ve been browsing the course, and it has a significantly different structure to the one envisioned for our project.

The CCNC is composed of a number of structured modules that will be created to a certain level before being released. The modules are designed to provide a complete education, and are focussed purely on freeware.

Our vision is to create more of a living library of open-content resources that can be used by teachers in supporting the computer literacy of their students.

So whereas it’s probably not appropriate to merge our efforts with the CCNC project, I’m sure that there are fertile grounds for collaboration & resource re-use. I’ve contacted them via their discussion board, and asked if they are interested in this type of collaboration. Lets see what comes from that.

There was an excellent response from the Networked Learning Google Group. Helen Lindsay, Leigh Blackall, Sonny Teio, Dave McQuillan, Sandra Elias, Wendy Ritson-Jones and Phil Morrison all attended the meeting, and it was very productive.

We talked energetically about the benefits of having learning resources distributed over the internet via popular distribution channels such as you-tube, or having them centralised (on an OP server for example). We eventually decided that we could have the best of both worlds by having a centralised page (now set up in bare bones form on WikiEducator) linking to learning resources which may exist anywhere on the web. If you’ve got anything useful please jump in & create a link to your resource to get this page going.

We established that we need a fairly complete package or learning resources to be ready by the end of the year to send to all new online students (CD-ROM & Booklet is the current vision). The priority list of what could be included in this package is still to be made so let Helen know what your requirements may be, and also let her know if you are able to contribute to the project.

Resources will need to be continually developed/sourced to keep them current with the changing software environment.

Resources can be developed by either staff or students (The option of embedding this as an assessment item for Sonny’s BIT students was mentioned). Pre-existing quality resources could also be sourced from various web-sources.

Leigh showed us some software which could be used to create learning resources fairly quickly & easily (i.e. within about 10 minutes once competant). Cam studio / Camtasia – to create video resources, Screen Hunter (to take static screen shots out of video), several others that I can’t remember the name of??? There will be another meeting for anyone who’s interested in getting some tuition in the use of this software. I think this is next week on Wednesday, but contact Leigh or Helen for confirmation if you’re interested.

We talked about the need to support students with different learning styles by a combination of video & text-based resources.

We talked about the place of the community learning centres in online orientation. I said that my vision was for my students starting their online studies to be provided with a range of online orientation activities that were supported by the staff of the CLCs (f2f)and our departmental staff (online). It was pointed out that not all students are able to come into the CLCs for various reasons and we discussed the option of phone support which could also perhaps come from the CLCs? Helen is going to follow this up & see if this type of support for online orientation is possible.

I had another meeting with Leigh Blackall (Blogroll) regarding development of our programme.  We started talking about a couple of long-term projects that I’ve got in mind (collaborative development of global learning outcomes for massage therapy, and open learning resources using a wiki-media or something similar), then moved on to focus more on issues relating to the present development – the use of Otago Polytechnic’s Community Learning Centres, copyright & open-development, staff development that’s needed for the move to blended delivery, and an interesting testing option.

Community Learning Centres (CLCs)

With the move to online and distance delivery, I’m aware that we will need to have significant supports in place for some of our students.  We’re is lucky to have the resource of Otago Polytechnic’s CLCs in this.  These centres exist in key locations throughout Otago, and their staff have experience in supporting students in their self-directed computer learning (with Blackboard, MS products, and to some degree wikis, blogs, and related media).  However we will need to provide our students with an orientation to our programme, and to the software which we are planning to utilise in the programme.  This will need to be facilitated by a combination of staff in the CLCs, and our teaching staff in an online capacity.  Currently this type of scenario is not supported by the CLCs (although apparently there is a plan to provide EFTs-based funding for similar scenarios – I’m still waiting to hear back on this).  However, I’m aware that there’s a need to make this a fairly big priority.  I consider it essential to have this as a solid base for the programme.

Copyright & Open Source

Leigh’s main focus is moving education towards an open-access model.  He’s interested in the use of wikis and other open community-learning environments in education.  While I am fairly enthusiastic about this, I don’t see it as being particularly realistic for our programme at present.  One of the main problems is that massage is a fairly specialised area, and there are not many quality open-content resources out there relative to education or many other fields.  This means that as educators we are still often placed in the position of needing to use copyrighted content.  I can see that we can move towards a completely open-access course structure, and I do intend to do this, but I think in the meantime we don’t really have the time to search for the specialised open-source resouces that we need (particularly in areas such as anatomy where it’s important that the images that our students engage with provide them with a really 3D sense of the tissues of the body).  Again there are options (see my last post on the Anatomy museum – Health Info Island – Second Life), but they all take more time than we have at the moment.  For the present it seems wise to stay with a password protected learning management system (i.e. Blackboard) so that we can stay within the boundaries of our copyright laws.

Staff Development

Online facilitation is new for most staff in the massage department.  We will need some experience before we get going with it next year.  I intend to enrol & will strongly suggest that other staff members enrol in a course which is run by Brownwyn Hegarty of Otago Polytechnic designed to do just this.  (Just as soon as I get through the next 2 weeks)

 Survey Monkey

Finally Leigh introduced me to a piece of software that looks useful for creating online tests that will sit outside of a learning management system, thus being more inline with the open-source ethos that he’s a big proponent of.  Haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, but I’ll keep you posted.