Final report - Flexible Learning Leaders

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					                                                          FINAL REPORT
                                                             Due date:
                                                     Friday 14 December 2001

Name:                         Jennifer Batten

Organisation:                 TAFENSW, Western Institute


The final report will be loaded to the website and sent to the Steering
Committee, your project sponsors and other interested parties.

1.    Report the outputs and outcomes of your development program against
      your development plan goals and learning strategies.

Intended Outputs And Outcomes

There are 2 major outcomes of this project
      The need to develop consortiums to improve regional
        infrastructure
      The importance of learning objects in resource development,
        customisation and maintenance

The project aligns to goal 2 of the National Collaborative Framework for
Flexible Learning in VET 2000 to 2004 - to facilitate affordable access
by all communities, learners and employers to online services.
In my application I stated that we have:
        “an enthusiastic staff trained in flexible online delivery
        online resources, management and support software loaded on
         our servers.
BUT
             many rural and remote students are unable to access these
              services economically or efficiently. They are becoming the
              information poor.


     This project aims to study current and future initiatives that will
     enable the development of a supportive and affordable technological
     infrastructure that will allow all Australians to access flexibly
     delivered courses at all AQF levels.”




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There were 5 main components:
                  Analysis/Planning Phase
                  Full Time Research
                  Report Development Phase
                  Feedback Phase
                  Final Submission and audit



Outcomes

Positive steps have been taken to improve the infrastructure in the Western
Institute as a result of the project. We are currently working with Telstra and
other partners to prepare a submission for funding from the National
Communications Fund. However, I am extremely concerned that the digital
divide is continuing to expand and the issue of inequitable infrastructure
availability and costing structures needs to be fully addressed within the
broader community.

The benefits of this program exceeded my original goals. I was able to share
the learning of other leaders from 2001 and 2000. This broadened my
understanding of how technology can enhance the flexible delivery of courses.

A number of opportunities arose and I was fortunate to have the flexibility to
adjust my plan increasing the research component. These included invitations
to:

         take part in Telstra’s 2-way satellite launch in White Cliffs, NSW

         study the flexible delivery of Vocational Education and Training in
          Canberra, ACT

         attend an online workshop at Port Hedland, WA

         visit a regionally isolated industry - BHP’s Mt Newman mining
          operation, WA

         attend a meeting of the National Access And Equity In Online Project
          Team in Adelaide, SA

The overseas component went exactly to plan and was extremely well
organized by my contact in Virginia, Scott Langhorst. I was able to gain

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valuable information on how Virginia Tech University and the community
colleges were able to set up a high bandwidth infrastructure. This has
influenced my attempts to establish a consortium of educational providers in
the Western Region of NSW in an attempt to improve the quality (bandwidth)
and accessibility of telecommunications.

 Learning Strategies

A range of learning strategies were planned:

   Conference attendance and participation.

         o 2nd International Conference on Technology in Teaching and
              Learning in Higher Education, July 2001, Samos

         o    TAFE Online E-learning Conference, September 2001, Sydney

         o    ODDLA -15th Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia’s
              Biennial Forum 2001 Education Odyssey September 2001, Sydney

         o    Networking 2001 Conference Brisbane

         o    Community Technology Centres@NSW Annual Conference, Getting
              Communities Online, December 2001, Sydney

         o    TAFE NSW Information Technology Arts and Media Annual
              Conference, December 2001, Sydney

   Educational Provider visits

         o    Bell Centre for Creative Communications - Toronto

         o    Virginian Study
                        Eastern Shore Community College (videoconference)
                        Northern Virginia Community College Campuses
                        Tidewater Community College Campuses
                        Piedmont Community College Campuses
                        Blue Ridge Community College
                        Rappahannock Community College
                        Virginia Tech University

         o    Computer Education Institute – Anaheim

         o    Australian Study
                        White Cliffs Technology Centre
                        Canberra Institute of Technology
                        Charles Sturt University, Wagga
                        Eastern Pilbarra College, Port Hedland, Western Australia

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                             BHP Iron Ore Mine, Newman, Western Australia
                             WestOne, Perth, Western Australia
                             Challenger TAFE, Perth
                             Adelaide Institute of TAFE, Adelaide
                             Sydney University, Orange Campus




    Forum participation

    Web research

    Surveys

    Peer support

All learning strategies were employed except for the surveys. I was able to
make direct contact with a large number of business and public organisations
and found this to be most effective.

Not all the planned presentations took place but there were numerous
unplanned opportunities to share the learning. Next year I hope complete the
presentations as I have accepted numerous invitations to speak.

It is necessary for me to promote the flexible learning leader program more
effectively to local industry in order to increase the understanding of the
benefits of training partnerships and flexible delivery.




2.    Analyse what you have learnt from your experiences as a Flexible
      Learning Leader that will have an impact on flexible learning in VET.

What have I learnt?

2nd International Conference on Technology in Teaching and
Learning in Higher Education

The main aim in attending the conference was to make international contacts
at the beginning of the study and determine whom the leaders were. Apart
from pockets of outstanding work (Hong Kong University’s wireless network
and the use of scientific measurement online at California State University) it
became apparent that Australia is currently one of the leaders in this field.
The main benefit of the conference was making contact with people from all
over the world who were facing similar issues of pedagogy and developing
appropriate online student support structures. It was apparent that the
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Vocational Education System currently has far more experience in effectively
supporting online students than the University Sector.




Community College System, Virginia, USA
ES  Eastern Shore Community College
NV  Northern Virginia Community College
T   Tidewater community College
PV  Piedmont Community College
BR  Blue Ridge Community College
R   Rappahannock Community College

The flexible learning leaders project gave me the opportunity to study the
Virginian Community College System (VCCS). I was aware that they had been
leaders in the use of technology in education for a number of years. After
sending emails to the various colleges I was put in contact with Scott
Langhorst from the Virginian Community College System. Scott worked very
hard to organise an incredibly thorough and effective program. I was able to
meet people from every aspect of the community college structure including
support staff, teachers, deans and presidents. Scott and his wife showed how
hospitable Virginian people are.

In Virginia they have been able to negotiate a high bandwidth, flat priced
infrastructure for all college and university campuses in the state. Old
Dominion University has a point of presence at every community college
campus and equity of access is a philosophy shared by the educational
institutions.

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Videoconferencing technology is widely adopted to increase the range of
courses available and every campus has a dedicated videoconferencing facility
I was able to link to, Eastern Shore, using this technology. At Northern
Virginia the screen took up the whole wall and the teacher had a console
where they could control lights, cameras, computers and microphones.

Virginia Tech University was the lead agency that developed the consortium of
educational providers and negotiated with 6 telecommunication providers who
also developed a consortium in order to provide the service. The students
from the university are involved in managing this broadband network. Video
conferencing and video streaming can be used to maximum effect in highly
interactive environments.

This consortium was supported and encouraged by the Virginian government,
who have a vision that Virginia will be an E-commerce hub, and now includes
government departments such as health and corrective services.

We may not have the population or capital to replicate this type of
infrastructure but we can learn from the processes that Virginia Tech
University and its partners used to develop the network.

Consortiums:

 Consortiums offer 3 advantages;

        Greater bargaining power with telecommunications companies
         (although limited competition in regional areas)

        Increased potential for success in bidding for government funded
         initiatives

        More efficient use of bandwidth to small communities where resources
         can be shared rather than duplicated

Since returning from the USA I have had discussions with the General
Manager of Telstra Country Wide, Western Region NSW, Optus, the Dean of
Sydney University, Orange campus, Charles Sturt University's, Information
Technology Manager and Susan Locke, Manager of the NSW Community
Technology Centre as well as the project manager of the State libraries’
NSW.net project There is strong in principal support for the concept of an
educational consortium.

I was invited by Telstra to the launch of their 2 way satellite service to 28,000
users in the “extended zone” covering Australia’s remote locations. There are
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certainly some positive government initiatives such as this but other countries
like Korea and Canada are far more proactive in wiring up a supportive
technological infrastructure for all citizens.

Flexible Learning, Resource Development Models

This study also gave me the opportunity to observe a variety of resource
development models. In Virginia there are strong student support structures,
with instructional designers, computer support officers and helpdesk staff
located at many campuses to facilitate the registration and administration of
online students. Lecturers develop their own course online within a standard
platform (Blackboard). Instructional designers have a support and training
function rather than a quality assurance role.

The quality of resources I observed were not of the high standard developed
by organisations such as WestOne in Western Australia, who specialise in
online resource development, and there was duplication of effort.

The major advantage of the Virginian model was the strong academic
ownership of the resources and customisation according to student need. As
the intellectual property sat with the lecturer there was also the opportunity
to participate in non-profit resource sharing banks such as Merlot.
(www.merlot.org/home.po)

The major disadvantage is the duplication and lack of quality assurance that
was highlighted by the Price Waterhouse study of the Virginian online
resource development model. (ref www.vccs.edu)

WestOne in Western Australia work on a centralised development model and
have been actively involved in working with TAFE institutes to develop ANTA
toolboxes and other resources. They are currently developing e-kits, involving
the adaptation of ANTA toolboxes to the Web CT platform. They also provide a
well utilised helpdesk for teacher and students. In an attempt to foster
ownership of resources each delivery point can have their own copy of the
resource on a WestOne server that they can customise.

Some TAFE Institutes are capitalising well on this approach. Challenger TAFE
is actively bidding for and developing ANTA toolboxes in partnership with
WestOne. They have a strong focus on change management adopting
standard business processes and providing staff training. They have partnered
with Murdoch University to provide high bandwidth access at centres such as
their Freemantle E-tech center that is a commercial/ TAFE/Community
technology access point.
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    Regional Institutes in Western Australia that I observed are later adopters in
    online delivery and this relates to the issues of academic ownership of
    resources, training and bandwidth.

    The timing of this study has aligned well with the release of the Schofield
    review of product development in TAFENSW,
    http://www.tafensw.edu.au/publications/reviproc/welcome.htm. As a result of
    my study I have a far clearer concept of the strategic direction we should
    follow in flexible learning resource development and I have prepared a draft
    strategic plan for my Institute.

    Learning Objects

    TAFE NSW requires centralised project management to efficiently distribute
    resources but much of the development needs to happen where the expertise
    exists - with the practicing teachers. These teachers need to be supported by
    instructional designers who understand issues such as accessibility. We should
    not be developing whole courses but learning objects that can be customised
    to local industry and community need.

    Learning objects offer a solution to the issues of Academic ownership,
    duplication of effort and need for quality assurance. Learning objects must be
    well supported by a knowledge management system and extensive metadata,
    or electronic cataloging that will ensure ease of retrieval.



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James Dalziel demonstrated a content/knowledge management system at the
ODLAA (Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia’s conference).
This system stores a learning object in a database as an XML file without
formatting. A template is then applied depending on the type of output that
the user requires and could be customized for such needs as different cultures
or languages, print based or online. The user has control of the product they
receive.

By storing online resources as objects, product maintenance is simplified as
duplication is minimized and there is greater academic ownership when
teachers can customize the resources and are confident that the material is
suitable for their students. There is greater quality assurance of the resources
as they are being accessed from a central database.

In the future teachers or Institute based resource development centers will
have the skills to assemble online learning resources from a series of learning
objects, according to student need, that can be aligned to a training package
or program.

The application of this technology to industry requirements is a huge
opportunity. The delivery of flexible online programs offer opportunities to
regional and remote industries who contribute much to the wealth of
Australia. Some of these opportunities are untapped.

In Conclusion:

We need a compromise between academic freedom and centralised course
development. This will be achieved by registering nuggets of quality resources
that can be included in a customised course delivery platform at the local
level.In the development of online resources the importance of academic
ownership cannot be ignored. The teacher/student relationship is critical in
the success of online learning. Resources will not be fully utilized unless the
teacher has confidence that the resources best meet the needs of their
student group.

Australia is ahead of the game in terms of development of quality online
resources and training of online facilitators. However, we have major
problems providing satisfactory bandwidth to all Australians and this cannot
be addressed with a market driven approach. The total benefits to maintaining
and strengthening rural communities must be considered, not just the

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profitability of the service for the telecommunication providers. Consortiums
will allow us to more effectively lobby for equity.


3.    Describe the most significant benefit from the Flexible Learning Leaders
      program for:

    you

    your organisation.



The program has given me confidence in my vision for Western Institute’s
online learning presence. In strengthening my leadership skills it has
enhanced my capacity and resolve to work towards that vision. I have greater
self-awareness and have developed a number of strong networks to support
our shift.

Participating in forums and sharing the learning with other flexible learning
leaders and fellows has increased my knowledge of other issues that were
outside the scope of my project, for example:

        Accessibility options such as the work that Frank Bate (2000 Leader) is
         doing on online products for the visually impaired

        Catering for cultural diversity when developing online resources

        Accessibility standards

        Standards such as SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)
         to enhance the ability to retrieve learning objects

The organization will benefit by being more proactive in strategically
positioning itself to take advantage of the changes in technology and
capitalizing and strengthening some of the networks that I have been able to
establish as part of this program. Some people in the organisation may be
stimulated to also take on a change agent role.

The networks that I have developed with other organisations in our region
have the potential to strengthen Western Institute’s ability to service the local
industry and community efficiently.

The project has assisted the Institute to be proactive in its response to the
Schofield report and ensure that regional issues are considered in the decision
making process.
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4.    Identify how you have shared (or are sharing) your learning with others in
      your organisation, with other Flexible Learning Leaders, with other
      Strategy 2001 projects etc. Outline how you will continue to share your
      knowledge more widely (ie. State/Territory and Australia) in the future.

An effective way of sharing the knowledge is to present at relevant
conferences. Since September I have presented at:

        TAFENSW ITAM Division Annual Conference – Sydney, December 2001

         Flexible Learning Leaders State Presentation – Sydney, November
         2001

        Networking 2001 Conference - Brisbane, October 2001

              o    As part of a panel representing 2000 and 2001 leaders

              o    In a debate partnering Stuart Young from WestOne on behalf of
                   the National Access and Equity Project.

        E-LEARNING Solutions in TAFE NSW Online Conference - September
         2001

I have also been asked to present in a number of TAFE units including New
England Institute, the Professional Development Network, OTEN as well as the
Northern Territory Employment & Training Authority, Darwin.

I have developed strong links with a number of the 2001 Flexible Learning
Leaders who are also convinced of the importance of learning object
development and management;

        Dion Barnett, Western Australia, and I are encouraging our Teachers of
         Aboriginal Art and Cultural Practices to network using video
         conferencing

        I will keep in close contact with Melanie Sorensen and Stuart Young at
         WestOne as I believe our Institute can benefit from their leadership.

        Vicki Marchant (TAFENSW Riverina Institute Flexible Learning Leader)
         and I are Institute representatives on the TAFE NSW Online
         Professional Development Project Steering Committee. We are
         working together to encourage our Institutes to participate in online
         training for the implementation of a new profiling system. There will be
         a component that focuses on management training, which will allow

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         managers to experience the issues of being an online learner in an
         action learning set to implement a system that will improve Institute
         work practices.

        The online forum was an extremely useful way of sharing information
         once specific interest areas were well established

As a result of the flexible learning leaders program I am working to develop a
number of strategic alliances in an attempt to set up a local consortium.
These include:

        Charles Sturt University

        Sydney University

        Community Technology Centres

        State Libraries

        Telstra Countrywide, Western Division

Kate Baxter, a fellow faculty Director and I prepared a briefing paper to
highlight the need for training of management in the issues related to the
planning of an online delivery option.

Our IT Manager and I are partnering with Telstra to prepare a submission for
the National Communication Fund to improve infrastructure for educational
provision in our region.

I am working with Faculty Director colleagues and Organisational
Improvement to more strategically align the wider implementation of online
delivery and support.

5.    Describe how your experiences have influenced your organisation's
      strategic planning or implementation of flexible learning to date and
      outline how you will continue to provide input in the future to your
      organisation’s strategic planning.

I have developed a draft strategic plan for online delivery and support within
our institute. I will be working with Organisational Improvement to progress
this into an Institute “owned” strategic plan. Opportunities exist at
management forums and management committees to influence the strategic
direction and thinking within the Institute.


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This is at a time when the Schofield report has questioned TAFENSW’s
approach to the development of resources. I believe that, if the Institute is
going to regain its momentum in online learning (which has currently stalled
due to bandwidth issues) we need a professional unit to support teachers and
managers. This unit could be self-funding by accessing external resources for
the development of product. A number of years ago the Institute set up a
commercially run unit to support the quality development of paper based
flexible resources. The role of this unit needs to be extended to other media.
Resources can be centrally managed and stored but the development must
occur where the current expertise and industry knowledge exists.

6.    Outline the new leadership opportunities that your organisation has
      provided for you so far and outline any new leadership opportunities that
      you are negotiating with your organisation for the future.

The value of the Flexible Learning Leaders program has been recognised by
both my Institute and TAFENSW generally in the following ways:

        I was nominated to be a part of the Western Institute Schofield
         Review Team

        My work to set up an educational consortium has been supported

        Vicki Marchant, another 2001 Flexible Learning Leader, and I
         were nominated to be on the TAFE NSW Online Professional
         Development Steering Committee

        I was asked to be on the TAFE NSW Intellectual Capital Focus
         Group but had to decline due to other commitments

        Our IT Manager agreed to work with me to place a submission for
         infrastructure funding

        Organisational improvement have asked me to work with them
         on their online professional development plan

The influence of the Flexible Learning Leader Program is also recognised
externally to TAFENSW

        The National Manager of LearnScope nominated me to speak in Darwin
         in relation to the use of online resources for Indigenous communities




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        I have been asked by a Lecturer at Charles Sturt University (CSU) if I
         would be interested in being nominated to be a member of a potential
         Strategic Alliance working party at CSU

7.    Summarise in a series of points – no more than 10 - what are the key
      directions for flexible learning in VET for the next two years. Your
      summary should be based on your experiences this year as a Flexible
      Learning Leader and could be a succinct statement of the analysis you
      have provided above.

        Learning objects –will be stored as small independent units that can be
         assembled and customised according to student/industry need.

        Content and knowledge management – sophisticated tools are required
         so that the complex task of managing learning objects appears simple
         to the user

        Teacher training – even though online is just one of many tools a
         teacher has to meet the needs of their students, specialised training is
         required to facilitate its effective use

        Mixed mode – online delivery is most effective when used as part of a
         range of delivery strategies

        Consortiums/partnerships with industry, community and other
         government organisations – the growing demand for bandwidth
         necessitates efficient utilization of resources

        Specialisation – increasing complexity in the design and development of
         online resources will require specialisation and a team approach

        Games – learning is effective when it is fun. Animation and problem
         based approaches are going to become increasingly available for some
         sectors of the educational market

        World experts, local support – we can potentially utilize the best
         expertise available for teaching but this will not be successful without
         quality support

        Globalisation of training – international partnerships are currently
         developing and the online medium will minimise the significance of
         national boundaries

        Divisions in society – there is a danger that unless equity is given a
         high profile, technology will continue to widen the divisions within
         society


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Appendix 1 Timeline

                                                                      Actual         Actual
Task`                                                                   Start        Finish Completion
Regular FL forums                                                  27-Apr-01    23-Nov-01       100%
Analysis/Planning Phase                                             4-May-01     22-Jun-01      100%
     Successful Application                                         4-May-01      4-May-01      100%
     Project analysis and research                                  4-May-01    14-May-01       100%
     Letter Confirming Project                                    16-May-01     16-May-01       100%
     Research and Develop Draft                                   16-May-01     24-May-01       100%
     Submit Draft                                                 25-May-01     25-May-01       100%
     Web search of technological delivery                         25-May-01        1-Jun-01     100%
     Induction Workshop                                             4-Jun-01       6-Jun-01     100%
Research and develop plan                                           7-Jun-01     21-Jun-01      100%
     Final Plan Submitted                                          22-Jun-01     22-Jun-01      100%
Full Time Research                                                 24-Jun-01             NA       80%
     Travel to International Conference                            24-Jun-01     26-Jun-01      100%
     International Conference                                      27-Jun-01        2-Jul-01    100%
     Bell Centre for Creative Communications - Toronto               4-Jul-01       4-Jul-01    100%
     Virginian Community College Study                               5-Jul-01     11-Jul-01     100%
     Visit VCCS System Office/videoconference with Eastern
  Shore                                                             5-Jul-01      5-Jul-01         100%
     Visit Northern Virginia Community College (2-3 of 5
  campuses)                                                          6-Jul-01      6-Jul-01        100%
     Visit Tidewater CC, Visual Arts Centre 2 of 4 campuses          9-Jul-01      9-Jul-01        100%
     Visit Piedmont Virginia am/ Blue Ridge CC pm                  10-Jul-01     10-Jul-01         100%
     Visit Rappahannock Community College - both campuses          11-Jul-01     11-Jul-01         100%
     Computer Education Institute - Anaheim Campus                 13-Jul-01     13-Jul-01         100%
     Return to Australia                                           14-Jul-01     16-Jul-01         100%
     Follow up on Conference contacts                              17-Jul-01     19-Jul-01         100%
     Document Findings                                             20-Jul-01     24-Jul-01         100%
     Survey Vic Infrastructure and flexible learning approaches           NA            NA           0%
     Travel to White Cliffs with Telstra for 2 way sat lauch       29-Jul-01     31-Jul-01         100%
     SurveyTelecommunications and ISP networks                            NA            NA           0%
     Survey community technology centres                          24-Sep-01     24-Sep-01          100%
     Canberra Study                                                8-Aug-01     10-Aug-01          100%
     Study South Australian model -Adelaide Institute             17-Aug-01     17-Aug-01          100%
     Visit Pilbarra and Perth Institutions including Westone      13-Aug-01     16-Aug-01          100%
     Full/Time Study ceases                                       17-Aug-01     17-Aug-01          100%
     ODLAA2001 Education Odyssey                                  25-Sep-01     27-Sep-01          100%
Report Development Phase                                          28-Sep-01      6-Nov-01          100%
     Develop Report                                               28-Sep-01      6-Nov-01          100%
     Submit Interim Report                                          6-Oct-01      8-Oct-01         100%
     Consolidate Report and Develop Presentations                   9-Oct-01    25-Oct-01          100%
Feedback Phase                                                    20-Sep-01             NA          52%
     Net@Working 2001 Conf Brisbane                                7-Nov-01     14-Nov-01          100%
     Presentations                                                20-Sep-01             NA          83%
     TAFENSW E-learning Conference                                20-Sep-01     21-Sep-01          100%
     Online forums eg EDNA, TAFE Online - PDN                      4-Mar-02     24-Apr-02          100%
     Dubbo Regional Development Board                                     NA            NA           0%
     Institute Council                                                    NA            NA           0%
     Intranet publication                                                 NA            NA           0%
     Academic Board Presentation                                   7-Nov-01      7-Nov-01          100%

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    OTEN Presentation                                                   NA        NA            0%
    ITAM Conference                                               15-Nov-01 16-Nov-01         100%
    Rural Womens Network Meeting                                        NA        NA            0%
    2 Rural TAFE Institute Presentations                                NA        NA            0%
    National Workshop Presentations                               26-Nov-01 26-Nov-01         100%
Report Review                                                           NA        NA            0%
    Final Submission and audit                                    14-Dec-01 14-Dec-01         100%
Reflective Report November 2002                                         NA        NA            0%




References:

Virginian Community College System Website www.so.cc.va.us/vccs.htm
Merlot Resource Databank                   www.merlot.org/home.po
Telstra Countrywide Website                http://telstra.com.au/countrywide

Using XML to Generate Web and Print-based learning Materials for Course-Wide
and Individualized Use, James Dalziel, Collected Abstracts form the 15 th Biennial
Forum of the Open and Distance Learning Associating of Australia, September
2001




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