Using Social Software/Web 2.0 Technologies
With Business Administration Students
By
Allison Miller and Jacinta Ryan
TAFE South Australia

Jacinta Ryan is a Business Administration Facilitator from TAFE SA, Adelaide South. Jacinta has developed Digital Stories and Blogs and is using Centra for meetings.

Allison Miller is an E-Learning Development Co-ordinator and Business Services Facilitator from TAFE SA, Adelaide North. Allison has developed 9 Certificate IV & Diploma Business Administration Units in a LMS called Janison, incorporating wikis, discussions forums, online quizzes and online surveys.

Both Jacinta and Allison were co-facilitators of the South Australian 2006 FOIL LearnScope project funded by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. They are just beginning to use social software with their Business Administration students, having had LearnScope funding to initiate the trial, and share their experiences so far.

You can listen to their story as well as read their responses below.

1. What was it that inspired you to try using social software for teaching and learning?
  • Trainees needing more challenging work
  • Offer a more flexible learning environment and interactivity for distance learners
  • Easy of use and accessibility
  • Centra – record/cache info for students to access at a later stage, which suits them.
  • Adding to a drab online environment
  • Excellent e-business applications for our business administration students

2. What have you accomplished that you are most proud of by using social software with your learners? What enabled you to achieve this?
  • Seeing Diploma students using this social software in their workplaces, ie using a wiki for agendas, and policy writing;
  • Offering students choice, and making learning more interesting;
  • Students finding survey monkey useful for gathering information;
  • Students using Digital Stories for presenting their assessment work (ie Plan/Review Admin Systems). Then making them available for viewing by other students;
  • Digital Stories for showing students how to use equipment/for practical applications;
  • Seeing work colleagues using social software to improve their teaching programs;
  • Giving students the opportunity to ‘publish’ their work to others.
  • Good for ‘marketing’ the Practice Firm concept
The enabler was the FOIL Learnscope Project and exposure to a broader variety of tools and e-learning networking opportunities, sharing examples of how different staff have utilised these tools

3. What do you and your clients’ value most about using social software in teaching and learning?
  • Ease of use and flexibility;
  • speaks to our students in the way they learn;
  • offers them variety in how they can present their work;
  • utilising the technology into the staff and students’ workplace;
  • re-invigorated staff’s attitude about their teaching programs.

4. How has the use of social software contributed to good teaching and learning practice in your experience?
  • Increased flexibility;
  • more challenging, extends students’ technological knowledge and capabilities;
  • appealing to Gen Y (they’re already using these tools in the personal learning);
  • enabling distance learners to connect and share;
  • allows an ease of tailoring to learner’s needs.

5. As the ‘teacher’ when you use social software what sort of role/s do you need to perform?
  • Teaching role is now more of a facilitator’s role, offering guidance, helping students make social and knowledge connections;
  • ore reliant on the technology to make connections with our students. This has meant we have had to increase our skill base;
  • Change in the ‘headset’ of a facilitator, of who ‘controls’ the learning process – in the beginning this requires more guidance, but the output are more self-reliant learners and sharers.

6. Thinking back, what were the ‘pivotal moments’ in the process that got you to this point
  • For Allison – the Learnscope Start up program;
  • For Jacinta – member of a number of Learnscope projects, attendance at E-dayz (SA LearnScope showcase);
  • For both - co-Facilitating our FOIL Learnscope Project;
  • Having the opportunity to work with staff who are incorporating e-learning into their teaching programs;
  • Having very supportive, enabling support staff (Principal Lecturers, Co-ordinators, Bus Admin Quality Assurance Group).

7. What needs to change for your teaching and learning experience using social software to be even better?
  • Less restrictions to what’s available on the internet (Blocks by ICT);
  • Better bandwidth in Australia;
  • More accessibility to computers for ALL of our students;
  • Time to explore and experiment, network and share.

8. From your experiences so far, and thinking into the future (say 5 years or more) what is your vision of the role of social software in teaching and learning, and what 3 things would need to happen in the next 6 – 8 months to make this happen?

Our vision is for more staff to adopt these social software tools to enhance their current teaching programs. And for staff to share how they have utilised these tools – ie staff mentoring other staff.

In the next 6-8 months we need:
  • Better equipment, Better accessibility, More time, support from ICT, and networking with other e-Learning pioneers;
  • Summit of Decision MakersSummit of Decision Makers in our organisation to enable them to see how we can improve our structures to allow more innovative and creative teaching practices;
  • Some way of getting staff to adopt more creative teaching practices, instead of relying on what they have always done eg Conversation Cafes.

9. What else would you like to share? Any other insights, or things that surprised you?
  • how quickly staff ‘run’ with the social software tools, and how ‘hungry’ our staff are to jazz up their current paper based resources;
  • how easy it was for Allison and Jacinta to co-facilitate their FOIL Learnscope Project via Centra virtual conferencing;
  • how it has offered more options to be creative;
  • how many social software applications are available on the internet;
  • how freely people are sharing their knowledge, pictures, stories, discoveries with one another – one big SOCIAL environment – allowing people to connect, who would otherwise not be able to.
Some links:
Check out how the team members are applying what they are learning at
http://tanpod.blogspot.com (Tafe SA, Adelaide North Podcasting Project)
Some wikis:
http://www.seedwiki.com/wiki/clipsal_500_brainstorming_sesson/
(From a Diploma in Bus Admin unit) http://www.seedwiki.com/wiki/e-learning_wiki/__ (from an e-learning webquest)
http://www.seedwiki.com/wiki/defining_ceres_sa/ (for a community organistation)
Use of Protopage: http://protopage.com/mbtechnology