Harnessing Rural Skills

“People Place and Pastime” program

Project within the E-learning Creative Community Partnership Framework for Capability Development Stream

by Carole McCulloch



The aim of this project was to make use of the digital storytelling methodology to enhance the learning opportunities for learners in remote areas and towns of NE Victoria in 2006. The project was to engage reluctant learners in a learning program and to build connections with their community through flexible e-learning options.

We used several of the web 2.0 tools including Photo Story 3, Movie Maker 2, Elluminate for tutors, Blogs for reflections, Protopage for web page design Moodle for forum postings, and individual course repositories for resources.



1. What have you accomplished that you are most proud of by using social software? What enabled you to achieve this?
  • Some participants completed their personal digital stories and uploaded to their personal websites.
  • Others were able to complete their stories for viewing on PC and in the family home DVD as well as showcasing for others at a final showcase event.
  • All tutors in the program learned confidence in the delivery of the digital storytelling methodology
  • All participants were able to master the use of digital cameras, manage digital images and optimise for the web
  • Tutors received online training in various web 2.0 tools using Elluminate sessions online.
  • Tutors were provided with editing rights to the Moodle Study Zone to prepare their own ‘course’ materials, promote within their group and to collaborate across the groups
  • The use of email was a new domain for some and they were able to manage an email account as a result of their participation in the program
  • By the end of the program the trainers and facilitators were feeling more confident to
    1. make use of the Study Zone
    2. see the potential of its impact on their delivery
    3. appreciate the opportunity to apply this in real course delivery scenarios
  • Dedication of the steering committee members to manage, create a framework, create resources, show how to schedule, train and delivery the program – was a successful support mechanism for all tutors and facilitators in each centre
  • The use of the Elluminate Live Lite room for the train the trainer sessions enabled these to take place simply
  • The provision of new digital cameras for the centres and in some cases new data show projectors.
  • 1 gb memory sticks for each of the trainers for storing materials
  • Provision of hard copy resources for use in their delivery
  • Use of Moodle Study Zone to aggregate, store and distribute all learning resources


2. So far, what have you valued most about using social software for capability development and/or knowledge sharing?
  • Free software that did not incur cost for people
  • Easy to use – no high tech skills required
  • The variety of choice of tools for different purposes e.g. blog for reflection, PS3 for story making, Moodle for collaboration
  • Easy to understand as a method of sharing information
  • Leads to other opportunities to explore yet more tools, and gather more information whilst immersed in one e.g. Elluminate brainstorming
  • Tools not restricted to their use in the project only, but are available freely for anyone to use at any time
  • Bridging tool for the development of second layer skills to produce new products or access more networks
  • Use of all the tools increased their ability to network beyond their own community and to be part of a global community
  • Willingness to use these tools to explore the practices of others e.g. sharing forum postings in Moodle sites.

3. What would you say have been the 3 or 4 key benefits? – for you, other participants / users, your organisation in general
  • Managing the project – these tools enabled a saving of money, meetings or partners and tutors were done online;
  • Budgeting for the project - saved on costs of printing of resources for five centres (all resources stored online)
  • Training the trainers – enabled an equitable arrangement for delivering these sessions online e.g. Wednesdays at 8 pm
  • Education – benefits for the matching of tasks in the program to a selection of units of competence – a pathway to the Cert 1 in IT
  • Workshops for tutors – ability to use multiple social networking tools at the same time – cross referencing from one tool to another e.g. teaching Moodle in Elluminate
  • Pedagogy – awareness of the interconnectedness of these tools
  • Participants – an awakening of what’s out there – the use of new learning strategies that engage and encourage people to explore new ideas of how to learn and connect with others

4. What needs to change for your experience using social software for capability development and/or knowledge sharing to be even better?
  • Take small steps one at a time – and reinforce the use of these tools for reluctant users
  • Avoid taking on too much new learning in short time frames
  • Start the program earlier and build confidence slowly and in a relevant manner to their own environments
  • Provide a holistic view of the use and relevance of the web 2.0 tools
  • Encourage the participants to use these tools from their own PCs or on their own laptops brought in to the centres.

5. 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 capability development and/or knowledge sharing, and what 3 things would need to happen in the next 6 – 8 months to make this happen?
  • Increase scope of people with the skill base to use the social networking tools confidently
  • Encourage the development of mixed mode delivery in the centres e.g. blended learning training
  • Need for further funding for the management of any further training for centres – consolidation of prior learning to enable implementation
  • Package up resources and distribute on CD for new tutors and facilitators
  • Library borrowing system for borrowing of hardware e.g. cameras, laptops
  • Marketing within the community of the success and application of Web 2.0 tools..

6. What hints and tips do you have for the use of social software for capability development and/or knowledge sharing.
  • Schedule and apply the use of web 2 tools into their daily practice, and use frequently.
  • Maintain the knowledge sharing comfort zones - they still like the hardcopy and like to be able to take it away with them.
  • Start with the socialisation uses of the tools in the beginning, explaining the application and use of the tools to others in context.
  • Encourage them to publish on-line in a safe environment. Make sure that they are encouraged to communicate with each other and make progress reports.
  • Equate the use of the tools with flexible and e-learning and the potential for future application in the community.
  • Ensure that we have a reliable source of the tools, eg. owned Lite Elluminate office.
  • Research and select the most appropriate brand of tool, to suit the needs of the community eg. Wet paint.
  • Good to provide the opportunity to celebrate small successes in both progress and achievements.
  • Use a simple and secure blog to encourage reflection and help people move forward in their confidence in using web 2 tools.
  • Use public forum based web 2 tools to keep a record of these achievements or project outcomes for future use and learning.
Key Links:

Details of the progress of this program are accessible at one of Carole's blogs at: ( http://harnessingruralskills.blogspot.com )

Participants have been introduced to communication social networking tools such as Moodle ( www.studyzone.net ); Protopage ( www.protopage.com/harnessing_rural_skills ); and eLGG ( www.elgg.com ) to communicate with each other and to create their personal learning pages.

Contact **Carole McCulloch** (Community Leader) for further information.