Portals and portkeys

I sat in on a presentation yesterday.

My colleague Scott Nichols , Director of Student Connect at the University of Canberra, shared progress on a new student portal that aims to provide a single point of entry that supports choice of course, enrollment, studying, graduation and on-going alumna/alumnus connection.

The portal will respond dynamically to each student log in and provides an exciting approach to supporting personal learning journeys. I hope this access can be available for the lifetime of the learner.

Scott’s presentation was shared in confidence so I am unable to provide the detail of a platform that will be launched in 2019.

I was fascinated by Scott’s talk and I focused on the personal potential of the platform. It will provide a data rich environment, that with students’ informed consent, could lead to a profoundly ethical resource to support personal learning journeys and personal learning environments.

I believe that the impact of such a portal could be amplified if we are able to appreciate the success of the national Vocational Education Training’s Unique Student Identifier (USI) registration scheme.

At present, six million students who are taking or have taken nationally recognised training opportunities have a USI. This is a reference number that:

  • creates a secure online record of recognised training and qualifications gained in Australia, from all training providers
  • gives access to training records and transcripts
  • is accessed online, anytime and anywhere
  • is free and easy to create
  • stays with you for life

These ten numbers become a portkey in my vision for innovations at the University of Canberra. The USI transcript service that became available in May 2017 underscores this portkey potential.

With the appropriate checks and balances in place, the USI connects school, tertiary and lifelong learning in a wonderfully transparent way.

The announcement of the USI transcript service included these observations:

  • Training participants and graduates can view, download or print their USI Transcript and share it electronically with future training providers if they wish.
  • It will help training participants and graduates when enrolling in further training or applying for jobs as well as support Australian businesses to get a better understanding of their employees’ level of training.
  • The service will enable the Federal Government and policy makers to get a clearer picture of the skills pathways that Australians pursue, and importantly, the ones that work.

In this context, the University of Canberra portal becomes part of a nationwide and global learning network. It has portkey potential (“an enchanted object that when touched will transport the one or ones who touch it to anywhere on the globe decided on by the enchanter).

Grazing on the periphery

It has been a great week for grazing … much of it enabled by Mara Averick’s open sharing.

It started with news of Alison Hill’s speakerdeck presentation.

Alison discusses courage, enchantment, permission, persistence and trust as elements of creative learning. She concludes with this slide:

What fascinated me about Alison’s presentation was her synthesis of profound ideas about sharing and learning with each other in an aesthetic that grabbed and held my attention for 94 slides.

She is part of a remarkable R community that shares openly.

Three other members of this community enabled even more grazing this week. Each offered me possibilities to extend my knowledge of visualisation using R.

Matt Dancho has shared the Anomalize package that enables a “tidy” workflow for detecting anomalies in time series data. There is a vignette for the package to share the process of identifying these events. I think this will be very helpful in my performance research as I investigate seasonal and trend behaviours.

Ulrike Groemping shared the prepplot package in which “a figure region is prepared, creating a plot region with suitable background color, grid lines or shadings, and providing axes and labeling if not suppressed. Subsequently, information carrying graphics elements can be added”.  There is a detailed vignette to support the package.

Guangchuang Yu shared the ggplotify package that converts “plot function call (using expression or formula) to ‘grob’ or ‘ggplot’ object that compatible to the ‘grid’ and ‘ggplot2’ ecosystem”.  Guangchang shares a detailed vignette that illustrates the potential of the package.

Mara, Alison, Matt, Ulrike and Guangchuand epitomise for me the delights in open sharing. A post in The Scholarly Kitchen, written by Alice Meadows, added to my grazing on the margins of openly sharing.

In the post Alice shares a wide range of resources. She makes a particular mention of the Metadata 2020 project that is “a collaboration that advocates richer, connected, and reusable, open metadata for all research outputs, which will advance scholarly pursuits for the benefit of society.”

The opportunities for such collaboration are increasing as we find new ways to share synchronously and asynchronously. These become easier as we make a bold decision to think out loud and share our thoughts with others.

Alison’s presentation includes this slide as a stimulus for that sharing:

This sharing permits grazing for me in the sense of the word used in Leonard Cohen’s Preface to the Chinese translation of his collection of Beautiful Losers poems includes this passage:

When I was young, my friends and I read and admired the old Chinese poets. Our ideas of love and friendship, of wine and distance, of poetry itself, were much affected by those ancient songs. … So you can understand, Dear Reader, how privileged I feel to be able to graze, even for a moment, and with such meager credentials, on the outskirts of your tradition.

Photo Credits

Slide grabs from Alison Hill’s speakerdeck.

Pictures from Twitter and Beuth Hochschule.

Collaboration image from Alice Meadow’s post.

Learning journeys and small stops

My email alerts this morning brought me links to discussions of learning journey plans and microlearning.

By coincidence, my physical journey to the University of Canberra campus today took me past the light rail building work on Northbourne Avenue, the first signs of a station stop under construction, and this poster:

The posts that took me on my metaphorical learning journey were:

Helen discusses tinkering, sense-making and creating in her post in the context of Harold Jarche’s seek, sense, share framework. She shares her personal learning plan template. Helen’s categories in this plan are:

  • Exploration
  • Reading
  • Contribution
  • Creation
  • Reflection
  • Action

Her template is available at this link.

Sharon’s post includes this visualisation of a learning journey:

Sharon will have a template to share that will require learners to plan for four phases (prepare, acquire knowledge and skill, build memory and transfer, use over time) and six steps of their journey:

  • Notice
  • Commit
  • Learn and practice
  • Repeat and elaborate
  • Reflect and explore
  • Sustain over the long term.

Shannon’s discussion of microlearning helped me think about how I might support the learning journey with small stops on the way. Shannon sought to counter seven myths about microlearning:

  • Microlearning is time-dependent
  • Microlearning is all about video
  • Microlearning is just chunking
  • Microlearning requires technology
  • Microlearning is one-size fits all
  • Microlearning is easy-peasy to create
  • Microlearning is a fad

Canberra’s light rail will have thirteen stops on the journey in phase 1 of the project. The Canberra Metro website shares this aspiration:

Light Rail in Canberra offers an exciting opportunity to transform Canberra and deliver a truly integrated transport system, which will provide more options in how Canberrans move around, which in turn will enrich lifestyles and enhance growth.

I wonder whether some of these ideas fit learning journeys too. I particularly like the idea of transformational journeys … with very flexible timetables.

Photo Credits

Frame 11 (N J Cull, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Light rail coming poster 2018 (Spelio, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)