How to Use Challengineering

Assumptions

The advice on this page assumes that you have already read the 'About Challengineering' page and that you have an overview of what Challengineering is. At its core, Challengineering is a large collection of individual eLearning resources that you can exploit in your teaching.

If you are a student, you can simply regard the collection of resources as something to explore and selectively learn from. Bon voyage.

If you are staff member you may be more interested in the details of how you can exploit these eLearning resources in your teaching. In this page the advice is mostly concerned with the minor technical details, a little bit of pedagogical context and a discussion of a simple illustrative example that describes how resources can be used.

For a much fuller discussion of pedagogic guidelines you should refer to the 'Teaching with eLearning' resources. Those resources are briefly described under the 'Engaging with eLearning' tab (above) but are also accessed directly at http://challengineering.com/teachwel

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Where to Start

Firstly, distinguish between an educational perspective and a technological perspective.

Educational Perspective

It is (nearly always) appropriate to 'put the educational horse in front of the technological cart'. In other words, think about the educational goals first rather than be seduced by any technology. Technology used just because it is flavour of the month is a tried and tested recipe for educational failure, no matter how good that technology is.

Here is a rudimentary example of a pedagogic consideration. This idea can be used to provide one very broad method of categorising eLearning resources. (it is just one example)

  • Do you want to use a resource like a video because 'it explains concept X to a student'
  • Do you want to use a resource like an animation because 'it supports a student when the student is explaining concept X', e.g., in front of your tutorial class
The two mini scenarios described above are pedagogically very different and both are valuable.
We can say that the resources serve different pedagogic roles in each of the scenarios.

The real value of these resources comes from you specifying educational activities within which the resources can clearly offer a benefit. We can summarise this by saying that you should consider the pedagogic role of the resource before you decide what kind of resource you are looking for.

Technological Perspective

Having decided what type of resource you are looking for, you might then start to consider what is involved technically in order to exploit it. By using a Challengineering eLearning resource you can have the benefit of almost completely ignoring the technical details. All you need to do is understand how to exploit web links. All Challengineering resources are available as simple web links. The actual implementation for the resources handles a diverse range of technologies, videos, flash files, java applets, etc, but the end user is always shielded from those complexities.

Therefore, whatever you normally do with a web link you can also do with these resources, e.g.,

  • include a resource-link in a BlackBoard page;
  • include a resource-link in your PowerPoint slides and use the resource in a lecture;
  • include a resource-link in your notes, in a Word document or a pdf file, etc;
  • include a resource-link on your Blog page;
  • send a resource-link to students in an email;
Using web links really makes things simple; for the staff member when reviewing resources, for the staff member when putting those resources into their preferred educational context, and for the students when accessing the resources.

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A Few Basic Important Details

Every Challengineering eLearning resource has a unique web address and they are always in the following form     http://challengineering.com/challengine/<a number>
e.g., here is an example of one (deliberately small) eLearning resource

TopicChallengeOverviewResource Link
Vector algebra
 
Combine two or more vectors to determine the resultant vector Interactive animation: see how adding two vectors is commutative http://challengineering.com/challengine/100305/06
When you see a resource link, like the one shown above, you can assume the following...

  • The link is available for you and your students to use in whatever way you wish.
  • The link is durable; the majority of Challengineering resources are hosted on Swinburne servers.
  • The link is accessible from anywhere (on campus or off campus).
  • The link is available for Swinburne personnel only (staff and students), because...
    for a student or staff member to use a challengineering.com/challengine/ resource you need to login using your OPAX login details.
  • You only need to login once in any session, for the first resource you use in that session.

Something else to notice is that the link above had some helpful details associated with it, i.e., it was (loosely) classified as belonging to a Topic: Vector Algebra. It included a 'Challenge' statement which provides some hints about what kind of skill this resource might help you to acquire. It also let you know in advance that the resource is an interactive animation. All Challengineering resources have been described with this rudimentary additional information so that you can be more efficient at finding whatever you are looking for.

If you explore the above resource and decided that you like it, you could immediately copy the link and do whatever you want with it. Of course, you might like to copy the entire table of information including the link and make use of all of it.

Because the basic building blocks being used here are simple web links, you can easily start to assemble your own customised lists of links. Your own educational innovation is your guide to designing contexts for constructing collections of resource links.

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An Illustrative Example

The following example is a tiny illustration of the possibilities.

An (image of) an example page from BlackBoard

example 01

Consider the BlackBoard page above and contemplate what the lecturer has done. In particular consider where the lecturer's time was probably spent. Let us look at both the educational perspective and the technological perspective.

Educational Perspective

It is clear that the lecturer was engaged with designing and guiding the students' learning experience by specifying the learning outcomes, specifying some activities that support those learning outcomes and tying the activities to a small assessment component.

In short, this small example displays paying attention to 'curriculum alignment', i.e., careful alignment of learning outcomes, learning activities and assessment. However long it took the lecturer to organise this, it was time well spent. It was time spent on 'educational design' and was not time wasted on technology.

Now consider the resources collection used in this example. There are four links to four separate resources. Note how the resources serve different pedagogic roles. Note, for example, how a resource like the simulation requires the student to actively explore rather than passively watch. Note also how the simulation will not be regarded as a chore by the student because in the assessed presentation activity (in the tutorial) the simulation will be a major support for the student to use while they are explaining subtle concepts. Let us not forget how much learning is happening while students are engaged in explaining concepts.

Technological Perspective

This is where staff are entitled to say "shield me from the technical details; I enjoyed making education design choices but I don't want to engage with any technical details of videos or Flash files for interactive tests, or Java applets for simulations, etc".

Staff time is precious and well spent on educational design. It should not be wasted on technology distractions. So, how much technical effort was involved to make those four technologically diverse resources appear in the Blackboard page?

They are all Challengineering resources. Every one of them is simply a web link. When the staff member initially reviewed the resources, all s/he had to do was click on a link and immediately see the resource. Having decided to use the resource all s/he had to do was copy and paste the link into a Blackboard page. Now the students also have immediate access to the resources carefully selected by the lecturer.

It doesn't have to be a BlackBoard page. It could have been a PowerPoint slide used in your lecture. You might be writing a discursive document about some topic and decide to paste useful links to animation resources into your Word document. Now that the complex technology has been wrapped into simple web links you can focus on educational innovation and forget about the technical hassles.

Let us see this simple idea of 'embedding resource links' work in practice.

You are currently reading this information, either on a web page or within a pdf file. Whichever context it is, the four resource links from the above example are provided below, so feel free to try them out. See for yourself how accessing diverse resources is just one click away.

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Where Next?

Now that you have contemplated how to use these resources, a good next step is to find out what is available and learn about how to search for what you want.
For this you should refer to the section: eLearning Resources Catalogue

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