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User:Leighblackall/UCNISS Study tours


In June 2010, UCNISS staff held two Study Tours over the "Winter Term", an intensive study period for students of the University of Canberra. Students enrolled in the Unit of study Sport research and practice, and had the opportunities to join a tour of the USA or Australia, visiting major sporting venues and meeting key people in those nation's sporting cultures.

Prior to the tours, UCNISS was awarded a small fund from the University of Canberra called Hothouse. This grant was used to develop staff capability in using social media to document the tours and communicate tour preparations and progress. This is a report on that project.


Screen grab of the UCNISS study tours website
A diagram by Leonard Low illustrating discussions and final advise on appropriate portable recording and Internet publishing devices - as consultation to the UCNISS Hothouse project

After consultation with Teaching and Learning Centre on portable media recording and Internet publishing equipment, part of the fund was used to purchase equipment so that staff could document and upload reports before, during and after the tours. A website was set up to capture these reports and to host information for the students preparations. Seminars and workshops were held, open to the wider University for staff, to help tour staff better understand the nature of documentation work expected from them. Both tours were documented, however - owing to serious difficulties with UC computer network administration, and tour staff workload management prior to the Winter Term period, a lot less was achieved than what was hoped. Tour staff weren't able to find the time to attend the seminars or workshops, and experienced frustration when attempting to connect and upload media from within the UC network. As a result the skills weren't sufficiently developed before the tour, and updates to the Tour website were minimal. One group did manage basic updates for some of the tour, while the other elected to update the site some time after their tour using adminstrative assistance. What content is on the website is suitable enough however, for helping to promote the tours to future staff and students, and a precedent has been set enough that the value of the effort is recognised and will be built upon for the 2011 tours. Other staff in UCNISS have expressed interest in furthering this work in 2011.

Media consultationEdit

Early in the project, UCNISS staff did find time to meet with Leonard Low at the Teaching and Learning Centre, who advised on appropriate portable recording and Internet publishing devices. As a result of this advice, the staff elected to spend $3500 on 4 Asus Netbooks, 2 Olympus water resistant cameras, and 2 Bloggie pocket cameras. This purchase equipped each tour staff member (4 in total) with a recording device (one for water activities) each, and a small computer for Internet publishing.


Working with the Teaching and Learning Centre's Paul Krix, we were able to use the free website hosting service Blogger, by applying design to the template provided. Paul helped with HTML and CSS coding, and other sorts of problem solving. This work was subsequently applied across all UCNISS websites using the Blogger service. "Widgets" were added to the sites, including a Flickr image badge - displaying recently uploaded images from the tour; a "Follow me" icon for subsrcibing to the UCNISS Twitter feed; A graphic links to the UCNISS Facebook page; and a graphic linked to the website. Pages were added to the site for 'About', 'Oz Tour', 'US Tour', and 'Euro Tour' (a placeholder for 2011 work).

Seminars and workshopsEdit

While tour staff agreed to meet weekly for a 1-2 hour workshop on using the website prior to the commencement of the Winter Term UCNISS Study Tours, only 2 workshops were possible - the consultation session with Leonard Low, and the purchasing of the equipment from retail outlets in Canberra. Several seminars were hosted by the Faculty of Health, designed to inform this and other Hothouse projects, as well as UC staff more generally, but the Tour Staff were not able to attend these either. Those seminars were:

Regular informal discussion was achieved during normal working days however, leading to some level of awareness and ability.

UC Network DifficultiesEdit

UC Information Communications Technology Services are aware of the difficulties in uploading media to popular social media websites from within the UC Network. This problem is caused by the use of a proxy server for security. Efforts were made to formally engage ICTS on these issues, including a meeting and a submission paper from the Faculty of Health, however the problem was not able to be fixed in time for the Hothouse project, resulting in frustrations to the staff attempting Internet publishing on their own. This frustration impacted motivation, and combined with workload issues became a serious impediment to the project.

Workload management problemsEdit

Staff workload management is a recognised issue in the University of Canberra, with unanimous agreement at the Winter Term focus groups that there was no time possible for preparation prior to the Winter Term commencing. The Faculty of Health is developing a new workload management plan in coming months, and it is hoped that this issue will be addressed. Professional development time, especially around agreed projects needs to be factored in to workload, and a strong indication of this factoring would need to be evident to the Hothouse project managers.

Original proposal and planEdit

Below is the original proposal and plan submitted to the Teaching and Learning Centre.


Sport Studies is prepared to take a leadership role in the Faculty and University for its developing capability in the use of social media for teaching, assessment and research/learning. The 5 staff engaged in this project will lead discussions within the Faculty of Health on what they discover and implement, as well as making their work openly accessible to anyone with interest.

  1. Builds capacity for leadership development in the area of teaching, learning and assessment: Five staff will investigate and develop skills in the use of social media for their teaching and assessment practices, engaging students and their learning through that same media, and demonstrating their findings to the wider Faculty of Health and the University generally.
  2. Identifies areas for supporting teaching in the winter term: This project will develop this capacity within the unit for the Winter Term called Sport Research and Practice. A student exchange programme requiring a large component of distance learning and assessment along with block face to face activities.
  3. Demonstrates the opportunity for deep learning and evaluation: This project will explore social media in the unit as its relates to socially constructed learning and research. Staff will investigate how learning and research takes place in these arenas, and devise activities and assessment activities that asks students to critically evaluate the media and deepen their relationship to the information ecology that connects their subject areas.
  4. Demonstrates knowledge of available teaching and learning methods and emerging practice: Sport Studies staff will work closely with Leigh Blackall, newly appointed to Sport Studies for his experience in using and evaluating educational practices in social media. Sport Studies staff are already well down the path, many with their own blogs, Youtube channels and other accounts, and experienced enough to begin appreciating the opportunities for teaching and learning methods.
  5. Project proposer has a proven record of achievement in at least one of the following areas: educational design, teaching media, educational technology, teaching awards, teaching grants or curriculum development: Leigh Blackall has been working in this area for 6 years, with a proven record of successfully guiding tertiary education practitioners into critically understanding social media and the Internet for educational outcomes.
  6. Knowledge of the University of Canberra's structures and decision making procedures: The 5 sport studies staff include both newly appointed and veterans. Sandy Daley and John Dodd have been working in the University for longer than most, while Robin McConnell, Jason Washington-King and Disa Smee are relatively new.
  7. Aligns to the University of Canberra's strategic plan and steps for implementation: This project directly relates to the final 3 points of the vision, and steps 2, 3, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 34, and 37.


  1. Portable AV gear: 2 cameras, 1 shotgun microphone, 1 wireless lapel microphone, 1 smart phone, 2 SD cards, 2 micro SD cards, 2 netbooks, portable tripod
  2. Templates and design elements for Blogger, Facebook and Youtube for students and teachers to use and associate with UC by way of logos, branding and links


  1. 26 Febuary 2010: Team meeting to discuss project scope, schedule and requirements
  2. 5 March 2010: Set up course website
  3. 12 March 2010: Openism seminar
  4. 19 March 2010: Consultation with Leonard Low regarding portable AV recording gear
  5. 26 march 2010: Convert academic content into course website
  6. 2 April 2010: Purchase AV recording equipment
  7. 9 April 2010: Receive templates and design elements for Blogger, Facebook and Youtube
  8. 16 April 2010: Upload welcome videos to Youtube, embed in blog
  9. 23 April 2010: Upload academic videos, embed in blog
  10. 30 April 2010: Practice using twitter and email to update the blog
  11. 7 May 2010: Practice recording interviews, uploading and embedding
  12. 14 May 2010: Run a workshop with UCNISS on the complete set up