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The Growing our Future – Growing the NBN project was a partnership of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG), GlobalNet ICT, Independent Schools Tasmania, Circular Head Christian School and its Trade Training Centre, Geneva Christian College and Hilliard Christian School.

Ian Whitehouse and Chris Toselli from GlobalNet ICT and Marcus Ragus from the RTBG co-managed the project.

The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG)
The RTBG is the second oldest Botanical Gardens in Australia, approaching its 200th birthday due in 2018; it is also an innovator in the area of Vocational Education and Training being the first Australian Botanical Gardens to offer nationally recognised certificate level training in horticulture. Its vocational programs over the first two years of delivery have been fully subscribed with more than 77 students taking part since the start of programs. The RTBG has a dedicated team of professional horticulturalists including those with educational and community liason roles. Horticultural training is provided in partnership with GlobalNet ICT Academy as the RTO. The RTBG is also a leader in school based learning across the state, within the areas of horticulture and environment through its school and outreach programs.

GlobalNet ICT
GlobalNet ICT markets, develops, delivers and supports Industry and Vocational Education and Training to the government, private and education sectors. GlobalNet achieves this by utilising technologies that provide practical, flexible and user friendly solutions. GlobalNet offers a suite of services in Coaching and Mentoring, Social Media Business Integration, Website Design and Development, Search Engine Optimisation, E‐commerce, Online and Mobile Learning Solutions Development, Technology and Management Training and Project Management, Change, Knowledge and Collaboration Management.

Independent Schools Tasmania (IST)
Independent Schools Tasmania works to support member schools in various aspects of their operation including ongoing investigation in to how best to meet the needs of students in different environments and circumstances. The effective delivery of VET to small numbers across diverse industry areas is a challenge for schools. This project was an opportunity to explore the possibilities offered by the NBN.

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The project focused on two main scope areas of the NBN e-learning. These were:
  • Trialling innovative programs using high capacity connection
  • Facilitating VET programs including demonstrating the capacity to deliver a practical outdoor
  • VET skill set using online facilitation of learning

The project was innovative. The schools included in the project had not previously conducted learning using high speed broadband and video conferencing technologies to engage subject experts and professionals in real time.

The project demonstrated the capacity to deliver practical outdoor VET qualifications using online facilitiation. By using a combination of large format screens, projectors and mobile technologies and cross platform video conferencing software, we were able to extend the elearning to the outdoors. For our project, this was crucial. Horticulture, by definition, is an outdoors subject and to deliver the program appropriately, it was necessary that the learning be conducted in situ. By using NBN technology and wireless smart phone and tablet devices, this became readily achievable.

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The Objective

The aim of this project was to leverage the capabilities of the NBN to develop a real time and on demand interactive horticultural experience that bridged the geographic divide of rural and regional Tasmania for students and teachers.

This was to be done through developing a powerful working relationship between the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG), The GlobalNet Academy (the RTO), Independent Schools Tasmania and three of Tasmania’s independent schools together wiith a horticultural Trade Training Centre, their teachers and students.

This relationship coalition was to pilot the use of superfast broadband compatible technologies for VET learning delivery. Strengthening and enriching partner and learner interactions through the creation of a flexible learning environment in which young people could develop an interest in and appreciation of, horticulture as a first choice career and the part it plays with food security in our community.
The learning environment was to allow participants, both students and teachers, to engage with each other across multiple locations in real time and on demand. It was to provide increased and innovative access to professional horticultural training for students who live in regional areas.

The outcome

The project team believes that not only has the project achieved it’s objectives, but that they have been well exceeded. The only caveat to this is that the timeframes have been too short to really embed the model. notwithstanding that all parties agree that there is now significant momentum for continuing to use this model of learning.

At the request of the schools, the project team have decided to continue the model and to continue to engage with each other to support the students.

One interesting example of the project’s impacts on the students was that of the student who primarily decided to participate in the project because of the chance to use the technology and who since decided that horticulture is in fact “cool” and an enjoyable vocation in and of it’s own right.

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The project team had varying levels of experience with eLearning and with high speed broadband technologies:
As a co project manager, GlobalNet ICT has been working in the information technology sector for many years and was able to bring to the project it’s knowledge and experience in both the hardware and software technologies that surround and support fibre and super fast broadband technologies.

The RTBG education Manager, Marcus Ragus, has considerable eLearning experience as a teacher and trainer and is working with GlobalNet ICT in the development of an online environment for the RTBG.

The three schools involved had very different entry levels of experience. Circular Head Christian School has NBN connectivity and eLearning has a strong and expanding role with in the school. Geneva Christian College has an interest in eLearning but limited experience while Hilliard had very little experience or technical capability.

The team was hopeful but cautious in its expectations of the outcomes of the teaching and training using the NBN. We knew that there are always compatibility and connection issues when using such technologies and that working with a statutory authority and private schools was always going to pose logistical challenges. We were also mindful of the very short timeframes imposed upon us by the project, so expectations had to be managed in light of this.

One of the main expected challenges was that we knew that the NBN was in its infancy and that only one of the schools had a connection to the network, so our enthusiasm about the use of rich media and lag free collaboration was tempered by that knowledge. We were pleasantly surprised how well, after some initial hiccups, the system peformed and how well we were able to communicate together around the state.

One of the great strengths of the project was the quality, professionalism and capabilities of the team. The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens educational team, led by Marcus Ragus, already had a wealth of experience teaching school aged children – not to mention their expertise in horticulture – which is superb. GlobalNet ICT, led by Chris Toselli and Ian Whitehouse, have worked for many years across a range of projects in using elearning technologies and have a well established relationship with the Gardens, so incorporating the technology requirements of the project was relatively straightforward. The schools were supported by Independent Schools Tasmania through their School to Work Consultant, Jane Grosvenor, who provided a strong link between the Gardens and the three independent schools. Jane already had her own connections to the Gardens, so the team enjoyed a strong sense of unity.

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Connected Venues

Finding connected venues was an initial challenge for the team. The starting infrastructure for the project consisted of:
  • An NBN connection at the the Circular Head Christian School
  • An ADSL connection at Hilliard Christian School
  • An ADSL connection at Geneva Christian School
A Government high speed connection at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG)
Initially, it was hoped that that these connections would be sufficient for our face-to-face collaboration sessions but after initial tests it became apparent that the Gardens connection was struggling under the requirements of the project. Furthermore, the security of Department of Primary Industry Parks Water and Environment prohibited the foreign iPads and notebooks from connecting to the network.

Getting connected to the NBN

Almost by accident, through another conversation with Tasmanian Principal Computers, the team learned of a vendor deploying wireless connections from Sorell into the city. A meeting was quickly organised between the vendor, the project managers and management at the RTBG, and the technical feasibility of putting in the connection was examined. Google Maps established a direct line of sight to the repeater station and the connection went in. The difference was immediate and significant, enabling sessions to be broadcast clearly and without lag.

Download and upload speeds

The download speeds of the connections were generally adequate. Those connections with ADSL 2+ could expect a true download rate of between 5 and 10 Mbps. The conferencing software used by the project, GoToMeeting, has been designed to adequately compress it’s data running across the network to cope with these types of connections. Upload speeds proved more problematic. Our initial tests quickly demonstrated that the upload speeds, particularly at the Gardens, were going to be insufficient for our needs. The introduction of the Wireless NBN connection, however, lifted the true upload speed of the Gardens connection to 9.5Mbps.


The technology and the mode of delivery were trialled a number of times prior to the start of the project.

The Technology

One the issues that we discovered that we had was how to adequately broadcast video and audio. Our video used Logitech 720 HD web cams being affordable and offering a good quality picture. The mode of delivery, however, necessitated the presenter be free to move around the room and able to present to students both in the room or connected via the internet. From an audio perspective, we needed a device that allowed local particpants to interact with each other locally as well as across the internet. The Logitech webcam audio proved insufficient for this purpose having a number of feedback issues. We had three attempts at fixing this issue:
  • Attempt 1 - Directional Logitech USB microphone installed on the notebook running the session. This worked well when the participants were close, particularly the presenter, but faded dramatically the further the person was from the microphone – or if the presenter moved to the left or the right. Participants in the north complained of feedback and audio fade in and fade out.
  • Attempt 2 - GoToMeeting allows participants to call in using their normal phone; this worked excellently for those participants in the north. Unfortunately, because the presenter was using a different connection from the one at the Gardens, by dialling in, local participants heard the presenter both in the room and over the connection with a 1 to 2 second delay. This made presentation extremely difficult!
  • Attempt 3 – Reconfiguring the room allowed for an omni directional microphone to be placed in the centre of the participants. A more expensive, but still very affordable, Jabra USB microphone worked excellently with both local and remote participants agreeing that the feedback issues had been resolved.

Software and hardware issues,

Fortunately, we had relatively few hardware or software issues. GlobalNet ICT has a long history of working in the IT industry with good hardware and software partners. Tasmanian Principal Computers provided valued information about the latest hardware technology particularly in regard to wireless.

Tablets - We chose to use Apple iPads to support the outdoor component of our project because of their ease of use and because they are practically identical in functionality to iPods and iPhones – which were familiar to the younger participants.

Wireless - To support the use of the Tablet technology we used Ubiquiti PicoStation M2-HP indoor / outdoor access points which are easy to configure once you realise that you have to switch off AirMax and change the channel frequency. They were also power over Ethernet so could be mounted without having to be too close to a power connection. The access points allowed the tablets to go outdoors and broadcast from the “vegie patch” whilst still being part of the conference.

We chose software that we were either familiar with or that required little or not application download.

LMS To support the learners we chose Moodle. One being that it is open source so there would be no ongoing licensing issues. GlobalNet as an RTO uses the software extensivelyso understands itwell. It is easy to support and configure; as a web based application it only requires the user to have a browser.

Collaboration Software For face to face sessions, we chose a Citrix product, GoToMeeting reasonably priced at $71.50 (incl GST)/ month for unlimited meetings and no lengthy contracts. Citrix tested the software with us several times so we were able to try the product in context. A major attraction was that it work well on a Mac or Windows computers but also very well on Ipads and allowed us to view 6 simultaneous video feeds in high definition on either the computer or the Ipad.

We could also record the audio from the sessions using GoToMeeting together with the desktop presentation but the application did not record the simultaneous video streams from each of the locations. We discussed this with Citrix and they have noted that this feedback is consistent with other feedback so we hope to see this in future releases. To support the project, we used a sony handicam to record many of the sessions and then posted these up into the LMS and shared them in the shared dropbox folder.

Internal bureaucracy issues

The project team was fortunate to have very few bureaucracy issues. Management from each of the organisations was extremely supportive of the project.

One issue that the project team did face, not necessarily bureaucratic, but that required some adjustments on our part was school timetabling and school holidays. The tight application time frame and its timing meant that school timetables were already well developed and then schools were on holidays until February. The three schools all run different timetable structures and one operates on four terms already. It took some negotiation to allow for synchronous delivery timetabling and even then allowance had to be made for the demands of individual school programs including Naplan and Anzac day presentations.

Additionally schools initially only scheduled a few hours per week for students to undertake their horticulture programs, meaning that after completing the online sessions they had limited scheduled time for additional activities onsite. In part this was a product of where in the school program the pilot had been located: a VET program at Circular Head, a school option line at Geneva and part of the Health Program at Hilliard! It is envisaged that after the succuss of this project there will be a greater awareness of the value of the program and the need to resource it in terms of time for both synchronous and asynchronous activity.

IT Support

For the most part, GlobalNet, as one of the project partners, provided the project with IT support. Where extra support was required we consulted with their hardware supplier, Tasmanian Principal Computers, who provided a valueable information resource.

Participant issues specific to venues, connection or interactivity with NBN, etc

One issue noted in relation to the NBN connection,or any internet connection, and the use of High Definition video streaming, was the degredation in the quality of the video and audio connection when more than 2 devices were connected to the one network. In our opinion this is probably not so much related to a limitation in the bandwidth, but more about how the bandwidth is used and shared between users. High definition video streaming and audio streaming is lag sensitive so network routers need to be configured to prioritise data packets sent by devices using video conferencing software so that lag is minimised.

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What worked

All in all the project team was happy with how the project ran. We did learn a lot of lessons in running the project:

We started by bringing the staff from the three schools to meet the team at the Gardens which proved a very useful activity from a number of perspectives. It allowed everyone to meet face to face and gave Marcus an opportunity to run through the program content from a delivery perspective, All three schools had staff with some horticultural background so it was important to get these teachers onside and in agreement with the basic program. It was quite evident as the day went on that it was serving to allay fears and integrate the wider team.

Although a number of the students had some beginning interest in horticulture there were others who were not convinced of its appeal at the start. The use of “cool” technology is a significant draw card for students; using Ipads, video cameras and TV’s helped to engage the students and to change their perceptions about what a usually “non technology” subject, such as horticulture, might involve. One of the great pleasures in running the project was to see the growing attraction of the students to the subject as a number overcame their prejudices against horticulture as a non “cool” subject and their fears of what their peers would think of their participation. The opportunity to use iPads to record sessions and to post images and videos to Facebook was a strategy that, in our opinion, worked well.

The use of video conferencing software to bring together three schools and the Botanical Gardens was a strategy that worked. From the schools’ perspective, they had access to horticulture professionals who were able to bring a new perspective to the in-school horticulture classess, and they had access to each other. This latter aspect really only started to show towards the end of the project. From an RTBG perspectivevideo conferencing provided a creative and flexible pathway for the RTBG to promote horticulture throughout the state to schools and communities not normally exposed to professional horticultural programs and specialist horticulturists. In Tasmania it is often very difficult for schools in the northern parts of the state to visit the RTBG, so access to this type of program online provides an interesting, engaging and incredibly cost effective opportunity for all. This type of program would not be a viable option without the NBN.

The use of a central learning management system (LMS) to support the learning worked well. It meant that schools that were unable to attend sessions for whatever reason were still able to participate and to review and conduct classes in their own time with the support of recorded video and learning and assessment resources. We recorded as many sessions as possible and shared them in the LMS and directly with each other through the use of shared folders in Dropbox.

From a technological perspective all involved were able to see how high speed broadband technology can bring people from different places together in one location to share ideas. By the end of the project both staff and students, now more comfortable with the technology and with each other, were really just beginning to reach out and explore the true potential on offer.

What didn’t work so well

One of our big challenges during the running of the pilot was the configuration of the video conferencing which relied on a number of different inputs:
  • High speed broadband connections
  • Microphones that had little or no feedback but that were able to detect audio from around the presentation room
  • Allowing the software through the firewall
  • Configuring the wireless to extend outside for the use of the tablets

In the first few weeks of the project we realised that the government network was going to cause both access issues - non government devices are not able to access the network and connectivity issues - the network was slow. This meant that we had to put a separate connection into the gardens to support the program. We were able to source a dedicated wireless NBN connection and this resolved the network issues.
Another issue that we faced was the timetable schedules of the schools. We lost almost a month in holidays and another 2 sessions because of other school or other partner commitments. This meant that some variations to the original program schedule had to be made.

Another big challenge was in the learning delivery itself. All sessions had an initial format and lesson plan that originally started with a dominant RTBG teacher led experience. Over the first few weeks the session plans evolved and delivery was modified to meet participant needs and technology adaptations. Delivery of sessions was challenging as the facilitating teacher had to manage the subject delivery to multiple classes both live and remote and continue through intermittent technology issues.

The lesson plans eventually developed into more of a teacher mentored experience where the structure evolved into a short 10-15 minute subject introduction to all classes, then the students undertook their own onsite practical activities related to the subject. They were then required to return to the session after a given time (30 min’s), and report on their activities to all. Feedback was then provided by the presenters live via the NBN. Later recorded learnings from all parties could also be shared through the social networks of the project such as Facebook.

We feel that this approach was very applicable for a practically based subject area such as horticulture and it gave the students a real opportunity to engage themselves and return feedback for all to share. This ability to share results and success stories amongst rural and remote students is an incredibly valuable aspect of this type of delivery and once again without the NBN network this would just not have been realistic.


Work required

Upon reflection, we think that we were somewhat unprepared for the volume of work and support that the project was going to require. All parties spent significantly extra time and resources supporting the program than was originally anticipated. From a delivery perspective the main areas of extra support was in the actual delivery of the sessions which required more preparation time and more review time. We also decided that we would record as many of the sessions as possible, so this added to the overheads of delivering the sessions and the overheads of producing the videos that were put into the LMS. At the school level there was more organisational requirements than had first been anticipated.

Technology requirements

We were also unprepared for how unreliable the government connection was in terms of broadcasting video. This caused us no shortage of frustration and resulted in a significant investment in wireless infrastructure. The outcome of this, however, has been that this infrastructure will continue to be used for other projects that the Gardens and GlobalNet are involved in and will support the continuance of this type of eLearning into the future. We consider this a great benefit from the project.
Although the project was supported by in-house IT support, the project highlighted just how fast technology changes and how important it is to have good relationships with suppliers and manufacturers. The short timeframes meant that we spent more money and time in “experimenting” than what we would normally want to do, notwithstanding the outcome of our experiments was excellent.

Skills developed

It is important to note that the project has supported a significant skill development of the project team in terms of what to expect when conducting eLearning projects using NBN, video conferencing and wireless technologies.
Apart from the skills developed by the students, the project has encouraged the development of new delivery skills amongst the presenters including an understanding of delivery to multiple students, in multiple locations at one time and how to manipulate the technologies to suit the situations. It has started to change the perspectives of traditional face-to-face delivery to methods that are more student centred where the ‘expert teacher’ also becomes the ‘mentor’ providing advice and feedback on the activities led by the students.
The power of the NBN has provided unique opportunities for skills development for all involved, and as more of these types of projects with creative programs are developed there is no doubt that new skills will be learned and existing ones refined.

Future benefits

There is no doubt that the NBN will deliver real and tangible benefits to all the organisations involved in the project. This is for a number of reasons:
  • The ability to broadcast rich media over the internet to any connected school or organisation will mean that training and education can be delivered from the RTBG to anywhere in Tasmania, Australia or the world
  • Schools will be able to contract the RTBG to support their own horticulture programs and to call on the experience and expertise of the RTBG as and when needed.
  • The beauty and uniqueness of the RTBG will be shared by a wider audience online which will encourage visitors to the State and to the Gardens
  • The RTBG will be recognized more widely as a centre for horticultural learning and its programs able to be shared with the wider national and international community.
  • Individual learners not located near the Gardens will be able to participate in horticulture activities and education.
  • Schools have a workable model for the delivery of VET programs to smaller cohorts of students whereever they may be located
  • Schools have a model for working together to share VET delivery
  • Students have had the experience of a different type of delivery model and an opportunity to interact with learners from other schools in an ongoing program – they will talk about this and hopefully prompt other students to look for and ask for alternative education strategies where needed.

The NBN as a learning tool

We think that the NBN will provide an excellent vehicle for delivering education and training.
  • It will enhance an organisation’s ability to deliver rich media based e-learning alleviating the current bandwidth constraints on rich media
  • It will provide greater on-demand learning opportunities for learners who wish to access cloud based resources.
  • It will enhance the ability for learners to “learn by doing” where they can actively interact with trainers and educators in real time, without lag, in their own work contexts. The ability for learners to use tablets and other mobile smart devices, for example, to show what they are doing and to have immediate and relevant feedback from the education provider.
  • It will also allow collaborative learning on a scale never previously conceived – students can work together, so can schools or communities, and distance is not an issue.
This project has provided some incredibly valuable understandings for the online learning delivery of applied sciences such as horticulture. It has demonstrated the viability and effectiveness of these programs in delivering a practical subject to students at a distance - in this instance groups of rural school students but it could equally be a single student in an urban high school or an apprentice at work on the East Coast or a child in distance education. The involvement of professional working horticulturalists at the scale that this project has been able to consider is highly unusual in VET in Schools programs. In this project students have received more exposure to “the life of a horticulturalist” and this is an area that could be expanded still further.
This project has pushed the boundaries of traditional horticulture learning delivery and opened opportunities to communities that have not been fully realised in the past. The information gained from the delivery of this project will contribute significantly to further online implementation of horticulture learning across the state, nationally and beyond.

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The project successfully delivered a number of units from the Cert I in Agrifoods using streaming video and a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities. It delivered to a target group of students from three schools, two at distance from the key teacher/trainers.

It demonstrated quite clearly the potential for delivering VET online in a high speed broad band environment. Students were engaged at varying levels and learning outcomes achieved.

While the project perhaps did not cover as much ground as had been hoped the consensus was that it had been a success for the majority of participants and all wanted to see it continue in order to deliver the remainder of a cert 1 program.

The outcomes were measured through:
  • Contributions to the LMS and FaceBook site
  • Reflections from all team members
  • Recordings of the sessions reflecting the changes as the project progressed
  • Documentation of the project as it proceeded – both on the wiki and on FaceBook

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There are a number of different perspectives from which to approach the question of success and improvement many of which have been mentioned already. The perspective of a teacher from one of the schools (Circular Head Christian School) expressed some common themes, in particular that the project exceeded expectations:

Initial expectations

I thought that this program would help to broaden the learning experience of the students and our Cert I program. I was also hoping that it would provide a great visual aspect through the video link ups.

How these were met / not met / changed?

The program exceeded the expectations, the quality of the video and audio in the end was excellent. In changing the session structures it delivered the outcomes that were sought. It has opened up even more possibilities to learning and other projects, like expanding to other places/states etc.

Benefits and drawbacks from a teacher's perspective

The benefits are that the students get to interact with experts in the field of study (RTBG), their peers from not only their own school, but from other schools around the state. Some drawbacks were the timeframe, timetabling between schools, getting everyone used to the technology and how it operates and not having enough time to implement everything.

Benefits and drawbacks from a school's perspective

The linkage between the schools and the RTBG has been great and has opened up new possibilities, enhanced current programs and has influenced the planning and development of future projects and programs. The main drawback was timetabling of the video link ups, school structures in place before program implementation.

Overall thoughts and feelings about the project to date

The project has been excellent and has shown what is achievable, but also that the sky is the limit. The possibilities are limitless with a means to connect with others to create engaging learning environments wherever you are.

If starting again what might you change?

More time allocation

Looking ahead - in an ideal world where would you take the project in to the future?

More connection with student peers out in the field, with students talking about/showing each other their projects etc. 24/7 webcam connection of selected garden areas

From a broader perspective the NBN commercial shot at the RTBG and on location on the NW coast of Tasmania eloquently sums up the success of the project from a number of perspectives. The voice over comes from the principal of one school and the principal of the other northern school features in the video.


If this project were to be done over we would suggest considering the following:

  • The lead time is very important and the more players that were involved the more important this would be. School time tables are worked on from mid year and finalised well before the end of term three. For a number of schools to work together with an industry partner would need good logistical planning well ahead of delivery.
  • Invest in extra time for the project delivery. Experience suggests that front end issues will inhibit initial momentum and that students need time to get familiar with the new learning environment. Extra time would be rewarded in the quality of interactions and the overall learning outcomes.
  • Populate the LMS with asynchronous activities ahead of schedule so that teachers/mentors in schools or the worforce can see what is available and plan accordingly.
  • Target more early activities to get students interacting and posting in the communal learning spaces.
  • Invest in good audio.
  • Publicise the project more through the school community so that parents and friends followed their Facebook contributions
  • Extending the number of schools in the cluster group and explore the participation of schools without horticultural expertise on staff.
  • Involve school based trainees in developing skill sets.
  • Extending the scope to deliver the full certificate one program and assessment.
  • Diversifying the online activities to ppromote interaction between schools and students.
  • Developing activities that allowed comparison of the different sites including the ability to monitor climate and observe local conditions through the use of permanent web cams.
  • Develop the participation in the project of the wider horticulture team at the RTBG helping demonstrate the diversity of skills they use and roles they play.
  • Investigate the use of further mobile technologies to support the eLearning outcomes sought.
  • Involve students in the delivery at a more active level.

If this project were to be extended some the things we would consider would be:

  • Extending the number of schools in the cluster group and explore the participation of schools without horticultural expertise on staff.
  • Involve school based trainees in developing skill sets.
  • Extending the scope to deliver the full certificate one program and assessment.
  • Diversifying the online activities to ppromote interaction between schools and students.
  • Developing activities that allowed comparison of the different sites including the ability to monitor climate and observe local conditions through the use of permanent web cams.
  • Develop the participation in the project of the wider horticulture team at the RTBG helping demonstrate the diversity of skills they use and roles they play.
  • Investigate the use of further mobile technologies to support the eLearning outcomes sought.
  • Involve students in the delivery at a more active level.

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The learning acquired by the project team will have a range of benefits for other organisations wishing to deploy NBN e-learning programs. Some of the lessons learned include:

Plan well

Involve all stakeholders in the planning progress at every stage

Allow sufficient time

One of the main challenges in our project was the very short time frames imposed on the project by the strategy.

Include Technology “goodies”

Our inclusion of “technology goodies” meant that even those participants who weren’t very keen on horticulture sill wanted to engage because of the chance to use the technology. This provided us with the opportunity to change prejudices – and for one student in particular, this was very much the case.

Take account of school holidays and events if working with education institutions

School holidays, public holidays and tests can drain the available delivery times if working with schools, so take account of these events well in advance and allow for a couple that no-one thought to tell you about!

Choose a collaboration software application that will meet your needs and is easy to configure

We chose to use GoToMeeting as our collaboration vehicle. The application worked across a range of platforms including Windows, Mac and Linux. It also has IOS and Android apps that are easy to use – which allowed us to use video conferencing on the tablets outside of the classroom.

Choose an audio device that has significant noise reduction capabilities

One of our challenges was the audio. Choose an audio device that will allow all participants in the room to contribute as well as the presenter but will not introduce foreign noise. The combination of the large format LCD TV, the microphone and the connected devices in the room created a feedback loop which needed to be managed.

Create a central repository where everyone can go

By using an LMS, we were able to manage the learning and assessment tasks given to participants. It allowed us to see who had been undertaking these activities and when, and more importantly, what hadn’t been done.

Use Social media technologies

Using social media technology provided an opportunity to connect with students using a technology that they were familiar with. There was no need to train participants to use the technology and it provided a forum to post comments, images and videos. It does require some negotiation given different organisations willingness to engae with social media. Ain this case the three schools all had different FaceBook policies but by negotiation we arrived at a common usage that was satisfactory to all principals and governing bodies.

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For further information regarding this NBN E-Learning project, please contact:
For horticultural aspects of the project please contact:
Name: Marcus Ragus
Organisation: Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
Phone: 03 6236 3086
Email Marcus.Ragus@rtbg.tas.gov.au

Website: http://rtbg.tas.gov.au

For ICT aspects of the project please contact:
Name: Chris Toselli
Organisation: GlobalNet ICT
Phone: 0438 687 125
Email: chris.toselli@globalnetict.com


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