Friday, 29 August 2008

Good Practice in e-learning

The QAA has collated features of e-learning strategies and implementation ascross HEIs, that it determines as exemplary r
elating to e-learning and distance learning:
  • the strategic approach to the development of e-learning which, while recognising the opportunities for students in general, brings particular benefits for distance-learning students through the ability to provide support in an increasingly coordinated way [University of Leicester, paragraph 287 i; paragraph 40]

  • the framework for the quality management of distance-learning programmes - particularly in relation to assuring the quality of distance-learning materials, specifying the functions and managing the work of agents, and defining the roles and responsibilities of associate tutors [University of Leicester, paragraph 287 iii; paragraph 121]

  • the comprehensive, accurate and accessible information provided to students including the Student Portal which allows seamless access to a variety of e-learning resources [University of Nottingham, paragraph 302 iii; paragraphs 102, 139, 166, 187, 204, 223 and 240]

  • the University's coherent and comprehensive strategy for the development and implementation of e-learning [University of Ulster, paragraph 215 iv; paragraph 101]

  • the guidelines on quality assurance of, and issues related to, the provision of distance learning produced by the Department of Electronic Engineering and the work of the [Open and Distance Learning] (ODL) Unit more generally [Queen Mary, University of London, paragraph 245 sixth bullet; paragraphs 121 and 159]

  • the design, development and utilisation of the University's managed learning environment StudyNet, which offers outstanding potential for the University's planned move towards a pedagogy of blended learning [University of Hertfordshire, paragraph 204 v; paragraphs 157 to 165]

  • the University's use of its VLE, both as a pedagogical and communications medium, and the plans for its future development [Sheffield Hallam University, paragraph 202 v; paragraph 93]

  • its draft e-learning strategy, which maps on to the e-learning framework developed by the Joint Information Systems Committee [University of Huddersfield, paragraph 317 iii; paragraph 137]

  • the use made of electronic communication systems, particularly the virtual learning environment to support flexible and blended learning and communicating with students, and Desktop Anywhere [University of Northumbria at Newcastle, paragraph 254 fourth bullet; paragraph 118]

  • the commitment to and success of the development and validation of distance learning [Staffordshire University, paragraph 251 viii; paragraphs 127 and 131]

  • the provision of the e-Library, which is notable for highly relevant and carefully selected material to support students' learning [Henley Management College, paragraph 213 sixth bullet; paragraph 120]

  • the developments in e-learning and the validation and quality control of e-learning materials [University of Bolton, paragraph 196 third bullet; paragraphs 39 and 105].

Read the full report online

All we need to do now is bottle this and sell it! And.. I don't see much mention of a student centred approach in all of this? I would love to see a mention of a migration from a transmissionist delivery model - use e-elearning - somehow - please?

Thursday, 21 August 2008

eportfolio news

New JISC infonet infokit out soon :o)

Lisa Gray (JISC e-learning programme manger) and JISC infonet are in the final throes of completing a new infokit which synergises all of the recent outputs from the JISC funded eportfolio projects. You can pre order your copy here

It will be officially launched at the next ALT-C conference in Leeds next Month (CU there?).

I've also just stumbled across a JISC CETIS posting about eportfolio interoperability called PIOP.

This blog also refers to a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) called PLEX I was not aware of. Simon Grant also of CETIS recently blogged about eportfolio standards and his blog post refers to a wider CETIS study on Portfolio interoperability prototyping.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


I'd just thought I'd up date you with a few new gadgets around at present that may interest you.

The first is my new Toshiba Portege' laptop. It's very light and a joy to carry around. It's that thin it even fits into an A4 notepad holder. Which is nice, and nearly as light as the ASUS >>

The second gadget we've all got this summer is a new ASUS eeepc to use for notetaking and web surfing. They're great, and only 200 squids. This PC market is going to grow. And you can get it in Linux or Windows flavours.

Don't forget that ASUS now sell a cut price desktop (above) as well called the eee box.

The new flip video device (the ipod of video?)

Two new cut price video cameras are also out, the flip video ( trying to be the ipod) and the busbi (about 35 quids)

I've had a quick go with the busbi, but not sure of the quality of video. They are both designed to take short clips and copy to your PC easily, then upload seamlessly to the web (without worrynig about CODECs) . This Youtube vid compares flip with another .

Personally I'd reccomend a good digi camera with video capability. The one I've been using recently is the Panasonic Lumix. A whopping 10X optical zoom. Its a fab compact camera, and quite resaonably priced.

The final gadget we were all provided with recently is an Orange USB modem. This allows you to access the web/email on the move (with your laptop), when not in range of a wireless network. It works a treat, but requires a little tinkering to ensure it does not conflict with your existing internet connection settings. Avaialbe on contract.

Another device I've recently come across is the Skype phone from 3G. Its available on contract and allows you to call other skype PC users. It works as a normal mobile , but with the extra skypey bit. It also allows you to tune in to certain TV stations from a nominal fee. And the phone can be used a modem to plug into a laptop on the move , abit like the USB modem above.

Lastly have a look at this neat Ultra Thin Digital Recorder

Moodle musings

My elearning colleague Jim Judges has just posted a few interesting snippets on the Moodle UK users Jiscmail list. See the online archives here @ URL: . It's a closed list, but anyone can join by sending a request to the list moderator. For those new to Moodle, this is an email discussion list created for the community and used by the UK Moodle community. It's a very active list, which you need to request to join.

Also I just established that some clever people are linking Moodle to Google Docs. Interesting stuff.

Back to the plot

Coleg Gwent Moodle stuff

  • Paul Andrews (formerly of Coleg Gwent) has created an excellent Moodle visitors centre you just can drop in and wander around .

  • And... he has also made the teacher training resources avaialble for download here :

  • Plus a bespoke feedback tool available here :

  • And theres more. Paul has created a widget that allows easy adding of other widgets to your Moodle courses, here:

  • You can also access Paul's new icons here :

Mr Cute

Another colleague of ours here at the RSC is Mr Richard Goddard who is a very clever IT man who has received
JISC funding to develop a Moodle repository called Mr CUTE. It's a very powerful , taggable, searchable
object repository.

Mr CUTE can be download as a block from
or from http://tinyurl/5h6ofp. This tiny URL page
points to Richard's own website which also has a link to the Solihull College easy portfolio block - to download.
he good news is that Ricahrd has received some more JISC funding to further develop Mr CUTE2.
Mr CUTE2 will be able to;

  • automatically convert PPT & Word files to platform independent formats,
  • will be able to create simple IMS objects (like Xerte does ),
This is an intersting move, as it will allow users to create simple HTML/XML based learning objects directly in Moodle! A bit like Adobe Breeze did/does?

and.... Jorum want to work with Mr CUTE further somehow? Perhaps Richard will tell us more.

Richard also mentioned that you can now add the next generation of NLN materials as a link

(not to download) to Moodle using a new functionality called Noodle.

Object repositories primer

The reason object repositories are big business at the moment is because people are begining to add large
amounts of resources to their VLEs and are finding out the VLEs a re not very good at storing them.
Resulting in duplication + inability to tag & search, and therefore slow and bloated VLEs begin to run badly. The answer is to
remove all of your learining objects from your VLE and put them in a repository and link that to your
VLE. This ensures that all objects can be tagged, and therefore searched. And your VLE can operate
more effiently - because VLEs were not constructed to be object stores, which is unfortunately how they've
mostly (sadly) used. Popular object repositories inlcude intrallect & Harvest road Hive.

Oh ,yes they also work across dispersed campus' thereby creating an easily managed
federated system, acessed by all.

Mahara eportfolio tool

At the same event that Richard Goddard announced Mr CUTE 2, James Ballard from the
University of London Computer Centre announced their involvement ( official partner) of
the new Mahard eportfolio tool, which plugs into Moodle.

"Mahara is a fully featured electronic portfolio, weblog, resume builder and social networking
system, connecting users and creating online communities. Mahara provides you with the
tools to set up a personal learning and development environment."

As well as becoming the official Mahara partner, ULCC have previously developed
personalised learning plans as 4 separate blocks to plug in to Moodle. So this move to
partner Mahara is a natural progression for them. If you need a PLP or eportfolio tool that sits
nicely within your Moodle environment, ULCC will help you out and provide support.
Of course the tools they create are free from, but companies like ULCC,
the development manager and Moodledo provide the 3rd party support
we all need.

nb, you can run Mahara without Moodle, yet can be linked to it (single sign on, ID authentification, etc ).
Mahara will also export to the LEAP 2.0 eportfolio standard, thereby ensuring portability of data (I hope).
Mahara runs on LInux platforms only.
We are still awaiting to see what the OU are doing with their MY stuff eportfolio tool?

Learn more about eportfolios here :