Monday, 21 December 2009

have a pumpkin dance xmas

It what the web is for! Not much more to say really, is there? Have a merry berry sherry crimbo :OD -

Here's some holiday reading to keep you occupied :

  • The Learnovation project is aimed at stimulating a consensus-based definition of eLearning and Technology-Enhanced Learning, in order to inspire their total exploitation in implementing lifelong learning strategies across Europe.

  • Plus the new futurelab publication is online at URL:

    • Finally-The impact of web 2.0 in Europe. In order to investigate how social computing applications can be used in organised learning settings to enhance learning activities and promote innovation and inclusion in Education and Training......, at URL:

Monday, 14 December 2009

the scaling framework

This MS scaling tool was passed to me recently. Could prove useful, to move use
from the samll scale "Fred in the shed" situation, we often find ourselves in when large educational organisations fail to support or invest in innovation?

go to : ,  to find out how to use it.

"One of the things that has been done as part of the worldwide Partners in Learning programme is The Scaling Framework – an interactive tool that helps analyse how you move an innovation from being something done by 1 or 2 people, to making it widespread.

imageIt made me think of two specific cases where today there is a challenge of scaling innovation. The first is Virtual Learning Environments, where it is proving to be difficult to take good practice from one lecturer/department/college to the whole system. And the other is taking an innovative ICT teaching initiative and spreading it to other departments.
The Scaling Framework is a simple interactive tool that explains the five dimensions of scale, and then digs down into areas such as “Traps to Avoid” and “Next Steps to Explore.”

Friday, 11 December 2009

Game based learning

Game based learning is a hybrid area of development taking the best of games technology and trying to shoehorn it into some serious educational contexts.  This area of R&D is growing in popularity. See my previous posts on what Sony (PSP) are doing in this arena.

I attended a webinar the other day that was co-orgnaised by the

I took some notes from the webinar & would like to share them with you plus some related videos that will feed into this blog post neatly.

Scott Hewitt from :,  gave a first half presentation encompassing some very interesting topics and some current projects and platforms.

  • revising to combat revision stress - Flash based learning game. It included easter eggs + combination scorings. planning revision breaks was paramount - they scored higher if they did this.

    Scott then talked about another tool Open simulator : currently in alpha version - create own virtual environments - d/load onto own server - Open Source - similar to SL. Can build your own "worlds", and make it private - UK Army are experimenting with it.  BCU have built Shareville as a 3D immersive world as a learning resource:

    • Unity : multiple platform development tool - very advanced, but need some experience to use it. A widespread community.

    • Thinking worlds (Caspian) : a rapid development engine, SCORM output, scoring and links to LMS to record scoring, shallow learning curve - advantageous to elearning devleopment teams (and as a teaching + learning tools) . Using with Students - pushing the boundaries:

    • Blackberry, iphone,  ipod touch are all being used for innovate games design, in schools. Flash support for iphone comming soon, which will help release more applications, quicker and easier.

    • Can you develop a game in a day? Yes they did with 35 games design students, see the project @ URL: , see 1/2 way down page for brief they gave to students to deign the games. They used thinking worlds for this. Split into roles and went through the whole process, including narrative, rewards, learning outcomes, flowchart, storyboards, testing and pilot, etc. All groups (about 6 in each group) did at least 1 game each in 1/2 day. nb/. dentisry looking at the wii controller to teach techniques.

    See also this useful video on hacking the wii:

    Second half of the session was run by Steve Harris - Northumbria Uni. His talk was equally interesting, but focussed on the underpinning principles of effective games design he teaches. High level concepts about game design and how education can benefit from these high level principles. Some notes I made:

    • Pace of learning - using games for differentiated learning design.

    • Recouperation is good for this- command and conquer, ie. intense period of action, then relaxation to reflect. Don't throw a constant barrage of info' at learners. Give time to reflect.
    • Motivation - fallout 3 game: sense of freedom (like ps2 game) - sense of discovery (not critical to quest) like easter eggs! Player feels as if they are in more control of the narrative - like GTA. ie. medical sim game - delivering medicines - add other medicines. They can discover to use in other situations.

    • Conflicts : places player in a situation where they have differing situations - like mad dash racing. Developing tactics and strategies to cope with rules of games. Helps to develop thninking, by allowing them to develop specifc skills i.e. time management.

    • Condorcet Paradox in gaming : remove dominant strategies: few number of paramenters create larger number of possibilities. Don't allow the learner to always win. Desgin in simple strategies.

    • Reward systems - fundamental in games: Operant conditioning - the more you use a technique or method, the better you become. It has to be balanced with other strategies to make you follow game rules. And Xbox 360 gamer acheivements online tag, to show others your skills. Simple to bolt on to a platform.

    • Apply thorough testing: ie. Halo 3 heat maps : bungie has these heat maps on their web site - in relation to specific weapon use - live payer date captured to allow you to learn from others. Intelligent use of gamer data.

    • Player assistance: i.e. player 2 can take temporary control to help player 1. Works with young and special needs games design.

    • Look at existing board games for ideas for effective learning/game design.

    I posed the question "are games designers utilising existing educational pedagogies to make their games educational?"  The answer was a no!  Which I thought was very strange indeed.  It seemed like a one way street, i.e. educators are looking for games based applications/platforms/technolgoes/graphics to make learning objects or content more engaging, but why are'nt games designers looking at the many (thousands of years) of teaching and learning experiences to make their games better? Or are they?  Let me know.

    Links and related books:

    • Understanding Video Games. Nielsen, Smith &  Tosca. (2008) . Routledge. ISBN: 0415977215. Gee, P. (2007) What Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and
    • Game Design Workshop: designing, Prototyping and Playtesting Games Literacy. Palgrave. ISBN: 1403984530. Fullerton, Swain &  Hoffman. (2004) . ISBN: 1578202221

    • + The cube   I love bees + NiN ARG (Wired article)

    • UK army gave personel DS Lites for eLearning: Developed by Epic (Stuart Chadwick) - won an award this year

    Finally have a look into the future at Project Natal

    Friday, 4 December 2009

    Strategy infokit out now

    The strategy infokit1 produced by JISC InfoNet covers all aspects of the strategy process.

    Not much more to say here. If it's like all the rest of the infokits, we can look forward to another top quality resource.

    BTW, you might also be interested to read about JISCs support for business community engagement :

    guide to funding

    Looks like this is worth getting hold of for all SMT & curriculum mangers. Obtained from URL:

    The hands-on guide to post-16 funding, written by Nick Linford, Edexcel's Special advisor on Funding and Performance. The guide explains in simple terms what is funded and how this is delivered. It looks at the funding changes for 09/10 and the current plans for funding in 10/11.  Get it here :

    Thursday, 3 December 2009

    edublog awards 2009

    It's that time of year when we vote for our fave blogs. Here's my nominations for the

    Wednesday, 2 December 2009

    buzzin with mind maps

    The use of mind mapping can help promote creative thinking,  visual learning preferences,  and especially to help dyslexic learners.  I've provided a list of mind mapping tools at the bottom of this post.

    This blog post was inspired after attending a mind mapping course by a Tony Buzan (creator of mind mapping techniques) accredited trainer.  We used imindmap, which I must admit blows all of the other mind mapping tools out the water for shear versatility, adherence to the mind map methods and its rich feature set. It's due to be released online soon ( to allow for collaboration), and as an iphone app' :OD..  But Mindmeister (above) comes close as a good free alternative.

    dyslexia an overview from kevbrace on Vimeo.

    By the way, I was told by our trainer, that the research of predominantly left or right brain processing is not outdated. Current research points to more of a complex trigger of neurons across both hemispehres. But there is still a great deal of research that supports the differences between left & right hemisphere differences for creative Vs logical modes of thought.

    Other mind map tools to consider as alternatives to imindmap;

    • bubb.lus (free online) = ok, as a basic tool.
    • freemind  (Free / Open Source) = good basic tool
    • Xmind (Free / Open Source) =  I'm advised that this is very good
    • Mind genuis (buy licence) = a good all rounder - exports to Word & PPT - ideal to brainstorm projects, essays, etc.
    • inspiration (buy licence) =one of the market leaders, often quoted as a very versatile tool adhering to the orginal mind map principles. 
    • Compendium (Free / Open Source)
    • mindomo   (online)
    See also my shared book marks on mind mapping

    leave a comment if you know of any more tools I've missed out on

    Tuesday, 24 November 2009

    JISC online conference 2009

    I've just been into the first day of the conference. Very interesting keynotes, and discussions taking place.  Plus there's a "have a go" area full of useful resources and demonstrations.  Thought I'd share some of those with you;

    • The EVOLUTION project - reusable materials

    The JISC funded EVOLUTION project is an Open Educational Resources project that is disaggregating existing materials so they may be re-used and re-purposedfor different contexts or pedagogies. Click here to listen to a talk about the project and the materials available. If you would like to download the materials for review than please register to use the materials on our repository at Open to UK HE only!

    •  LexDis - student participation, issues and strategies
    This project, with the help of students, explored successful 'e-skills' and supporting strategies, including the use of assistive technologies introduced by e-learning and Web 2.0 type services such as blogs, wikis, social networks and mobile technologies. The outcome has been the development of an online database with student strategies, explanations about the technologies used and a series of one page guides with print versions. The latter have been provided to encourage staff to develop accessible teaching and learning materials. Some link to the work of JISC TechDis Accessibility essentials and all have links to further resources.

    • The Design Studio: a curriculum design and delivery toolkit

    The newly launched Design Studio is a developing dynamic web-based toolkit hosted by JISC infoNet which draws together a range of existing and developing resources around curriculum design and delivery and the role technology plays in supporting these processes and practices. The Studio will provide access to project outcomes and outputs from the JISC Curriculum Design and Delivery programmes as they are developed and will continue to be sustained as a community resource after the programmes end. A curriculum lifecycle concept provides a structure for this wiki-based resource and the primary portal to materials whilst tagging provides flexible entry levels to information based on e.g. themes, technologies and subject areas. This is a recorded (not live!) tour in Elluminate. Click to view the recording. Access the curriculum change document that accompanies this resource.

    • JISC Digital Media videos

    These are videos covering a range of topics, including those of interest to teaching and learning:

    • Internet for Image Searching

    This is a practical tool for learning how to use the Internet to find copyright cleared images to support learning and teaching. The link below takes you to an online tutorial about the tool.

    • The Phoebe Pedagogy Planner tool

    Phoebe is a pedagogy planner tool, designed to help teachers create learning experiences that are motivating and productive for both their students and themselves. It comprises a simple authoring environment and extensive guidance on teaching and learning with digital technologies. Phoebe was developed from 2006-2008 by a team from the University of Oxford, with funding from the JISC Design for Learning programme.

    About Phoebe:
    Exploring Phoebe:
    • You might also like to visit the website of the LDSE project, on which we are now working with colleagues from five other institutions.

    Monday, 23 November 2009


    Richard Lambert talks to the BBC about research and innovation

    This post is all about initiatives to open up the silos of traditional academic research, by taking advantage of what the web can offer. I'll cover drivers, current projects and moves towards a new open way of sharing using the Web 2.0 ethos. The Times Higher supplement called "The Data Revolution" also covers this subject.

    ...'Supporting the science community and maintaining our excellent research base is critical to the UK's future economic growth and prosperity. This is why the government will invest a record level of almost £6 billion in UK science and research by 2011.' ......

    So says Lord Drayson in the latest JISC Inform publication which is loaded with some interesting articles on moving research firmly into the 21st C. There is a article & podcast by Professor Robert Darnton of Harvard University discussing their move to an Open Access policy.

    JISC are also spending 10 Mi££ion on a 3 year e-research programme.

    For those who are ne wto this area of Open Access, there was an open access week – supported online @ URL: , plus this 2007 paper on THE EMERGENCE OF OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES, will help contextualise the subject.

    I've collated a number of established & new Open Access / research portals and repositories to give you an idea what innovations are already in operation;

    Methods of giving busy academics "Web 2.0" spaces to share and collaborate over research projects are gaining popularity. Here are some I've stumbled across recently;

    This 21st century open (web 2.0) ethos of sharing and collaborating is exemplified in the real world examples in the wikinomics (free ebook), of how modern business is responding and exploiting the networking afforded by Web 2.o social tools. And, if you want to get some pointers into communities of practice collaborating online, this new (free ebook) called The Art of the Community will help.

    Friday, 20 November 2009

    highly ambitious?

    The most interesting comment is the reference to ensuring a rich IT infrastructure can help to provide a collaborative and quality provision in these tough times. Hurrah for e-learning?

    Recently Peter Mandleson released the Higher Ambitions framework . As it states

    "The higher education blueprint, Higher Ambitions, sets out a course for how universities can remain world class, providing the nation with the high level skills needed to remain competitive, while continuing to attract the brightest students and researchers."

     The QAA has added its support by stating

    "The framework challenges QAA to develop further its work in three key areas: the student experience of higher education; public assurance of quality and standards; and robust arrangements for dealing with complaints."

    "In my view, before very long, the cost effectiveness bar will rise so that only colleges with strong leadership and management will thrive. The incentive for those that do will be more autonomy - for those that do not, we will act decisively to encourage better performance and if necessary, to insist on new governance and management."

    Tho' not all of academia share Lord Mandelson's views!  recent letters by highly regarded academics to the Guardian, responding to the new framework, are less than complimentary.

    This is my favourite:

    "In my experience, the two main obstacles to good teaching are bureaucracy and research. Maybe the government should require universities to release figures of how much time their staff spend filling forms, attending meetings, compiling reports and responding to initiatives. As for research, the situation is quite simple. Since the inception of the research assessment exercise, the majority of academics in the UK are obsessed with publications on which academic careers are built at the expense of teaching. There has been a proliferation of academic journals making profits for publishers on the back of "free" academic time. A large part of this published work goes entirely unread and unnoticed. If the government wants to enhance the quality of teaching in universities, there is a simple way: scrap the research assessment exercise."

    Professor Yiannis Gabriel
    School of management, University of Bath

    my opinion>>> Is it not time we spent some money on conducting a series meta analysis of the vast swathes of research done so far?

    ILT research & bids

    Technological innovation in universities in the UK has been supported by
    the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). In its role as a university think-tank, million+ has investigated the impact of funding awards from JISC to 28 UK universities over a six-year period. Published October 2009. Download the report from

    To overcome barriers in achieving JISC funding, it was suggested that a single named
    person in each HEI be identified to ensure effective communications between the HEI
    and JISC, thus offering the potential for more constructive feedback to be given over a
    period of time, which could be assimilated and disseminated within that institution. For the future, it is clear from our research that collaborative working between universities
    is likely to be crucial, to maximise co-learning and to ensure cost-effectiveness.

    • Many of the project teams were successful in obtaining further funding or generated associated projects (36% of the case studies).

    • those HEIs which have a formal or co-ordinated approach to responding to calls for bids, with appropriate facilities and staff, tended to have a higher likelihood of obtaining JISC funding.

    • My observations : what about those who have problems in obtaining funds!!  I have often been on the receiving end of comments hinting at a "closed shop", and "the same old faces"! But as one very successful JISC project bidder pointed out to me, "it's (the bid calls) not a secret - all you have to do is keep an eye on the JISC funding road map." 

    And more importantly he said  "bid for projects to ensure that they align with existing internal project proposals.  So in effect you are getting money for what was part of your ILT strategy anyway."

    Often organisations fall down by not placing enough emphasis on the planning and management of sed plans , etc. i.e they either underestimate or under resource the project in hand.

    " Although this study did not set out to „benchmark‟ the UK against the other study countries, it is nevertheless impossible not to consider in very broad terms the UK‟s position on the world stage. Clearly the UK enjoys several key advantages: its compact size; the English language; and the UK‟s system of powerful central government to name but three. JISC is seen by other countries as a strong centralizing force and, largely as a result of JISC‟s role, the UK is viewed as being a leading player in most areas of e-Learning and e-Infrastructure development. Various reviews of specific areas of e-Learning and e-Infrastructure identify the UK as amongst the leaders in areas such as digitisation, data repositories and co-ordinated Web 2.0 enablement strategies, paving the way for the opportunities it opens up to be successfully and consistently introduced into learning and teaching practices."

    Useful bidding resources

    Monday, 16 November 2009

    second lifers

    A couple of weeks ago two RSC staff held an "in-house" Second life training/awareness session for UK RSc staff. The event was very well organised, as you can see from  the event images.

    A whole range of basic SL skills and uses of SL were demonstrated and experienced by delegates.  If you are thinking of running your own CPD sessions, contact Jane Edwards of JISC RSC West Midlands for some advice.

    Tuesday, 10 November 2009

    eportfolio book review

    Electronic Portfolios: Personal Information, Personal Development and Personal Values.
    Electronic Portfolios: Personal Information, Personal Development and Personal Values.

    This book was written by Simon Grant of JISC CETIS fame, covers all things eportfolio.  It’s a very easy book to digest for senior managers, and practitioners alike who need to know, “just what is an eportfolio, and why and what would we need it for”? Dip into the bits you need and pass it onto others.
    The book begins with an overview of current thinking; by identify 4 primary areas of use;

    Ref:  (see BECTA video which also explains these areas – link on above page).
    Simon then complements the above areas of eportfolio “use” with 3 primary principles, namely;

    1. Purpose – usually very specific (assessment, reflection, CPD, PDP, etc);

    2.    Information – personalised – which is the underlying message of the book. The eportfolio owner chooses to share the contents with whomever and whenever they choose;

    3.    Functionality – what bells and whistles can the platforms offer? Or indeed what kind of learning approach is afforded by its interface + feature set.

    Simon argues that if we remove any of these 3 pillars, our ability to understand eportfolio based learning and try and implement or support it becomes implausible. 

    The book is fronted by a chapter on typical scenarios which help to contextualise all of the possible uses of an eportfolio that are currently being implemented in academic, work, and professional (CPD) areas.  These scenarios help to set the scene and guide readers through this daunting subject area. 

    The book does not purport to give you the answer to which platform to choose, but it does give a well thought out set of guides, underlying principles, and current practice, that will help inform all interested stakeholders.
    See also:

    • ‘Study on the role of e-portfolios in formative and summative assessment practices’ by a team led by the Centre of Recording Achievement, is now available from:

    (this paper explores the use of ePortfolio tools to support teaching, learning and the personal and professional development of postgraduate students at the Institute of Education (IOE). The needs of tutors and students are considered alongside the affordances and limitations of specific tools in relation to these needs.)

    Monday, 2 November 2009

    sound of the cloud

    heupdateoct09  by  mhawksey]

    This post covers a new experiment of ours with soundcloud   audio web site.

    You can see by the above embedded audio waveform, we've added our monthly podcast to  This allows registered users to add comments onto an audio podcast at specific points.

    kineo-interview by mhawksey

    As well as our usual e-learning musings I had the chance to speak to  Mr Stuart Chadwick who is a solutions architect for the award winning e-learning company Kineo.  Stuart discusses their rapid e-learning ethos and tools, plus Kineo services to customise Open Source applicatons such as Moodle. Click here for the full interview

    p.s. We have been trying to keep our monthly musing below 30 mins - but have lasped back to a brain bursting 39 mins'! My fault. Must try harder next month.  Even 30 min's is considered too long in some circumstances!  I've just read a paper from the ALT-J  called "The value of using short-format podcasts to enhance learning and teaching", in which the study looked at podcasts at varying lengths - anywhere between 3 -  to a mammoth 8 minutes!  Interesting paper covering the pedagogy and perceived advantages of podcasts for learning.

    Wednesday, 28 October 2009

    creative tinkering

    Steampunk Aural Enhancer, from

     A few ideas to get those creative juices flowing;

    stumbled across the latest flip animation festival (5th Nov 09) offering all sorts of events around the subject of animation.

    • Flip is an eclectic mix of all things animation. Based in the heart of the Midlands the festival provides a wide range of experiences from educational workshops for young people to experimental animation for grown ups; from industry led panels to feature film screenings and from international showcases and retrospectives of short films to spotlights on animation studios.  The event is located mainly in the Lighthouse media centre who also provide low cost training courses covering animation and video production, including HD.

    • One session that stuck out was a Game Design Workshop for only 5 quids!! This one day workshop, run in conjunction with Wolverhampton University’s Institute of Gaming and Animation, is a great opportunity to get introduced to the X-Box XNA game platform which allows users to begin developing their own games with the free downloadable tools from Microsoft.  You can download and tinker with the X-Box XNA developers kit to create your own games.

    • Whilst following links around the Lighthouse media centre I discovered "Mediabox", the fund that offers 13-19 year olds the chance to create their own media projects and get their voices heard, has opened its Mix Mediabox strand. Mix Mediabox enables organisations working within the community to apply for grants of between £5,000 - £20,000 for youth-led media projects that explore the theme of community cohesion. 

    So essentially you bid for funds to create fun and interesting productions using film, animation, etc.  The videos already produced are inspriing stuff. Mix Mediabox is open to registered charities, trusts, local authorities and unincorporated associations.

    • On the subject of tinkering I also came across a website called , which is a design studio that builds interactive products, spaces and events that bridge the physical and the digital. They've got some excellent ideas and event running. Including the Arduino workshops.  I was intrigued to discover that Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.
    So it could be used to teach product design engineering, electronics, etc, in schools, colleges & Universities?  So you've got free games developers kits and free eletcronics prototyping gubbins :O)... In fact this Wired artcle lists some of the more popular (and) free programming and games platforms.

    • To further inspire you take a look at one of my favourite sites : instructables.  It's what the web is for !O).  See top image

    Friday, 23 October 2009

    self e-generating

      Are you a learning provider who wants to implement a ICT across your organisation? If so, a number of toolkits and services exist that can be used to help benchmark you, and move your (ILT) strategy forward.  We also run an engaging free change management workshop to help bring all staff along the e-learning journey with you.

      The JSIC RSCs have been running these services for a number of years now for various areas including ACL, WBL, and FE in general.  A typical list of services that "we" use can be located on our strategy and management pages, and more specifically the eprogrees review link lists our range of services (pdf).

      All JISC Regional Support Centres are running Generator workshops currently, as part of the big BECTa push to get learning proividers engaged in the self evaluation process.

      ACL and WBL have had the eLPS and  WeLPS tools out for a while now, which are specifically aimed at those sectors - see also the pdf link above.

      A couple of similar tools I recently located my also help embed your e-learning endeavours and change cultures are;

      On a related note, if you have implemented an e-learning tool/platform/pilot project, etc, into your organisation, you should always evaluate its effectiveness. This could also be true for any training undertaken.  There are some frameworks that exist to help you convince SMT that the ROI is /was worthy?

      Thursday, 22 October 2009

      we have an issuu

      Today I was experimenting with a free online publishing tool - issuu. It's was a (free) snip to sign up. I uploaded a Word 2003 doc ( no *.docx allowed!) and chose a few options , added keyword searches and voila- an online "e-zine" in literally minutes. The only others I've bookmarked are YUDUblurb, do you know of any similar?  I've been aware of these tools for a while, but not really tried any, until today.

      Friday, 16 October 2009

      knol is king

      Whilst wandering around the research information network website (RIN)+ associated blogs today I noticed Google knol! More about that later, first the RIN portal.

      The is an invaulable resource for those whishing to build up their research skills by by ensuring their CPD is research informed. We call it "scholary activity" for HE or HE in FE tutors. The RIN (supported by JISC) website and publications cover the entire specturm of communicating knowledge for UK researchers.  Articles cover publishing platfroms, and collaborative papers to name but a few. A linked web portal VITAE also promotes CPD and research across the HE landscape. VITAE, has plenty of resource to download.

      Now, back to Google Knol ... As Branwen states " the site enables one to post defined units of information on any topic you wish. One of the interesting things the site enables you to do is state if you trust the individual to be an expert on the topic or agree that the document cite adequate and reliable references to support its claims. These ratings get converted to a rating system, which helps you figure out if the information is accurate and worth reading. As with all things Web 2.0 one can leave comments and discussions ensue."

      So this is a neat attempt to utilise web 2.0 ethos and collaborative platforms to enable a trusted system of peer reviewing knowledge.  Nice idea.  I'm sure there are others around?


      This idea is not too disimilar to the web 2.0 ethic of user participation of a new music site I stumbled across yesterday. .  This allows budding DJ's or artists to upoad tunes or full mixes, that can be commented upon (see image above).  Now if we uploaded a lecture podcast, our students could then make comments :OD... or visa versa. Students could submit an assessment in audio firmat & it could be commented upon by peers or tutors.  Neat eh?