Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Online learning design

Creative commons cleared image from FlickrCC

I was recently asked by a local College advice on redesigning curriculum to move towards a blended delivery. I have collated a set of useful resources on this subject into three categories for your perusal;

Blended learning design

Purely online delivery


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

OSS Roolz

"We want Open Source Solutions (OSS)" say the kids.

Well, actually the schools are saying this - now backed by BECTa. A recent BBC report outlines the recent change in tack BECTa has regarding the promotion of OSS systems. You may recall that the BECTa approved supplier list seemed to favour the likes of the massive corporates (eg. Apple) and completely fail to acknowledge the meteoric rise in the adoption of OSS tools like Moodle, mediawiki, and Wordpress, to name but a few.

Yes, there are some costs and support issues to deal with as opposed to buying a usual "off the shelf" solution, but there are also more and more 3rd party companies offering to host and support the deployment of OSS tools. Covering everything from (relatively) simple software (Audacity) to fully blown Portals & CRM/CMS solutions. A local College has even taken the step of offering students the opportunity to use the FREE Open Office suite as an alternative to the bloated MS Office. Now that's forward thinking and shows that the College is aware of student voice. You can even run quite a few of these OSS applications on a memory stick. Even (sticky) Moodle!

OSSwatch the JISC service have recently run workshops on "levelling the playing field", and hopes to encourage IT directors to take OSS solutions seriously in their ITT and upgrade plans.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Excellent case studies

A plethora of new case studies has been added to the LSIS excellence gateway:

Basingstoke College of Technology needed to find a cost-effective way of ensuring its significant investment in ILT resources was made available to its students whilst continuing to operate in an aging site before the much anticipated move to its new build. In discovering and implementing the Gyro Suite, the College found much more than just a low-cost alternative to the interactive whiteboard.

Seeing that Craven College's virtual learning environment had the function, Su Illingworth tried out blogging with her students to see how they would respond. The result was emphatic, with benefits to both learners and the College.

Southwark has introduced the Busbi - a low-priced, pocket-sized camcorder - to a number of curriculum areas. The Busbi offers one-button video recording and transfers video to a PC easily via a USB connection.

Derby College are undertaking a JISC-funded project in collaboration with Rolls-Royce to examine the potential of personalised assessment, in order to raise the attainment and achievement levels of learners. An important aspect of this project was the close working relationship between the college and the employer.

Three members of staff at Hugh Baird College have created a set of video resources to demonstrate joinery techniques and procedures. Learners can access the resources through touch-screen technology in the workshop environment, enabling them to revisit demonstrations when they are performing these techniques and procedures for themselves.

King George V College in Southport has developed 'Swat-It', a classroom control application which enables teachers to turn Internet and email access on and off in IT classrooms. Using the application teachers can ensure that their learners have appropriate and timely access to resources, and can provide a more effective teaching and learning environment.

This case study examines Barking College's approach to integrating, personalizing and embedding online diagnostic assessments to support teaching and learning at the College.

This case study looks at how a further education (FE) college has utilised Microsoft SharePoint software over the last two years to provide an 'all-in-one' solution for both its academic and business needs.

York College took advantage of a new build project to design new learning spaces that meet the needs of 21st century learners. This introduced a new approach to teaching and learning, centred on tutors being given their own Tablet PCs and classrooms installed with equipment they can 'dock' in to. The results give a flexible, mobile approach that allows tutors to teach in their own style.

Slough Borough Council (SBC) Lifelong Learning has developed an Excel-based electronic register that streamlines and integrates induction, initial assessment, individual learning plans (ILPs), withdrawn/retained statistics, learning outcomes and all necessary data into a single, easy-to-use spreadsheet, thus greatly reducing workload for tutors and practically eliminating data-entry errors. Oh and, by the way, it also takes the register.

Effective practice with eportfolios

We are in the process of publicising our new Midlands Eportfolio Group. This is an online virtual community for anyone in in HE, FE, Adult and community learning, and work based learning. If you are a pracitioner, piloting a project, evaluating options, or trawling the web to find like minded practitioners. We hope this fledgling community can help all those interested.

We are concentrating on the Midlands area so we can provide effective support. This community is being launched online, but the hope is that we will run F2F events that will showcase effective practice. Join our Google group here :

On that note, I have information of three FREE eportfolio workshops due very soon at Aston University. The first (Feb 19th) is a promotion of the JISC eportolfio infokit launched September last year, and the other two (Feb 24,25th) are discussing eportfolio interoperability and organisational issues. Book now to avoid disapointment.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

no e-learning anyone?

A new Ofstead report tells us what we knew already! i.e. best practice on the deployment and use of College ( and Universities) VLEs is very patchy and contained in pockets nationally. This is often the result of the lone enthusiast (Fred in the shed), attempting to bring others along the e-learning road. Large scale organisational effective use of VLEs is woefully absent from the report. The BBC and Seb Schmoller summarises the report & reccomendations in his blog. This latest report confirms findings from a previous Becta report released in March 2008.

Oh very dear - perhaps the VLE is dead and we should all move to e-portfolios then? Or maybe stictch together a few web 2.0 apps to make a pseudo VLE (like Mike Wesch has done)? Or spend some money on staff development - fora change.

On a more positive note, there is a new initiative to "train the trainers" along the lines of the adult and community learning e-guides. These PDA's are going to help champion e-learning inside organisations.

read on >>

Programme launch conference - 5/2/2009

[Deadline 29/1/2009]

National launch conference – Thursday 5 February 2009

Russell Hotel, Russell Square, London WC1N 1DB

With a choice of 20 workshops, and with keynote speeches from Roger McClure, Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), and from Toni Fazaeli, Chief Executive of the Institute for Learning (IfL).

Organised by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and BDP Learning, with a consortium of FE partners, and building on QIA and ALT’s outstandingly successful "e-learning practitioner" conferences held in 2005 and 2007.

Book for this free event from by no later than 17.00 on Thursday 29 January 2009.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Open learning anyone?

Copyright cleared Recycle image sourced from FlickrCC

I just stumbled across the call to bid for the OER programme > Please read on.

If you would like to know what others have done in the past to create "open resources", then please browse through the high quality resources (entire courses) created by a consortia of top USA Universities. Theirs are called"Open Courseware." Or more recently in the UK the OU also decided to give away their resources in the shape of "Open Learn." This approach has been discussed in great depth in the last two years. The OU even encourage you to download their course materials and repurpose them using their Lab. Also a couple of wiki sites also discuss the terminology Open content and offer resources to reuse.

This is in part a response to one of those DIUS 9 strands to improve UK HE to compete in an ever shrinking global market. But what I find slightly sad is that the general consensus of opinion seems to concur that to improve our (HE) standing globally, all we need to do is to produce top quality resources? What about altering the pedagogy first, to exploit new ways of communicating & learning?

Bidding for the Open Educational Resources (OER) programme is now open.

In partnership with the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), we (HEA) will be running a pilot programme to support the release of existing educational resources. The goal of the programme is to make a wide range of learning resources freely available and easily discoverable so that they may be routinely re-used by both educators and learners. There will be three separate project strands to the pilot programme:

  • Institutional: resources released across an entire institution
(Total funding of £1.50 million available, up to £250,000 per project)
  • Individual: resources released by individual academic staff
(Total funding of £200,000 available, up to £20,000 per project)
  • Subject: resources released by departments, faculties and schools within a variety of institutions, supported by Academy Subject Centres and Professional Bodies or subject associations
(Total funding of £3 million available, up to £250,000 per project)

A community briefing event will be held on 26 January 2009 at Aston University in Birmingham, which will enable potential bidders to find out more about the funding opportunities associated with this call.

The deadline for proposals in response to this call is 12:00 noon on 4 March 2009.

For further information and the bidding documentation, please visit the following link: