Tuesday, 24 February 2009

old skool?

A brief (and incomplete) snapshot of the past 100+ years of educational technology! The technology has moved on - little else has!!

Friday, 20 February 2009

21st Century learning

Yesterday I helped facilitate the Birmingham leg of the 4 workshops that are publicising the new JISC Infonet Infokit, the comprehensive online guide to eportfolio implementation and use.

The 4 workshops are designed to help delegates scope out possibilities and hone down organisation requirements for the use of eportfolios. We want to ensure lessons have been learned from VLE implementations, i.e. establish pedagogic and organisational drivers + support, before choosing a system. NOT – "let's get a system , now what do we do with it?"

A mixture of presentations, discussions, hands on experimentation of 4 tools ( Pebble Pad, Wordpress, Epet, and Mahara) made the day engaging and allowed for sharing of ideas. I thought the day went very well, and elicited some effective practice and vision for what a lifelong learning eportfolio could be. I had chance to interact with some of my contacts across the Midlands, and discovered that there is a wealth of innovative embedded practice and embryonic pilot studies.

The day was organised and by Dave Hartland (Netskills), chaired by its instigator Lisa Gray (JISC programme manager), and facilitated by Helen Richardson (CETIS & Centre for recording achievement), Emma Purnell ( researcher Wolverhamton Uni) & me :O). Presenters from Telford TCAT (Initial teacher training) and Wolverhamptoin Uni (Midwifery) provided us with exemplars of organisational embedding of eportfolios.

Towards the end Lisa ran through some of the issues that have been raised during the synthesis of the JISC funded projects that form the infokit and glossy publication:

Issues raised:

  • Interoperability – standards for lifelong learning/the new learner number – ( the elephant in the room!)
  • Portability – learners perspective – linking between assets (the connectivity / the process)
  • Also portability from schools to HE (diplomas, new types of skills assessments)
  • Change of practice – from F2F to online & also marking assessments online - change management issues
  • Staff engagement – support (time) & IT support
  • Resourcing issues – ie. "this tool does not match what I wanted, what now?"
  • Scaffolding the learning process by using simple frameworks ( CV builder or Driscoll) giving students something to begin with, rather than a blank canvas.
  • Plymouth Uni piloting the support of eportfolio for Lifelong learning – linking it to Alumni. Benefit to attracting back to post grad courses.
  • Funding for space for folios (especially FE)
  • Bandwidth for viewing video
  • Hosted solutions for cashed strapped organisations are a viable solution
  • Green issues – less paper = lower carbon footprint.
  • Front end skills of staff and students learning how to use the system – needs high consideration.
  • Copyright issues around the use of assets.
  • Engaging staff & students :
    • Strong supportive mangers
    • Strong VLE management support
    • Get staff to use eportfolios – via HR dept – they will then see value
      • See also Geoff Rebbeck @ Thanet College – staff first – then students
    • Identify the need first – pedagogy / Teaching & learning first
    • Use research to back up evidence to SMT
    • SMT want to know if it improves QA & generates or saves money.
    • Employ champions to cascade training via focussed workshops
    • Small steps – following pilots with enthusiasts
    • Pre course IT days for students – learn how to use the system before the course begins
    • Handy tips and hints (training materials) for staff & students

We are in the process of developing a Midlands community of practice focussing on eportfolios. 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 :

Additional information on eportfolios including case studies and conference papers:

Monday, 16 February 2009

Out of its Box!

"The Box", is the new CD Rom that educators can use to help the, plan and manage their projects. It's a brand new resource given away by JISC infonet to promote their new'ish Infokit called P3M - which covers

  1. Portfolio Management?
  2. Programme Management?
  3. Project Management?

The CD contains a suite of tools (mostly Word docs) that are templates to use for the following areas of project start up, management, and finally closure. The areas covered are;

  • Setting the business case
  • Project initiation document
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Risk management
  • Risk assessment
  • A project controls database
  • Change request form
  • Post project review

During our recent bid writing event (where you can find some excellent tips), comments were made from the presenters regarding the lack of basic project management skills in some bids – inevitably resulting in their failure. If that's a weakness in your team, this little box of trix – may help upskill and keep that (funded) project on track.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Is it a red day or a green day?

creative commons cleared image

The elearning diet: Not recommended for long term results!!

Like the Atkins diet, numerous boybands and the dot com bubble, is elearning no more than just a passing fad? Rob Chapman pulls no punches in this outspoken opinion piece about the fate of the elearning industry.

To obtain another view of what e-learning can offer your organisation access this neat little interactive flash movie containing comments from industry elearning bods.

The above company Kineo also offer rapid elearning solutions , using tools such as articulate as well as Moodle or dokeos hosting and customisation

(like re-skinning and linking to MIS systems).

Widening participation

I was given a copy of an internal report by John Harvey Of Actiononaccess last May regarding a small survey on 3 Colleges delivering HE in 2008. These 3 Midlands based Colleges typified the diverse demographics, catchment, management, funding and partnerships between HEIs. I've been wondering how to promote this short report, and now seems quite prescient (see latest HEFCE call below). The report looked at how the recent HE strategies have included and embraced the WP agenda. Again some were already fully engaged with WP and others are weaving it into their internal and external progression plans. Complex funding and partnerships issues were common for HE in FE delivery, but the overall picture was positive. Generally effort seems to be ploughed into more Foundation degrees, closer employer engagement and enhanced support and awareness for internal progression. Also the use of the national HEFCE initiatives Life Long learning networks appear to be helping this remit. It was recognised that the FE Colleges were providing quality, flexible, and vocational study routes to students, responding to local employer needs. John tells me the report is on their site, but will also be included on the HEFCE 2009 HE in FE Best practice page – when it appears? In the meanwhile have a browse around their website, and in particular the reports on transferable practice.

In a post in August 08 I mentioned the two tools that were developed to help access to HE, namely ;

"...provide a significant voice in supporting the delivery of HE in FE, supporting the enhancement of its quality, and providing advice to individual

agencies and to education institutions as to how practice can be developed. It provides a non-partisan platform for member organisations to bring issues to

meetings to discuss and will, in the next 12 months, commence a series of workshops to focus on individual topics."

Our local ACP is based at Wolverhampton University, headed up by Ian Hart, Associate Dean, Education Partnerships.

  • Recent HEFCE Request for widening participation strategic assessments

This document requests higher education institutions and further education colleges directly funded by HEFCE to submit widening participation strategic assessments. It outlines the reporting framework and provides guidance that sets out the expectations of HEFCE and the Office for Fair Access. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/2009/09_01/ . Assessments should be submitted by Tuesday 30 June 2009.

Thursday, 12 February 2009


Delivering streaming video media safely and securly via your College or Uni learning environment has just got easier. Read on. The Learning and Skills Network has introduced MoLeTV which will be targeted primarily to colleges in England, under the auspices of the Learning and Skills Council. Find other Molenet resources including the new mobile technologies resources on the molenet site.

Use of this new digital media site enables registered users to upload media in most of the common formats. 'Uploaders' are able to edit and delete their content at any time.

What are the benefits of using this service?

• Promotion of curriculum content and sharing good practice
• media automatically 'streams'
• often a smaller file size
• video is converted to a variety of formats and is accessible to VLE's such as Moodle, websites, mobile devices and PDAs using the embed code and/or download links as appropriate.
• is curriculum relevant
• is primarily UK based resources
• is divided into Learning and Skills Council (LSC) categories
• saves uploading media to your college servers
• saves on back-up time for large files
• embeds as flash media and saves trouble with plug-ins for other formats cross-platform (Windows, Linux and Macintosh)
• helps stop staff uploading large AVI files to your server! (although only AVIs with specific codecs will convert)
• has RSS feeds
• will link to iTunes
• can upload podcasts and vodcasts

The website is now available at http://www.moletv.org.uk. Users can create an account on the site (login area) which will allow them to upload media.

Did you know that there is also an excellence gateway TV "channel"? Well here's an example http://excellence.qia.org.uk/page.aspx?o=170188


I prefer to use the free service vimeo to host and stream my vodcasts. It's excellent quality, and does not compress the video as much as Youtube does. Resulting in a higher quality video clip. Can't always be sure of the quality of delivery tho?

STOP PRESS >>>>>>> RSCtv <<<<<<<<<<<<<
Not strictly TV, but nearly! There are a number of brilliant, free, online events for teaching and learning with technology being hosted by RSC Scotland South West over the next few weeks. I have been given permission to promote the events below to the West Midlands learning providers. All you need is a web browser to get involved - it's all ONLINE.

17th February 2009 - RSCtv: Using Blogs for teaching and learning

Login to RSCtv to find out more about blogging and how it can be applied to learning and teaching. http://www.rsc-sw-scotland.ac.uk/events.htm#Feb17

3rd March 2009 - RSCtv: Using Voting Systems for teaching and learning
It will focus how creating stand-alone tests, adding interaction to presentations, and how they can be used to analyse student understanding. http://www.rsc-sw-scotland.ac.uk/events.htm#Mar03

31st March 2009 - RSCtv: Mobile Technologies for teaching and learning
This RSCtv session will outline advantages to be gained, the possibilities for the application of mobile technologies for Learning & Teaching and will also highlight some of the issues that need consideration by learning institutions
. http://www.rsc-sw-scotland.ac.uk/events.htm#Mar31

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

HEFCE best practice (HEinFE)

The 2009 completely revised version of this new 200 page document was given out at the QAA/HEA conference on Jan 30th. It features case studies of Colleges, partnerships and consortia exhibiting best practice covering all aspects of HE in FE delivery. Apparently it's on the HEFCE website to download? We were given a Word document to take away. I've skimmed through it very quickly to pick out West Midlands specifice exemplars (see below).

Before We get to that information, it was revealed that
ALL FE Colleges must have a HE strategy in place by next year (submit by autumn). A guide is out Feb 2009 to work with. Colleges with over 100 FTEs must submit by end of June 09. A web based form will be out ( HEFCE Anne Thompsom – Sheffield Uni) by April to help with writing strategies.

Ann Thompson made call to FE Colleges to submit exemplars of HE strategy to help put the guide together.

By June 2009 all colleges must submit a HE strategic assessment


West Midlands specific exemplars if HEinFE best practice:

3.3 Categorising HE students: Distinction between full-time and part-time programmes

  • Newcastle-under-Lyme College

Course management – roles and responsibilities

With the development of foundation degrees and increased employer-related activities, the college’s School of Art has created a management role to develop and implement a strategy to ensure clarity about what ‘employer engagement’ means at different programme levels across diverse HE/FE provision

4.2 Common features of successful partnerships

  • Staffordshire University Regional Federation (SURF)

SURF is a HEFCE-recognised funding consortium established in 2000, primarily to increase higher education provision through FECs so that students can study where they live and/or work. SURF comprises all nine FECs in Staffordshire and two Shropshire colleges, with Staffordshire University as the lead institution.

Essentially, SURF is a mini ‘funding council’. Student numbers can be moved between colleges, reflecting changes in the popularity of courses and colleges’ plans for HE growth. The SURF funding model is simple and transparent. Colleges receive 85 per cent of the HEFCE grant and fee income for all Staffordshire University validated HE awards, including any residual direct Edexcel awards. The university retains 15 per cent.

4.4 Working with employers

  • Worcester College of Technology was one of the first further education colleges to receive support from HEFCE for workforce development

Worcester College of Technology and the Institute of Payroll Professionals (IPP) – a co-funded partnership. The college has worked with the IPP for the past 15 years as sole provider of the IPP’s range of further education level 3 and 4 BTEC qualifications for over 900 part-time students. The students are located around the country and work in a payroll capacity for the private and public sectors.

  • Staffordshire University and Stoke on Trent College

Project: Transforming the HE landscape: developing a business centre in the Stoke on Trent University Quarter


  • Warwickshire College

Assessment of work-based learning (WBL)

  • Matthew Boulton College (MBC)

College and university responsibilities for quality assurance of assessment.

  • South Birmingham College

Press release:

HND/C Business and Management students have been challenged to come up with business proposals to help the Digbeth-based Indoor, Outdoor and Rag Markets meet the changing needs of the consumer. The students will present their proposals to a Dragon’s Den-style panel made up of top bosses from the college, Birmingham City Council and Retail Birmingham.

Enhancing learning and teaching -staff developement

  • Warwickshire College

Warwickshire College holds an HE conference three times a year. This day event includes plenaries and a range of workshops. The conference is open to all staff in the college who teach or support HE courses. The plenary sessions usually provide updates on key policies and developments, both nationally (such as IQER or the NSS) and at college level (including PDP, marketing and quality issues).

9.4 The Higher Education Academy

  • Solihull College

HE in FE enhancement – working with the Higher Education Academy

Through a one day per week secondment arrangement, Solihull College’s HE curriculum development manager works with the senior adviser for HE in FE at the HEA and manages the teaching, learning and enhancement strand.

9.6 Developing a research culture

  • Warwickshire College Research Group

Warwickshire College has set up a Research Group, and a proportion of the college’s HEFCE TQEF is earmarked to support research projects. Staff are invited to bid for funds for small-scale research projects.

Managing HE quality and standards in the college

  • Staffordshire University Regional Federation (SURF)

Flexible Learning Approvals Panel (FLAP). Staffordshire University has recognised the need to move swiftly in response to market demand for shorter and commercial courses. The process of approval, however, is no less rigorous.

Monday, 9 February 2009

eportfolios for starters

Two short videos that explain how & what eportfolios are in simple terms. The first is for continuing professional development use. This video is from a JISC funded project.

The second is a general overview.

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 :

Additional information on eportfolios including case studies and conference papers: