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 www.employability.org.uk. 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 https://sas.elluminate.com/mrtbl?suid=M.257864C26A4F22C5EE6DB9B8A536AD 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:  http://vimeo.com/user2187259/videos

  • 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. http://www.vts.intute.ac.uk/tutorial/imagesearching/

  • 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: http://www.openaccessweek.org/ , 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: http://wiki.rscwmsystems.org.uk/index.php/Eportfolios  (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: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning/eportfolios/studyontheroleofeportfolios.aspx

(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 www.soundcloud.com.  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.