Monday, 26 April 2010

irubric & rcampus

After trawling through another of my regular Google Alerts on e-portfolios this link caught my eye.  It began as an interesting link to a web based tool to create a set of rubrics for assessing e-portoflios: called irubric . Very neat idea, for those just embarking on the use of assessed e-portfolios.  And for those (like me) who are not exactly sure what a rubric is :
 rubric is a scoring tool that's generally used for subjective and authentic assessments. In subjective assessments, rubrics help create a certain level of objectivity. As a result, learners are more clear about the expectations prior to assessment and are clear about their areas of weakness and strength after the assessment. In authentic assessments (which are usually subjective), rubrics help educators communicate and assess levels of performance.

Moving on to Rcampus - from the above irubric pages, I noted that they host e-portfolios and courses (like a VLE) all for free :OD - why pay more?   Looks V good (at first glance)  For more info watch the vid : 

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

distance nursing

At last, a positive report on a real success story of how distance learning can really make a difference to education. Lead by the UK's most experienced distance learning organisation.  Take note all - distance learning actually works if well designed (using synchronous + asynchronous modes) and very well supported.

Read the full story.>>>>>>>>>>

"...The quality and consistency of support provided on distance-learning programmes is crucial to minimise dropout rates. On the OU nursing course, students are assigned a tutor for each module they take, while another supports individual students throughout their four-year period of study. OU-trained personal mentors, typically a registered nurse, support and assess students in the workplace.

"The workbooks direct your learning, but you got a tutorial every month by video link. We also met our tutor face-to-face once a month with the rest of the group," says O'May. "There were also phone tutorials, emails and online forums. It worked fantastically well."
From 2012, the OU will offer nursing degrees as part of the government's policy to make nursing training degree-standard. But entry criteria will remain the same so that healthcare workers seconded by their employers are still able to study for the degree."

Monday, 19 April 2010

LEAPing ahead

JISC have recently (March 2010) issued a new briefing paper outlining the latest advances in the LEAP2A standards.

"Leap2A is an open specification for transferring learner-owned information between different systems. e-Portfolio tools and systems are now widely used by learners to present evidence of learning, achievements and abilities for many purposes, including application for a job or university, assessment or professional accreditation. During their studies, these learners may invest significant time and effort in collecting, selecting, reflecting on and presenting the information included in their e-portfolios, so it is vital that their work doesn’t disappear or become unusable as learners move to another college, university or into the workplace."

Two large eportfolio platforms are already on board/helping to develop; Pebblepad and Mahara.

Read more and dload the paper....

while I'm on the subject of eportfolio's, there's a neat little PLE Vs VLE blog post (with commoncraft inspired video) by Steve wheeler (Plymouth Uni)

Friday, 16 April 2010

e-safety tips

I attended a very informative e-safety CPD session the other week. All based in Second Life. It was a standard type session using PPT (see below), but enhanced with some videos and peppered with live chats discussing topics in question. Thanks to Jane Edwards and Carol Rainbow for running the engaging and informative session.  We advise that organisations put some guidelines and protocols (see links below) in place for staff and students, don't just ban everything as knee jerk reaction to the onslaught of web 2.0 use. 

View more presentations from kevinbrace.
Related e-safety links:
Just passed onto me : Reading University have developed a suite of resources, (a game & exercise) that help to understand how to manage your digital identity. Called This Is Me.


Just found out that etherpad has been finally shut down - but now replaced by Titanpad.  It does exactly the same as etherpad, i.e. real time collaborative editing. Kind of like a wiki - but "live"  - scary, but fun.  

There's also - which Iwas told is now a fully Open Source version of the now defunct etherpd? Not sure of that tho'?

So also , which is also fun and works like post it notes  in your browser - again in realtime - and shared.

Nb. Google purchased etherpad technology to make google Wave. Which is nice. And I've just been informed that the old etherpad team are working on Google doc's.  Which we also like :OD

Online Learning Task Force

I've just skimmed through the March 2010 update of the HEFCE Online Learning Task Force.  Makes for some very interesting reading.  Basically it boils down to 3 things that need to be adhered to;
  • Do the market research (who is doing what well, & learn from others mistakes), the OU is obviously a good model to learn from, and conversely so was the UKeU!!  Often I see HE going "off on one", blissfully ignorant of the good practice that's gone before by others who've done this well (Ultraversity is a good model, as it Sheffield College Net trainers courses, so is Oxford Brookes, to name but a few). Professor Gilly Salmons 5 stage model & emoderators books are a good place to start.
  • "Traditional" distance courses are built around a vocational model, relying heavily on adult leaning and work based motivational needs (see also Maslow). Paper behind glass would form the basis of this experiences. This model is a cost saving model.  I'd guess very little moderator/facilitator interaction or even less peer2peer engagement.  Good online/distance learning takes time to nurture & support and promote student centred & active learning. It is not cheap, and requires skill & time to design and support. I repeat, it it not a cheap alternative to F2F delivery.

  • And finally, this interim report acknowledges that effective pedagogy and the supporting organisational infrastructure is the key to successful online/distance learning.
  • The technology is here, now all we have to do is catch up. See also USA, North America & Australia for exemplars of effective distance learning :O)

Snippets from the report.....

Online learning: the current picture in the UK....This research suggests that:

a. More should be done to provide a simple taxonomy of the wide range of
student experiences that currently fall under the broad title of ‘online distance

b. The vast majority of online distance learning offered by HEIs is focused on
postgraduate-level provision.

c. Most online distance learning can be identified as professional development,
or as having a strong vocational focus.

d. It can be challenging for potential students to find out about online distance
learning courses, with information often hidden in complex institutional web-sites.
Where details are available, they frequently fail to provide the full range of
information that a potential student needs to make a decision about studying

e. We need to improve the market intelligence available to give a clearer picture
of the position of UK online distance learning in an international context.

and further more :

We have examined what lessons the UK HE sector can learn from previous online
learning ventures, whether successful or ones that no longer exist. ...some interesting points noted so far include:

1. It is important to clarify the purpose of the venture, including a viable, robust
business model.

2. Building on existing success tends to be most effective: in general it seems
wise to grow in, and from, subject areas and markets where institutions have an
established reputation.

3. Clear leadership and ownership is required to maintain strategic focus and
avoid an attitude that online learning is an ‘add-on’ or peripheral activity.

Finally these excerpts caught my eye:

  • It is also clear that technology platforms are not a barrier to success. The OLTF does not intend to dedicate significant attention to this area. We intend to pay more attention to business models to ensure sustainability and cost-effectiveness, and to pedagogical good practice to support academic quality.
  • ...the importance of good pedagogy to the design and delivery of excellent online learning, recognising similarities and differences between on-site, blended and fully online models different organisational structures and business models that are used to support the development and expansion of online learning for the benefit of newer entrants..

Friday, 9 April 2010

E-Portfolio Watch

An eportfolio offers a rich reflective tutor/student feedback loop, which promotes effective learning. The e-portfolio continues to grab the attention of many academics in HE, FE, and Work Based Learning (WBL).  Our recent webinar on WBL1, which we ran with Stanford University covers this use of eportoflios in some depth. Their  community of practice offers a wealth of useful resources2.  Complimenting an existing VLE with an individual learning plan3 (ILP), or adding a link from VLE course to a personal e-portoflio (Mahoodle4), are now being recognised as effective practice.  Susi Peacock’s e-portfolio page5 at Queen Margarets University, reinforces the need to plan, pilot, and offer a contuining suite of support mechanisms to all stakeholders. This level of support will help to ensure a healthy adoption of e-portfolios.   E-portfolios offer efficient communication channels personalised to the learner needs, that no other “platform” has managed to crack. JISC continues to update the online infokit6 on effective practice with e-portfolios, by adding new case studies. See also our comprehensive wiki page on the subject7.

Useful links:

E-Learning lessons from the private sector

My attendance at the biggest UK coporate e-learning event earlier this year promised to be full of pragmatic tips and inside advice from companies1 still suffering from recessional induced cuts in training2 budgets.  What I discovered was a refreshing undercurrent, whereby companies are adopting new technologies, such as; Huddle3 and blogs4, to create internal knowledge sharing communites. These types of innovative approaches e.g.Dare2Share5, were spreading like a viral ad, as most in the UK are reappraising their underacheiving Learning Management Systems (LMS), or adding (free) Web 2.0 tools into the mix.  Companies such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers were making significant training savings using live webinar tools6 such as Adobe Conenct, or Elluminate.  Technolgoy is being used to save money, improve both business and training effiencies, but it’s needed a recession to literally force this! BECta7 in conjunction with the Towards Maturity project8 have released two new related reports on Work Based Learning. They both stress the importance of measuring impact9 and sharing effective practice10 to help us all implement and embed ILT effectively.

Useful links:



    Thursday, 8 April 2010

    Creating an ePortfolio with Wikispaces

    This is how to do it. Nice & easy. Web 2.0 = PLE. Why pay more, when the web does it for free. And note this is not using any HTML/scripting, it's just editing, copy , paste, insert, link. No more difficult than using a word processor. Neat solution to creating a simple e-folio :oD.. 

    I tried the same with my CMALT folio recently using the now defunct Google pages.


    The blurb of this book caught my eye, initially sounded like a rant to begin with, but looks like a useful read into the future of connected learning via the internetwork. 
    "The future lies in personal learning networks and paths, learning that blends experiential and digital approaches, and free and open-source educational models. Increasingly, you will decide what, when, where, and with whom you want to learn, and you will learn by doing. The university is the cathedral of modernity and rationality, and with our whole civilization in crisis, we are poised on the brink of a new Reformation."

    DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education

    Office Add-in for Moodle

     Just stumbled across this... what a fab idea? Does this mean we can now author some simple  (interactive)  learning objects (i.e. drag & drop) in MS Office & bang them directly up to Moodle?  Or is that a bad idea? Puts the terminology "rapid elearning" in a whole new light :OD

    The Microsoft Education Labs team have just launched the Office Add-in for Moodle (or should it be the Moodle Add-in for Office?). This launch builds upon the success of the availability of the Microsoft Live Services Plug-in for Moodle which launched last July. 

    The idea behind the add-in is simple. Now, when you got to Open or Save a file in Office 2003 or 2007, you can select to ‘Open from Moodle’ or ‘Save to Moodle’ directly. This makes it easier for your users to use Moodle natively, and hopefully will encourage them to make better use of your Moodle installation. (If you have a SharePoint-based learning platform, you get similar functionality in Office 2010)

    The “Office Add-in for Moodle”

    View Slide ShowUploading files to Moodle is now much easier.  The Office Add-in for Moodle (OAM) is an add-in for Microsoft Office (versions 2003 and 2007) that allows teachers to open and save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents to a Moodle website. Today, teachers who use Office and Moodle have to switch back and forth between their web browser and Office applications.  With the OAM, teachers can create, open, edit, and save Moodle documents from within the Office applications.  You no longer need to use your web browser when working with Office documents stored in Moodle.
    So what do you need in order to start using the add-in?  OAM does not require anything to be installed on the Moodle server (note we only tested against Moodle versions 1.8-1.9).  Anyone who is the teacher or owner of a Moodle course can install the add-in and access their documents.  Once installed, the add-in adds two menu items to your File menu (Office 2003) or the Office Button menu: Open from Moodle and Save to Moodle.  In order to browse course files on your Moodle you will need to first tell the add-in the address of your Moodle and the credentials you use to log in.  Once added you can view the list of courses you are enrolled in.  Naturally, students and others can access the content directly from Moodle as they normally would.
    We focused on teachers and content specialists first, since we know most documents posted to Moodles come from teachers. We’ve gotten some requests already about adding support for students and assignments, but we want to hear from you.  So check it out, and let the EducationLabs team know what you think and if there’s anything you want them to work on.  In order to get this beta tool in your hands right away and to get feedback before this gets fully locked down, we decided to roll this out before embarking on synchronization with other add-ins and other Moodle functionality. 

    It’s worth browsing on the Education Labs site for other projects recently released
    imageFind out more about, and download, the free Moodle add-in
    Read other posts on Moodle on this blog

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