Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Moodle on a USB Drive

My colleague had a nice free gift from Kidderminster College come through the post today – Sticky Moodle or Moodle on a stick. Well on a USB drive. Basically it was an installation of Moodle (an open source virtual learning environment) that can be run from the USB drive or from any XP or Vista computer, without installing anything and without being connected to a network.

Thought I’d share the link here because for those interested in Moodle it’s a great way to try the product if you haven’t already seen it. Using the USB drive, even established Moodle users could use this to practise with Moodle anywhere, anytime.

(If you’re new to virtual leaning environments, the E-Guides programme also looks at the use of Moodle and explains how this particular virtual learning environment can be used by Work Based Learning providers.)

If you’re an e-learning professional or manager working in Further and Higher Education institutions in the UK you can request a Sticky Moodle to be sent to you for FREE. Alternatively, you can download your own free copy of Sticky Moodle from Kidderminster College’s VLE Middleware Moodle site. You won't get a free USB stick of course, but you will get the zipped version of Sticky Moodle almost immediately. The package contains a condensed version of Moodle, together with all necessary ancillary programs (Apache, PHP and SQL). It’s all there and ready to go. It even has a demo course to get you up and running straight away.

I plan to sign up for my own right away. Suppose I’d better also give my colleague his back. (Thanks for sharing Kevin!)

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

JISC e-books Now Online

e-Books are now available from this years JISC Online Conference which looked at the impact of e-learning from an internal institutional perspective and from the view of the lifelong learner. The two e-books capture some of the feedback of this four day event and contain session presentations and papers, links to recommended resources and summaries of the discussions.

The conference mainly attracted delegates from further and higher education but touched on issues of relevance to WBL too. In the second e-book, Supporting lifelong learning (pdf format) “…Several papers addressed issues around the use of technology to support work-place learning and the transitions between institutions, as well as the use of technology to support the discovery of progression routes.”

“…Another strand focused on work-based learning and identified the issues around employer engagement and the relationships between employers and colleges. Technologies to support work-based learning and lifelong learning were discussed at length, with a consensus that the biggest challenges lay around issues of control and ownership of technologies. Student expectations and their own use of technologies were identified as significant drivers in this area.”

Both e-books can be accessed from the JISC conference site online.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Work Based Learning - Made to Measure

The latest issue of Reflect includes a special report on why workplace learning needs to be specially tailored. In the article ‘Made to measure rather than one size fits all’ Sue Southwood argues that learning providers must heed the wishes of employers and their workforce if the Leitch targets are to be met.

You can access the article online in Issue 9 (pdf format).

Reflect is the magazine of the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy. It features articles and reviews on research, policy and strategy in the areas of adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL. The magazine is available online or you can also register for a free subscription.

Blogs in Plain English

Part of the NIACE E-Guides staff development programme has recently been extended to include a section that looks at the significance and the usefulness of blogs as a tool that can support learners.

Commoncraft have also made a 3 minute video for people who wonder why blogs are such a big deal and I think that it supports this area nicely. It helps people understand why you might use a blog and how it works – in just 3 minutes. (By Lee and Satchi LeFever)

There is also a good regional example of a provider using a blog to support their learners and staff highlighted on our website. This outlines the impacts and benefits for delivery staff, assessors and learners.

(By me posting it here it also shows how easily you can embed a video in a blog. Yet another reason I’m also a keen fan of blogs myself!)

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Adult Learners' Week Awards 2008 Now Open

Do you know an adult learner whose achievements could inspire others?
Does your organisation offer a creative programme of learning that reaches out to adults?

If you know someone whose remarkable learning achievements deserve recognition and could inspire others, then why not nominate them for an Adult Learners' Week Award? Participation in Adult Learners’ Week is a great way of making people aware of the learning opportunities that you provide. And, of course, the Adult Learners’ Week Awards, are a fantastic way of recognising the achievements of your learners.

There were some great examples of learner achievements in the West Midlands highlighted in the 2007 Awards which you can learn more about here. I hope that this year we’re similarly able to highlight some of the successes achieved by learners in our region.

Everyone nominated in this years awards will receive a Certificate of Achievement, and the winners will be invited to an awards ceremony and receive a learning voucher.

Making a nomination is straightforward and easy - and can be done online or by post. Click here to nominate online. More information about the awards an be obtained on the web at or you can get get quick answers to your FAQs here.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Capital Funding for Staff Development

I’ve updated our website with details of a brand new round of capital funding that’s just been made available to WBL providers. This is for attendance on various e-learning staff development programmes that are currently being run by the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (NIACE).

WBL providers are now eligible to claim £2,500 of funding when a delegate from their organisation completes an eligible staff development programme - a great incentive for getting staff go along and discuss the potential of e-learning and to try out e-learning technologies.

You’ll find links and details of all these individual programmes on our website but I’ve also previously noted some of the activities that are covered by the E-Guides programme here. That should give you an idea of the kind of e-learning skills (and enthusiasm!) that attendees have previously come away with.

This funding is available for delegates attending on programmes that are running between 1 November 2007 and 31 August 2008 but if you’re interested in registering for any of the programmes (which I’d definately recommend) then I’d suggest you reserve your places now as places are limited! Booking details are available on our website.

Digital notepads

At a CEL Connect event earlier this year attendees were shown a number of devices which can be used for working in a mobile environment. I was particularly impressed by a digital notepad that also caught the eye of a number of people who were interested in the idea of their learners using tools like this to capture handwritten notes which they could later upload directly to a pc with minimum fuss.

This particular digital notepad, looked like an ordinary notepad and clipboard, but was a stand-alone device that has storage capability built in. It digitally captures and stores everything you write or draw with ink on ordinary paper, without the use of a computer and special paper. You can then easily view, edit, organize and share your handwritten notes in Windows (or upload to an e-portfolio if required). Files can be saved in a variety of image formats, or with additional software converted to word format for further editing.

Whilst I’m not here to endorse particular types of products I will admit to being quiet impressed by the ease of use of this tool. I now use a digital notepad myself so will be happy to outline the pros and cons in more detail to anyone who is interested in its application and/or possibilities.

Accessibility and Inclusion

This week Alison Nock, our Curriculum Advisor will be hosting another Accessibility and Inclusion Forum in our region.

The emphasis will be on examples of good practice, with the morning dedicated to short and informative 'show & tell' sessions from each of the learning providers in attendance - this could include projects or innovative ways of learning.

More details and a booking form are available on the events page of our website.

Alternatively if you’re unable to make it to the event yourself but are interested in understanding how accessibility legislation affects you and your learners you might find this previous post useful. As an 'Accessibility Overview' it has links to a number of free publications, briefing packs, staff packs and resources to further your understanding of accessibility in the WBL sector.

Intute - web resources for education

I have featured a number of free JISC services on our website that the Work Based Learning sector is now able to freely access. I thought I’d periodically choose to highlight one of them to outline how the service benefits the WBL sector; to begin with I’ll start with Intute.

Intute is a free online service providing access to handpicked web resources for education. Intute is different from general search engines (e.g. Google) because it uses a national network of subject experts to select and evaluate all the Internet resources for their quality and relevance – saving you time in finding materials you can trust. I’m finding it increasingly common for providers to have html pages of links and web based resources that support learners working in a particular area. A link to Intute would make a useful addition to these resources.

For example, let’s consider hairdressing. Here are the Google search results for hairdressing resources: approx 1,180,000 results!! That’s a lot of resources, but also a lot of filtering through to get to what you want. Now the Intute results for hairdressing: 28 unique resources each with a description, classification and url. Quite near the top of the Intute results is “Hairdressing Training - an interactive online training resource covering every area of the NVQ Level 2 syllabus including: cutting techniques; colouring techniques; styling techniques; shampooing and conditioning; drying hair; hairdressing equipment and hair care products; health and safety; and consultation and client care.”

Already you can see the difference.

You can also use Intute to set up personalised alerts for new online resources in a particular area. With sections that span Science, Engineering and Technology, Arts and Humanities, Health and Life Sciences and Social Sciences and a database of 120212 records there’s bound to be something there for everyone.

It’s worth noting that Intute is also created by the education community for the community. If you would like to suggest a website for inclusion in the database, simply send the details to the team using their online form.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Information Learning Technology (ILT) Survey Preliminary Findings

During the summer of this year, an Information Learning Technology (ILT) Questionnaire was distributed to Work Based Learning providers in the West Midlands region. Many thanks to those of you that completed and returned that. This data is already forming a very useful overview of regional requirements and should influence the kinds of support that are made available to the sector.

I have now posted a preliminary sample of some of the results so far on our website highlighting the general findings in this region.
If your organisation hasnt had chance to complete the survey yet, I would still very much welcome your feedback and hope you can contribute to the regional results. You can do this by accessing the survey electronically online using this link, or via our website where preliminary results are also posted.

Use of e-portfolios in assessment

We are discussing e-portfolios this week as tomorrow sees another RSC Practical E-Portfolios day being held jointly by West Midlands and East Midlands RSC’s. To support this I've been compiling a number of e-portfolio information and resources that I intend to add to our existing West Midlands e-portfolio pages set up by Kevin Brace.

In the near future I also intend to use these pages to share feedback from WBL providers in this region on their e-portfolio usage, but for now I wanted to draw specific attention to a single publication that I think covers e-portfolios very well.

E-Assessment: Guide to effective practice covers the use of both e-testing and the use of e-portfolios for assessment. The four UK Qualifications regulators developed the guide in consultation with awarding bodies and providers in different parts of the UK. It is intended to help staff to understand the key issues involved in using e-portfolios, put in place appropriate systems and supporting processes and ensure that people have, or acquire, the requisite skills to manage and use the systems efficiently and effectively. It also includes a series of documents containing tables, checklists, process guides and other resources that may be copied and used by WBL providers.

The guide includes a discussion of the following areas:

  • Preparing to introduce e-portfolios - Drivers, capacity to manage and skills required

  • Benefits of using e-portfolios in assessment - Assisting the assessment process

  • Key issues related to e-portfolios - Strategic issues, staff commitment and training, ownership of the e-portfolio and its content, technology issues

  • Selecting an e-portfolio system - Overall principles, initial checks, involving staff in the decision-making process

  • Functionality and fitness for purpose - Key functional requirements – summary, detailed functional requirements and issues

A copy of the full publication “e-Assessment: Guide to effective practice’ can be accessed from the EFutures website. Alternatively its section 4 on e-portfolios entitled “Use of e-portfolios in assessment” can be accessed separately here.

Monday, 26 November 2007

RSC Website - a whole new look

Notice anything different?! The RSC- West Midlands website has had a redesign.

The site (still hosted at the same address has now adopted a fresh design with the same branding as all other twelve Regional Support Centres. It now also incorporates RSS feeds allowing you to subscribe to the site to keep right up to date.

As part of its revamp, I’ve also been busy updating the Work Based Learning pages and populating these with useful links and information. I hope you continue to find these useful and that you’ll feel free to feedback on anything else you might like to see.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Sharing Learning Resources across the West Midlands

I’m often asked about sharing resources – where can providers obtain useful e-resources? Is there somewhere providers can securely store their own e-resources for their staff/learners to log in and access remotely? The answer to both is yes; there are a number of options depending on your needs. I’ll cover some of the others in later posts but for now I’d like to draw your attention to one of our exclusively regional solutions, E-Source.

What is E-Source?
E-Source is an online storage area that holds e-learning resources stored for the benefit of the post-16 education sector in the West Midlands. It is a sort of one-stop-shop which allows you to add your own resources, and to share them with your colleagues, your networks, and ultimately, with a wider group of learners. E-Source can be customized to present each provider, and even each individual with a personalized workspace where users can seek out and bring together their favourite resources, and even to upload their own resources; creating and managing their very own personalized content area – entirely free of charge.

What sort of content does it store?
E Source has word processed documents, presentations, content packages, images, video clips and other types of files. The collection is built out of your contributions, so some subjects will not have many resources and others will have plenty. As this collection is built on your contributions the more people that get involved, the better it gets.

How is it being used?
Shropshire County Council’s County Training (the largest training provider in Shropshire) is currently piloting the use of E-Source to host their learning resources and make their resources accessible remotely from across a number of sites. They chose the tool because apart from being an easily accessible learning resources repository it also opens up opportunitities to work together with other educational organisations in the West Midlands, exchange ideas and promote innovations in teaching.

How do I find out more?
If you are interested in learning more about how E-source can help you and your organisation please email me your details. Depending on numbers I’ll then either arrange either one to one visits, or a hands on training event to show you how you can benefit from the system and how it works.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Free Mobile Learning Guide

"A wide definition of mobile learning (commonly referred to as m-learning) is the ability to learn independently of place and time, facilitated by a range of mobile devices."

This free guide, the latest in a series published by Kineo and UfI explores the opportunities available for mobile learning or learning on the move. It is amined at people in the learning and training community who are keen to learn more about the potential applications and practicalities of mobile learning in their organisations.

It covers:

-What we mean by mobile learning
-Which devices can be used
-Who’s likely to use mobile learning
-Design models for mobile learning
-How three mobile learning prototypes were developed and lessons learned
-Final pointers for mobile learning

You can download the free guide on mobile learning here.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

More Learner Innovation Grants

In an earlier post I mentioned the recent release of ALP funding that was being made available to the WBL sector. (To recap, this is £2m capital investment available as Round 3 of the Association of Learning Providers Learner Innovation Grants). I just wanted to take this opportunity to remind the sector that the closing date for submission is fast approaching (22nd November) so if you have ideas for ways to promote and encourage innovation using e-learning in the delivery of work-based learning then you have just a short time left to apply.

Historically in the West Midlands we have been fairly successful with these applications. In the second round of LIG funding, the West Midlands region was allocated funding for several projects that looked at things such as the use of e-portfolios, learning platforms and online assessment, to name but a few. Hopefully we’ll see some good case studies and examples of best practice emerge from those projects as well as from the earlier Round of LIG funding. I’ll certainly share details with you as I get them.

In the meantime, it’s getting late in the day but we are also still happy to answer your queries or assist anyone who still wishes to shape their ideas and submit a bid in this round. If you need any support or guidance in this area please get in touch.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Practical E-Portfolios

Are you considering introducing e-portfolios? Do you want to find out about the range of possible solutions currently available? If so you may be interested in the upcoming “Practical E-portfolios” workshop that is being run jointly between East and West Midlands RSCs. This workshop introduces the thinking behind e-portfolios, provides a range of practical examples of their use in post-16 education and looks at the various approaches and tools available.

During the session you will also have a chance to get hands-on with a popular e-portfolio tool (PebblePad), including a demo account to experiment with. The teams will also be covering “free” (open source) e-portfolio systems and will look at related issues such as electronic Individual Learning Plans.

Places are limited but a few are still available for booking through the RSC East Midlands website.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Work Based Learning Online Toolkit Launch

Earlier this year, the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) launched its online toolkit, designed to meet the needs of work-based learning (WBL) providers. Since then they have run a series of regional launch events that offer an introduction to the WBL toolkit, and are suited to those individuals responsible for the leadership of e-learning within the organisation.

These free sessions provide an ideal opportunity to hear more about the toolkit, take a personal tour and interact with the CEL team to ask questions regarding effective e-learning implementation within your organisation. Having attended a previous one myself, I know firsthand that these sessions also offer a good opportunity to explore some of the issues associated with introducing e-learning into your organisation. The team aren’t afraid to use e-learning technology either - in the last event the use of interactive handsets for a survey of delegates proved very popular.

CEL recently reported that more than 400 WBL leaders and managers are now using the resource regularly making it a valuable resource for busy providers.

There are still a few places available for upcoming Birmingham event which will be held on Wednesday 14th November 2007. To register for a free place you can book online or phone Anne Crossley on 0870 060 3278 for further information.

Monday, 29 October 2007

EGuides - Leading by Example

Many of you will have heard me outlining the benefits of the NIACE E-Guides training programme (which is currently free to WBL staff). It aims to drive improvement in teaching and learning by increasing the effective use of e-learning.

I attended one of the sessions in Birmingham recently and was delighted to see what positive steps had already been taken by e-guides after the first 2 days training. What follows are some examples of these activities that new e-guides were reporting back on. Some had:

  • Registered a free account with survey monkey and used that for conducting online surveys.

  • Downloaded hot potatoes and used it for icebreaker activities with learners.

  • Added a new session at the end of a regular internal verifiers meeting that discusses e-learning and cascades what was learned at e-guides.

  • Used memory sticks with learners so that all their resources are portable.

  • Working on developing an ILT strategy and action plan with team and with RSC support

  • Working on installing Moodle as their Virtual Learning Environment

  • Demonstrated how to use course genie and hot potatoes to other members of staff.

  • Used voting software with groups of learners at induction.

I thought this was pretty impressive and showed that e-guides were also real enthusiasts, and were really pushing the adoption of e-learning in their organisations. (All in our region too, which just confirms what the LSC suggested - that us Midlander’s really are keen on learning!)

In the coming months I’ll be working with our new Information Officer to capture the details of some of this activity and share some of it as case studies through the QIA’s Excellence Gateway. With 83% of you requesting best practice examples I expect these will be fairly useful. In the meantime, with the e-guides programme going from strength to strength, dates have also been available for December so it’s not too late for you or your staff to sign up for regional training yourself. If you do I look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, 26 October 2007

Accessibility Overview

I attended an Accessibility Overview session yesterday run by Alison Nock, one of our E-Learning Advisors here at the RSC. It was a very good awareness raising session and reminded us why accessibility is an area of continued importance in e-learning. For example, we were reminded of the fact that…

“Whilst good e-learning strategies co-incidentally provide good accessibility solutions, these solutions need to be understood and exploited in order to convincingly ensure your organisation is adhering with the relevant disability legislation.” (TechDis)

With a number of WBL providers currently writing or revising their e-learning/ILT strategies that quote’s certainly worth noting. A number of useful resources were also signposted during the session so I thought I’d share some of them with you here.

Briefing packs
As a starting point the JISC TechDis Service recently provided Senior Managers with briefing packs on a number of technology, disability and inclusion related issues. These were designed to improve accessible teaching and learning practices. There are several of these but a good one to start with is the Senior Management Briefing 1 - e-Learning as an Accessibility Investment. This covers:

· e-Learning and Cultural Change.
· e-Learning and Accessibility.
· Accessibility and Cultural Change.
· Evidencing Practice.
· Finding Accessibility ‘Hotspots’ in e-learning Strategies.

Accessibility Essentials
Secondly the series of TechDis Accessibility Essentials demonstrates some specific ways to improve accessibility. For example:

· Creating Accessible Presentations
· Writing Accessible Electronic Documents with Microsoft® Word
· Making Electronic Documents More Readable

You can order your own free copies of these publications online. Each printed publication also contains an accompanying CD with step by step animations and all the information available to view in a variety of formats.

TechDis Staff Packs
The popular TechDis Staff Packs contain all the information needed to deliver a short staff development workshop on a number of technology and disability related issues. These training materials explore accessibility in a user friendly, non-technical way for staff working directly with learners. You can download these packs as word files or zip files online.

Effective Practice with e-Learning
Lastly, another very well received printed JISC publication - the guide ‘Effective Practice with e-Learning’ illustrates some of the key implications in designing for learning for the post-16 sector and offers an insight into how e-learning can be integrated into established practice. Case studies are illustrated by video clips to provide visual evidence of the challenges and benefits experienced in a variety of contexts across the sectors. You can download the guide or view the contents of the CD Rom online.

I hope that’s enough to get you also thinking about the importance of accessibility in e-learning and I hope that the above resources prove useful. It is certainly an area I will continue to emphasise as part of the effective implementation of e-learning in the sector.

Thanks to Alison for reminding me to remind you.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

E-Learning Materials - Free to the WBL Sector

After announcing it recently, I’m pleased to see that the launch of the NLN materials went ahead as planned, enabling the sector to now access a wealth of free interactive learning materials for teaching and learning. (Yesterday someone asked me for resources to support the delivery of training in Office Administration so it was great to be able to signpost them directly to the new site with is new interface and search facility).

It’s certainly not just ‘Office Administration’ that’s covered though! There are a large number of small, flexible 'bite-sized' episodes of e-learning designed to support a wide range of subject and topic areas. Funded by the LSC these are now also available free to the WBL sector.

Once you’ve decided on those you’d like to use there’s then the issue of how to incorporate these into your teaching. Fortunately there are also practical guides and plenty of examples of how to use the materials here. Alternatively a user guide can be accessed in Word format here.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

RSC-WM Newsletter now online

Here at the RSC we’ve been making a few changes to our communications lately. For example we will shortly be launching a brand new RSC West Midlands website (complete with RSS feeds for those of you who already use that technology).

The new site will be easier to navigate, make use of newer web based tools, and I will certainly be doing my best to keep its WBL pages right up to date with the kinds of news and information that you are requesting!

In addition to the new website we will also be hosting copies of our newsletter online making it easy for you to access, read (and share!)

The first of these, the October 2007 edition, is now available - so to find more about what we at the RSC are currenlty up to, click here to view or to download your copy.

(Worth noting – there’s still time to enter the prize puzzle draw on the back to win your MP3 player!! And being ones to practice what we preach we’ve used a freely available online puzzle maker tool to create this months "double puzzle". There’s another tool that staff can also use with your learners.)

Open Source Software – JISC keeps us informed

Today I’ve received my Autumn copy of Inform, a JISC publication which raises awareness of the use of ICT to support post 16 education in the UK. To me, this one was particularly important as it explored the use of Open Source Software, an area which is becoming increasingly important for the Work Based learning Sector.

In its article “An open and shut case” it talks more about the “…big market for an alternative to costly proprietary software that also provides long-term sustainability, a sense of community and a better fit with user needs.”

Why is this important to the WBL sector?
Open source software is already in use in most UK universities and colleges, whether in the context of mail servers, teaching systems or student desktops. It is also increasingly being considered by WBL providers who are looking to reduce licence costs as part of their ILT strategies.

As noted by JISC, this is possibly for the following reasons:

  • ‘No licence surprises. Open source software licences are free and perpetual, so a licence fee increase cannot happen.

  • No incentive for theft. With open source software students can use and copy the software legally

  • The ability to tailor the system completely to local needs.

  • With open source, if a provider needs the software customised, they can have the program changed, either in-house or by a third party’.

At a recent ALP conference, Derrin Kent, a West Midlands based consultant, delivered a presentation which showed WBL leaders how they could support their ILT strategy with Free Open Source Software (FLOSS). In this he also outlined how the use of a variety of FLOSS Applications can dramatically help WBL leaders to develop different aspects of learning delivery / business performance.

I thought his presentation was timely, because, as this article also points out, "..although institutions now have higher levels of experience of open source compared to three years ago, there remains a great deal of confusion about how providers can make the most of OSS.”

This is something we at the Regional support centre are also aware of, and we are currently planning activities that will raise awareness of the possibilities. These will also serve to highlight why it is an important consideration for the work based learning sector. I hope that you will watch this space for dates and details as they arise (or keep an eye on our brand new website's events page).

Until then the following links might also prove useful in terms of background reading (or if you have specific questions about the use of Open Source please don’t hesitate to contact me).

· Open Source Software Briefing paper

· Open Source Software Advisory Service

· Why the Guardian thinks “Ignoring open source is costing us dear

Monday, 15 October 2007

Connect – last chance to book

There are still just a few places remaining on the next Connect training programme which will be held in Birmingham on 25th October. This programme is currently free to Leaders in the Work Based Learning sector and is fully subsidised by the Quality Improvement Agency.

The purpose of the ConnecT programme is to develop information and learning technology (ILT) strategies in the work-based learning (WBL) sector and help extend and embed e-learning technology within organisations.

Individuals will:

  • Each receive a CD-ROM containing diagnostic tools, a framework for strategy development and signposting to effective practice across the WBL sector
  • Have access to CEL’s leadership learning environment (LLE) for further support and
    extensive online information.

Organisations will benefit though:

  • Raised awareness of the importance of ILT strategic management
  • Improved achievement and retention rates
  • Improved engagement of learners
  • Learning how to improve communication with its stakeholders.

For further information and to book, please contact Lydia McDowall - Centre for Excellence in Leadership by telephone, 0870 060 3278, fax 020 7222 3081 or by email.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Last chance to book for West Midlands E-Guides!

It's your last chance to book for the next round of West Midlands E-Guides training which will be held in Birmingham on 15th and 16th October 2007.

The E-Guides programme aims to increase the effective use of e-learning in the sector, by developing the skills and knowledge of E-Guides to support colleagues in their use of technology. Training consists of a three-day programme, and is aimed at all WBL staff who are involved with the delivery of learning across different subjects and areas of learning. The new training programme will be aligned with the National Teaching and Learning Change Programme (NLTCP) delivered by the Quality Improvement Agency (QIA).

There is no fee payable in attending the training, learning providers just need to commit to releasing their staff for the three day off-site training, and to cascade their newly acquired e-learning skills and knowledge to their colleagues.

Places are limited for the West Midlands events so to reserve your place email or call 0116 204 2811. Alternatively there's still just enough time to book online.

NLN Materials - Just one week to go…!

In just one weeks time WBL providers are set to benefit from simplified access to the NLN materials which are now managed by JANET(UK) in partnership with the LSC.

Funded by the LSC and now available free to the WBL sector, the NLN materials represent one of the most substantial and wide-ranging collections of e-learning materials in the UK.

The NLN Materials are small, flexible 'bite-sized' episodes of e-learning designed to support a wide range of subject and topic areas. The materials adopt a range of approaches involving some knowledge acquisition, a chance to practice and absorb, and some form of assessment to check that the learning has been understood and the learning outcomes achieved.

The new service will be fully integrated, providing a unified point of access to the materials, and supporting the entire community of NLN materials users. The new site will also include all the features currently enjoyed by the ACL community, such as collection creation, powerful search and browse, and export to virtual learning environments or CD.

The launch date is set for 18th October so I’ll be checking the new site next Thursday to get a sneaky peak at how this new arrangement might enable us to get access to high quality learning resources even easier

Monday, 1 October 2007

ALP Learning Innovation Grants (LIG) – Phase 3 Launch

The Association of Learning Providers (ALP) recently announced the launch of the Learning Innovation Grant (LIG) Round 3 with another £2m capital investment available for work based learning providers. The additional £2m (capital only) provided by the LSC follows the success of the Learning Innovation Grants (Phase 1 and 2) which ALP has already distributed to the WBL sector to engage in innovative projects.

The overall aim of LIG 3 remains the same – to promote and encourage innovation in the use of e-learning in the delivery of work-based learning. The focus is on innovations in teaching and learning that have a direct impact on improving the learning experience.

To be eligible to apply for a grant your lead organisation must be an independent WBL organisation holding an LSC contract for either Apprenticeships, Train to Gain or E2E delivery as at 1st August, 2007. In this phase applications can be made for a minimum £30,000 to a maximum £150,000. Both the ALP, and the LSC, very strongly recommend consortia bids, which will be reviewed favourably for the higher level of funding available.

From Friday 28th September 2007 you will be able to access the grant application form and prospectus online via (Learning Innovation Grant (LIG) phase 3 section). Applications must be returned no later than midday, 22 November 2007. Any queries can be emailed through to the LIG Project Office .

Friday, 21 September 2007

E-learning – what’s everyone else doing?

I’m often asked by staff to outline ‘what kind of things could we be doing with e-learning? And what are other training providers doing?

In a West Midlands-based ILT survey that I recently undertook, I also asked… “Considering the future needs of your organisation to fully embed ILT , which of the following support/training would you like?”. The results are shown below and amongst other things they highlight quite clearly the need for good practise examples of e-learning within the WBL sector (83.3% of respondents have so far requested them!).

QIAs Excellence Gateway already goes some way to address this with case studies drawn from inspections in colleges, workplaces and adult learning centres throughout England, but I thought it might also be useful to outline specific examples of what some providers are already doing both in this region and further a field.

E-Guides Case Studies - As part of the Work-based learning E-Guides pilot programme, NIACE developed a set of case studies which demonstrate the effective and innovative use of technology by those WBL provider staff that had trained as E-Guides.

Skills for Business – These case studies demonstrate the real value that exploitation of appropriate technologies can add to business performance. You can search them by sector, company size, the business issue addressed ( e.g. customer care, introducing new technologies etc) or by the specific learning technologies in use ( e.g. generic courses, bespoke training, mentoring etc).

I hope that’s enough to get you thinking about the possibilities at least. Should you be interested in reading more examples you’ll find plenty on our very own website here.

For more information on any of these projects or on ways that you too might be able to adopt e-learning in a similar way, please get in touch.

West Midlanders (and Londoners) keenest on learning and development!

For a while a short a link to this article will show up in the 'LSC latest links' on the top left hand side of this page but as a Midlander myself I feel compelled to give it that bit more attention..!

From the recent LSC press release "Diverse UK Attitudes to Learning Revealed"-

  • “A new study* by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) has revealed that over half (57%) of adults in England consider training a worthwhile investment of time and money. But this view varies regionally – according to the results those in the West Midlands are more in favour of training than the national average - at 65% - while 50% of those in the North West agree with this statement.

Further, regional differences amongst those who actually invest in training are significant, and reveal apparent North / South differences in attitudes to learning;

  • The keenest learners are in London (31%) the South East (28%) and the West Midlands (28%)

The survey also highlighted that the English are a nation of ambitious individuals;

  • Over one third (36%) are actively looking to progress more at work, while 33% are looking to get promoted
  • The West Midlands are most enthusiastic, with the figures rising to 45% and 40% respectively – showing a real appetite for success"

You can download a copy of the full report on the LSC website here. Alternatively you’ll always find all the very latest LSC press releases shown on the top right hand side of this page.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

This Year's In-Tray - ALP Autumn Conference

''This Year's In-Tray' is the theme of the Association of Learning Providers' autumn conference. The forthcoming sixth ALP Autumn Conference aims to examine in detail the operational issues facing learning providers during the next 12 months in the work-based learning and welfare to work sectors.

The keynote speech will be from David Lammy MP, with other speeches from Graham Hoyle (Chief Executive of ALP) and Stephen Gardner of the LSC amongst others. This year's conference will also have an international dimension, with an insight from the equivalent provider organisations in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

The conference will be on 30-31 October 2007, at Newbury Racecourse. You can find out more from the event site."

via Ferl

New E-Guides Training Programme

"NIACE has recently announced its schedule for more E-Guides training starting in October.

The E-Guide programme aims to drive improvement in teaching and learning by increasing the effective use of e-learning in all areas of learning, by developing the skills and knowledge of E-Guides to support colleagues in their use of technology.

Training consists of a three-day programme, and is aimed at all staff, paid and unpaid, in post-16 education who are involved with the delivery of learning across different subjects and areas of learning. E-Guides need to be confident in their use of ICT, enthusiastic about e-learning, willing to champion change and able to work well with colleagues. The new training programme will be aligned with the National Teaching and Learning Change Programme (NLTCP) delivered by the Quality Improvement Agency (QIA).

Training events are held throughout the country and will take place from October 2007 - July 2008. The upcoming schedule for the West Midlands events can be found here."

From Ferl

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

More Google Docs and Spreadsheets

Earlier this year, as part of our Regional Support Centre summer school event we showed a number of WBL staff (amongst others) how they could staff how they could benefit from working collaboratively online using Google Docs and spreadsheets (If you missed the session but are interested to know more please get in touch).

Anyway I mentioned during the session that there was talk at the time of Google extending this package to include support for presentations too. Well this addition to the Google docs set has now been launched – you can learn more at

If you're new to Google Docs, you can view this short video to learn more:

“Just like Google documents and spreadsheets, presentations are stored securely online, so you can access them from anywhere using only a web browser. Working together with one or more people to put together a killer presentation? Not a problem, just like with documents and spreadsheets, you can collaborate with others and see everyone's changes in real time.”

I expect I’ll use this tool in the future to show how it works so if you keep posted you’ll find out more!