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 http://www.rsc-wm.ac.uk/) 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.