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.