Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Searching for Images - another way

When searching for images do you have to click through online photo galleries or squint at thumbnails? Here’s what my colleagues and I now use to search for images on the web. PicLens, a free browser add-on which enables rich, full-screen slideshows of images.

It’s proved really popular here in the RSC office as its a great way to search for images on the web without having to go forwards and back from page, to page, to page - sure you get the picture.

PicLens is also free to download, and free to use. So it gets my vote there.

If you haven’t seen it yet try the guided tour here or a demo here. There's also a tutorial showing you how to use it here and an FAQ page for answers to questions about features, compatibility, and more.

(Thanks to John Dalziel for sharing!)

25 Tools for e-learning

Do you want to get to grips with the wide range of technologies and tools available for learning? If so you can now do this in a very practical way by trying out a core set of 25 tools (taken from the current Top 100 Tools for Learning 2008).

In this new free online staff development activity - simply called 25 tools - Jane Hart has grouped a series of simple tasks into activities which aim to help you to understand various e-learning technologies and find out what they are so popular. The suite of tools shows you how to:

· Understand the bare essentials
· Get an online presence and keep up to date
· Build content and share it with others
· Bring people together
· Develop and manage courses

Sounds good. But what I also like is that fact that the tools it covers are all FREE.

What’s more, 25 Tools “… doesn't reinvent the wheel; it makes good use of existing resources in a variety of formats including video and audio….It also encourages a social and collaborative approach to learning and includes a community, where users can share valuable input in terms of their own thoughts and experiences. Engagement comes from working with people not just interacting with content.”

I like the look of this and think its a great way to learn more about some of the e-learning tools you might have heard about or just have a nosey at what's popular and why. To get started have a look at what’s covered in the core toolset or learn more about the resource on the 25 tools site.

RSC E-Learning Conference - over at your place

The Regional Support Centre West Midlands is holding another annual e-learning conference for LSC funded learning providers in the West Midlands - and to take part you don't have to leave your desk!

This free event, will take place over 3 days (20th - 22nd May) and will be run completely online using the popular Virtual Learning Environment, Moodle. To join in the discussions, view presentations or meet and chat with other WBL delegates, you simply login at your own PC and take part at a time and place to suit you, giving you the flexibility to fit attendance around your work commitments.

The event will feature guest speakers discussing the latest developments in e-learning. For Work Based Learning there's also an opportunity to learn about using free software for training and education, and catch up with the latest development in mobile learning. See the workshop descriptions here (pdf format).

During the course of the event, there will be opportunities to win some great prizes, including an Apple iPod Nano and an Asus mini laptop.

To book your place visit our website where youll also find the full program and workshop descriptions too. We hope you will be able to 'attend' and look forward to meeting you online!

The RSC West Midlands Team

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

National Support of Work Based Learning

There's a lot happening in support of Work Based Learning on a national scale. In this recent podcast interview Carolyn Lewis, the JISC RSC National Work Based E-Learning Co-ordinator talks about the RSCs role in supporting Work Based Learning providers and outlines some of the current national activity. She also introduces examples of innovative practices that have been identified and that can inspire others as well as useful links that might benefit WBL providers.

To listen to the interview, visit the networking pages of the Work Based Learning INNOVATE site and scroll to ‘latest activity’ near the bottom of the screen.

Help with your E-Learning Strategy Development

In a recent West Midlands based survey 58% of Work Based Learning providers said they dont have an e-learning/ILT strategy and 70% of respondants noted this an an area they would like support with.

All types of learning providers are being encouraged to develop strategies that support their e-learning activity and to further support this, RSC West Midlands is offering an e-learning strategy workshop at the Science Park in Wolverhampton in June. This half day session will include:

· A review of sample strategies
· A look at what makes an effective strategy?
· Communicating, reviewing and monitoring the strategy
· Launch of the 'eLearning Strategy Sharehouse' initiative - online downloadable sample strategies available to all participants

For those of you who are interested in developing a stratgey but who perhaps can’t make this event, it’s worth noting there are a number of resources available to support WBL strategy development on Innovate. These resources include some useful links on ILT Strategy as well as access to the WBL e-Learning Positioning Statement (WBe-LPS) a tool which helps organisations to identify their current position in relation to e-learning.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Emerging Technologies for Learning

A recent report from BECTA, Emerging Technologies for Learning “…aims to help readers consider how emerging technologies may impact on education … It should open readers up to some of the possibilities that are developing and the potential for technology to transform our ways of working, learning and interacting over the next three to five years.”

It has various articles which will be of interest to learning providers but a couple which caught my attention include:

Growing up with Google: what it means to education This explores the ‘net generation’ …whose behaviours, preferences and expectations may be very different from those of their teachers (trainers). It examines the characteristics of these learners … and the skills that an education system needs to provide for the 21st century.

Mobile, wireless, connected: information clouds and learning In this, Mark van’t Hooft looks at the implications of using mobile devices, pervasive wireless connectivity, and internet applications and services. .. describing some examples of how these technologies are being used to transform learning and discusses the barriers and issues to their effective use.