Wednesday, 28 May 2008

More E-Learning Case Studies

I’m often asked for examples of best practice in e-learning or to outline what others are doing with e-learning in the sector. Our national set of work based learning web links has a number of case studies for work based learning but reading my colleagues blog I’ve also just been reminded of how many case studies are now being published through the Excellence Gateway.

These case studies are currently mostly geared towards FE however there are an increasing number of great examples that could quite easily also be applied to the Work Based Learning sector. For example, your learners use your IT equipment but do you have an acceptable use policy – and if so do your learners actually read it ? If not, how about implementing an interactive one? Discover how Thurrock and Basildon College did just that with very good effect.

With significant rises in the use of audio in teaching, how about using MP3s for learners with visual impairments? Or for other learners too? As noted in the case study “MP3s are accessible to fully-sighted learners too, and presents another way for learners to access study materials...” Find out how New College Worcester used free tools to achieve significant gains in this area.

How about learning space design? With limited funding, Work Based Learning providers are often required to implement more PCs into existing learning spaces. Has anyone considered the potential of space-saving alternatives to desktop PCs? Yes, right here in Hereford - there’s much more on space saving technology for effective learning spaces.

And finally, just one last example, firstly because it focuses on mobile learning (another very hot topic in the work based learning sector), and secondly because its another one based in the West Midlands (seems its all happening here!) This case study explores the use of mobile learning at Strathmore College on their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

There is a wealth more both on the Excellence Gateway itself and our very own Kev has also listed more on his brand new ‘Gabber Blog’ post so I won’t repeat again here. I hope this is enough to just begin to illustrate just how much best practice is being uncovered, how many providers are willing to share their experiences of e-learning, and not being territorial at all but how much of it is actually on our patch!

Hope the great work continues! ;-)

Latest Discover-e

Last week we had our annual online conference which judging by the feedback and the evaluations so far, was a tremendous success. The three days featured a number of stars but the biggest star of all was possibly Dim Dim, an extremely useful free tool that we at the RSC are becoming increasingly fond of.

Dimdim is a FREE web conferencing service where you can share your desktop, show slides, collaborate, chat, talk and broadcast via webcam with absolutely no download required for attendees.

Used within our conference it allowed us to show PowerPoint presentations live on the web, with attendees logging it to view the slides, where they could also see the speaker on a live webcam, hear the accompanying audio and chat with other attendees using its chat facility. We could upload files to view and share live and even capture chat transcripts to share with anyone who couldn’t make the meeting. We used it to host live sessions on mobile learning, Moodle updates and to discuss using virtual worlds.

How else can it be used?
So DimDim can be used for online meetings, but the DimDim team also note that “ learning, training, educational and non-profit organizations who want to save on travel expenses or have remote students positively love Dimdim....” We’re beginning to see why.

The BBC Click have also reported on how powerful DimDim is and their short video clip typically shows you what the application can do.

If you have ever thought about implementing any kind of video conferencing system yourself, we’d suggest you take a look at this little gem first. Last week it very successfully connected our West Midlands based trainers, teachers, managers, assessors with presenters from as far away as Perth, Australia and at the same time showed us what can be achieved with some imagination very little effort and no cost.

For many at this years Discover-e conference, I’d say that DimDim was perhaps the biggest find.

Free Software Options for Work Based Learning

A very big thanks to Derrin Kent of the Development Manager, who recently presented a session on free software at our online conference. Derrin kindly donated much of his time to present information and answer questions on free and open source software, showing how these tools can be used to enhance provision in the work based learning sector. He also shared a number of excellent resources some of which I'll shortly make available on our RSC wiki .

Derrins session presented a wide-ranging “training toolkit” of software applications – all available at zero financial cost. With his many years' educational management experience, Derrin perfectly understood the concerns with using free software and nicely contextualised the area, addressing both managers and trainers concerns. He also offerred a very long list of things that are currently available and can be adopted and used for free.

If you’re interested in discovering ways that your organisation might be able to make use of free software I’d suggest Derrin would be useful to know. His details are available on his website along with just a few reasons why so many of us all think that free software is increasingly becoming the way to go.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

More ALP Learner Innovation Grants - Phase 4

ALP has just announced that a further £4 million pounds will now be made available as Phase 4 of the successful Learner Innovation Grants programme of funding. (I've previously mentioned earlier rounds of funding here).

These Learner Innovation Grants provide capital investment for Government funded, independent work-based learning organisations (offering Apprenticeships or Train to Gain learning programmes) to exploit the use of technology in learning and management. The programme has already enabled over 400 organisations to benefit from the grants, enabling the development of a range of innovative projects which vary in complexity and size. In this region, there are already some great examples of these grants being used to enhance the learners experience. For example:

* At Triangle Training LIG funding was used to purchase equipment (laptops, digital cameras and voice recorders) to enable their assessors to use the Paperfree E-Portfolio system with a cohort of Apprentices. Learn more here.

* Juniper Training’s LIG Phase 2 project used multi-media technology to improve E2E referrals, retention and achievement. Learn more here.

* Greenspring Training’s 21st Century project aimed to remove the myth that learning cannot be enjoyed. Fun was provided through music, IT, Interactive Boards allowing their young learners to embrace learning in a way best suited to them through assessments. Learn more here.

Want to know more?

If you are interested to know, ALP are hosting a one day event (in this region, which is great) that will be focusing on this new Phase 4 of the grants. "Provider of the Future - Learning Innovation Grant 4 funding " will be held on 17 June 2008 The ICC, Birmingham.

The event will inform providers on the new criteria and new process of application and raise awareness of other funding and services available for the sector. Use the links below to book. Hope to see you there!

Book Online
Print a booking form
Register your Interest

Things Learners can do with a Mobile Phone

In this short post Steve Dembo lists ten things learners can do with a mobile phone in the classroom. He also asks “let’s stop exerting so much energy trying to ‘bust’ students for carrying the same devices the rest of us carry. Rather, let’s start focusing on how we can use them to improve education in the classroom…” (Too right).

Later this month as part of our online conference Di Dawson will also be exploring ways that mobile phones can be used for learning.

Her Mobile Learning session will take you into the world of mobile learning to explore what mobile learning means and to hear how learners are currently using handheld devices to support their learning and capture evidence for e-portfolios. She will share ideas and tips about m-activities, such as podcasting, using text messaging and e-books.

More details can be found in a previous post or you can sign up online.

(Image courtesy of johnmuk)

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Really Simple Syndication Day

Today is RSS Syndication Day. "RSS is a format used to deliver information from websites and pages that get updated regularly. The main benefit of using RSS is that it enables people to stay connected with their favorite websites without having to visit them."

So if you want to stay up to date but dont want to have check back, find out how you to can use RSS here.