Tuesday, 21 October 2008

How to Win Those Bids for E-learning Projects!

Last year, I did a survey with Learning Providers in the West Midlands region and asked ‘Does your organisation face any of the following barriers in embedding ILT?’ It was no surprise that funding and lack of finances came out very high, in second place in fact. (Number one was ‘lack of knowledge about e-learning, hence the setting up of this blog!)

With finances being such a key issue, and bid writing for project funding sometimes being a complex task, we have organised a regional one day event which we hope will demystify the area of bid writing, show what opportunities exist and outline what makes an effective bid.

The day will help learning providers understand what the funders are looking for and will also include elements of project planning, an often overlooked part of the process. For work based learning providers it’s also a great opportunity to learn more about the Learning Innovation Grants that I’ve mentioned so often, discover why certain applicants were successful in their bids, and what makes a good bid? Terry Loane of DawsonLoane will be on hand to answer these questions and more.

As with all our events there are more details on the website so please visit there for more info but it’s worth noting here that as an RSC event we have been able to subsidise the cost of this event for the region and are able to offer places at a reduced rate of £60. I’m sure I don’t need to suggest you book early!

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Legal Issues of E-Portfolios (and Web 2.0)

Last week a colleague and I presented at a regional event that looked the legal implications of using technology in education. (We we will upload the presentation slides to our RSC Wiki shortly).

The event was run by JISC Legal, a service that I’ve mentioned on here previously. (They are a useful organisation to note as they have a wide understanding of the complex legal issues associated with using technology in education and their website hosts a wealth of resources).

Their website has been updated with several new resources and it seems that some time ago they had also documented some of the legal issues to do with e-portfolios. In their usual spirit of sharing, they had produced two publications that included a consideration of the following areas:

· ePortfolios - what kind of legal issues might exist?

· Data protection, compliance with the law?

· Data in our ePortfolio system is owned by the institution, is this right?

· We have created this nifty way for learners to publish parts of their ePortfolio to one of our websites for public or restricted access viewing. Are there legal issues we ought to consider?

· We are planning to roll out an ePortfolio system for our learners, but are concerned that some disabled learners may not be able to access the full functionality of the system. Does this expose us to legal liability?

The publications are now new, they were published in 2004, but they do still raise a number of valid legal considerations for anyone thinking about implementing or currently using e-portfolios. The publications can be accessed via the links below.

1. Developing and Operating an ePortfolio System - Assessing the Legal Issues
2. Legal Aspects of ePortfolio Systems: A Short FAQ

(For a wider consideration of the issues relating to e-portfolios this post might also be useful as well as the Higher Education Academy’s publication “Supporting Student E-portfolios” a resource shared with me today).

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Interactive Whiteboard Links and Resources

Last week Alison Nock ran another Interactive Whiteboard training session for us in which she demonstrated how they can be used effectively to enhance teaching and learning. To support this session I have now set up a new wiki page which has additional links and resources all supporting the use of Interactive Whiteboards. This includes links to resources covering:

· How to use your interactive whiteboard effectively
· Issues to Consider Before Buying a whiteboard
· Health advice on the use of interactive whiteboards
· SMART Two Minute Tutorials
· Alternatives to whiteboards
· ...the list goes on.

I’ll continue to update this wiki page which I expect might prove useful for future whiteboard training events and be a source of reference for those wanting support but unable to make the sessions.

It’s worth noting that for those that were unable to attend last week’s event, we will be running another one sometime in January 2009. To reserve an early place, keep and eye on our events page or email us with your details and we will add you to the waiting list.

Free Software for your Learners (or staff)

The award winning Open Education Disc has recently released another version which like previous versions is more free software, aimed directly at learners, giving them the necessary tools to help them complete their learning. The Open Education Disc was designed by teacher/trainers to help learners complete their study without the need for expensive software licenses, or having to resort to piracy.

The collection of software now includes (as part of its OpenOffice)…

· A word processor, Writer - for producing documents, reports, newsletters, and brochures.
· A spreadsheet called Calc.
· A presentation package, Impress.
· A Drawing package for producing diagrams or 3D illustrations.
and Database tools.

It also has a free…

· PDFCreator to generate PDF documents directly from any Windows program.
· GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) suitable for those wanting to manipulate digital photographs.
· software for video editing
· and screen recording software.

You can read more about each of the programs here. This site also offers a few tips on how to download your own copies for use or distribution (as well as links to more freebies).

It’s interesting that in an old blog post I referred to ways that a training centre based in West Sussex was using free software like this four years ago (when this software suite was called the OpenCD). Its clear that many have been using free software for a while now!

This more recent post also highlights the importance of free and Open Source Software, and explains why it is becoming increasingly important for the Work Based learning Sector.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Showcasing the Impact E-learning Can Have

The Association of Learning Providers (ALP) has been key in supporting the uptake of technology by learning provides in the WBL sector. Its successful Learner Innovation Grants programme has already resulted in numerous innovative projects being completed that show just how effective e-learning can be for providers. (I’ve listed some regional examples in this previous post).

ALP will shortly be showcasing more great examples in its upcoming Providers of the Future Showcase Event. This will be held on 19th November in Sutton Coldfield (great for this region!). The event will contain presentations from Providers delivering in a range of occupational sectors including Construction, Health & Social Care and Sports & Fitness.

Like ALP, I also expect this will be a great opportunity to take advantage of providers experience, find out what works, what doesn’t and how to overcome hurdles. It’s also a great way to see what possible and be inspired!

More information and booking details are available on ALP’s website.

Hope to see some of you there!

Monday, 6 October 2008

Learning About Online Learning - Online

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) are now offering online staff development opportunities which allow you to experience online learning whilst also learning how to develop online learning within your own organisation.

Exploring Successful Learning Online is a six week course ideal for people who have yet to experience online learning or the use of a virtual learning environment.

Application of Online Learning is a 12 week online course for those wishing to use online learning with their learners. This includes modules that focus on the delivery of blended or online learning, personalising learning, engaging learners or widening participation.

I beleive that experiencing online learning as a learner yourself, certainly goes a long way for discovering possibilities of online learning, as well as its limitations. It's a great way to discover how the learner feels. These particular courses also make ideal continual professional development for anyone in the work based learning sector as they are also accredited by the National Open College Network.

Both courses start at the begining of November 2008. For further information or to register your interest contact Kajal Samat by email at Kajal.samat@niace.org.uk.

More information is also available on NIACE website.