Thursday, 27 November 2008

Digital Notepads and Their Uses

I’ve mentioned digital notepads on here previously as I was so impressed with how easy they were to use and how they saved me having to type up my handwritten notes. Im pleased to note there is now quite a bit of information available on the web that shows examples of their use and highlights just how flexible a tool they are for learning providers.

For example, here, a recent Excellence Gateway case study shows how Training for Travel (TFT) has been using a digital notepad to meet their training assessment needs.

“Training for Travel (TFT) has implemented the use of digital notepads, enabling their assessors to fill in written assessment report forms when out ‘in the field' with learners, at the same time generating a digital copy of the report which can be downloaded and delivered electronically. Production of the digital reports... has made TFT more efficient in the process.”

On this page, RSC North West hosts a video which gives a demonstration of what can be done with a digital notepad:

In a podcast also accessible from their website, “Sarah Nelmes, of Training for Travel, talks about why they chose to use digital notepads, their experiences of using them, and how they plan to use them in the future. Sarah explains how the use of digital notepads has increased turnaround time. She goes on to explain who they chose digital notepads over similar technology... and how they would like to develop their use of these notepads for ePortfolio evidence”.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Relect on the use of Blogs and Wikis

In the latest issue of Reflect, Liz Boyden suggests some ways of using Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom. She covers blogs and wikis so if you haven’t used any of these tools yourself, want to know more or want some ideas of how they might be used by learners, then this is a good article to read.

I particularly like how Liz uses Tumblr, a blog that enables learners to put short multimedia posts on their own webspace, including photos, text, video clips and sound files. For work based learning, this could be particularly useful for also hosting the kinds of electronic information that currently goes into an e-portfolio.

Liz notes:

“….Tumblr was the most successful blog application used in the project. It has a visually attractive layout and potential for learners to create a professional-looking webspace … Learners could post photos from Google images and then make a text post explaining the image. A particularly successful use of Tumblr was as a daily online diary when learners were on work experience.”

As well as reading the article, you can also watch a short video on Liz’s own blog to hear more about their learners using their new Tumblogs.

In the article, Liz also gives some good hints and tips for using blogs and wikis, much of which also links in nicely with the advice JISC Legal gave last month regarding legal implications of using web 2.0 tools.

There’s clearly some good work going on at the Project Experimental Teaching (PET) project and I look forward to reading more about how it develops!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Funding Updates and ALP Showcasing Best Practice

Last week I attended the Provider of the Future event run by the Association of Learning Providers. This was a good event with a mix of presentations and opportunities to speak with providers who had done some pretty impressive things with e-learning.

My colleague Stan Unwin of the East Midlands Regional Support Centre has nicely summarised the events of the day in his blog post on Innovate so if you couldn’t make the event and were keen to find out what it covered please read his summary.

Key things to note:

· “Chris Swingler (ALP National Projects Development Officer) confirmed that the LIG 4 exercise had attracted bids to the value of £14 million against a funding pot of £4million. Great to see so much interest although as Stan notes it will mean some disappointment for some. (Results of this latest bidding round are being announced this week).

· Skills Capital Funding - Laurence Leader (LSC Capital Policy Director) announced details of new capital funding, aimed at non college providers and intended to “…give a wider range of training provider’s access to new investment which will enable them to develop and deliver specialised services, such as Apprenticeships and work-based learning.” More details on Innovate.

· 3 showcase presentations demonstrated what providers had achieved with previous rounds of LIG funding. Attendees got the chance to speak with other providers about what they were doing with e-learning.

· Lesley Price (BECTA, Head of Regeneration & Skills) spoke about the new BECTA initiative ‘Next Generation Learning at Work’ and made a plea for providers to get involved.

Thanks Stan for providing such a comprehensive outline of the day with supporting resources and links. I’m looking forward to learning which new LIG 4 projects will be funded this week, and the possibility of a ‘Provider of the Future 2009’.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Create your own Jigsaws Online

I just love tools that re easy to use and that’s staff can get up and running with minimum fuss and on that basis here’s another winner. Jigsaw Planet is “…a great little free online tool for creating online jigsaws from your own digital images. Ideal for using with interactive whiteboards or tablet PCs.”

This is a great free addition to a tutor’s e-learning toolbox. It allows you to very easily create jigsaws using your own images and host these for your learners to use. You can set the level of difficulty, set the cut-out shapes and learners can even get a ghost outline of the image to help them if they are having difficulty completing the puzzle.

To see how it looks here’s one I started earlier. Click the image below to see a larger screenshot or access the puzzle online.
The software is absolutely free and there no registration required. You just upload your image and go.

If you use it please do let me know how you get on and how your learners like it. Who knows your jigsaws might also come in useful to me when I have the odd coffee break to fill! :-)

(Thanks to Kirsty for the link).