Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Learning Technologies - Help and Advice

A quick reminder to all West Midlands based learning providers - we have a dedicated Learning Technologist in the team who is happy to offer free advice and guidance on how various technologies can be used for teaching and learning.

Jason has bags of kit which he is happy to come and discuss/demonstrate if required, and is also on hand to provide telephone and email guidance on any of your technology related questions. With lots of providers in receipt of capital funding at the moment, it can be useful to know what types of devices are currently proving popular for e-learning.

Jason provides advice and guidance on the inclusion of Learning Technologies within existing strategies. He is also keen to continue developing the learning technologies community based network started last year and to draw out and develop examples of best practice in this region. A new JISC Mail list was created last year to help support this function. You can subscribe to that list to get the latest updates here.

Jason can be contact by email at jason.curtis@wlv.ac.uk or phone on 01902 518986. His wiki pages also offer information which a busy provider might find useful in the first instance.

__________________

Related wobble links:

Learning Technology Loan Inititative
Staff Development (with Funding Attached)
Information Sheets on Technology for E-Learning


To read more of Wobble click here.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Impact of Mobile Technologies

I spotted an interesting publication on a colleague’s desk recently – 'The Impact of Mobile Technologies, Examining what it means for teaching and learning'. This is the report that summarises Phase one of MoLeNET projects.

Molenet 1 involved approximately 10,000 learners and 2,000 staff, spread across 32 mobile learning projects. This resulted in lots of examples of good practice and lessons learnt, all of which have fed into the report.

Projects were led by colleges but “...More than half of MoLeNET 2007/08 projects (18 projects or 56%) addressed the national priority of work-based learning. In many cases they used mobile devices for gathering and presenting evidence through e-portfolios....Vocational subject areas in which mobile learning was deployed include hairdressing, motor vehicle, engineering, electrical engineering, industrial services, care, construction and plumbing.”

“Handheld technologies used included personal digital assistants (PDAs), mobile phones, smartphones, MP3 and MP4 players (eg iPODs), other portable multimedia players, handheld gaming devices (eg Sony PSP, Nintendo DS), ultramobile PCs (UMPCs), mini notebooks or netbooks (eg Asus EEE), handheld GPS devices, handheld voting
devices” .

The report offers useful examples throughout and key pointers from providers from their project evaluations. There is a dedicated section on Work Based Learning and also a section on Employer engagement highlighting some of the difficulties in using mobile devices in practice.

The complete publication can be downloaded without registering (for free) from the LSN website or you can request a hard copy by emailing molenet@lsnlearning.org.uk


To read more of Wobble click here.

Monday, 2 November 2009

An Quick Introduction to Wikis

In this short video, Commoncraft explain why “email is not good at organising and co-ordinating a groups input”, but a wiki is. A video offering a short explanation of wikis and how they can be used to co-ordinate a group.

To see a wiki in action, visit the RSC wiki. There you will find examples of lots of resources that have been worked on collaboratively online. Contributions also welcome!

To read more of Wobble click here.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Using iPods for Teaching

A colleague recently shared a link with me to a site that has a wealth of information about how iPods can be used for teaching/training - Learning in Hand. It’s a great site, with lots of uses, ideas, and applications for using an iPod touch or iPhone in education. It’s written by Tony Vincent, a technology specialist who uses the site to share his passion for new technologies (tied nicely into his own teaching experiences).

In the section on iPods and iPhones he offers advice on:

· Using audio and video
· Making use of photos and image sets
· Web apps (websites that are specifically designed for iPod touch and iPhone)
· Software applications
· Podcasting
· And more tips and tricks.


20 more ways...

Also focussed on the iPhone, Kevin Hickey from RSC North West has produced yet another very useful resource that shows 20 ways to use iPods for teaching. (See the video below). This is in the style of a Pecha-Kucha presentation; basically 20 slides/images, 20 seconds each. It contains some great ideas presented with the minimum of fuss.



__________________

Related wobble links:

Mobile Learning in the Work Based Learning Sector
Things Learners can do with a Mobile Phone
Go Mobile - free publication

To read more of Wobble click here.

Greener Computing

One of our E-Learning Advisers (Jane Edwards) has recently been looking at ways that learning providers can both save money and work more efficiently by thinking more about sustainable computing; something also referred to as Green ICT. It is a large area and one that is currently attracting a lot of funding and is the subject of much research.

To help to make sense of all of the available information and to make it easier for regional providers to know where to start, Jane has set up a page on our wiki which brings together a number of key resources.

She notes: “...Whether you are a manager, or a lecturer..., there is no avoiding the fact that matters concerning the environment affect everyone.
The government wants to reduce carbon emissions by 1.2 million tonnes of carbon per year until 2020 and to help it achieve this, it has introduced the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) - a compulsory trading scheme to encourage large businesses and public sector organisations to reduce their CO2 emissions. In any case, it is obvious that by reducing energy use and using ICT more efficiently, you also reduce your energy bills; and you may also be genuinely interested in how carbon emissions affect the world we live in.

On this page you will find information on green agenda government papers, green ICT events and other useful links for the education sector.”

The wiki page is available here.

If you are keen to learn more about ways that your organisation can become greener in the ways it uses technology contact Jane by email or phone.



To read more of Wobble click here.

Image “Don’t forget to recycle” courtesy of Pylon757

Friday, 23 October 2009

Joint E-Learning Forum – Summary of the day...

Last week we held our second joint e-learning forum which bought together staff from adult and community and work based learning organisations from across the region to hear about the latest developments in e-learning.

We have now set up a wiki page that has links to the presentations and many of the information sources that were mentioned on the day so if you missed the event you can still check there for information. Individual section summaries can be accessed via the links below or the whole event page can be viewed on our wiki.


This forum included an overview of Generator, the technology improvement leadership tool for further education and skills. We also had an update on the e-CPD programme form Dave Foord (LSIS), an overview of Accessibility and why that’s important to providers, as well as details on available funding for e-learning, a summary of regional projects and initiatives and more.

2 Generator - the Technology Improvement Leadership Tool for Further Education and Skills
3 Update on the eCPD Programme
4 Accessibility in Work Based Learning and Adult and Community Learning
5 Funding for E-Learning Projects
6 Regional Projects and Initiatives
7 Strategic Development
8 Upcoming RSC events
9 Other Upcoming events (External)

Great to see so many in attendance and we look forward to seeing you at the next one!


To read more of Wobble click here.

Feedback on the Excellence Gateway

Several Work Based Learning providers are now using the Excellence Gateway for resources to support their teaching and learning, and for access to more than 150 case studies showing what other providers are doing with e-learning. (Finding best practise examples has now been made easier using filters that allow you to search on sectors or region).

NIACE (The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education), are currently gathering instances of practice which demonstrate how Excellence Gateway resources are being used in Work Based Learning. These will again form useful examples which can be fed back into the sector.

If you are using the Excellence Gateway in any way within your teaching and learning practice and would like to share with others what you are doing, please email your contact details to gemma.hammond@niace.org.uk by Friday 30th October.

Short telephone interviews will be conducted in November.

__________________

Related wobble links:

Examples of E-Learning in Work Based Learning
More E-Learning Case Studies
E-Learning Case Studies by Sector and Region

To read more of Wobble click here.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

AccessApps - Free Portable Software on a Stick

We have been focussing quite a lot on accessibility recently, coinciding with the launch of a new initiate that is loaning e-learning technology to learning providers. As well as the loans we have given several staff a suite of portable software applications that they can keep, and use without the need to buy licences or install programmes – everything runs from the USB stick. This collection of programmes is called AccessApps and has been developed by RSC Scotland in conjunction with TechDis.

The AccessApps site has more information about the suite of programmes and the video below will tell you more about how it can benefit those involved in education or training.



Find more videos like this on RSC Access and Inclusion

Some of the applications contained on Access Apps are generic tools (word processing, spreadsheet and presentation alternatives to the Microsoft Office suite). Others cater for specific needs, such as a software to support dyslexic students or those with a disability. There are currently over 40 applications in the suite and the list is growing.

All of the software on Access Apps is also available to download directly from RSC Scotland’s site allowing you to pick and choose just those tools you might want to have. For example if you’re a tutor who think mind maps might make a useful addition to your lesson, there’s a free mind mapping tool. Or if you’d like an image editor, there’s one there too. A handy user guide also provides a useful training or reference manual to share with staff that have the usb sticks.

With accessibility being such a key issue at the moment, (it’s also been noted as a priority area for some funding applications) we have included a session on accessibility at our next e-learning forum. That should inform providers not only of why it is important but what support exists to measure and develop your levels of accessibility.

In the meantime, as AccessApps continues to go from strength to strength, why not get yourself a copy of it to use or to share? A USB stick chock full of productivity resources is useful to staff, and learners alike. And in this case it’s also free. :-)


__________________

Related wobble links:

Accessibility Overview


To read more of Wobble click here.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Funding for Creating e-Learning Resources

Independent work based learning providers will soon be able to bid for a share of £1 million capital funding in a new e-learning content creation (ECC) programme from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). This programme will be managed by the Association of Learning Providers and will complement the highly successful Learning Innovation Grant programme.

From the ALP website:

“ALP is delighted to announce in addition to the £3m LIG 5 fund, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), via the LSC, has released a further £1m grant fund to the ALP for providers in the sector to test how high quality e-learning content could be pump-primed to improve the cost effectiveness of delivery.

This exciting new e-learning content creation (ECC) programme aims to identify gaps in the e-learning content market, particularly to support new industries. It will focus on the development of e-learning content that will have a direct impact on improving the learning experience, the service provided to employers and business efficiencies.

ALP strongly encourages providers to form a consortium to bid for the large scale projects. Between 2 – 4 proposals will be successful with the bid value set from £250,000 - £500,000.

It is anticipated the ECC prospectus and application form will be available at the end of September.”

I’ll post more information about this initiative as they are released and will be happy to work with any providers who wish to explore options in this area.

To read more of Wobble click here.


Image "Money" from Flickr (Kindly shared by coda)

Monday, 14 September 2009

Free Hairdressing Resources

Last week our Information Officer posted an article on our website about a new batch of hairdressing resources that are now freely available online. These are high quality videos that demonstrate popular hairdressing techniques, such as cutting, straightening, and also cover areas such as client consultation and health and safety. They have been developed by Worcester College and have now been shared on the web for others to use.

This is great if you deliver hairdressing training and have a virtual learning environment such a Moodle as they can be very easily linked to from within that. They can also simply be accessed and viewed directly from the webpage, there is no log in or registration required.

These videos were developed with staff from salons in the West Midlands region and it’s great to see such high quality resources for e-learning emerging locally. Having just watched one or two, I’ve learnt a few handy tips from the professionals myself!

For other web based resources (that also include hairdressing) see related wobble posts below.





__________________

Related links:

Intute - web resources for education
NLN learning resources, whats on the horizon?

To read more of Wobble click here.


Image "_MG_7162" from Flickr (Kindly shared by by NYCArthur)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Staff Development (with Funding Attached)

There are several staff development events coming up in this region not will only extend your knowledge of e-learning but also have Capital Grants attached that will help you to buy technology to help move your organisation along.

The table below shows dates of the programmes that have events coming up in the next few months. In case you’re unfamiliar with each programmes format or content I’ve also included summaries below.


It’s also worth noting that in the current round of Learner Innovation Grants, the scoring criteria asks “Has the organisation undertaken e-learning workforce training to develop their ECPD such as E-Guides, Connect, Realise or PDA?” That shows the value of these kind of staff development activities and how it can impact on your organisations attractiveness for funding.

Anyway there’s a lot coming up, as well as our own events which we run in response to your requests. To see the list in full screen, click on the button in the top right corner of the Scribd image below or click here to see these regional events in Google Calendar.

Hope you can make one or two of these dates and look forward to seeing you there!

_____________________________________



Summary of Programmes

Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) Leadership and Management Programme - All of the LSIS leadership & e-learning programmes are free. Capital grants of up to £2,100 per organisation funded by the National Learning and Skills Council (NLSC), are available to purchase equipment on completion of the leadership and e-learning programmes. Spaces are limited and early registration is advisable. This can be done online at www.lsis.org.uk/enrol

E-Guides eCPD – this is a free practical training programme covering what teachers, tutors and trainers need to know about using e-learning and technology. Advanced E-Guides are trained to deliver the E-Guide training within their organisations or to a cluster of organisations. The training is free so there is no cost to participate. Funding is also available. Click here for further information, including how to apply for training.

eCPD Professional Development Advisers (PDAs) – This training is for staff with responsibility for driving the use of technology in teaching and learning across their organisation. The programme includes two days of face-to-face training, complemented by personalised mentoring and coaching support. A Capital Grant of seven hundred pounds is available for successfully nominated PDA’s to purchase equipment that will support them in their role. More information is available online.


To read more of Wobble click here.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Bid Writing Resources

It’s official, another £3miilion pounds has now been made available to support the development of e-learning in the work based learning sector. The Association of Learning Providers has now published documents for the fifth round of Learner Innovation Grants on their website.

I know a number of you are working away at bids (between £25,000 and £150,000 per project this time) so it seems appropriate to share some resources that might help with this process.

After a workshop last year we put together a wiki page that has a number of resources that help with bid writing. On this page:

· Terry Loane's Presentation entitled ‘Just four things’ noted that there are only four things you need to do in order to write a successful bid for project funding - work out what the funder wants, have a good idea, answer the questions and tell a clear story!

· In his presentation - “Why you? Making your Bid Credible" Professor Mark Stiles focused on the issues to address when considering why a funder should choose you over another bid proposing to do the same thing. In his Bidding Do and Don’ts (pdf format) he also offered top tips which outlined what to do and what not to do in a bid and provided a useful checklist.

· Lastly, my colleagues Colin Gallacher and John Dalziel from RSC Northwest, published an Online Guide to Bid Writing which includes contributions from trainers, practitioners, funders, advisors, managers, inspectors and others. You can also access that on the wiki page.

That’s just a couple of resources, highlighted to give you a flavour of the kind of resources that are on our bid-writing wiki page. I hope you find them useful. Please get in touch if you need any additional support advice or guidance. Good luck with your applications!

__________________

Related links:

Previous Round of Learner Innovation Grants
New Report - ALP Evaluation of LIG Phase 4 - 2009
List of LIG Phase 4 Funding Allocations

To read more of Wobble click here.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

£3m Workplace E-Learning Funding

Launch of more Learner Innovation Grants, just one week to go...!

"Work-based learning providers are being encouraged to bid for £3 million of funding, from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), to help the sector adopt new technology and explore innovative ways of applying ICT solutions.

The Association of Learning Providers (ALP), which is managing the Government's Learning Innovation Grant (LIG) project, is inviting applications from providers that have not bid before as well as consortia bids. Bidders will be able to apply for the new funding, the fifth tranche in a £13 million scheme, from Friday 4 September... " See here for more details.

This is an exciting opportunity for work based learning providers to get assistance with e-learning projects. A large number of providers have already benefited from the grants. Full details and a prospects will be available next week but it's worth thinking about this ahead of time as the deadlines are likely to be tight!

If you would like more information about this funding or help with preparing a bid please get in touch. I'll post more details as they become available.

__________________

Related links:

Previous Round of Learner Innovation Grants
New Report - ALP Evaluation of LIG Phase 4 - 2009
List of LIG Phase 4 Funding Allocations

To read more of Wobble click here.

Regional E-Learning Forum – Your Suggestions Welcome

In October, the West Midlands RSC will host another free e-learning forum for staff working in the Work Based Learning and Adult and Community Learning Sectors.

The last forum, held in June, had a pretty packed agenda which included a hands on demonstration of e-learning technology, updates on available funding for e-learning, an overview of regional projects and initiatives and much more. If you missed it, you can still get an overview here or access the resources from the session on our wiki.


For the next forum we have deliberately left an open slot in the agenda which we hope to fill with a topic that addresses what you would like covered on the day. To assist this, we have set up a very simple survey for you to anonymously make your suggestions. We will then use the feedback from that to determine the contents of that agenda item.

We hope you will take a minute to complete the very short survey here. You can also see your choices as well as everyones else's reflected in the dynamic summary on this page.

It’s also worth noting, this survey was set up very easily using Google docs, which could also be used by you to set up your own free, customised online surveys. (This previous wobble post has more details of how to set up your own).

We look forward to receiving your feedback and to seeing you in October!


To read more of Wobble click here.

E-Assessment Online Toolkit

In a previous wobble post I mentioned the publication, “E-assessment: guide to effective practice” which covered the management and delivery of e-portfolios and e-testing. A new online toolkit has now been developed which builds on this guide and provides the same level of practical information in a nicely presented online format.

This new website is very informative and offers lots of useful tools and resources including templates and case studies. It should make a useful resource for those already using some form of e-assessment as well as anyone thinking of adopting e-assessment in the future.

(Thanks for the information Brian; a good site to note).

To read more of Wobble click here.

Monday, 10 August 2009

New Learning Technology Loan Inititative

As a learning provider, would your organisation appreciate having a range of tools for e-learning, freely available to use on a fixed period to evaluate their use? Well, as part of a recent RSC West Midlands initiative you now may be able to.

RSC West Midlands has recently bought a number of e-learning tools which are now available to loan to training providers in the region. Arranged as collections of kit, each set contains a wealth of items which aim to help you to bring the benefits of e-learning to all your learners. Contents include an Asus netbook; a hand held video camera, a portable e-book reader, voice recorder, MP3 player, digital camera, and more. You can see the full list here.


An objective of the project is that you consider the implications of accessibility and inclusion while you try out these technologies in the classroom. Another is that you see what using any of these devices in the classroom can contribute to your wider adoption of e-learning. Kind of like a try before you buy (but without the buy!) All pieces of kit come will come with associated documentation which typically shows you their potential for teaching and learning, pros and cons of their use plus more.

Participating in this initiative will allow you to loan a complete set of kit for a period of six weeks. In return you would be required to commit to an hours initial training introducing you to the tools and outlining the project aims, and to completing a short end of project review in which we would discuss your use of the technology.

There are no costs associated with taking part in this initiative however you must be from a West Midlands RSC Supported work based learning provider. To apply to take part and borrow this equipment, you need to register your interest with me and I’ll add your name to the list. (email: theresa.welch@wlv.ac.uk)

We will be treating this in a first come first served basis so act quickly if you want to get your organisation registered to take part anytime soon!


* The image above does not represent the contents of each bag of kit. (My colleague Jane is not included either!)

__________________

Related Wobble links:

Exploring Accessibility
Information Sheets on Technology for E-Learning
Accessibility Overview


To read more of Wobble click here.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Waterproofs and more Digital Video Camcorders

I’ve mentioned pocket sized video camcorders on here before and several of our regional providers now own or two of the models that are out there. At a recent training event a learning provider told me about a different one that they were using in their land based provision.

This model was waterproof so could be used with his learners outdoors. It also:

* Allows you to take a photograph of the subject WHILE you are still filming (useful if you still want to print hard copies of evidence)
* Has two operating modes, simple (for the user like me who wants to just press record and go!) and Normal which offers you the option to change all its settings.
* It was fairly resilient, so suitable for working in manual environments.
* It could plug straight into an TV, no need for groups of learners to copy images to a PC before viewing them
* And it had a rechargeable battery. (Need I say more?)

The camera was a Sanyo Xacti as per the picture above.

You can learn more about this model in the ShinyTech review below (so glad they did this – makes my life easier!). If you can’t access you tube you can get the review on this site.




We’ve since bought one of these for our own increasingly expanding bag of mobile kit so would be happy to chat with you about how this and other camcorders can be used for work based learning.

With funding opportunities arising all the time, it’s certainly worth knowing what tools are out there that could possibly enhance your provision.

__________________

Related Wobble links:

Pocket-sized Video Camcorders
Information Sheets on Technology for E-Learning
More Funding for your E-Learning Projects

To read more of Wobble click here.

Software for Digital Notepads

If you have a Digital notepad, but don’t have Windows (because you’re using Open Source software such as Linux) you can also use your digital notepad with free software available online. I learned this recently from a learning provider who kindly shared the link with me.

Having a notepad herself she was forced to investigate free software options to use with it after her Windows laptop died.

She notes, this software has “...basic functionality with a free demo version, or if you upgrade you can then work with the pretty colours and edit it etc…The demo version just created JPG, (the full version does editing & pdfs) however I just open the jpg in an image viewer/word processor and then save as a pdf to save pennies!

The jpeg image below shows an example of how one of these pages looks. (Handwritten on her digital notepad.)

Thanks to Glen of TDM for the information (and lovely picture) - It’s handy to know the information, and good to share! With a larger number of providers now buying netbooks and considering free and open source versions of software it’s useful for us all to know these kind of work arounds.

Speaking of sharing, I’m also currently looking at Arioforms, software that you can use with your digital notepad to electronically capture forms data on the pad. Watch this space, I’ll let you know how I get on.

__________________

Related Wobble links:

Digital Notepads and Their Uses
Open Source Software – JISC keeps us informed

To read more of Wobble click here.

Monday, 27 July 2009

First Regional E-Learning Forum – What you Might Have Missed...

Last month we held our first ever joint e-learning forum in this region which successfully bought together staff from adult and community and work based learning organisations from right across the region.

With a pretty packed first agenda, delegates were able to learn what others were doing with e-learning, hear about the latest developments, share good practice (and still have time for lunch!)

This first forum had a hands on demonstration of e-learning technology, which seemed to prove equally useful to those getting started with e-learning and more established providers. We also had an update on E-Guides activity, updates on funding for e-learning, an overview of regional projects and initiatives, a summary of upcoming events and more.

As is typical of RSC events, after the session we compiled a wiki page with details and links to many of the information sources that we mentioned on the day so if you missed the event you could check there to see some of what you might’ve missed.

We are hoping to run the next Joint forum sometime in October and will post more details here and on our events page. If you have ideas of items you would like on the Agenda (or would like to host the next forum at your organisation!) then please do get in touch.

We look forward to seeing you at the next one!

To read more of Wobble click here.

Information Sheets on Technology for E-Learning

Following a number of requests for information from providers, Jason Curtis, our Learning Technologist has very kindly put together a series of information sheets that focus on e-learning tools and learning technologies. Each information sheet (in pdf format) provides a brief description of a particular device that might be used for teaching, its approximate price, specification and in some cases, suggestions for how it could be used in an educational context.

The list is continually evolving but so far includes information on:

· MiniProjectors
· Netbooks
· Busbi Video Cameras
· iPods (Nano and Touch)
· Digital cameras
· MP3 Recorders and
· Digital Notepads

The sheets are all available to download from our RSC wiki.

With many of our regional providers frantically rushing around trying to spend capital grants at the moment I suspect one or two of these might come in quite useful!

It’s also worth noting that for regional work based learning providers; Jason is available to provide free general advice and guidance on the selection and implementation of tools for e-learning. Should you have any queries about technology that you’d like to purchase or questions about potential use, you can contact Jason by e-mail or by phone.

__________________

Related Wobble links:

More than 7 Things You Should Know About...


To read more of Wobble click here.

Trying out Training in a Virtual World

Virtual worlds are increasingly being looked at within training and education because they offer the potential to support larger numbers of learners remotely (as well as offering a list of other benefits for the training provider or business). There is also a growing number of projects that are springing up and demonstrating how virtual worlds can be used for supporting training and delivering NVQs.

· For example, this Excellence Gateway case study shows how the College of North West London has been using Second Life to delivering part of its Gas and Plumbing NVQ to students.

· The image below also shows how the TAFE NSW Hairdressing program, have used Second Life to establish a virtual hairdressing salon - Jack's Hair Creations, which is being used to create detailed photo scenarios which will then be used as part of a media-rich learning resource.


To support our regional learning providers in their understanding and development of Virtual Worlds, my colleague Jane Edwards has recently set up an RSC West Midlands virtual island, which can be used for regional learning providers to experiment on. This experimentation could involve building virtual objects and rooms (such as salons, workshops), delivering staff development and even trailing activities with small groups of learners.

If you would like one of these plots on our new virtual island, or would like to know more about how using virtual worlds could benefit your organisation, get in touch with Jane or contact us.


To read more of Wobble click here.

Friday, 24 July 2009

More Funding for your E-Learning Projects

Good news for anyone with a project idea for e-learning, this summer there looks set to be a couple of options for securing funding to support your e-learning project ideas.

Molenet

The first option, Molenet Funding, is aimed primarily at the Further Education sector but offers opportunities for WBL providers to work with colleges on projects. In previous Molenet rounds we’ve had a large number of successful projects in this area, many of which offer a potentially positive impact on the work based learning sector. (I’ve published a quick list of who was successful and a summary of their projects here).

In this current round of funding, the LSC is making £2.5 million of capital funding available. Contributions will be between £50,000 and £250,000 per project, but funding will also be available for a small number of micro projects, between £10,000 and £20,000.

The deadline for submissions is 11th September 2009. Learn more or find potential project partners here.

ALP Learner Innovation Grants

An additional option for funding will shortly be announced by the Association of Learning Providers (ALP) who recently confirmed that they will be awarding an additional £3m of capital funding to support a further phase of the very successful Learning Innovation Grant (LIG5) programme. Learn more about previous rounds of funding here.

Further details of this new Round 5 will be posted over the summer via ALP’s e-learning website - I’ll also post more information about that when the details are released.

In the meantime, now might be a good time to be getting those project ideas in place! Get in touch if you would like us to help or advice on any aspects of those.

__________________

Related Wobble links:

Mobile Learning in the Work Based Learning Sector
Kineo's mobile learning guide (pdf)
Last Round of Learner Innovation Grants


To read more of Wobble click here.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Using Voting Systems with Interactive Whiteboards

We have offered several interactive whiteboard sessions that aimed to introduce work based learning providers to what can be achieved by using these in their delivery. As a follow on to this we will also be hosting an additional half day event that looks at how voting systems (or learner response systems) can be used to enhance the effectiveness of your whiteboards even further.

Voting systems can be used to deliver interactive sessions that engage and stimulate learners as well as record responses for assessment purposes. They can be fun too – and make use of resources created in different formats such as the popular “who wants to be a millionaire” style quiz.



This session will be led by Andrew Hutchinson, previously project manager for the REVEAL Project. He will be looking at five key brands of Learner Response Systems exploring creative ways of working with each. These include Activote, Activexpression, Senteo, TurningPoint and Quizdom.

All attendees will receive a free copy of the REVEAL project DVD “Effective Teaching and Learning using Electronic Learner Response Systems” which includes a range of useful resources and video content case studies.

The training will take place in Wolverhampton on 18th June. It costs £30 and can be booked online from our events page.

__________________

Related Wobble links:

Using Interactive Whiteboards: A Video Case Study
Interactive Whiteboard Links and Resources


To read more of Wobble click here.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

E-Guides Plus Workshops

There are still places available on an E-Guides Plus workshop that will take place in Birmingham on 20th May. These free, one day events are available to anyone who has been on the E-Guides training programme or has had the programme cascaded to them within their organisation.

Sessions on Learning Platforms and ePortfolios will be included in this as well as time for participants to follow their own area of interest.


To find out more about the workshops or book online visit http://tinyurl.com/E-GuidesPlus09 or email e-guides@niace.org.uk



To read more of Wobble click here.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Live Webcast - Increasingly Mobile Work Based Learning

As handheld gadgets such as phones, digital cameras and ipods get cheaper and more widespread, mobile learning is becoming more important for learning providers who want to be able to tap into their potential.

For that reason, during this years annual RSC online conference, Discover-e 2009, we have prepared a session that looks exclusively at mobile learning and explores how many of your learners own tools can be used to delivering learning and assessment away from a traditional classroom.



Di Dawson of DawsonLoane will be sharing some great tips and tricks with us, showing us how we can use mobile learning for capturing evidence, professional discussions, managing video, audio and much more. Di is familiar with both current and emerging practice so there’ll be lots of opportunity for discovery of new ideas.

For the session itself, we will present information live, using the free video conferencing tool Dim Dim, that we also used to deliver our conference sessions last year. This will enable anyone who is new to video conferencing to gain first hand experience of using that too – for free!

The full conference takes place over three days from 19th – 21st May and there’s plenty more in there to accommodate ALL learning providers. There'll be session on using e-portfolios, Moodle, games based learning and much more. To take part, you simply register online and access the live sessions by clicking on a given web address on the day – no special equipment required, just a pc with sound.

Hope you can make it!

__________________

Related Wobble links:

Go Mobile - free publication
Mobile Learning in the Work Based Learning Sector
Ten things learners can do with a mobile phone
Kineo's mobile learning guide (pdf)


To read more of Wobble click here.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Google Maps and Street View

I was quite amazed to discover recently just how powerful the new Google maps street view is.

I’ve always used Google Maps to plan my visits to learning providers but now with street view you can now see photographic 360 degree street level images of where you're going. This makes it possible to also see exactly what a building looks like, plan parking, and take a look around the area all before you set off. I can see how this tool would be useful for assessors or field workers, planning an initial journey out to see a learner on site.

The video below tells you more.



With street view still you still get the step by step route plan that Google maps has always had, but now you can see photographs at every stage of that journey. As for the applications outside of work, the mind boggles. I think the possibilities are enormous. It seems that so far there have been a few issues relating to privacy but Google assure us that these are being addressed.

This street view is only available in major cities in the UK at the moment so Birmingham is covered but many areas aren’t yet. (E-guides may well recognise the image below.) I’ll certainly be watching this space - I imagine it won’t be long before most of our homes and offices are on there too.



To read more of Wobble click here.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Accomodating Your Learners with Assistive Technology

All learning providers have a legal duty to ensure that learner’s needs are accommodated wherever possible, and technology can go a long way towards supporting this. In particular, assistive technologies are products that can be used help to improve the capabilities of learners with learning difficulties or physical disabilities. This could include those with a visual or hearing impairment, or learning difficulty such as dyslexia.

On 7th July we will be running an afternoon training session, here in Wolverhampton that focuses on assistive technologies. This will be aimed at those who want to further their understanding of ways that technology can be used to support all learners. It will be an informal session offering people the chance to try out various examples of hardware and software including:

• Assistive keyboards (including large keys and keyboard overlays)
• Mouse alternatives - Trackerballs and GyroMice
• Write assist tools (Read and Write Gold, Word Bar, Clicker)
• Recording tools (digital cameras, mp3 players)
• Pen scanners
• Plus some low tech options (simple coloured overlays, organisation tools)

The session will also look at Accessibility Apps – a USB flash drive which contains over 40 free applications that can support writing, reading, planning and learning, as well as visual and mobility difficulties.

To book your free place, use the link on our website or contact Alison Wootton for more details.
__________________

Related wobble links:

An Overview of Accessibility

To read more of Wobble click here.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Copyright Free Images for Resources

My sister reminded me this week of a post that I had written previously about finding copyright free images. I thought it also worth sharing something about this here, as I’ve been showing people how to create their own resources for e-learning recently and finding images that ‘are okay to use’ seems to often come up.

The post she was referring to was here. That has a number of photgraphs in several categories that you can use for free.

FlickrCC is another site I now use, and one which allows you to choose images for editing or for commercial use.

"In a search, the panel on the left of the page displays the first 36 matching photos. You click on any of these thumbnails to get a slightly larger image and the attribution details displayed in the right hand section. Right click the image and 'save image as' if you want to use that size, or click on the link in the text to go to flickr and chose a different sized image. Don't forget to include the attribution text in any work you produce using the picture."


A more recent addition to the image collections options, PicFindr might also be of use, as it searches ten different sites to find images you can freely use in your own work. Thanks to Matt Gallon, our Learning Resources Advisor for that one.


Related Wobble links:

Internet for Image Searching
Finding Resources to Re-use in Teaching

To read more of Wobble click here.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Trying E-Learning, Hands On

Last week a colleague, (Jane Edwards) and I spent the day with staff from two regional training providers, as part of some staff development which offered an introduction to e-learning. Whilst there, we highlighted a number of tools that can be used for e-learning including voice recorders, pocket projectors, ultra-mobile pcs, ipods, digital cameras and more.

The most popular of these devices seemed to be the small digital video camcorders and digital notepads, which are generally proving popular in the sector right now.

During the afternoon we looked at a number of tools for creating resources that could be used for marketing your centre or as interactive learning materials. Here we focussed on a couple of tools that were also featured in last week’s e-guide conference as they’re not only free but very popular because of their ease of use. The first was Exe, a free authoring tool, and the second was Microsoft Photostory.

We were inspired to see their finished results at the end of the day, movies made entirely of photographs taken during the session and interactive multiple choice exercises, converted from paper to run as web pages with learner feedback. (The image above shows the work in progress!)

Overall it was a good day, and great to see such enthusiasm for the potential of e-learning. Thanks to all the staff from Protocol Consultancy Services and Birmingham Hotel & Catering Academy who made the event both enjoyable and interesting!

__________________

Related Wobble links:

Pocket-sized Video Camcorders
Digital Notepads and Their Uses
Creating E-Resources, Trainers Doing it for Themselves
Digital Storytelling with Photostory

To read more of Wobble click here.

Using Interactive Whiteboards: A Video Case Study

This five minute video features staff, managers and learners talking about their experiences of using whiteboards for delivering NVQs. It highlights the many ways that a particular provider is currently use their whiteboards, including using “Who want to be a millionaire” type quizzes at the start of session to recap.

The short film, focuses on a Stockport based provider, Lite Ltd, and was recently produced by the Excellence Gateway as part of their “Excellence Gateway TV”. It’s an inspiring video and great to see how all those featured in it now see the whiteboard as a core part of their training delivery.

Good to see that you can now also download this video, as this could be useful for any other providers wanting to share it locally with their own staff. (Through a Virtual Learning Environment perhaps or a dedicated shared area for whiteboard resources.)

Following on from the three Interactive Whiteboard sessions that we have run at the RSC I’ve also previously set up a wiki page full of links and resources that support using whiteboards. Feel free to use and share those.

There’s still much demand for support of whiteboards so we may offer some additional support in this area in the future - as always, watch this space or our events page for details. Speaking of watching, I’ll also be watching more Excellence Gateway TV for snippets of info which focus on effective ways of using technology in work based learning!

__________________

Related wobble links:

E-Learning Case Studies by Sector and Region
Interactive Whiteboard Links and Resources

To read more of Wobble click here.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

E-Learning Events: Dates for Your Diary

The following E-learning events are taking place in the next few months:

West Midlands E-Guides Forum - Thursday 23rd April

This half day forum, aims to support the growing number of e-guides in the West Midlands region. As well as the usual sharing of best practise, experiences and ideas, this one will also include a presentation on how various learning technologies can be used within work based learning. Jane and I will also feedback on last weeks e-guides conference events for anyone who missed it. Booking for the forum is through our website.

RSC West Midlands Online Conference - 19 May to 21 May

This year’s annual RSC West Midlands conference, runs over 3 days and takes place completely online through our virtual learning environment, Moodle.

If you’ve never experienced an online conference before, or are unfamiliar with Moodle this is a great way to see it in use and discover what all the fuss is about! With another 16 training providers in this region recently signed up for their own ‘Moodles’ it’s evident that it must offer some benefits for work based learning!

This year’s themes are personalizing e-learning, managing access to e-learning and game for Learning. Topics covered will include Mobile learning, E-portfolios, Games-based learning and more. Registration is through the website.

Association of Learning providers Annual Conference – 13th/14th May

Finally, it’s worth noting that this year’s ALP conference will be held next month at the East Midlands Convention Centre, Nottingham. ALP have been a key player in the development of e-leaning in the work based learning sector - through their recent programme of Learner Innovation Grants they have funded e-learning projects to the tune of approximately £10 million so far!

__________________

Related wobble links:

Last years online video conference
E-Guides Leading by Example
ALP's Learner Innovation Grants

To read more of Wobble click here.

What to Look For in a Digital Voice Recorder

Digital voice recorders are being used more and more in work based learning and previously I have been asked what to look for when buying one. I recently noticed that Jay Dougherty had done a good job of answering that particular question in this post.

What Jay considers are points to note:

* Sound quality
* Storage
* Features
* Controls
* Batteries

The full article explains these in more detail.

(Jay notes that prices range from ‘a low of just over 20 dollars to over 200 dollars’ which is in the USA. In the UK, a quick search shows products ranging from less than £20 to over £300).

If you’re thinking of investing in voice recorders yourself, that post is a good first place to start. A second is here or here for examples of ways they are already being used in work based learning.

To read more of Wobble click here.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

OpenOffice Online Tutorials

A number of people have recently been given the free OpenOffice suite on their netbooks as an alternative to Microsoft Office so I thought it worth sharing a few tutorials and supporting resources here. (OpenOffice is a free alternative to Microsoft Office, you can find out more here).

The OpenOffice Online Tutorials and Training website provides web based training for OpenOffice. These OpenOffice tutorials are full-motion movies that feature graphics, text and narrated audio.

The site notes that “...if your experience is like most users, these tutorials (designed for the web) will help you learn OpenOffice 2 to 5 times faster than other methods such as reading books or trying to figure it out on your own.”

Looks like they only have a few packages available at that moment, which show you how to use Impress for presentations and Calc for spreadsheets but worth keeping an eye on the site as I reckon it will be an increasingly useful resource as it develops.

For manuals on some of the other free software that is being used in learning, there’s also the FLOSS Manuals website that I’ve mentioned previously. The Floss manuals site has online books that show you how to use other tools, such as Audacity, a popular tool used for editing audio files. There seem to have been some changes to that site since I wrote that last post but looks like several of the main tools are still covered so again might be another site to note.

To read more of Wobble click here.

__________________

Related wobble links:

Free software for your learners or staff
Open Source Software - JISC keeps us informed

Project Management in a Box

I’ve just received a batch of JISC’s Project Management in a Box CDs which I’m happy to give away to any learning providers who are currently undertaking or thinking of starting e-learning projects. This toolkit, offers ‘simple and effective tools for project management – in a box’.

The CD contains a handy set of documents that can be used in the various stages of implementing a project, such as setting roles and responsibilities, project review, setting a business case etc.


My colleague Kevin Brace, discussed the toolkit recently on his blog so there’s more information there about the areas this tool covers. There’s also information on JISC Infonet’s site about their wider support of project management.

If you’d like one of the free toolkits please get in touch with your name and organisation details. I have just a dozen or so to give away so it will be a case of first come first served.

_____________

To read more of Wobble click here.

E-Learning Case Studies by Sector and Region

The Excellence Gateway team have now made it easier for learning providers to discover examples of good practice with e-learning. The newly renamed site now allows you to filter case studies by sector or by region, so a learning provider is now more easily able to see what similar learning providers are doing with e-learning.

A few examples of work based learning case studies include:

Using voting devices with interactive whiteboards for practise tests
Assessors using digital notepads for Assessment Report Forms
Learners using mobile devices for recording evidence

There are many, many more examples, some of which I’ve also previously summarised here.

This new filter option is a welcome addition to the site and one which I’m sure will be valued as the numbers of case studies continue to grow. Our Information Officers have clearly been doing some sterling work; the site already has over 100 case studies and growing.

__________________

Related wobble links:

Examples of E-Learning in Work Based Learning
More E-Learning Case Studies

To read more of Wobble click here.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

E-Guides Conference - Live and Online

This week I’ll be heading over to Nottingham for the annual E-Guides Conference, which is always a really interesting event. The conference provides a great opportunity for the many different batches of e-guides to get together and share experiences, as well as offering an chance to discover yet more e-learning possibilities.

What’s also great about this year’s event is the fact that if you’re unable to attend, you can still access the webcasts and online forums from your own desk. There will be webcasts available online from 10am on Thursday, 26 March 2009. And as well as being streamed live, keynote speeches and keynote workshops will also remain online after the event.

Seems workshop resources will also be available after the conference too. You’ll need to register as a user on their Moodle first and then follow the link to the ‘E-Guides National Event 2009' but again its great that you can now access these so don’t miss out completely if you can’t make the actual event.

For existing e-guides, its worth noting there is still some availability on the E-Guides Plus Workshops being held in Birmingham in May.

We’ll also be setting a date for our next e-guides face to face forum in the West Midlands soon, no doubt we’ll also discuss the conference at that get together too. I’ll post details of dates and times on here as soon as they’re finalised.

Until then, look forward to seeing some of you later in the week!

__________________

Related wobble links:

EGuides - Leading by Example
Capital grants for LSC funded providers
Last Years E-Guides National Event

To read more of Wobble click here.

Exploring Accessibility - Date for your Diary

Accessibility for any learning provider should focuses on two important issues: 1) what technology is available to ensure all your learners get access to your existing resources? and 2) how can the teaching materials you use be designed so that all learners benefit from them.

To support both these areas, the RSC will shortly be holding a free forum that will provide a chance to explore any new initiatives or concerns in relation to accessibility and inclusion. The full day event, will be held on Thursday 2nd April 2009 and will include an update from John Sewell at TechDis as well as:

· An overview of the new Accessibility apps software (all attending will receive a free copy of this)

· Virtual worlds demonstration using Second Life (a great opportunity for anyone who’s not yet seen how virtual worlds can be used in education/training)

You can book your free place on this day using the link on our website.

If you’re interested in this topic but unable to make the forum, its worth noting that my colleague Alison Wootton, has also set up an Accessibility and Inclusion Social Network - a space for practitioners across the West Midlands to post comments, network and share practice. This is also open to all.

__________________

Related wobble links:

Accessibility Overview
To read more of Wobble click here.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Finding Resources to Re-use in Teaching

Yahoo’s Advanced Search, now makes its easier for teachers and trainers to find resources on the Web (text, images and other educational material) that are free to share or build upon.

We often talk about not reinventing the wheel when it comes to preparing learning materials but that depends on having resources available to begin with, and ones that’s we can freely share and adapt. Using this advanced search feature you can now look for ‘Creative Commons’ resources which are generally those that you can modify for your own use.

Why is this important?

“Copyright applies fully and automatically to any work - a photograph, a song, a web page, an article, pretty much any form of expression - the moment it is created. This means that if you want to copy and re-use a creative work you find online, you usually have to ask the author's permission…This search engine helps you quickly find those authors and the work they have marked as free to use with only "some rights reserved." If you respect the rights they have reserved (which will be clearly marked, as you'll see) then you can use the work without having to contact them and ask.”

At the moment it looks at though this feature is only on the US Yahoo so use this link for your advanced searches. Enter your earch terms as per usual, but be sure to click the Creative Commons options half way down the page.

To read more of Wobble click here.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Next Generation Learning Award Winners

Last year I told providers about Becta’s Next Generation Learning Awards which intended to reward learning providers who are confident in the use of technology. Winners in six different categories of learning provider were set to receive a cash prize as well as the opportunity to share their practice regionally and nationally.

Winners of these awards have now been announced by Becta at an awards ceremony that took place last week. Winners in each category are now noted on the BECTA website.

In the Work Based Learning sector the award went to Lifetime Health and Fitness Limited for them having achieved efficiency and effectiveness through their use of a Learner Management System and bespoke e-portfolio system.

They noted several improvements to their business processes including:

* “The induction process is shorter and more accurate.
* Progress and performance criteria can be better measured and evaluated.
* Learners can now view their portfolio and see their progress.
* Tutors can plan their visits online … and more.

What’s more, they estimate that… “A cost saving of approximately £20,000 per annum has been estimated by accepting digital signatures and reducing paperwork….and success rates have steadily increased from 30 per cent to 60 per cent over the last two years”.

Sounds impressive and it will be great to see some of the lessons learned shared with the wider community, particularly with so many providers now taking first steps in this area of integrating learning systems with e-portfolios.

Great that the awards were set up for this and congratulations to Lifetime (and the other winners) for their achievements!


To read more of Wobble click here.