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.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Creating and Discovering Resources for E-Learning

Just a quick reminder there are still a few places available on the free Electronic Resources day that will take place at Wolverhampton Science Park on 11th March.

With learning providers using more and more e-learning, there is growing need to have training resources available in an electronic format. This workshop will show staff how to create and discover resources for training that can be easily uploaded to a VLE such as Moodle, a shared area or simply accessed from a memory stick or other device.

For more information or to book online visit the events page of our website. We look forward to seeing you there!


Related wobble links:

Molesharing Mobile Learning Resources
NLN learning resources, whats on the horizon?
Free Video Learning Materials
Creating E-Resources, Trainers Doing it for Themselves

Ways to Make Your Netbook More like a Notebook

This blog post caught my attention recently as it focuses on how learning providers can get more out of their netbooks.

In it Rick Broida asks “...Ever wish your netbook had just a little more processing power, storage capacity, and battery life? Fear not: With a few simple tweaks, you can make your netbook run more like a notebook.” (A number of learning providers in this region have invested in net books recently so this is well timed and great for discovering new ways for getting the most out of them.)

The full article suggests a number of very useful tips, here are a few of my favourites:

1. Improve the battery life. For this Rick suggests dropping the screen brightness and tuning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi whenever possible.

2. Double or triple your storage on the cheap - mainly by buying memory cards or external USB dives which are generally cheap and cheerful.

3. Switch to “lean” software (basically use smaller applications. The article gives some great free alternatives to the processor hungry applications many of us use).

4. Keep your stuff in sync (by using sites that store your data online making it accessible between two or more computers. Again some good options and links are included).

That’s just a few of the suggestions so worth reading the full post if you want to discover more ways to help to help you get the most out of your netbook. Thanks to Rick Broida for the post. Sure it will be useful to anyone using netbooks – myself included, cheers!


Related wobble links:

Netbooks - everything you need to know!

Online Tutorial for Jobseeking (and fifty pound prize draw)

Many work based learning centres include some job searching activity as part of their provision so I thought I’d signpost this online resource which I’ve been getting quite a bit of feedback on recently.

Internet for Jobseeking is a free online tutorial designed to help learners who are job-searching. Freely accessible on the web, it has a simple "teach yourself” format that is supported by interactive quizzes and exercises. It can be used by learners to work through on their own or can be incorporated into session based activity that is led by a trainer. As a web based resource this can also be incorporated or linked into your virtual learning environment or any other online web space.

For an example of how this resource could be used see this page which has a session plan based around a Job Searching Session.

(Another useful tutorial is "Internet for Images" which focusses on finding copyright free images to use in training resources).

Both tutorials are part of the Intute Virtual Training Suite, a site that provides free Internet tutorials for education/training. Ive mentioned this previoulsy here.

The service has been in operation for some time now and the Intute team is keen to get feedback on how the reources is used. Co-incidentally, during this month (March 2009) there will be a weekly draw with a prize of £50 worth of Amazon vouchers for those completing a short survey on what they think of the site.

So if you haven’t yet seen the tutorials, now might be a good time to take a quick look, submit your feedback in the survey and stand to win a £50 voucher in the process!

Happy browsing and good luck!


Related wobble links:

Intute Web Resources for Education