Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Alternatives to the iPad

Ideal for anyone thinking of buying an iPad, this five minute video from the BBC Click team shows some good tablet device alternatives, listing the main features, drawbacks and prices of each. With Christmas almost upon us it’s a great time to consider what you can get for your money if you’re thinking of investing in one of these.

As part of a current mobile learning initiative, we now have a number of regional project teams that hope to evaluate the use of tablet devices in work based learning. These have the potential to offer some great feedback from a learning providers perspective so I’ll keep you posted with how some of these devices work out in practice, early in the New Year.


Related Wobble links:

The new iPad
Creating an Interactive Classroom
Mobile Initiative - The Learning Journey Made Mobile

To read more of Wobble click here.

Calling all Aspiring Authors...!

I’ve been asked to share the information below regarding the information pages that make up the RSC wiki. Anyone interested in contributing their e-learning knowledge and earning a tidy twenty pounds in the process, please read on...

The RSC West Midlands Wiki has been developing for a few years and is an increasingly popular source of information on RSC events and projects, as well as articles covering different areas of the RSC remit. It currently receives over 4000 page hits per month.

Until now, the majority of articles have been produced by the RSC team, but we'd like to remind you that contributions are particularly welcome from the RSC West Midlands community - in any of these subject areas:

· E-learning technology
· Learning Resources
· Strategy and Management
· Accessibility
· Teaching and learning

Make Your Contribution
As an incentive to article authors, we are currently offering a £20 Amazon voucher to the authors of the next five articles published (maximum one per applicant). If you'd like to take part, have a think about an e-learning topic you'd like to write about (within the categories as above) and send your idea to Matt Gallon: m.gallon@rsc-wm.ac.uk From there Matt will be happy to contact you to discuss words counts, format etc.

The wiki this can be a great way to share knowledge especially if there is an area of e-learning that you are particularly conversant with. My colleagues, our learning providers and myself use this as as source of reference regularly. We look forward to reading your contributions..!


Related Wobble links:

An Quick Introduction to Wikis

To read more of Wobble click here.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Nominate your Outstanding Learners for an Award

Do you know an outstanding adult learner or project that inspires you? If so why not nominate them now for the Adult Learners’ Week Awards 2011. The awards celebrate learning in all its forms, giving deserved recognition to inspirational learners who have changed their lives through learning and the organisations who have supported them.

Nominating for an Adult Learners' Week Award is simple, you can:

Nominate online;
Download the PDF or Word Nomination Forms and either print these off to complete by hand or email to alw@niace.org.uk; or
Order hard copies of the nomination form

Everyone nominated will receive a certificate of achievement. (What a nice idea). Winners will also receive a learning voucher, valued between £200 and £1,000, and will be invited to a ceremony during Adult Learners’ Week, 14 -20 May 2011.

Nominations submitted by 20 December 2010 will be entered for a FREE prize draw for the chance to win £200 worth of learning vouchers to spend on learning resources for your organisation.

Nominations close at 5pm on 28 January 2011.

There is more information about Adult Learners' Week Awards on the web here. You can also see some of our regional success stories on the 2009 winners page.

To read more of Wobble click here.

New eSafety JISC Mail List

Do you have concerns over e-safety or want to know more about safeguarding your learners in a digital world? If so, this new JISCMAIL list may be of interest to you. A new, national eSafety JISC Mail list has been established to support communications surrounding issues relating to eSafety within the post 16 education sector. Using email, list members can share best practice, ask for help and generally promote the safer use of technology within an educational and social context.

I personally like the JISCMail lists because if you don’t want to register you can still read the messages that are being posted through the archives on the web thus ensuring you’re still kept in the loop. The archive can also be a useful as a source of reference (or useful to link to on your own sites for keeping abreast of what’s topical).

The list is still very new but so far topics have included:

Facebook - is it a threat or not?
Clarification on parent taking photographs
Ofcom Media Literacy e-bulletin
Resources for e-safety
Some alternatives to Facebook

If you have your own e-safety questions, this is a good place to get them posted. You what they say, a problem shared is a problem halved and all that! I look forward to seeing the discussions develop and to adding my own bits along the way. Hope you find it useful.

Related Wobble links:

Safeguarding Learners – Tips for E-Safety
Getting WebWise and Staying Safe Online

To read more of Wobble click here.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

RSC TV Guide, What’s Online?

RSCtv is a series of 30 minute lunchtime online video presentations on recent developments and future trends. Each broadcast is scheduled around lunchtime; all you need to watch each video presentation is a network enabled PC or Mac running an up-to-date browser.

These broadcasts are a great way to not only to learn about e-learning issues but also to participate in live sessions that allow you to chat with the presenter and other attendees using web conferencing software. They are also a great way to see what can be achieved by web conferencing, it might inspire you to try some, after all some tools are still free.

Showing soon on RSCtv are the following two sessions which may be of interest to providers:

How to Google better - 30th November 2010 (12.30 – 1.00pm)
Venue: Online
Join this online session to find out how to search for resources more efficiently by refining your search criteria, using advanced tools and taking full advantage of Google functionality. In addition you'll find out how to find materials that you can copy and use without risk of breaching copyright law.

An Update from JISC TechDis - 7th December 2010 (12.30-1.00pm)
Venue: Online
JISC TechDis are an educational advisory service, working in the fields of accessibility and inclusion. They provide free guidance on creating accessible learning material, accessing information in alternative formats, and creating barrier free learning environments. Join this lunchtime session to meet one of the Senior Advisors and learn more about the JISC TechDis developments and initiatives.

You can access a full RSCtv schedule here, where you can register for future broadcasts, or view an archive of previous broadcasts.

In a similar vein, RSC South West delivers its own series of webinars, which can be accessed from wherever you are, provided you have access to an internet connected PC.

Coming up:

Using Mobile Learning to engage, challenge and reinforce learning, 6th December 2010 (11.00am - 12am)
Venue: Online
This session will look at practical ways of using mobile technology, how Bloom’s taxonomy reinforces the upper echelons via mobile reinforcement; and the reality of mobile technology.

To register for this session book via RSC South West online booking facility.

To read more of Wobble click here.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

E-Learning Technology - Try Before you Buy

For several months now we have been loaning e-learning technology to learning providers. We have been doing this to help providers to be able to evaluate the usefulness of devices which can be used for implementing e-learning and supporting learners with additional learning needs. More information about the project aims can be found in this previous post.

There has been quite a bit of positive feedback from this initiative so far and it has clearly helped providers to meet these aims. Here’s a snapshot of some of what has been reported so far:

Who has used the kit and in what context?

· ... used in a teacher training session on ILT to prompt discussion on the use of technology to improve access to education.
· Learners were encouraged to use the equipment, under staff supervision, in whatever way they saw fit.
· A range of contexts, in classroom lessons, in workshops, in one-to-one sessions with learning support tutors and within the access areas of the learning centre.

What kind of things has this kit been used for:

· To enhance recording of assessment, encourage learners to develop elearning skills, to support learning
· ...use in lessons to collect evidence of their work
· I scanned a piece of work the learner had produced using the Zpen (a detailed picture) and inserted into their PowerPoint Presentation

Do providers now have a particular preference for device that they would recommend to other practitioners?

· The Asus Eee PC was of particular use due to its portability, ease and speed of use, and extended battery life. I would recommend this piece of equipment to any learning provider experiencing IT access challenges due to lack of availability or spatial restrictions.
· ... the Zpen as it easy to use, has many uses, and is age appropriate.
· ...Flip video for assessment. Digital voice recorder for those not wishing to be filmed.

What actions have resulted from you trialling the hardware?

· Trialling the hardware has increased our awareness of what is out there and has lead to discussions with line managers about budget provision for accessibility equipment
· Have already purchased some of the kit after using the kit bag.

These bags of kit are still available for regional learning providers to borrow, at no charge, for a period of 2-4 weeks. A list of the hardware available can be found in this previous post which also outlines the project more fully.

To register your interest, please contact me by email (Theresa.welch@wlv.ac.uk).


Related Wobble links:

Learning Technology Loan Initiative
Borrow a fully functioning network
Accessibility Overview
Portable Video Magnifier for Learners with Visual Impairments
AccessApps - Free Portable Software on a Stick

To read more of Wobble click here.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Getting WebWise...in One Minute!

Following the recent re-launch of WebWise, the site now has a series of 16 one-minute films to support the website's resources. The video clips cover everything from search engines to social networking, which as well as being embedded in articles across the site, are also accessible from a single page.

Here are a couple of the videos that grabbed my attention and which might be useful for providers to share:

How do I make free phone calls and video calls online?
What is social networking?
What are podcasting and vodcasting?
How do I download files?
How do I stop getting spam?
How do I use a digital camera?
Preventing ID fraud

If you want to see all of the videos available, here is a link to the programmes page.

It’s worth noting that for slightly longer videos on aspects of using technology (three minutes or so each) these Commoncraft videos also offer some great no nonsense introductions that make complex subjects easy to understand.


Related Wobble links:

Getting WebWise and Staying Safe Online
Blogs in Plain English
A Quick Introduction to Wikis

To read more of Wobble click here

Monday, 8 November 2010

An Introduction to Virtual Worlds for Teaching and Training

I’ve written previously about the potential of using virtual worlds in Work Based Learning as these can be a great way to simulate learning environments.

For example, e-Learning staff at Barnfield College created a revolutionary learning environment in Second Life as part of a collaborative project with Museums Luton. They jointly created a virtual museum, which has helped drive a culture of innovative and engaging learning in the College and helped to raise the profile of local museums in Luton. Read the full Excellence Gateway case study online.

There are some other examples of the use of virtual worlds noted in this previous post.

In a free morning session next week (Wednesday 17th November), my colleague, Jane Edwards (aka LadyJane Plympton ) will be outling the potential of using virtual worlds for education and training. The workshop will cover the basics, including; what is Second Life, how to access it and how to get around ‘in-world’. There will be a demonstration of some of the areas that show how the environment can be used for teaching and learning and this will be taken further in discussion.

To find out more or book your place online on our website.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Related Wobble links:

Trying out Training in a Virtual World

To read more of Wobble click here.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Funding Opportunity - The Learning Journey Made Mobile

It’s quite exciting today as we have just launched a brand new initiative which offers regional work based learning providers the opportunity to bid for capital funding to purchase mobile devices. This new project – “The Learning Journey made Mobile” is being led by myself and Jason Curtis whom I’ve introduced on Wobble previously.

The purpose of the initiative is to capture and explore ten innovative examples of where mobile technology has been used to support and enhance the learner on their learning journey.

Each successful bid will receive £500 to purchase a number of mobile devices to use in their proposed project. All we ask for in return is a short report at the end of the project which may feed into a regional case study.

You can find out more about this project and access all the supporting documentation on a dedicated project wiki page at: http://wiki.rscwmsystems.org.uk/index.php/Learning_Journey_Made_Mobile

We look forward to receiving your enquiries – but be quick, the deadline for submissions is 12pm on Mon 29th Nov 2010.

I’ll keep you posted on how this develops.


Related wobble links:

Mobile Learning in the Work Based Learning Sector
Information Sheets on Technology for E-Learning
Molesharing Mobile Learning Resources
Kineo's mobile learning guide (pdf)
Go Mobile - free publication

To read more of Wobble click here.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Need a network set up? Borrow ours.

Thanks to the initiative of our Technical Adviser - Colleen Romero, the RSC West Midlands is now able to offer learning providers the loan of network kit, where a network is needed. This new Network-in-a-Box service is targeted at learning providers who conduct training in locations that do not have an existing network infrastructure. As such it may be particularly useful to Work Based Learning Providers and Adult and Community Learning Providers, many of whom often struggle with connectivity.

Interested participants can loan the following network equipment at no charge, for one month. This will allow them to utilise their existing mains power circuitry to access an IT network or the internet (additional dongle required for this).

· 8-port (wired) network switch
· 85 Mbps Powerline Ethernet switches
· Category 5 Ethernet patch cables
Using this equipment removes the need for complex systems or yards of cabling and makes it quicker, cleaner and easier to get online. The service will also include a demonstration of how providers can :

· Configure a shared wireless or mobile broadband connection
· Connect a Powerline Ethernet network

As part of the service, Colleen is also on hand to advise on issues relating to this specific hardware and its installation and use. In return she may just be interested to know how it went at the end of the loan period. (which seems a fair trade to me!)

If you’re interested in borrowing this kit to set up a network of your own, contact Colleen by email at:colleen.romero@rsc-wm.ac.uk

(PS Those more technically minded amongst you can also follow Colleen’s tecchie tips on her blog).

To read more of Wobble click here.

Assistive Technology and Access Apps

Do you know what Assistive Technology is and how it can be used with learners? If not you can either click here for a web definition, or better still, sign up for this free regional event which will explore assistive technologies in practice. The event will also show you how assistive technologies can be used to empower your learners (as part of your new Equality Duties).

This popular session is a repeat of previous ones run by Alison Wootton, our regional Adviser for Accessibility and Inclusion. This one will be held on the afternoon of 2nd December, here at Wolverhampton Science Park. Set informally in our training room it will offer you a chance to look at a range of software and hardware, including:

* A variety of software (Read and Write Gold, Word Bar, Clicker)
* Digital Cameras, MP3 Players
* Trackerballs, Giro Mice
* Alternative Keyboards
* Pen Partners
* Low Tech accessibility options (coloured overlays, organisation tools)

All delegates will also receive a copy of the popular Access Apps suite of software, a USB stick chock full of software that can freely be used and run directly from the USB itself.

More about that here.

Related Wobble links:

Create and Convert for Accessible Learning Resources
Accessibility Overview
Learning Technology Loan Initiative
Portable Video Magnifier for Learners with Visual Impairments
AccessApps - Free Portable Software on a Stick

To read more of Wobble click here.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Autumn Winter RSC Newsletter now Available Online

The Autumn Winter edition of the regional RSC West Midlands newsletter is now available. Packed with hints and tips for helping you to get more out of e-learning this free newsletter is a great way to keep informed about issues that affect all sectors.

Kirsty Hill, our Information Officer has now done a great job in sharing this edition and several back copies for you to view in a readable format online and share with colleagues at your leisure. She has also put a link to our newsletters and Senior Management Breifings on our website.

Of particular interest in this edition there’s:

1. Latest e-Learning Good Practice From Our Region
2. My StudyBar Saves Organisations £500,000
3. A Guide to Screencasting
4. LSIS Introduce Regional Development Managers
5. Save Yourself Time Online: RSS Feeds
6. Getting the Most From Moodle
7. RSC Launches Network-in-a-Box
8. Apple iPad is a Hit with the RSC
9. Green Tips From the Team
10. Regional Survey Results

If you’re a West Midlands based learning provider you should receive your own printed versions of our newsletters in the post, if for any reason you don’t please do get in touch.

If there is anything you would like to see covered in future editions of the newsletter please do let us know, we are always happy to receive feedback.

Happy reading!

To read more of Wobble click here.

Creating an Interactive Classroom

Last week saw the very first Interactive Classroom event run by RSC WM at the Science Park in Wolverhampton. This was a brand new taster event which introduced various pieces of technology and looked at ways these were being used in education.

Sessions in the morning covered two key brands of Interactive Whiteboards; Promethean and Smartboard and also offered a chance to try out the portable wireless mimeo whiteboard.

Later on, attendees were shown examples of some popular Learner Response Systems – these included Activote, Active expression, Turning point and Quizdom. Attendees also received a free DVD that helps to identify best practice in teaching and learning in terms of these systems. This lively session was followed by a demonstration of a text wall highlighting its uses for capturing learner voice and other possible uses.

The last session of the day highlighted the potential that Apple products such as the iPods, iPhones and the new iPad have for bringing additional interactivity to your classroom. Case studies based on these devices were shared and delegates were invited to try out the devices for themselves. Lots of ideas were generated for possible uses of these tools and particularly in the case of the iPad there were a lot of people saying they want one (this may be why!)

All in all the day was a lively one, with lots to see and try. It was the first we’ve done of these and it was certainly well received. Delegates commented:

“Gave me ideas on how I can incorporate some of the demonstrations into my everyday lesson to help learners progress and record their progress.”

“As a new teacher with very limited experience, I found the day invaluable.”

“Excellent look forward for more of these”

“Demonstrations on interactive board ... enabled me to identify how I could possibly use the tools and techniques available in my own lessons”

For those who couldn’t make this one, we hope to be running another of these days in the New Year so watch our events page for more. There is now a supporting wiki page available that now hosts many of the resources used and has lots of links and further information relating to the technologies covered.

If you would like any specific information on how you can incorporate interactive technologies in your own classroom please get in touch. As always, we are happy to discuss the needs of regional providers on an individual basis.


Related Wobble links:

The new iPad
Using Interactive Whiteboards: A Video Case Study
Interactive Whiteboard Links and Resources
Using Voting Systems with Interactive Whiteboards
Using iPods for Teaching
Things Learners can do with a Mobile Phone

To read more of Wobble click here.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Create and Convert for Accessible Learning Resources

For those not yet familiar with the Equality Act, Matt Gallons recent blog post is an excellent starting point for understanding its implications for learning providers. If you are familiar with the Act, you may be aware that it now puts the onus on learning providers to take reasonable steps to ensure that their information is accessible.

Good news - Create&Convert has been designed specifically to help learning providers comply with this Act.

Create&Convert is a free tool that can take documents in common electronic formats (like MS Office, Open Office etc) and turn them into ‘epubs’ or talking books. In very simple terms it’s a suite of free software tools that learning providers can use to support learners who are print-impaired, experience difficulties with reading or who prefer to access content in a flexible and multi-sensory format.

How do I get Create&Convert?

There are two versions of Create&Convert - Microsoft Word 2003/2007 version and OpenWriter. Both versions are free to download and both work portably from a USB pendrive. The Word 2003/2007 version can also be run from the desktop.
Download your own copy from the RSC Scotland website here.

Other help for accessible resources

To learn more about ways that that you can make your own documents more accessible or understand the duties of the Equalities Act, West Midlands based providers can also contact our Regional Accessibility and Inclusion Adviser, Alison Wootton (E-mail a.wootton@rsc-wm.ac.uk or tel: 01902 518984) The posts below also highlights a number of resources supporting accessibility which you may find useful.

Related Wobble links:

AccessApps - Free Portable Software on a Stick
Learning Technology Loan Initiative
Accessibility Overview
Portable Video Magnifier for Learners with Visual Impairments

To read more of Wobble click here.

FREE online courses for your Moodle (and training in how to use them)

TDM have created 10 free Moodle/Xerte courses that cover the ten business critical areas outlined below. They are now offering a number of training sessions that aim to demonstrate how these resources can be uploaded as courses into your own Moodle and adapted to your own organisational needs. (In addition these face to face sessions offer you the chance to ask more general questions about using Moodle and Xerte in your own organisation).

There are currently free resources available that cover the following areas:

* Business Improvement Techniques
* Business Systems / Processes
* Teamworking / Communication
* Customer Service
* Sales & Marketing
* IT User
* New Product Design
* Finance & Credit
* Cash-flow & Profit Management
* Risk Management

Available course dates for the training sessions in this region so far as follows:

1/2/5th November at Riverside Training (Hereford)
9/10/11th November at TDM (Bewdley)
16th November at BCTG (Oldbury)

Watch this space for more.

These resources were created using funding from the LSIS Flexibility and Innovation Fund that I shared details of previously. Its great to see the results of this funding now benefitting the wider work based learning sector.

For more information on these training sessions or the resources available contact Glenys Bradbury at TDM (glen@tdm.info, 01299 405 719)

To read more of Wobble click here.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Discovering and Sharing Freely Available Educational Resources

At the RSC we are increasingly being asked where training providers can obtain good quality electronic resources they can use for their delivery. Many also stipulate that resources must be no cost or low cost, not surprising in today’s economic climate.

Partly in response to this, and in conjunction with staff from RSC East Midlands, our Learning Resources Advisor will be facilitating a training day which focuses entirely on discovering and sharing freely available resources.

Delegates will be introduced to a range of useful tools for sharing, including Delicious and Slideshare as well as a review of the new functionality of the UK's Jorum repository. There are also sessions on Creative Commons licensing and Open Educational Resources and where to find them.

The full days training costs just £55 and bookings are limited to two per provider in the first instance.

To book your place or for more information see the event page on the RSC website.

Other Support...

For other general information on Learning Resources, our Learning Resources Adviser (Matt Gallon) is available to help with your queries on a one to one basis. Contact him if you'd like support in any of these areas:

· guidance on finding and using free and subscription e-resources
· advice on copyright and intellectual property matters
· help with designing and planning learning spaces
· guidance on the range of JISC services and help with accessing them.

Matt also maintains a useful blog which is worth subscribing to, or keeping an eye on for updates.


Related wobble links:

Copyright Free Images for Resources
Intute - web resources for education
NLN learning resources, whats on the horizon?

To read more of Wobble click here.

Date for your Diary to get Online

Just six weeks to go for Get Online Week...!

Get online week is an annual campaign from UK online centres. Its runs from the 18th to 24th October 2010, the campaign aims to get tens of thousands of people that have never used computers and the internet before online.

This year UK online centres is teaming up with a range of external partners who will be generating huge amounts of publicity for Get online week. They include the BBC, BT, Three, Post Office and MLA amongst many others. Partners will be holding their own events or directing people to one of the 3,500 UK online centres which are situated around England.

To register your own event for Get online week 2010, simply complete the registration form on the website. As a learning provider you could be helping one of the 10 million+ people in the UK who still don’t use computers and the internet. Get online week is the biggest digital inclusion event to date and being a part of it is a great way to help more people in your community to get online and get to know you too.

To read more of Wobble click here.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Examples of how to use….

…SMS text messaging to capture learner voice:

Using a variety of methods, including text messaging, Northampton College successfully engaged with its learners to build a better relationship with them so that their views are heard and built into their learning experience. This recent case study looks at how a variety of technologies contributed to this:

Northampton College: Learner voice and technology

… hand held games consoles to improve health and wellbeing

ETEC Development Trust purchased various computer games consoles for learners at its drop-in centre in Sunderland. ETEC hopes the games will help to improve their learners' literacy and numeracy skills as well as their general health and wellbeing. One learner has already improved his vocabulary skills through the use of a Nintendo DS.
ETEC Development Trust: Game-based learning brings skills to life

…a virtual world for creating alternative learning environments

e-Learning staff at Barnfield College have created a revolutionary learning environment in Second Life. Barnfield College has been involved in a collaborative project with Museums Luton to create a virtual museum. This has helped drive a culture of innovative and engaging learning in the College and has helped to raise the profile of local museums in Luton.
Barnfield College: Informal learning through collaborative Second Life project

...screen-capture to create animated how to guides
North West Kent College is not alone in trying to solve the various challenges associated with IT-based staff development. Using Adobe Captivate to quickly and efficiently create a series of animated ‘How To' guides, this College has found a highly effective way of providing anytime, anywhere and on-demand IT support for both staff and students alike.
North West Kent College: ‘How to' raise IT skills

To read more of Wobble click here.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Getting WebWise and Staying Safe Online

BBC Learning has just announced the re-launch of WebWise, the BBC's free online guide to the internet for beginners. As well as two new courses - Internet Basics and Computer Basics - the new WebWise also has over 130 new articles from leading technology writers.

This relaunched version also has a really comprehensive section on Safety and Privacy which offers lots of hints and tips on how you and your learners can stay safe online. For learning providers thats certainly worth linking to or making learners aware of as part of the Safeguarding agenda.


Related Wobble links:

Free Online Tutorials for Using Video and Audio
OpenOffice Online Tutorials

To read more of Wobble click here.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Flexibility and Innovation Fund, Fourth funding round: October 2010

Last week LSIS announced the opening of its fourth round of funding for Flexibility and Innovation Fund projects. This current round of funding closes on Friday 29 October 2010.

This time, bids for up to a maximum of £50,000 are invited from consortia of provider organisations for projects which have the potential to significantly enhance the practice and performance of the learning and skills sector. Bids from individual provider organisations cannot be accepted in this funding round.

For this funding round LSIS will particularly welcome consortia bids that address specific issues and problems in defined locations - based on the principles of Total Place. (Total Place is a government initiative that looks at how a ‘whole area’ approach to public services can lead to better services at less cost. It seeks to identify and avoid overlap and duplication between organisations – delivering a step change in both service improvement and efficiency at the local level.)

The following supporting documents for this funding round are available on the website:

· Guidance for submitting applications for the fourth round of funding
· The application form for the submission of bids
· Further information on the marking scheme for assessing bids
· Guidance on the qualities of successful bids in the first three rounds of funding

Further information about this fund is also available on the Excellence Gateway. This includes ‘Frequently Asked Questions’, ‘Qualities of Successful Bids’, further information about the judges’ marking scheme, and summary information about successful bids from the first three funding rounds.

Related Wobble links:

Bid Writing Resources - resources which may help with the bid writing process.
Supporting resources page from a previous bid writing workshop.

To read more of Wobble click here.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

How good are you at E-Learning?

As an organisation it can be hard to know how well you are performing with e-learning. How do you compare to other training providers? What 'could' you be doing with e-learning?

This is the reason the RSC's developed the free 'ILT Healthcheck' many years ago, a free service which involved us visiting learning providers, speaking to samples of their staff and learners and producing a free report which helped them to identify their e-learning strengths and weaknesses. This service also helped providers with action planning which could be mapped to any support, funding and initiatives that were available for e-learning.

We now have a very large number of training providers in this region and so we are unable to offer the same level of in-depth review, however we are able to help providers to assess their e-learning progress through a number of other e-progress review options. There are several options available for this and to make the current offering clearer we have produced a two page summary sheet with outlines the wealth of free services available to regional providers. Click image to download in pdf format.

We are happy to work with you using these review tools and to offer you free impartial advice and guidance throughout the process. This will not only help you to determine your current e-learning position but will also outline next steps that will help you to reach your desired goal.

To arrange your own free e-progress review or to discuss your needs in more detail, please contact us.

Hopefully when we next ask, how good you are at e-learning, you'll be able to say "much better!"

Related Wobble links:

Safeguarding Learners – Tips for E-Safety
Leadership in Technology Grants

To read more of Wobble click here.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Moodle Use in Work Based Learning

As the number of case studies in the Excellence Gateway continue to grow, it’s great to see examples of providers using Moodle on the increase too. In this region we have quite a large number of Moodle users and these case studies offer a really effective way for learning about what possible with this particular Virtual Learning Environment, as well as showing who’s doing what elsewhere.

Below, I’ve listed a handful of these Moodle examples with links to the case studies that have been shared through the Excellence Gateway (and Delicious) with you.

To make it easier for you to also keep up with who’s doing what with e-learning in Work Based Learning generally, I’ve now also included a link to the latest Work based Learning case studies in the margin of this blog. This will be updated automatically so you can keep up with developments directly.

ATG Training with its Future Zone VLE
Maurice Keeley, e-Learning Co-ordinator at AGT Training notes that “...Most if not all colleges and universities now have a VLE. Yet one could argue that the VLE has even more value within a work-based learning organisation. Twenty-four-hour remote online access to learning resources and course materials combined with the communications and collaboration tools built into systems like Moodle dovetail perfectly with the teaching and learning models we use with our apprentices...

Maurice set up ATG's Moodle-based Future Zone in August 207 which now has learning materials available ‘24/7', so that students can always catch up in their own time if they miss any lessons, as well as access videos for practical demonstrations.

Devon and Cornwall Training Provider Network: Communal Moodle
Here a group of 20 work-based learning providers got together to develop a shared training resource for the Devon and Cornwall Training Provider Network. Along with Mahara - a generic e-portfolio system, this provided a method for all training materials and communications being available online.

S & B Automotive Academy: Partnership VLE to support vocational training and learning
S & B Automotive Academy specialises in training apprentices for the motor industry. Thanks to funding from a Learning Innovation Grant (LIG), S & B Automotive Academy enabled the development of a network-wide virtual learning environment (VLE) – known as the Hive, to be implemented across eight learning providers.

League Football Education: Tackling the Football Apprenticeship Programme online through Moodle
Faced with the challenging task of organising education for football apprentices across 74 English Football League clubs, League Football Education (LFE) implemented Moodle as a key part of its strategy to meet the requirements for this geographically dispersed set of learners and educators.Their developments currently focus on administrative processes, including the creation of learner accounts at pre-programme enrolment, initial literacy and numeracy assessments, undertaking reviews and tracking progress.

14-19 Diploma learners in Torbay benefit from shared Moodle site
Students and staff from Torbay schools and colleges now have access to the Torbay Learning Partnership Moodle site as part of the 14-19 Diploma programme. The Torbay Learning Partnership is one of the first consortiums in the country to have been approved to run the Creative and Media Diploma and the virtual learning environment (VLE) provides students with easy access to learning material wherever they were studying.

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.

Free Web Based E-Portfolios for You

The Development Manager are now offering free, open source e-portfolio solutions that are available for both learners and staff to use online. Their new e-portfolio project, Portfoliofor.me is built on the award-winning Mahara software, which provides learners with their own free e-portfolios, hosted on the web.

With portfoliofor.me, learners have the freedom to create their own e-portfolios away from the restrictions usually imposed by institutional e-portfolio systems. They also take ownership of that e-portfolio, much like they do now with email and many other web services. As part of this project, educational institutions can also have a dedicated branded e-portfolio area hosted on the web that their learners can also access when they leave their course of study. In this way the institution no longer maintains responsibility for the learners' work once the course has finished. (Please note - that particular service does have a nominal charge).

Portfoliofor.me now also makes use of a Mobile Upload application which allows people to make recordings, take photos and upload files from their smartphone straight into their e-portfolio. This makes maintaining their e-portfolio extremely easy to do on the go, as well as capturing useful evidence of the learner voice along the way.

The four minute video below offers a quick demo of some of the capabilities of the Mahara e-portfolio platform on which this project is based. Certainly worth a look at what this e-portfolio option offers, for free.

For more information on how you or learners can benefit, please contact the TDM team.

Related wobble links:

E-Portfolios for Starters
E-Assessment Online Toolkit
Use Of E-Portfolios In Assessment
Midlands E-Portfolio Group

To read more of Wobble click here.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Watching Social Media Grow

Interested to see how rapidly Social Media and technology is being adopted at the moment? Then the 'social media counter' developed by Gary Hayes (shown below), is worth a look.

This tool shows social media activity around the world as you watch. Its a great visualization tool which makes us aware of the impact of technology and shows how mobile devices and forms of social media tools are being adopted worldwide. As Gary Woodhall pointed out, "...the phenomenon is huge. Watch for a minute, and see how many people tweet or upload images to Facebook....

...As a learning tool, this kind of embedded dashboard could be used to teach about the impact of any dynamic activity that is rapidly changing – for example, pollution being discharged, or jobs being gained or lost."

via Gary Woodhall, Workplace Learning Today.

To read more of Wobble click here.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Free Online Tutorials for Using Video and Audio

JISC Digital Media in conjunction with the Virtual Training Suite (VTS) have launched two new online tutorials, Internet for Audio Resources and Internet for Video and Moving Images. These free web based tutorials have been designed to assist staff and learners to locate audio and video for use in both teaching and learning.

Internet for Video and Moving Image Resources can help you learn how to use the web to find free video resources quickly and efficiently, whereas Internet for audio does the same but helps you to locate good quality audio files. Both were created as part of the Virtual Training Suite, some of which I’ve mentioned on wobble previously.

Dave Kilbey, Training Coordinator at JISC Digital Media said “..the emphasis of the tutorials is on finding copyright cleared resources, which are available free of charge; facilitating users with quick, hassle-free access to a vast range of online audio and video resources.”

These two new tutorials follow the launch of the very successful Internet for Image Searching tutorial.

I have previously co-written one of these Virtual Training Suite tutorials myself and know firsthand how much work goes into ensuring they offer you a good range of links and resources. Naturally I’m slightly biased but I do think they are great free tools to have access to for teaching and learning. I look forward to seeing the range of available titles continue to grow. Watch this space for more.

Related Wobble links:

Intute - web resources for education

To read more of Wobble click here.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Safeguarding Learners – Tips for E-Safety

JISC Legal has just published their top ten tips for e-safety on the web. The document tends to be fairly FE biased, so I’ve modified their tips slightly and included some additional links and information.

JISC Legal’s ten tips...

1. Appoint someone to have overall responsibility for e-safety, ideally a senior member of staff.

2. Establish an e-Safety group that represents all stakeholders and includes learners and teaching staff where possible.

3. Audit current e-safety measures and identify weaknesses and areas for development. The Generator tool, or any of a number of other e-progress review tools
(PDF format) may help you with this.

4. Write an e-safety policy that uses appropriate language.

5. Establish consistent risk assessment procedures for the use of technology in learning. (Our Learning Technologies Adviser may be able to help with aspects of this).

6. Provide an easily accessible document, detailing relevant behaviours and sanctions where appropriate.

7. Have a clear and well publicised incident response and reporting procedure in place. (Ties in with point 5 above).

8. Schedule a training programme to promote safe and responsible behaviours, raise awareness of the institution’s e-safety rules and explain how to report an incident or raise concerns. (We also run a number of regional events in support of e-safety so be sure to keep an eye out for those).

9. Provide opportunities for feedback, support and further guidance to staff.

10. Build in time to monitor the impact of your e-safety measures and respond accordingly.

Should you require any help or guidance with regards to safeguarding and specifically e-safety within your organisation, please don’t hesitate to contact Jason, our Learning Technologist. He is also currently developing a number of resources to further support you in this area so watch this space for more...!


Related E-Safety links:

* Next Generation Learning Safeguarding learners – a useful website chock full of E-safety knowledge and skills for keeping children and young people safe online

* This e-safety Moodle course from the RSC East Midlands - aims to introduce tutors/managers to the issues involved in making information technology safe for learners.

* JISC Legal’s’ E-safety Theme - Legal Guidance for ICT Use in Education

* E-Safety pages and case studies on the Excellence Gateway: Safeguarding FE learners in a digital world

Thanks to Kirsty for the link.

(E-Safety logo courtesy of E2BN)

Portable Video Magnifier for Learners with Visual Impairments

Over the summer we have extended the range of accessibility kit we have in our accessibility box. This is so that we can continue to offer learning providers a practical demonstration of how accessibility tools can benefit learners.

Our latest acquisition is a hand-held video magnifier that uses OLED display technology - similar to that used on high-end mobile phones - to give really clear magnified displays of text and images. This device could prove extremely useful for learners with visual impairments.

Its key features:

· It can magnify images from 1.5 times up to 10.5 times.
· User can choose from several different colour modes, including full colour, black and white, and more.
· You can adjust the brightness of the screen, as well as the brightness of the LED lights.
· It’s lightweight.
· It has a reasonable battery life of 3.5 hours
· Provides user with auditory cues when buttons are pressed – which can be turned off if required
· When an image has been “frozen” you can change the size, colour and brightness of the image

Alison Wootton, our Accessibility and Inclusion Adviser, has this new video magnifier available for learning providers to try if required. For more information please get in touch with Alison (e-mail: a.wootton@rsc-wm.ac.uk).

The posts below also summarises a number of useful publications and accessibility tips and tools, for anyone with an interest in this area.

Related Wobble links:

AccessApps - Free Portable Software on a Stick
Learning Technology Loan Initiative
Accessibility Overview

To read more of Wobble click here.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Leadership in Technology Grants

The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) is currently inviting bids from learning providers for project grants of £6000 for technology based improvement interventions. The grant is designed to support providers who identify a particular improvement need that can be tackled through the innovative use of technology and organisational development. The closing date for applications is Friday 17th September 2010 at 12:00pm.

How the Scheme Works:

To qualify for this LSIS grant, organisations are required to:

· Identify a particular area for improvement that can be tackled through the effective deployment of technology.
· Identify the change management that needs to take place and show how this will be part of the organisational improvement strategy.
· Select a mentor who can support you in the implementation of the project and contribute a range of expertise and skills that you / your organisation would benefit from.

You will need to have undertaken a diagnostic or some form of research to justify why the improvement is needed before submitting your application. This evaluation of your current position could be enhanced by using any of the e-progress review tools currently offered by your RSC.

For more information on this funding, please refer to the documentation below or contact the LSIS team on: eleadership@lsis.org.uk

Guidance to Bidders
Application form

To read more of Wobble click here.

Friday, 30 July 2010

LSIS Accounts Extended To More Providers

The Learning and Skills Improvement Service, (LSIS) are now opening up their LSIS Accounts scheme to even more providers. All training providers in the learning and skills sector delivering education and training funded by the Skills Funding Agency or the Young Peoples Learning Agency are now eligible for an LSIS Account.

This account provides you with virtual credit to spend on LSIS improvement services. These range from one-off seminars and masterclasses to full organisational development programmes, such as Skills for Employer Responsiveness.

If you haven't already done so you can apply for your LSIS Account today by emailing LSISAccounts@lsis.org.uk, completing the online registration form or by calling 024 7662 7953.

You will need to provide:

* the name and address of your organisation;
* the type of education and training funded by the Skills Funding Agency or YPLA;
* your UKPRN (if you have one); and
* the name of the lead contractor.

To read more of Wobble click here.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Tweets with Everything

The NIACE Chips with Everything team has started tweeting...!

As well as continuing to produce their popular newsletter, the Chips with Everything team will now be sharing news (including announcements of opportunities), comments and interesting links on Twitter. Follow them on twitter here (or search for Chips_tweet). We will certainly be adding them to the list of those we already follow, as we use Twitter to share our own snippets of information. (Hope you’ve added us if you’re a tweeter!)

The Chips with Everything newsletter and twitter page is produced by the Digital Learning team at NIACE as part of the communications plan to ensure that adult learning practitioners are aware of the benefits of e-learning. The newsletter is currently distributed free to over 10,000 readers in work based learning, personal and community development learning, adult and community learning and offender learning and skills. You can register for your own free copies on the Excellence Gateway here where you can also access archive copies online.

New to Twitter – want to start tweeting?

If you’re new to Twitter, and don’t have an account for your organisation, it’s certainly worth looking at what this free tool can offer you in terms of your own communications. In this article for the Telegraph, Shane Richmond offers you a step-by-step guide to getting started.

This latest JISC Legal newsletter highlights a number of useful apps for Twitter.

Alternatively, feel free to contact us for more information on how you might use it – we will be happy to assist any of our supported learning providers in getting up and running.

Related Wobble links:

Get Chips Online?
Using Twitter for business? Why you would and how you would Twitter 101

To read more of Wobble click here.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers

I’ve just been reading RSC South West’s newsletter which highlighted a Moodle help sheet which would be useful for any learning providers using Moodle. This poster entitled a “Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers” helps you and your teaching staff to compare the functionality and pedagogical advantages of some standard Moodle tools, with further advice on how easy or difficult each tool is to set up.

Using effective colour coding it first asks what you want to achieve. E.g. I want to assess learning. You then refer to that column on the guide to see which Moodle tools are highlighted in green, and might therefore be appropriate for your aim.

Its second approach allows you to first decide on a tool you want to use, and then look at the possible pedagogical uses of that tool.

Modelled here by the lovely Jason, (our Learning Technologist) you can see that it prints very nicely onto an A3 sheet making a nice poster which can be used as a quick reference guide. You can access the link to a pdf copy of the guide here.

Hope our regional Moodlers find it useful. Thanks to RSC South West for the link.


Related Wobble links:

Moodle and e-Portfolios – Try Before you Buy

To read more of Wobble click here.

Monday, 26 July 2010

The new iPad

I’ve had a new iPad and despite us being commercially independant, I must admit that so far I'm very impressed.

Many of our team are iPhone users, have iPods and have used the iTouch and we can see how building on the successes of those, the new iPad opens up so many mobile learning possibilities for learning providers. I won’t list all of the pros and cons here, that’s for a future post, but for now I’ll leave you free to explore just a couple of things that have been said about its educational use:
In this post, David Muir based up in Scotland outlines what’s impressed him about the ipad and what educational application he thinks it might have. He also outlines a couple of niggles and several readers have also added their own comment to his post, which now offers a good perspective.

Here, Tony Vincent of the popular “Learning in Hand” site, has put together a great video highlighting some of the available educational apps for the iPad. (I watched this on the iPad after downloading the podcast which was very simple to do). Tony’s video outlines the iPads potential for use as a teaching tool. He’s also put a load of useful links on that page beneath the video and has also bookmarked over 30 lists of educational apps on his delicious page of links.

We’re planning to run some events in the not too distance future that will allow our supported learning providers to learn more firsthand about what iPads and other mobile devices like this can do to support e-learning. (As always, watch our events page for details).

In the meantime, should you wish to know more about the iPad, you can get a handful of guided video tours on the apple site. It’s marketing, but it highlights the main features and gives you a flavour of some of the plusses. If you are keen to know more, or get our opinion on how iPads can be used specifically for teaching and learning, feel free to forward your individual enquiries to us by email.

To read more of Wobble click here.

New e-Learning Managers Community of Practice

Allen Crawford Thomas has recently established a West Midlands e-Learning Managers Community of Practice that is open to all of our supported learning providers .

You may be aware, that we already run an e-learning forum for Managers in WBL / ACL, but the idea of this community of practice is not quite the same. In this, the agenda is set by the members and the nice thing is that Allen has built up a small network of like minded people, who are willing to share knowledge, experience and, where they can, paper resources to help others overcome common challenges in the management and integration of e-learning. Subjects they have so far wanted to talk about are developing e-learning strategy, Electronic ILP’s, Safeguarding and staff development. You can also see an overview of what was included in their last meeting here.

Just a quick reminder that Allen is also on hand to advise on such things as e-learning progress reviews, use of the online Generator tool for assessing the impact of e-learning, Moodle development (especially for teaching and learning) and E-learning Strategy development.

Should you wish to join this new Community of Practice or require further information on any of these additional services please contact Allen Crawford Thomas by email at a.crawford-thomas@rsc-wm.ac.uk or telephone 01902 518930.

Related Wobble links:

Joint E-Learning Forum – Summary of the day...
Help with your E-Learning Strategy Development

To read more of Wobble click here.

RSC Publications and Communication

Over the summer, Kirsty Hill, our regional Information Officer has been busy surveying the sector, to determine your needs, and producing various printed publications to support our communications.

Focus on Senior Management

Our Senior Management Briefings, called SMT Focus, are printed publications addressing some of the issues and challenges currently facing Senior Management within post 16 education and training. The latest issue entitled ‘Value for Money’ was posted out to Managers within our supported learning providers a fortnight ago, and featured a piece on making e-savings (i.e. reducing travel costs, paper, hardware costs etc), open source, and cost effective services from the RSC. If you want to know more about these briefings or request your own copy, please contact Kirsty as per the details below.

For more information on the support available to senior managers and their teams, remember we also have a dedicated area of our website that outlines our work in this area.

E-Learning Case Studies

Kirsty has continued publishing a number of really useful case studies on the Excellence Gateway which offer excellent examples of ways that training providers are using technology and e-learning. What’s more, the Information Officers have now developed a very useful set of Delicious bookmarks which now help facilitate an easier search by case study topic. I’m so glad to see that in action, and I’m sure you’ll agree that as the number of case studies continue to grow this should be increasingly useful.

RSC Newsletter

The last issue of our newsletter was posted out in early summer and Kirsty is currently in the process of modifying the newsletter distribution and working on a new online format. If you have news you’d like to share about your experiences of e-learning within your organisation, we would love to hear from you.

To register your details to receive our publications or enquire about any of the above, please contact Kirsty Hill, Information Officer on 01902 518749 or by e-mail kirsty.hill@rsc-wm.ac.uk

We look forward to keeping you posted!

Related Wobble links:

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

To read more of Wobble click here.

Free Publication for Embedding Mobile Technologies

There’s a lot of talk about enabling more mobile work based learning these days so I thought it might be worth highlighting a useful publication that JISC compiled a while ago, which focuses on embedding mobile and wireless technologies into everyday practice. 'Innovative Practice with e-Learning' is a good practice guide which explores ways in which mobile and wireless technologies have become established in post-16 learning.

Like many JISC publications, this has a lot of examples from colleges and universities etc but also still contains useful information for work based learning, including advice on getting stated with mobile learning, plus a number of really useful templates to help you plan for this. 10 case studies are included with the booklet to illustrate the use and the impact of mobile technologies from three perspectives: those of the learner, the practitioner and the institution.

The publication contains a supplementary CD-ROM which contains extended versions of all 10 case studies, video clips for 5 of the case studies, an e-learning audit tool, and planning tools for use of mobile and wireless technologies.

I have a handful of glossy printed copies of this publication which I’m happy to post out to any of our supported providers who may want one (with the accompanying CD). Alternatively, ‘being green’, you can access the supporting website here, or get electronic copies of the publication and its very useful planning tools from the links below.

To read more of Wobble click here.