Thursday, 15 March 2012

Voting to Interact with your Audience For Free

I spotted a very useful tool on a colleague’s website last week which allows you to use simple voting with your learners in class, for free. This web based system allows you to very quickly and easily create a question for them to anonymously respond to by visiting a url on their phone (or other mobile device) and selecting an answer. This can be very useful for getting instant feedback or for checking understanding.

So what is it? It’s called Mentimeter and works as follows:

1. You create a multiple choice question
How? Just go to the start page, type your question and with the click of a button your question is created. Add the possible answers; pick a theme and voilá, youre ready to go.

2. Tell your group/class/audience to vote using their smartphone
How? Youre given a voting ID when you set up your question. When the user goes to that address using their phone or PC, the question will be displayed together with the choices at hand, letting them vote without effort.

3. Show the result on screen
How? The presentation is automatically updated when new votes are received. If you want to hide the results when the audience is voting that option is included. You can also turn the question off if you want to control the time when the vote is open.

So, that simple, is there a catch? And why is it free? Will it stay free in the future?

The developers note that they think this kind of service should be as simple as possible, and that it also should be free. There are working on a premium version, but assure us that all the features that are free right now will continue being free.

To show how it works, why not have a go at the question below by entering the following url into the web browser on your mobile phone: You can also answer it on the web here (which is the same web address). I've included the live snapshot below to show how the results can also be embedded in other sites. Once you've answered the question, you can view the results here or in the live image below. Please note, the embedded image might take a few seconds to referesh.

I hope you find it useful.

To read more of Wobble click here.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

What are..? Open educational resources (OER)

"Open educational resources (OER) are any resources available at little or no cost that can be used for teaching, learning, or research. The term can include textbooks and other learning content; simulations, games, and other applications; syllabi, quizzes, and assessment tools and virtually any other educational material.

Open resources are issued under a license that spells out how they can be used - some may only be used in their original form; in other cases, resources can be modified, remixed, and redistributed."

Why am I mentioning these here...? Because not only is it becoming more common for providers to share resources or access shared resources through channels such as JORUM, but recent funding initiatives are also encouraging learning providers to share and develop resources together, so its useful to know what OER are and what's out there currently.

The "7 Things You Should Know About..." series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on emerging learning technologies. Each brief focuses on a single technology and describes what it is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning.

Hopefully this brief can offer you a no-jargon, quick overview of this topic which you can share them with time-pressed colleagues.

In addition to the "7 Things You Should Know About…" briefs, you may find other ELI resources useful in addressing teaching, learning, and technology issues at your institution. To learn more, please visit the ELI Resources page.

To read more of Wobble click here.

JISC FE and Skills Funding - Bidding Advice Webinar

Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of talk recently about the current funding that is being made available to learning providers through the new JISC FE and Skills Development and Resources Programme.

Lots of questions have been generated about who can apply, what they can bid for and whom they should speak to. To address some of these, we have arranged a webinar in this region, especially for learning providers who are considering bidding for funding from the programme.

Nigel Ecclesfield, Programme Manager will be delivering the session, which will include an overview of bidding requirements and a Q&A session, where bidders can question Nigel directly on specific issues. Delegates will also be advised of matchmaking arrangements, which will help learning providers make contact with potential bid partners.

By the end of this session delegates will:

• Have had the opportunity to question Nigel Ecclesfield on the bidding process for the funding programme
• Had opportunities to network with other potential bidders and find suitable partners

This event is free to attend. Places are open to West Midlands and East Midlands based educators receiving central government funding (formerly from LSC), including HE, FE, Adult & Community Learning, Specialist Colleges, Work Based Learning and Offender Learning. Places are limited to two per learning provider in the first instance.

Further information along with booking details can be found on the events page of our website.

To read more of Wobble click here.

E-Portfolios – Learning Providers Views

Recently colleagues in the Northern RSC region held a successful e-portfolio forum. With the help of their Information Officer, the team have now pulled all the information from the day together, put it into a newsletter (pdf format) and added a couple of case studies from the Excellence Gateway. For anyone interested in actual learning providers views on some of the more popular e-portfolios used in Work Based Learning, this summary might be useful.

Still on the subject of e-portfolios, this handy guide on “Choosing an e-portfolio”, compiled by RSC North West has a wealth of information on things to consider, such as who actually owns the e-portfolio, sections on collecting evidence and more.

Image by Kevin Hickey, RSC NW


Online Spring Bytes - Looking at Mobile Technologies

As the use of webinars for holding online events is on the increase, RSCs have been able to offer even more support by offering cost effective training in this way. We are increasingly opening up access to our own online webinars to providers outside of our supported regions.

One of the latest offerings to be shared in this way is RSC Wales online e-Learning event, Spring Bytes. For two days in March they will deliver a series of interactive sessions directly to your desktop. No need to travel and spend time away from the office.

The theme of both days is Mobile Technologies. This event will be looking at the potential for mobile technologies, what impact these might have on learning and teaching practice, and how we support our learners in a wider context.

RSC Wales have invited speakers from all aspects of post 16 education and skills who will share with you their thoughts and experiences. There are eight, 45 minute sessions planned over two days and you will be able to book onto as many, or as few, as you wish. What’s more this event is free to attend.

Sessions will include:

1. QR codes – what are they and what can we do with them?
Have you seen those strange black and white squares appearing all over the place? In this session Chris Hall and Elen Wyn Davies will look at the basics of how to scan, create and use your own QR codes.

2. Mobile Messaging in Community Education.
Outcomes from the JISC SWaNI MOtIvATE Project. Hear, see and text about what we did and discovered. We’ll demo some of the tools used, so keep that mobile switched on!

3. Why Apps?
Recently we have started a project using tablet PCs with learners to assist with assessment and delivery. In this session, we will talk about some of the apps we have selected and why as well as looking at the broader advantages in terms of time and cost saving.

4. Mobile First
Changing the focus from ‘Desktop’ to ‘Mobile’ access - using open web technologies to allow non-technical users to create and manage their web identities and creative outputs.

5. Molly - the open source mobile portal
Molly lays behind a new mobile service launched by Oxford University which provides maps, contacts and news as well as features including travel information, podcasts, and information on library books, for mobile phones and devices.

6. SoundCloud for Education.
Whether you want to distribute recordings of lectures, facilitate a way to receive audio amongst students or even communicate between student and teacher, SoundCloud can help.

7. Geoff Elliott of Pembrokeshire College will describe some of the outcomes of the JISC funded ‘Without a Paddle’ project. The project is testing the transferability of the Minimally invasive education environment trialled by Sugata Mitra in India, to other contexts. The project uses mobile devices to investigate how extant apps, designed for a multitude of purposes can be repurposed to support different learning outcomes. The project presents a configuration of apps to learners via a smart phone with little or no explanatory context and hopes to stimulate the learner to develop initiative, problem solving and research skills.

8. Accessibility & Inclusion
JISC TechDis is a leading UK advisory service on technologies for inclusion. In this session Alistair will explore inclusive practices, resources and advice for learning and teaching in UK higher education, further education and skills sectors.

For details of this and other RSC Wales events visit RSC Wales website.

To read more of Wobble click here.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Funding for e-Learning Resources

Recently I noted the launch of a new pot of funding to support the development of e-learning in the FE and Skills sector. A colleague of mine has now kindly summarised the details of this funding opportunity to make it easier for providers to understand what is required of the call and consider how this funding might benefit their e-learning plans.

In a nutshell…

This funding is designed to offer learning providers the chance to:

  • Apply existing resources (from JISC or elsewhere) to their work and adapt them for their needs

  • or, identify gaps in these resources and/or current uses made of technology in the sector and create new resources for use by other providers

  • How much is Available? - An initial £450,000 will be available to adapt existing resources (smaller projects) with a further £900,000 available for (larger) development projects to address any gaps. Bids of all sizes are welcome, from £5K to £100K plus.

  • Bid Submission - Bids will be accepted from 1st March 2012 until 31st May 2012.

Christa’s condensed summary offers a very useful starting point for getting to grips with what this funding hopes to support. That summary document can be accessed here.

For further information, a supporting national wiki page includes all documentation for the bid (full details, application form and examples to illustrate what and how you may present your own bid).

Further resources will be added as they become available, these include:

• A recording of the webinar which launched the bid on Friday 17 Feb
• FAQ’s from the webinar question will be added separately

To read more of Wobble click here.

Extra support for e-learning? Let us Assist

We often get requests from learning providers who have a specific project ideas in mind but feel they need that extra bit of support for implementing these. As a result of these type of enquiries we recently launched a new project called Assist, which now offers regional learning providers the opportunity to apply for free, extended support in an area of their choice.

Several projects have been accepted to qualify for this area of our support and are now firmly underway. We have also now created a wiki page which makes it even easier for providers to request help, and which also offers an update on some of the e-learning projects which are currently taking place.

How does RSC Assist work?

This initiative enables you to work with a member of the RSC team for up to a day in planning a project and benefiting from advice and expertise, as well as a limited amount of training, if applicable. You retain control of the task in hand, but will be able to call on the support of your nominated advisor throughout.

Who can apply?

Any RSC Supported learning provider based in the West Midlands region can apply. There is no charge for this extended support service.

How to apply

If you'd like to take part in the RSC Assist project, please complete the application form, which is available on the new wiki page. You can also discuss your project idea with a member of the RSC team, prior to applying - please get in touch.

To read more of Wobble click here.

Bringing PowerPoint Presentations to Life

This week a blog post by Melissa Seideman caught my attention, as it shows how to take PowerPoint one step further to create exciting audio presentations that can be used as teaching aids.

There are several tools put there that can be used to produce some very engaging presentations, but there are also many people that still like the familiarity of using PowerPoint and for them the free tool HelloSlide could prove really useful.

On her blog Melissa notes:

HelloSlide is a wonderful way to transform a lesson into an audio-rich lesson that seems like a live presentation…I can see HelloSlide being used multiple ways in the classroom. It could be used to teach a particular concept in class, previewing the night before, teaching a lesson using the “flipped” model, can be translated for ESL students, or even used in alternative assessment projects in which students teach the class a particular concept.”

How it works:

1. To get started using Hello Slide, register for a free account, upload a PDF of your slides.
2. Type the speech for your presentation and HelloSlide automatically generates the audio. (The text is automated but does sound reasonable).

Below is a presentation on iPads that was created by Kathy Schrock, also using HelloShare. Hopefully this will demonstrate the benefits of using audio in this way (by simply entering text which the pc will read aloud) and how that can transform an existing presentation into a useful standalone learning resource.

Thanks to Melissa and Kathy for sharing.

To read more of Wobble click here.