In conversation…

February 24, 2010

The video version of the conversation between myself and Alan Graham that was recently published as an audio podcast.


Cheese

February 22, 2010

Do you remember ever playing Trivial Pursuit?

You recall the general knowledge quiz game, where you had to fill in your six pieces of cheese (or cake) covering six different subject areas.

One of the traits of playing the game was that you favoured certain subject areas and avoided others. You liked History and Geography, but avoided Arts & Literature. As a result you answered many questions on the subjects you liked and virtually ignored the subject you didn’t.

When it comes to embedding of learning technologies (ILT) into a curriculum area, managers of those areas do something similar.

They may be excellent at pushing the use of interactive whiteboards with their staff and teams; but as they don’t like the VLE that much, it gets ignored or only paid lip service.

Likewise when using learning technologies to solve issues in the area; you may use it to solve some areas, whilst ignoring other areas.

The same happens when it comes to writing ILT action plans for curriculum areas. These plans will favour particular technologies and some problem areas. Other technologies and other problem areas will get ignored.

In order to avoid this happening, we have decided to make use of the cheese concept for Trivial Pursuit in order to ensure that curriculum teams make best use of the range of technologies available, ensuring none are left out; likewise ensuring that learning technologies are used to solve issues in a range of areas, rather than one specific area or a few areas.

The areas we have chosen for our cheeses are based on the needs of our corporate college ILT Strategy.

We have two sets of cheese, one with a technology focus and one with a learner focus.

Technology Focus

Learner Focus

In later blog posts I will go into more detail about the different cheeses and exemplar action plans for those cheeses.

The key though for managers is that they MUST plan and COMPLETE action plans for each of the twelve cheeses. They can’t just ignore a cheese because they “feel like it”.

This should have the result that across the college there is a more holisitic approach to embedding of ILT into the curriculum. That weaker areas are not ignored in favour of stronger areas. Eventually the whole college will be moving forward in the use of ILT to enhance and enrich the learner experience; something that is essential as the world of technology is moving too.

We’ll see how this goes…

Photo source.


Facebook ‘cuts student drop-outs’

October 13, 2009

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Gloucestershire College makes the news on its use of social networking websites to support teaching and learning.

Social networking websites such as Facebook are helping to reduce college drop-out rates, it is claimed.

Gloucestershire College says social networking is used to keep students informed and in touch with staff.

“There has been a significant improvement in retention,” says media curriculum manager, Perry Perrott.

This is not about encouraging use of Facebook, but taking advantage of the fact that our learners are using Facebook. There are issues that need to be thought about and we hope to cover that in a session as part of the Becta Technology Exemplar Network.


ALT-C 2009 Day #1

September 8, 2009

It’s Tuesday and day one of the Association of Learning Technologies Conference (ALT-C) 2009.

It’s a busy day with loads on and as a result there is going to be some good stuff which I will miss as either I am presenting or somewhere else in the conference.

I am not going to miss the first keynote from Michael Wesch, creator of some excellent Web 2.0 videos which you may have seen (and I have used in various presentations and workshops across the country).

His keynote at ALT-C will cover the following:

It took tens of thousands of years for writing to emerge after humans spoke their first words. It took thousands more before the printing press and a few hundred again before the telegraph. Today a new medium of communication emerges every time somebody creates a new web application. A Flickr here, a Twitter there, and a new way of relating to others emerges. New types of conversation, argumentation, and collaboration are realized. Using examples from anthropological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, YouTube, classrooms, and “the future,” this presentation will demonstrate the profound yet often unnoticed ways in which media “mediate” our conversations, classrooms, and institutions. We will then apply these insights to an exploration of the implications for how we may need to rethink how we teach, what we teach, and who we think we are teaching.

My expectations are high.

I am then (after coffee) going to attend sessions on staff skills. Short paper 20 Where does the university end and learning begin? Facilitating personal learning environments to enhance ownership of knowledge is one what particularly interests me, as does the proceedings paper 291 Next Generation User Skills – possibilities for the digital literacies required in everyday living, learning and working in the United Kingdom in 2013 (Proceedings Paper).

After lunch at 1.40pm the VLE will die! This should be a really interesting debate and I will be streaming it live over Ustream. Check my Twitter stream for more information later today.

I am after the symposium hoping to attend another short paper, 292 The technology dream versus teacher reality: Understanding technology practices in relation to beliefs, pedagogical context and affordance theories however I expect that packing up and post symposium questions will delay me!

At 4.0opm I am torn between attending Steve Wheeler’s Twitter workshop or the OER Matters Symposium. Steve’s workshop will be fun, but the OER debate could be really good. Pity I can’t be at both… I guess the key will be which will be the most useful and which one will support my role…

Going to wait and see on that one.

At the end of the day is the new ALT Members Reception, and as Gloucestershire College joined ALT this year I will be attending.

It’s going to be a long and busy day.


Glossy Poster at ALT-C 2009

September 2, 2009

I shall be “presenting” a poster on Glossy at ALT-C 2009.

Here’s a sneak preview…

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Abstract

The Glossy project undertook a large-scale development and implementation of mobile learning across Gloucestershire College utilising the mobile devices that learners already own.The project put in place an infrastructure at Gloucestershire College that allows learners using devices that they already own and college devices to access learning activities and content. The project created a student wireless network that can be accessed by learners’ own devices to access a range of content and learning activities through the college VLE.The aim of the project was to enable learners to access learning at a time and place to suit them in order to improve retention and achievement. The project provided mobile devices to learners in selected groups; including excluded learners and learners with learning difficulties and disabilities.

The project allowed the college to provide suitable hardware and software based in the college libraries that allows both staff and learners to develop, create and convert content for use on a range of mobile devices.The poster will show the key issues, challenges and opportunities that mobile learning offers institutions. It will show the key stages that are required to allow institutions to utilise the mobile devices that learners already own. The difficulties of working with diverse learner devices will be outlined on the poster because understanding them is vital to any discussion of sustainability.

The poster, through a range of examples, will show how important it is to address the differing attitudes of staff, IT support needs and staff development.

The Glossy Project did much more than start Gloucestershire College down the road of mobile learning, it had an impact on the whole culture of the organisation in the use of not just mobile technologies, but also other learning technologies, audio, video, podcasting, wireless and use of the VLE to enhance and enrich the learning experience.

The project had an impact on 14,000 learners during the lifetime of the project, ran from November 2007 to July 2008. It continues to have a benefit even though the project has finished, as the infrastructure enables mobile learning to continue.


ILT Champions Informal Conference Report

July 25, 2009

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A report I wrote on the informal ILT Champions Conference has been published in the ALT Newsletter.

James Clay reports on the second ILT Champions Informal Conference, which took place at Gloucestershire College in April.

Read the full article.


Using the Nintendo DSi for learning

July 22, 2009

Martin Lake, a lecturer in Motor Vehicle Engineering explains how the Nintendo DSi is having an impact on his learners and how they are using the device.