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The second of the panel podcasts has been published – called ‘It’s because he’s from Sheffield’.  Poor Nick Jeans, we do give him a hard time but there are some very funny moments courtesy of a dodgy Skype connection.  Again it features, Dave Sugden, Dave Foord, James and Nick and has an interesting discussion about the LLW projects in the North West and Yorkshire and Humber.

Enjoy.

I’m currently struggling to upload an MP3 file to this so will just have to go ahead with a link only.  I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’d taken part in a panel discussion on various topics.  One of these was the idea of the digital native or immigrant as put forward by Mark Prensky in 2002.  The other members of the panel were James Clay, Dave Sugden, Dave Foord and Nick Jeans.

James has managed to edit the file and it is now available on eLearning stuff.  As you can see from James’ post he is blaming Nick’s poor audio quality on skype – actually it’s because he’s from Sheffield.  (sorry Nick!)

A pal of mine, Andy Dubieniec, was diagnosed with non-hodgkins Lymphoma in May 2008.  He’s currently undergoing chemotherapy and last weekend he completed the the coast to coast cycle ride in 17 hours.  He also managed to record a number of mini videos along the way and has incorporated them into an eBook.  What a great use of technology to share what is essentially a very solitary effort.  Great stuff Andy, well done, and good luck with the final chemo today.

Myebook - Coast to Coast - click here to open my ebook

I spent yesterday at the public open day of the Handheld Learning 2008 conference and the awards ceremony in the evening.  We decided to miss out on paying for conference coffee and met with James Clay for a good cup of Italian in a nearby cafe – which James being James, photographed!  Most of the afternoon we spent in a session called Pecha Kucha.  This was an open session for anyone who had a presentation that met with very strict criteria and wanted share their ideas with the room.  Each presenter was given a number and then the numbers were drawn out of a hat to establish a running order.  The rules of the presentations were – each is allowed 20 images which are to be shown for 40 seconds only,  so each presentation lasts 6 minutes and 40 seconds.  It encourages presenters to be concise, keeps the interest level high and encourages collaboration and sharing of work.  It worked really well and made for a good and interactive afternoon – something I think we might use at our own conference.

In the evening it was the Handheld Learning Awards.  This is the first year they have done this and a panel of judges had chosen 3 candidates for shortlisting in each category, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary and special needs. The vote was then done by text messaging which was a bit limiting – a choice of methods would have been better.  I was expecting a sort of low key type event with some polite applause – not at all.  There was a live band, champagne on arrival and some really good food.  Johnny Ball, the host was witty and entertaining and it was good to see Andy Black networking furiously.  The whole evening was great and we ended up dancing till late.  It was with a heavy heart I left this morning as I have work to do and couldn’t stay for the whole conference – which if it is as good as last year and last night will be great.  I’ll be there next year I promise.  In the meantime, I’m following them all on jaiku.  So well done Graham and the Handheld team – it was fab.

I spent an interesting and useful hour this morning on a Skype conference call with colleagues from all over the country.  The idea which we had initially discussed at the JISC conference in March was for an eLearning podcast but a very informal and chatty one.  It was all hosted and co-ordinated by non other than James Clay who is pretty well known on the eLearning scene and featured in an earlier post with his video from ALT-C. He did all the techy recording stuff and five of us just chatted – though apparently I need to work on my levels!  Hopefully, we’ll get a couple of 15 minutes sessions which we can publish.  We chatted briefly about the Learning for Living and Work projects which have been going on in the North West and Yorkshire and Humber and on the ‘Digital Native, Digital Immigrant’ debate which is covered in just about everybody’s blogs – see links below.  We’re hoping to do this on a weekly basis and to bring in lots of other eLearning folks also.  For those who cannot see any use for Jaiku, this was arranged and organised on there.  The final thing will be published on James’ blog – eLearning Stuff. The five of us were, as well as me and James,  Dave Sugden elearning consultant and general good chap, based in Huddersfield, Dave Foord another eLearning consultant from Loughborough (I think),  and Nick Jeans an eLearning professional from Sheffield – no online presence yet but wait for it.  Thanks guys – as the saying goes – I think it’s got legs.

My colleagues Margaret McKay and Craig Mill from the Scottish RSCs along with the good people at TechDis have produced a superb resource containing 40 different open source and freeware assistive technology applications which can be accessed from a USB flash drive.  As they are accessible direct from the usb drive so there is no need to install any software.  This means that a user can just plug in the drive at any computer they intend to work on.  They offer software to support those with a visual impairment or motor difficulties as well as assistance in writing, reading and planning.

They are free to download from http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.ac.uk/accessapps/. They also contain a full guide to their use and a complete series of TechDis ‘Accessiblitly Essentials

They’ve even produced a video ad for them.

A great resource and as it is totally portable is completely inclusive.  We are getting some free usb drives with them all loaded so I’ll be handing them out like sweeties in the next month or so.   A full list of the applications is here.

I’ve just come back from a fantastic few days in Nice in the South of France (more later) and while I was away it was the ALT-C 2008 – Association of Learning Technologists Conference in Leeds.  As well as the usual conference keynotes and break out sessions, they hold workshops where you actually have to do stuff.  James Clay is a pal of mine and with a couple of colleagues produced this video looking at the ‘digital divide’. Oh and it was scripted, recorded and all techie stuff done within 30 minutes – impressive.


I’d say a homage to Life of Brian, Smith and Jones and Pete and Dud with the expletives removed.  Well done guys.

The Learning and Skills Council have made £4 million available for shared cost mobile learning projects which must be led by an English FE college but can include work based learning providers and schools.  MoLeNET (Mobile Learning Network) was launched last year and a number of colleges and consortia had their bids approved.  Since then there has been some very creative projects ongoing and teachers are using mobile devices in increasingly innovative ways.  They have been particularly successful in engaging diverse learners, including neets (not in Education, Employment or training) ex-offenders and those with learning disabilities or difficulties.  There were 32 successful projects in 2007/08 and they are also invited to bid for further funding.  Their success will be celebrated at a conference at the Emirates Stadium on 18 September – and yes I’ll be there.

I was in Glasgow last week for the inaugural meeting of the Accessibility and Inclusion role group.  Members from the other RSC regions who had responsibility for Accessibility and Inclusion were there and it was a great opportunity to discuss developments, and share experiences.  There is some seriously good work going on and I was particularly impressed with a project that Margaret McKay has been doing with Glasgow Metropolitan College.  They have implemented a cross college process to make learning materials accessible.  CALM – Creating Accessible Learning Materials – is a project to ensure that learning materials are ‘accessibile, readable and available in a variety of formats to meet the requirements of learners with a range of additional learning needs.’

This is a college wide approach and not one which is just for the learning support staff.  All staff have had training and more importantly, the college invested in admin staff to provide support in converting existing documents into more accessible formats.  As the continued gripe from staff that we get is – ‘we haven’t got the time’  providing admin and technical support has been crucial to the success of the scheme.

So now I’m wondering if we could do something similar in a college in the North west.  I have a couple of candidates in mind but may possibly speak to them before posting to here.

It was a great visit and we had a superb traditional scottish meal in the Bothy restaurant.  Yes I had haggis with neaps and tatties and it was very nice.  I also discovered ‘tablet’ which is like kendal mint cake without the mint – I think that’s the nearest I can get to it.  Thanks to Margaret who was a fantastic hostess and it was great to see everyone from around the UK and NI.

Well it was a week ago but the conference went really well.  It  was great to see so many of the great and good in eLearning in the North West and to meet some new friends also.  I was especially please to meet Nick and Paul from Janet.txt and think it is a fab bit of kit and am looking forward to finding more and more uses for it.  I’m sure I’ll be in touch with more ideas.  I managed to get a swim in the morning before the event, even though I’d forgotten to bring a swimsuit – good old asda – 48p!  How can you sell an item of clothing for 48p?  The venue was superb with fantastic views over the racecourse.

View from Princess Royal stand, Aintree

View from Princess Royal stand, Aintree

It was great that Bev from Accrington and Rossendale College had brought along some learners to deliver their seminar on using mobile technologies for learning.  During the day, I managed to get some people to record messages onto gabcast. A couple of my colleagues and I took photos and they can be seen using the RSCNW08 tag on Flickr.  Great day, great venue, fab food – can recommend it.

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