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March, 2011

  1. #ILTChampions list summary Feb 2011

    March 8, 2011 by Robin Englebright

    As promised last month here’s a summary of themes and topics of concern to FE in February 

    taken from the ILT Champions list (which set up at the turn of the century  by Becta as part of an embedded peer support initiative. Champs went on a short training course, received a huge folder of resources, and were added to the champ-curriculum JISCMAIL list.)

    The list is a vibrant community of very savvy individuals, and is often the first port of call for advice and guidance on a whole range of technology topics.

    If you support the use of technology in FE in the UK and think you might benefit from joining the list drop me an email.

    Summary of posts to the list in February 2011

    We currently have 595 subscribers, with 6 new members, and 4 leavers.

    This month we’ve had around 262 posts from 90 individual posters. I’ve taken out those that had a limited lifespan, advertising jobs or events, and tried to boil down the issues to a pithy sentence, if you want to read the full discussions, or any others from the archive back to 2000AD they can be found at (if you are a member of champs list) 

    “poster” of the month for February is the charming Merv Stapleton. 


    “Do not covet your ideas. Give away everything you know and more will
    come back to you.” (Paul Arden)


    >14-16 schools students internet access on college campus

    A discussion began around the additional duty of care requirements for 14 year olds attending college, and what sort of restrictions might apply.



    A discussion about the best educational technology to build into a BSF Academy, focussed largely on identifying what benefits they hope to achieve and find technology to match that, 

    -the need to involve the students in the planning and ongoing management, 

    -ensuring the budget covers staff development. 

    It was highlighted that technology allows for more flexible and potentially inclusive learning design, and the support available from JISC TechDis and the regional support Centres that might be useful eg – <a href="</p>


    >Apps (iPhone, iPad & iTouch)

    A discussion on suitable apps for use across college identified some trials with site licence for Mpage 

    -RSC SE have built an app to support staff in the region.

    -Dragon Search and Dragon Dictation highlighted as useful accessibility tools

    -Soundnote, and Audioneote to support note taking, and picotello for creating photostories.

    – lists of ipad educational apps…

    -A long list of apps for Literacy, Numeracy and Accessibility was also suggested, which I’ve added as a seperate post.


    >commercial lesson planning software 

    A request for possible lesson planning tools highlighted the following: 

    -The JISC funded Phoebe pedagogic planner

    -The JISC RSC Eastern also have a tool in their moddle swap shop area 


    >Do you use LanSchool?

    An issue was identified when using LAN school with exam application AAT (appears they use a common file name). No fix, solution currently to turn LANschool off in exam room. 


    >ePortfolio Workshop 

    A JISC workshop was highlighted How can ePortfolios support 21st Century Learning?

    10:00 – 16:30 Wednesday 30th March 2011, Venue: Culture Lab, Kings Walk, Newcastle University


    >Equality and Diversity 

    Additional E&D resources were highlighted


    >free tutorials for office 2010?

    A request for materials to help ease the migration to Office 2010 resulted in a number of suggestions:

    -“Where’s my command gone tool”… 

    -MS tool…

    -An overview

    -Online turorials


    Functional Skills/Teacher Training and Health Care Resources

    Resorces mentioned at LSIS conference:….


    >JISC Legal response to SKY and ERA

    Clarification from JISCLegal regarding Sky as a broadcaster -not included in the ERA licence:


    >Fix the Web

    Fix the web highlighted as a way of identifying inaccessible websites


    >Sixth Form College JISC Status

    The cahnge of Government has caused some issues around who pays for what? 6th forms were concerned about having their JANET connection , domain and other JISC services removed. As I write this (7/3/11) there are still issues however a statement from JANET provides some clarity:



    A summary of the recent survey is posted on the LSIS site


    >Interactive Whiteboards

    A lengthy discussion regarding the merits and modes of use of IWB’s indicated the common need for staff development, the need for them to be ubiquitous, alternative technology like tablets, and gyration mice and strategies to overcome resistance. The software provided by vendors is often bound to specific baords, and work continues on interoperability. Useful blog post by Dave Foord


    >Migrating Moodle from Linux to Windows 

    Discussions highlighted a lack of capacity and capability (and willingness) of college IT teams to run Linux servers for moodle. Examples of Windows hosting were provided, and suggestions for external hosting as an option.



    There was concern regarding the proposal from LSN to deliver a paid for Molenet service.


    >Moving On 

    Merv Stapleton, one of the original ILT champs announced he was moving on after spending 20 years at City of Sunderland college. This provoked a flood of emails from champs, old and new thanking Merv for his contribution over the years. Merv can be found on twitter @welshmackem.


    >Moving to Microsoft Office 2010

    A lengthy discussion around the shift to office 2010 identified it isn’t really an issue, in the way the shift from 2003 to 2007 was. Those looking to move from 2003 considered issues with sharepoint intergration prevented openoffice adoption. MS licences to colleges were not so expensive as to provoke OSS adoption as a big cost saver. Student licences available from


    >online Safeguarding materials for staff information/training

    Resources suggested -ThinkB4U E-Safety Resource. 


    >Planet eStream

    Discussions identified this as a stable service, though some had had teething troubles.


    >RECOMMENDATION NEEDED: eLearning Authoring Tool

    -Xerte online toolkits supplied on USB avoids issues with maintaining the server 

    -Another route to Xerte is to buy into JISC TechDis ITQ Resource area <> which gives you access to materials about ITQ for Accessible IT Practice as well an organisational Xerte Online Toolkit.

    -FREE Microsoft LCDS 

    -an example of a resource created using eXe : 


    >safeguarding in FE and Skills

    -reminded that Becta outputs were saved on National Archive:…


    >Sharepoint users 

    A call to share infrastructure designs for implementing sharepoint highlighted the following resources 

    -MS spec page

    – Walsall college case study 

    Tea and biscuit fuelled Sharepoint visits were arranged off list.


    >Social networks

    A discussion regarding policy for social networks identified issues around JISCMAIL filestore, and user requirements. It’s strange the list can support attachments, and html mails, but the general view is people want plain text.


  2. sustainability

    March 4, 2011 by Robin Englebright

    iPad2 is out on March 25th, and there seem to be lots of opinions whizzing around the twitter and blogs about whether it’s a good thing or not. 

    To save you the bother of investigating further, the answer is YES, it is a good thing, NO I won’t be buying one.


    What interests me is the view that the constant release cycle of Apple products is akin to some form of foppish catwalk inspired foolishness.
    Whilst I don’t wear a polo neck, or revere Mr Jobs, I do like Apple kit. 
    I like the way it just works, and lets me get on with work. 
    I like the way I can spend entire days, or weeks without having to reboot, shout at a screen, lose work or get cross… strangely my family quite like this too.
    I also like the way it is sustainable.
    “WHAT!” you cry, “They are releasing stuff every 9 months, how can it possibly be sustainable?”
    Well, whilst I haven’t bought an ipad, I have splashed out on a 6 year old G4 Powerbook, it cost be less than the train fare to Bristol, and is a source of peace and calm in my working life. 
    I have a shiny new laptop provided by work, It’s light, has tremendous battery life, but requires me to enter passwords for many things, refuses me permission to run applications using the root directory, has some random frustration inducing virtualised file system… see my blood boiling as I just think about it.
    I’m happier, really happier using my dented old Powerbook, and I’m very well serviced by the vast ecosystem for used apple kit, keeping it running, keeping people stress free.
    Think about what 6 year old bits of kit you WANT to use?
    Bet the list won’t be that long.

  3. QTI

    March 3, 2011 by Robin Englebright


    It’s standards-tastic here on the rob-work blog. As well as all the Cabinet office japes around open standards, this week we have a paper released from CETIS giving a concise briefing of the QTI 2.1 spec.
    QTI has been around for donkeys years, and if one can have favourite standards and specs, I’d have to say iit didn’t used to rate very well on my cool wall.
    (At the risk of sounding fantastically nerdy, my favourite specs are xml, html4 (not that ghastly XHTML, png and ASCII)
    Annnnyway QTI, is all grown up now, and nearly ready to go to the ball.JISC are funding some extension work… to provide examples of a profile, a reference implementation, and support for conversion from 1.2 and and so by September everything should be rosey.


  4. A standard for standards

    March 3, 2011 by Robin Englebright

    It’s all kicking off in the standards arena… must be the mild weather.

    BSI have announced the Draft for public consultation of their BS0 (zero)
    “The standard for standards”

    The aim is to revamp the way work gets done to try and align the approach to national, European and International standardisation. (Or standardization as BSI would have it.) 

    “The new draft is framed as a set of principles to which all of us involved in the process are expected to demonstrate adherence. This should ensure that our standards are underpinned by a solid foundation of authority and accountability and that their development takes place within a robust procedural framework, whilst giving some flexibility in responding effectively to challenges thrown at us by the real world. “

    Make a comment, get involved.

  5. Open to suggestions?

    March 2, 2011 by Robin Englebright

    I picked up a document from @chapman_john on the twitter last week.

    It’s quite an interesting, if ambiguous document, but in essence extends and formalises  the Government position on preference for open standards when procuring IT systems.

    In my opinion this is a good thing.

    My concerns with the document revolve around the definition of Open, the prescription of International standards and the issues surrounding IPR. Have a read through and see if you are clear which standards you should be using?

    So I emailed my questions back to the contact listed in the form, and then promptly read a post from Adam Cooper highlighting a survey by the Cabinet office on How we define Open, which standards should be used etc..

    Almost like an answer to prayer, except involving technical standards.

    Anyway, the survey is up :

    I would encourage you to answer the questions relating to your field of interest. The cynical part of me doesn’t really believe it’ll make much difference, but I’m delighted at the prospect, and also encouraged that the cabinet office is using surveymonkey…

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