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May, 2011

  1. #CMALT getting on with it

    May 20, 2011 by Robin Englebright

    I had to review my Personal Development Plan yesterday, and realised that I had left things undone, that I had planned to get done a long time ago. One of these things was to complete my CMALT application. []
    CMALT (Certified membership of the Association of Learning Technologies) is a peer reviewed professional accreditation scheme, where the candidate has to create a portfolio of evidence to identify how they have effectively used learning technology in:
    -Operational areas, including the constraints and benefits of technology, and their deployment,
    -Teaching, Learning and Assessment processes, and an understanding of target learners,
    -Wider issues such as legislation, policies and standards,
    -Communication, in working with others and Human computer interfaces.

    I started writing the evidence around understanding target learners, and wanted to use some documents we developed to support BETT awards entrants in creating accessibility statements. Unfortunately, as with many Becta documents it’s now longer available.
    To get round this I thought it might be useful to post the document to the blog.
    This document outlines some personas, short pen portraits of people who can be used to exemplify the issues some learners might face when using learning technology.

    Download this file

  2. Reasons to be cheerful

    May 16, 2011 by Robin Englebright

    I made two new years resolutions this year.

    The first was the traditional, “lose weight”.
    Sadly I didn’t succeed, and what’s worse I failed in my diet just as the comical news item said I would, on the “average day for diet failure”. I can’t abide the thought I’m that predictable, it’s why I loathe predictive text… that however, is another story.
    The second resolution was to actively find something joyful to relish every day, to combat the relentless bad news feed from twitter. This mostly consists of little things which I hastily scribble in a notebook, like these:
    -C#m played on an acoustic guitar
    -Someone writing WYSIWYG as “WZYWIG” (what were they thinking?)
    -Views over London from BSI building.
    -The phrase “pessimistic metainduction based on past falsity”
    -Chicken Fajitas
    -Logic gates
    -Hand axes
    -Blue tack

    Finding daily reasons to be cheerful has proved infinitely easier as I have the very great fortune to work for JISC, who regularly get me to do the most fascinating things, (though usually unrelated to Clangers or stilton)
    Most recently I had the privilege of attending a HEPI meeting at the Royal Society,  where I heard some scintillating  speakers outline issues related to the student experience of HE, and at lunchtime I got to rare pleasure of spending time looking at some exhibits, including the original manuscript of Principia Mathmatica, with annotations by Halley. 
    I’m not sure I can articulate how much this moved me.

    The visit had me reading Principia on my Kindle on the way home, and searching for more Newton information on the Royal Society website.
    I found a huge number of podcasts, including a fascinating discussion about Newton’s more esoteric interest in Alchemy, and about Project Newton. I wasn’t surprised to find that Project Newton is sponsored by JISC.

    In the current climate it is sometime hard to remember that the very best learning isn’t about an economic argument, or a cost benefit analysis regarding future earning potential… it’s about that feeling of awe that demands further investigation. To misquote WB Yeates: “Education is not about filling a bank account, but lighting a fire.”

    JISC purveyors of fine educational firelighters since 1993.


    May 9, 2011 by Robin Englebright

    The champ-curriculum@jiscmail list was setup at the turn of the century to help folk in FE work out how to use these new fangled steam powered calculator devices…. It continues to be first port of call for information advice and guidance . 
    April 2011, a quiet month due to the Easter break, but still 125 posts from 57 individuals. 
    If you know anyone who supports the use of ILT in FE and who might benefit from joining the list please let me know.

    in alphabetical order….

    (e)learning services diagram (part of mootuk11 session)
    A diagram of (e)learning services from a ‘learning in the community’ perspective was shared with the list: 

    Adult Learners Week (14 -20 May 2011)
    Adult Learners Week is NIACE’s annual celebration of learning and learners. Each May, thousands of events take place to promote local learning opportunities. Taster sessions, and open days/events are held across the country encouraging adults of all ages to take that first or next step in to learning. This year NIACE is celebrating the 20th Adult Learners’ Week.
    Over the years, thousands of learners have taken part in digital events and used technology as part of Adult Learners’ Week, so this year, NIACE is dedicating Friday 20th May as “Digital Day”.
    Digital Day, which includes Silver Surfers’ Day, (coordinated by Digital Unite), will encourage adult learners of all ages to attend events to learn about technology such as using digital cameras, MP3 players, how to get online, surf the internet, use Skype, find a job or learn online.  Digital Day will also encourage providers, teachers and tutors to use technology in all areas of learning throughout the whole of Adult Learners’ Week. 
    Whether your session involves learning about technology or learning with technology, register your event at You can also email NIACE at or call 0116 204 4200 to find out more.

    Apps for Good 
    Apps for Good Project are looking for partners in the UK to work with on their programme which is targeted at young unemployed people (16-25), focuses on enterprise in developing apps that benefit the community.
    Find out more about the apps for good project: 
    Home page – notice of intention to recruit new schools/colleges in

    Champs unofficial conference 2011
    The unofficial conference is being organised in the North, details to follow.

    Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
    The list discussed experiences with Customer Relationship Management applications. Microsoft Dynamics has a low educational licence price, and integrates with Outlook. SUGAR is Free Open Source Software, intuitive and easy to use. There was consensus on the need for a very clear use case, and personalisation, or the process may create a new monster to feed. JISC RSC SW use SUGAR so would be well placed to advise.

    Essential ILT software 
    Suggestions were provided to be included on a standard PC disk image.
    Aside from usual Office / Adobe/ Macromedia/ Corel suites, many useful apps can be found on the accessapps and eduapps USB suite, or found through the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies directory:
    Hot Potatoes (quiz maker)
    Autograph (graph editor)
    Mindgenius (mindmap editor)
    ACD/ 3D viewer (molecular model viewer)
    Audacity (audio recording and editor) – remember to link to LAME to allow to be saved as .mp3
    Formulator Tarsia (printable jigsaws, dominoes and card sort activities)
    Eclipse crossword (both printable and interactive crosswords)
    Xmind (mind mapping – free version is very good)
    Ispring free (powerpoint plugin for converting powerpoints to flash)
    magnifier (virtual magnifying glass)
    DSpeech (converts text to audio)
    RapdiSet (allows learner to easily change background/font colours)
    Free and low cost software available from they do countdown style software.
    Xerte – (Though may be more useful to run Xerte online templates on a server)

    FW: JISC Grant Funding Call for Projects in Developing Digital Literacies 
    JISC Innovation Programme: Call for Projects in Developing Digital Literacies
    The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) invites institutions to submit funding proposals for projects to support the development and implementation of institutional approaches to digital literacies across the entire workforce and including students.
    Total funding of up to £1,000,000 is available for 10 to 12 two year projects funded at up to £100,000 each.
    The deadline for proposals is 12 noon UK time on Wednesday, 8 June 2011.
    It is envisaged that bidders will be notified of the outcome of the evaluation process in the week commencing 4 July 2011.
    The successful projects will be expected to start work mid July 2011.
    The work is to be completed by 31 July 2013.
    A briefing event will be held online via Elluminate on Thursday 12 May 2011 at 10 am. Further details are given in paragraph 4 of the call document (at link below).
    Proposals may be submitted by HE institutions funded via HEFCE, SFC, HEFCW and DEL Northern Ireland, and by FE institutions funded via SFC, DCELLS Wales and DEL Northern Ireland. FE institutions in England that teach HE to more than 400 FTEs are also eligible to bid provided proposals demonstrate how the work supports the HE in FE agenda.

    GMail Motion
    April fool

    Goodbye Flips
    Cisco announced they were ceasing production of the popular flip camera. The camera has become very popular in education as it is simple, robust and cheap. Alternatives offer more features like removable memory, and audio input, though sometimes additional features don’t make things better, just more complicated.
    Alternatives: Kodak Zi8 <link> 
    I’ve noted calls from the Open hardware community for Cisco to release the Flip design under an open licence.

    Great website 

    Issues in e-learning
    A discussion identified the following key issues facing e-learning in FE:

    JISC Digital Literacies Workshops – Registration now open
    Digital Literacies is the flavour of the month, with the Grant call, and also a series of free workshops during May – October 2011.
    The workshops will be held on:
    26 May 2011, Goodenough College in London (in partnership with RSC London and RSC Eastern)
    23 June, Maple House in Birmingham
    22 September, The Studio in Manchester
    6 October, The Bristol Hotel in Bristol
    Further information together with the registration forms for the workshops, is now available from<>

    Moodle 1.9 course export to 2.0
    Help was requested over issues in restoring backed up moodle 1.9 courses into a moodle 2.0 install. Apparently this is a known issue that will be fixed in  Moodle 2.1 in June. There is a tool to convert courses from 1.9 to 2.0.  ConversionThingy which is supposed to be able to produce
    Moodle 2.0 courses from 1.9 course zip files. It’s also worth pointing out the very excellent moodle-uk jiscmail list, which is a source of immense moodle wisdom.

    Primary Pad 
    An offshoot of the open source etherpad project called Primary pad was spotted, and apparently can be run on institutional servers.

    Prizes for e-Learning
    Suggestions were requested for prizes to be given to staff in a college e-learning competition based on the RSC SE Hi5 :
    Remote PowerPoint clickers, Large memory storage, Good headphone and mic, Webcam, VoiceThread subscription for one year.
    Runner up:
    USB card reader, 10g memory stick
    Additional suggestions:
    4Mb flash drives, Plantronics microphone headsets, Coloured rubberised wrist band USB drives (though these may epilate hirsuite gentlemen.
    Microfibre lens cleaning cloth, very useful for removing smears from smart phone screens.
    Gyration suites, Kindles, Moodle books, Henry mini USB hoovers.
    For tech nerds, I’d go for something like a Leatherman Squirt, with wire stripping tool.

    Rob & Robot Wars
    Apparently old episodes of Robot Wars are doing the rounds on “Dave” again… I was in three series with my robot Killer carrot, never made it past the 2nd round, although I was  involved in the design of the last three house robots… and real nerds  might also spot me in re-runs of technogames, and a Discovery Channel series called Robot’s Revenge. I also did design work for a couple of other shows that I’ve never seen: Mechanoids (BBC2), and Rescue Robots (ITV), if anyone spots them on the schedules please let me know.

    Service Level Agreements
    A request was made for examples of SLA’s, some Becta documents now being used by the DFE were suggested:

    Teachers TV
    Teachers TV closed on 29th April, a twitter coordinated group #saveTTV are downloading and saving content: 
    Apparently they are relaunching as Schoolsworld on May 11th.

    VLEs and Learning Centres
    A discussion took place on effective strategies for developing Learning resource centre/library staff use and role in relation to the learning platform.
    In some instances LRE staff provide the first point of contact in support, though this still appears generic, rather than integrating with course level use. Providing librarians with editing rights for all subjects gives a more direct link, with a library topic on each subject page, and subject news forums to keep students and staff informed of new arrivals, journal articles and any other subject specific news.
    In once instance funds from LSIS supported LRE staff to be trained up as e-Guides. A Moodle block is provided on each course page for direct access to the library catalogue and for target marketing for specific courses.
    There are plans to set up a widget linked to JORUM that is currently in development – again on course pages to support subject links.
    Using Noodle to get NLN materials into the VLE is quite handy from an LRE perspective, as is developing Moodle courses with other departments to support its use such as Advice and Guidance (including Careers), Student Support and e-Safety.
    In another instance the Learning Resources Blackboard site has links to e-resources / e-books / databases / information and research skills / wikis etc.
    Staff create podcasts which are accessed through Blackboard.
    LRC staff have a curriculum liaison role and are assigned to a particular teaching department so have access to their courses – provide them with links for resources for assignments, check reading lists, promote e-books especially by building ‘e-book shelves’ in a Blackboard course so that students can access them directly.

    We is on the telly tonight… 
    Gloucestershire College featured on an ITV item about using PSP’s in education:
    We is on the telly tonight, section already on the ITV West website.

    The Xtranormal tool has been used by a number of colleges for a wide range of learning situations: was created in about 35 minutes using 400 credits… If you contact them and say you are in education you get 5000 free credits and can ask for more any time. 
    One French tutor has used the Napoleon character to leave a welcome message in French for her learners on the VLE:
    Useful for creating revision resources :
    Also recommended was STATE, the free locally hosted software install, providing  3 dimensional scenes, 4 characters interacting simultaneously and the ability to
    ‘voice’ the characters yourself using Mp3 files.

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