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September, 2011

  1. Observatron – playing around with HTML5

    September 30, 2011 by Robin Englebright


    I am weak,
    I buckled and bought a copy of Tumult Hype to see how easy it is to create HTML5.
    The answer is quite easy, BUT…

    Exporting it requires a little bit of fiddling around to locate the resources in a place to which you have access … luckily they include a dropbox option which plops the resources in the public folder of dropbox… how well this will work I don’t know, so I’m going to have a bash :
    well basically it failed.

    So I tried uploading the stuff via posterous, but it got quite upset at the.js files, and failed.

    If I dump it on a site I can FTP to it’ll probably worlk.. but the ease of dropping a flash animation onto a page isn’t quite there…
    It works if you can access the site, and position resources properly, have a look:

  2. Undergrad

    September 28, 2011 by Robin Englebright

    So, (as I believe it is compulsory to say when beginning a computer science sentence),
    I’m and undergrad now. 
    I’ve spent years just doing stuff, and finally decided I should get some form of qualification.
    Actually I am qualified, but in Agriculture, I can tell you about nutrient lock up, base exchange capacity, the effect of lodging on crop yield, drive a combine harvester and milk a cow, but frankly these aren’t skills I’d had to use much in recent years.
    I’ve enrolled on a Computer Science degree (online)at University of Hertfordshire, which means I get to have a student perspective on the systems I’ve helped support in the ed tech world over the past few years.
    I’m hoping this isn’t going to make me a bad student.
    When I studied for my Teaching Quals (damn forgot I’m a qualified teacher too), I was part of a very cynical cabal of hard bitten hypercritical  FE lecturers. 
    I’m hoping age has mellowed me.
    Time will tell.
    Anyway, I was intrigued by a phrase from the Programme handbook:

    “Please bear in mind that when you register for a particular module, for example Databases, what you buy is the opportunity to participate in that particular offering of the module and its assessment.”

    I’m pleased to see this, as I think the “opportunity to participate” is something that has been lacking from some of the guff I’ve been seeing around the commodification of Higher Education.
    Sure potential students need lots of information about courses, which is why I’m delighted to be working on the #coursedata programme, but education is surely as much about what you bring to the party?

    I plan to bring an open mind, a willingness to join in, and probably some beer.
    I do not plan to grow a chin beard:!/KarlVanHoet


  3. #coursedata Tested by design – ITT for XCRI-CAP test tools

    September 9, 2011 by Robin Englebright

    There’s an ITT on the JISC funding site for testing tools to support the #coursedata call:…

    The #coursedata call aims to get institutions to review their internal course data processes and will provide funding for them to re-engineer and streamline data flows. To provide an outward sign of the improved inner efficiency, #coursedata projects will be required to produce an XCRI-CAP feed. This shouldn’t be onerous if good data is available, and so should act as an proxy for the institutional readiness to do other things with their coursedata, in preparation for initiatives like KIS and HEAR.

    To help institutions produce valid feeds, and think about their data, the ITT will commission testing tools.
    A validator… to validate feeds… and provide meaningful feedback to help correct invalid feeds…
    and an aggregator to pull registered feeds together, so simple comparison can be run against feeds, for sense checking.


    The tools should be available from March 2012, and one of the aims is to use the underpinning code as a way to investigate what can be done with a rump of XCRI-CAP data.
    I’m going to be at the JISC CETIS Design Bash in Oxford on the 30/9/11
    And am happy to collect ideas for useful things to do with the data, dev days or competitions.



    September 5, 2011 by Robin Englebright

    This is a summary of the or champs list for July 2011.
    There were 154 posts from 76 posters. The list has 596 members, including folk from each of the JISC RSCs (I think), AoC, LSIS, ALT and about 75% of the UK FE colleges. The list has been going for over a decade, and remains focused on supporting ICT in FE, if you know anyone who does that, and isn’t on the list AND would benefit from joining, get them to drop me a line.


    Art & Design – Contextualised Studies
    Suggestions for tools to support image analysis included:
    Spicynodes: which is a flash based mindmapping Apps
    Voicethread: which allows a range of media to be aggregated, commented on and annotated, with 3 free threads, and low educational pricing.
    Prezi: Flash based presentation tool, which allows zooming, and annotation.
    X-mind:  available in the accessapps bundle is a free mindmapping tool which allows images to be included… as does Freemind:


    Cloud-like file storage for students
    Suggestions for storage space that allows group collaboration features, permissions management, version control etc… has Facebook-y feel, but  the free version is for personal use only, and the paid-for access is aimed at businesses ($15 per user/month).
    The Moodle File manager block is clunky, and not maintained. One option is to create a Moodle module for every student where they are the editing teacher. They then have file storage, comms and collaboration tools under their own control.
    Googledocs, and Microsoft equivalent Office 365 (live@edu replacement) have this functionality, but require a more wholescale adoption, which takes time and training.
    Dropbox: integrates with a lot of mobile apps, and allows sharing, and 2Gb’s of free space. As an educator you will receive 500mb for each person you sign up to Dropbox too, but you have to register as an educator first.
    Microsoft Skydrive claims 25b:
    Evernote: allows sharing, capture, has free (and paid for apps) for a range of platforms, and they have just acquired Skitch, a useful screencapture/image sharing tool.
    Mahara: traditionally used for e-portfolios, can be used for collaboration, and integrates with Moodle.
    Many of these services have terms of service, that appear quite harsh, and high stakes work, or personal information should be used with care.


    Copying Moodle course content to another course
    To copy course material from one Moodle Course to another use the import option: . If the aim is to copy the “materials” and not the structure, the easiest way is to:
    Select all files, by checking the check boxes.
    With chosen files…. -> Create Zip Archive
    Download the zip file, upload the zip file to the new course and then unzip the archive.
    This may run foul of upload and download limits, and need to be done by direct on the server rather than through the Moodle interface.
    Alternatively the course can be Backed-up in course in settings (either with or without users, and as a full or partial backup), then in the new course set the course structure to match the backup, ie weekly, or topics… make sure the right number of weeks are set to avoid orphaned resources, then in settings select Restore.


    Electrical Installation & Electronic Engineering
    Resources to support electronic engineering:
    Facebook for Teaching and Learning
    Following the demise of tutorial funding colleges are considering alternative ways of communicating with tutees via a much smaller number of progress tutors.
    Policies vary, some colleges actively dissuade staff from setting up Facebook groups, though Facebook pages appear less problematic. General advice is to keep professional and personal accounts separate (although Fb only officially allows one account per person according to Terms of Use, however a discussion with Luc Delany, European Policy Manager, Facebook at LWF indicated they understood the need for teachers to have separate accounts and wouldn’t block teachers from having two accounts.), and this is reflected in some acceptable use policies, requiring staff to use college email addresses, and include additional admins.
    Further information into use of Facebook:
    LSIS Facebook project:
    Briefing paper and case studies available on Slideshare:
    Copy of presentation used in dissemination webinar on Slideshare:
    Links to briefing paper, case studies and dissemination event presentation on Cornwall College Social Networking Sites group on Facebook:
    JISC RSCSW NING  Facing up to Facebook: Issues for the uses of Facebook with 16-19 year old Learners-A research based exploration page:
    Recording of seminar also available on vimeo:


    List of which colleges have which VLEs 


    moodle 1.9 to moodle 2 conversion
    Migrating courses from Moodle 1.9 to 2.0 presents issues which can be overcome using alternatively upgrading to Moodle 2.1 where the issues have been sorted.


    Podcasting- Where do I start?
    Audacity: is a good Open source tool for recording the audio, (don’t forget to download the LAME  mp3 encoder to save in this format –
    James’ workflow for creating podcasts (mac):
    JISC Digital Media have a wealth of resources and screencasts about audio recordings: , Including a very useful guide on podcasting: , As well as training:
    RSC SE have a course (Courses for you tab, second down )
    Assignment podcast from BT:
    MyPodcast Recorder:, very easy to use and free if you accept their adverts.
    -Update provided by Nina Dunne – apparently mypodcast are no longer running- and she offers this as an alternative:  “guide to podcasting? It covers alternatives to MyPodcast as well as acts as a guide for anyone looking to start or grow a podcast.”


    Rating quiz
    The Moodle Questionnaire activity (a plugin for 1.9) can be used for students to rate themselves in relation to particular skills and attributes in preparation for producing their CV.
    ProProfs quiz school: have an option to create personality type quizzes.
    SMS Messaging + JANETTxt 
    TxtTools are priced the same as the Janet service, although they have just been purchased by Blackboard Connect.
    The TxtTools API allows for customisation and can be linked to existing MIS.
    Access to TxtTools Blackboard building block can be slow, and many colleges seem to use the website direct.
    The SWaNI LTIG Project MOTIVATE is investigating retention improvement through using SMS:


    thank you and goodbye
    Taking an early bath, but still lurking in the murky waters of FE ICT – Geoff Rebbeck and Phil George. They will be missed in their institutions, but hopefully will still remain on the champs list, to offer sage advice.


    Upgrading to Moodle 2 
    documenting the process of migration to moodle2


    video recording system
    Network cameras can include audio (on some you can even attach an external mic) and retrieval from the IPCCTV system in various formats. Switching between camera angles can be achieved with PTZ cameras with a joystick or program some presets. Live viewing is also achievable via browsing the cameras website.
    Milestone xProtect integrates with AD for authentication and can restrict access per camera so isolating security from education.


    Voting Systems
    Interactive Classroom Addons for Office 2010 & Moodle Addons.
    Promethean boards use activexpression 2 (text entry and on the fly quizzes – database to register classes or students can self assign)
    University of Bath (in fact many Uni’s) use turning point: , Works with clickers or smartphones. PowerPoint plugin.  RF version and an IR version.

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