Friday, 14 September 2007

Personalisation and Social tools

This is more of a general blog about what I have been up to this week rather than a total focus on the project. I have been to several meetings, including one covering the "dynamic prospectus" with our marketing department. Unfortunately the quotes are needed as this seems to be an idea at the moment rather than something that feels tangible. Further meetings with corporate information confirmed this impression, with their investigation into XCRi.
Another thing that has been keeping me busy is pushing the marketing of the project, including setting up the portal with the right information to be shown on leaflet screen grabs and creating Flash Demos from Wink of both the site and of HIVE and how it fits in to the site and local VLE's
On a side note to all this is the impact of ALT-C, and how people use social software. Since attending the conference I have had some friend requests for facebook, and as a result I have set up a second facebook account for my work persona. There are a number of groups I have got involved in which have got me attached to a few more blogs. In particular Helen Keegans EduSpaces Blog and Steve Wheelers e-learning blogspot have been interesting to read (and added to my Google Reader list) as well as adding myself to the Hood 2.0 facebook group. Another tool I have had my interest revived in is PebblePad - which seems like a handy tool.

Friday, 7 September 2007

ALT-C 2007

As you can see this week I have been attending the ALT-C conference in Nottingham with some colleagues. This has been an interesting event covering some useful subjects for the project including methods of evaluation, although some ideas seemed very restrictive (i.e. just using positive interviewing to gather feedback). It was good to see some very controlled evaluation projects out there, which is difficult for our project but still made for interesting listening. The sessions seemed to be more around the experience for the learner rather than the technology itself which is good as this links into what we are trying to achieve with this project, the other interesting one was how frameworks fit with simply good learning and not with the technology that was being demonstrated. This was particularly clear with the sessions on wikis and I am still to be convinced that they are a useful tool for learning. The main problem seems to be a learners reluctance to change someones work (and who can blame them?). Podcasting is another one where someone mentioned something I have experienced myself - by uploading learning material (in my case learning Italian) onto my MP3 player it would appear during my random playing of music which was annoying and not something I like to experience, this was reflected in their study of learners. I am more likely to use my phone for this content as I don't use it as an MP3 player even though it has the fuctionality, but this requires learners to be using different technologies for different purposes (i.e. MP3 player for entertainment, phone for learning - and how likely is this?).

alt-c 2007 Conference Dinner
flickr photo by Fleur Corfield

Anyway back to the project!
We have now got a new version of lifeRay running on the test server, we are working on getting the look and feel right as the CSS is different in the new version. The Business school have expressed an interest in using the portal for the work placement learners, allowing all of them to access the information in the school relating to that module. Hopefully we will be able to cover this for them reasonably close to the start of the evaluation period - the more the better! We also have a meeting with CI to find out about linking through to course information and learner study history.
For enrolment it looks like we are OK about linking to the university login information, however we are having to think about how we validated who an employer is - it might have to be something the learner does - i.e. notification to learner that the employer has registered and wants to see their information.