Thursday, 31 May 2007

e-learning at the cusp

Went to an event held at Stoke campus yesterday, once again it raised the issue of the use of Web 2.0 in an educational context, and the idea of the student being in control of their learning - to the point one institution calls their learners "researchers". Another interesting presentation was Mark Stiles' 'Living with the Uncontrollable' his framework made me think about what tools should the institution recognise, embed in the learning and take control of.

This project has been looking at providing one point of access to a number of stakeholders of not only institutional information but information personal to that stakeholder (i.e. blogs / rss feeds/ favourites (, this information would not be controlled by the institution but just displayed by lifeRay. This is the best solution to encourage stakeholders to use the access point as a single reference for those either unfamiliar with information available to them or for those who need one area for all of their information.

As stakeholders gain familiarity with the information we can provide to them the more I wonder whether we need to take this a step further and look beyond the project.....allowing the institutional information to be accessed through authenticated rss feeds? Or using standard widgets which would allow them to be plugged into those tools we are using for project management (Google homepage, yahoo!, Flock, MS Live)? I will have to revisit this thought once we have managed to have a (successful!) pilot of the support access point.

Useful Links
Google Gadgets (Personalised Homepage) :
Yahoo! Widgets:
MS Live Gadgets:

Monday, 14 May 2007

Information Information Information

Well the course descriptions are looking like, that to begin with at least, the information will be at university level, with links to the college websites. In most cases it does not look like the colleges have a database of course information, or a single point of contact for employers trying to find information on local HE courses. This again can be a problem for the project.

Managed to attend a SURF meeting last week and disseminated information about the project, we have been asked to run an event for tutors on the ground in the near future. It is looking like we might be able to squeeze into an existing training day as it links to the QAA looking at FE's support for HE. Have found a hidden bonus database held at the university outside of the main corporate information which includes information on validation and foundation degrees and lets people know the status of the awards.

The project has been worried about the terms used in both HE and FE and are trying to build a glossary. Due to the university having a Portal we have started this off by saying as a project we are creating a "Work Based Learning Support Point" rather than calling it a portal. We have also made the decision that we will be going ahead with the use of lifeRay as the software to support the project.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Course Information

One of the things raised as a task is to look at Course descriptors and how they are handled at the different colleges and the university. This is interesting as a quick evaluation of websites shows the same foundation degree has two different course descriptors - depending which college is delivering it. When we look at putting this information into a link in a portal showing foundation degrees run by the consortium do we link to the course information held by the colleges or the information held by the university? From a good will point of view we could look at both - but that could get confusing. How do we handle this information? Perhaps a main link to the unversity generic descriptor then links to the local colleges information (but that would have to assume that the college information is held in a database with matching codes). Perhaps the colleges information (and the unversities) should be pushed to the repository before going to the portal?