Thursday, 28 February 2008

Start Spreading the Word

As the project moves forward there is more need to spread the word, one opportunity made available to us was through the SURF Curriculum & Qualifications Group Meeting. This meeting had its focus on helping inform colleagues in SURF about efforts around employer engagement, with a great talk by the fdf; Clare Stoney. This was a very interesting meeting about how both the colleges and the university need to look at strategies on engaging employers. We were able to get everyone there to take a leaflet about the project, and it looks like Clare has given us extra points to think about - and given us some backing on items we have already raised (like customer relationship management across SURF for employers).

Our next main opportunity will be in June, where we will be involved in a University event "Technology Supported Learning in the 21st Century: Issues and Paradigms in Transformative Tertiary Education" (for more information follow the link). We are hoping to run a workshop demonstrating employer engagement with SURF through the use of the support point.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Student Information

Had an interesting meeting with Student Information yesterday, initially about how the University delivers it's calendars and how the calendars are used for funding etc. It seems that the calendar is not just one thing that is agreed at the beginning of an academic year but a constantly growing, changing entity, and if this is the case how can it be used easily across systems? Obviously the easiest approach is to use the repository to centrally store a ICS file and then that file is called by different systems. There is a problem with this in that most systems using ICS files require an import of that file, so then we have to think about ways to create an automatic import once the file version has changed (when necessary) which may not be easy thinking about all the different systems at the University... This needs much more thought than originally perceived.

After some discussion around calendars we got on to the University's portal for full time students, MyPortal, which is something that has been running for 2 years at the University now. This was interesting as some of the features from the Support Point are already used in MyPortal, with differing success. The interesting ones included showing results to learners after they have been confirmed, and displaying learner history in a user friendly way. This can obviously be replicated across the different WBL stakeholders. They are also talking about taking MyPortal to learners outside of the University and to those studying at colleges and work place in September. This has an impact on the projects sustainability; we don’t want learners to have to go to two different points to get very similar information. We now need to think of ways in which the MyPortal and the Support Point can complement each other..

Friday, 15 February 2008


The team have worked this week on setting the ratings for features through the project WIKI rating them from very important to not important at all. The team went through and rated them on their own and then I went in to view them and whether they all match. It seems that the project team agree on must of the features ratings, however there were some interesting points raised by one team who had experience as a learner at Staffordshire University. The three most important Learner area functions are: Information on Modules they are studying now, Information on progression routes, and linking to support documents in HIVE.

I am wondering if the next stage - looking at the tutor/support staff section should involve tutors etc in the pilot should be rating the features or whether the project team should just review the interviews that took place at the start of the project. Has anyone else thought about this?

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

All Quiet

Work has been slowly moving on without blog updates, sorry folks. We have had to make some decisions on the HIVE software and how we get our learning objects out of it. We were hoping to access IMS packages from HIVE but there are a few problems with that. Mainly the IMS/Scorm viewer in HIVE is not displaying objects in the way expected, and now it also looks like without a big upgrade to Blackboard they will not be able to be used in there either! I am trying to think about work arounds that won't involve putting all the HTML files in - and darn it the only thought I can come up with is using frames....there has to be a better option out there.
Our portal has now got some users on it and we have had some useful feedback - especially on the use of forums in the community, and the fact that the permissions did not work as we expected. Thankfully the LifeRay community have come to the rescue with some work arounds - thanks guys. Calling on experts when needed means that the development team don't have spend lots of time investigating the back end of the software.
We had a project meeting last week, where the technical team have confirmed that they now have their own blog, and I will certainly be putting the link up here as soon as I get it. The project team are working together to prioritise the different features requested for learners over this week and by Friday they should have chosen the features most important to the success of the portal. They are using the project WIKI and will be blogging their experiences too.