Thursday, 27 March 2008

Moving on up

Have had a busy few weeks, and a few more ahead with the pilot taking off, features being rated with the technical team, and attending a few conferences. Last week was particularly interesting as I met one of the employers involved in the pilot based in Shrewsbury, plus one of the tutors involved. I am not going to say much here, just read Shrewsburys blog which should be out today or tomorrow.

This week I have been looking again at tools on the web that could be used to assist in learning and could also be embedded into the Support Point as tools for the learner etc. This included investing Diigo (nice) Shelfari (OK) and Squidoo (very good, similar to Pageflakes, and have set up a WBL page - which is referenced now in Diigo and Facebook) It is nice to see how some of these tools now fit together, and it will be interesting to see how they work for dissemination of project work.

Thanks to the project team rating features for the project on the roles of Learner and Educational Support Staff/ Tutor we have been able to put a plan together for developing the features and releasing them into the support point. Some of the features overlap with Mentor and Managers so progress should be fairly quick once we get started. We can't rate employer type features until a few more get involved in the project and see what is available.

On the plus side it looks like calendars in the University and the linking to online tools and software within the University is now being investigated beyond the project which should help with getting the information into the Support Point in a usuable format.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Meetings and Issues

Had an interesting week that has involved a get together at Birmingham for those involved in JISC projects (see and a project meeting within two days of each other. Found that some of the same issues in our project are reflected in the community around work based learning including:

  • Although Fds follow fdf models during validation by delivery they have changed, including the loss of the mentor role due to the nature of the learner and/or employer
  • Learners can get conflicting information due to being part of a FE and a HE institution
  • Learners & Tutors are confused about resources and support tools available to them from the validating institution
  • Employers don't like other employers to know they are engaged with WBL
  • Employers only want limited involvement in WBL
  • Applications supporting learner administration are often not linked and involve duplication of work
  • Good practice can only be replicated where all the conditions are the same, and therefore often needs modifying to fit the new purpose (audience, delivery method etc)
  • Learners don't have access to similar technologies in the work place
  • Course descriptors are often modified immediate need
  • Course support documentation created to support validation and not the stakeholders involved in the award.
  • Access and Authentication a big problem, not just across consortium's but with mentors, employers etc needing to access materials/ data

So its a list, a long one and most need some serious thought to being addressed. In most cases there needs to be a change in Business processes, and a change in policy (and to quote from Mark Stiles, there needs to be a change in perspective from restricting to enabling).

On a lighter note it is good to see the ning group grow and some of the inputs have been very interesting.

Monday, 10 March 2008


I am thinking about ways of making life more easy and centralising information about university calendars and then how they will fit within the Support Point, the University website and its own portal. I am really pleased with the calendar spreadsheet I have started and shared with the Student Information team, who seem happy with it. I will have to look at a way of sharing it with the community.