Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Embedding, Reuse and Life

It has been an interesting two weeks, with a number of meetings with different people and writing a new bid for a project linked to this one. So where to start?

Had a meeting with the FCET elearning coordinator as a follow up from the last FCET meeting and had a wide range of discussions around elearning, supporting WBL and the use of emerging technologies within the university for all. This linked very nicely into the SURF WBL project and the WBL-Way project as they have asked for a "hands off" approach, where employers are told about the service, I have created the guide and passed it on to them. Will have to see if this approach gets any more people involved. At the same time I reminded those already engaged with the project that things were moving forward and not to forget to use the Support Point - and sent them a copy of the same guide.

I also managed to use the JISC Conference in Birmingham to talk to a number of people about the project, and leave leaflets about it and the WBL project on the JORUM stand! This was an interesting day, especially those talks focusing on identity management which is where I see the next big thing for the university as we become more engaged with supporting WBL.

Other meetings I have attended have been around supporting WBL within the University and on Foundation Degrees such as Business Start Up, the department involved in delivering this award has shown an interest in using the Support Point as a central contact point for mentors to talk to learners on a group basis and the use of materials from the repository in the Learning Through Work Site. They also have a copy of the registeration guide!

Oh and Sam and I have managed to complete the Project Update document!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Reusing in action

I know that this blog focuses on the SURF WBL-Way project but as I was promoting this project to our Computing, Engineering and Technology faculty I was pleased to hear that they had successfully used outputs from the SURF WBL project and that they had been able to use content from the Mentor Handbook in a presentation to help mentors involved in Work Based Learning understand their roles more. I am hoping to get a copy of the presentation and the revised Mentor Handbooks from validation to add to the repostitory and then share with everyone registered in the Support Point. At this meeting I was asked to work on creating a support document for Employers so that they could see why they would use the Support Point and how they can register so that they can tell their employers without the face to face sessions used by the pilot. They were happy with the fact that this was a pilot and problems would be expected but felt the value of the Support Point outwayed any teething problems they might have.

I also managed to find out that there are still problems with faculties access templated documents for SURF colleges rather than for Staffordshire University, traditional, learners. I need to chase this one up so that they can also be accessed through the Support Point.

The project meeting was this morning and feedback has been possitive about initial pilot experiences. Two of the colleges are actively promoting the support point with employers, learners, tutors and mentors, with the final college promoting it in the next two weeks. We had a short discussion based around how the Support Point was developing and how it matched the initial project plan. We are very pleased with how it is going but recognise that some problems will not be resolved in the project as hoped these include:- authentication of support staff at colleges, service access to information at colleges to get information, and information not consistant across partner colleges.

It was felt that users at partner colleges needed a clear message sent out that the Support Point is an information access point rather than a tool where they input information about their learners.

Mark mentioned that with HarvestRoad becoming part of JiuntiLabs, it looks like we will be able to get a built in SCORM player for HIVE that will work with our IMS packages, and Mark is looking at seeing if we can be involved in being Beta testers for this software. This would take a great deal of effort out of inputting all the WBL objects in the repository.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Plymouth, mentors, work based learning and Blogging

What a title but I think I should have covered it all! Mark and I went down to the Plymouth e-Learning conference, where Mark was the Key Note speaker. This had a lot of interesting things going on around work based learning, control and innovation (based on Marks talk), and "Web 2.0". Plymouth have a JISC project called Uspace, where they are looking at using iGoogle as a portal for their learners, and it will be interesting to see how they link that to university systems and authentication, at the moment most tools they are using appear to be those linked to Google, although they also link to their internal elgg installation. Another interesting point will be whether employers let learners access it at work (barriers on control/ what is learning and what is social). They have taken the approach that each partner college has their own tab within iGoogle - this is something that we will be looking at during the next meeting.

Other interesting issues linked to: Will learners really use devices they have for entertainment/social networking for learning? Previous studies have shown this to be unlikely so will we be able to encourage technology relating to learning as well as their other devices - or can we piggie back on devices they use for work? Are they happier using work/ personal devices as opposed to learning/ personal devices? No easy answers were there but still need to be considered and investigated.

The conference showed a move towards blogging in everyday learning, with learners now starting to complain that they have to reflect on too much. Where blogging has not joined the mainstream feedback shows the reason they like to do it is because it is new and different. I found it interesting one study appeared to have written their own blogging tool with a template for feedback in a certain way, the learners using this complained about the limited functionality and they had not been asked that if they had been given the template to go into their own blogging tool would they have been happier?

As we look at the Support Point and consider how the learner is being encouraged to blog their experiences will we have to think about linking learner blogs to different modules? And will the learner have to start thinking about different blogs for those modules? How will they be able to manage this experience?

Anyway enough of the questions!