James Clay talks with Talis

I have been interviewed by Talis as part of their series of podcasts.

In this podcast, I talk with James Clay from Gloucestershire College, ALT’s Learning Technologist of the Year, 2009. James is responsible for the VLE, e-learning, mobile learning, the libraries, digital and online resources and the strategic direction of the college in relation to the use of learning technologies. We talk about the achievements of James and his team in introducing innovative technologies at the college, and how encouraging experimentation with technology has gradually changed the organisational culture. With staff using a wider range of media resources with greater confidence, it is easier for his team to embed new technologies as they alerted to new needs and expectations by diverse consultation methods they have in place with both staff and students. Students are also encouraged to use their own technologies – a neat response to funding constraints whilst simultaneously meeting student expectations. Many of the students at Gloucestershire College will be making their way towards a university course, and so it’s useful to hear James characterise those students and their relationship to technology. Indeed, it is his above all those insights that have brought James to the pragmatic position in the Is the VLE Dead debate for which he is known to many. We conclude by discussing the present and future of the VLE, and his experiences with Moodle.

Listen to the interview.

3 thoughts on “James Clay talks with Talis”

  1. Well done!
    Interesting as always – particularly your comments about IT Departments creating barriers to innovation.

    As you know, I’ve always operated our IT Dept as a focal point for innovation at our college. I believe strongly in enabling and encouraging innovation. I can’t understand why anyone would want to create barriers and be uncooperative with staff and learners.

    Today I was subjected to an IT audit, which was basically out to undermine any scope for freedom and innovation. I was left thinking, “Are we operating an academic infrastructure or locking-down MI5 headquarters?”

    1. As I said in the interview it is not just IT departments that can hinder innovation, it can be anyone, even some e-learning teams can be IPDs.

      There are some interesting blog posts on IPDs, this one from Mark Smithers and this one from Nick Sharratt.

      Glad you found it interesting.


  2. Thanks for those links, I read through them last nite. There are many points I agree with and I too am required to take certain steps to secure our systems.

    However, I believe we can find a ‘sweet spot’- a secure infrastructure to stop intrusion from those we want to keep out, stop malicious damage & maintain an audit-trail, whilst enabling and encouraging our staff & learners to develop, innovate and have decent levels of autonomy.

    I think toward the end of your interview you said something on the lines of… ‘we should not be giving IT departments a solution, rather (we should) look at giving them problems to solve and let them work out the solution, as professionals.’

    This is fundamentally how we work at BSFC. I think there must be a sense of trust and acknowledgment of expertise when working with IT deparments. I love modern art and visit lots of galleries, read-up on exhibitions, etc. But I would not profess to know more about ‘Art’ than our Head of Art & Design. Likewise, as a professional I would hope to get the same respect for my profession but that does not mean to say I would ever dictate ‘how’ our systems run.

    Yes, there are certain laws, rules & protocols to follow – but I believe that in education, some of those regulations need to be pushed and questioned in order to facilitate the learning systems you talked about in this interview.


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