All posts by James Clay

Free, unlimited access to two thousand years of images

Free, unlimited access to two thousand years of mankind and medicine in pictures made available through Creative Commons Licence

Teachers, students, academics and the public can now download and use images depicting 2,000 years of mankind and medicine for free, thanks this newly launched website from the Wellcome Trust.

There are some really nice images on the website which has many uses for various learning activities. The fact they are freely available makes it great for both practitioners and learners.

Wellcome Images 

A connected conference

What is nice about this JISC Conference is the connectivity. There is free wireless access, this means that you can access the websites mentioned in presentations, the conference blog (to read entries on presentations and workshops you missed), e-mail (so less of a pain when you get back to the office), you can blog and micro blog. You can upload photographs to Flickr and view others’ del.icio.us links from the conference.

Of course laptop batteries never last, but at this conference there are power points to plug your laptop in.

There is a conference blog and a conference wiki.

Makes a conference easier to digest and reflect upon.

JISC Digitisation Conference on e-Content

Tomorrow (Thursday) I am off to Cardiff to attend the JISC Digitisation Conference on e-Content.

Today saw a major international symposium organised and hosted by JISC to explore national and international policies and strategies around e-content.

I am attending the next two days.

Delegates will be joined on Thursday by around 130 leading figures from education, research, cultural heritage, public broadcasting and industry in the UK and beyond for a further two days for a conference on digitisation which will showcase national and international digitisation initiatives – including JISC’s £22m digitisation programme – and explore the potential for cross-sectoral cooperation in this area.

Should be an interesting conference. I am hoping to blog a few entries over the conference (there is wireless access), however there is also the official blog: JISC Digitisation Blog.

Sony VAIO UX1XN

Today I should get my Sony VAIO UX1XN. This is an UMPC from Sony which to be honest is a really nice piece of kit.

Sony VAIO UX1

Apart from using it as a Vista PC (this will be my first real experience of Vista) I will be evaluating the usefulness of the device for both staff and learners.

It has a tiny 4.5″ screen (1024×800) and a dinky little keyboard. However it has two cameras, 32GB Flash-based hard drive and has both 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth.

It will be interesting to see how it performs and how difficult it will be to use with such a small screen, will add further thoughts and experiences later.

Using NLN Materials as additional support material

Use NLN Materials to provide additional support to learners.

  • Use NLN materials in a similar vein to text book or reading list as additional support and resources for students. In my college we are able to provide ready-made-packages of NLN materials and weblinks which are ideal for this purpose.
  • Use NLN materials for differentiation (both less able and more able learners). Are you finding some learners need additional support or further extension, by providing access to extra materials, such as the NLN materials, you can provide a more indvidualised learning programme for your learners.
  • Use NLN materials to provide background for classroom delivery. You can use the NLN materials to provide background reading for a topic in the same way that you could use a chapter of a book, with the advanatage that the use of the materials is tracked and you don’t have to worry about having enough copies in the library.

Of course the NLN materials are just one way in which you can support learners, there are other e-resources and online materials which can provide additional support to learners in a similar way.

Do traditional lectures deliver?

Undergraduates are usually way ahead of their tutors when it comes to IT. But texts, podcasts and Web 2.0 can enhance their learning

iPodConsider the evidence. Students are increasingly digitally literate and techno-savvy. There’s no longer a student stereotype; no one-size-fits-all in terms of age, diversity, disability, financial or family commitments. They live and learn in a 24/7 society, juggling family, work and social commitments. We’re also seeing the rise of students as consumers, and managing the expectations this creates falls firmly to lecturers on the front line. Students demand inspired, interactive teaching. Do traditional lectures deliver?

Read more.

Travelling through time…

We never have enough time, however I have managed to find the time to spend some time talking about time…Over the last ten years or so I have been supporting staff in FE in the use of learning technologies, all the time when I run training sessions though I hear the following comments:

“I don’t have the time.”

“When am I suppose to find time to do all this?”

“I am going to need more time.”

There are a few options when it comes to time and finding the time.

First option, double your working hours each week, this will give you more time for work, less for home, but remember it has to be for the same money!

Second option, don’t sleep! Sleep is somewhat overrated and think of all that time you are wasting sleeping, when you could be doing so much more. We live in a world which never sleeps according to an overused cliché.

Third option, use a time machine, such as the Tardis or H G Wells’ time machine and travel back in time to catch up on all the time you need, you might break a few laws of time, but I won’t tell.

TARDIS

Seriously though, time is finite and fixed. We can’t change the amount of time we have. All that is possible is prioritising how we use our time and working more efficiently

Everybody already uses technology to save time. People drive to work rather than walk. There are microwaves and fridges in staff areas which means it is possible to save time over lunch. Telephones enable quicker and easier communication and for planning meetings and contacts it can save time. Video recorders allow us to time-shift watching television programmes. Kettles avoid having to light a fire to make a cup of tea!

Everyday we use technology to make our lives easier and to save time.

Often learning technologies can be used to make our lives easier and importantly save time.

Do you give your learners any type of formative assessment, do you find the marking takes a large amount of time, or do you use valuable contact time, getting the students to mark each others’ assessments, or do you not bother as you don’t have the time? You can put assessments on a VLE and it can save time, as the VLE will mark the assessments for you. Importantly such formative assessment will allow you to identify learners having difficulties which can impact on retention and achievement.

Do you spend time finding or copying resources for students who missed a session, or have lost them. How do you cope with differentiation or providing a personalised learning experience in addition to this. By using a VLE and uploading interactive whiteboard notes, handouts, presentations, your learners will be able to find and access the resources they need at a time and place to suit them, saving you time and making their lives easier. However if you also provide additional resources, links, digital online collections, you can start to provide a differentiated and personalised learning experience which will challenge the more able learners and support the learners with greater needs.

Why not think about what you do have time for? What I mean by this is how do you prioritise how you spend your working week? How much time do you spend planning lessons and how much time do you spend creating resources for your lessons?

The following topics are covered significantly across many vocational and academic areas across the college. Do you create resources for these areas yourself, or do you use other peoples?

  • Customer Service
  • Health and Safety
  • Marketing
  • Study Skills
  • Equal Opportunities

Sharing makes sense and saves time. So how do you share when one of you is based at different sites on a multi-site college? You know I am going to say through the VLE don’t you?

How do you share when you are based in a college in Gloucestershire and somebody else is based in a college in York. You know I am going to say through JORUM don’t you?

Working together, both internally and externally, can have significant impact on the speed and quality of delivery. The ability to bring high quality expertise from different disciplines to share good practice, develop ideas and address learning and implementation strategies can be highly effective. Synergy means that working together produces better results than the sum of the parts working individually.

But I hear you cry, “I don’t like using other people’s stuff…”

I know, but I am 100% certain that everyone does use other people’s stuff not just now and again, but all the time. When you photocopy a page from a book or an article from a journal, that is someone else’s stuff. When you use an article from a newspaper or a journal, that is someone else’s stuff. When you show a video, that’s someone else’s stuff.

We use other people’s stuff all the time. Building on the work of others is a valid way of working. It is how academic research is undertaken, building on the work of others.

Using other people’s stuff saves time.

Time is valuable, but we can’t increase the time we have, we can prioritise how we spend our time and use technologies to save time. We all use technology everyday to save time and make our lives easier.

Learning technologies can be used to save time, make our lives easier in the college; as well as enhance learning, improve retention and increase achievement for our learners.