100 ways to use a VLE – #86 Filing Cabinet

You may already have a filing cabinet (or a cupboard) which you store copies of your assignments, handouts, briefings and other paper based resources.

You may have a folder on your desk which students can access copies of missing resources.

You may already give your learners access to this file storage and allow them to pick and choose which paper based resources they need.

You do though need to ask the questions:

  • how do learners access the resources, do they need a key or authorisation?
  • what happens when a copy runs out, who prints out and copies the resource?
  • who identified that a resource has run out?

The advantages of placing electronic copies of resources on a VLE are:

  • the resources are available all the time from anywhere, whether that be home, work or college;
  • as they are electronic copies, they never run out, you don’t need to print or copy them again;
  • students can have multiple copies, one at home and one for college;
  • you can specify if resources are available all the time or for a set time;
  • you will be able to find copies for yourself so allowing you to access them from home or work if they need updating.

The VLE is a powerful asset and tool for teaching and learning, but even using it as a simple file storage area can prove to be an advantage to yourself and your learners.

The VLE is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year from any internet connected computer.

Using technology does “improve learning”

Becta have just published their report on the £34m test bed project.

The key message from the report is:

Having a high level of technology for learning equipment in a school or college will dramatically improve performance, so long as there is the right support and enthusiasm to embrace it.

In terms of FE, there was recognition of the value of VLEs (or learning platforms) in enhancing and supporting learning.

In the further education colleges it was found that learning platforms extended students’ learning into the home, and the management information systems provided greater efficiency and effectiveness for managers and teachers.

The BBC is reporting on the story and they pick up on the fact that though there was greater success in the primary and secondary schools, the impact on FE was marginal, there was little change.

It can be difficult to measure the impact of technology on retention and achivement, but there is now much more evidence that it can and does make a difference.

QIA Conference in London


One Street in London

Originally uploaded by James F Clay

Yesterday I presented at the QIA Conference in London on the use of technology to support 14-19 education.

It was a good session, though not a large number of people. Having said that there were some really good questions and debate.

The photo is the view from the conference window!

Travelling to conferences sounds like fun, the reality is that you spend most of your time either on the train or in a car and then the rest of the time is spent in a conference hall or a workshop room.

Conferences though (for me) are a good opportunity to see what other people are doing and I found it really interesting to see what an e-enabled college like Crosslands is doing to further retention and achievement. They have an intergrated system which allows staff to get hold of information about learners really quickly and more importantly easily.

Overall it was an interesting conference.

100 ways to use a VLE – #6 Bookmarks

One of the useful aspects of the Gloucestershire College VLE is the ability to store a series of bookmarked web links on a course.

These links can be accessed from any computer which is something that Internet Explorer fails to do as it is restricted to one computer.

Also these links can be accessed by your students at a time and place convenient to them (whether that be at home, in college, or at work). Rather than type them out they can click and there the page is there for them either within the campus or in a new window.

You could always use a social bookmarking site such as del.icio.us, but one of the advantages of using the VLE is that it can track who has clicked the links.

Moving

On Friday the 29th of June Gloucestershire College will be moving its Learning Gateway (library) from their old 1930’s Brunswick campus to their new state of the art new campus on the Gloucester docks.


Gloucestershire College

Moving seventeen thousand odd books, fifty computers and lots of other stuff, makes you realise how moving from one VLE to another though complicated and complex, can be relatively simple to physically moving a learning environment.

The move won’t impact on the VLE as the VLE runs on servers on our Cheltenham campus, however it does mean that I personally will be quite busy and therefore won’t be online as much as I am now.

JISC RSC South West Annual Conference

Today I was at the JISC Regional Support Centre (RSC) South West annual conference in Bridgwater. I missed the morning as I was in a meeting in Cheltenham, but did manage to get there in time for lunch!

I had missed some great sessions in the morning (according to the attendees I spoke to) but did manage to see the exhibitors in the exhibition whilst eating my lunch.

Met with David Sugden and had a chat about Web 2.0 and banning amongst other things and also Jaiku.

I meant to take some photographs and post them, but forgot once I was inside talking and listening.

Overall a good event and well worth making the effort to attend.

Primary School pupils lead the way with blogging

Pupils from a primary school in East Dunbartonshire are at the forefront of a new digital learning phenomenon.

Children in the pilot group at Woodhill Primary School in Bishopbriggs are using blogs to communicate with schools across the UK and Europe and making podcasts on a range of subjects, including French language.

Read more

What this demonstrates is one of two things, firstly if primary school children are using web 2.0 tools and are podcasting, why is this not used more in FE, why do we find it so difficult to embed the use of this kind of technology?

Secondly as this has made the BBC News does this not mean that this is not run of the mill normal stuff that happens in primary schools, it is quite unique and special and this is why it is being reported?

Copyright and VLEs

I sometimes get asked what materials can I upload to a VLE, are there any materials I can’t upload due to copyright.

Basically what I advise is do not upload any copyrighted material unless you have the rights, a licence or permission from the copyright holder to do so.

Sometimes you will need to check multiple permissions for a single resource as the text, images and diagrams may have different rights holders.

Staffordshire University have a (obviously HE centric) guide on copyright and VLEs which gives a more detailed explanation of the issue.

There is also the JISC Collections activity which I wrote for them which also covers some VLE issues amongst others.

Copyright is a complex issue and there are a lot of myths about copyright and education. If you are not sure about something, check don’t assume it will be okay.

Facebook

Unlike other social networking websites (read MySpace and Bebo) the college does not block Facebook (nor does it block Virb either).

I signed up or Facebook but to be honest found it quite a challenge to interact with, Virb was a lot easier, though I am hearing a lot about Facebook at the moment specifically about Facebook applications.

Not sure if I will stick it out with Facebook, can’t really see the purpose of Facebook from an e-learning perspective, though from a social networking perspective I am sure it works really well.

news and views on e-learning, TEL and learning stuff in general…