“Million more UK homes go online”

According to recent figures as reported by the BBC, a million more UK homes have now gone online.

The number of UK homes with internet access has gone up by nearly a million over the last year, figures suggest.

Some 15.2m UK households – 61% of homes – now have an internet connection, compared with 54% in 2006, research from National Statistics found.

In total, 84% of web-enabled households said they had a broadband connection, up from 69% in May 2006.

61% of homes now have an internet connection and those 84% have a broadband connection.

For those learners coming from homes without internet, what can they do? Well yes it would be nice if every learner had a broadband internet connection, but it would also be nice if every learner had free transport to college, it would be nice if every learner had all the core texts they needed, it would be nice if every learner didn’t need a part-time job to support their studies, etc…

Colleges don’t provide libraries or teachers at home, so even though a learner may not have access to the internet, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use the internet and web based services (like a VLE) to support and enhance learning.

For those learners who don’t have access to broadband internet, they do have options in terms of access to the internet. Some have mobile phones or other mobiles devices which could be used. Some will be able to access free internet from their local library. Some will be able to access the internet at a relative or a friend. Virtually all will be able to access the internet at college.

Adding and embedding audio into PowerPoint

In a recent post I mentioned about embedding audio into a PowerPoint presentation which you wanted to share or distribute (say on a VLE).

This is proving to be quite a popular post, but I did think that some people may be looking at it on how to add audio to a presentation in the first place.

You can add audio clips to a presentation or record audio for use in the presentation. You can even play a track from a CD, though you will not be able to embed a CD audio track.

To add audio to a PowerPoint presentation (this is using PowerPoint 2003) from the menu.

Insert > Movies and Sounds > Sound from File…

Adding and embedding audio into PowerPoint

Continue reading Adding and embedding audio into PowerPoint

Can e-learning save money?

It is often thought that e-learning can be used in order to “replace” teachers and save money.

This is a bit of myth for virtually all educational institutions. e-Learning can’t replace teachers, you still need someone to facilitate and support the learning experience.

But e-learning can save money, let me give you an example.

Three local institutions deliver an A Level in Zebra Studies. They each deliver to five or six students.

Zebra Studies

If all three institutions can collaborate and deliver a single course in a mixed-mode delivery to the 15-18 students, then rather than three staff been paid to deliver, each institution only needs to pay a 1/3 of a member of staff.

You use e-learning to support and enhance the delivery. You use online discussions, video conferencing, podcasts, video webcasts, etc…

The students will benefit from the larger group, more so if students withdraw, withdrawals from a small group could mean not only a group which is unviable from a cost perspective, but also from a learning pespective – it is always difficult to break into groups of three when there are only four students!

Rooming costs will also be lower.

Institutions don’t need to be just FE colleges, they can also be schools, HE institutions as well as colleges.

Only a thought.

Also where there is cross curriculum areas, ie Customer Service, Finance, Health & Safety, groups could be combined in a single college to save on costs. A single cohort of twenty students instead of two groups of ten – actually that one doesn’t even need to use e-learning, just co-ordination!

Photo source.

Couple of interesting articles, or not…

In Friday’s Guardian there were a couple of articles of interest which you may have missed, as they were tucked away in the Back to School section which came with the paper.

Of course the beauty of the internet is that even if you have handed in the paper for recycling already (or months ago if you are reading this in December) you can still access the relevant articles online through Guardian Unlimited.

Or so I thought….

The articles from the Back to School supplement are not available online!

They might be on the pay per view edition, but doesn’t look like the supplement is available as text articles.

Well one article was on social networking and the other on mobile phones, no point in really talking about them as you can’t read them!

How to configure Internet Explorer to open Office documents in the appropriate Office program instead of in Internet Explorer

One of the things I dislike about Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, is when people upload and post Office documents to the web and then when I come to click on it, rather than offer me the option to open or save the Office document, Internet Explorer opens the document in the browser window.

Now for viewing documents, this generally isn’t too much of an issue, however for printing, changing and saving the document, well totally different story.

It’s one of the reasons I prefer using Firefox and Mac OS X.

However if you have “accidently” configured your system to do this, it is possible to change it back.

How to configure Internet Explorer to open Office documents in the appropriate Office program instead of in Internet Explorer

Scanning in slides and photographs

If you are scanning in slides or taking digital images of projected slides, ensure that your institution has the rights to the images on those slides. A lot of colleges in the long and distant past would have purchased slide collections and now want to digitise them, ensure that you have the rights
to do so.

Who does own the rights to the slide, they do belong to the original photographer, but if they were an employee of the college and they took the photographs for using within a course being taught in the college then the copyright belongs to the college, unless there was an agreement to the contrary.

When producing electronic resources I commit myself to only utilise images that I have the rights to use – and in most cases these rights would have been purchased or owned by me.

As a result I will often take photographs for learning resources.

However be aware that taking photographs of students (and staff) can breach both the data protection act and the human rights act and therefore if there are people in your pictures ensure that they have signed a model release form before using them in learning resources or publicity material.

The other thing to remember is that a lot of image collections you can buy are for personal use only and can not be used in an educational context without the written permission of the copyright holder.

My line is, if in doubt don’t use it.

One way to find images you can use is via Flickr and search for those images which have a creative commons licence.

The information being provided in this posting is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as constituting legal advice.

Britain enjoying ‘digital boom’

From a BBC News article:

The net, mobile phones and MP3 players are revolutionising how Britons spend their time, says Ofcom’s annual report.

It reveals that older media such as TV, radio and even DVDs are being abandoned in favour of more modern technology.

It also shows that women, in some age groups, are the dominant web users and older web users spend more time online than any group.

Among children it showed that web and mobile phone use is growing at the expense of video games.

Some may not believe that DVDs are old technology already! However with places like Tesco selling DVD players for £17 and with the advent of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, downloadable films and the growth of YouTube, we must start to think of them as an old technology.

DVD

I find it interesting that the internet and the web are no longer just the playground for the young male geek, but now that women and older people are starting to use the web and are in some cases the largest group using the web. This does mean that we have real opportunities in education to continue (start) using the web to support and enhance learning.

As for children moving from games to using the web and mobile phones more, does this mean with some in the education sector looking at games for learning, have they missed the boat already and should start loo king at other areas and ignore games?

As for the growth in mp3 players (read iPod) is it time we started in FE to podcast more?

Some things to think about.

Mobile phones ‘eroding landlines’

From a BBC News article

Mobile phone use is continuing to reduce the amount of time people spend using landlines, according to a report by the UK communications watchdog.

This again demonstrates how the mobile phone is integral to many people’s lives. The ability to utilise mobile technology for learning is something we should be investigating, researching and implementing. Modern mobile phones can now do so much more than just make phone calls and send texts, we can use them for taking photographs and video, play audio and short films, view pictures and connect to the web.

Archival Audio Recordings

A new source of music and audio recordings which can be used for educational purposes is the British Library Archival Sound Recordings.

The Archival Sound Recordings service is the result of a two-year development project to increase access to the Sound Archive’s extensive collections. When complete, it will make 3,900 hours of digitised audio freely available to the Higher and Further Education communities of the UK.

Part of the JISC Digitisation programme there is a lot of audio and music..

music

Note you need to be licensed to hear and download the clips, but it is free to FE colleges (and HE Institutions) to get licensed.

cn we uz mobz 4 LernN?

At ALT-C this year I am running a workshop entitled cn we uz mobz 4 LernN? or in English, Can we use mobile devices for learning?

The abstract is as follows:

Wouldn’t it be nice if all learners in an educational environment had access to a wireless laptop and free wireless access to their digital resources at a time and place to suit their needs. The reality is that learners don’t always have access to what we as practitioners would like them to have to enable them to access their learning.

However they do have access to some mobile digital devices which could be used, these include mobile phones, iPods, mp3 players, portable video players, PSPs… These devices are used extensively for entertainment, but rarely used for learning.

Should we be exploiting the technology learners bring with them to the classroom? We live in a time where technology changes at an extraordinary pace. Despite increasing expenditure on computer equipment and associated peripherals, such as interactive whiteboards and projectors, many institutions still feel under-resourced and unable to meet the technological requirements demanded by the next generation of learners.

The investment in computer based technology requires a major annual expenditure for most institutions because computer equipment has a relatively short life-span and the requirements for running today’s cutting edge software changes rapidly. This can be a drain on over-stretched budgets and results in a need to look for cost effective alternatives.

In a world where mobile technologies are becoming increasingly mainstream, shouldn’t Universities and Colleges be exploiting these technologies and encouraging their use as part of the teaching and learning process?

Studies are beginning to show that mobile telephones, ipods, mp3 players and other portable devices can be used effectively to deliver learning materials. It should be possible for institutions to capitalise on the successful integration of these technologies into every day life and to exploit the teaching and learning potential inherent in the already familiar devices.

However can we really use mobile devices for learning, can they effectively provide a learning experience via a small screen? What about personalisation, interactivity, communication?

James Clay (at the WCC) researched and developed the use of mobile devices for learning. Now at Gloucestershire College of Arts & Technology (Gloscat) he is planning the embedding the use of mobile devices across the whole college.

This workshop will demonstrate some of the latest devices which can be used for mobile learning and allow participants to try them out and consider how they can start to utilise mobile devices to enhance and support learning in their institutions.

After introducing the concept of mobile learning participants will then be organised into small groups to look through a series of pedagogical case studies on mobile learning and see if they could apply these to their own institution.

Participants will then be challenged in small groups to create a series of exemplar scenarios which they could take back to their institutions to initiate or extend the use of mobile devices to enhance and support learning. These scenarios will then be shared with the community via the web.

I am looking forward to running the workshop as I feel over the years the concept of mobile learning has taken root in the FE and HE communities and has also moved beyond the idea that mobile learning is just about giving PDAs to students.

I will be demonstrating various mobile learning scenarios including the use of mobile video and Bluetooth as well as showing off my new Sony VAIO umpc, the UX1XN.

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