Tuesday, July 01, 2014

MOOC Network



Following on from my experience of Mooc's that I blogged on recently, I was more than pleased to discover that the college had been approach to join the QAA MOOC Network and even better that I was invited to be our representative, needless to say an offer that I agreed to with enthusiasm. Our regular contact is facilitated through a Linkedin group and I have conference next month and looking to that, so do please stay in touch for future postings.

And while on the subject of MOOC’s I came across this interesting report collection that I can recommend ‘Ten useful reports on MOOCs nd online education’. Of particular interest to me at the present time was the ‘MOOCs: Expectations and Reality Full Report 2014’, expect a comfortable read with this as it covers some many of the questions that currently have in my mind in 211 pages, so you will need to take a seat for this one.

Others titles available at the resource include the following:-
  • Disruptor, Distracter, or What? A Policymaker's Guide to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS)
  • MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses. European University Association Occasional Paper. An update on developments in first paper published January 2013
  • Introduction to MOOCs: Avalanche, Illusion or Augmentation? Policy Brief Published by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education
  • The Maturing of the MOOC. Research Paper published by the UK Government, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • e-InfraNet: ‘Open’ as the default modus operandi for research and higher education
  • 2013 Survey on Technology and Instruction: Taking the Board to School on Educational Technology
  • eLearning Papers. Issue No.33: MOOCs and Beyond
  • MOOCs and disruptive innovation: Implications for higher education
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): A Primer for University and College Board Members
 
Please feel free to comment on this post with your own experience of MOOC's.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Decided to get Mooc'ed

 Having read about them. watched video clips and hovered around the edge of actually registering for one, I finally took the plunge recently and signed up to a MOOC.  The course: - Second Life MOOC  ran from April 1 to 30 2014. 

The theme was connecting online for collaborative learning and teaching through Second Life. The live presentations included speakers reflective process on teaching and learning in fully online and blended learning formats.
 
Course Highlights included: -
  • Experience Life in Second Life
  • Avatars will Present about their Lives in Second Life
  • Learn how to Teach in Second Life
  • Get Acquainted with Learning Environments in SL
If you were not used to virtual worlds such as Second Life then there were sessions for  beginners and advanced Second Life participants alike. I was also pleased to see that Moodle was being used for asynchronous work with the synchronous side of things handled by WizIQ & Second Life. We also had recordings on WizIQ, Google Drive, YouTube, and Vimeo.
As part of our completion task we were asked to produce a learning resource that would be made available in-world on the subject of connectivism. I must say that I do enjoy Second Life and feel that its full potential as a learning environment is still to be fully explored and this  course really took every opportunity to bring us together in that particular virtual space; most enjoyable.
Our course instructor was Nellie Deutsch on Integrating Technology Toronto, Canada, and she did a great job, thanks again Nellie.

You will see that I have included a small screen shot of my certificate, soon to be placed on my office wall.











I recently posted on the use of games in education and today another guide dropped across my browser that I thought would be a useful accompaniment to the toolkit.

I like this guide because use real-world examples of how game-based techniques can energise online learning programmes and make a positive, measurable impact. Some techniques (such as immersive 3D virtual environments) require substantial levels of investment, while others can be produced quickly and cost-effectively with just a little imagination, planning and game-based thinking. If you're interested in gamifying the provision of learning in your organisation, this guide will give you some useful food for thought.


A few thought provoking facts are included that I thought worth posting here:-

By 2014, more than 70% of Global 2000
organisations will have at least one
‘gamified’ application (Gartner).

By 2015, more than 50% of organisations
that manage innovation processes will
gamify those processes (Gartner).

The average game player today is 37
years old, and 42% of game players are
women (The Entertainment Software
Association).

Students recall just 10% of what they
read and 20% of what they hear. If
visuals accompany an oral presentation,
retention rises to 30%. If they do the job themselves,
even if only as a simulation, students
can remember 90% (the Federation of
American Scientists, 2006).


This guide covers:
Why use game-based learning?
Story, characters and goals
Virtual role-play
Avatars and reward systems
Leaderboards, competition and
team games
Exploring virtual environments
Mobile games
Take-a-break games
Conclusion
Acknowledgements and further reading
Contents


Well that's all for now, but you have anything surrounding this post that you would like to share then please feel free to comment


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Games and Learning

 Not sure really weer  am with the idea of Game Based Learning (GBL),but then I have yet to try it out. Sure I have been using both Second Life and OpenSim for some years now, but they are for me simulations not games. And so I was pleased stumble across a web site that offered an planning toolkit. Without going into too much detail surrounding the site as there is a lot of advice and case study material, the actual toolkit itself covers the following headings


  • Realism (as opposed to pure fantasy)
  • Complexity and Inclusiveness
  • Learning Focused
  • Flow
  • Time Constraints and Flexibility
  • Requirements
  • Support
  • General Curriculum
  • Generic / Employability Skills

I have read through the material here and it has made me start to think more clearly about the application of GBl, so if you have any experience or views on the subject then please feel free to post a reply.

 I must admit to being a fan of infographics and so when I came across one for the Moodle vle the other day I thought I must include it in my next blog posting. 

Taking a look at countries by registration is a revealing chart, when you take into account the population count of the those countries. I was particularity interested in the 'Top plug-ins in the last year' which were Poodll and Aardvark

In case you have seen these two plugins before Poodll is free and open source and has designed around the needs of  language courses.  The feature comprises a collection of various plugins for the Moodle vle that include audio player, recording audio and video clips, draw pictures directly in real time. You will also find there are really interesting little widgets that include a Flashcard widget, stopwatch, countdown timer, click counter, webcam broadcaster, webcam subscriber, set of dice, audio/video pairs, a calculator and more. 
Aardvark, is a menubar based theme tool set from Bootstrap. If customisation is you thing then Using aardvark you will be able to customise the look and feel of your vle including icons.

if you use either of these on your own Moodle instance then please feel free to reply and lets all know your thoughts
 

Talking about sharing thoughts here are a some of my own of recent involving what I interpret as a possible synchronicity experience.

From Wikipeadia :- "Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, where they are unlikely to be causally related. The subject sees it as a meaningful coincidence. The concept of synchronicity was first described by Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, in the 1920s."


I was taking part in a webinar earlier last week, and the presenter mentioned the widespread adoption by both students and institutes of web 1 technology and yet when it came to web 2 such as Facebook and Twitter this seemed to be the domain principally of students. Why was this significant, well because this was not really the focus of the session and yet that was the very same discussion that I was having as I was leaving college that very evening with a colleague. The next morning I get into class and one of my students informs me that the class have been running a Facebook account as a course discussion back channel since the start of the current academic year; so is this an example of Synchronicity I am wondering?

Thats all for now and again do feel free to post you own views and expediences for us all to share.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Moodle 2.5 running and OK

Well we have a Moodle 2.5 instance up and running, so in the last couple of days I have been taking those snatched opportunities to run some testing of resources and browse through the many new features that the versions offers. Given the work that I am focusing on at the moment with implementing eLearning using scorm materials I was more than a little impatient to confirm that the launching and tracking of objects worked as before and of course they do, and why not. As we have been using a system of certification for training for the Moodle courses that I run here at the College using Bronze, Silver and Gold, I thought lets give badges a try and that worked really smooth also, a nice surprise for the other members of the course when they next logged-in. I like the idea of having a choice of Forums and set one of those up and have already noticed that it is attracting some engagement from my colleagues. All in all then looking good, very good.

If you have been following this blog at all then will have come across my posts for links to free tools, and I recently came across an extremely nice list of 321 no less, and so I am sharing that source with you here. if you have any others to add then do please feel free to reply to this posting.


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Well worth a Listen

My teacher is an appNot quit a predication but the title of a really informative, thought provoking and even controversial short series of broadcasts from BBC4 Radio by Sarah Montague called My teacher is an App that investigate ‘The classroom of the Future’, ‘The University of the Future’ and ending with ‘An Education Revolution?’ this final episode features a lively debate from a good cross section of interested parties.  I must say the series really gave me valuable insight into the many ways that technology is finding its way into the classroom around the world. Not too surprising there was one case where the application of technology was seen as a means to leverage outcomes while at the same time providing opportunities to rationalise resources, as in teachers, mmm. For the children of Silicon Valley’s hi-tech giants employees it seems that school does not include the use of computers before the age of thirteen! now that one was a surprise that I was most certainly not expecting. I recommend a listen and please feel free to comment.


Since I first began to make use of the Moodle vle here at college one of the activities that I bought into very early was the use of Forums. I use them in-class to acquire research findings, uploading extension activities set during the session, which we then use for presentation and open discussion later in the class plenary, and beyond class time forums are great for maintaining engagement with collaborative projects. And I guess I felt I had the use of forums just about nailed, when recently one of the class suggested that I set up a forum for use purely as an FAQ that could be posted to and answered by myself or other class members, great idea, and it is proving useful to such an extent that I now have an FAQ forum on all my courses. So how about your own use of forums? I see from the Poll I run on this blog ‘Which of Moodles features do you find most useful’ , Forums are the third most popular features of a vle, please feel free to comment.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Running Turnitin for Moodle

A busy half tern for me last week as it turned out because I was scheduled to deliver training for Turnitin to staff on the coming Monday, which is today. There were some technical difficulties with getting the installation to actually work in our version of Moodle, but I am more than pleased to say that Turnitin were really helpful in getting over those problems. We finally had it up and running by Monday 28 Oct, so not a lot of time as it turned out to put those training materials together. If you have not used the Turnitin application yet, then I can certainly recommend it, essentially it functions as a student work submission tool that will allow you to check material for originality ( plagiarism ) and provide grading and feedback using the Trunitin GradeMark. I am particularly impressed with GradeMark as it allows you to attach notes to parts of the student essay from a range of pre-written collections, create your own or even leave in line comments, well worth looking at.

Just looking at the Turnitin website I discovered that in fact there are already some really good quality guides available anyway, but still thought it was worth producing my own based around our particular installation. The outcome rather than my usual bound set of hard copy Click-n-Go guides was a set of four videos.

  • Setting up a Turnitin Activity
  • Student assignment submission
  • Checking for Similarity
  • Using GradeMark


If you are interested in taking a look, I have placed the first of these onto a local web server, which you can see from here.

And did the training session go OK, its seems so.


That’s all from me now, if you have any comments then as usual please feel free to post

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lesoco trip

eLearning training continues to move along very encouragingly, with a well attended course last Wednesday and my diary filling with appointments for one-2-one mentoring sessions for the first piece of eLearning material package.  This week in particular brought along an excellent opportunity to see how these things are done in another college because on Monday this week I was invited to a LeSoCo meeting at Lewisham College.

Similar to our own deployment they are Moodle based, with implementations of Mahara and Turnitin, along with hosting and custom upgrades from ULCC. Interesting to see the inclusion of a wide range of Google education services including email, blogs and docs. I must admit that Google education does offer some very interesting and tempting features, something to look into for me in the not to distant future.
The blended learning programmes make use of Mahara for eportfolio’s with a mixture of learning material including Scorm packages, tracked using Grade book .

It was encouraging to see that own approach of using Bronze, Silver and Gold training standards was being used, though not surprisingly details for the content of these was different; must get Mozilla badges going soon.
Some interesting discussions developed on the day that included those recurrent themes of how does the inspection process fit into or for that matter support the collection of what could be broadly described as e-processes.
If you have read this blog before then you will have picked up that my subjective measure as to the usefulness of events is measured by the amount of note taking that I complete, and given that the event only lasted 2 hours six sides of a notebook, so all in all good.  When I say note book by the way I am not referring to the Apple kind, why, well because I wanted to try something new, instead of scribbling / keying lines and lines of text, I wanted to try-out a technique that I came across recently called Distance Graphic Recording posting on Elliot Masseys eLearning site. If you have not across this before you may like to give it a try, it certainly reduced my word count and aided later understanding of my own notes.

Thats all now, and as usual, please feel free to comment

Monday, October 07, 2013

Week four and going well

This week is going to be number four in the rollout of the eLearning training. The whole exercise is in fact proving to be extremely worthwhile; the actual sessions themselves are to introduce our staff to converting their desktop materials written in Word and then showing these can be enriched with media and assessments. Of course training in itself is not on its own going to produce the type oif culture change that we are looking for and so at each session I request a topic that will be used, which I am starting to follow up on with a one-to-one session, to assist with both technical and design issues. To address the subject of design , and given the core principles that we are considering here I came across a very useful pdf 'Guidelines for Authors of Learning Objects' by Rachel S. Smith.
If you have not coma across this particular publication before and you are interested in creating Learning Objects I can certainly recommend, main section titles include:

Placing Learning Objects in Context
Creating Learning Objects: Some Practical Advice
Marketing Learning Objects
Evaluating Found Learning Objects
Summary of Guidelines

If you are in the process of introducing these type of change the you may be interested in the an article I found the other day called ‘How to Builda Faculty Culture of Change’ By Robert Zemsky

That’s all for now and please feel free to comment

 

 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Training starts for 2013

Following my rounds of staff meetings before the end of summer term last, I have this week started to get the training for elearning underway. I have managed to get a good number if staff from just all curriculum area’s to sign up for a session, the first of which ran this week. If you have been following this blog then you will know that the strategy focuses upon three principle ingredients of delivery framework, content and assessment. This first round of training focuses upon content and introduces the idea of assessment. The idea that you are going to require staff to carryout  major changes to their existing materials is always likely to induce an expected and to be frank understandable level of reticence, however by using Wimba Create, which will convert materials produced in MS Word into Scorm compliant packages, can pretty much neutralise that.

Activities in the session cover the following exercises
  • Word document to learning package conversion
  • Using Metadata
  • Managing Course Settings
  • Basic Styling
  • Embedding Web and stored Media
  • Embedding websites
  • Questions and Feedback
  • Publishing a Wimba SCORM Document
  • Publishing to DSpace
General speaking providing we have no technical glitches the 1.5 – 2 hour has proven to be realistic.

You will notice from the list of items, I include publishing to DSpace. Because Dspace is a preservation repository, and given the fact that we are harvested regularly, this activity seemed to make sense.

Having mentioned technical glitches we did experience one. When embedding a YouTube video into a package I have always made use of the 'Share/ Embed and Use old embed code' option. On this occasion though I hit a problem. First off the  ‘Use old embed code’ simply was not there, so OK find another example and use that. When I did, the generated package would not play the content, we only had a white screen, ouch; have you experienced similar? I found a way around this though. If you go to this site  


and copy the video url and hit the generate but, a number of embed code outputs appear. I found that taking the first one at the top ‘Standard definition embed’, actually worked just fine, phew.
 
After each training session I am going to provide coaching for everybody on a one-2-one basis, which I think is going to prove valuable for us all including myself, so I will be blogging on just that as we move through the Winter Term, so please stay in touch

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Moodle News



As the testing continues with the move toward Moodle 2.4, the latest set of results following a full test migration do seem to be very encouraging. A full visual review of one curriculum area of 132 Moodle course shows that only 7 have a failed structure, though this represents just over 5%, it is something we shall look into of course. As for single resource failures, and this does not include quizzes and questionnaires, as these were effectively removed prior to the migration, it would seem that the infamous red cross has also appeared for about 5% of resources. Given the clear and necessary requirements of thorough evaluation, full live upgrade is unlikely now to take place until at least the end of the Winter term, and then it seems we shall in fact be looking at a move to 2.5.
  

While on the subject of Moodle, did you know that there is a Moodle MOOC course about to run. This is a 4 week Moodle introductory course requiring an estimated 8-12 hours of study time. If you are new to Moodle and would like to participate then registration commences on  19th August 2013 for a  1st September 2013 start. Follow the MOOC tradition, if that can actually be inferred, there will be no fees, with successful participants awarded a Mozilla Open Badges course completion badge that they can add to their Open Badges backpack.
 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Evangelising eLearning, Flipped Classroom


This week is when  I get the chance to evangelise to staff the benefits if adopting an eLearning – Online learning, Blended learning – Flipped learning component to courses. Being able to find testimonies from far and wide that support a range of improvements that may include aspects that range across achievement, attendance, student behaviour and even  staff teaching profiles are not difficult to find and often in the highly accessible from of an info-graphic. Of course when we look at any change / increase to working practice, there emerges understandably a sense of having the time available to implement the recommendations in order to realise the benefits in the first place, as would have been experienced by many of us I feel certain with the introduction of any new technology, take the vle for instance. But then as with now, you try to leverage the advantages, and if time is an issue, then it becomes time saving that you call in as the sweetener.


And so I find myself thinking, OK, the data seems to be there and makes this really worth looking into, but how do these changes manifest themselves in the daily running of classes? Take improved results for instance, would these translate into assignments being of a higher quality at first hand-in, so requiring a reduction in resubmissions; that would be a clear bonus. There are studies that report clear reductions in official disciplinary measures, some by two-thirds! Think of the corresponding reduction in class disruption and board meetings that this could save. Improvements to attendance and the likely impact that this could among other things such as your teaching observation grade; easilly impacted by a poor attendance ratio. Of course these are just speculations on my part, and to get down to the actual drivers in the data, I clearly need to actually meet and talk with practitioners, which hopefully will be taking place in the coming weeks.
 
As part of my presentation on this, I felt it was important establish a clear link or if you like continuity between historical and current practice and our future ambitions with eLearning. so to this end I created  slide that displayed in a phased style animation how the demands of an eLearning programme were in fact already supported by our vle training. A nice connection this one as it turned out that which has proved very useful during the week.

All in all the week has progressed really well so far, I have three more sessions to run and looking forward to bookings for training across the summer.
Please feel free to reply with your own experiences and ideas.


Bye for now.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

JISC eFactor 2013

I presented at the JISC eFactor2013 this week and naturally took the opportunity to get along to as many of the other parallel workshops that I could oj the day. For my part I was presenting the work that I have been conducting using Augmented Reality with Aurasma; if you have not seen the JISC blog for this then please follow this link. The presentation seemed to go down very well with the audience who took the opportunity to take advantage of the handouts that I brought along to the event in that they all went.


Preparing as we are here at College for the transition to Moodle 2.4, I was particularly pleased to see presentation from Croydon College called ‘Mobile Phone’. Given the number of Smartphones owned by our students, having a reliable means of scaling Moodle to a mobile client has a very strong strong appeal for me. I was therefore very encouraged to learn that the embedded theme can simply be enabled for it to function and screen shots clearly demonstrated both reliability and accessibility, nice.

Flipped Classroom for City of Westminster College, for me turned out to be a really worthwhile session also. Flipped Classroom is of course only a new and it seems Americanism for what many of us, myself included, have been and continue trying to do with the vle; that is get it to work as a vle, not just a course management system. City of Westminster had taken this on and were able to show deployment, but more importantly report on outcomes, which included the very positive impact on course results, and even improvements to teaching profiles; now that’s interesting, I shall certainly be bringing that along future discussion with the Quality Team. And who were the target group that they managed to achieve all this with, well, not as many may expect level 3 IT students, instead level 2 Motor Vehicle; even more ammunition in the drive for change.

There were of course other parallel workshops at eFactor 2013, and if you are yet attend one of these events I would warmly recommend you getting along next year.

Bye for now

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Changing Training



 

Since we first decided upon Moodle as our vle, training as a means of getting it out there to staff was clearly going to be of some priority. In the first round, using bound notes, I must confess that in my enthusiasm to get people on-board as quickly as possible the sessions lasted around two hours, much to long really and difficult to bolt into a curriculum delivery of 90 minute classes. And so the process was broken down into time scales that would fit into current and even changing session times and took the form of Bronze, basically how to get your course up and running and Silver,
which introduced the web 2.0 features. You may be thinking what about Gold, and indeed there has always been a Gold offering, which focuses on such things as eLearning, Learning Objects etc.


Well moving as we are toward a major 2.4 upgrade, the issue of training also emerges, because lets face it there are some significant differences. The question then arises that after having the Moodle vle around for some years now, do we actually require a formal attendee type of training session, there are colleges I know that have dropped the idea altogether, and so should we follow that lead. I decided that a new approach would be worth pursuing and so to that end the new training takes the form of video material that everyone can simply access at will and use on demand. How though do we authenticate training, with the previous approach it was simply case of qualification through attendance. With the new model I am thinking that staff will be presented with a number of requirements that a course must feature  under the new release, and once they are in place and clearly being used, then an electronic certificate will follow, see initial design.

 How are you handling training with Moodle these days, please feel free to comment, bye for now

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Feeling more competent now thanks

Just to follow up on my last blog where I proposed using a Questionnaire as a means of gaining some measure of session success from students, I took the opportunity to apply the idea in two separate classes this week and you can see the results from the screen shot. Just to recap, the initial impression was taken at the introduction phase and the final impression during the plenary. The material covered in the session 1h 45m, for most represented their first exposure to the topic. From the numbers it would appear that the confidence / competence in each area had more than doubled during a single session, and so I feel this has been a good measure for me and in fact for students who collectively felt that it was of value to them.

Continuing on with with my quest to find useful resources,  I came across an interesting link the other day from TeachThought.com named ‘15 Free Learning Tools You’ve Probably Never Heard Of’. The posting describes the collection as ‘under-the-radar free learning sites’. I confess that there are many that I was not aware of and are certainly worth looking into, so do please take a look at this one, and feel free to share your own under the radar sites or apps.


Closing on a somewhat lighter note, are you pod casting your classes? Well I do, though not the whole session, instead I will record (audio only), those aspects of the material that experience tells me often seem to need reinforcing; so basically listen again. The casts themselves seldom exceed a three or four minutes, looking at the hits on the vle, they are ceratianly used. But are they useful? Well it seems from a recent report from one of my students they would certainly seem to be distracting. While driving home, he was listening to one such pod cast to such an extent that he missed the usual motorway turn-off, and instead of arriving home at 18:30, he arrived at 20:15, how engaging was that!
 
As usual please feel free to comment

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Being able to usefully capture student progress while in a session is without doubt one of those essential ingredients, not only because it allows you to know where they are within the course work, but also as means of informing me on differentiation and last but not least a means of motivation and engagement. I recall a while ago now, back in the days when the pda looked as if it was destined to become the computer in your pocket, I would use an Excel spreadsheet of student name and session dates to award colours for class performance such as green for completed, gold for exceeding expectations, useful, though I confess a somewhat rather loose subjective model. Of course we have dedicated tracking systems in place, but I really wanted something a little more lightweight and so I have started experimenting with the Moodle Target feature that has become available as an Activity option. Quick and easy to use, I simply apply a set of targets for the session, then upon completion students leave comments and I mark as completed. In the event that somebody achieves all the targets, as usual I set about negotiating extension work, and set the new differentiated target. Now if you are reading this and thinking, but that means I now have to think up targets for each session, well not really, I find the targets are in essence the session objectives, though be it couched in a little more detail. I like Moodle Target, and if you have found it useful then do please feel free to post any comments.

While on the subject of making use of Moodle in teaching session, I have been having thoughts on that rather illusive metric, how successful has the session been for me! Not an easy one really, however, could I acquire some useful feedback by using the Moodle Questionnaire Scale rating option? Basically at the introduction, students each select an option between 1 and 10 (with 1 being least) to indicate how competent / confident they are with the specific subject matter we are about to explore, then at the plenary they indicate how this has changed. Has it proved useful, well I have not really had the opportunity to give the idea a good test drive as of yet, so please stay in touch with future postings.

Bye for now Barry  

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Resources, Resources and even more Resources


One of those things that I am always on the lookout for my Moodle courses and I feel that I am not alone here are resources and this week seems to have been particularly fruitful on that particular front.
First off was this ‘Your must-have classroom toolkit’ from TES, where they have from contributions from over 130,000 teachers assembled a really impressive list of class management and planning resources, and by the way these are all free.

So simply follow the links to. You will need to be a registered user though simply create yourself an account.

Back in 2010 Edudemic ran the post 'The 35 Best Web 2.0 Classroom Tools Chosen By You’. Following this it became apparent that a considerable appetite exists from everyone for the Web 2.0 and so there followed a trawl of Twitter polls and Facebook correspondence involving some 900 submissions that resulted in this very impressive list. If you have favourite tool that is not included then you are invited to post your suggestion.
 
Finally there was 'Resources A to Z' from the BoxofTricks Education and Technology website, and this lists a massive 209 links, that were last updated 28th February 2013, so that’s about as current as it gets. The list features what are considered to be the best free internet resources for education. This list is in fact the latest version of a page resource that is constantly updated so I recommend that you to include it in your feed and favourites.
Well I hope you found these little finds useful, and do please feel free to comment

Monday, March 04, 2013

Thinking Moodle Theme Design


I have been taking a loom at the some options for templates this last week and came across an couple of site that seemed to have some useful and I thought interesting content. The first was Themza. The themes features are free and cover a wide range of curriculum area defaults, and when it comes to installing the theme, there are short video tutorials that will guide through the process.

 
If you are feeling really creative then  Themato Web Moodle Theme Engine may well be the solution. The website feratures among other things video tutorials that guide you through the design process and has the following new features available: -

*New - Added keyboard navigation the website. Use your arrow keys in gallery to navigate fast and use Shift+1, Shift+2 and so on for menu links on the website(Not on Moodle). To use keyboard shortcuts in your Moodle themes, press Ctrl+Shift+K to see your list of Admin keyboard shortcuts. Watch out this space, Moodle UI is gonna get richer in interaction!!

*New - Added support for New Layout in themes!

*New - Added Moodle Bar for easy navigation.

*New - Added Menu Builder so that you can create your menu items without having to write a single line of code.


Finally I discivered Hayley eLearning Center, have nice looking page of free themes that covering Moodle 1.9 and  Moodle 2.0. I particularly liked the way in which the themes on this site have taken on customisation of menu options and colour styles

I hope you found this posting useful and do please feel free to comment

Sunday, February 03, 2013

BETT Show 2013

Made my way to the BETT show and first time at Excel center for me anyway, even bumped into a couple of people I knew there, had a catch-up, always good. A great deal to see in a day, and I was impressed by the turn out of resources particularly for robotics and science, very impressive, very encouraging. For my own part working as I do with the Moodle, it was a little disappointing to see only one stand promoting the vle, though there were other vle systems on offer, so competition is good right.


So how was the rest of the show, well there did seem to be a heavy emphasis on applications for Interactive White Board systems, so if that was you interest, then you would have been spoilt for choice. For my own part I am really interested in for want of a better term, eLearning, and to be frank, I do retain the distinction that IWB’s are more in the arena of ILT, though some I know would disagree. Where eLearning was concerned though there was plenty of interest to see, including live demonstrations and I came away with a bag full of pamphlets that I am still trawling through. Another one of the big offerings at the BETT was the presence of Cloud based solutions, and there seemed to be applications across a whole range of possibilities from backing storage to real time software solutions, a very promising set of market options here.


Given that I do still retain a very active presence in virtual worlds and that includes Second Life and Open Simulator, it was a shame that these did not seem to be in evidence. I feel sure there is a niche still just waiting to be filled, but looking at the more recent Gartner Techno  curve I confess virtual worlds do seem to be only just emerging from the Trough of Disillusionment, so I guess frustrating though it is, it’s going to be a case of wait and see; personally I remain optimistic. After a couple of hours of walking around the various stands and getting into some good conversations, I realised that I had only covered about half the show and decided it was time for a break.

When it comes to refreshment outlets, at the Excel BETT you are spoilt for choice, however having filled my backpack with supplies, I wondered out- side on what was a bright, really mild gusty force five and sat by the river front, all very agreeable, even took a couple of pics and then back in for the rest of the show. A new project for me, one that I started to work on over the last end of term is in using augmented reality, which was not very much in evidence at all apart from one company who specialised in web design that used a feature, but this is going to be the subject of another posting soon, so do please stay in touch for that.

Bye for now and please feel free to comment on the show



Monday, January 21, 2013

The mythologies of eLearning

Well start of the new year here and time to commence some new work on e-Learning, a term that I must confess I am looking forward in many ways to replacing or at least redefining. None the less there is little doubt what so ever in my own mind and indeed from experience and evidence that technology can and should be used to extend our classrooms. Of course its not the technology at all that we need to make a case for really is it. Without wishing to invoke any comments about my deeper understanding of the term, really its 'learning culture' that is very much at issue here, or for that matter what is very often the lack of it. Whether e-Learning is part of a blended or whole distance learning solution, it is all to often the case I find that resistance emerges to its implementation from a range of perceptions, that I can only describe as myths, some more common than others for instance:-
  • Students will not enjoy the interaction that a class environment provides
  • e-Learning courses cannot provide the same level of quality
  • Teachers will find themselves replaced by a computer

 And so I was more than pleased to come across a web article posted by Julie DeNeen entitled 30 Myths About e-Learning That Need To Die In 2013 , if you are looking for some ready made come backs, then let me recommend these for your virtual notebook, an excellent source.
Is it time I wonder to startup the compilation of such mythological objections that we so often hear, and  perhaps use it as an e-Learning myth of the day campaign? More reasonably though, just looking around at the growing trend of distance learning solutions both in education and the commercial sector, clearly myths reconciled, no doubt by those who listen more closely to the preferences for digital access and collaboration expressed by students. But let me just flip the coin a little, when condemning these contextual myths, I find maybe, just maybe, we should not at the same time conclude mythology itself has nothing to teach us on this very subject. Surprisingly I came across this posting on elninsights.com by Vov Cole entitled What can e-learning take from classical mythology and it tells the tale of The Sybilline Books, personaly I confess to not having heard of this one, but worth a read and I will leave you to follow the link.
Please feel free to post your thoughts and experiences .

Monday, December 17, 2012

eBook Student Survey

I guess it when it comes to planning and delivering a course using a technology platform such as Moodle, it does become part of normal practice to introduce new resources simply by supplying a suitable link and this year one of these links was to eBooks. So I was more than an little fascinated by report from edudemic.com  '10 Surprising Facts About Students Using E-Textbooks’ From a survey by eCampus.com. It would seem that not surprisingly some 98% of students own a digital device, but maybe that’s a bit too general, but putting this aside a surprising 73% of those students surveyed said ‘they would not be able to study without technology!’ When asked however why they chose eBooks almost half, 48% cited cost, not any kind of techno leverage, a little surprising I felt. So is there a perceived advantage academically in using eBooks? Well around two thirds of those surveyed felt there was an associated saving in time during the typical semester, however only 17% felt that this amounted to more than 3 hours, and with only 2% of students reporting that they used  mobile device in this role, for me seems to put a little question mark on some of those assumptions I keep coming across surrounding mLearning. When the students were asked if they would consider purchasing an eTextbook in the next semester 54% said maybe with only 38% confirming with a definite yes. From my own reading of the infographic, I must confess it does generate some questions, not least that while I agree eGooks are cheaper, a physical book can be re-sold, whereas the DRM (Digital Rights Management) on eBooks will almost certainly prevent this. What do you think, please feel free to comment.
I you are interested in getting started with infographics and I must say I do really enjoy the way they are cable to communicate the facts, then I came across a really nice video tutorial the other day from Linda Braun. The video, which lasts a little under 15 minutes Lynda shows how you can make an infographic using Visualy.ly well worth a view I felt.