Thursday, 22 December 2011

Mobile App - available in App store

Our Mobile App is now available on iOS and Android.
We are going to launch it officially when we get back after the Christmas break when it will be available on Blackberry too but it is in the App Store.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Our mobile app - the story so far....

We first started looking at Mobile Apps for Education and Learning in February time and it seems to have taken a long time to get to where we are now. We're not finished as it will always be an ongoing project but hopefully we will have a working app very soon.
When we are started we had three strands - one was to investigate suitable apps for education and promote them to students and staff, secondly to acquire devices and install apps on them that could be borrowed and used effectively and thirdly to have a College app created and available for everyone to download.
The first part has not moved along much really but I'll pick it up again after January. I've not made much progress because of problems with wifi in College and although there is supposed to be some College iPads we have to get round some authentication and proxy issues. This is the second part too really although we have got some iPod touch's which we have used with some apps including QR code readers.
So the third part - we had asked students what they wanted it to include plus we knew that we wanted to have access to our VLE, Blackboard via the app.

Therefore we set about investigating the feasibility of producing the app through Blackboard - it's not possible to access a mobile version of Blackboard unless you use their solution i.e Blackboard Learn. But we didn't want just the Blackboard Learn facility, we wanted it 'wrapped' in a customised front end / user interface. We wanted to include images, videos, maps, news etc. Blackboard do offer a Central App which can be customised.
We produced our plan and went through the usual process of getting capital bid funding within College. We decided that we would sacrifice the content collection part of our Blackboard license if need be to fund the mobile.
There was also the possibility that our marketing department had an app in the pipeline and that there would be too much overlap.
We had wanted to have an app ready for September for new students and the new academic year but it wasn't possible. Once we had agreed the license changes with Blackboard then we were assigned a project manager to discuss our requirements and ensure that we got what we wanted. Our eLearning manager and eLearning technologist have worked really hard to make sure that the interface is exactly what we wanted. The Blackboard Learn part is straightforward - it's just there really and connects into the VLE in a mobile format. The 'central' part took more designing and developing. The important requirement was that it was one main app with everything else inside. We wanted students to go to the app store and download one app. Once the app is opened then there are 8 sub apps - news, maps, images, videos, contacts, twitter, dining and Blackboard.
The app has to be available for iOS, Android and Blackberry - from our questionnaire we knew we had lots of Blackberry users among our students. We have had a test build of the iOS App that we have tested and improved, also an Android version. The Blackberry one is still to come.
This is what it looks like so far:


Hopefully we will be going live in the next two weeks.......

Friday, 11 November 2011

Research and Information Literacy Skills

We have finally finished our new Research and Information Literacy Skills tab/site on our VLE.  We had planned to do it over the summer holidays but it kept on being 'squeezed' by other activities and tasks.
The need for a specific area on the VLE was highlighted last year for a few reasons.  We have always had information available on the LRC site on Blackboard and via the LRC wiki but it was general and needed reorganising and promoting to make it more accessible.
We have always done 'follow up' sessions which are basically additional sessions after induction sessions to cover searching, accessing e-books / online databases, referencing, bibliographies etc. but we wanted to look at creating and delivering dedicated materials and resources.
Also last year after the IQER inspection I discussed with our HE Director the possibility of delivering sessions which were specific to HE learners and used the new resources we were creating.  He was enthusiastic about the idea and suggested that it would be good for staff and students. 
We split the work up between our Library Services Manager, our Senior Librarian, our e-Learning Manager and me. We decided what we wanted to provide then each person put it together how they thought best and then we tidied it up to make it consistent.  Each section is 4 or 5 pages of text and images.  We will add more as we go along but wanted to get the structure and the basics there to start with. 
The tab is now being tested by the rest of the department and will then go live to all students and staff next week.  As it is aimed at HE students we are going to create a Prezi to highlight the resources with practical examples of using them - how and where to search and what to do with the results.  This will have to be in January as we literally have no time to spend on it at the moment although we are delivering follow up sessions on demand at the moment.  A January start for the presentation will work as we are getting another IQER inspection in February so it will fit in well with that in the Spring term.
It will look similar to this (although it's not live just yet).



Thursday, 3 November 2011

QR code Tour of LRC

This week we have finally launched our QR code Tour of the LRC. The idea was discussed a few months ago and I was keen for us to use QR codes in a variety of ways. We've incorporated them into leaflets and information guides and also displayed them on book bays to link to searches in the OPAC.
Our e-Learning Technologist and LRC Modern Apprentice worked together to plan and produce the tour and have done a brilliant job. They are both creative and efficient so produce results that look good and work well.
There is a poster showing the first clue as you come into the LRC which gives you instructions about where to start - there are also instruction cards with more info explaining what QR codes are and how to download a QR code App to your smart phone.
Each poster has a QR code which, when you scan it, shows information text which tells you about the place or resource that you are at and also where to go next. We decided to have the QR code lead to text rather than to a URL because it is quicker, easier and doesn't rely on wifi. This makes it suitable for a wider range of learners and is more 'instant' which will engage learners more fully.
The route takes you round the different book sections, different areas such as multimedia, quiet study, printing and also the views such as temenos. The posters are really appealing - hardly any text but great images ( I would show examples but don't want to spoil the surprise element). There are prizes - chocolate coins in true treasure fashion.
I've set up an iPod touch with a QR code App so if students or staff want to try it but don't have a smart phone, then they can do.
A few students have tried it but we have only started advertising and promoting it this week so I'm hoping for quite a few to give it a go. We might use it as part of induction for late starting courses as a self directed activity. In previous years we've had a podcast tour so this is another alternative.
It will be interesting to see how students engage with it and also how different QR code Apps on different mobile devices compare.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

3D experience - LRC / e-learning / IT Inductions

The student induction session that we deliver in the LRC covers the basics of what students need to know to get started in College.  The main aim is that students can come to one place and within the hour they will be able to interact effectively with the systems and resources that they need to learn.  It is important that they get a good start and I feel that an online version of the induction wouldn't work and nor would a traditional talk and tour.
This year we have updated the induction and included a 'wow factor' 3D walk through of the LRC and also a interactive quiz using the Interactive Whiteboard Voting system.

The induction consists of:

  • A 3D walk through of the LRC with events
  • Demonstration and practical 'hands on' activities to log on to the College system, log on to Blackboard, access the appropriate course and resources, accessing the LRC site on Blackboard including help videos of using Blackboard, using the library catalogue, accessing the online databases and e-Book collections and logging onto and using email.
  • An interactive quiz with voting for feedback
The 3D induction experience was created for us by a local company called Amazing Interactives.
http://www.amazinginteractives.com/
We had originally bought the system when part of the Becta Technology Exemplar network with the standard applications but then this year decided to have a custom application created.  They modelled the LRC with all the component parts and it looks brilliant - so realistic - it looks exactly like it (yes, I know that is stating the obvious!).  All the chairs, tables and computers are there and we 'walk' through a route to cover the main areas of the 3 floors.  There are a number of 3D events where things happen and fly out of the screen e.g. books, printing, laptops etc. etc. It's shown on a special screen which can be moved around and you need to wear 3D glasses.  The system itself is stand alone and has 2 projectors.  It is easy to control - just press left mouse button to go forward, press right button to activate an event, no buttons and just move mouse to look around.  It's good fun to use and the students like it.  Some people find it makes them slightly dizzy but in general it's fine.  There are still some parts that need improving slightly and for next year we will change the embedded video clips to make them more whizzy but so far so fab.  
There is another part to it also which is an At Seat Wayfinder which will enable students to use the 3D model to select and find books and other resources and they will be 'walked' to the destination - there will be over 100 different destinations.  This should be available next week.
Here are some photos just taken with my iPhone 







The really cool bits are that it is so realistic especially the stairs and you can see out the window at the football ground and Roseberry Topping and the sunlight.

Week 4 - the term so far

Well, we are in week 4 and it's been a 17 days of ups and downs - luckily mainly ups.  No matter how prepared you are for the beginning of term, and we are pretty well prepared, it still happens like a tidal wave and all you can do is go with it.  This sounds slightly dramatic but I think you need to be a bit manic to cope with it all.
The good parts are that we have had no disasters, we've had lots of students coming into the LRC, logging on to computers, using Blackboard, using e-Books, borrowing books and printing and all have gone away relatively happy.  The difficult parts are that by week 3 you are switching into trouble shooting mode as it becomes busier and situations crop up that you hadn't anticipated.  I don't mind this but I know it is difficult for some people and can only work for a short period of time and has to be backed up with proper processes but I like to think that what ever a student needs to know or do, we can help to some extent.   
Our VLE has worked well in the most part and this is due to the hard work of our
e-learning manager and e-learning technologist - every course that is taught in the College has a corresponding Blackboard course so  everybody uses it.  During inductions we make sure students can get logged on correctly and can find their Blackboard course and access course materials.  Also we access the library catalogue through Blackboard and the online databases and e-Book collections so it plays a big part in what we do.  We have some issues with incompatibilities with Windows 7 and or Internet Explorer 9 but have managed and hope the rest are being worked on asap.  The WebDAV is not working with Win7 for the electronic course file and a few other  issues but I keep chasing them up.
The computers have been working reasonably well although it's taken a while to get MyPC, the computer booking system, sorted.  It's still hanging onto some bookings if users log off rather than shutting down which means we have to check up regularly - all our computers in the LRC, 185 of them are booked at the desk - it seems like a lot of work but it cuts down on problems, helps us monitor usage, works well, and manages the space effectively.  We definitely have more students this year and last week had approx 1400 students per day using the LRC on Tues, Wed & Thurs.  We have turnstiles on our entrances / exits and they work really well - students swipe in with their ID cards and are happy to do so (some even thought they were great) - we get very few 'tailgaters' or 'jumpers' and it manages the space well.  They know that they are coming into a learning area and respect that it is different to a social area.
We've had lots of student reading books especially the graphic novels and manga collections which is pleasing.  There is a good mix of students reading, going on computers and using the study spaces - you need the mix to make it work.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Beginning of term

The new term began on Monday 5th September and we were as ready as we could be.  All staff were back and most things were working. 
We started our LRC / e-learning / IT inductions on Monday afternoon and they have worked really well.  They consist of a 3D experience which is a walk through of the LRC with events then a demonstration and hands on practical part where students log on to the computers, log on to Blackboard and their course, use the LRC Blackboard page including the OPAC, log on to the e-Book collections and search for resources.  Then we have a quiz using the interactive whiteboard voting sets to get feedback.
There is a lot going on and I was worried that it would not be logistically possible, technically possible or might be overwhelming.  However I'm pleased to say it works and the planning that we did has paid off.
The actual sessions have been calmer yet more focused and interesting than previous years.
One part that we have left out this year is the printing - we explain about it briefly but last year we actually showed students how to set up their printing accounts as it is a little complicated and how to print an item but found that they still came back to the desk on subsequesnt occasions as they couldn't remember how to do it.  So this year it is brief explanantion, step by step instructions on the leaflet that students are given and then they can come to the main counter at anytime for help. 
Students fill in a registration card at the end of induction which is needed for the first time they borrow a book - this is laborious for them & LRC counter staff to input the data but the automatic feed of data is still 'pending'. 
There are various computer issues, as there always are at the beginning of the academic year, but they are working and students can get logged on.  We have moved to Windows 7 and Office 2010 which is taking some getting used to for some staff and students.  The move to Internet Explorer 9 has also thrown up some compatiability issues.  Our computer booking system MyPC is working in the most part but hanging on to bookings rather than closing them when a student logs off so that means staff have to make sure they keep an eye on the computers and switch off and reboot if needed.
I was at the ALT conference last week and blogged about it here http://donlantechnologies.blogspot.com/ so it meant that I came into College most mornings and disappeared in the afternoons.  Not ideal but everyone else carried on brilliantly.
On Friday morning we did the first of our Curriculum Liaison presentations for the new academic year.  It was for the Sports, Uniformed Services and Travel & Tourism department.  It went well and we received positive feedback. 
This week we have been busy as even more students have enrolled and started their courses.  More inductions and planning events and activities for the next few months. 

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Association for Learning Technology Conference (ALT-C 2011)

I've had a great 3 days at the ALT conference.  It is definitely the best conference to go to if you are involved in education / learning / technology in any way at all and there are such a wide variety of sessions and events that it's possible to find something of interest all the time. There are fun things, practical workshops, presentations and  serious research.  It is well organised and well attended.
I've blogged about it here http://donlantechnologies.blogspot.com/
It's been a busy week at College too with inductions starting so I've been into work first most days to do an induction session then off to Leeds for the conference.  Will blog more about the inductions soon hopefully before the end of the week.  Tomorrow we've got a Curriculum Liaison presentation to deliver and more inductions.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Hectic day

Today was a typical day, really busy with lots happening both expected and unexpected. The morning started with a managers meeting within our department - we concentrated on confirming progress of current activities and projects as there is so much happening which is time critical for next week and the start of term. I then had a brief meeting with a visitor (who is also a friend) who had come to see someone else in college but called in to catch up.
Then the men from the 3D company arrived (thankfully) with the latest version of our 3D induction experience. The rest of the computers have been added and an introduction and finish and chairs for the people etc. It's cool. There are a couple of other bits to add but we can go with what we've got on Monday if need be.
The other main thing that we need to practice is our Curriculum Liaison presentation which we deliver to teaching staff. Our first slot at a dept meeting is next Friday 9th but we won't have time to think about it next week once the students are back. We've created a new updated Prezi which looks great and everyone including the Curriculum Liaison assistants who play a vital part are happy.
Just as everything seemed to be under control, an unexpected problem with our VLE cropped up. Unbeknown to us Registry had changed some course codes so that the courses that we rolled over are, in some cases, not correct. It's just one of those things but luckily by chance we discovered it today not on Monday otherwise we would have have some students not appearing on the correct Blackboard course. As usual we thought of a plan i.e. either to flag each incorrect course to a new correct one or to rerollover the incorrect courses. We decided to go for the second option. It will mean one day at most downtime, tomorrow so I dashed around getting the ok and informing people and then our brilliant eLearning Manager & eLearning Technologist got it underway. Fingers crossed.
Tea & cake then I reviewed and made changes to the Interactive Whiteboard voting system presentation that I've put together to use as feedback at the end if the student inductions. It's going to be ok, will try it out on everyone tomorrow. The purpose is to collect the student feedback straightaway at the end of the induction session rather than later in the questionnaire.
End of a busy day :)



-- Post From My iPhone


Friday, 26 August 2011

Thing 11 Mentoring

Mentoring is a very rewarding and valuable part of a professional career and is definitely worth participating in whether formally or informally.  To be a mentor is a big responsibility as you want to provide the best support and encouragement that you can.  I have mentored formally and informally both while I was teaching and also in my current role.  In a teaching capacity the mentoring was on a formal basis for trainee teachers while on placement at the school and involved following specific tasks and feeding back on observations.  I enjoyed it as I knew how it felt and how important it was to 'get through' the requirements.  The advantages of a prescribed framework are that the requirements are clear to both sides but I was lucky that the people I was involved with were conscientious and hardworking.  In my teaching role I was mentored formally and informally by the Head of Department.
When I moved to my current role I looked for a mentor who was external to the organisation.  This was for a number of reasons.  The line management of my role was changing and indeed the deaprtment as a whole was new and still settling down.  I wanted to be advised by someone who was detached from the College who would deliver impartial advice and also someone who was very experienced.  I was lucky to find a person at the University who was excellent and I really appreciated the help that they gave me.  More recently my line manager was a good mentor in an informal way.
I haven't been a formal mentor recently but have done so in an informal way for members of my department.  I have also been involved in mentoring the modern apprentice that has been working in my department.
Personally I think it is good to have someone separate from your department because the parts that I have found the most useful are not the specific career advice or progression but the general advice and a different perspective on any issues that happen.  Experience of staff management is invaluable and also general encouragment and support.  Someone to reassure you that you are doing the right thing, tell you if you're doing the wrong thing and generally have your best interests in mind.

Thing 9 Evernote

I've used Evernote a few times now for notes and find it useful and straightforward to use.  I've downloaded the App for my iPhone and have accessed it from there too. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Enrolment 'Meet and Greet' duty

Today is the first day of enrolment at our college, Middlesbrough College.  It is a really important time and is organised to ensure that the students have a positive experience and find the course that is suitable for them.  Various management staff throughout the college are on a rota to meet and greet prospective students at the entrances and make sure that they are directed to the designated subject areas for enrolling.  I'm doing a 2 hour slot most days this week and next.  I quite like doing it as it's important to make students feel welcome especially in a large building like ours which could feel overwhelming but is in fact very friendly.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

LRC / e-learning / IT Inductions

We have started planning our student induction sessions for September.  The sessions play a large part in the work we do in the first half term and last year delivered sessions to more than 3000 learners.  For the last two years the sessions have been 'hands on' practical sessions for groups of 20 or 25.  They consist of an introduction giving information about the LRC and College systems and then all the students log on to the system, to Blackboard, to their college email account, access the e-books and set up their printing accounts.  The sessions have worked well because we know that once students have completed the sessions they have all the information, and skills, to use the resources that are available to them wherever they are in the College.  We find they have less problems throughout the year so have a better learning experience.
This year we are changing the format of the sessions to make them more upbeat and incorporate a 'wow' factor hopefully.  They will start with a 3D walk through (see previous post) then there will be a practical session to ensure everyone can log on to the various systems and resources including the e-Books.  The final part will be a quiz using the Interactive Whiteboard Voting sets - 10 quick questions about the LRC or about the VLE and some feedback to find out what the students think of the induction sessions.  We won't explain all the detail such as opening times, loans, fines etc. because it is boring (though essential) and they forget it anyway but will have a booklet outlining the facts for them to take away.  Our target is to deliver the sessions to 3500 learners in the first 6 weeks of term.

3D Induction Experience

Last week week we made progress with the 3D Induction experience that we are having created by 3D Amazing Interactives.  We first got the system through being part of the Becta Technology Exemplar Network a couple of years ago and used the standard applications that came with the system.  We set it up in the main reception area of College and have used it in classrooms in lessons.  The main applications that the students enjoyed were the supermarket, the 3D heart and body, the space and planets and the plane and train travelling.
The idea this year was to see if we could create the equivalent of the supermarket but in the Learning Resources Centre by creating a 3D walk through with events e.g. books 'flying' off the shelves rather than food items.
After talking to the company we decided to split the project into two parts - the first will be a directed walk through of the LRC with 6 or 7 events when a 3D instance happens to give information. This is based on a model of the LRC which has been created and will be shown at the beginning of our LRC / IT inductions at the beginning of term.  The second part will be an 'at seat'  Way-finder which will enable students when they are using a computer to search for items including books and printers and it will show them a route to their destination.
We went to have a look at the draft model and application last week - it looks really great - it's not finished yet and it doesn't have the events or destinations programmed in but I'm hopeful.  It is definitely one of those projects that is planned but evolves and develops as you go along and I've still got my fingers crossed that it is going to work.  If it does and we can use it as the 'wow' factor at the beginning of the inductions it will be a brilliant learning experience for the students (and great fun).

Friday, 5 August 2011

cpd23 - Thing 8 - Google Calendar

My experiences with Google Calendar so far have been mixed.  I think it is a great tool and in it's simplest form easy and straightforward and very useful.  I like the functionality of being able to share calendars and access them online etc.  However a few weeks ago I had been hoping to set up a Google calendar for our inductions.  The idea was that the calendar would show all the possible induction sessions, show available slots and allow staff to book these slots.  The slot would then become unavailable and booked and the member of staff would be emailed to confirm their booking.  Essentially it would become a booking system or events system linked to a Google spreadsheet and Google mail.  As I worked on it and looked at the possibilities it became more complicated although I'm sure that it is possible to do and once set up would be great.  I was sent a template of an events system by an e-learning advisor that should have worked but I didn't have any success with it.  The main problem, although I am reluctant to admit it, is that I just don't have time to dedicate to an activity like this - maybe next year .........

cpd23 - Thing 7 and professional organisations

I'm doing a further post about Thing 7 as when I looked back to what I had written last week it wasn't very good, in fact it was decidedly poor. So this post is about professional networks. The professional network that I belong to that I value the most is the Association for Learning Technology (ALT). I first became a member in 2007 when I moved from teaching to e-learning and decided to become an individual member as well as being involved as the representative of our institutional membership. E-Learning and learning technologies are the areas that I'm really interested in (immersed in, passionate about) and I'm glad that I have the opportunity to work in an area that I enjoy so much. ALT provides a wide variety of 'benefits' including events i.e. training events and conferences, information about learning technologies from people that are involved and are experts in the field, a means and a method of collaborating and sharing information and experiences and access to publications and papers. I have been a member of the Further Education Committee for the last 2 years and have gained a great deal from my involvement especially from the other members of the committee. I think it is important to try to play an active part in professional bodies and organisations mainly for the sake of the other members and the organisation as a whole but also because it adds validity and substance to your own practice.

I have until recently been a member of the British Computer Society. I was a member of the Teesside Branch and a member of the committee and attended meetings regularly. However it became a bit too techie and dull so I have lapsed but I might take it up again in the future.

I haven't joined CILIP as yet but will probably do so in the next few months. I do follow their activities closely and from an external or objective point of view the benefits of doing so are increasing.

Professional bodies and organisations do, I feel, have a responsibility to represent their members in a way that is relevant and open. I don't think it should be taken for granted that because you are qualified or working in that profession that you must join that professional body. The expectations of members and potential members are high and it requires commitment from both sides.

I am a member of the Institute for Learning (IfL) which is the professional body for teachers and trainers in further education. It was introduced three years ago? or at least that is when it became mandatory for teaching staff at our college to be members. The requirement was to complete 30hours CPD and to record it. There is a facility to use Reflect which is the Pebblepad e Portfolio to keep CPD assets which is good but apart from this the benefits are not apparent.

Monday, 1 August 2011

QR codes - making progress 2 - Treasure Tour

The other QR code related activity which is under way is a 'Treasure Tour' of the LRC.  This is a variation on the theme of an independent tour of the LRC that students, staff and visitors can do and that last year we created as a podcast tour.  This year there are a variety of posters containing a QR code which, when scanned' gives a brief description such as 'Welcome to the LRC and the QR code tour - make your way to the fiction section to find the next clue'.  The QR code does not lead to a link but just to a short amount of information to lead people from one location to another.  Again our eLearning Technologist and LRC Assistant apprentice have come up with some brilliant solutions to my vague ideas e.g 'How about we have a QR code treasure hunt?'.  The posters are really great - I'll post some pictures when it is complete - I like the one for the Multimedia room which has a pacman theme with the QR code in the middle.
When I was testing it the problem that I ran into was that the App that I had installed on the iPod Touch wasn't scanning very well so I'm in the process on downloading a different one.  Also the posters with the QR codes on needed to be fairly flat, either vertical or horizontal not 'on a slope' like on a journal shelf as it was more difficult to scan.  I'm hoping that we will have a few iPod Touches that can be used by students / visitors when they come into the LRC to follow the self directed tour.  The only decision now is whether to have any treasure at the end and where to hide it.

QR codes - making progress 1

We have made progress with our use of QR codes.  We have a whole list of ideas and possibilities but I was keen to get something up and running and actually available to use.  So the first task was to create some A5 mini posters which would be displayed on the book shelves / bays which would be linked to searches for specific topics on the library catalogue.  For example if you were looking for 'Sports' books or 'Catering' books then there would be a QR code displayed which when you scanned it would lead to the search results on the library catalogue (OPAC).  Our eLearning technologist produced a help sheet explaining how to create a QR code from the url from the search on the OPAC and then each member of the staff of the department had to produce one.  I thought that this would be particularly useful for Curriculum Liaison LRC Assistants as they could produce one or two which were for their subject area and they would know the most common search criteria.
This is an example

Our LRC Assistant Apprentice is in the process of printing them out and displaying them in the appropriate locations.

cpd23 - Thing 7 Face-to-Face networks

It is sometimes quite nice and sometimes quite daunting when an online network has a face-to-face meet up.  I was keen to go to the cpd23 one in Newcastle that was organised by Shannon Robalino but unfortunately already had another commitment that evening but I'm hoping to go to any future events.
I think it might be easier sometimes if you have a face-to-face meeting first and then collaborate online although I'm not sure about this.  Either way it's good to have a mixture.

cpd23 thing 6 Online Networks

The thing about Online Networks are that there are so many and the rate of growth of such networks is rapid.
I have been on Facebook for quite a few years now, about 5 I think, and despite it's many faults and critics, I like it.  It has changed in the last 2 years in that it is more susceptible to spam and viruses and the audience is younger but it is still great.  The main benefit is that it's easy to use and a quick way of keeping in touch and sharing photos.  I deliberately don't have many friends, 85, and they are nearly all people I know who I have met face to face.  I use it via the app on my iPhone most of the time.  The developments in the last 2years that I think are useful are that institutions such as libraries have pages.  We have one for our LRC which is useful for informing students about news and events.  Also other groups that I'm involved in have pages such as the JISC ILT Champs and we have set one up for the JISC RSC Northern e-Learning Group.
LinkedIn is the one online network site /facility that I find slightly difficult and I'm not sure why.  I see the point of it but the interface doesn't appeal but I'm persevering with it and have quite a few connections.  They are people that I am or would like to be connected with and involved with through my professional life.
I think it is important to decide how you are going to each network even if the decision is that you are going to use it in a flexible way.  I use Facebook predominantly for people I know and know well as friends.  Twitter I use as a one stop shop to disseminate anything and everything that is of interest to me and hopefully to others. i always make sure that what I post is suitable and appropriate for anyone to read.  LinkedIn is more calculated to some extent in that I want to make a connection with someone I'm likely to collaborate with in a work environment.  I have yet to try Google+ so I'm not sure what that will bring - have I got time for yet another online network and blogs?

Monday, 25 July 2011

A quiet Monday morning

It's a nice quiet start to the week which is in stark contrast to the Monday mornings during term time. This week is the quietest time of the year as there will be few students if any unlike in other holidays when we still get some using the LRC. For staff it is a time to relax slightly and concentrate on finishing off work from the year and making sure any tasks are completed. For me it is an opportunity to get through my 'to do' list with the minimum of interruptions.







Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

cpd23 thing 5 reflective practice

It is true that the most difficult and the most important aspect of  reflective practice is finding the time to do it.  If you don't stand back and look at what you are doing or have done and evaluate and review it in some way then you're not gaining as much as you could do from the experience.  However this is easy to say as sometimes there is not the opportunity and also sometimes you don't want to or need to spend time or energy going back over things to see what you should have done or could have done differently.  It has got to have a positive outcome - there have been plenty of occasions when I have thought ' that didn't go well, I won't do that again' but hopefully I have realised what I would change in the future.  On a positive note there have been projects and activities that have gone well and they have succeeded because of detailed planning and also from having some experience in a similar situation and knowing what the pitfalls are going to be.  There have also been instances when things have gone well due to luck, good fortune and seizing the initiative at the time. 
For me personally I know that I have to sometimes take time out to either reflect or just not think at all.  But I don't do it on a regular basis, I do it when I recognise the need and as time goes on it becomes easier to know when to do it.  Sometimes I can't do it as I'm too wrapped up in what's happening and too impatient to move it forward. 
Blog writing is a good way for me to reflect because I prefer words to sounds - I like the look of the words on the page or screen - text is easier for thinking than audio for me.  I don't use a particular structure I just try to report on what's happening and how well it is going so I can look back at it and evaluate it.
The other thing that I do when I need to step out of a project or activity is to do something techie or geeky e.g. experiment with QR codes, create a webpage, 'play' with the interactive whiteboard and create a resource.  It works for me.

Impromptu CPD - 'go for a walk and talk and reflect'

Today it was sunny and bright outside when I got to College.  On the way to work I had been listening to the radio and there had been talk about the benefits of going for a walk and taking exercise to prevent Alzheimer's.  So when I went into our department office and staff workroom I suggested that everyone went for a quick 20 minute walk.  As usual when I suggest an idea or plan, my team look at me suspiciously, although gradually over the last 2 - 3 years they have realised that it's ok, it might be a good plan and usually humour me by taking it on board. 
So the conditions were that everyone should go for a walk around the dock outside the College and they could discuss work issues and reflect upon their own, each others and the departments current situation.  If anyone wanted to go on their own that would be ok too - i went on my own as I wanted to reflect but others went in groups.  It is an appropriate time to be doing this as this week it finally seems like the end of the academic year, we have survived and achieved and we can tidy up this year and start planning for the next.  During term time we are so busy that it seems impossible to step back even for an hour and look at what we are trying to achieve.  The sunny weather won't last that's for sure but perhaps the benefits of a walk and talk will.

Monday, 4 July 2011

cpd23 - Thing 4

Thing 4 involves Twitter which is great as I am a Twitter fanatic and tweet lots @clairedonlan

I was then going to sign up for Pushnote - which I did and it asked for my twitter id / name so that it could find any of my followers or people I follow who are on Pushnote - and there were none :(
So I'm not sure how useful it would be.
If anyone else is signed up for Pushnote, I would be interested to know if it is useful and worth doing.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

QR codes - and a trip out

We have lots of ideas for using QR codes in the LRC and for e-learning from next term.
So far we have just experimented by creating a QR code which links to the information about the learning technologies.  This is just a photo of the mini posters that we have put up (not the image of the actual code)
On Wednesday it was workforce development day.  On the morning most of the staff did customer care training while I helped the ICT Staff trainer with some training sessions on learning styles and creating audio and video.  On the afternoon we went out to the Museum of Hartlepool to look at how they have used QR codes on some of their exhibits.  They have been created as part of a project by a local school and they were really good.

They worked well but the only thing which I hadn't thought of was the issue of wifi for the iPod Touch.  There was a wifi network there but I couldn't access it as a visitor.  The iPhones worked as they are just using the phone network.  Apart from that it was good and I would recommend it as a museum to visit with plenty of activities for children and adults (I'm not sure what my dept thought of it but it's good research I think)

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Learning Technologies for loan

Over the last two years we have built up a number of learning technologies that staff and students can borrow. These include netbooks, flip cameras, pocket projectors, voice recorders, Mp3 players, headphones and video cameras. We also have student response / voting systems for use with the interactive whiteboards. We acquired some of the netbooks, projectors and flip cameras through participating in the Becta Technology Exemplar Network. The most popular items are the flip cameras which are always in demand by curriculum staff for use with students.
We started off just having signing out sheets for the equipment and then moved to a spreadsheet but recently created a booking database which gives us more functionality including reports of usage. We are continually updating and adding to our stock and have purchased some iPhone Touchs and some Kindles for use from September.
We, the Learning Resources dept, offer support and training in using the equipment and deliver e-Learning sessions incorporating use of technologies. The only negative aspect is that teaching staff sometimes 'forget' to bring the equipment back and we have to chase them up.
To advertise the technologies that are available we use a variety of methods including posters and infographics.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Recycling display in LRC

We have a rolling programme of displays in our LRC which are changed and updated frequently.
They are often related to a topical theme or a relevant date.
At the moment we have a Recycling display.








Wednesday, 22 June 2011

cpd23 - Thing1

I read about cpd23 and thought that I would like to take part and then a colleague recommended it too so I thought I'd better get on with it. I have a few blogs that I write - this is my main one 'Managing a Learning Resources Dept'. I'm a keen microblogger too and use Twitter a lot @clairedonlan.
My job is Head of Learning Resources at Middlesbrough College - the Learning Resources Dept is library services and e-Learning.
I'm interested in taking part in the activities for cpd23 and looking at other peoples blogs.
I'm not so good at following a prescriptive schedule for blogging or other such activities as i tend to use blogging as and when I want to comment or reflect on an idea or activity.
I'm going to try and see how it goes





Tuesday, 21 June 2011

ID cards

Student ID cards are issued to all students on enrolment. It has generally been expected and accepted that students should carry their ID cards while in College. Over the last year there have been many discussions as to whether the wearing of lanyards with ID cards should be mandatory or not. This has been influenced by the idea that in general for security and safeguarding purposes, it is useful to be able to identify current students as opposed to visitors or members of the public.
Students need to have their ID cards to access the LRC by 'swiping' through the turnstiles. This has been a really successful way of managing the access to the space and also enables us to monitor usage and deploy resources. Students are generally amenable and
co-operative about bringing their cards and using them in the LRC. The ID card is used as their library card too in order to use PCs and borrow books.
Last week the matter of student ID cards was again raised by senior management and the idea that they could have their cards with them but not have to wear a lanyard. There is also a development taking place that will mean that the cards become more of a smartcard with the ability to be used as payment for food and printing.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, 13 June 2011

Student Council meeting

Today I attended the student council meeting.  They are held once a term and involve student reps from the different departments.  There are student council meetings held locally within departments and then representatives attend the whole college meeting.  The meetings are well attended by the students and the Principal of the college attends which means that it is a good opportunity for learners to have their views heard by the 'most important person'.  I attend in order to listen to the views of the students as it is important to know what is going on in general across the college at 'ground level' and also to answer any concerns about the LRC and e-learning / VLE.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Mobile Apps for Learning

Our project for using Mobile Apps for Learning / Education is continuing and we are making some progress.
I started the project a few weeks (months?) ago with the idea of looking at existing Apps that are out there and to see how they would be useful.
The project then developed to focus on three areas

  1. to look at existing Apps that learners could download to their own devices 
  2. to look at getting devices e.g. iPod Touchs or iPads, downloading Apps to them and lending them to learners
  3. to look at developing a College App
For 1. I researched what was available and came up with a short list which I asked various staff, e-Learning and teaching staff to try out to see whether they are suitable.
For 2. The new iPod Touch was a breakthrough as I am convinced that you need to have a camera to collect evidence so that you can edit and share it - collaborative learning.  We have two iPod Touchs with Apps installed to test by users.  Also a capital bid submitted for some iPads but I'm not sure if this will lead to anything.
For 3. We asked students whether they would like a College App - the overall response was yes.  They wanted the usual components  - alerts, notifications, news, maps, images etc. and also to be able to access the library resources and their VLE courses.  We use Blackboard as our VLE so our e-Learning Manager and e-Learning Technologist researched and investigated the Blackboard Mobile option.  This would give us some general College specific sub-Apps plus access to Blackboard Courses.

To find out from students what they think about these developments, we created a display in the LRC two weeks ago.
(many thanks to our LRC Assistant Apprentice who has been brilliant in creating a fantastic display from my ideas and random scribbles!).
The idea was that we wanted to know which general Apps students liked, what they thought should be included in a College App and also to give them information about what a Blackboard App would look like.
This is the display 




Students can write on the display in the Like and Dislike grids.
We also produced some cards for students to fill in.
I asked approx 80 students in one morning to give their views on the display and fill in cards.
Most were really positive and interested.  The cards have been available since so I'm hoping that they will give us a good indication of what students would like including in an App.
The plan is that we will have something available for September.

Use of microblogging by librarians / information professionals

I am doing some research into the use of microblogging by librarians and information professionals.
I have created a survey using survey monkey and distributed it by direct message to some of my followers on twitter.  There has been a very good response but if you haven't filled it in yet and would like to then here is the link. It only takes 5 mins and your responses would be appreciated.  Thanks.
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/H9LDFD3



Some don't "don't like Mondays"

For me it is fairly straightforward - Mondays are the worst days of the working week and Fridays the best.  It has always been like this and for a variety of reasons for example difficult meetings scheduled, a particularly challenging Y10 class, the traffic, trying to get children ready and still get to work on time.  Nowadays it is better and I have learnt to better manage my time, and wherever possible, plan tasks and activities for Mondays that don't fill me with dread at the prospect.
There are positive aspects to this Monday morning dread - I suspect most teachers have it, I think it shows that you really care about what you do and that it means a great deal and you want it to go well.  I still get this feeling now that I don't teach very much particularly after holidays when I return to work and hope everything is going to go well and that I can do a good job.
The other positive is that Friday feeling, the euphoric feeling of the weekend coming soon.  It's not that I don't like work, I like my job very much but the weekend is great and there is also relief that another week has been successfully achieved.  If you don't feel the Monday you don't feel the Friday.
However when talking to some of my colleagues in casual conversation I found out that this wasn't the case for everyone.  For some, Monday wasn't the worst day.  So I decided to ask everyone in my department which was their best and worst day. (There are 17 in my Learning Resources dept but only 13 were around on this day).
The results were:
Worst days. Monday 6.  Tuesday 3.  Thursday 2. Friday 1. Don't mind 1.
Best days. Friday 10. Monday 1. Wed 1. Don't mind 1.
There were a variety of reasons e.g. Tuesdays were considered better than Mondays as you still had some weekend positiveness left on Monday but none on Tuesday.
However it was fairly conclusive that Friday was the best day so as a manager I started to think how I could use this to my advantage.  Firstly we have department meetings once a month on Friday mornings and people are much more upbeat that if we hold them at other times.  I introduce new ideas or plans on a Friday in an informal way so that people are aware of them and then circulate more formal details the following week.  The 'feel good factor' is more apparent in the Learning Resources Centre as a whole on Fridays - students are more upbeat so I try to get staff to be more student focussed and interactive.
Hopefully I'll be able to use this to my advantage in the future and plan activities to get the best out of everyone.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Getting Kindles set up and working for use in LRC

We have been investigating Kindles for the last few weeks in order to have some available in the LRC for staff and students.  We are always keen to increase the range of technologies that we have on offer to the students and the Kindles are definitely appealing.  The issues that we wanted to look at were firstly how we were going to put the content on to the Kindles and what sort of content we should use.  Secondly some security issues including the devices not being returned or just taken, or more importantly ensuring that borrowers could  not buy content using our account.
As far as the content is concerned, initially we have decided to use lots of free books including classics and fiction.  We will allocate the Kindles to specific areas i.e. Sports or Health & Care or Computing & media and buy some specific books that are on reading lists or relevant to the course.  Also documents and PDFs and research other e-book titles that are compatible. Once they are set up I expect we will get lots of requests for content.
The security issue of being taken or not returned we are not going to worry too much about, we'll probably limit them to use in the LRC, then in the College and see how that goes.  We have some security tape / tattle tape strips that I got for the net books so might use those which would set off the book security alarm but I've no idea whether it would affect the device if desensitised.  I think it would be better not to desensitise them to be on the safe side.
The issue of buying content on our account is the one that I have deliberated over the most.  This is because once the device is registered and set up then it doesn't ask you for a password to buy from the Kindle store.  We looked at the option of using a gift voucher for purchases as this would limit it and I'd been told that this was an option but couldn't get it resolved satisfactorily.  Therefore we looked at the option of registering the Kindle, buying content on an Amazon account, then de-registering the device.  I thought that once de-registered, the Kindle would lose the content but it doesn't.  This solution seems to work.
The only real problem has been the WiFi access in College - the Kindle finds the WiFi network and even connects to it in places but when you try to access the store, it fails.  Presumably this is due to the proxy settings - there are no short term fixes.
Therefore what we have done is buy four Kindles, register them all to one Amazon Kindle account on the PC, take them home and register using home WiFi, back to college and download content, some free and some paid for, the same content can go many devices (don't know exact number - I think it varies) via the PC and lead, then back home and de-register the devices using WiFi.  The Kindles are now ready to use with content and without the option to buy unless re-registered.  It is possible that users could de-register and register to their own account but I don't think it's likely or an issue.
Next week LRC staff are testing them then after half term they will be ready to go out on loan.  Hurrah!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Kiosk style stand up computers

In our LRC we have 6 open access computers that are on 'stand up' tables and are available for students to log on to for 15 minute slots. These are walk up bookings rather than booking at the desk which you have to do for all the other 180 computers. They are popular and conveniently placed near the entrance. The 'tables' are slightly too high but this doesn't seem to cause a problem, no complaints.







Yesterday I was visiting Newcastle University for a LibTeachMeet event. In the building, in the foyer area, were some 'stand up' computers and they looked brilliant. The keyboard was set into the glass topped 'podium' table top and you could see into the workings and the wiring.  They had little groovy lights too and were just brilliant.













Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

e-Responsibility

On the 7th April I attended an e-Responsibility event at Gateshead College.  This was a follow up event from the e-Responsibility Conference that was held there last November.  The conference had been a really interesting and positive event with good speakers including Dr Tanya Byron, author of the Byron Review. 
The e-Responsibility event this month was the next step after the conference and was the inaugural meeting to set up a forum that will meet regularly.  There were representatives from colleges, both staff and students, from schools, from Northumbria Police, from NGfL and other institutions and interested parties.
There were a variety of presentations which were very interesting especially the ones showing how students studying Performing Arts had created perfomances for children in schools to make them aware of e-Safety.  It was a different approach and the impact was clear i.e. that the primary and secondary school children were engaging with the older students and the performance.  The presentations were interspersed with activities for delegates at the tables and were useful in forming opinions and collecting views about where the forum should go from here.  The collaboration was useful and it was interesting to hear the views of others.
From my point of view I think it is important that we consider e-Responsibility as a wider issue not just as e-safety and also to make it positive and upbeat.  The advantages of using the Internet outweigh the disadvantages - however it is essential that it is used carefully in the same way that you would use any powerful tool. 
I also think it is essential that a different approach is used for FE students than is used for primary and secondary school students - sometimes they have heard it all before in exactly the same way so disengage. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Advantages and disadvantages of online meetings and conferences

Advantages and disadvantages of online meetings and conferences

Advantages

  • green issues - no travel costs, reduced cost of setting up a venue
  • use of technology
  • can use features of the software such as voting
  • can 'see' presenter - better than teleconferencing
  • can 'chat' at same time - put forward questions

Disadvantages

  • Not as exciting / inspiring / interesting as a live presenter or speaker
  • Presentation needs to be interesting - risk of 'blahing' as captive audience
  • Presenter isn't getting feedback of feel of audience - can't adapt as going along
  • Need opportunities to interact otherwise not interesting - audience lose interest
  • Technology sometimes doesn't work.

This is just a very brief summary of advantages and disadvantages of delivering online meetings and conferences. I think it is important to distinguish between the two - for meetings it can be very effective especially if the partcipants have met in the past, if the remit of the group is known, if there are short sharp agenda items, if the purpose and outcomes of the meeting are clear and, as in all effective meetings, the chair is good at facilitating. This is not to say that online meetings shouldn't be used for more informal gatherings and sharing ideas - this is great if that is the purpose and all the participants are enthusiastic - in fact this is probably the best way and situation to use online collaborative environments.

Online conferences are different, I think although I'm not an expert. From a personal point of view I don't want to log in to an online conference and see someone presenting from their sitting room. I would like to see the person delivering just as they would at a live event. I suppose what would be ideal is for the presentations to be streamed live plus a view of the presentation slides plus a chat or text wall for comments plus an interaction opportunity...... plus the chance to 'wander' between sessions to parallel presentations ......I'd get my own tea and biscuits!

If you have any examples of great online conferences that you have attended or participated in then please let me know, I'd be really interested.

Posted by claire donlan at 01:55 0 comments

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

How many PCs do you need so that you can sit next to your friend?

In our Learning Resources Centre we have 190 PCs.  They are spread over the three floors of the LRC in approximately equal numbers.  We operate a booking system using MyPC which works well - students come up to the appropriate desk / counter on the floor that they wish to work on and ask to be booked onto a PC.  We are always busy but rarely at absolute capacity.  This is because most of our students want to sit next to their friends when they are working so we are always booking in 2s or 3s which sometimes leaves us with odd ones.  We try lots of ways to optimise every space but to no avail - it is a social / cultural thing - even when working it is important to be with friends and be able to easily communicate

CAD PCs

We have had a set of 6 PCs installed on the 3rd floor of the LRC which have CAD software on them. They are for engineering students to use for extra work when not in their classroom.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

iPod, iPhone and iPad Apps for education

We are setting up a project to look at how ipod, iphone and ipad apps can be used in education.

Details at http://mbroelearning.wordpress.com/

Monday, 14 March 2011

Monday

Monday morning is a chance to catch up on staff and check whether they have any issues.
Secondly it is the time to deal with urgent issues. We moved from Blackboard 8 to Blackboard 9 last week. It went very well but has exacerbated a long running issue of browser cookies. There is a temporary fix I.e. deleting browser history and cookies but if a student is faced with an error message while trying to access Blackboard then they will be deterred. We have put help sheets on Blackboard and an All Users email.
There have been a few requests for using the QuietStudy room in the LRC for classes but we can't do this as it cuts down on the number of open access PCs.
We have net books which are proving popular - the only issue being the short battery life. The number of 'technologies' which we have available for loan has Increased and we have a dedicated bespoke database to keep track of bookings and reservations.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Survey2 - 'What phone? Any Apps? College / Education App?'

This weeks survey was a follow on from last week.
However this time I wanted to move towards finding information about apps and whether students use them.
Again I wanted it to be a quick question as I think more students will spend a minute answering but then after that want the option to be able to wander off or ask you more.
So I asked 'What phone have you got?' Do you have any Apps on it? If there were Apps for education or a College App, would you use it?'
I asked 59 students (I only had an hour or so) and they all gave a response and were interested in the question.
As usual there were more Blackberrys (Blackberries?) than anything else however most either didn't have Apps or just had the Facebook App and Blackberry Messenger both of which are absolutely essential it seems.  Some would be interested in a College App or using Apps for learning but some definitely not.
iPhone users, as expected, are into Apps in a big way and would be interested in any educational Apps.
HTC users were also enthusiastic and although there are not many of them so far, I think they will increase.
Sony Ericssons, Samsungs and Nokias were less focussed or interested in Apps although quite a lot of Nokia users update their Facebook from their phone.
It is really fascinating asking the students about their mobile phones and their perceptions of how they can be used.  Next step is to ask about iPod Touchs and also 'If you had an iPhone or Android phone, would you use Apps?

Monday, 7 February 2011

"What mobile phone have you got?" survey of FE students

Today, I decided to conduct an impromptu survey.  It is part of a bigger 'project' which I've started in the last couple of weeks about using iPod, iPhone & iPad Apps for education (more of that in future posts).  I wanted to have a quick overview of which mobile phones students used so I spent the afternoon ( about 2.5 hrs) working on the enquiry desk on the 2nd floor of the LRC.  Whenever I student came to book a computer, I asked them what mobile phone they had.  It was deliberately unstructured and I definitely wanted to ask just one question to see what response I got.  It is easy to ask students one question and everyone that I asked was helpful and interested in why I was asking.  I made the last minute decision to note down whether the respondent was male or female.  This is a bit of a contentious issue with me as I'm reluctant to take on board that there maybe a gender factor involved (part of the bigger project again) but the results are interesting.

The results were as follows:

126 students were asked
“What mobile phone have you got”?
17 (5F 12M ) iPhone (12 4s 5 3Gs)
31 (26F 5M) Blackberry
9 (5F 4M) HTC
22 (15F 7M) Nokia
9 (6F 3M) LG
9 (6F 3M) Sony E
22 (14F 8M) Samsung
7(3F 4M ) Other

It was a random sample which turned out to include more female students than male students.
Blackberries were the most popular (in conversations this was because they were reasonably affordable) especially with girls (which might be because they have a keyboard that requires more nimble fingers)
iPhones were more popular with male students but some female students said, unprompted, that they would definitely like an iPhone whereas those with iPhones showed no interest in any other make or model.

The next stage is to survey more students at different times / days.  To try to find out whether the course that they are studying makes a difference i.e. if you are studying a computing / media / games design course then you have a different phone than if you are studying health and care for example
Also to ask whether they have an iPod Touch or would like to use one as part of their course.

Health Check and Inspection

The Health Check which is an independent planned inspection has been scheduled since the autumn. It was to take place in a week in December. However the bad weather and snow meant that it was postponed until February. Therefore it is due to take place this week and next week. It is quite difficult for everyone to maintain momentum and keep performing at a high level but I think it will be good.
On Friday the College found out that we are to have an Ofsted inspection the week beginning 28th February. The health check has now become pre Ofsted preparation.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Demonstrating effectiveness and impact

Our action planning for the rest of this academic year revolves around three main topics.
Demonstrating effectiveness and impact
Curriculum Liaison
Promoting and developing learning technologies especially to support self study.

Demonstrating effectiveness and impact is difficult because first of all you have to get over the idea that a learning experience shouldn't be measurable - that it should have value for a student but it is not always possible to quantify it. This is quite difficult as as an educator you want to believe in an inherent value but as a manager you have to have evidence Then you have to find a method of measuring - this is not easy in eLearning / Learning Resources as you don't have a ' success rate' as such. Therefore the only way is to have statistics and data recording what you do, which shows an improvement year on year, which can be compared to other institutions and can be verified by an external framework and by peer review.
I think that eventually there will either be a way that it is inspected as part of the curriculum it supports or that it will be seen as essential and therefore not measured at all. In the latter case, eLearning depts, learning resources depts and libraries will not exist as separate entities but be absorbed by the area, staff and students that they support - which may be no bad thing.


-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

January Induction sessions

In Sept & Oct we do a large number of LRC/IT inductions for students. This academic year we delivered to more than 3000. The sessions are very useful and although time consuming are quite enjoyable to deliver. It is fairly fast paced and we do quite a few each day so the momentum carries you through. In January it is different - not as many, in fact only a few. So it is like starting again each time and remembering what to do.
Got to go - electrical engineers are here.....

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Student behaviour meeting

Last term a working group was set up in College to look at student behaviour issues. In general this academic year there had been more than the usual number of incidents of bad behaviour and also it was felt across the College that behaviour in general was of a lower standard. The attitudes of students has been poor and disrespectful to staff both teaching staff and support staff. We had some incidents in the LRC of students behaving inappropriately and disrespectfully. As ever it is a small minority of students but nevertheless it does have an impact and it is important to recognise the issues.
The first meeting was a general meeting with representatives from across the College staff and was an opportunity to raise issues. For the second meeting a working group was set up in order to be more focused - a task and finish group! Some suggestions were put forward of ways to ensure students would be wearing their ID cards on the official college lanyards. This was agreed as an important way of ensuring that students can be recognised as members of the College. Vending machines are an area that was highlighted regarding vandalism Security was also discussed in order to ensure a safe learning environment. The next meeting which was today, staff reported back about incentives that are going to be introduced to incentivise students to wear their ID cards and lanyards. These include marking registers with a lanyard present mark so that students can be entered into a lanyard lotto - free meals from the cafe for a week, spot 'prizes' for lanyards and good behaviour and also linked to merit awards.




-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

New Year Resolutions as Word Clouds



I have created two word clouds using Wordle for my New Year Resolutions - one for home/everyday life and another for work.  There is some overlap as quite a lot of my work stuff I enjoy doing anyway and quite a lot of places and resources that I discover or visit are relevant to e-learning/libraries/technologies etc.
The black background with blue and green text is the home one, the white background with brown and blue text is the work one.