Again, it’s been a while since we held a meeting of the Network, but the group met again last Friday to share their experiences, with animated conversation and a series of presentations that covered a wide range of topics, from individual educational applications to institutional strategies to enhance an entire staff’s digital capabilities.
First up was Russell Wilson, who wanted to share a way to embed learning activities into existing websites and also demonstrate how you could quickly prototype a computer game by drawing a picture:
Insert Learning & Draw Your Game
Russell Wilson, Learning Technologist, Ayrshire College
Demonstration of two really easy to use pieces of software that can be used across a range of subjects.
- Insert Learning, take any website and embed interactive learning activities using a Chrome browser plugin, then share the link with students. The only limitation is that students need to use a Chrome browser with the plugin installed. Up to 5 free ‘lessons’ can be created using the free account.
- Draw Your Game, an excellent app that will convert an image of a platform game and convert it into a real computer game. You can draw the game on paper, and just take an image using your mobile device (with the app installed).
We were delighted to welcome Malcolm Wilson to the group, who gave an overview of how the primary and high schools in Falkirk have managed to embrace the advantages afforded by educational technology to deliver an enhanced experience to pupils across the region.
Teaching the iGeneration in Falkirk Schools
Malcolm Wilson, ICT Curriculum Development Officer, Falkirk Council Children’s Services
A flavour of how digital technology is used to support learning and teaching in Falkirk schools with learners in the iGeneration (also known as Generation Z), those who have used the Internet from a young age and are generally comfortable using digital technology and interacting with social media.
Next up was Robin, who set out North East Scotland College’s plan to develop their staff’s digital capabilities. If you look through the presentation, you can contribute to the discussion by visiting www.menti.com, entering the code 72 83 59 and posting any comments or questions you might have. You can then access the notice board for responses.
Robin McGregor, Director of Learning Enhancement, North East Scotland College
North East Scotland College has recently commenced a three-year step-change “Digital Futures” project that aims to develop the confidence and capabilities of all staff to use a digital technologies in ways which enhance the student experience and improve learner outcomes.
With workstreams relating to the development of generic IT skills, the creation of sustainable communities of practice, the design of high quality and accessible learning resources, the use of innovate pedagogies, and the creation of exciting learning spaces, the project aims to deliver step-change across the entire institution.
This presentation provides an update of the work completed to date, our future plans and an opportunity for colleagues to share best practice from across the sector. We are looking for any guidance and feedback on our planned approach and our presentation will hopefully generate some good conversation around the issue of upskilling staff.
Veronica stepped forward to let us know about the College e-Activities Group (CeAG)
Introduction to CeAG
Veronica Harris, Project Manager, SQA
The College E-Activities Group (CeAG) encourages and supports the sector to make greater use of technology for learning, teaching and assessment. Veronica will give a brief overview of the group’s aims and objectives and sets out how you can get involved.
CeAG have set up a Yammer group which is open to anyone with an interest in the area, though there is an emphasis on the work carried out in colleges. There are 3 sub-groups which may be of interest:
- Assessment using social media
- Digital learning models
If you would like to join the Yammer group, please send an email to email@example.com and let us know!
James followed with a short presentation of how West College Scotland host a number of Moodle instances for the private sector, adding to the already considerable provision of distance learning courses at the institution.
There were a number of useful insights for other institutions looking to explore offering services in this area. If you’re interested in finding out more, James is happy to receive any questions.
Commercialising the VLE
James MacNee, Systems Development Team Leader, West College Scotland
As long-term adopters of Moodle, tagging the term ‘commercial’ with the open source platform may seem like an oxymoron, but West College Scotland have a history of hosting a number of Moodle services for the private sector, generating additional revenue from this core college system. James will cover the story so far, plans for the future and give a demonstration of some of their commercial Moodles.
It was my turn to give a very brief overview of the issues we had encountered in coming up with a suitable plan to disseminate Foundation Apprenticeship learning resources.
Over to You
Kenji Lamb, Digital & Innovation Lead, College Development Network
We’ve been developing instructional content to support the delivery of Foundation Apprenticeships and are now looking for ways to distribute the material among potential users. It’s a collection of Word documents and Powerpoint slides (under a Creative Commons licence), which describe a series of activities mapped against unit outcomes.
In an ideal world, we want people to download the content and then contribute suggestions and resources to add to what’s already there. Now, I know that getting people to share is an issue, but what I’d like your help with is coming up with a viable platform which would facilitate the process.
Here’s a copy of one of the typical resources that we have – in this case, a description of how to deliver a unit, with suggested activities, links to resources and a summary of the skills/outcomes covered. So, a Word document (though I’ve saved it as a PDF for the moment).
Our vague plan is to host the content on WordPress, which would be accessible without a login. We were then thinking of creating links to editable versions of the documents on Google Docs like this.
This means anyone could go in an edit the content, again without a login. Another option would be to use something like PBworks, but the formatting options in Google Docs are more intuitive to general users and we have the option to export out as .docx files. Then, perhaps every month or two, the edits could be reviewed to see if we could make new versions of the original documents. There are a few issues with this though:
- There’s nothing to stop people going in and messing up or deleting all of the content
- Suggestions could be overwritten
- It might not be so obvious how to contribute as the documents are presented as finished pieces of work
- How do we deal with uploads of content, e.g. worksheets, video files, etc.
On the plus side, Google Docs maintains a list of all the edits (wiki style), so even if someone were to go in and mess things up, it wouldn’t be so difficult to restore content, though it would be difficult to deal with persistent behaviour. If we went down the login route, I think this would deter people from contributing. One other option might be to use the ‘Comment’ feature, but it doesn’t offer the best user experience.
We might have to alter the original content slightly to allow for spaces where users could add alternative activities and additional resources.
For uploaded content, we could use Dropbox or something similar.
Okay, so I need your ideas – so we walk the talk, I’ve replicated this conversation in Google Docs, so would appreciate your input!
Last up was Fiona, who was standing between the audience and the pathway to an exciting weekend, but her presentation didn’t disappoint as she led us through 6 minutes and 40 seconds of a Pecha Kucha that covered a range of technology that Fife College have employed with staff and students.
A Few of My Favourite Things
Fiona Clark, Learning & Teaching Advisor, Fife College
Fiona delivers a pecha kucha, highlighting a range of EdTech tools the College are using. Some will also be demonstrated, so do have your own devices to hand to participate.
Links to some of the tools mentioned in the pecha kucha:
Until next time!