Friday, 7 March 2008

A Pedagogic Focus

Recently, I've met up with many people in the post-16 teacher –training community (which strictly speaking, is 'andragogy' rather than 'pedagogy' I think!) , and had a particularly interesting time last Friday at the Pibwrlwyd campus of Coleg Sir Gar where I met up with their second year group. I recorded some of their comments - definitely woth listening to!
More pedagogy was to come at a JISC-run event in Birmingham last Tuesday, looking at the London Pedagogy Planner and Phoebe - another planning tool. Both planners could have effective roles in planning courses and sessions, but I thought that Phoebe would be more relevant to teaching practitioners, and especially teaching trainees, because it is incorporates a large amount of pedagogical guidance. Both planners are still in development, but existing versions are available for download, and the development teams involved (from IOE, London, and University of Oxford respectively) are happy to receive feedback.
[photo is of Victoria Square, as you can tell by the figure of her late Majesty!]

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Many Meetings!

There seem to have been loads of meetings of one sort or another over the past couple of weeks. On 21st Feb we had the ILT Champions meeting at Newtown – some interesting presentations, including one on the subject of e-assessment from Allan Perry of WJEC. This is still at an early stage for WJEC – they have 2 pilots running at GCE level (business & ICT) with first assessment Jan 09. Allan raised some important issues about e-assessment including: the fact that question-writing is a completely different process from the usual examination paper; the comparability of paper-based back-up exams, especially when the online version had video, animations etc as a key component (though currently, paper and online exams look exactly the same); lack of hardware; problems with large cohorts eg. need for large question banks. Overall, though, they are pleased with progress and especially with the positive response from learners.
On 22nd Feb, I attended a meeting of Fforwm ITT (Initial Teacher Training) network. Issues discussed included the TQFW, mentoring, finding, minimum core – and on the last subject, I gave some of the ILT Champions’ feedback about the ICT part of this.
Monday, 25th February was a busy day, with Lis and I meeting up with staff from the School of Education at Swansea Metropolitan University in the morning, and then going on to the WAG building at Bedwas that afternoon to meet up with Christine Major and Michelle Sayers, LLUK, about RSC Wales’ role in the SSA (sector skills agreement) currently being drawn up.
Then on the 26th we had a team meeting! Best lunch of all the recent meetings, and good to see Karl too!

(couldn't find an appropriate picture on this PC, so red kites will have to do -usually see a couple in Mid-Wales on my visits)

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Visiting Time!

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been to-ing and fro-ing around Wales a fair bit, visiting Coleg Sir Gar in Llanelli and Coleg Glan Hafren in Cardiff in late January, and then embarking on a North-East Wales tour in February. First stop up North was Deeside College, followed by the Welsh College of Horticulture near Mold, NEWI, and Yale College in Wrexham. Justin or Pete came to some of these meetings, and also Mark Thomas from Fforwm . It was good to see ILT Champions ‘in situ’ and to discuss their many interesting projects. One key theme was collaboration, both with other colleges and local schools, and Moodle is often the ‘agent’ for this. We asked about Web 2.0 usage, which was nil in most cases, and we also inquired about future support from RSC Wales. There were some requests for possible training in topics such as podcasting and mind-mapping, as well as updates on topics including e-portfolios and funding.
At NEWI, we discussed aspects of the new ICT minimum core for TQFW (teaching qualifications framework for Wales) and I picked up some useful points (though I wasn’t happy about being recorded!).
When not travelling, I’ve been doing various things like arranging other visits/meetings, doing online seminars (one on Moodle using Elluminate, which is v. similar to Instant Presenter – the actual presentation wasn’t that good!), contributing a bit to the ITT task group wiki on JSLnet, going to Welsh lessons. (the pic is of Powis Castle near Welshpool - haven't actually been in!)

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

w/c 14th Jan

This week was a week of phoning, e-mailing, Skyping, and generally arranging. In our Skype conversation on Wednesday, Paul and I also used the Skype ‘Unyte’ screen-sharing application which was quite successful.

On Friday afternoon, I listened –and looked!- in to an Instant Presenter session hosted by RSC Scotland N-E on the Scottish RSCs’ Newsfeed. This is an RSS feed from their news blog (on Wordpress – hosted locally): , and is their new way of distributing news to their community. The use of a blog gives some key advantages – a variety of media can be embedded; the information ‘persists’ and is taggable and searchable; and feedback/comments can be added by readers. The blog’s content will obviously have Scottish content, and JISC content, and is FE-focussed (they use Google Reader to get some of their local info).They try to add a ‘personal touch’ with an editorial and a ‘guest spot’. Not many pictures on the blog until you follow some of the links - I found a nice one of a horned owl (from Flickr used under Creative Commons) with some useful information about the RSPB's learn Birds online course.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

blogging and BETTing!

A new year and a new blog!

I'm starting this blog with an account of my visit to BETT - this was my first visit to BETT, and I could have done with a guide! The exhibition is huge, and packed full of people and gizmos; it’s hard to find your way around despite maps & signs, and the queues for food and for the cloakroom are off-putting. They could do with more seating, too! (proper old moaner, aren’t I?!)

Overall impressions of BETT: it’s a highly commercial event with a salesperson at every corner. The focus was very much on schools rather than any other educational sector, probably because there are a lot more of them hence a lot more money to be made from them (proper old cynic, aren’t I?!). Possible because of this, there was no JISC presence, though Becta was out in force.
Amongst the many stands I particularly noticed: lots of content/course providers (especially for science and art); lots of learning platform/VLE providers; providers of management information systems, classroom sound systems (to remove the need to shout!). There were hardware suppliers, though personally I saw nothing that looked especially interesting – possibly because there were so many people around the best stuff (but Chris Hall from Swansea University found some interesting things: ). There were a couple of small stands selling ‘immersive’ learning packages, but this sort of learning figured a lot less prominently than I might have expected.

What was good?

Other info that I picked up included: OS provide free maps for 11-yr-olds; Channel 4 have a ‘clip-bank’ (which is not free, though maybe there’s some other stuff that is)

; and the BBC interesting oranges!

Next year: I think BETT is best visited by those with a bit more liking and know-how of gadgetry than I have! Whoever goes - I would advise getting the Guardian's ‘Link’ supplement (out mid-Dec) to get background & to help plan, and also study the BETT website beforehand. And - take water and carry as little as possible (maybe deckchair!)