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RSC Northwest eLearning Focus RSC Northwest live TV broadcasts

October 2009 saw the launch of our 'In-touch' live RSC Northwest TV broadcasts, currently scheduled to take place on the second Monday of each month from 12:45 to 13:15. Amongst other things, the broadcasts highlight local and national ILT and eLearning news, and provide demonstrations and overviews of software and resources. Although there were a few glitches with sound (which, typically, were not apparent during testing) at the first broadcast, it was watched by users at 25 locations and the team received emails from a number of other people who wanted to watch but were not able to at the time. The 'In-Touch' broadcasts, and the RSC Northwest TV video loop which is available to watch at any time and changes on a monthly basis, can be accessed at

Volume 9 Issue 1 November 2009 RSCs - stimulating and supporting innovation in learning

In this issue... RSC NW live TV broadcasts


Welcome to the newsletter


RSC NW events news


Customer Satisfaction Survey - how did we do?


RSC support for Becta Generator


RSC NW Annual Event 2009 - a flexible mix and a stimulating day


JISC Advance brings together eight JISC services


Focus on JISC TechDis


Southport College Excellence Gateway case study


Cheshire Colleges get it together for first Library Conference


Celebrating success!


Want to assess readability? try searching ‘Twurdy’...

Welcome to the November 2009 issue of the RSC Northwest newsletter... ...from Andrew Quarmby, RSC Northwest Manager

Twurdy, a search engine based on Google, was created to provide users with access to search results that suit their own readability level. Twurdy comes from a play on words with the question "Too Wordy?". Twurdy aims to provide web searchers with information that is most appropriate for them great for learners in their own searches, but it could also help practitioners and trainee teachers, for example, to assess the most suitable resources for their learners. Twurdy...  uses text analysis software to "read" each page before it is displayed in the results;  gives each page a readability level; and  shows the readability Continued on page 3...


It probably seems a long time since the summer holidays – particularly since most of our best weather has occurred since we returned to work! I remember my milkman telling me ‘the nights are drawing in’ in late June – now the periods of darkness are really beginning to intrude. The recession, too, has not helped our outlook or that of our learners preparing for an uncertain future. So, time for some brightness! I attended an event run by and for librarians in Cheshire Colleges in July – featured in this issue – which was supported by RSC Northwest. What impressed me was that the lively discussion about new technology opened minds and challenged preconceptions. It made people think afresh about what they were doing and why they were doing it in that particular way. It reinforced my view, supported in all our visits to our very diverse learning providers, that, although the ‘bottom line’ is getting tighter and funding more constrained, we are all concerned with the quality of the learning experience and with engaging and exciting our learners. Sometimes, this means looking at the technology and resources around us and thinking more creatively about their use. It does not necessarily mean ‘buy more!’ but getting the best out of what we have. We are often told that, in times of economic constraint, we have to prepare for the up-turn. Our learners will best do this by developing skills which enable them to continue learning as the world changes around them and to make the right leap when opportunities present themselves. The interaction and self-reflection which can be enabled by ILT is a valuable part of this process.

The Customer Satisfaction Survey once again shows appreciation of the value of the Regional Support Centre and of the quality of relationships with our learning providers. We are delighted that this is reflected in activities in partnership with you: the bright points of learning come from small realisations as well as big projects, and that is often the starting point of our impact – as well as yours with your learners.

RSC Northwest events news As planned, we have now implemented some changes to make our events and event programme more ‘green’ and sustainable, and would like to take this opportunity to thank you as delegates for your support with this. Many thanks to those who have taken the time to complete online evaluation forms following our events - your feedback is vital in helping us to support you. Moving towards Christmas and the New Year we have a full events programme, ranging from ongoing online lunchtime sessions to a large exhibition event at Aintree Racecourse. Below are the FREE RSC Northwest events coming up over the next few weeks – you can get an up-to-date listing and book online at: Date




24 Nov

uNET in Education - Aintree Race10:00Meet the Suppliers course, Liverpool 16:00

26 Nov

Implementing EduApps

Online (via Adobe Connect)


9 Dec

Selected EduApps software

Online (via Adobe Connect)


14 Dec

‘In-Touch’ live TV broadcast

Online (via RSC NW TV)


11 Jan

‘In-Touch’ live TV broadcast

Online (via RSC NW TV)


29 Jan

Becta Generator workshop 2

Lancaster University


...Continued from page 2

level of the page along with a colour coded system to help users determine how easy the page will be to understand. What is the difference between the search types?  Just Twurdy uses Twurdy's basic algorithm - medium speed, medium results  Simple Twurdy uses Twurdy's simple algorithm - fast but less accurate results  Twurdy with Pop uses Twurdy's most complex Algorithm, includes looking up the popularity of words within the text slower, but more accurate results. This piece is taken from the October 2009 RSC NW eMagazine produced by eLearning Adviser John Dalziel. You can access the eMagazines at uk/acl/eMagArchive 3

Customer Satisfaction Survey – how did we do? The JISC Regional Support Centre Customer Satisfaction Survey for 2009, produced by the JISC Monitoring Unit, brings together responses from the Learning Providers across the 13 UK JISC Regional Support Centres, and highlights the impact the RSCs have had on their Learning Providers over the past year.

Send us your views - anytime... The RSC Northwest team would like to thank everyone who responded to the Customer Satisfaction Survey. The Customer Satisfaction Survey is, of course, only one way to help us develop and improve our services at RSC Northwest and ensure that we provide the support and advice that you really need. Your views and suggestions are highly valued - you can contact us with these at any time via support@


Relating to the RSCs as a whole, the report summary notes that "...respondents have demonstrated their satisfaction with the RSC service. Particularly encouraging are: the positive impact of the RSCs on organisations...the reported appropriateness of the service...and the high levels of satisfaction with the support provided". It also states that "Importantly, this high level of satisfaction is maintained regardless of the level of experience of the respondent or the degree of use they make of the RSC", and that there is "clear evidence that the RSCs offer a universally high standard of service, matching the diverse needs of different regions, organisations and job roles". It is worth noting that, looking to the future, respondents indicated in the survey that support for ‘Learning, teaching and assessment’ should remain as the core RSC activity. Whilst we acknowledge that statistics do not necessarily provide the 'full picture', they can be a useful indicator, so here are a few key figures relating to RSC Northwest. Of those in the North West responding to the Customer Satisfaction Survey:  49% frequently referred to information/resources provided by RSC Northwest;  When asked what the overall impact was that RSC Northwest had on their organisation in the past year, 57% said the impact was 'very positive', and 29% said it was 'positive';  When asked whether the level of support provided by RSC Northwest was appropriate to their role within their organisation, 49% strongly agreed and 34% agreed.

RSC support for Becta Generator Generator is an online, free, self assessment tool designed to enable Learning Providers to improve their strategic deployment of technology. The RSCs are supporting Becta with training and guidance for Generator. With Generator, you can review your use of technology in nine business areas, grouped under three headings:  Engaged and Empowered Learners  Enhanced Learning Experience  E-Confident and Effective Provider You use Generator to review seven enablers of technology:  Strategic Leadership  People and Culture  Expertise and Skills  Technology  Learning Content  Information and Data  Processes Two types of review are available, ‘quick’ and ‘full’:  Quick review - skim across all nine areas identifying the level of positive impact technology is having on them.  Full review - drill into these areas by looking at the seven enablers that need to be in place for the effective use of technology. The typical approach is to do a quick review to identify areas for improvement, then a full review that drills down for further analysis. Generator produces reports which can be used to compare with other departmental, organisational and team results; also to benchmark your organisation across the sector. It can also help to highlight your technology strengths and weaknesses, and areas for improvement. RSC Northwest has run one workshop to assist learning providers in using Generator to obtain the best outcome for their situation and investment; a second is arranged for:  Friday 29 January 2010, at Lancaster University - details at Note that this workshop is for the Primary User for Generator in organisations.

Keeping an eye on Open Source...

OSS Watch provides unbiased advice and guidance on the use, development, and licensing of free and open source software. OSS Watch is funded by JISC and its services are free-of-charge to HE and FE. Whilst this support excludes non-College/ non-University ACL and WBL, these sectors can still make use of the news and resources on the OSS Watch website. For those of you who can use the OSS Watch services, a snippet in the FAQs section of their September newsletter might be of interest: Q - Would you speak at our event? A - Almost certainly yes. We are always keen to talk to people about the issues surrounding open source software, and will do our best to schedule in any speaking requests. 5

RSC Northwest Annual Event 2009– a flexible mix and a stimulating day June 25th 2009 now seems a long way back, but as this is the first newsletter since then here’s a summary of the Annual Event, and the JISC Services in Focus event that took place the evening before. Our new format Annual Event - with around 250 people in attendance - was a packed and stimulating day, and offered the flexible mix of key and quick presentations, seminars, exhibitions and networking opportunities which we set out to provide. The majority of feedback about the Annual Event rated it as 'Excellent'; overall delegates liked the broad range of content and exhibition stands provided by the new format, with the only real downside being that they couldn't get to all the seminars or presentations that they would have liked! Here's a few typical comments from delegates about the Annual Event: “Excellent variety of exhibitors. Brilliant networking event.” “...very well put together. Loved the format!” “...this has been one of the best conferences I have attended for a long time.” As our key presenter, Russell Prue certainly lived up to expectations, providing an action-packed, stimulating presentation and workshop. Many delegates described Russell's contributions as a real highlight in the day; here's just a few of the comments we received: “Russell Prue a real inspiration.” “...brilliant and gave me lots of food for thought.” “...exceptionally motivating and eye opening...”


Lee LeFever’s interactive session live from the US was also very well received by delegates.

You can still access Russell's presentation archive, review the 'Cover it Live' contributions from the day, and link to photographs from the day in the links section of the Annual Event summary website at We would like to express our thanks to the presenters and exhibitors who contributed, and the delegates who attended, together making the Annual Event 2009 a resounding success thank you! As could be expected for such a large event, not every aspect of the day went as smoothly as planned, such as some background noise difficulties during the Pecha Kucha presentations, and some requests from delegates for individual printed programmes to be provided. We have noted feedback and will hopefully make next year's event even more stimulating and worthwhile.

JISC Services in Focus This event for FE, Sixth Form and Specialist Colleges, which took place the evening before the Annual Event, gave delegates the opportunity to find out all they needed to know about a range of JISC Services. In a relaxed setting, and with a focus on informal networking, representatives from the various JISC Services introduced themselves and their services to delegates, who had the chance to ask questions about the services and discuss these in more depth with the representatives. The overwhelming majority of feedback rated this event as Excellent/Good. Positive feedback included: “Fantastic event, got a lot from it...” “It was very good to meet representatives from JISC Services, I learned a lot by having the opportunity to talk to them directly.”

Important date for your diary... The 2010 Annual Event will take place at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton, on Tuesday 22nd June 2010. Keep watching the RSC Northwest website and events calendar for further details. 7

Missed out on our previous newsletters?... Our previous RSC Northwest newsletters can be accessed online in the Newsletter Archive section of our website at eMagArchive/ newsletters.html

JISC Advance brings together eight JISC services A new organisation called JISC Advance brings together eight established JISC services as part of JISC’s ongoing strategy to deliver world-class support to education and learning sectors.

Dr Malcolm Read, JISC Executive Secretary, said: “JISC Advance brings together a team of experienced professionals, many of whom we have worked with for many years. We aim to join these services more closely together so that their combined weight will enhance the services provided...on a whole range of issues.” JISC Advance is committed to providing agile, holistic services, developing new services where required and ensuring the community meets the emerging technology challenges across the education sector.

The newsletters, which can be viewed page by page, at full size, have been created for reading online using Issuu - a free online publications service. You can find out more about Issuu at Alternatively, you can download the newsletters from the Newsletter Archive in pdf format. 8

Managing director Guy Lambert says that the services are "extremely well-respected within the education sector and receive good feedback from their users. JISC Advance will allow the services to reach new audiences, and will help our users to understand what we can collectively deliver for them”. The eight services brought together under JISC Advance, focusing on good practice, training and skill development, and advice and support are:  JISC Digital Media -  JISC infoNet -  JISC Legal -  JISCMail -  JISC Netskills -  JISC Procureweb -  JISC RSC UK -  JISC TechDis - - see opposite page You can access JISC Advance at

Focus on JISC TechDis

The JISC TechDis mission is to “support the education sector in achieving greater accessibility and inclusion by stimulating innovation and providing expert advice and guidance on disability and technology”. This mission comprises two main strands of work:  Providing advice and support to organisations to promote a culture of inclusion and to embed inclusive practice in teaching and learning across the curriculum. This is something which can be embraced by all and can transform the experience of learning for all learners regardless of their abilities or difficulties.  Supporting and advising learning providers on accessibility and the use of technology to support disabilities. A vital part of this support is to analyse emerging technologies in order to identify accessibility implications and to produce appropriate advice to practitioners, management and learners. For specific queries, the JISC TechDis website includes helpdesk details and an FAQs section. The service also provides a large number of invaluable downloads and resources. Three key resources picked out by Lisa Valentine, RSC Northwest eLearning Adviser for Inclusion, are:  Benevolent Bill – What Microsoft® does for Accessibility - over 4 years old but still heavily downloaded and used.  Accessibility Essentials - all the relevant information on producing accessible Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and PDF files.  Upwardly Mobile - DVD in conjunction with ‘GoMobile’ publication on accessibility and mobile learning.

Recent JISC TechDis developments... This year JISC TechDis has developed an accessible ePortfolio (in conjunction with the Rix Centre in London) for learners in specialist colleges, and is currently supporting the implementation of this system in colleges across the country. Specialist colleges have recently been bidding for JISC TechDis ‘Innovation 3 funding’ for innovative and challenging projects to improve the use and take-up of ILT. Keep up-to-date with JISC TechDis news... JISC TechDis website JISC TechDis blog; visit often for frequent, informal updates of new technology, events and other developments JISC TechDis on Twitter; follow updates on Twitter for latest publications, news and other resource updates - jisc_techdis 9

Latest RSC Northwest case studies on the Excellence Gateway... Other case studies featuring North West learning providers published since our last newsletter are: St. Mary's College Access all areas deploying interactive whiteboards across the College

Southport College: Information on display – providing accessible information for students via digital screens An Excellence Gateway case study - the article here is a summary. The full case study can be accessed at www.excellencegateway. Southport College has installed 24 centrally controlled digital information display screens across the College to display a wide range of information.

Southport College Hearing things improving audibility in teaching rooms

A user-friendly touchscreen facility has been developed and implemented on two of these screens. This information is presented to users in a virtual panel that automatically appears at a height suited to their needs.

Blackpool and The Fylde College Feeling secure with an award-winning campuswide wireless network

Iain Petrie-Brown, Multimedia and Digital Content Developer, identified digital signage as a positive alternative to confusing noticeboards (containing dated information); he wanted to develop a bespoke solution to be as effective and engaging as possible for its students, staff and visitors.

You can access these case studies (and those from the other eight English RSCs) via the ‘Case studies on good e-practice’ section of the Excellence Gateway at www.excellencegateway. org. uk/page.aspx? o=case-studies-all

Having researched suitable hardware and software, Iain created a mock-up onto an existing plasma screen to show how information could be displayed. He defined key areas on the display screens to present a range of information, including College news/information, scrolling BBC news feeds and health and well-being information.


Using the Samsung MagicInfo Pro system, Iain developed various interfaces for the display screens. He says that this system is ideal as it allows him to customise how and when the information should be drawn in, and how it should be displayed. Scheduling server software enables Iain to display different information on different screens, and to include new screens on the system as they are added.

An innovative aspect of the development was the addition of two portrait format touchscreen displays, utilising U-touch hardened glass infra-red panels which fit over the Samsung display screens. Using HTML, Javascript, XML and Flash, Iain developed a bespoke interface which allows information to be presented within an interactive panel in whichever part of the screen is touched, and/or dragged up and down. This was developed to enable all users to view information at a suitable height. The digital signage development has transformed the way that short-term/immediate information and generic information is presented. Students and staff have taken to the display screens even better than predicted. Iain highlights three key factors in ensuring success of the digital signage developments:  Putting a system in place to ensure that the content is ‘fresh', being prepared to invest time and energy approaching staff and students for new content, and ensuring the availability before deadlines.  Selling the system to staff in the right way, to get them genuinely interested and willing to provide fresh content.  Making the right choice in relation to the hardware and software; he carried out extensive research beforehand to find the most appropriate system, with scope to allow further development and evolution over time. As a next step, there are plans to introduce further touchscreen displays into the College refectory, to include games that can be played using the touchscreen panel. Iain is confident that the games will draw students in to generate increased engagement with the display screen content as an excellent method of information dissemination.

RSC Northwest podcasts... The subject of the latest RSC Northwest podcast is Shibboleth.

Kevin Hickey (RSC Northwest eLearning Adviser for FE) talks with Jim Temple from Trafford College, and RSC Northwest Senior Adviser Chrissie Turkington about Shibboleth. The RSC Northwest podcasts can be accessed from the website homepage at Other recent podcasts that you can access via the ‘Posts’ link include:  ePortfolios at Carlisle College  Wii Fit at Trafford College  Netbooks at The Manchester College 11

Twittering is so last century...

Cheshire Colleges get it together for first Library Conference Chrissie Turkington, RSC Northwest Senior Adviser, reflects on the success of the Cheshire Colleges Library and Learning Resources Staff Development Day. “Creating such opportunities to develop through sharing and networking is worth the effort”, Chrissie says, and she encourages you wherever possible to “get together with your peers in the North West”.

A press release from September's BERA (British Educational Research Association) Conference, highlighting research from Julia Gillen of Lancaster University and Nigel Hall of Manchester Metropolitan University, reveals how the Twitter concept is far from new. “A century ago the tweeting was done via the humble picture postcard. It had been introduced in its present form in 1902 picture on one side, blank space for address and message on the other and became an almost instant phenomenon, like Twitter.” Postcards offered message space similar to Continued on page 13...


Cheshire College Library Managers have been meeting to share ideas and good practice since 2003; amongst other initiatives they have completed a benchmarking exercise, created a work placement scheme, and started a peer evaluation scheme (following the Merseyside Circle of College Librarians lead). An innocuous comment by Sue Whiteside of South Cheshire College something like “we should think about doing some Staff Development across the group” (don’t quote me, those may not be the exact words!) led to the Cheshire Colleges Library and Learning Resources Staff Development Day. The idea was for all Cheshire Library and LRC staff to get together at Reaseheath College in Nantwich for a day’s staff development focused on fulfilling current training needs and sharing ideas, and that all the Cheshire College Libraries and LRCs could close to enable all staff to attend. Whilst this was ambitious, the group knew this could be a fantastic development and networking opportunity. The following is a summary report from the South Cheshire College LRC team about the Library and Learning Resources Staff Development Day:

“The whole library team visited Reaseheath College for the first annual Cheshire Colleges Library Conference in July this year. The event was organised by the LRC managers of Reaseheath, West Cheshire and South Cheshire Colleges, along with JISC RSC Northwest. Librarians and library assistants from across the county gathered together to network, share ideas and find out about new technologies. The morning consisted of guest speakers from Embervision, Intellident, JISC TechDis and JISC Collections. In the afternoon, representatives from these companies carried out smaller group workshops to expand upon ideas and issues raised in the morning session. For our team, Fiona Emberton from Embervision was the most inspirational. She raised areas of bad practice that occurred in libraries worldwide and challenged us to change our perceptions of how libraries should operate. Library as Space was key to her theory as she argued that humour, positive attitudes and homely environments made for happy students and staff. Intellident focused on self issue machines and Radio Frequency tagging systems, which will soon be in place in our LRC. We were invited on a tour of the new campus library at Reaseheath and had the opportunity to see these Radio Frequency self issue systems in place. TechDis made us more aware of user diversity and how library guides and handbooks should be made available in different formats to cater for students’ diverse needs and JISC Collections introduced us to ebrary E-books, which is now in place for all staff and students to use. It was great to meet and share ideas with colleagues from different libraries in such an interesting and informal way. The conclusions of the day were that we should be innovative and flexible in our working practices, deliver excellent customer service and use new technologies to aid us in achieving these aims. All in all, an excellent day which we all appreciated and benefited from. The cake wasn’t bad either!”

...Continued from page 12

that of Twitter, and also generated an “astonishing amount of chat”. The release goes on to say that “Gillen and Hall highlight how similar the wording of postcards could be to text and Twitter messages. Punctuation could be disregarded and short forms were common.” The full press release is at files/2009/09/bera-2009press-release-edwardianpostcards.pdf

RSC NW website feeds... You can keep up-to-date with news from the RSC Northwest website through RSS feeds. To get these updates, click on the relevant RSS feeds in the News section of the website at uk/news There are also News and Training & Events feeds on the website homepage. 13

Learn something new in 90 seconds... RSC Northwest eLearning Adviser Kevin Hickey has produced four ‘90 seconds’ videos showing you how to use free software. The videos demonstrate how to use the software, and are accompanied by simple instructions which pop-up as the videos progress. The four pieces of software (and the URLs to the 90 seconds videos) are:

Celebrating Success!

We know from contact with our learning providers that an enormous amount of effective and worthwhile technology enhanced learning takes place across the region. It’s therefore pleasing when we are able to report that some of the developments, good practice, strategies and proposals have achieved wider recognition. Recent successes to celebrate are: Handheld Learning 2009 The Secondary Education Practitioner Award at Handheld Learning 2009 was awarded to: Sandra Taylor, Ashton Sixth Form College You can see the presentations of the Handheld Learning Awards for Innovation and Best Practice at

Bitstrips - comic builder watch?v=ZnG-m43M-zA

Shibboleth Project recognition

Glogster - poster creator watch?v=MvC47fUANLk

Becta Technology Exemplar Network (Phase 2)

Continued on page 15…


John Paul Szkudlapski of Birkenhead Sixth Form College has been acknowledged by the Shibboleth Project, through Brown University in the United States, for testing and diagnostic work, citing him as a valuable contributor to Shibboleth and the Shibboleth community worldwide.

Becta recently announced a new round of the Technology Exemplar Network (TEN), now listing sixteen outstanding further education and skills providers to lead phase 2.

...Continued from page 14

This list includes: Priestley College The Oldham College Xaverian College continues with exemplar status from phase 1. You can find out more about the Becta TEN at http://feandskills.becta., MoLeNET MoLeNET has announced the successful learning providers for the next phase of projects.

Snippy - screen area capture watch?v=UiWkw-LuQTU

Phase 3 Macro projects: Birkenhead Sixth Form College Blackburn College The Manchester College and Burnley College Micro projects: Beaumont College Lakes College West Cumbria Langdon College Skelmersdale and Ormskirk College You can find out more about the MoLeNET project, including the first two phases JISC RSC Northwest Student Teacher Award Our award, for Innovation in Technology Enhanced Learning, was open to Teacher Education students in the Cheshire Consortium of Colleges. The winner, Claire Kendrick from Mid-Cheshire College, teaches within Adult Education. Her innovative use of blogging and audio recording to support her teaching of yoga and pilates won her a digital camera. If you have a ‘technology enhanced learning’ success of your own to share, or you know of a colleague whose success should be celebrated, then please let us know.

Wordle - wordcloud generator watch?v=cq6-inYbniQ So, what did Kevin use to produce the videos? He used CamStudio for the screen captures, then used iMovie to piece the screen captures, pop-up text and music together. The chances are you have some applications, resources or technologies that you want to show someone else how to use, so why not try an approach similar to Kevin’s ‘90 seconds’ videos?


RSC Northwest team... Manager Andrew Quarmby Administrators Christine Hulme Helen Smith eLearning Advisers John Dalziel (Adult & Community Learning) Colin Gallacher (Work Based Learning) Kevin Hickey (Further Education) Anita Holt (Further Education) Hilary Thomas (Higher Education) Chrissie Turkington (Senior Adviser) Lisa Valentine (Inclusion) Keith Wilson (Technology & MIS) Events Co-ordinator Helen Metcalfe Information Officer John Davey

JISC Regional Support Centre Northwest 2nd Floor Bailrigg House, Lancaster University Lancaster. LA1 4YE Phone: 01524 593797 Fax: 01524 593798 Email: All RSC Northwest staff contribute to the newsletter. Additional thanks to South Cheshire College for their contribution to this issue. Please send any comments and feedback about the newsletter to John Davey, Information Officer at This newsletter has been produced on 9lives 55 - certified as a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mixed sources product.

Volume 9 Issue 1  
Volume 9 Issue 1  

RSC Northwest's Newsletter for Learning Providers in HE, FE, 6th Form Colleges, Specialist Colleges, Work Based Learning, Adult & Community...