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newsbytes Issue 32 - Winter 2010

Stimulating and supporting innovation in learning

Contents 1 • RSCs become part of JISC Advance 2 •

Excellence Gateway Case Study: South Essex College - Learner voice - a 360 degree approach

3 • Joint Forum 2010 • VLE Forum “Advancing education, research and management through expertise, advice and inspiration in the use of technology”: JISC Advance Mission. At the beginning of its 11th year of service, RSC Eastern has joined JISC Advance. JISC Advance is a not-for-profit company which delivers ICT support services for the further education, skills and higher education sector on behalf of funding councils. The advent of the RSCs into JISC Advance creates a broad and resourceful national service combined with the regional strengths and local relationships of the RSCs. Through joining JISC Advance, the resources and advice of RSC Eastern are now complemented by a range of specialist services within the same organisation. These are: JISC Digital Media, JISC infoNet, JISC Legal, JISCMail, JISC Netskills, JISC Procureweb and JISC TechDis.

Our services are offered within a bundle of JISC Advance themes: • ORGANISATIONAL EFFICIENCY - Business processes, Network Management, Strategic Development; • LEARNING & TEACHING - Learner Voice, Assessment, Learner Support; • SUSTAINABILITY - e-Safety, Inclusivity, Sustainability; • BCE/EXTERNAL ENGAGEMENT - where technology supports employers and learning based in the workplace. RSCe will continue to provide support to the post-16 education and training sector. Working together with our clients we provide inspiration and advice to further develop the innovative use of technology. We remain committed to providing proactive, responsive and integrated services, and helping our clients meet the emerging technology challenges and opportunities.

4 • Equality Act • Staff News

STOP PRESS !!! JISC Advance has released a new document charting the achievements of the Regional Support Centres since their inception in 2000. To read more about the RSCs go to: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/rsc


eSkills The eSkills for eLearning Course was devised by the RSCs in 2006 and was updated in June. It has been designed to cover the essential skills and knowledge needed by teaching practitioners to enable them to use technology for learning and teaching.

Learner voice: a 360 degree approach

If you would like to run the course in-house the RSC can provide the materials which are available under creative commons licence and can also advise on different delivery methods and approaches. The sessions are a mixture of presentations, discussions and practical activities. When delivered in a face-to-face format, the course comprises of 8 x three hour modules. Module 1 - An Introduction to e-Learning; Module 2 - e-Resources & Copyright; Module 3 - Creating Interactive Resources (1); Module 4 - Designing an Inclusive Curriculum; Module 5 - Creating Interactive Resources (2); Module 6 - Online Communications & e-Tutoring; Module 7 - e-Assessment; Module 8 - Learning Platforms & Going Mobile; Module 9 - e-Safety & Safeguarding. To gain an insight into the involvement from the pilot colleges and university, we have made their experiences available in our JISC involve blog: http://eskillsrsceastern. jiscinvolve.org/wp/ There are also NOCN qualifications based on the programme materials at level two and three. For further information call RSC Eastern on 01245 684090 or email the team at support@ rsc-eastern.ac.uk

Excellence Gateway Case Study “Before we had this change in the online environment the student voice wasn’t really heard.” Ian Franklin, Head of ILT and Learning Resources, South Essex College. In the past three years South Essex College has developed a range of social networking tools within its intranet to engage students. This has provided a 360-degree appraisal system for the college, which has informed the content and design of the site as well as influencing the overall development of the college. The intranet was a very passive online environment for staff and students. Previously it was a place for the college community to access static HTML pages. The ILT team hoped that with a range of social networking tools it would become an environment where staff and students could communicate with each other. In October 2009 the college’s intranet was upgraded with the main aim of opening up as many channels as possible to engage and gather feedback from students. The ILT team sent out polls,

surveys and forum questions asking for student feedback on what kinds of content they would like to see, and how they would like the pages to look. This two-way exchange then became one of the main ways in which the team could plan improvements to the site, pictured above. The team was inspired by Twitter, Facebook and other social networking websites when they designed the new intranet. The college has now indexed 3 million pages and in the last year alone 30,000 messages were posted through forums, polls and surveys. In the student council area of the main forum there are 420 topics with 10,000 comments since last year. Poll of the week has grown in popularity, and has more than 2,000 responses each week. The college believes that the success of the site is down to ‘keeping it simple’. They have increased the learner voice through “Heightening the levels of student engagement." • To read more visit the Excellence Gateway website: http://www.excellencegateway. org.uk/sec


VLE Forum Is your VLE a straight jacket or Lego? Should we be afraid, very afraid or justifiably cautious?

Joint Forum 2010 This year’s Joint Forum began with Harry Greiner’s presentation on ‘21st Century Learning for the 21st Century’. The Head of New Media, Marketing and Communications at City College Norwich presented with both humour and conviction as he conveyed his hopes and fears for the future of learning and technology.

resources for adults, and various resources for staff development,  including the E-Guides materials. There was an opportunity to share news of the latest developments around the region, with the RSC providing updates on LSIS funding opportunities, the latest RSC eSkills resources and the new Single Equality Duty resources on the TechDis website.

Delegates present at the Moller The Technical Managers forum Centre, Cambridge on October commenced with Richard 8th split into focus groups and the Millwood's presentation on e-learning forum ‘Delightful began with an RSC “Lilian’s workshop was Learning’. Richard Eastern asked delegates fantastic, providing update. The forum to reminisce about lots of moved around the their favourite innovative and region with experiences of useful resources.” providers sharing learning, and hoped Delegate testimonial insights and that the spirit of experiences from delight could be their organisations. continued in future teaching. The session ended with providers giving feedback on what they hope RSC Eastern can do to support them in the coming year.

Cleveratom’s Hal Maclean and Matthew Eaves showcased some of the work they have completed at colleges across the region.

Delegates asked for continued support with staff development through the eSkills programme, as well as strategic advice on policy, ILT development and safeguarding (e-safety).

After lunch, Lilian Soon, entered the fray to deliver an inspirational workshop on utilising mobile and Web 2.0 applications in everyday learning.

During the ACL / WBL strand delegates shared experiences of  e-portfolios, Moodle, e-safety

During the session, Lilian taught participants how to create instant mp3s and podcasts using mobile phones.

The VLE Forum took place at City College Norwich on November 12th. Andy Black, Technology Research Manager at Becta and long standing member of the RSC Eastern Advisory group, took a look over the technological horizon and challenged us to think about key issues. He demonstrated a selection of new technologies, and the opportunities for enhancing  learning.

Chris Boon, Chair of the forum, gave a presentation on the major upgrade to Blackboard 9.1 at City College Norwich. The process involved systematic research, consultation, design, implementation and testing. Chris gave an insight into how the technical and non-technical change management aspects were managed, key lessons learnt and the resulting benefits for staff and learners. Delegates discussed strategies for making VLEs truly interactive and encouraged sharing of resources, tips, techniques and expertise. Alicia McConnell, City College Norwich, led the discussion, illustrating how she is compiling and sharing case studies to illustrate creative, innovative practice.  This forum was streamed live over the web and into Second Life, pictured above.


Staff News RSC Eastern would like to introduce Ryan Bradshaw, who has taken up the position of Information Officer. Ryan completed university in 2001 and went on to gain an NCTJ Diploma in Newspaper Journalism. After working as a Junior Reporter at two local Essex newspapers he freelanced at the New Musical Express. From 2003, he joined architectural publication, FX Magazine, before spending more than three years as Assistant Editor and Production Editor at medical title Optometry Today. He spent a year backpacking around the globe before joining RSC Eastern in September. He said: “I have been thoroughly enjoying my time with RSC Eastern, and have certainly been welcomed by my colleagues, and the wider community in the Eastern region. “I am looking forward to meeting more providers, as well as writing more case studies.” • There's another new addition to the RSC Eastern family. Congratulations to RSC Eastern e-Learning Advisor (WBL), Kate Gregory who gave birth to her first child, Sophia Gregory-Armstrong on November 5th at 8.06pm. Our best wishes go out to Kate and her family.

For more news...

To receive a pdf version of Newsbytes or to subscribe to our fortnightly eBytes newsletter email: r.bradshaw@rsc-eastern.ac.uk

Equality Act 2010 comes into force In April the UK Government passed the Equality Act 2010. This new legislation came into force in higher and further education from October 2010. Within the act there is a requirement to take a proactive approach to shaping institutional processes and the promotion of equality, so merely avoiding discrimination is no longer an option. Under the requirements of the Disability Equality Duty (DED) public bodies such as universities and colleges are required to produce either a dedicated Disability Equality Scheme (DES) or a broader Single Equality Scheme (SES) covering all strands of equality. As well as complying with the new legislation there are practical and economic benefits to adopting inclusive practices. JISC TechDis highlights the use of technology to remove barriers to learning and promotes inclusive practices. Their resources enable colleges and other learning providers to minimise the barriers experienced by a range of learners and can bring significant benefits in terms of recruitment, retention and results. Some benefits include: • Where tutors put lecture/class notes online, the need for note-takers for disabled students is reduced. • Where libraries subscribe to accessible e-book platforms, the cost of scanning books for

disabled learners is slashed. • Where free and open source assistive technologies are used, more learners can have greater support with no licence cost. • The LSN MoleNet* projects reported a retention improvement of around 8 – 10%. To help learning providers comply with the Equality Act 2010, EduApps has introduced another free open source software tool in Create&Convert, which can take documents in common electronic formats (like MS Word, Open Office and scanned editable text) and turn them into ‘epubs’ or talking books. Through a series of video tutorials and a range of resources the tool is designed to take you through the various steps of creating an accessible document through to a talking book, an audio format or even Braille. Create&Convert is a tool that learning providers can use to support learners who are printimpaired or experience difficulties with reading and who prefer to access content in a flexible and multi-sensory format. It is free to download at http://www.eduapps. org • Equality Act 2010: http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ equality_act_2010.aspx • For JISC TechDis visit: http://www.jisctechdis.ac.uk/sed


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