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SMT Focus Confronting Sector Challenges

Issue 3 – Winter 2010

key changes which include:

The current economic climate can make it difficult for learning providers to invest in Information and Learning Technology (ILT) This is particularly challenging for the work-based and adult and community learning sectors due to reductions in funding. We spoke to Maggie Fobister, Training Delivery Manager for Shropshire Council, about how the organisation is meeting the challenge. Maggie says, “The future is likely to be challenging as competition grows within our sector. Locally, large FE providers are better equipped to engage learners from an ILT perspective, yet our learners still expect the same levels of technology ie. a learning management system, fast and reliable internet access, interactive learning resources and reliable means of communication.” The Learning, Employment and Training Service within the Council has restructured in response to external funding reductions. The focus is now on the use of technology to enhance not just teaching and learning, but also to support business processes. Maggie adds, “Our ILT development strategy is under review to better reflect the changes in the organisation, in technological advances and in the wider educational environment. We anticipate that the revised strategy will help benefit the whole organization; for example, the implementation of a flexible business management system to streamline our processes. This approach fits in with the demand for cost-effective and value for money options.” At the operational level, the service has already introduced a number of

• An e-safety procedure which links to a safeguarding policy • Inventory of hardware, software and learning resources • IT training and development programme • E-Champions network to develop IT skills and promote innovation. Maggie says, “The benefits include safer, faster computer networks, increased staff engagement, and increased resources such as Interactive Whiteboards, Busbi camcorders and digital voice recorders. We are also using Skype (free software which allows users to make voice calls over the internet) for staff communication to reduce travel time.” As part of the ILT development strategy review, Maggie’s team called upon RSC West Midlands for advice and guidance. Maggie says, “The RSC helped us to assess what stage we were at with technology and how we wanted to progress. This was really important as the four individual parts of our service (including work-based and adult and community learning, family learning and health & social care) have different needs and were at different stages in adopting technology. The RSC introduced us to some really useful self-assessment tools such as Generator (developed by Becta) and the WBL Positioning Statement.” “Maggie comments, “The support we have had has been so useful. The RSC has helped us to identify innovative uses for existing resources. Workshops organised by the RSC have helped to develop our staff and provide excellent opportunities for networking. The RSC has also been invaluable for helping us share and access sources of best practice in e-learning.” Maggie and her team expect to continue using RSC services to help overcome the barriers to technology that her sector faces.

In this Issue

1. RSCs Join JISC Advance 2. Latest e-Learning Good Practice From Our Region 1. Confronting Sector - Regional Survey Results Challenges 3. RSC MeetImpact the RSC Team: 2. Report HE Co-ordinator - Evaluating the Impact of e-Learning - My StudyBar Saves Organisations £500,000 3. Getting the Most From Your Learning Spaces 4. Online Tutorials for Finding ImagesRefurbished and - Case Study: Videos LRCs Result in Increased Usage - A Guide to Screencasting 4. Contact Us 5. LSIS Introduce - Improve Your 3 Regional Rs DevelopmentRetention, Managers Recruitment, Results - Save Yourself Time Online: Feeds - JANETRSS Connectivity for Business 6. Gettingand theCommunity Most From Engagement Moodle - RSC Launches Networkin-a-Box 7. Apple iPad is a Hit with the RSC - iPad Alternatives 8. Forthcoming Events - Green Tips From the Team - Coming Soon - Online Delegate Packs

RSC Impact Report

Evaluating the Effectiveness of E-learning A progress review will normally take place 6 months and 12 months following the date of the report.

Have you registered with the Gateway?

The JISC RSCs are marking 10 years of support to the sector with the release of a new publication. ‘Regional focus: UK Impact’ outlines the impact that the RSCs have made on the sector. It features facts and figures, quotes from staff in RSC supported organizations and outlines how the RSCs have helped increase technology uptake, supported sector changes, and worked in partnership with JISC services. The publication includes examples of how the RSC’s have made a real difference. Derwen College in the West Midlands for example has, through the support of the RSC and other JISC Services, become an e-mature college which is seen as exemplary amongst the specialist college community for its innovative use of technology. The college has also achieved ‘Beacon’ and ‘Technology Exemplar’ status and was nominated in 2009 for a Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) Provider of the Year. The publication is available to download in two pdf formats – the original report and an accessible format. The original report is available at: For an accessible version, visit:


The Health Check has proved to be of real benefit for City College Birmingham, who used the service to help measure progress. Rob Jones, Head of Learning Technologies says: Your organisation has invested time and money in technology for teaching and learning, yet how do you assess the effectiveness of your investment? How can you evaluate the level of e-learning progress that has been made? Thanks to a free service from the RSC, you can find out exactly how well technology is working for your organisation. The E-learning Health Check has already benefited many providers from across our supported sectors. It is an independent, impartial review of the progress made by your organisation with the implementation of technology for teaching and learning. Carried out by members of the RSC, it has in some cases proved useful as a preinspection review and can: • Support senior staff in e-learning decision and policy making • Inform current and future staff development for e-learning • Assist in the development of programmes to deliver consistent e-learning progress • Support business process activity in improving learner motivation and staff experience with e-learning; support improved internal systems • Support the development of e-learning infrastructure and learning spaces. The Health Check highlights the main strengths, areas for development and key recommendations made by the RSC. The outcomes, in the form of a written report, are confidential and will not be shared outside the RSC or with other learning providers.

“Having recently had our second E-learning Health Check from the team at RSC West Midlands in just over 2 years and reflecting back on the process, I’m struck by the marked impact each individual visit produced.” “The first one, carried out in April 2008, allowed us to identify the areas that we felt needed work i.e. improving the student experience in the classroom. It resulted in the college writing an e-learning strategy that delivered real benefits ; increasing the level of ILT in the classroom coupled with an extensive teacher support programme.” “The second Health Check completed in June 2010 was used to give an external view of our progress in terms of infrastructure, student experience and learning resources which delivered a much needed confirmation that our strategy was working. It also identified key areas where we could develop further, resulting in improvements to the college’s Learning Resources Centre and some new projects that we have plans to pilot. So all in all, an experience which proved to be key in supporting progress and producing real results. And, best of all, this high quality service was provided for free.” If your organisation could benefit from an e-learning Health Check, contact Allen Crawford-Thomas by e-mail at:

Getting the Most from Your Existing Learning Spaces With budget cuts and fewer funding opportunities available, learning providers are looking for other ways to improve organisational efficiency, reduce costs and make use of existing resources and spaces. Learning Space Review is a new service from RSC West Midlands which helps learning providers to plan for refreshing and refurbishing existing learning spaces.

The Recently Refurbished LRC at the Sutton Campus, Birmingham Metropolitan College

Why have a learning space review?

Thoughts from a learning provider

The review is an ideal starting point in planning a refurbishment or re-organisation of a learning space and offers an outside, fresh perspective. Findings are informed by the experience of RSC staff, who have visited many of the region’s learning providers, as well as national guidelines from JISC and other organisations.

South Staffordshire College has already benefited from a review of its learning resource centre which proved to be very useful as Paul Richardson, LRC Manager explains:

What does learning space review cover? The review is designed to focus in detail on a single learning space, such as an IT suite, learning centre or library. The key aspects reported on include some of the following: • Learning space profile within the campus • Furniture, fixtures and fittings • Colour scheme, signage and displays • Accessibility • Equipment such as PC work stations, learning technologies etc. • Layout suggestions to maximise use of space, promote purposeful working atmosphere and efficient circulation of users • Reception facilities, staff facilities • Action plan for improvement – short and longer term suggestions How much does it cost? Learning Space Review is a free service, but there are a limited number of appointments available.

“We have used the review as a catalyst to start change and improvements in our LRC’s. Many of the suggestions that Matt made were already in our own minds. However, having someone from outside the LRC and the organisation confirm these was very helpful.” “We have already started to make some quick changes as described by the report. We are planning a programme of improvements for the next 12 months and beyond.” “We are changing the signage to a uniform style. and have already moved furniture to help with the layout. We are now in negotiation with estates to look at fresh paint and to improve signage pointing to the LRC’s.” “We found this so useful that we would like Matt to come back and look at our other campuses and report on those too.” How can I find out more? If you would like a review of a learning space in your organisation, please contact Matt Gallon by e-mail at:

Case Study: Refurbished LRCs Result in Increased Usage

eLearning g Health checks – Reflections on their impact at City College Birmingham. Birmingham Metropolitan College “Having recently our has recently achieved costhad savings second eLearning g Health by refurbishing and re-purposing Check Learning from the Resources team at RSC its existing West Midlands in jjust over 2 Centres. years and reflecting back on the I’m struck by the To bringprocess, the Learning Resource marked eachColdfi individual Centres at impact the Sutton eld visit produced. and James Watt campuses in line with the modern Matthew Boulton The firstthe one carriedcarried out in out April campus, college to identifyy the two2008 costallowed effectiveusrefurbishments. areas that we felt needed work It was anticpated that this would in improving Student give i.e. students a more the consistent experience in the classroom experience, and encourage more resulted in the college use of and the LRCs. writing g an e-Learning g strategy gy delivered real benefits byy Thethat refurbishment project increasing the level ILT in included repositioning theofLRC classroom coupled at thethe Sutton Coldfield, new with an extensive teacher support furniture and more PCs which program. transformed the LRC and gave it a new build feel. At the James The second health check Watt campus, a smaller-scale completed in June refurbishment took place2010 at awas used an external view lower costtobygive utilising furniture on our progress g in terms and equipment from the now of infrastructure, student closed Josiah Mason campus. experience andthe learning As a result, the LRC has resources andfeel delivered much same look and as the aother needed confi rmation that our campuses at a fraction of the cost. strategy gy was working. g It also identifi ed keyy areas where we Since the refurbishments, could resulting there hasdevelop been anfurther increase in in improvements to the college’s the number of resource and Learning use of PCs. Resources There has Centre also and someimprovements new projects that we have been in student plans to pilot. So all in all an behaviour. experience which proved to be key in Owens, supporting progress and Martine Associate producing real results. And, said, best Director ofg Student Services of all, – this high g quality service “The refurbishments canyonly was provided for free.” have a positive impact. The more students we get in and the more Robthey Jones, Head of Learning respect have for their new Technologies environment, the better their work Cityultimately, College Birmingham will be and this will result in better achievement. Its amazing what you can do with the existing space...and with a limited budget!” To read the full case study visit 3

Contact us Manager Greg Vivash

Improving Your 3 Rs - Recruitment, Retention, Results It aims to protect individuals from unfair treatment and support the development of a more equal society.

E-learning Advisers Christa Appleton (HE Coordinator)

Organisations now have a duty to take a proactive approach to shaping institutional processes and the promotion of equality, so merely avoiding discrimination is no longer an option.

Jason Curtis (Learning Technologies) Jane Edwards (Adult & Community Learning) Matt Gallon (Learning Resources) Colleen Romero (Technical Infrastructure) Allen Crawford-Thomas (Teaching and learning) a.crawford-thomas@rsc-wm. Theresa Welch (Work-Based Learning) Alison Wootton (Staff Development and Accessibility & Inclusion) Information Officer Kirsty Hill Events Co-ordinator Lea Smith Administrator Jan Farmer

JISC RSC West Midlands Technology Centre Wolverhampton Science Park Glaisher Drive Wolverhampton WV10 9RU Tel: 01902 518982 E-mail: Web:


JISC TechDis has recently launched a new publication, ‘Improve Your 3 Rs (Retention, Recruitment, Results)’ which provides advice to learning providers on how to comply with the Equality Act 2010’s new legislation. The Act, which came into force in Further and Higher Education in October 2010, brings together the legislation of recent years in a simplified and strengthened form.

However, in addition to offering advice on complying with the new Act, the publication also outlines real practical and economic benefits to adopting inclusive practices. It provides a useful starting point and gives details of the JISC TechDis Online Accessibility Self Evaluation Service (OASES) – a free tool which managers can access to reflect on current practice via an online survey. The publication also features steps to take towards accessibility maturity, and includes other sources of help and support. To access a copy of the publication visit

JANET Connectivity for Business and Community Engagement JANET(UK) aims to simplify connectivity for business and community engagement. JANET(UK) has put forward a proposal that will enable colleges to make more effective use of their existing JANET connection. The proposal centres around two key principles: • that a university or college’s business and community engagement activities are no different in principle to its teaching and research activities; and therefore

• it should be able to use its JANET connection(s) in pursuit of business and community engagement in exactly the same way as it uses JANET in its teaching and research missions. Further information is available at:

JISC RSC West Midlands SMT Focus  

A newsletter for senior managers working in post-16 learning and skills sector learning providers with an interest in e-learning.

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