The Jisc Next Generation Digital Learning Environments Report

In the last academic year Jisc initiated a discussion on the next generation of Digital Learning Environments (I posted a response at the time). I have found the contributions to this discussion fascinating, and I was delighted to be invited to make a contribution to the report by Lawrie Phipps, Rob Allen and Dave Hartland, which was recently launched at Digifest 18.

The report also includes some very excellent thoughts from an estimable group of learning technologists and academics, alongside whom it is a privilege to be able to spout my ramblings. The report itself is organised around seven themes – one of which is, pleasingly, titled ‘From Institutional to Individual’ and discusses the shift in control this entails. Another theme is on ‘Self Starter and Individual Approaches’ (‘Embracing the Chaos’).

Anyway, go forth and read it for yourself!

Being a Learning Technologist

Having – and communicating – a clear idea of what a learning technologist does is important: for the academics who do, or might, work with us; for the project leads who might want to hire someone to ‘do elearning’ whatever that may mean; for those overseeing for professional development. It’s especially important and exciting now the role is being formally reviewed here at Cardiff. Continue reading “Being a Learning Technologist”

Learners and Teachers

Writing about my reasons for learning Welsh recently, one I set aside was “to be a student” because I wanted a bit more space to pick it over. As teachers and educators I have no doubt that it’s necessary for us to be learning all of the time, in all sorts of ways. But I think there’s also value in being playing the rôle of student in a formal learning scenario to remember how that feels.

When I was teaching 22 hours of classes a week, I used to think “I wish I was a student again” because I thought the experience of being a teacher had showed me exactly how I could improve. All these 16 and 17 year olds were making elementary mistakes that I recognised, because I’d made them myself when I was 16 and 17. These kids put huge amounts of effort into justifying doing the minimum they could, or less, if they put the same kind of effort into learning I believed they could achieve a great deal. When I saw a way of taking a year to become a full time student, and study a masters, I seized it. I thought I could be a great student… Continue reading “Learners and Teachers”

Reflections on the ELESIG Gwella Meeting

After the funding for the Gwella project finished last year, @chris_hall of Swansea and @djalewis of Glamorgan proposed that we form a group on ELESIG’s Ning and apply for one of their small grants to fund a couple of meetings; the first of these was today.

The format chosen was a hybrid: we met at three locations (Glamorgan, Swansea and Aberystwyth) linked by the Welsh Video Network.  I was not sure how well this would work, but I was delighted to find it an excellent arrangement.  We began the day with an introduction over the video link then broke into our geographical groups for discussion, dropping our feedback into a Google Doc where we could see (live) what the other groups were discussing.  We followed this pattern of video link / breakout group discussions though the day, and it was very much like having the breakout groups we would have not doubt had were we all at a face to face event.  Our group at Glamorgan comprised 7 of us from a range of institutions, which worked very well. Continue reading “Reflections on the ELESIG Gwella Meeting”

Who Selects the VLE to Use?

A couple of days ago I questioned how a big institutional platform like the virtual learning environment (VLE) might be used to drive change. Implicit in this was the assumption that the VLE is an institutional tool, chosen collectively, in contrast to learners each selecting their own tools within their personal learning environment (PLE). Continue reading “Who Selects the VLE to Use?”

For Change’s Sake

“Not another new system to learn?”  Learning to use a new piece of software is often seen as a time consuming, de-motivating overhead and yet with upgrades, improvements and  new opportunities migration is often forced on us whether we like it or not. Institutions faced with a new set of technical demands as well as training requirements are very careful about even minor upgrades to essential software like email or the office suit.  Yet adaptability is probably a skill we all ought to acquire… and perhaps other good can come of such enforced change? Continue reading “For Change’s Sake”

Blackboard CourseSites, the VLE and the Cloud

Yesterday Blackboard launched CourseSites, a web-service based on their Blackboard Learn platform where teachers can create their own courses and invite their students to enrol.  For anyone who works at an educational institution which has the latest version of Blackboard as its virtual learning environment (VLE) it will look very familiar, but making a comparison between the same platform hosted institutionally and in the cloud is quite revealing. Continue reading “Blackboard CourseSites, the VLE and the Cloud”