Friday, 30 March 2007

More Therapy needed!

Just returned from a Steering group meeting for Complementary Therapy which took place at Staffs Uni. After the horrendous journey stuck in a huge queue of traffic, tutors and 'IT' representatives from each partner institution met to discuss the possibility of having access to the same system for accessing materials and communication.

I spoke about the recent meeting that Dave and I had with the Complementary Therapy students on the FD at Shrewsbury and one identified wish list item was the need for an area where they could communicate not only with the rest of the group when they are not in College but with students and tutors at the partner colleges who are delivering and experiencing the same course materials, problems and ways of helping each other.

It was identified that Newcastle, Cannock and Shrewsbury are using Moodle and Stoke using Learnwise. The problem could be resolved in a number of ways:
  1. Everyone has access to Blackboard to access the same materials and communication tools
  2. Use own institution VLE to upload course materials, and have access to Blackboard for communication with other colleges
  3. Choose one institution VLE for all to access
  4. Make use of the Portal being developed for the SURF Project

A number of valid thoughts were aired as to the pros and cons of the suggestions.

  1. Everyone needs to be clear of what will be on the Blackboard system, how to use it and make sure that everyone has a login to the system.
  2. Own institution VLE use is fine, and this could happen quickly, but why a need to replicate materials in different ways?
  3. Easy to set up, but who decides on which to use and why!
  4. Portal would be great to address all the issues, but will not be ready in the short-term for the exisiting students on the course Now!

The result of the meeting was to try and use Blackboard for all course materials to uploaded and a communication area for all to use. The next meeting will have somebody from Staffs Uni to give a introduction to Blackboard and how to use the system.

Friday, 23 March 2007

Anyone for Therapy?

On Wednesday this week Richard and I met with the students taking the Complementary Therapies Foundation Degree. We gave an outline of the project and had an informal discussion based around the questions we wanted to ask them. We then went to our LRC and the students used an online feedback form in Moodle to give us their responses.

During the informal bit we got the overall impression that the students could have done with much more information in advance of the course, especially information about what a Foundation Degree actually was and the the structure of the course they were about to embark on. It was also obvious from their replies that they would appreciate an online facility to communicate with their fellow students and those sitting the FD at other colleges. Right now this course does not use or Moodle VLE but we are taking steps to address this. This will deal quickly with online access to course materials and to communication tools for use within their course. However it won't deal with communication with students elsewhere unless we invite them onto our VLE. Either they need a Blackboard facility or of course they need the outputs from the project. I think it's touch and go as to which one comes first! (said slightly tongue in cheek).

The detailed feedback is available to the project team in our shared files area.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Marketing the Foundation Degrees

I attended a meeting on Monday 19th March to discuss how the College could market the 'Creative Arts' foundation degree. Members of the Marketing team, the tutor for the course and the Head of Art met to discuss how we could take this forward.

We spoke about the possiblility of setting up a Moodle course to showcase examples of work from the foundation degree course with useful information for prospective students. A page on the College website could be developed to advertise and promote the Moodle course to give as much awareness as possible.

I am in the process of setting up the new course and working with the tutor (Hugh Sanders) on the Creative Arts FD to add the content. One good suggestion was to include good quality images from the students work and communication items so that the prospective students can communicate with the staff and current students on the course.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Tutor Scenarios and Learner Feedback

Great day on WBL-Way!

Richard and I used the staff interview responses to produce 4 tutor scenarios for using the portal. Interestingly the main theme appeared to be communications, either messaging or discussion forums. Does this tell us something about the way in which staff at the colleges might use the portal?

We also finished preparing for a learner feedback session next Wednesday. We are meeting with the students on the Complementary Therapies FD to explain the project, engage them in informal discussion, and then encourage them to give us their feedback and suggestions via an online questionnaire which we have built in Moodle.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Scoping meeting: Feedback to 'The Management'

After the very productive Project meeting on Thursday 15th March, I met with the Management at the College (Abi Smith and Len Tildsley) to feedback the outcomes of the meeting and talk over the proposed development of the portal.

They were very impressed with the progress from the meeting and that the Management answers to the scoping questionnaire was useful to the project group.

Next step for Shrewsbury is to work on and complete the scenarios from a tutor's perspective 'What would you like to see on the screen when you login to the portal?' The scenarios will be derived from the interviews and discussions with the tutors working on and delivering the Foundation Degrees at Shrewsbury College.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Project Meeting: Scoping discussion

Finally made it to the Project Meeting in Stafford (althought 15 minutes late), after long delays on the road! Saw two crashes on the way!

The meeting was very productive as we discussion the scoping for the portal and what is should contain and why. The document that Mike, Dave and myself put together after our initial scoping meeting was very useful in answering some of the questions and the functionality of the portal.

We identified the Stakeholders and what should be seen by specific parties. The result of the meeting gave Sam much information in order to progress with the initial design views of the portal front end and the process needed for each stage of the development.

Action for all partner colleges is to produce three scenarios based on a tutor's perspective:

'What would you like to see pop up on the screen in the portal?'

These will be fed back via the Google Groups area for all to look at and discuss in advance of the next project meeting.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Scoping Questions for Management

Met with the Director of Information and Planning and Head of Learning Services to go through the scoping questions aimed at Management at Shrewsbury College to gain information regarding FD's and some of the important issues.

I gained some good responses with the problems identified that need to be resolved in order to make WBL work on Foundation Degrees, their development and the question of employer involvement.

The results of this meeting will be feed back at the next project meeting to take place on Thursday 8th March.