RSCl8trs marks the end of RSC London at ULCC

Delegates at Jisc RSC London goodbye reception

Delegates at Jisc RSC London goodbye reception. Click for more images.

Today the Jisc RSC London held its last event to mark the end of our activities from the University of London Computer Centre (ULCC) our host institution for over a decade.

I was grateful to all those who could spare this last time to be there with us.

I thought it right to focus on celebrating our achievements so that the members of our team will end this journey feeling proud of the work they have done, whether they continue working with Jisc or chose to do something else.

I know that because of the work of the RSCs the sector is better placed to deliver on their ambition for technology. This has been backed up by customer responses to our work and by the very many independent verifications of our service over the years.

Over the last 14 years, we have played a pivotal role in helping the sector make sense of the multitude of government policies, strategies and initiatives related to technology.

We expedited the spread of solutions found from within the sector to help achieve balanced progress. At the RSC London, we have always been concerned with each and every single provider, from those with limited resources to the high flying ones. Our role has been to champion them all.

We found creative solutions for challenges and allowed ourselves to go above and beyond our remit to promote the use of technology in the sector. While providing vision through innovation, we also focused on helping you achieve your most immediate objectives.

You asked us to,

  • sit in on your ILT strategy groups
  • mediate meetings with suppliers to ensure you always got the best deal possible
  • visit you regularly to discuss your needs and plans
  • review your digital technology plans and deployment.

Most recently, we organised popup forums across London to show to organisations with limited resources how to use affordable solutions available to you.

  • we connected with your staff, through targeted webinars to reach the HE in FE community and offer ESOL practitioners a chance to join our online events.
  • we stimulated independent learning providers to embrace collaboration as a way of accelerating their digital capacity.
  • we provided over 300 events targeting over 8,000 staff at all levels and roles, particularly those with responsibility for quality, IT, staff development, library, e-learning services, curriculum, and their leaders.

The list goes on, but the last achievement I’d like to mention is the transformation I have seen in the staff across London working with technology, including their leaders.

While five or six years ago we had to search high and low for presenters at our events, in recent years I have seen how much more confident staff, both in teaching and supporting roles, feel to showcase how they are using technology.

An obvious thing to say is that the future of technology is going to be much bigger. I have no doubt in London a big part of it will be due to the seeds the RSC team have planted.

Please join me in thanking

  • our host institution for providing the necessary environment and conditions for us to deliver a great service year on year;
  • the members of our Advisory Group for the incredible support in verifying our plans and sticking with us in time of difficulties;
  • everyone else we have worked with in the region but who could not be hear today. I am grateful for their expressions of sympathy;
  • and finally the members of the Jisc RSC London team: Elisabetta, Shri, Max, Evan, Rosemary, Martin, Kav, Bernard and Julian who I can only describe as a vibrant team with the wellbeing of our sector at its heart.

Below are a few images and notes collected throughout the day.


Graciano de Santana Soares
Regional Manager, JISC RSC London
@graciano


Views from delegates collected on the day

Cardboard and Reflections

goodbye tweet

Here is my goodbye Tweet to the RSC

events

How many RSC events have you been to?

2015 challenge

A significant challenge for the sector in 2015 will be …

educational technology

What educational technology will be all be talking about next year?

rsc member

Describe an RSC team member in one word

rsc event

You know when it is an RSC event when…

sharing

Over the years I have been able to share these things with the community:

most important

The most important thing for educational technologists to do right now is…

magic wand

If I had a magic wand I wish I were brilliant at…

 


Writing on the Wall

rscl8trs

Final Jisc RSC London event – writing on the wall activity

Some highlights

  • Learning new skills and taking part in training that you then put into practice and see it having an impact.
  • Getting your advice and guidance
  • e-Factor – the event of the year! Put lots of it into practice.
  • Like minded networking. Every moment when IT and curriculum come together to do great things with learners
  • We shared, you shared= we had fantastic support and ideas thanks!
  • Learning and sharing. Good people who kept edutech visionary, relevant and fun
  • Bringing colleagues from across the sector to share ideas, best practice and new technologies all with the same aim of providing the best service for learners. Thank you RSC London and best wishes for the future.
  • Sharing good practice for example on e-learning strategies
  • Excellent support. A genuine loss and will be missed greatly 😦
  • A wonderful platform to share and present. What will we do without you?

What next?

  • Taking the digital divide out of the digital by default
  • Making the 10% happen
  • Blending and flipping
  • Rolling out content standard
  • %online delivery
  • Getting staff to improve e-learning and content
  • Getting learners to create
  • Google classroom?

Jisc RSC London at the launch of Barking & Dagenham College’s STEM Centre

flower arrangement

Flower arrangement created by a student specially for the opening

Jisc RSC London attended the opening of Barking & Dagenham College’s new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Centre on 24th October 2013. The opening marked a key milestone in the college’s successful journey. As Cathy Walsh, Principal and Chief Executive Officer pointed out, “it is from places like this that the future workforce and future entrepreneurs will come”.

The ceremony was opened by two students who highlighted the importance of the new centre and the college’s focus on developing the right skills to help learners create their own businesses and enter the job market.

Guest speaker Carol Vorderman MBE, former Channel4 Countdown co-host, highlighted the strong role for women in science and praised the staff at the college for the quality work on display. Some of which was captured by the Jisc RSC London throughout the evening – see videos below.

Other speakers on the night were David Wilson, Deputy Director for Enterprise Policy and Strategy from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and John Biggs, London Assembly Member for City and East.

3D room in the STEM Centre

3D room in the STEM Centre of Barking & Dagenham College

Exemplar use of technology permeated the centre. There were 3D animations showing the composition of blood cells, forensic test kits and a live video link with North Hertfordshire College, the only other Gazelle STEM Centre in England. The centres launched simultaneously to commemorate their status as national leaders of the STEM agenda. A countdown-style animation created by George Lessis, a Level 3 student in Animation, was displayed at the launch.

Key to the college’s strategy is to offer learners opportunities to plan and develop their own businesses. The college’s entrance features a row of small outlets used by students from different subject areas who have successfully bid to lease the shops.


LDD Lecturer, Andrew Duffy shows how his students will be able to order materials online from the LDD source outlet at Barking & Dagenham College.


Marcia Mendoza, STEM Learning Coordinator talks about how the new centre will help prepare future scientists.


Students at the launch – proud and visionary


John Ewens, e-Learning Manager prepares to start the video link with North Hertfordshire College, a sister Gazelle College


Howard Jeffrey, Entrepreneurial Pod Manager talks about some of the new opportunities that the Pod creates for students to develop their own businesses.

The Jisc RSC London team wishes the very best of success to Cathy and her team.

New year, new challenges, new opportunities

Graciano Soares, JISC RSC Manager

Graciano Soares, JISC RSC Manager

The 2011-2012 academic year is already in full swing and I wanted to start by thanking all those who contributed to our regional priority survey and for your engagement with the JISC RSC London.

Last year, we helped colleagues in the region achieve things that meant a lot to them and their organisations – no matter how great or small. This year we intend to continue the good work to extend our reach. We will work harder and smarter to reach out to all of you.

I am grateful to all those who participated in and helped to deliver our e-Factor Showcase in June. It closed the year with a positive message of engagement and set the tone for this year’s work.

As you may know, under the leadership of JISC Advance, we are increasingly working together with all RSCs across the four nations to provide a service that is more standardised and to bring you relevant information and resources available from all parts of the UK. There are currently a number of UK-wide projects under development that will lead to efficiency and simplicity in the way you use your RSC. The aim is to provide you with increased access to our resources and advice and guidance. As a result, this year there will be a greater number of RSC activities available to you.

In response to funders’ demands, customer feedback and our revised remit, this year, we will be:

  • championing the exploitation of technology to encourage innovative learning
  • emphasising learner experience and staff development
  • driving culture change through supporting management and decision makers
  • making the case for quality infrastructure and technical support to drive efficiencies.

Of course, business processes, shared services, procurement, digital literacies, accessibility and inclusion, sustainability and e-safety continue to be priorities for all of us. We will be tackling these areas through our own planned activities but also through our increasing partnership work with LSIS, NIACE, LWBLA, AoC and the Higher Education Academy.

Stimulating a culture of technology uptake and innovation

Without a doubt, the FE and Skills, as well as the Higher Education sectors have come a long way with their access to and understanding of the benefits of technology. However, experience shows that practice has not changed enough, particularly at a time when funders and leaders are looking to technology to deliver efficiencies and effectiveness.

We want to engage with you to tackle any barriers. We want to help build a model that describes the effective technology-focused learning provider – a theme that we intend to return to for our e-Factor Showcase event on the 27th June 2012.

As always, we will be contacting all of you who are entitled to our support shortly. If you do not hear from us soon enough, please do get in touch to discuss how we can help.

For a full list of our offer this year, please refer to our website (www.rsc-london.ac.uk) or email admin@rsc-london.ac.uk.

With wishes for another successful year.


Graciano Soares
RSC London Manager
@graciano

Virtual Learning Environment – Tips for getting started

Following discussions at several RSC London VLE events I have collated the following tips on getting your VLE project going. Due to the predominance of Moodle this is Moodle centric but I hope the principles apply equally to any VLE system implementation.

  • Use VLE to deliver staff development e.g. Health & Safety, Equal Opportunities, Staff Induction, College Quality systems induction
  • Get SMT to direct all staff to attend VLE training – be prepared to repeat training for tutors as many times as needed
  • As well as providing staff with training also offer them ad hoc support through the year
  • Offer training in other applications that support Moodle e.g. Hot Potatoes, Turnitin, Ellumiate, Mahara
  • Put essential documents onto the VLE so that staff have to log in to access them, e.g. salary claim form, annual leave form, etc.
  • Get SMT to direct all staff to digitise their teaching materials
  • Get SMT to direct staff to put all schemes of work onto the VLE
  • Get a professional looking graphic design for the site with a well designed main page. e.g. Do not use a Moodle template.
  • Network with other learning providers to get good ideas and content, there are now around 60,000 registered Moodle sites in the world
  • Encourage staff to share – this is the idea behind open source software like Moodle
  • Provide test courses and test equipment for tutors to practice with
  • Provide technical assistance for tutors in their first few weeks of using e-learning and VLE based activities in class
  • Communicate a vision of what a VLE can do and what your organisation wants to get from your VLE project to all staff
  • Show how using a VLE can impact upon quality and curriculum development
  • Put effective use of learning technologies into lesson observation framework
  • Require level 2 ICT skills for all new staff appointments
  • Plan to bring existing staff ICT skills up to level 2 through staff appraisal system
  • 14 Course categories in Moodle aligned to the Ofsted inspection areas of learning
  • Arrange for MIS/VLE integration to reduce workload of user maintenance. Ideally with LDAP type single sign on
  • Require that staff make Moodle the only place to manage ILP’s
  • Some providers have decided that assignments will only be accepted through Moodle
  • Show staff what can be done once your VLE goes beyond the first phase and moves toward transforming learning by using e-assessment, e-portfolios, ILP’s, interactive exercises, rich media, etc.
  • Show VLE success
  • Use VLE to showcase student work
  • Show systems integration pathway for development of VLE and more advanced reporting and student tracking systems e.g. integrating attendance, punctuality, assignment submission, Additional Learner support, awarding body integration etc.

Further help and advice

Good luck with your VLE projects. If you are an SFA or HEFCE funded post 16 learning provider you are entitled to advice from your JISC Regional Support Centre – see here to find your local RSC Office.

If you are interested in Moodle 2 see my earlier post – Should your organisation move to Moodle 2.0 see  http://rsclondonnews.blog.ulcc.ac.uk/2011/02/18/should-your-organisation-move-to-moodle-2-0/

Forthcoming RSC London Events can be accessed via http://www.rsc-london.ac.uk/events/

A good way to share ideas and good practice among your peers in the post 16 education sector can be via various Jiscmail forums. Contact your local RSC for details of how to join in the debate.

For an overview of Jiscmail visit http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/about/whatisjiscmail.html

Martin Sepion is a Senior Adviser at the JISC Regional Support Centre London which is based at ULCC, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU e-mail m.sepion@rsc-london.ac.uk

Twitter @Martin_Sepion

Time to reflect on the JISC RSC London delivery

Graciano Soares, JISC RSC ManagerOver the Easter holidays, I thought it was a good time to look back on the past six months of service delivery by the JISC Regional Support Centre London team. Looking through our activity reports, I can’t help but think that the Region continues to enjoy access to an extremely effective service, while swimming the strong currents of changes affecting our sector.

In our delivery plan for 2010-11 we identified a few areas that were key to our learning providers while reflecting national priorities. This was in the context of reduced budgets and the need to adjust to new funding mechanisms, particularly in the work-based learning sector.

***

For the past three years, our London Learning Portal project has been looking at how work-based learning providers can benefit from collaborating on a single Moodle installation hosted by ULCC. This innovative project capitalises on the benefits of shared services. It has had a few ups and downs but we continue to believe in its potential to help the WBL sector collaborate better in the future. The lessons learned will inform future developments.

Still on our support to WBL, colleagues from London, South East and Eastern came together to network and interact with keen presenters who talked about the potential of effective use of technology in the sector. The post-event report is worth reading.

***

When JANET UK announced modifications to its services back in November, working together with RSC South East and RSC Eastern, the JISC RSC London was quick to offer concerned providers a round table discussion to air out their views and clarify the implications of the changes. Delegates felt that most of their concerns were appeased by the open debate.

***

London Learning and Skills Professional Development Managers have been interacting with colleagues to find common solutions to issues they face in their jobs at our LLSPD Forum, strengthened by the presence of representatives from partner agencies, including LSIS and the Centre for Excellence in Teacher Training.

***

Aware as we were of the need of leaders and managers, we wanted to offer them opportunities to discuss and find solutions to the challenges they faced when procuring new technologies, strategizing about their learning platforms, reviewing the deployment of technology, producing their staff development strategies and helping them plan their next moves.

When we made a move to support senior and middle managers to help them make important decisions in relation to the use of technology, we developed our own e-Progress Review approach. EPR, as it is most commonly known, continues to play an important part in internal consultations and reviews, particularly when managers want to know how people feel about their technology deployment in order to develop a new strategy. The last six months, has seen an increased number of ACL providers taking up on EPR to great effect.

***

IT Managers from London learning providers met in December to focus on the issue of procuring ICT and identify ways of sharing intelligence about products and providers to help them all save money. This simple step generated an incredible amount of intelligence and confidence in the power of our network to help colleagues in the region make the best decisions. IT Managers have always supported the RSC London Techie Get-Together, one of the oldest forums of this nature. They have kept up their termly meetings this year. On the subject of IT support, Network Managers in all subscribed providers continue to benefit from our TRAP service. It provides weekly network traffic reports, highlighting service usage to help managers best allocate resources and redirect users to less busy times.

***

Our commitment to the use of technologies in teaching and learning continues. We have had a strong focus on accessibility so far. Xerte, a dynamic, open-source multimedia design tool that allows tutors and organisations to create and share resources, was an easy pick given its flexibility and JISC TechDis endorsement. The two workshops (Xerte Beginner’s Day and Xerte Online Toolkit for Advanced Users) were fully booked and attracted delegates from across the sectors. I would encourage everyone to read the reports. As a former teacher trainer myself, I am heartened by examples like this Xerte materials in action

***

A real challenge for us was when the department for Business, Innovation and Skills signaled the end of funding to Sixth Form Colleges given their reallocation to the Department for Education. Together with JANET UK and JISC Collections, JISC Advance worked quickly on behalf of the RSCs to convince the DfE that our services are good value for money. I saw the sector come together as one to stress the importance of our services. We were successful in our bid, but there is no room for complacency. DfE made clear its intention to ensure Sixth Form Colleges get the best service for their money and compare it to the services available to the Schools sector.

***

Our communications strategy has also delivered timely information to the community, helping colleagues make sense of the plethora of information and signposting them to important local and national news, as well as our events. The use of our e-bulletin and mailing lists has been instrumental in this respect. It’s also great to see the number of followers in our @rsclondon twitter increasing.

***

The JISC RSC London has also been busy raising awareness of the sector to some key JISC Services, programmes and resources, including the Business and Community Engagement, e-Books for FE, and more.

Once Easter is over, we speed up preparations for two major activities: the RSC London e-Factor Showcase and our steering group meeting. Very soon, we will also start planning our next year’s delivery plan and we would like to give you an opportunity to input into this process. Feel free to tell us about your priorities in relation to technology for the coming year.

***

If you want to discuss any issues raised in this post, please email g.soares@rsc-london.ac.uk.


Graciano Soares
RSC London Manager
@graciano

 

Should your organisation move to Moodle 2.0?

Martin

Martin Sepion

There are many different Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) that education providers use. The most common, from a recent survey targeting the post 16 education sector in London, is Moodle.  This appears to be increasing with many non Moodle users thinking about moving or actually in the process of migrating to Moodle. JISC Regional Support Centres (RSCs) do not prescribe any particular solution as different systems suit different learning providers. However, due to the sheer number of providers using Moodle, I thought I would offer a few thoughts on the latest version of Moodle called Moodle 2.0. I am not going to cover the features or potential of the new version but consider some of the wider organisational issues that might be worth bearing in mind before taking the plunge.

Moodle is coming up to 12 years old and has evolved steadily during that time. The latest version, Moodle 2.0 was released in November 2010 and includes some major changes to both the features as well as changes to the underlying structure. These latter developments are intended to create a solid platform for future development.  Moodle 2.0 is able to offer users a better interface using features such as ‘drag and drop’, it also includes much improved styling and design options intended to improve the ‘look and feel’ so important to users. However, there are many other new features. Users can create and customise their own page, cohorts of learners can be created independently of course groupings, on-line resources can be embedded or linked seamlessly into Moodle, and there is the facility to create a learning activity where students peer review each other’s work. These, along with many other new features, I believe make moving to Moodle 2.0 very compelling. A very good overview of these new features can be accessed via the following link  Moodle 2 overview

What to consider before moving to Moodle 2.0

moodle2-logo

If you have a mature VLE in place you may have customisations, extensive use of plug-ins, interfaces with other systems, and considerable content. Your options are to start a fresh install of Moodle 2.0 and run this in parallel to your existing VLE. Another option is to migrate your content over and recreate the links and functionality of your existing system. How you do this depends on how you deliver your current system. Do you host internally or contract a hosting provider to deliver your VLE? If you host externally it may be worth discussing the migration options with your hosting provider. If your VLE project is in need of refreshing it might be a good idea to start afresh taking the lessons of past experience and configuring the system and steering the project accordingly. One of the key messages I give to college management teams is that they should see their VLE as a project rather than a purchase. A healthy VLE is one that evolves and develops as the college grows and improves the services it offers to its clients.
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