intouch - autumn 2010 - jisc rsc east midlands newsletter

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This edition's theme is centred around the fact that RSCs are celebrating their 10th Anniversary. We look back over the last decade and gaze into the future. Also included is: - Celebrating e-learning in the region - Regional Award winners - Secondments at the RSC - e-portfolio activity - 2010 e-fair round-up - Kathryn Robinson Plus all our regular features - Regional News, Best Practice in the UK, Resource Corner, Hints & Tips, Focus On: Accessibility, JISC news

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  • intouchthe termly newsletter produced by RSC East Midlands Autumn 2010 Volume 9: Issue 1

    Stimulating and supportinginnovation in learning

    Contents1 10 years of the RSCs2 Regional News2 Progress of technology

    in learning over the lastten years

    3 Future gazing4 Celebrating e-learning

    in the region4 Regional award winners5 Best practice in the UK5 Resource Corner

    6 Hints & Tips6 Secondments at the RSC6 e-portfolio activity7 Focus On: Accessibility7 JISC news8 Forthcoming Events8 2010 e-fair resources

    available8 Kathryn Robinson

    The current priority for providers must bethe economic environment. Initialarguments for technology in learning and fears of the staff often focused onits potential to reduce costs but morerecently have concentrated on improvingthe learner experience. RSC services thisyear will focus on enabling you to takeadvantage of developments that do both.

    In the East Midlands our other localsupport priorities for 2010-11 both growin significance in the recession: learnervoice and learning partnerships. Inaddition to its Ofsted importance,learner voice tells you much about theimpact of investment in technology; at atime of economic stringency there ismuch to be gained from working inpartnership with other providers.

    All RSCs are prioritising support forsafeguarding, inclusion and two areaswith considerable economic impact:sustainability and shared services.Nationally we are also working hard onsupport for business processes; supportfor procurement will be developed overthe year.

    It is as recently as 1997 that FurtherEducation Colleges began to beconnected to the internet through theJANET network with a 2 mbpsconnection for a whole college, which isslower than many home connections

    now (although not mine!). It soonbecame obvious that there is more togaining the benefits of technology thansimply providing the kit and so the RSCwas born, as one service available in all13 UK regions.

    Since then, the service has evolved - atfirst to curriculum, learning resourcesand staff development, then to strategicdevelopment and most recently to thewhole business of learning providers.

    The initial concentration on FE and SixthForm colleges spread to includespecialist colleges, non-university HigherEducation, Adult and CommunityLearning, Work Based Learning andOffender Learning.

    From August 1st, JISC has delegatedmanaging RSCs to JISC Advance, a not-forprofit company which also includes sevenof the key JISC services. The company willenable RSCs to work more consistentlyand efficiently across regions and benefitproviders through closer collaboration withthese key support services.

    Technology and life - is very differentnow to ten years ago. The ongoingRSC challenge is to provide thesupport you need in a continuallychanging environment.

    Chris Hill, Manager, RSC East Midlands

    RSCs celebrate 10 yearsHow has technology changed your life over the past ten years?The East Midlands RSC was set up in August 2000, so this yearis our tenth Anniversary and weve been looking back butalso forward.

  • 2Regional NewsFE Colleges to mergeThe Boards of Castle CollegeNottingham and South NottinghamCollege have voted in principle tomerge. The two colleges haveembarked on further and more detaileddiscussions which will include workingwith local stakeholders, such as thelocal authorities, and seeking approvalfrom the Skills Funding Agency.

    Regional Case StudiesSince the last edition of intouchseveral learning providers in theregion have had case studies of goode-practice published on the ExcellenceGateway website atwww.excellencegateway.org.uk.

    West Nottinghamshire College:Supporting mature visually impairedlearners

    Moulton College: Single sign-onmakes life easier for students

    South Nottingham College: Usingonline assessment

    Northampton College: LearnerVoice and Technology

    Leicestershire Adult LearningService: Making Informal AdultLearning work

    If you have any good e-practice thatyou wish to highlight then please getintouch with Kevin Spencer,Information Officer at the RSC, on01509 618112 or kevin.spencer@rsc-em.ac.uk.

    AppointmentsDawn Green and Helen Bramley, bothformerly of Portland College, are thenew Principal and Deputy Principalrespectively at Landmarks College inNorth Derbyshire.

    The last 10 years...

    Andrew Bailey Moulton College

    At the beginning of the decade therewas an emphasis on large-scaleprojects, based on significant fundingprogrammes, which looked at thingslike network infrastructure and virtuallearning environments. These wereimmensely valuable but in the last fewyears the emphasis has changed toensuring that the funding developssustainable routes of putting ILT intothe curriculum, as value for money hasbeen crucial. An example of this is theswitch from subscription-basedresources and software to open source.

    In the last ten years Id say that thecommunity of practice hasstrengthened. You never stop learningfrom colleagues around the region!

    Martin CookeRSC East Midlands

    Do you remember dial-up? Working asan online tutor in 2000 we were usingWeb Board for collaboration togetherwith internet course materials andemail. Working from home I was ondial-up, which was agonisingly slow. Iwould go online at off-peak times toavoid the premium rate telephonecharges, and of course whilst theinternet was connected you werentable to use the telephone! There wassome synchronous chat but most of thework was asynchronous and notsurprisingly retention on distancelearning was generally poor.

    Lynne KendallLinkage College

    The College has seen technologymove forward greatly in the last tenyears. From the days where ILT meant afew computers in a couple of rooms tosupport staff and students, to currentpractices where they exist in everyroom as well as many other gadgetsand gizmos that support the work ofstaff as well as providing fantasticresources to enable our students todevelop and learn new skills withinnovative technologies.

    Of course technology hasnt justchanged the way Linkage operates withstudent resources, the introduction ofcomputerised systems for recordingand tracking data has also taken a greatstep up within the last several years,with many of our systems now online,such as Databridge, our ManagementInformation System.

    Phil HardcastleRSC East Midlands

    Adult and Community Education wasjust starting out down the ILT road in2000. Most staff and managersregarded it as something difficult todeploy in services which were widelydispersed and which taught in a verytraditional manner. Ten years down theline most services have integrated theuse of ILT into their daily work, staffhave been trained, Moodles set up,equipment bought.

    There are still difficulties internet inremote rural sites is almost as bad as itever was, but on the other hand thechange in staff attitudes is remarkable.Staff now expect (even demand) ILTequipment and support.

    Toni LangridgeNottinghamshire Training Network Ltd

    Our general thoughts are that accessto the internet has been a significantimprovement to Work Based Learning.The internet has only really becomeaccessible to a wider audience over thelast ten years, and its now difficult forany of us to imagine working in anenvironment that doesnt have thiswealth of highly accessible informationin place.

    Additionally, the introduction ofwireless technologies and e-learningsystems available over the internet hasalso significantly improved efficiencyand convenience not only for trainingproviders but also for learners. Learnersare now able to access their trainingresources much more quickly and at atime more suitable for them.

    Chris HillRSC East Midlands

    In 2000 you didnt trust the technologycompletely. When preparing for ateaching session, you had to have a planB because you couldnt be sure the kitwould work. It would be a very bravesoul who relied on using the internetlive with learners without having screenshots in reserve on a disk I certainlydidnt have a USB drive.

    In the College where I worked, thenew target of one computer per full-time member of staff was nowhere nearmet and the Principal commandeeredthe laptop I should have had as ILTChampion.

    A handful of learning providers and RSC staff reflect on howthe use of technology has changed in the sector.

  • 10 years at theheart of the RSCFor the ten years that the RSC hasbeen in existence theres been oneperson right at the heart of it! Wetook a few moments to catch up withour Events & Admin Co-ordinator,Gwen Callaghan.

    On my first day at the RSC back inJuly 2000 I was presented with myown PC, and told to go and explorethe internet, but Id never been on itbefore, so it was a bit daunting!

    One of the first things we did was tohold a launch of the RSC. With only 3members of the staff at the time itwas quite a task. We ran it here atLoughborough College and we didexperience some problems as it wasthe time of the fuel strike and we hadpeople who couldnt get here!

    I spent more time out of the office inthe first year as I was on visits to helpexplain who the RSC was and what wecould do for our learning providers.

    As we started to put on our eventsand forums Ive spent more timebased in the office. Over the ten yearsId estimate that Ive helped co-ordinate over 400 events.

    One of my highlights was putting onour very first e-fair back in 2005. It wasa lot of hard work but really exciting,and despite a few hiccups before theday, it all ran fairly smoothly.

    On a personal level another successfor me was when I passed my AATaccounting qualification in 2004, whichreally helped me understand how theCollege finance department works!

    With the ability to instantly reel offthe names of all those whove workedat the RSC in the las