JISC RSC West Midlands SMT Focus

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


<ul><li><p>Confronting Sector Challenges</p><p>1. RSCs Join JISC Advance2. Latest e-Learning Good Practice From Our Region - Regional Survey Results3. Meet the RSC Team:HE Co-ordinator - My StudyBar Saves Organisations 500,0004. Online Tutorials for Finding Images and Videos - A Guide to Screencasting5. LSIS Introduce Regional Development Managers - Save Yourself Time Online: RSS Feeds6. Getting the Most From Moodle - RSC Launches Network-in-a-Box7. Apple iPad is a Hit with the RSC - iPad Alternatives8. Forthcoming Events - Green Tips From the Team - Coming Soon - Online Delegate Packs</p><p>The current economic climate can make it diffi cult 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.</p><p>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.</p><p>Maggie adds, Our ILT development strategy is under review to better refl ect the changes in the organisation, in technological advances and in the wider educational environment. We anticipate that the revised strategy will help benefi t the whole organization; for example, the implementation of a fl exible business management system to streamline our processes.This approach fi ts in with the demand for cost-effective and value for money options. </p><p>At the operational level, the service has already introduced a number of </p><p>key changes which include:</p><p> 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.</p><p>Maggie says, The benefi ts 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.</p><p>As part of the ILT development strategy review, Maggies team called upon RSC West Midlands for advice and guidance.</p><p>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 &amp; 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.</p><p>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.</p><p>Maggie and her team expect to continue using RSC services to help overcome the barriers to technology that her sector faces.</p><p> SMT Focus Issue 3 Winter</p><p>2010</p><p>In this Issue</p><p>1. Confronting Sector Challenges2. RSC Impact Report - Evaluating the Impact of e-Learning3. Getting the Most From Your Learning Spaces - Case Study: Refurbished LRCs Result in Increased Usage4. Contact Us - Improve Your 3 Rs - Recruitment, Retention, Results - JANET Connectivity for Business and Community Engagement</p></li><li><p>Have you registered with the Gateway?</p><p>Evaluating the Effectiveness of E-learning</p><p>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 fi nd out exactly how well technology is working for your organisation.</p><p>The E-learning Health Check has already benefi ted 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 pre-inspection review and can:</p><p> 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.</p><p>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 confi dential and will not be shared outside the RSC or with other learning providers.</p><p>A progress review will normally take place 6 months and 12 months following the date of the report. </p><p>The Health Check has proved to be of real benefi t for City College Birmingham, who used the service to help measure progress. Rob Jones, Head of Learning Technologies says:</p><p>Having recently had our second E-learning Health Check from the team at RSC West Midlands in just over 2 years and refl ecting back on the process, Im struck by the marked impact each individual visit produced. </p><p>The fi rst 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 benefi ts ; increasing the level of ILT in the classroom coupled with an extensive teacher support programme.</p><p>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 confi rmation that our strategy was working. It also identifi ed key areas where we could develop further, resulting in improvements to the colleges 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.</p><p>If your organisation could benefi t from an e-learning Health Check, contact Allen Crawford-Thomas by e-mail at: a.crawford-thomas@rsc-wm.ac.uk</p><p>The JISC RSCs are marking 10 years of support to the sector with the release of a new publication.</p><p>Regional focus: UK Impact outlines the impact that the RSCs have made on the sector. It features facts and fi gures, 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.</p><p>The publication includes examples of how the RSCs 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.</p><p>The publication is available to download in two pdf formats the original report and an accessible format. </p><p>The original report is available at: http://qurl.com/t4pv3</p><p>For an accessible version, visit: http://qurl.com/tnhsl</p><p>RSC Impact Report</p><p>2</p></li><li><p>eLearning Health checks Refl ections on their impact at </p><p>City College Birmingham.</p><p>Having recently had our second eLearning Health </p><p>Check from the team at RSC West Midlands in just over 2 years and refl ecting back on </p><p>the process, Im struck by the marked impact each individual </p><p>visit produced. </p><p>The fi rst one carried out in April 2008 allowed us to identify the areas that we felt needed work </p><p>i.e. in improving the Student experience in the classroom </p><p>and resulted in the college writing an e-Learning strategy that delivered real benefi ts by </p><p>increasing the level of ILT in the classroom coupled with </p><p>an extensive teacher support program.</p><p>The second health check completed in June 2010 was </p><p>used to give an external view on our progress in terms of infrastructure, student experience and learning </p><p>resources and delivered a much needed confi rmation that our </p><p>strategy was working. It also identifi ed key areas where we </p><p>could develop further resulting in improvements to the colleges </p><p>Learning Resources Centre and some new projects that we have </p><p>plans to pilot. So all in all an experience which proved to be key in supporting progress and </p><p>producing real results. And, best of all, this high quality service </p><p>was provided for free.</p><p>Rob Jones, Head of Learning Technologies</p><p>City College Birmingham</p><p>eLearning Health checks Refl ections on their impact at</p><p>g</p><p>City College Birmingham.</p><p>Having recently had oursecond eLearning Health</p><p>Check from the team at RSCg</p><p>West Midlands in just over 2years and refl ecting back on</p><p>j</p><p>the process, Im struck by themarked impact each individual</p><p>visit produced.</p><p>The fi rst one carried out in April2008 allowed us to identify theareas that we felt needed work</p><p>yy</p><p>i.e. in improving the Studentexperience in the classroom</p><p>and resulted in the collegewriting an e-Learning strategythat delivered real benefi ts by</p><p>g g gy</p><p>increasing the level of ILT iny</p><p>the classroom coupled withan extensive teacher support</p><p>program.</p><p>The second health checkcompleted in June 2010 was</p><p>used to give an external viewon our progress in termsof infrastructure, student</p><p>gg</p><p>experience and learningresources and delivered a much</p><p>needed confi rmation that ourstrategy was working. It also</p><p>identifi ed key areas where wegy g</p><p>could develop further resulting yy</p><p>in improvements to the collegesLearning Resources Centre and</p><p>some new projects that we haveplans to pilot. So all in all an</p><p>experience which proved to bekey in supporting progress and</p><p>producing real results. And, bestof all, this high quality service</p><p>g</p><p>was provided for free.g yy</p><p>Rob Jones, Head of LearningTechnologies</p><p>City College Birmingham</p><p>Getting the Most from Your Existing Learning Spaces</p><p>With budget cuts and fewer funding opportunities available, learning providers are looking for other ways to improve organisational effi ciency, reduce costs and make use of existing resources and spaces.</p><p>Learning Space Review is a new service from RSC West Midlands which helps learning providers to plan for refreshing and refurbishing existing learning spaces. </p><p>Why have a learning space review?</p><p>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 regions learning providers, as well as national guidelines from JISC and other organisations. </p><p>What does learning space review cover?</p><p>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:</p><p> Learning space profi le within the campus Furniture, fi xtures and fi ttings 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 effi cient circulation of users Reception facilities, staff facilities Action plan for improvement short and longer term suggestions</p><p>How much does it cost?</p><p>Learning Space Review is a free service, but there are a limited number of appointments available. </p><p>Thoughts from a learning provider</p><p>South Staffordshire College has already benefi ted from a review of its learning resource centre which proved to be very useful as Paul Richardson, LRC Manager explains: </p><p>We have used the review as a catalyst to start change and improvements in our LRCs. Many of the suggestions that Matt made were already in our own minds. However, having someone from outside the LRC and the organisation confi rm these was very helpful.</p><p>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.</p><p>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 LRCs.</p><p>We found this so useful that we would like Matt to come back and look at our other campuses and report on those too.</p><p>How can I fi nd out more?</p><p>If you would like a review of a learning space in your organisation, please contact Matt Gallon by e-mail at: m.gallon@rsc-wm.ac.uk</p><p>The Recently Refurbished LRC at the Sutton Campus, Birmingham Metropolitan </p><p>College</p><p>Birmingham Metropolitan College has recently achieved cost savings by refurbishing and re-purposing its existing Learning Resources Centres.</p><p>To bring the Learning Resource Centres at the Sutton Coldfi eld and James Watt campuses in line with the modern Matthew Boulton campus, the college carried out two cost effective refurbishments. It was anticpated that this would give students a more consistent experience, and encourage more use of the LRCs.</p><p>The refurbishment project included repositioning the LRC at the Sutton Coldfi eld, new furniture and more PCs which transformed the LRC and gave it a new build feel. At the James Watt campus, a smaller-scale refurbishment took place at a lower cost by utilising furniture and equipment from the now closed Josiah Mason campus. As a result, the LRC has the same look and feel as the other campuses at a fraction of the cost.</p><p>Since the refurbishments, there has been an increase in the number of resource and use of PCs. There has also been improvements in student behaviour.</p><p>Martine Owens, Associate Director of Student Services said, The refurbishments can only have a positive impact. The more students we get in and the more respect they have for their new environment, the better their work will be and ultimately, this will result in better achievement. Its amazing what you can do with the existing spa...</p></li></ul>