rsc east midlands newsletter "intouch" - spring 2004

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The JISC Regional Support Centre (RSC) for the East Midlands produces a termly newsletter "intouch" that highlights current practice in e-learning/ILT in the region.

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  • Spring 2004 Volume 2 Issue 2

    the termly newsletter produced by RSC East Midlands

    Welcomefrom the Editor

    In the last newsletter I mentioned that the remit of the RSC had expanded to

    include support for specialist colleges and some aspects of higher education. Since

    then, our remit has been extended further and we are now also supporting the

    Adult and Community Learning Sector (see the article beneath for further details).

    To help us maintain effective support for all sectors for which we are now responsible, we will shortly

    be joined by two new members of staff. In addition Chris Bell, our e-Information Officer will be taking

    on the role of Specialist College Advisor.

    There are interesting and increasingly busy times ahead for us here at the RSC, as we venture into sectors

    new, but I would like to assure all our customers, old and new, of our continued commitment and support.

    Judi Millage, ILT Advisor

    Derby College sprang into existence in 2002following the merger of three local colleges.Although sprang might be an inappropriateepithet for such a traumatic upheaval. We arefortunate to have an enlightened seniormanagement team that felt that it was importantat this time to create a dedicated team addressingILT issues. In our case this involves every activityrelating to ILT, ranging across staff development,curriculum support, VLE administration andmaterials development as well as collegeadministrative systems development. We have ateam of 5 staff and are supported by a dedicatedband of 15 ILT champions seconded for a fewhours a week from their normal duties.

    Working in ILT its easy to assume that everyoneelse is of the faith, that everyone understands theadded value that the appropriate use of technologyoffers us. It is sometimes a surprise that not all staffare of that view and need to be sold on the idea;that we have to take a step back and articulate theILT vision and demonstrate how ILT can enhancethe learning experience. Thats where we believethe FPP can help. It offers us a comprehensive toolthat we can adapt to whatever training situationwe find ourselves in. Through the JEB TILT awardit also offers us the opportunity to offer attractiveaccreditation at Level 4.

    We were too late to be involved in the FPP pilotscheme but were keen to start work with thematerials as soon as they were available and ourChampions spent a day a week through thesummer term working through all the modules.We began in earnest by running I LoveTechnology week; a two day staff developmentcourse repeated within our administration week

    in July for 120 staff. This involved the first fourmodules of the FPP interspersed with a range ofhands-on sessions, including deliverytechnologies, materials, and applications. OurILT champions led small groups of staff throughthe FPP modules and all the activities werecompleted online following a group discussion(often animated!).

    Since then we have become licensed by the JEBto run TILT and our champions are taking 30 staffthrough the qualification as a pilot. This activityis operating as distance learning through our VLEwith tutorial support.

    FPP activities are also incorporated into the ILTmodule of our Foundation Degree in SupportingLearners, which is classroom-based. We havefound, not unexpectedly, that our teaching staff,like the majority of learners, are social animals,motivated by working with others. Isolateddistance learning activities, even with learnerswho are committed and have good intentions canbe de-motivating for the learner and also for thetutors attempting to manage them.

    To address this need we will be offering FPP/TILTgroup workshops led by the ILT team using all thetechnologies and ILT methods at our disposal.Not only to preach but also to practice good ILT.We aim to inspire and motivate by example.College certificates will be offered for thesuccessful completion of each FPP module whichwill be accepted as a unit of essential criterianow required of all staff in order to gain the nextsalary increment with their post scale.

    Lynne Brandt, e-Environment Manager, Derby College.

    Derby College

    C O L L E G EFOCUS

    RSCs Support Adult andCommunity Learning

    Black Arrow is a Java Executable tool that allows NLNMaterials to run with navigation on a PC with noSCORM compliant Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)installed. Once opened by Black Arrow, the materialsare supplemented by a navigation pane which runsdown the left hand side of the browser. Usually this willconsist of forward and back buttons and a breakdownof the different elements contained within the materials.The tool allows for limited customisation of the lookand feel of the materials, including changing coloursand different style Forward and Back buttons.

    To allow Black Arrow to run, the Java Executable fileJava2 Runtime Environment Standard Edition (J2re)version 1.2 or later has to be installed on the computerthat is to generate the navigation page. Black Arrowcan be downloaded from:http://www.nln.ac.uk/materials/technical/black_arrow_docs.asp

    Once downloaded, Black Arrow can be opened bydouble clicking on NLN_Navigation_tool_v1.jar. Thenselect the manifest.xml file from the unzipped

    material. Once the output file name has been selected,clicking on the Generate Output Files button willprocess the files and create the navigation.

    When the output files have been generated you will befaced with a directory structure appropriate to theparticular set of materials that you downloaded. Withinthis structure will be a new index page generated byBlack Arrow, this is identified by a _ba suffix on thefile name; double clicking on this will launch thenavigation frame page together with the content.

    You can find out more about the NLN Black Arrow toolby visitingwww.nln.ac.uk/materials/technical/black_arrow_docs.asp.Alternatively RSC East Midlands has its own NLNMaterials page which can be accessed by visitingwww.rsc-east midlands.ac.uk/teach_and_learn/teach_and_learn_resources.asp.Here you can find a useful list of problems andsolutions users have faced when using the tool.

    Chris Bell, e- Information Officer

    What we are doing with the FPP

    U s i n g t h e N L N w i t h B l a c k A r r o wH i n t s & T i p s

    Forthcoming

    EVENTSApril20th Technical Forum

    21st Using ILT in English

    22nd ASET OrientationWorkshop: Accreditationand funding for the FerlPractitioners Programme

    29th Using ILT in Catering& Hospitality

    May6th Using ILT in Teacher

    Training

    11th FPP Forum(provisional date)

    13th Finding Images forTeaching & Learning

    18th Using ILT in Basic Skills

    20th MIS Forum

    26th Using ILT in Business

    June9th ILT Forum (provisional date)

    10th Using ILT in Key Skills

    15th LRC Forum (provisional date)

    17th Web Forum (provisional)

    22nd NLN Workshop: Re-craftingthe Content

    23rd Creating an MLE

    24th Technical Forum(provisional date)

    For further details see our websitewww.rsc-east-midlands.ac.uk

    I N S I D ET h i s i s s u eWelcome

    RSCs support Adult andCommunity Learning

    RSC Mailing Lists

    Meet our new ILT Advisor

    Focus on Security Software: Secure your Network

    Paving the Way to Excellence ine-learning: e-learning standards guide launched

    Forthcoming Events

    College Focus: Derby College

    Hints & Tips: Using the NLN Materialswith Black Arrow

    Regional Support Centres already support FE colleges, Sixth Form colleges, Specialist colleges, and aspects of HE (HE

    colleges and HE students in FE colleges). From February 1st 2004, the list for English RSCs gets even longer. We are very

    pleased to welcome new colleagues from Adult and Community Learning (ACL). For us this means a great deal of work -

    but we are looking forward to it.

    All the services we offer the existing community

    will be extended to include ACL, such as events,

    visits, e-mail lists, forums and the helpdesk.

    However, in some ways working with ACL will

    be a little different. ACL is a very diverse sector,

    with a big majority of part time staff and

    thousands of delivery locations. Our work with

    ACL will focus on the managing agents. In the

    East Midlands these are the local authorities (of

    which we have 9) who have overall responsibility

    for ACL in their area. Some of these local

    authorities deliver the service directly themselves,

    others sub-contract, others do a mix of both. The

    early priorities are to support them all in

    developing an ILT strategy, which has to be

    submitted early in 2005, and connecting them to

    the internet through JANET. This differs from other

    sectors where there is more emphasis on working

    with practitioners.

    In the RSC we know already that we have a lot to

    learn. To concentrate on the ACL work, we are

    appointing a new team member with an

    understanding of the ACL area and the

    development and implementation of strategy. We

    will of course continue to work as a team, sharing

    the workload and our individual expertise. When

    our new Advisor for ACL is appointed an early

    priority will be to visit all the ACL providers in the

    East Midlands to start the dialogue going. Before

    then, well do the best we can!

    The whole initiative has a really effective

    support website at www.aclearn.net. It is being

    led nationally by the National Institute of Adult

    Community Education (NIACE) which is based

    in Leicester; their website is www.niace.org.uk

    Talking to people at our events, it is clear that

    the different sectors already supported by the

    RSC have much to learn fro