Saturday, 26 November 2011

JISC RSC Northern e-Learning Group Meeting - 1st November

The JISC RSC Northern e-Learning Group meet each term.  This year I am chairing the group.  It is a very easy group to chair because all the hard work is done by the great people at RSC Northern and I just come along on the day and chair the actual meeting.  The membership is made up from representatives of the colleges and universities in the area.  It is usually eLearning technologists from the colleges i.e. Middlesbrough, Redcar, Stockton, Darlington, Darlington QE Sixth Form, Bishop Auckland, Hartlepool, Sunderland, Newcastle, South Tyneside etc.
We usually have a couple of demonstrations at the beginning.  This time it was an Interactive Whiteboard demo by Polyvision which was interesting as it is quite different to Promethean.  Then a presentation of an eLearning course by Newcastle College.  The best part of the meeting is when we go round the table and everyone contributes with what is happening at their institution and any new developments.  It is really good to share good practice and to find out what works and doesn't work and get suggestions for new ideas.  There is some overlap obviously but it is not the case that everyone is doing everything differently nor that everyone is doing the same.
The meeting was held at Hartlepool College - we go round the region and hold it at a different place each time.  Hartlepool have a new build which has just opened in September.  It is really great, not as big as Middlesbrough College but similar in some ways although it didn't seem as busy with students as us.  The LRC/library is now called the Learning Core which was good but split on three levels and you have to go out of each floor to get to the next.  We had a tour of the college including the vehicle workshops and the aircraft workshop!

HEBP Technology Enhanced Learning Group - October 27th

As a FE College in the Tees Valley we are part of the Higher Education Business Partnership (HEBP) with Teesside University.  There are various HEBP groups which connect the Colleges and the University.  The two which I am part of are the Technology Enhanced Learning Group (TEL) and the Librarians group.  The Librarians group doesn't meet very often although there is a Information Literacy sub group which has met more frequently.
The Technology Enhanced  Learning Group (TEL) meets quite regularly, approx every half term and has been really interesting.  A couple of years ago it seemed to be quite random and the discussions seemed to go round without coming to any conclusion.  This is quite frustrating for someone like me that is impatient and likes to have actions and see results but that is a failing on my part in some situations.  It highlights the differences between FE and HE and encourages me to be more thoughtful and consider the options.  In the last two years the group has become much more focused and the meetings have been themed and included some presentations.  It has given me the opportunity to collaborate with Learning Technology people in HE and compare good practice.  It has shown how some topics such as e-marking and e-assessment are looked at differently and institutional policies.  It has been interesting to look at student feedback from the different organisations and to see how this impacts on developments.  I think that some of the good practice that we have at our College especially using the Interactive Whiteboards has been useful to share.
The group is being reviewed as part of a teaching & learning review at the University - I hope that it continues to meet and that we have the opportunity to continue to liaise.

ALT FEC 25th October

The ALT Further Education Committee was held in Birmingham at the Priory Rooms.  In fact it was a meeting of all four operational committees - the Membership Services committee, the Publications committee, the Research committee and the Further Education committee.  There was an introductory session for everyone to discuss general issues and then the topics raised from these groups were taken up by the appropriate committee during their meeting throughout the day. There was a plenary session at the end where each committee fed back to the whole group.  
I thought this worked really well for a number of reasons.  The introductory session at the beginning meant that you worked with people from the other committees which is not possible if the committees meet at separate times and places.  It helps put it into the context  of ALT as a whole organisation.  It is nice to meet everyone and fascinating to watch the interactions.  It provides a feedback loop in a short space of time i.e. matters that are brought up at the beginning of the day can be discussed by the appropriate group during the day and possible solutions or courses of action brought back by the end of the day.

The Further Education Committee is really interesting and all of the members are friendly, approachable, very knowledgeable and good at discussions.  I find it very beneficial to be involved and to be able to have discussions with people who are really interested in learning technologies and committed to using them and developing them for students and staff in the FE sector.
I think it is important that Further Education has a strong presence in ALT and hope to promote it as such.  But I think the most important thing is that ALT is a brilliant organisation and anyone and everyone who is a Learning Technologist should be part of it.