Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Academic Involvement

When starting major University pilots, it might be useful to propose for academic involvement.  We have all these skills here in the University so it might be time to utilise them.  For example the social networking project, it could be useful to try and get a psychologist involved, or for the QuestionMark project we could get an e-assessment expert.  This would provide a comfort for the academics in the pilot and allow for a an easier involvement process.

As an e-department and learning technologist we have skills in multiple areas but are generally experts in none.  This is where these resources could come in useful.  Whether we pay for them or that is in their interest I think the way we go about these things could be improved.

Monday, 22 February 2010


Watched the programme on the 'Virtual Revolution' on Saturday and found it quite informative.  It reiterated some of the ideas I have heard about regarding the lack of deep learning within e-learning.  And one of the concepts it made think about is ownership.  

When you go out and buy a book it is yours you can look at it at anytime and you have control of it.  One of downsides of electronic material online is that it is shared with everybody so the knowledge is distributed.
I suppose one of the way to get around this is to use tablet pc's or e-readers.  I think this is something we should concentrate more of in the future within the University and provide some focus to it. 

Saturday, 20 February 2010

One Big Community

Think about it, we badger on about social networking for all types of things, for business to get together, for students to do collaborative learning and for us all to socialise together.

Now do we practice this ourselves, wouldnt it be great if the University itself had a social network, allowing each other to share best practice/ideas/reasearch etc. Lets say Academic A has been trying some really cool stuff that lecturer B would never probably get the chance to see or hear about. You could make postings that way and allow people to subscribe to feeds on e-learning or whatever subject you wanted to.

Now we things like intranets etc which is sort of like this, but does not provide the personality of a social network, then we could have sub groups for the sub committees, if someone has interest or a speciality that they would like to share then they could join that group as such and provide feedback that way. It could make interpersonal working more friendly etc, I have found social networking does not really work for small teams you need a pretty hefty user group to work best, providing a lot of posts. The other benefit of a large cohort is that you are just a number, this makes it a lot more easier to voice opinions etc without judgement.

That is not without problems:

Privacy etc

But is that not you have with social networks anyway??

Thursday, 18 February 2010

e-learning Overload

Much as the same as us techie's becoming overloaded with 2.0 tools, the same thing seems to be happening with academics and e-learning tools.  We throw so many tools at academics that a lot of them dont really know where to begin or how to fit it in with their modules.

There is always going to be the next big thing, but in the sense that average joe lecturer who designs their module, they dont need constantly inundated with e-learning progaganda, recently a few collegues have came up to me and said that they simply dont have the time to look at anything.  This is due to staffing reductions and more responsibility being put on them.  There seems to be a fine balance of filtering these tools out to everyone, we should give academics a chance to breath..

The worse is when you have multiple tools that basically do the same job, yet we advertise them separetly, all this casue confusion to the user.

Anyway like a tide that will never cease the e-learning onslaught continues..

Friday, 12 February 2010

Excellent diagramming tool

Recently came across a website called lovely charts which provides an online diagramming tool. 

Lovely charts is a web 2.0 tools that allows you create charts for many purposes.  These range from swimlane designs, uml 2.0 to wire framing.  See below for a mock-up I did for the proposed hosting service for Question Mark.  You create and export to png for free from lovely charts but further features require payment.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Project Management in the e-Department

I thought I would do a couple of posts to describe the processes behind some of the work we do here at the e-Department. So I will start with the Project Management software we use.

Agilefant is an open source kit of software (which means its free!) developed by the Helsinki University of Technology in Finland.  The software itself is constantly updated with pathes and features which makes it one to watch. 
We use Agilefant to help project manage some of the projects we have running from, computer based assessments to large scale social networking pilots.  There are a number of heirachys we use in Agilefant starting with PRODUCT > PROJECT > ITERATION> BACKLOG>TODO.  We have found using Agilefant a blessing as we can keep track of where projects are and what is still to do.  Iterations are usually about a week to two weeks in length and we try to ensure that we have deliverables by the end of that iteration, this helps us define what is in scope and out of scope for the project or iteration.
The software allows us to get a rough overview of the work that people have on, though that could be improved. 
All in All a good program and defintaly recommended if your bring project management into your e-department.

Monday, 8 February 2010

What is in a name

Have your ever noticed what departments are called in a University, on looking at ours, we have:

Education Development Unit
IT support

Now where would you go to if you wanted a piece of e-learning developed for you, would you

A) Go to e-resources
B) Go to Education Development Unit
C) Go to e-Dev (e-development)

Answer is ..... B


Now where would you go if you wanted e-learning support help

A) Go to e-resources
B) Go to Education Development Unit
C) Go to e-Dev (e-development)

Answer is .....B + C (unless it was e-books which would be A!)

Answers on a postcard.  What is your institutions departments called?