Tuesday, 23 November 2010

e-book sessions for PGCE students

Today I delivered two sessions for classes of students doings PGCE. Their class is on an evening from 5-9pm. The plan was to show them how to access the e-book collections that we have which are e-brary and dawsonera and then to show them e-journals through especially infotrac. The first group were a bit disinterested at first but got into it - we didn't have much time, only half an hour as they had to go to another presentation. The second class were more enthusiastic and also more bolshie. I've discovered this when doing the sessions with similar classes when showing them the interactive whiteboard voting systems - to start with disinterested and don't want to spend the time finding out about technology but then get more engaged and ask loads of questions. So we looked at dawsonera then ebrary - they liked the part where you can copy and paste and it brings the referencing details with it (timesaving). Looked at infotrac for journal articles etc. Tried to emphasise the point of investing time in searching for quality information - may have had some success.

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Monday, 22 November 2010

Paperwork and my office

The pile of paperwork in my office has reached critical level so I'm spending an hour or so tidying it up, filing it away and hopefully throwing some of it away. It is inevitable that there is still a lot of paper around - lots of processes are still paperbased within the college and external e.g. Invoices, meeting agendas and minutes, leaflets for events. But I have the habit of dumping them in a pile and once the pile gets too big, I sort it out. Not the best method and not as efficient as my electronic methods but it's a system of sorts.

My office is small but quite nice. It is in the middle of the LRC so surrounded by activity and noise but I can close the door if need be. If there are more than 3 people in here it is crowded!

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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Using the Nintendo Wii with Skills for Life learners

The tutor for a group of 7 Skills for Life learners asked if I would do a session using the Wii as part of a unit they are doing about healthy living and exercise.  They could take photos and use this as evidence.
I set up the Wii to display on the interactive whiteboard and set up two controllers. It is easy to set up the Wii  with the IWB – it now only takes me about 5mins from out of the box to ready to play.

I decided that we would start with bowling as I knew from previous experience that this was the game that these students liked best and that they found the most enjoyable and manageable. The students are quite happy to take it in turns so the controllers just get passed to the next person in line once you have had a go. Therefore the score is not really important and they are not particularly competitive with each other. They are good at encouraging each other and the good thing about the bowling is that they all find it relatively easy. The action needed with the controller seems to be relatively easy – I don’t know how much of this is ‘prior experience’ and how much is inherent in the action.

Next we played baseball which they also enjoyed. I suggested this but said that I wasn’t sure how it worked and that we would have to give it a try. They seemed happy with this and weren’t unnerved by the fact that we weren’t sure how the scoring worked. This game meant that they had to work together as one person had to ‘throw’ and the other ‘hit’. They soon got the hang of it and didn’t seem to mind whether they were a hitter or thrower. The action was still relatively easy to do.

Tennis was next on the list – again most of them had played it before and knew the basics. The scoring was ok and prompted discussion. They enjoyed it but didn't think it was the best game.

We then played darts which I have done previously with some other groups of students for numeracy. On this occasion with these students it wasn’t particularly successful for a number of reasons. The controller is held in a different way and the action of throwing is different. It requires two actions – one to place the target and then one to fire the dart. It is very difficult to be accurate and also for these students any benefits of the numeracy theme were not worthwhile. The good thing about it was they discussed it lots and really tried to help each other although they got a bit frustrated or lost interest in the end.

The whole session was good fun – they enjoyed it and I did too.

The main point to remember I have found when using the Wii is that some games / activities work better than others – nearly all groups enjoy the bowling so it is a safe bet although can be time consuming if they don’t want to share.  Some games are much more difficult than others e.g. air hockey, darts.  Sometimes it is a nice surprise when a particular game appeals to a variety of learners e.g. shuffleboard.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

ESOL students, curriculum liaison and visiting librarians....

This morning I did two 'quick' inductions for groups of ESOL students.  These groups have quite good English as I think they are here on teaching placements.  The quick version means that we have to rattle through the essentials in half the time - logging on to the system, logging onto Blackboard, accessing emails and setting up print accounts.  At least it means that they can access the college system and resources.

We practiced our presentation for curriculum liaison sessions on Friday.  Not sure how it will go - I have persuaded our team to go along and departments to have us so it may work.

This afternoon we had two librarians from Teesside University come to visit - had a good chat comparing the way things are done at each institution and how they link.  Took them on tour of LRC and of the College.

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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

RSC Northern e-Learning Group Meeting

Today we hosted the RSC Northern e-Learning meeting. There were 16 attendees from around the region mainly from FE Colleges. I was proposed as chair of the group. It is a good group and we had a number of interesting discussions including one about e-safety and social networking. Most colleges including ourselves include e-safety in their induction programmes for students and emphasize the need to be responsible and stay safe online. As far as using Facebook is concerned, I was surprised to find that all other Colleges block its use. This is due to the scarcity of resources ie computers so they are needed for work at all times and also because it is felt that it is not a suitable site fir students to be on as it us equivalent to playing on computer games. I think we have a lenient approach but I'm not sure whether it us right or not. Students get distracted from working and it creates a social rather than learning environment. Also does it conflict with our duty of care to students.
We had a round the table round the region discussion about the latest developments in each institution. I really like this part as it's interesting to know what is happening in other colleges. There are a lot of new Principals about - ours, Bishop Auckland, East Durham, Darlington - it means change and in some cases redundancies which is very hard.
James and Richard delivered a presentation about online assessment in Blackboard and the batch feedback upload tool. It went very well.
There are a few events coming up in the region including an e- responsibility conference which I am interested in going to.
Next meeting is in March.

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Location:Middlesbrough College