Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Reflecting on the discussion

Just back from a long weekend with my ma and pa, and trying to reflect on last week's discussion exercise. The feedback from participants has been good (although only 6 so far have contributed) and most of them say that they would take part again if we ran one.

The main issue is getting more people to join in; and I need to do more work on this. Looking at the statistics people were looking at the discussion (and quite frequently too); I just want to know why they didn't join in.

Maybe I need to be more structured about the activities. I fear that my questions were either too open-ended, or focused on experiences that people haven't had. I don't think that using the article helped, as people didn't have time to read it. I used the article because I hoped it would be a springboard, but I fear that it put people off.

I also think that needed to be clearer about what people were expected to do - I maybe should have said that they should aim to post everyday. I wondered about offering a certificate to say you had taken part as an incentive. This might encourage the tHE people to get involved.

I'm definitely going to give it another go - maybe when I'm back in work in July.

Now I just have to worry about the forum presentation I have to give in a week's time!!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Discussion Week

We're at the end of the discussion week, and it's been an interesting experience.

It took up more time than I had anticipated, especially as a lot of the time was spent trying to get people who had signed up for it to engage. A lot of people seemed to be lurking and not posting. I guess that lurking is a valuable experience, but I would have liked to have seen more postings from people. Around about 1/5th of the people signed up posted, and what they had to say was very interesting. A lot of the discussion came from people who were already keen using it; maybe that was because I asked questions that only those people could answer.

I spent a lot of time emailing the participants trying to persuade them to join in. Interesting, our VLE supplier has just provided a new set of tools for the VLE and one of them is the abliity to subscribe to a thread so you get emails when a new message has been added. That would have been useful this week! I'm not sure whether my emails just irritated people, or whether it made them at least look at the boards.

I have designed a survey to try and get people to let me know why they didn't post. Maybe it was the wrong time (the first week of term), or maybe the topic wasn't interesting enough. Maybe I just need to learn a few skills for dragging lurkers in!

I have alternated between feeling positive and negative about the experience. However, overall I figure I now know what it's like being a tutor when students don't join in.

The other thing that made me feel a bit low this week was that no-one turned up for a lunchtime session I had organised. I did have a couple of apologies and some interest in any future ones. But I did feel a bit of an idiot sitting on my own waiting for people to come along! Maybe the topic wasn't interesting. I have some plans for the next one ...

That seems a pretty big post. Oh, and the Steering Group I service has agreed that we can take a blog project forward.

But it's Bank Holiday weekend, the sun is shining and we're off to see my mum and dad at the weekend. My little bro will be there too, so pipsqueak will be happy! I'm finishing early this afternoon to have some mummy and pipsqueak time - I think we'll go shopping!

[Hope this post won't get lost this time ... one I tried to publish during the beginning of the week got lost!]

Monday, April 24, 2006

And we're off

The discussion has now officially started. I'm stupidly excited about how it's going to go ...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Online Discussion - Lesson 1

Well - my week long online discussion starts next week; and I have already learnt my first lesson. I pointed all those joining in to an article on an external web site. Got in this morning to find that the web site had gone down!! The site assures me it will be back up soon, but it has taught me not to rely on external content ...

Meanwhile I have discovered that opera is great to work to. Currently getting through loads of little jobs to the accompaniment of Verdi. The sun is shining and my task list is shrinking. Hurrah!!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Online discussion

As part of my strategy for getting more staff involved in online discussion I'm organising a week-long discussion in our VLE on the topic of ... online discussion.

I'm really excited about how it's going to go - especially as this will be my first go at moderating a discussion. I advertised it today and we've already had quite a few people registering their interest. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

This week is pretty busy; it's the first week of the vacation, so I'd organised a lot of events in the hope that staff are around before Easter. Yesterday was a demonstration of a streaming video solution (very nice but pretty pricey); today was teaching a new course - good turnout and positive feedback; tomorrow we have another course; Friday we have to meet with Senior Management about the strategy.

Friday, March 31, 2006

End of another week

Wow - where has the last week gone? Can't believe it's Friday again ...

This week has been pretty quiet. Had another lunchtime seminar for staff on Wednesday. It was on another campus to the one I work on, and the staff who came along seemed pleased that we went to see them, rather than expecting them to make the trek to us. This time I didn't cough through the whole thing.

Other than that, I have been getting ready for a whole load of teaching next week; term has finished so it's a good week to catch staff for training. I'm also getting ready for my big meeting with the Senior Manager who is taking on the implementation of our e-learning strategy. Looking back at what we've done over the last few months, we've actually achieved quite a lot. It's been a month since the Advisor has been in post!

Friday, March 24, 2006


I had forgotten how boring I found writing HTML!! Just spent the entire afternoon picking over a form trying to get it looking nice (and more to the point being accessible). My eyes hurt, my brain hurts ...

Fortunately it's time to go home. Off to meet my boys for afternoon tea, and a fun time shopping!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


After a week away and a week catching up, I am now back to the blog ...

Today's excitement has been playing around with RSS. We have an awful lot of content on our VLE support site, and I'm sure that hardly anyone looks at it (let alone looks at the new stuff we create). So, I have decided to see whether I can get RSS working; that way we can choose the highlights of the site and push them to other places (for example to the login screen of our VLE, and the homepage of our support site). So far, so good. I have managed to dust off my coding skills and write some basic XML, and have used an external parser to get stuff showing on the site. I have also downloaded an aggregator/reader and have news flowing onto my desktop (hurrah - I can see what Gordon Brown is doing in the Budget as I type!).

Pretty exciting stuff ... a long time ago, when I worked on a library resources gateway site, I remember reading about 'push' technology which claimed to bring information to you rather than you having to go out and find it yourself. Looks like I managed to get something like that working today (only 8 years after reading the original article!)

The next set is to get the feeds nicely formatted using CSS (need to dust off those skills too!)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Survey Presentation - part 2

The presentation went well (apart from a cough I managed to develop just as I started speaking!). Although there were only a few staff there, it was a good group who had lots of say. It was also a mixed group of staff so they had different insights to bring to using the VLE. We got some useful feedback, which will be helpful to take back into our e-learning strategy implementation process.

All in all a succesful session; I have another that I am running at another site, and I am hoping to make these events reasonably regular and have different speakers coming along.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Survey Presentation

Just preparing a presentation on a survey we did of the use of our VLE last year. It's really heartening to know that staff and students get a lot out of using the VLE.

Tomorrow I'll mainly be looking at the impact that it has on learning and teaching and also how staff and students use it. The different ways that students approach using the materials available to them was really interesting - each one had their own different way which suited their own learning style. And staff also found that it impacted (positively) on their teaching.

I'm hoping that we'll get a lot of staff there (and that the snow won't put them off!). Our new member of staff starts tomorrow too, so it will be a good chance for him to meet some of our users, and get to know their views on the VLE.

Right - off to battle(!) my way home through the snow (it's been snowing on and off all day, but nothing has stuck ... boo hiss!!).

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

How much to do?

Hadn't realised how much work there was involved in someone new starting. Not only do we have to sort out the office, but there's a whole list of other things to do (parking permits, cards, door signs .....).

Friday, February 17, 2006

Expanding Team

We have a new member of staff on board ... Our team is getting bigger!!

We now have a new E-learning Advisor who is going to help me with the implementation of our new institutional E-learning Strategy.

The Advisor is going to be starting soon, and I'm going to be his supervisor ... so I better get my skates on and make sure we have enough space for him to work. Time to tidy the office guys!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Peer-to-peer learning

Had a great experience yesterday. A member of staff sent me a query about our VLE which was copied to another colleague. Before I had a chance to reply, the colleague answered the query, correctly. I was so pleased. Clearly she had both learnt the procedure (it wasn't a hugely common problem, and I wouldn't have neccesarily expected her to know the answer) and was confident enough to share this with her colleague. I really felt that 'my work here is done'; the training that I have done has become so embedded that they are confident to work on their own, and train other people.

A good day and a good outcome ...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Starting Out

Well - this is a first for me.

I'm an e-learning devlopment officer in a UK Higher Education Institution. Part of my job is to look after our VLE (Blackboard), as well as investigate the use of e-learning in teaching and learning. Blogs is one of the things on my 'To Do' list at the moment. So I thought it would be a good start to have one of my own!

Not sure how regularly I'll do this, but I'll try and keep my e-learning musings fairly frequent. At the moment I'm looking at organising an online discussion for staff who want to experience this type of thing for themselves. I need to try and find some good authentic activities for them to do without swamping them wiht too much to read etc. HE staff are very busy, and I would like people to engage in this without feeling I'm taking up too much of their time. At the moment I'm thinking that maybe reading a short article on an issue relating to e-moderating or online discussion and then posting reflections on it would be a good start. I'll let you know how I get on!