Monday, October 28, 2013

"Enlighten us but make it quick"

That's the cry of Igniteers everywhere. I've attended, spoken at and organised Ignites for (checks date of earliest posts) nearly four years. Since running the first one I've always thought they'd make a great contribution to my favourite* annual exhibition Learning Technologies.

Since then, LT has grown and it's even gained a sibling, Learning and Skills. It's bigger and better than ever. And at last, it has Ignite.

Meet Ignite Learning Technology and Skills, or Ignite LTS if you will.

We're looking for eight speakers to come and enlighten and entertain on our stage for an hour on day one of the exhibition. We'll be videoing the results and sharing them from the official LT YouTube channel!

If you have an idea for a talk, tell us about it. Not so sure? Talk to us on Twitter and let's see if we can't help you refine that idea.


* yes, I'll really confess to that. Until you've taken time off to attend at your own cost you're in the minor leagues of appreciation.

Monday, February 11, 2013

No elearning, thank you very much!

Our organisation has been asked to review and feedback on the new guidance for one particular area in which we are involved. I was particularly struck by the vehemence of its position with regards to elearning:
[1] The use of e-learning may offer a number of benefits to an organisation. However, in all but the smallest healthcare organisations such a small GP’s practice with a single stage [activity] plan, e-learning is not acceptable as the sole means of training staff. E-learning can only be used to support training delivered by a competent [specialist] safety adviser.
[2] E-learning is not acceptable as the sole means of training for the following reasons:

Monday, January 28, 2013

weelearning - we want you to have it

In his latest post on our weelearning website, Sam Burrough explains why we are encouraging everyone to pick up on our idea and go with it:

If you’re lucky enough to be heading to this week’s Learning Technologies Conference or Exhibition, one thing is guaranteed, you’re going to meet a lot of cool, interesting people. You may even end up down the pub with one or two of them, especially if you’re going to Curation Camp.
You’ll probably think to yourself, wistfully on the way home, “ah, I wish I could do that more often.” But you can’t because that’s it for another year, who knows when you’ll be able to afford to go again?
Spurred on by that very feeling some 18 months ago I looked up Sam on Twitter and dropped him a line. Suggesting out of the blue to some strange guy on the Internet that we meet up for a drink is not something I do very often, but I'm thankful I did on this occasion. Some eight or nine events later our little "learning technology social", is going pretty well.

So well in fact, we want to share the idea with you. weelearning has been such a success for our own personal learning that we want others to take the idea and benefit from it wherever you are. If you can get three learning geeks in a room, you can have your own weelearning event.

We're kinda busy launching our Big Idea this week, which just happens to coincide with Learning Technologies. Over the next couple of weeks we're going to outline how you can set up your own event and let you know just what we learned about crafting a community wee can all learn from.

UPDATE: I wrote that follow up article and you'll find it here: http://weelearning.co.uk/2013/03/how-to-run-your-own-learning-social-part-2/

Saturday, January 05, 2013

One-minute paper

I was looking for something quite unrelated when I came across the concept of the "one minute paper". It's a very simple concept for quick and dirty feedback, seemingly used by people in the HE/FE sector.

It's not rocket science, just basics really, but it for some of our instructors I think it would be helpful, so I produced a form for them to riff on and wrote out some details for the wiki. Thought I'd share it and our template with you.

Firstly, some credits. I found the first mention on the website of Geoff Petty who is a teaching skills specialist my former boss had brought to my attention.


And a bit of poking about online brought up a couple of other resources about the idea:


As a reflective tool, it's practically featherlight - asking for a couple of sentences isn't going to lead to any profound improvements in learning uptake; but from our perspective, every little matters and for learners who simply equate "presence in the classroom" with training - and we do see some of these - anything that encourages a little self-regard is to be welcomed.

Note, we tend to avoid using the language of school and education so we've called it "review" rather than paper. So, this is what I have written for colleagues, and you find links to the template below. Let me know if you find it useful.


Introducing the One Minute Review

The idea of the “one minute paper” as a feedback and reflective learning exercise originates in the FE/HE sector. It seeks to improve:
  • feedback from delegates to tutors 
  • reflective learning by delegates 
Delegates complete a short reflection and review exercise at the end of each session/day, typically just one or two questions. The questions should make them think about their learning and where they could be helped. Their answers should be brief, but contain enough information to inform the tutor.

Benefits for students:
  • opportunity for reflection on topics 
  • chance to seek help
Benefits for tutors:
  • feedback on how the day went 
  • chance to correct misapprehension 
  • “lightweight” - not another large burden on their time 
Benefits for organisation 
  • demonstrate learner has voice 
  • tool for guiding ongoing development and improvement of course 

Process for use

  1. Tell learners about the process during the course opening, 
    1. issue first form at that point so they can see it 
    2. point out it can be anon if they prefer 
    3. stress that no names will be mentioned even if they do give them so it's a chance to ask questions they don't feel comfortable asking in front of everyone else 
  2. at end of day ask learners to spend a couple of minutes (one per question); if necessary use the moment to recap everything covered over the day (this in itself can be a good activity to do anyway) 
    1. don't collect the forms directly yourself 
    2. use a tray or envelope 
  3. quickly review the comments 
    1. look for any trends that tell you if anything has not panned out the way you expect, for example 
      1. lots of people giving the same answer suggests a point may not have been as clear as you thought 
      2. any wildly off topic points raised may suggest somebody has made an error of comprehension 
      3. a broad spread of mainly on topic comments suggests natural diversity 
    2. if there are any points to answer the next day, make plans to do so 
  4. unless instructed otherwise, you can shred the feedback forms 
  5. remember to forward any significant reports back to whoever checks your quality so that plans can be made to rectify any larger problems that need fixing. 

Things to remember in responding

  • Don't identify the person who raised the question - fine if they do, but you should have promised anonymity so don't compromise it 
  • Don't take their responses personally - individuals learn in different ways and what may seem perfectly obvious to you, and indeed many other students, may not always appear so to everyone 
  • Don't go tweaking the course based on every comment - sometime people attend the wrong course for them - they're at fault; not necessarily the course itself.

Download forms

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

A simple language learning resource

I stumbled across this - not exactly sure how or why. I would sooo love something like this for Japanese*.

It's wonderfully simple: each blog post is written in an accessible way, tagged as to what element of language is the key point and a short quiz to test comprehension is appended.

The quiz doesn't feedback to an LMS; the results aren't in-depth, but the user/learner gets some quick and easy practice of reading, a chance to flex their knowledge and some basic feedback to judge their performance. MCQs and cloze are used.

Not complicated for learners to use or for the provider to set up, and perfectly usable in mobile format (or if not, could be made to be quite easily).

This particular system is Drupal but I'm looking for something similar now for Wordpress**

Learn English Blog from English Language Centres (curiously abbreviated to EC!?)

Useful. Wonderful.

* That's your queue to tell me about one.
** Ditto.