Thursday 17 May 2007


I have never liked the plural fora which I believe Jumbo Jenkins, my Latin master, would have preferred. But this isn't about Latin, but to report on some interesting discussions in the East about what should happen about some E-learning Forums that we have in the Six Counties.

Briefly, there has been the E-learning Forum and a Technical Managers' Forum for many years and a Staff Development Managers E-learning Forum appeared on the scene a year or so ago. For a long time the first two were so well attended that it was sometimes difficult to get everyone into the rooms provided and also difficult to get a word in edgeways sometimes as there was so much to talk about and so many people good at talking about it. Recently, though, numbers have plummeted. It may be due to some venues being at one end or the other of this large region and dates being inconvenient but it certainly isn't due to people not needing to have a place to discuss issues and share developments or ideas.

It's more likely to be because it's quite difficult nowadays to find time to get away for a day. ILT managers or those in relevant roles are now inundated with training staff, writing or implementing strategies, interpreting initiatives or, more often now, teaching and simply find it impossible to spare much time. Before they needed to get to grips with things and see how others were getting on in order to get on with confidence and the sort of meetings we had were pretty much an essential part of the job and not as much queried by anyone who might have been required to authorise the trips and absence.

Strangely, the very pace of developments in this field, the advance of Web2.0, 3.0? even and all the problems that using all these wonderful new tools throw up actually means we should be doing more talking and comparing of notes but with all the Agency support drying up, project funding disappearing apart from the expert bid-writers fayre, LSN in Regional limbo and Becta so quiet one wonders whether the H2G2 mice have taken over at Coventry.

There had been a steady attendance at the SD Forum but myview is that the individuals would have felt just as at home at the other Forum and so I'm inclined to suggest that we have just the one to which everyone can be invited. RSC Eastern's lovely staff help run it and do all the arrangements, the last of the Agency e-Mohicans in many respects but hopefully with a better prognosis. We could have more meetings and build an excellent discussion and local support network that could be a good example for the rest of the country.

At a time when the Government seems to be telling those who they rain money onto that there is no need to fund more ILT 'Champs' and there is a huge workload now in just writing and implementing strategies and training staff and fewer hours allocated in which to do so, it is not easy to go against the flow and say that a day out with colleagues elsewhere would be useful. But we shall try.

Thursday 3 May 2007

webtools updates

There's a web log now which I'm using to update the 'updates' page on the webtools site. Now, obviously, you could just go to the web site and see but if you want an RSS feed then you can pick that up from the blog. If you need help with that bit let me know!

Wednesday 2 May 2007

£200,000 would come in handy

JISC have a couple of bid opportunities that I'm interested in. Here are the basic information summaries:

Institutional exemplars
Projects to develop exemplar technology and practice solutions to large-scale institutional problems (in the areas of administration for teaching and learning and for digital repositories).
Total funds: £1,400,000
4-5 projects £250,000 - £300,000 available per project
18 month duration

Use of e-Learning to Support Lifelong Learners (round 2)
Projects to implement and evaluate the cross-institutional use of e-learning to support lifelong learning, including the provision of personalised learning experiences and flexible delivery to support progression, widening participation and work-based learning.
Total funds: £1,200,000
c. 6 projects, up to £200,000 available per project
18 month duration

Apologies for copying them from the JISC documents - if you really want to read everything, go to this link.

I feel that a lot of what several colleagues and myself are doing: looking at ways to utilise Web2.0 and similar developments in e-learning and considering ways to cut through the crazy repetition of data entry both within and across organisations fits well with the general thrust of what JISC seek to encourage. However, I'm just me and the institution I work for doesn't have 400FTEs in HE so maybe someone out there would like to discuss a joint venture I can contribute to?