Last week I attended the 2013 Association for Learning Technology Conference (ALT-C) which was hosted at the University of Nottingham. Alongside hearing about some fantastic projects it was a great opportunity to catch up with the people I’ve met since I started my first role as a learning technologist four months ago. The event made me feel like I was part of ‘it’, with it being the learning tec community, as I was able to comfortably sit down and chat to people I’d previously met – being on the shy side this was a real achievement for me.
Despite being a really positive experience I had one minor niggle about the event. Although I predominantly attended talks about student centred projects I personally didn’t see any students presenting alone or alongside their tutors. This was a real shame as being new to working in HE and having studied my undergrad degree before computers became part of everyday life I’d love to hear the perspectives of today’s students. This point did get me thinking though as for the past four months I have focused soley on the needs of staff without really pushing them to find out about how they have thought through the needs and preferences of their students and how this relates to their planning with regards to TEL This will definitely be on my radar in future.
The presentation by Abington and Witney College on their JISC Advance Funded project Students 4 Webes has also provided me with lots of ideas to use. The college used video conferencing and webinars to develop the employability skills of their L3 students. The college did this by encouraging groups of students to set up and run a series of short webinars around the theme of ‘What does an employer want from an employee?”. The webinars were then recorded and put on the college system so that other students could access the information.
A full description on their project with resources can accessed via their Google site and their blog can be viewed by clicking here.
Tweetwally’s that is. Tweet Wally is a free Twitter wall that filters tweets via #hastags, usernames or key words.The tool could be used for a variety of in-class activities including as a starter by posing a question at the start of class and asking students to tweet their replies. A photograph or video could be tweeted out then students might be asked to express their thoughts on a certain subject such as the emotions the picture provokes, what period in history the photo represents or what would the student do if they were in the situation represented on the photo? Tweet Wally could also be used at the end of he class to consolidate learning by using it to create a a quiz.
Driven by NIACE, Maths 4 Us promotes maths education to adults. The app index does exactly what the title suggests and provides tutors with a categorised list of mobile applications that can be used both in and outside of the classroom. As an ex basic skills tutor I think this is a fantastic initiative and ALT have done a really good job with the website – they layout is suburb!
Returning to education and learning basic skills can not only transform the individuals life but also their whole families. I saw many a young mother who had enrolled to class so that they could support their child with their homework in order to encourage an interest in education. As a direct result of the confidence she gained from taking an adult GCSE English class my own mother went from working on a supermarket checkout to pitching then successfully running an holistic therapist pilot before becoming the only Holistic Therapist for Derbyshire NHS. Therefor I know first hand how important it is to spread the word about this initiative and it’s also a good opportunity to make maths tutors lives a little bit easier by introducing them to hundreds of resources. Go on, do a good dead by going forth and spread the word about Maths apps index!
Behance in an on-line portfolio and job site for artists and designers.
As well as uploading their work students can search the site for inspiration, follow their favourite artists and designers, show their appreciation by liking a post and leave and receive comments about theirs and others work. The job tabs allows users to search for vacancies by company, specialism or geographical region. This is my favourite feature as students can read the personal specifications in order to increase their awareness of the skills and qualifications that they need to gain to be able to secure a post in their desired field or company.
JISC, The University of Manchester and _Mimas have come together to create a fantastic resource website for trainee hairdressers and their tutors. Hairdressing Training is the name of the website which contains ‘step-by-step guidance videos, self-evaluation tests, worksheets and guides relating to an expanding collection of hairdressing styles and techniques’ the service’. Another good thing about this site is that the resources are also mapped to the NVQ Hairdressing curriculum.
Last week I was speaking to an FE colleague about the different ways that TEL can be used to embed employability skills into textile courses. As part of the discussion we were talking about blogs which got me thinking about the about.me widget in WordPress and the way that it can be used to display links to your on-line accounts without the need for any coding. As I use the widget on this blog I demonstrated my account which contains a graphic portrait of myself, a short biography about my professional interests and links to my Twitter, LinkedIn and technology blog. Although I hadn’t thought about using about.me to embed employability in the curriculum my colleague was really inspired and could see huge potential in using the tool with her students especially as she is going to use WordPress as part of her classes so that students are able to build up an on-line portfolio. Could you use about.me with your own students? Now that I’ve been inspired by my colleague I can see the tool fitting in perfectly with media and art and design classes. As well as using the links to sign post employers to their work students can upload their own background image to their page which could be a photograph they have taken, a graphic picture or an illustration.