We’re pleased to announce we have completed our latest newsletter / helpsheet titled Web2.0 for Busy Tutors.
There are a number of free to use tools available via the Internet which have the potential to help students who have to work collaboratively. These tools are particularly useful for learners who find it difficult to come together because of lack of time or because they live or work long distances from each other.
We have used a five point scale to give an indication of the level of skill needed to set up and use each application along with giving a description of what the tool can do.
It can be found here: http://hdl.handle.net/10293/290
One down and one to go, we are currently in the final stages of the project. We ran a focus group at Cambourne in Cornwall last week and have another at Plymouth City College this Thursday. I hope we will be posting some findings on here in due course. More soon.
How time flys when you are busy. We are nearing the end of the UsPaCe project and now looking towards our evaluation. There hasn’t been a lot to report of late from ourselves as the systems have been left to our users to get on with.
Overall it’s gone very smoothly with the community running well. There are a few minor bugs which require with ironing out but none of which cause any major problems. A slowdown in ELGG a couple weeks ago was sorted simply by restarting the server.
This week we are deploying a feedback survey to all users of the system before going out and talking to students for the final time in the coming weeks.
Today I was in City College Plymouth assisting a tutor with a couple of sessions. As part of their module the students are required to create a CV and do reflection.
Today we got them to use UsPaCe as a tool for creating the basics of a CV by adding information to their profile. They all joined a group for their course which meant they can specify which parts of their information can be seen by the whole of the UsPaCe Community and which can only be seen by members of their course. This then allows their tutor to access their profiles and eventually we are hoping employers will be able to come in and find students suitable for a position on placement.
In addition to this I showed the everyone how the blog works, how it can be used for reflection and also how to use the privacy settings. I also had a student who was able to access the community from his I-Phone which I was quite pleased about (see pic below).
Following this session I then repeated it with a group of students from the FD Systems Support and Telecoms degree.
So today was the big one, an afternoon of inducting students from various courses at City College Plymouth.
We made a few tweaks learning from our experience yesterday with the 12 Public Services students – removed and added a few bits to the presentation and changed a few steps in the sign up process. I also made a couple of tweaks to the UsPaCe community including a more obvious “Sign Up” link and also setting the “Remember Me” when signing in option to unchecked due to the caching issues at the college.
As yesterday the induction consisted of 20minutes in the lecture theatre and the 20minutes in a computer lab getting the computers signed up on everything. We did 3 of these sessions in a row which was pretty hard going but it was great to see how quickly a number of the students took to the systems. There are still some issues which are common for all users including ourselves, mainly the number of usernames and passwords people have. This is something which I feel really needs to be tackled and we may be looking at in the future.
The students came from a number of disciplines including Archeology, Public Services and Tourism. Next week we are training students in Cornwall and some more in Plymouth.
It is worth noting we now have 200 users on the UsPaCe community
Today Neil and I went to City College Plymouth and ran a student induction for 12 Public Services Students. They worked in a number of different areas including Police, Fire Service, ETC.
We split the induction into 2 sections, firstly a short presentation discussing the background to the project and how we got to where we are now. We showed some screenshots of the system and discussed the basic functionality.
Next we worked on getting the students signed up to the 3 services, The UsPaCe Community (ELGG), Google and Del.icio.us. There were initially problems logging on for a couple of students who hadn’t had their IT accounts set up yet but for the majority it was smooth sailing.
We found that the college installation of Internet Explorer wasn’t working very well so we then had everyone using FireFox.
Overall the session was a success with the students giving us positive feedback on the tools and how they could use them. Registering for these services was always going to be the biggest hurdle and it went well.
We did find a few interesting outcomes however:
Caching – The college computers don’t have a deep freeze setup so if users check the “remember me” box on websites others could get into their accounts. Having spoken to someone at the college about this they stated this was an issue they have with their College Moodle installation too.
Captcha – I would say on average users were taking 2-3 attempts to sign up to Google and slightly less to Del.icio.us (the captcha letters were more legible) due to the captcha system they use where you have to type the letters you see in a picture.
Internet Explorer – I don’t know what was up with it but it didn’t like some of the urls we were using, even though I’ve never had a problem using IE in work (I tend to use both IE and Firefox)
On Monday we did our first student induction of the launch. We are working closely with Sue Atkinson at City College Plymouth and a number of her student groups. This first group were studying an FD in Public Services (Neighbourhood Management Branch) and were all firefighters.
The session went well with the students expressing a keen interest in what we were offering with many passing comments about how useful some of the tools would be. We had a short delay whilst they had to get their new college logons but once this was done we were able to get them signed up to the community, get their own I-Google page and Del.icio.us account.
A couple of days previous to this we also ran workshops with Sue Atkinson, Gareth Watkins and James Tinsley of City College and Celia Webster of Cornwall college running through and questions and ideas they had for using the toolkit.
Well I think we are well overdue an update on here. It’s been a busy couple of weeks getting things ready for the launch.
As the title of this post suggests there have been a few changes. I decided to change the way we did the I-Google customised homepage. We now have around 16 modules taking part and as a result a more sustainable method of deploying calendars and the noticeboards seemed sensible. Therefore users now get a vanilla page with a number of gadgets, they then are offered a palette of other gadgets they may want including calendars for each course, moodle login gadgets and more.
I’ve also had to update all our Del.icio.us support materials due to a site revamp at their end – to be fair I think has improved their site but obviously created a bit of unanticipated last minute work for me.
Other than that we have been making the final few preparations for student inductions this month.
What a productive morning, I’ve fixed an annoying bug with youtube videos that has annoyed me from day one – see here.
I have also added a pluggin called friendicons which does exactly what it says on the tin and allows you to have icons of your friends instead of text. see here.
Have a good open source community has never been so useful
This week I’ve finished the last couple of gadgets for our I-Google tabs.
The second gadget allows a direct search of the Intute database of educational resources. I’d like to open this gadget up to Intute and the wider web but at present it relies on our server. Thanks to Intute for their useful pages on implementing their services. I hope to investigate a more open way of doing this and hope to contact Intute about this.