I’ve been learning

April has been a quiet month work-wise; yet despite it being quite a busy month with family and friends – http://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/easter-visitors-and-beer-trip/ – I’ve managed to find the time to ‘play’ with a couple of new things. New to me of course – not necessarily new to any readers.

One of those new things has been In-Folio.

“In-Folio is a uniquely accessible Open Source e-Portfolio that enables learners, particularly those with disabilities or learning difficulties, to store and arrange multimedia content into simple online pages.”

As a Techdis Accredited Trainer, I have been given an In-Folio account to play with; to allow me to understand what it is and how it works. Well basically, it’s an e-Portfolio and it’s dead easy to use. I have a big issue with many e-Portfolios, especially those that don’t allow the user (the very people who give a reason for e-Portfolios to exist) to take their portfolio with them. This one allows the user to save/export as a simple Web Page or in LEAP2A standard format. I’m not altogether sure how widely available In-Folio is, as it was designed by The Rix Centre, in conjunction with Techdis for use in Specialist Colleges. But, you could always drop Techdis a line.

I’ve also had a play with Teamviewer and compared it to Join.me. Both are competent screen sharing tools, allowing you the opportunity to teach or train at distance by showing and telling what’s on your screen. However, the telling bit is a little unclear: With join.me, there is no sound, but with Teamviewer there is at least the chance to switch to VoIP. Having said that I didn’t get the VoIP option on my Mac either as viewer or as viewed, nor did I get it on my iPhone. So maybe PC to PC would VoIP?  Both should work alongside Skype though – although why you would want to when Skype has its own excellent screen sharing feature, I don’t know.

Each tool can be operated without downloading the small application and each tool has a mobile ‘App’ (for iPhone/iPad and Android). Teamviewer allows the transfer of files and remote control of your screen – even from the mobile App. Join.Me only allows remote control from the non-App versions. I’m not sure when I would use these tools, but it’s nice to know that they are there – just in case.

Another tool I’ve been playing with has been the RM Learning Platform, Kaleidos. This seems to be widely used in schools and certainly in the Salford area. I’ve used it quite a bit whilst doing some odd bits and bats for and alongside RM, but have now been asked if I might be available for a more strategic roll-out to primary schools. I was at a school last week where the group I had were aware of the learning platform (KLP) but where that awareness varied from “I only know that it’s there'” to “I’ve been on and started to create some stuff”. The session had to include some work on the need for ‘planning’. A more strategic, planned roll-out should work much better. Fingers crossed.

I’m about to start an investigation of something about to be rolled out by Xtensis – so please watch this space.

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MoLeNET Weekend

 I’ve just returned from two days in Stoke on Trent, where I was in the company of some of my favourite people.

Yesterday was a day for MoLeNET project managers to discuss their projects and to network. Lilian and I spent most of the day compiling a bid for the ‘team award’ at ALT-C 2009. We felt that the MoLeNET Mentors had done enough over the last two years to be recognised for the way that they have been instrumental in helping to bring about a systemic change of attitude towards mobile learning across the F.E. sector. We’d set up an Etherpad the previous day and asked other mentors to add their thoughts to the award bid and we therefore spent the entire day fine tuning our bid. Sadly, we missed recording some of the best evidence we could have had when Steve Nichols of the LSC stood up (impromptu) and told the audience that the “LSC like MoLeNET” and that “it was the best mobile learning programme nationally and internationally”.

Etherpad is a real revelation. We’ve used it before but this two days has seen us use it for a number of discussions whilst others were talking. The main one we shared amongst each other to make note about each of the speakers (especially today) and another was used to expand an idea I’d had in response to something someone else had said. It’s real benefit is that it is a wiki that behaves like you’d think a wiki should. Up to eight people can contribute simultaneously – rather than one after the other or following a refresh (F5). Let me know if you want to try it and I’ll invite you to my own and show/tell you how to set one up!

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Earlier in the week, I’d travelled to Gateshead College where I met some of my Cohort 2 PDAs. On Tuesday I went to Birkenhead and delivered a number of workshops about the free stuff available on Web 2.0. At this event, we experimented with QIK (see:http://qik.com/video/1702430). When I got home I found my official welcome as Accredited TechDis Trainer. This filled me with joy and I immediately added the fact that I was now officially an Accredited TechDis Trainer to my web site. See http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk and http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk/access.htm

Tuesday evening also so the arrival of my new computer. I’ve been having lots of trouble with my two (XP and Vista) laptops, so I’ve taken the plunge and bought an Apple MacBook Pro. It’s beautiful. It’s even beautifully packed. See video @http://qik.com/video/1703984 (I can figure out how to embed it yet)