Friday, 4 April 2014

Out & About: Aaron at JISC Eastern VLE Forum

I spent Friday 28th March at the JISC RSC Eastern VLE Forum, hosted at Epping Forest College (EFC).

I was looking forward to the day as there was a good spread to the programme.

I was interested with a number of sessions and the opening one by Vikki and Richard from EFC was one of those.  I've been through two VLE branding launches here at UCS and it was good to see how others have handled the process and how different they have been.

I liked the creation of a character as part of the brand, it helps people connect and giving that character a name allows further connections.  We did something very similar with the original UCS VLE, "Wolsey".

Also as part of the first session EFC introduced a system that they were piloting with a small number of courses with lecturer Richard Matthews.  This system was to work alongside the VLE, although it replicated most of the features, but with a much nicer, more user friendly environment.   The system 'Edmodo' has been designed very closes to look and work like Facebook, which tends to be used by lots of young people.  The system did look and work nicely, I can see it working well with small groups of students, but it appears from first looks like the system won't scale.

As I write this I'm not sure of any APIs to allow automation of student/lecturer accounts or course enrolments.  Another interesting topic that was raised was whether Edmodo being an American system, fully hosted in the States was covered by any Safe Harbor Agreements as any EU/UK data held there could cause lots of problems.

Richard's Prezi presentation can be seen here.

After the very useful 'Around the Region' chat we had lunch and with the start of the afternoon programme came sessions of interest.  First was Charlie Williams from Oaklands College and was speaking about improving the user experience of VLEs by small tweaks to CSS and making options easily available where needed.  Charlie also spoke about creating impact with systematic use of activities, Charlie showed an example of where an electrical course was using quizzes to create that impact.

The final session of the day was from Steve Catton who had come up from RSC South East to talk about a couple of hot topics, Flipping the Classroom and Mobiles.

This was a session I was looking forward to, but I'm not sure the session really covered the topics mentioned in its title.  Firstly I'm not sure if everyone in the room was complete aware of the term or what was meant by it.  But Steve never really spoke about the technique and how it can be used.  The session was based around a Moodle course area, or as Steve preferred to call it, a Moodle Classroom.  Steve showed the course area and how he had used an icon set, so students would know that wherever they saw certain icons, they would always need to do the same type of work.

Steve did mention the use of responsive templates in Moodle, making the site more mobile friendly and a number of attendees were keen to make note of this.

I was hoping for a bit more on 'Flipping the Classroom' and to see some good uses of tools and activities.  Steve's presentation can be found here.

Overall it was another good day, it is really good to see what others are upto around the region, although we are one of the only attendees that have no FE involvement, it is still good to share experiences.

Looking forward to the next event.

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