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Regional Support of Work Based E-Learning in the West Midlands

  • Generic eMarketplace (GeM) for Work Based Learning

    Are you an independent training provider that currently purchases products and services to support your e-learning? If yes, have you heard of Gem for WBL? If not you may wish to continue reading…

    Gem for WBL is an initiative being led by Jisc and is essentially a website offering users savings on products and services via suppliers and negotiated contracts. The service is currently free for training providers to use. It is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills(BIS) and supported by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers
    Gem for WBL was established last year but it is clearly gaining momentum as more and more suppliers join its growing database, each offering discounted rates to providers that purchase through the Gem site.

    Currently the site has products and services available in the following areas:
    • Mobile phones, business telephone systems and wireless networks
    • Online assessment software for apprenticeships and e-portfolio solutions
    • Voice and video feedback applications which have uses for training organisations
    • Learner destination tracking services
    • Management Information System for tracking SF funded delivery
    • Plus more…
    If you have not yet visited the Gem site, it’s worth a look and Steve Durham, the project lead is also currently holding a number of free online webinars to introduce the service. (I’ll let you know the date of the next one when I have it).

    To register to use the service visit the websiteor contact for further information.

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Safer Internet Day 2014 - Are you ready?
    The 11th Safer Internet Day (SID 2014) will be celebrated worldwide on 11th February 2014. The theme for the day is: 'Let's create a better internet together'.

    In support of this significant event, last week several of my colleagues ran a very successful online all-day event entitled ‘Preparing for Safer Internet Day and beyond’. This was to help raise awareness for the national campaign and support learning providers to develop their approach for Safer Internet Day next year.
 event provided a wealth of useful Safer Internet Day information, and resources and links to help you to host the campaign in your organisation. Online attendees got to discover what’s available within Jisc regarding the legal implications related to e-safety and supporting vulnerable learners. They were also shown examples of e-safety best practice within education plus details of the amazing campaigns from last year.

    The good news is for those who missed it, that ALL of the presentations, supporting resources and webinar recordings are now freely available online. These resources comprehensively cover the following key areas.
    • Hot topics (Jisc Legal)
    • Supporting vulnerable learners with e-safety (Jisc TechDis)
    • eSafety infoKit (Jisc Infonet)
    • Best practice examples of the impact of SID2013 from educational providers
    • Bring your own device (BYOD) Security together (Janet)
    • The latest information from CEOP, and ThinkUKnow for post-16 providers
    • Best-practice examples of e-safety implementation (from educational providers) and the impact for learners and the organisation
    • Moving forward with SID2014 campaign

    At this point the recordings can be freely accessed and watched at your own leisure, no log in is required. 

    Covering so many elements of using the internet safely, the site is certainly worth a look by anyone with an interest in e-safety or safer internet use. It’s great that it is now free to access and I hope these resources prove useful and assist you in supporting the theme of the 2014 Safer Internet Campaign, 'Let's create a better internet together!’

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Regional Work Based Learning Forum,_7th_November_2013Earlier this month we held another of our joint e-learning forums which bought together staff from adult and community and work based learning organisations from across the region to hear about the latest developments in e-learning. It also offered an opportunity for providers in the region to get together and discuss a range of issues relating to their own use of technology.

    On the day several of our advisers outlined a range of our current initiatives that are currently available to you, including:

    Details of each of these initiatives can now also be found on a supporting wiki pagethat was made available to delegates.

    If you missed this forum but would like more details on any of the above please do get in touch. Don’t forget, that if you are one of our supported providers you may also benefit from free consultations on any other areas of e-learning that fall within our full range of support.

    We hope to see you at the next WBL forum in the New Year. Until then if you have any suggestions for topics that you would like to see covered in the next one let us know!

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Jisc Innovation Through Technology Funding call

    These last few weeks several of us in the RSC team have been dealing with your enquiries about the latest round of Jisc FE and Skills funding. This one million pound funding programme aims to improve the learner experience and increase the capability and capacity of the workforce, and covers all of FE and Skills. If you haven’t already applied for this, there is still time but the deadline is 6th December which is approaching very soon!

    For those considering submitting bids the following links might be useful:

    • Our colleagues at RSC Eastern ran a workshop recently that looked more closely at what this funding can be used for and ways to apply. All the resources from that event are available to view online, along with the presentations from the day.  What might be of particular interest is the two ‘Padlet’ pages where providers expressed some of their ideas for projects as that gives a rough idea of what people are typically considering doing with the funds.

    •  As part of that same event there were also two bid writing workshops hosted by Angus Carpenter, and the recording of these workshops is also available. This first session looked at the project development process and considerations for collaborative bids. Available as a recording here. The second session examined the funding call documents, with Angus explaining how bidders can align the project documents with their ideas. Available here.

    Should you need any more information about this current funding call please get in touch. Good luck to all that apply!

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Bringing e-learning to the workplace

    One week to go…don’t miss out on this webinar to discover how to bring e-learning to the workplace
    ‘Education.Net: Bringing e-learning to the workplace presented by Teresa Mullin and Jenny Donald from KM Training Ltd’ on Friday 30 November 12.30-13.15

    Find out how you can:
    • Access a suite of peer reviewed and quality-assured resources for free.
    • Develop your own resource hubs - tried and tested by curriculum experts.
    • Forge links with other learning providers to populate your hub and ensure compliance with good practice.

    To book your free place email

    See you there!

    * KM Training Ltd is a Skills Funding Agency sub-contracted learning provider working predominantly in the hairdressing sector. KM Training provides employer-valued work placements for learners and believes that education and training alongside real salon experience is the key to developing a career in the service industries.KM Training Ltd is one of the projects gaining funding from the JISC Advance Further Education and Skills (FES) Development and Resources Programme.

    This is the first of a series of webinars running over the next 12 months. Next webinar: 19 December 2012: Using Augmented Reality to improve teaching and learning.

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Learning Made Mobile at South Staffordshire College
    Following a successful bid for RSC funding in a recent mobile project, South Staffordshire College made learning more mobile when the eLearning team incorporated the use of mobile technology across the department.

    In this new video from the Excellence Gateway you can find out more about the technology they purchased and hear their story.

    You can learn more about the other eleven projects that were similary successful in making their Learning more Mobile in the full published report on our wiki. (pdf)

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • More Free Online Storage - Introducing Google Drive
    We spent some time in the office yesterday discussing the launch of Google Drive, Googles own online storage service. This service offers 5 gigabytes of free storage to users and looks set to challenge services such as Dropbox and Microsoft's SkyDrive.

    This post in the Telegraph shows how Google Drive compares to Dropbox, iCloud and others and shows what amounts of storage you can expect to have from each. Another Telegraph post here, also notes an important consideration – the cost of any additional storage, particularly as Google has already set its prices at a quarter of those of Dropbox.

    The video below will show you how Google Drive works. This previous wobble post shows what features have allowed existing services like Dropbox to gain such popularity.

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Practical Guide to Web Conferencing
    Our colleagues in RSC South West have produced and now published a very practical guide to web conferencing. This guide covers the benefits, tips on delivery, and the key features of some of the major web conferencing tools available.

    Matt Ewens, Information Officer for RSC South West notes:

    “...Web conferencing is a potential growth area in the future. The guide is aimed at practitioners and anyone really that works in the post 16 FE and Skills sector that is either interested in finding out a bit more about the benefits of web conferencing, or those that are already using systems to help them plan more effectively..."

    The guide includes information on Blackboard Collaborate (formerly known as Elluminate) - the tool which is widely used by the RSCs for its online events and webinars. The guide is available to download as a pdf document here.

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • E-books for Adult Community Learners and Work-based Learners
    To date, JISC Collection’s E-books for FE project has already helped many Further Education students across the UK by providing free access to e-resources for students studying a wide range of vocational and academic course in colleges. This works because by coordinating centrally, JISC Collections has been able to negotiate favourable pricing, terms, and conditions with content vendors.

    The E-books for FE project so far reaches only full-time students attending college. However, there are many other types of learners, including those developing their skills through part-time study, apprenticeships, and informal learning in the community. The E-books for Skills project now aims to extend access to e-books licensed for FE colleges to these learners, and to identify and provide other relevant resources. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is sponsoring the new project as part of its aim to make learning as accessible as possible to all.

    The project launched early this year and will run for one year. As the project progresses, its Manager Hugh Look, will be investigating how to make the service work for these additional types of learning providers, and working with them to identify resources such as e-books that will help adult community learners and work-based learners.

    Should you wish to get involved in this or find out more you can contact: Hugh Look, Project Manager, E-books for Skills. Tel: (0)20 3006 6007

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Voting to Interact with your Audience For Free
    I spotted a very useful tool on a colleague’s website last week which allows you to use simple voting with your learners in class, for free. This web based system allows you to very quickly and easily create a question for them to anonymously respond to by visiting a url on their phone (or other mobile device) and selecting an answer. This can be very useful for getting instant feedback or for checking understanding.

    So what is it? It’s called Mentimeter and works as follows:

    1. You create a multiple choice question
    How? Just go to the start page, type your question and with the click of a button your question is created. Add the possible answers; pick a theme and voilá, youre ready to go.

    2. Tell your group/class/audience to vote using their smartphone
    How? Youre given a voting ID when you set up your question. When the user goes to that address using their phone or PC, the question will be displayed together with the choices at hand, letting them vote without effort.

    3. Show the result on screen
    How? The presentation is automatically updated when new votes are received. If you want to hide the results when the audience is voting that option is included. You can also turn the question off if you want to control the time when the vote is open.

    So, that simple, is there a catch? And why is it free? Will it stay free in the future?

    The developers note that they think this kind of service should be as simple as possible, and that it also should be free. There are working on a premium version, but assure us that all the features that are free right now will continue being free.

    To show how it works, why not have a go at the question below by entering the following url into the web browser on your mobile phone: You can also answer it on the web here (which is the same web address). I've included the live snapshot below to show how the results can also be embedded in other sites. Once you've answered the question, you can view the results here or in the live image below. Please note, the embedded image might take a few seconds to referesh.

    I hope you find it useful.

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • What are..? Open educational resources (OER)
    "Open educational resources (OER) are any resources available at little or no cost that can be used for teaching, learning, or research. The term can include textbooks and other learning content; simulations, games, and other applications; syllabi, quizzes, and assessment tools and virtually any other educational material.

    Open resources are issued under a license that spells out how they can be used - some may only be used in their original form; in other cases, resources can be modified, remixed, and redistributed."

    Why am I mentioning these here...? Because not only is it becoming more common for providers to share resources or access shared resources through channels such as JORUM, but recent funding initiatives are also encouraging learning providers to share and develop resources together, so its useful to know what OER are and what's out there currently.

    The "7 Things You Should Know About..." series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on emerging learning technologies. Each brief focuses on a single technology and describes what it is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning.

    Hopefully this brief can offer you a no-jargon, quick overview of this topic which you can share them with time-pressed colleagues.

    In addition to the "7 Things You Should Know About…" briefs, you may find other ELI resources useful in addressing teaching, learning, and technology issues at your institution. To learn more, please visit the ELI Resources page.

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • JISC FE and Skills Funding - Bidding Advice Webinar
    Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of talk recently about the current funding that is being made available to learning providers through the new JISC FE and Skills Development and Resources Programme.

    Lots of questions have been generated about who can apply, what they can bid for and whom they should speak to. To address some of these, we have arranged a webinar in this region, especially for learning providers who are considering bidding for funding from the programme.

    Nigel Ecclesfield, Programme Manager will be delivering the session, which will include an overview of bidding requirements and a Q&A session, where bidders can question Nigel directly on specific issues. Delegates will also be advised of matchmaking arrangements, which will help learning providers make contact with potential bid partners.

    By the end of this session delegates will:

    • Have had the opportunity to question Nigel Ecclesfield on the bidding process for the funding programme
    • Had opportunities to network with other potential bidders and find suitable partners

    This event is free to attend. Places are open to West Midlands and East Midlands based educators receiving central government funding (formerly from LSC), including HE, FE, Adult & Community Learning, Specialist Colleges, Work Based Learning and Offender Learning. Places are limited to two per learning provider in the first instance.

    Further information along with booking details can be found on the events page of our website.

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • E-Portfolios – Learning Providers Views
    Recently colleagues in the Northern RSC region held a successful e-portfolio forum. With the help of their Information Officer, the team have now pulled all the information from the day together, put it into a newsletter (pdf format) and added a couple of case studies from the Excellence Gateway. For anyone interested in actual learning providers views on some of the more popular e-portfolios used in Work Based Learning, this summary might be useful.

    Still on the subject of e-portfolios, this handy guide on “Choosing an e-portfolio”, compiled by RSC North West has a wealth of information on things to consider, such as who actually owns the e-portfolio, sections on collecting evidence and more.

    Image by Kevin Hickey, RSC NW


  • Online Spring Bytes - Looking at Mobile Technologies
    As the use of webinars for holding online events is on the increase, RSCs have been able to offer even more support by offering cost effective training in this way. We are increasingly opening up access to our own online webinars to providers outside of our supported regions.

    One of the latest offerings to be shared in this way is RSC Wales online e-Learning event, Spring Bytes. For two days in March they will deliver a series of interactive sessions directly to your desktop. No need to travel and spend time away from the office.

    The theme of both days is Mobile Technologies. This event will be looking at the potential for mobile technologies, what impact these might have on learning and teaching practice, and how we support our learners in a wider context.

    RSC Wales have invited speakers from all aspects of post 16 education and skills who will share with you their thoughts and experiences. There are eight, 45 minute sessions planned over two days and you will be able to book onto as many, or as few, as you wish. What’s more this event is free to attend.

    Sessions will include:

    1. QR codes – what are they and what can we do with them?
    Have you seen those strange black and white squares appearing all over the place? In this session Chris Hall and Elen Wyn Davies will look at the basics of how to scan, create and use your own QR codes.

    2. Mobile Messaging in Community Education.
    Outcomes from the JISC SWaNI MOtIvATE Project. Hear, see and text about what we did and discovered. We’ll demo some of the tools used, so keep that mobile switched on!

    3. Why Apps?
    Recently we have started a project using tablet PCs with learners to assist with assessment and delivery. In this session, we will talk about some of the apps we have selected and why as well as looking at the broader advantages in terms of time and cost saving.

    4. Mobile First
    Changing the focus from ‘Desktop’ to ‘Mobile’ access - using open web technologies to allow non-technical users to create and manage their web identities and creative outputs.

    5. Molly - the open source mobile portal
    Molly lays behind a new mobile service launched by Oxford University which provides maps, contacts and news as well as features including travel information, podcasts, and information on library books, for mobile phones and devices.

    6. SoundCloud for Education.
    Whether you want to distribute recordings of lectures, facilitate a way to receive audio amongst students or even communicate between student and teacher, SoundCloud can help.

    7. Geoff Elliott of Pembrokeshire College will describe some of the outcomes of the JISC funded ‘Without a Paddle’ project. The project is testing the transferability of the Minimally invasive education environment trialled by Sugata Mitra in India, to other contexts. The project uses mobile devices to investigate how extant apps, designed for a multitude of purposes can be repurposed to support different learning outcomes. The project presents a configuration of apps to learners via a smart phone with little or no explanatory context and hopes to stimulate the learner to develop initiative, problem solving and research skills.

    8. Accessibility & Inclusion
    JISC TechDis is a leading UK advisory service on technologies for inclusion. In this session Alistair will explore inclusive practices, resources and advice for learning and teaching in UK higher education, further education and skills sectors.

    For details of this and other RSC Wales events visit RSC Wales website.

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Funding for e-Learning Resources

    Recently I noted the launch of a new pot of funding to support the development of e-learning in the FE and Skills sector. A colleague of mine has now kindly summarised the details of this funding opportunity to make it easier for providers to understand what is required of the call and consider how this funding might benefit their e-learning plans.

    In a nutshell…

    This funding is designed to offer learning providers the chance to:

    • Apply existing resources (from JISC or elsewhere) to their work and adapt them for their needs

    • or, identify gaps in these resources and/or current uses made of technology in the sector and create new resources for use by other providers

    • How much is Available? - An initial £450,000 will be available to adapt existing resources (smaller projects) with a further £900,000 available for (larger) development projects to address any gaps. Bids of all sizes are welcome, from £5K to £100K plus.

    • Bid Submission - Bids will be accepted from 1st March 2012 until 31st May 2012.

    Christa’s condensed summary offers a very useful starting point for getting to grips with what this funding hopes to support. That summary document can be accessed here.

    For further information, a supporting national wiki page includes all documentation for the bid (full details, application form and examples to illustrate what and how you may present your own bid).

    Further resources will be added as they become available, these include:

    • A recording of the webinar which launched the bid on Friday 17 Feb
    • FAQ’s from the webinar question will be added separately

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Extra support for e-learning? Let us Assist
    We often get requests from learning providers who have a specific project ideas in mind but feel they need that extra bit of support for implementing these. As a result of these type of enquiries we recently launched a new project called Assist, which now offers regional learning providers the opportunity to apply for free, extended support in an area of their choice.

    Several projects have been accepted to qualify for this area of our support and are now firmly underway. We have also now created a wiki page which makes it even easier for providers to request help, and which also offers an update on some of the e-learning projects which are currently taking place.

    How does RSC Assist work?

    This initiative enables you to work with a member of the RSC team for up to a day in planning a project and benefiting from advice and expertise, as well as a limited amount of training, if applicable. You retain control of the task in hand, but will be able to call on the support of your nominated advisor throughout.

    Who can apply?

    Any RSC Supported learning provider based in the West Midlands region can apply. There is no charge for this extended support service.

    How to apply

    If you'd like to take part in the RSC Assist project, please complete the application form, which is available on the new wiki page. You can also discuss your project idea with a member of the RSC team, prior to applying - please get in touch.

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Bringing PowerPoint Presentations to Life
    This week a blog post by Melissa Seideman caught my attention, as it shows how to take PowerPoint one step further to create exciting audio presentations that can be used as teaching aids.

    There are several tools put there that can be used to produce some very engaging presentations, but there are also many people that still like the familiarity of using PowerPoint and for them the free tool HelloSlide could prove really useful.

    On her blog Melissa notes:

    HelloSlide is a wonderful way to transform a lesson into an audio-rich lesson that seems like a live presentation…I can see HelloSlide being used multiple ways in the classroom. It could be used to teach a particular concept in class, previewing the night before, teaching a lesson using the “flipped” model, can be translated for ESL students, or even used in alternative assessment projects in which students teach the class a particular concept.”

    How it works:

    1. To get started using Hello Slide, register for a free account, upload a PDF of your slides.
    2. Type the speech for your presentation and HelloSlide automatically generates the audio. (The text is automated but does sound reasonable).

    Below is a presentation on iPads that was created by Kathy Schrock, also using HelloShare. Hopefully this will demonstrate the benefits of using audio in this way (by simply entering text which the pc will read aloud) and how that can transform an existing presentation into a useful standalone learning resource.

    Thanks to Melissa and Kathy for sharing.

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Mobile Technologies and the Law
    To support a rapidly growing interest in mobile technologies, JISC Legal will be running a live webcast on Mobile Technologies and the Law on 14 March.

    This webcast is aimed at staff in colleges and universities with responsibility for planning and managing the introduction and use of mobile technologies in their institution. It is also of relevance to lecturers, researchers and support staff using or supporting the use mobile technologies in the workplace. Legal issues will include the e-safety of vulnerable and young learners, as well as data security and protection, accessibility, liability and copyright.

    This webcast will highlight good legal practice for institutions, allowing colleges and universities to go forward with an awareness of the legal risks, and being confident in compliance.

    Visit the website to view the webcast programme or visit to access the webcast. No registration required, simply follow the link.

    Please send in any questions or email


    Related wobble posts:

    JISC Legal advice for Learning Providers
    Safeguarding Learners - Tips for E-Safety

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • New - JISC Advance Funding for the FE and Skills sector
    On Friday 17 February 2012, JISC Advance will seek proposals to enhance or repurpose existing resources to be used in the FE and Skills sector across the UK. This £1.4 million project will both improve the learner experience and increase provider efficiencies, in line with sector policies throughout the UK.

    This opportunity is two-fold and offers sector providers and agencies the chance to:

    • apply existing resources (from JISC or elsewhere) to their work and adapt them for their needs
    • identify gaps in these resources or current uses for technology leading to the development of additional resources for the sector.

    An initial £450,000 will be available to adapt existing resources with a further £900,000 available for development projects to address any gaps.

    The project will be supported by the Regional Support Centres (RSCs) who will provide advice and support for providers in developing and implementing their projects.

    Guy Lambert, Managing Director of JISC Advance said: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for the FE and Skills sector and JISC Advance is proud to be leading the project. Not only will it enhance the learner experience, but it will also improve the efficiency and effectiveness of providers, a challenge which everyone is currently facing.”

    To get involved, take part in our online launch on Friday 17 February at 11am.

    Although you don’t need to register, it would be helpful if you told us you are attending by e-mailing

    Alternatively, contact your local RSC [] or Nigel Ecclesfield, Programme Manager at JISC Advance tel: 07508 531431.

    We look forward to seeing you online!


    On the day, the broadcast will be enabled 15 minutes before the scheduled time to allow you to check in and get settled before the presentation starts. You will need headphones to listen to the session without disturbing others around you.

    Please note that we will be recording the session so that it can be viewed at a later date, this includes all chat comments, audio and presentation slides.

    Blackboard Collborate is the platform we are using for this session. If you are new to using Collaborate we recommend that you read the Guidance Notes for further information on setting up and getting the most out of the presentation. You can also access a Quick Guide to Collaborate here.

    To test your workstation and see if there are any problems, such as network configuration issues or browser compatibility, run the Collaborate Test Facility.


    Related Wobble links:

    Bid Writing Resources

    To read more of Wobble click here.

  • Cutting Costs with Green Computing
    Since I noted the available support for Green Computing back in October 2009, much has changed regarding the amount of help that now is available to learning providers. In such hard times many have been looking at sustainable or green computing as a way of reducing their costs and increasing their efficiency.

    Green computing’ includes both the reduction of the environmental impact of the computing within an organisation (IT as a polluter) and looks at using ICT to reduce the environmental impact of other activities, such as use of on-line meetings instead of face to face meetings (IT as an enabler).

    Why is Green Computing Important?
    Put simply, saving energy and resources saves money.

    For example - consider technologies like cloud computing. Basically, cloud computing eliminates the need for hardware like servers. Essentially, this allows learning providers to reduce their need for big, energy-consuming servers by relocating them on the Internet. Cloud computing may also be used in areas like networking, data storage, software applications, and operating systems, again, potentially reducing the need for hardware. As a result, providers stand to save a lot of time, money, and resources on maintenance and support by switching to cloud computing set-ups.

    There are other techniques at the personal computer level. For instance, power management can be an easy and effective means of saving green while conserving energy.

    Finally, technologies that save paper, like email, can have a huge impact on costs as well as the environment. Additionally, policies like webinars or videoconferencing offer additional benefits by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced by travel.

    Our regional adviser Jane Edwards had done a lot of work in this area with our supported learning providers. As part of a free review service she can help you with:

    • Reviewing where you are
    • Finding good practice in other organisations
    • Developing the management structure to respond positively to the agenda
    • Creating a strategy. Writing an action plan. Knowing where you are. Setting targets.
    • Raising awareness across the organization
    • Practical tips and advice.

    To make it easier for regional providers to know where to start, Jane has also set up a page on our website which brings together a number of key resources. If you are keen to learn more about ways that your organisation can become greener in the ways it uses technology contact Jane by email or phone.

    (Green Computing benefits summarised from Fortunela Weblog)

    To read more of Wobble click here.