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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Post-16 e-Learning Practitioners Conference

If you missed the Post-16 E-learning Practitioners' Conference this year there’s a very good summary of it over at EdTechUK. Josie has done a good job of summarising the general themes of the two days and the issues raised by some of the keynote speakers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

E-learning in nonprofits and associations

ICTlogy has summarised the key findings of a survey about e-learning uses in 697 nonprofit organisations. The survey was carried out by Isoph and N-TEN: and asked these organisations what they used e-learning for and what are the main pros and cons, etc.

You can either read the summary or get the pdf with full survey results from the site.

(Thanks to Josie for pointing this out to me).

Learning Vocabulary Can Be Fun (and free!)

A couple of days ago Marcus P. Zillman referred to a site that had games that could be used for learning vocabulary.

"It has been their goal to create a vocabulary oriented site that would be educational, fun, simple to use and friendly. The site has something for everyone and there will be updates on an ongoing basis. Games include: WordSearch, Crosswords, Hangman, Quiz and Match Game."

So far sounds a bit like the Hot Potatoes suite but its not. These aren't toolkits or applications - they are predetermined games and activities that cover a number of different topics including going shopping, staying healthy and other life skills. They would also be a great resource for ESOL and or basic skills tutors.

The site is uncluttered and simple and the activities have a really nice feel to them. They are also freely available to use.

And still there’s more...

Tucked away on the ‘About’ page of the site, Jacob Richman casually points out the fact that he has "several other sites that you may find interesting:
  • My Spanish Picture Dictionary
  • My Hebrew Dictionary
  • My Hebrew Name
  • The Diabetes Quiz"
And I almost missed these!

I’ve looked at the Diabetes quiz and consistent with the other activities on the site it looks really good. It also has a Diabetes Q & A database that accompanies it.

I’d certainly recommend that you have a look and, if you know of any basic skills or ESOL tutors refer it on!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

New Google Suggest in beta form

Last month I signposted three Google bits and bobs that I had come across. I'd also said that three was your lot - but we now need to change that to four.

Blame Jack Schofield. In the Guardian he reported that:

"Google Suggest quietly debuted this week on the company's Labs site, which showcases Google features that 'aren't quite ready for prime time..."

So there's now another new Google tool for us to play with. At first sight it looks just like ordinary Google but (according to them) this is how it works:
"As you type into the search box, Google Suggest guesses what you're typing and offers suggestions in real time....For example, if you type "bass," Google Suggest might offer a list of refinements that include "bass fishing" or "bass guitar."

Similarly, if you type in only part of a word, like "progr," Google Suggest might offer you refinements like "programming," "programming languages," "progesterone," or "progressive." You can choose one by scrolling up or down the list with the arrow keys or mouse."

It's a beta version but still worth a look. The predictive text element could also make this quite a useful tool for learners who are familiar with Google but have difficulty spelling or typing.

Is Ufi providing value for taxpayers' money?

Questions raised as Mark Samuels reveals the 'University for Industry' has cost nearly £1bn. In a recent article he says that:

"Yet another publicly-funded elearning initiative is struggling to meet its ambitious objectives, consuming huge amounts of taxpayers' money in the process.

Following in the wake of education disaster UKeU and the axing of the health sector's NHSU, the 'University for Industry' (Ufi) has worked its way through almost £1bn in funding since 1998.

Ufi, which receives funding from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), is the organisation responsible for learndirect, the world's largest government-backed elearning initiative.

But over the last six years, Ufi has struggled to attract private investment, a key objective when the scheme was launched…."

You can read his full article in Computing 08 Dec 2004.

Monday, December 13, 2004

New Becta technology newsletter

Becta has launched a new technology newsletter aimed at everyone in the education sector.

"TechNews is a technology, news and analysis service from Becta aimed at anyone in the education sector keen to stay informed about technology developments, trends and issues. TechNews focuses on emerging technologies and other technology news."

Each issue will contain news related to the following main subject areas:

  • Networking and Wireless
  • Hardware
  • Multimedia
  • Software and Internet

Each area has a news section and a more detailed analysis piece which highlights the potential impact and likely future direction of a particular technology.

You can subscribe to the TechNews service and receive each issue by email. More details are on the aclearn website.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

OpenSourceCMS - Try Before You Install

I’ve spoken to a couple of people recently who have expressed an interest in Moodle and have wanted to try it out. In my experience, this is the case with a lot of software, we often want to see it being used before making decisions about whether it’s what we need. That’s what makes this OpenSourceCMS website a very useful one.

“This site was created with one goal in mind. To give you the opportunity to 'try out' some of the best php/mysql based free and open source software systems in the world.

You are welcome to be the administrator of any site here, allowing you to decide which system best suits your needs.

The administrator username and password is given for every system and each system is deleted and re-installed every two hours. This allows you to add and delete content, change the way things look, basically be the admin of any system here without fear of breaking anything.”
Via Marcus P. Zillman

Adult skills scheme hits target

“The government has reached its target of 750,000 adults in England gaining literacy and numeracy qualifications, official figures show. Some 2.4 million adults have taken up 4.8 million course places since 2001, on the Get On scheme.

The Get On Campaign aims to improve the literacy, language and numeracy skills of adults in England. It forms a key part of the Skills for Life strategy.

The success of the Skills for Life Strategy and the Get On Campaign is driven by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), Jobcentre Plus, learndirect, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), employers, and many others, who all play an essential part in promoting learning to adults.

See BBC News for full story.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Workers get free skills training

"All workers in England who do not have basic qualifications or skills will be offered extra training, the Chancellor has announced...

Under the scheme, called the Employer Training Programme, all employees without skills at GCSE level or equivalent will be encouraged to take up free training. They will be entitled to time off work, with the government helping employers to do this.

He said to extend the offer of free training more widely, to unskilled people out of work and on benefit, there would be an additional £10 a week learning allowance."

You can read the full story on BBC News.