Tag Archives: h808

Unit 10: Evidencing practice-related competencies

For this activity I have produced a two sided briefing document for the Biology Department of a Sixth Form College which explains what Wikis are, how they can be used for education and how to set them up.

Click here to view the Wiki Briefing paper.


Core Activity 9.1: Desktop research

The evidence of research-related competency produced for this activity needs to demonstrate:

  • the ability to research a topic by accessing a range of information sources
  • an understanding of that topic
  • analysis of the information sources.

For this activity I have researched the use of blogs in education and come up with the following categories, descriptions, examples and notes.

Practitioners reflective Blog

Blogs which are kept by learning professionals in which they reflect on their experiences, and any issues relating to their profession.  These are usually individual blogs and can form part of their personal development plan (PDP) as part of a larger eportfolio (Institute for learning, no date)


Reflecting via a blog can provide practitioners with a diverse audience however a lack of personal contact means that blogging can be seen as a lonely experience.  The Edublog awards have attempted to address this by praising the work of bloggers and show them that they ‘ “are not entirely at home in the ‘blogosphere” Dr Sabine Little from the University of Sheffield as cited by O’Hear (2007).  Although blogging may seem a lonely experience for some, the blogosphere can provide a feeling of community with many blogging practitioners commenting, discussing and debating ideas on each others blogs (Becta 2006)


Elearning stuff- James Clay


The Scholastic Scribe

The Cool Cat Teacher Blog


Student Blogs

This is a very broad group as it can include individual blogs for personal reflection as well as group blogs for collaborative learning.  I will be specifficly discussing blogs which learners use as part of a specific course and are likely to be initiated by the teacher.

If a student blog is made available over the internet there are a number of important safty issues to be addressed, particularly for younger students.  These issues can be addressed with solutions such as acceptable use policies, the use of pseudonyms and ensuring learners are aware of how to report issues (Richardson, 2006).  There are advantages to having students work published as a blog, as it allows others to join the conversation.  An example of this is the blog used by learners in New Jersey as a book review of the secret life of bees.  Having the review online meant the author could contribute and answer any questions (Guardian Online, 2004).

Although a teaching practitioner may be keen for their learners to use blogs, as a way of reflecting on development, the attitudes of learners towards the value of blogs may vary with some avoiding the process, some using blogging for personal reflection and some developing online communities. For these reasons it may be wise for practioners to ensure blogging activities are flexible and possibly voluntary (Kerawalla, et al.2008)

The secret life of Bees
A collaborative book review by students


Moo- Photography Blog


Eric’s Blog


Organisation Blogs


This refers to blogs which are produced as part of an organisations website.  This may include a learning provider or support service.  The blog may include personal reflections from individuals working for the organisation or they may be used to promote or provide news about the organisation.


A blog may be an effective way for an organisation of delivering news and standard information, however these blogs do not appear to initiate much discussion in the form of comments (http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/blog/). Organisational Blogs which include reflections, analysis and opinions of individuals within an organisation may lead to more debate, however there is a danger that there is confusion between the opinions of individuals and the organisations they represent (http://jisc.cetis.ac.uk/).  There are some organisational blogs that include a combination of news and opinion (http://techdis.ac.uk/blog/)

The Mortarboard Blog from the Guardian


JISC Digital Media




O’Hear (2007 )’The Best of the Blogs’ Guardian Online. 9 January. [Online] Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2007/jan/09/elearning.technology15 (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Richardson, W. (2006) Blogs Wikis Podcasts and other powerful web tools for the classroom [Online] Available at: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=tnBReFo5n_YC&pg=PA48&lpg=PA48&dq=student+blog+safety&source=bl&ots=8RhHj8IB_d&sig=DC_haEaJk8Y2mTCKJLnDG2YqG9o&hl=en&ei=g4VDS_WlCYf_4AaDxqCqCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CCYQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=student%20blog%20safety&f=false (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Guardian Online (2004) ‘Logs prepare to go on a roll’ Guardian Online 8 June. [Online] Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2004/jun/08/elearning.technology4 (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Kerawalla, L. Minocha, S. Kirkup, G. And Conole, G. (2008) ‘Characterising the different blogging behaviours of  students on an online distance learning course  ‘Learning, Media and Technology. Volume 22, Issue 1, Pages 21-33. [Online] Available at: http://www.informaworld.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/smpp/section?content=a790941795&fulltext=713240928 (Accessed: 23 May 2009)

BECTA (2006) Emerging Technologies for Learning. [Online] Available at: http://partners.becta.org.uk/upload-dir/downloads/page_documents/research/emerging_technologies.pdf (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Institute for learning (no date) Case Study: Thanet College [Online] Available at: http://www.ifl.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/4654/Thanet-College.pdf (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Core Activity 8.3: Communicating to an audience

Reviewing podcasts

… Conversations about using technology in education

  • Sound quality
    The sound quality varied with some parts having a distracting echo.  I assume this was due to using skype  for conversations and recording.  Volume was good and consistent.
  • Broadcast quality
    Good use of music. Good introduction summarising content and contributors.  They are produced on a regular (weekly) basis which I think is very important.
  • Suitability
    Useful for elearning professionals but possible a bit too much for general teaching practitioners to keep up with.
  • Length
    Varied between 28 and 55 mins, I would personally finding it difficult to find time to listen to 50 mins on a weekly basis.
  • Interest
    Useful and topical on current elearning topics, very reflective.
  • Academic quality.
    Based on the thoughts and opinions of respected elearning professionals
  • Suggestions for improvement
    Possible a condensed news update at the beginning as well as the ongoing discussions, although this is partially covered by the introduction.
    Possibly could use more details on how listeners can join the conversation.
  • Suggestions for use.
    Elearning managers  can dip into this to keep up to date.

Apple Education
Apple in HE

  • Sound quality
    Excellent sound quality, sounds like it was recorded in a studio.
  • Broadcast quality
    Good use of music and introduction, but it was not clear who was presenting.  It looks like all episodes were uploaded on the same date rather than a staggered programme.  Mix of audio and video episodes.  The audio podcasts i listened to were readings of case studies.
  • Suitability
    Reading text based case studies seems a missed opportunity as it does not include the voices and enthusiasm of those involved.  Often quite technical.
  • Length
    Audio episodes are generally less than 10 mins which makes them bitesized.
  • Interest

I would have found the case studies more interesting if they included interviews with those involved rarther than readings of text case studies. Also I find a monologue less interesting than a conversation.

  • Academic quality.
    Although useful case studies, the fact that they are produced by Apple gives the impression they are biased advertising, especially as they are reading out text based case studies which could have been written in a biased way rather that listening to raw interviews with those involved.
  • Suggestions for improvement
    Let us listen to the voices of those involved.
  • Suggestions for use.
    May be useful for technical departments when looking for ideas on how to use/ roll out apple products but would recommend speaking to others who have gone through the process as well.

Jan’s Podcast

  • Sound quality
    Good level of volume throughout which meant I could listen to it on my ipod while commuting.
  • Broadcast quality

Good summarising introduction.  The content sounds scripted enough to ensure there are no pauses and stumbling for words, yet relaxed enough to be interesting and confident.  This can be a difficult balance to get right.

  • Suitability

I found this to be a very good summary which could be played to other learning providers who are thinking of a similar project.

  • Length

A good length for a general introduction.

  • Interest
    Jan appeared to be talking directly to the audience and inviting them to be part of the conversation which kept it interesting.
  • Academic quality.

A good balance of case study, personal reflection and ideas for the future.

  • Suggestions for improvement
    This could be followed up by interviews with others involved in the project.
  • Suggestions for use.
    As an elearning advisor, I could play this to other learning providers who are considering the use of wiki’s

Eugen’s Podcast

  • Sound quality.
    Fairly quiet which meant I could not listen to it on my iPod while commuting.
  • Broadcast quality.
    A good introduction and the content flowed well, sounding confident and relaxed.  Not too scripted, not too improvised.   This is particularly impressive as English is not Eugens first language.
  • Suitability.
    Eugen is discussing a topic which he has personal experience of which means he is well informed and I think this should be played to developers of distance learning courses to help them get a better understanding of needs of learners.
  • Length.
    A good length for an introduction although It was so interesting I could have listened to more.
  • Interest
    An interesting topic and a friendly and confident speaker made this very interesting.
  • Academic quality.
    A good example of a personal learning environment of an OU learner who needs to work from multiple locations clearly explaining what factors influence the decisions he makes.
  • Suggestions for improvement
    This could be followed up with a more detailed look at some of the systems discussed, and how they are used on a day to day basis.  This could also be developed into an audio diary in which you instantly feedback on what systems you are using for your studies and how well they have worked.
  • Suggestions for use.
    As I have already mentioned I think this would be useful for anyone developing or supporting distance learning courses as it clearly explains some of the issues a learner has to consider when working from multiple locations

learning a new technology part 5- Reviewing Comic Life

For this activity I have learned how to use to software Comic Life which allows users to create comics using photographs.  I used this software to create a comic about how to use the Nintendo Wii for education.  I have found this to be a fairly easy and fun system to use and I can see a number of ways in which it could be used for education including;

  • Improve creative writing skills and  photography skills by getting learners to write and produce their own comics ( Similar to the graphic novel produced by a secondary school in Yorkshire http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6029574 )
  • Create photo casebook scenarios which can be used to initiate discussion in sensitive areas such as bullying, teenage pregnancy, depression, etc.
  • Create fun guides for students on topics such as what’s available in the library, how to apply for EMA funding and what to do when they are ill.
  • Get students to create comics which cover the points of traditionally boring topics such as health and safty.
  • Use images and text to support Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) students and  English as a foreign language  (ESOL) students.
  • Using comics for art students to learn about visual media (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2007/dec/04/link.link9)

I would say the main features of the software include;

  • A wide range of templates and styles for page layout, speech bubbles, image filters and page backgrounds.
  • An easy to use customizable menu system.
  • Easy do add photos from the photo menu pane, drag from explorer or capture via web cam.
  • Options to export as images, movie file or HTML file which can be embedded into a website or VLE.
  • Very easy and fun to use and exciting output.
  • Being able to extend speech bubbles gives a reader a path to follow around a busy page.
  • Although it isn’t free, it is relatively cheap and can be used on macs as well as PCs.
  • Free trial version available for practitioners to evaluate.
  • Educational bulk license deals available.

Potential issues include;

  • It can be fiddly and difficult to select and manipulate specific items, eg moving a fram but not the picture or visa versa.
  • There is no built in spell check.
  • Sometimes the text does not appear instantly on screen when typing, which can lead to errors.
  • I noticed bugs when printing content on certain printers.  Red blobs on certain parts of the page, only happened with one printer and one particular page but searching through the FAQ highlighted there were some printer specific issues.
  • When not using the HTML or Movie output format, multiple page comics are produced as multiple image files (each page is a separate image).  A combined comic in a format such as pdf would have been useful and can be achieved by adding the images into an application such as publisher.
  • Although speech bubbles, text boxes and text are useful items to add to the comic, additional props and additions such as basic shapes, and drawing tools would have made it even better.
  • Although the filters were fun to use, they may often hide important details of the image.
  • Learners taking and publishing photos of each other, particularly those under 18, may cause issues for legal and safety reasons

Having said this I have found this to be a really useful piece of software which could be used for a wide number of tasks within a college.

learning a new technology part 4

Okay, I have now cretaed my comic using comic life.  The comic is about how to set up and use a Nintendo Wii, which is a peice of equipment we loan out to learning providers.

I have uploaded the pages as seperate images which you should be able to click through via the thumbnails below.

learning a new technology part 3

I have been quite fortunate this week as I have been given the job at work of preparing a guide to using the Nintendo Wii for learning. This is fortunate as it gives me an opportunity to try out and review Comic Life. I always try and use a new tool in a real situation in order to highlight its pros and cons, which is difficult when trying to look at it out of context. So far I have put together a story board of how I want the finished comic to look, and our information officer has taken a series of photos which I will drop into comic life. Although the free trial was useful, this morning I bought the full version which has some additional templates. So far I am generally impressed with the system as it is fairly easy to use once you get the hang of clicking the components such as images, frames, speech bubbles, etc. I have had one or two problems moving the wrong part of the image by mistake, and i would have liked a few extra ‘props’ rather than just speech bubbles, thought bubbles and text.

learning a new technology part 2

OKay I have downloaded the trial version of comic life and created a quick  single page cartoon strip based on photos from our works christmas party (so i’d best not post it here).

It seems as though is easy to learn and could be useful for some of the learning providers I support, in fact I know some of them are useing it already.  There appear to be advanced features I could explore such as multipage comics and creating a movie file, however i have concerns that it might not meet the requirements of this activity as it is so user friendly?

I have emailed my tutor for advice.