Exploring open tools (a second attempt)

I don’t have a screencast of my VLE object to share.  In my day-to-day role I’m no longer required to do that sort of thing, my role is about signposting to the subject specialists and developing and maintaining the relationship between learning providers and Jisc.  Trouble is you can take the girl out of ILT/elearning but you can’t take ILT/elearning out of the girl.  Learning tech and it’s usefulness in teaching is always going to be a keen interest, right from my heady days starting my 7307 back in 2002. I know it’s not the pedigree some have, but we all start somewhere.

I do have a lot of accumulated knowledge about stuff. So, in a bid to be methodical about what I share in the hope it is of some benefit to others on the Blended Learning Essentials course here’s some thoughts for you.


Video is often the first way you can engage learners and embed something a bit more exciting into a VLE.  You might not be doing the completely interactive lesson thing yet, but it is a start and as I said previously we all have to start somewhere.  You might have a really good video resource around consent that you want to share with learners in a safeguarding context.  Like this one.

Tea and Consent (Clean) from Blue Seat Studios on Vimeo.

And it’s a good way to start.  Just adding video is still quite a passive activity, and you might not have a VLE yet so emailing links out to learners is your first step.  it is possible to make a video into an active learning experience using TED-Ed as this example shows. Suddenly you’ve got a richer, and more meaningful learning experience taking place (and you still don’t need a VLE to do it).

Using video isn’t all about high quality and high end productions.  Making a quick recording demonstrating a technique, a skill or a how-to can be invaluable for your learners.  They can watch, re-watch, and revisit the  video as many times as they need to support their learning, and you’ve only had to do it once(or twice until you feel more confident).  This is easy to do using the camera on a mobile device, or if it’s on screen then a quick screencast is definitely the way forward. I like screencastomatic for it’s simplicity, as well as being free.

Let’s turn this on it’s head though. Flip the learning further.  Why not let the learners work collaboratively to plan, storyboard and record your resources for you.  Assessment for learning, collaborative skills and digital skills and you get some resources to demonstrate next time you deliver the session.  Apprentices could use video to demonstrate their competency, and provide a commentary that demonstrates their knowledge as well.  It’s hard in an observation to glean their understanding of why they are doing what their doing, this way they’re demonstrating both and uploading it to their eportfolio.  You don’t get much more valid and authentic than that.  If safeguarding is an issue, for example, they work with children, and an assessor has been unable to observe it they could set up a scenario and use toys in place of the children; explain the activity and also explain the reasons why they’ve done what they done. I’d be a happy verifier if I saw this kind of evidence being used as it demonstrates a much deeper understanding than just repeating policy and procedure verbatim.

Presentation tools

Prezi is a little bit Marmite.  It is the new PowerPoint and not only can you get death by prezi you can also get motion sickness.  So, if you’re using Prezi treat it like PowerPoint, don’t do everything just because you can!  If PowerPoint is what you’re familiar with then there is Office Mix for Office 365 to make your presentation more interactive.

Collaborative tools

Another free tool is TitanPad which colour codes the different contributions and has a very useful timeline function.  As with Google Docs it’s a bit clunky if you have more than 3 or 4 people working on the document simultaneously.  It’s also worth noting that Google hangouts on air are recorded to a private Youtube channel so the video can be reviewed, and even edited afterwards.  My wedding ceremony was shared via a Hangout on air with friends in New Zealand who were unable to travel and see us get married in person.  This is what happens when geeks wed.  Not an example using learning, but a great example of how technology can connect people.


Some final thoughts.  If you’re encouraging the use of reflective tools then by all means give suggestions, but also allow learners the freedom to explore and find the right tool for them.  I wanted to give Tumblr a try, it wasn’t for me but if i hadn’t tried I’d have never known.  Also check out Classtools.net to see the possibilities and the fun you can have with a little interactivity in your delivery. Maybe you’ll try a QR code treasure hunt to get learners exploring their physical environment, or you’ll inject a bit of humour to timed activities.

2 thoughts on “Exploring open tools (a second attempt)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s