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What Can You Gain by Teaching Online?

January 21st, 2011

When I tell people I teach online discussion often turns, rather quickly, to all that a teacher will lose when teaching in the online environment. I will be the first to admit that there are certain things we often take for granted in a physical classroom that can be more of a challenge in the online environment. However it’s time we focused more on what can be gained by teaching online rather than what could be lost.

via What Can You Gain by Teaching Online?.

Skills Minister Asks Employers to Increase Education

October 22nd, 2010

The U.K. Skills Minister John Hayes has called on all U.K. businesses to promote informal learning at work, following pledges from 64 companies to increase informal workplace training for their staff.

via Informal Learning at Work.

Teacher Productivity – what if we harnessed Mechanical Turk?

September 17th, 2010

One of the most important areas of teacher development must surely be working out how to save time, create more time, drop some of the less meaningful activity in our days to create more, higher energy time to engage with students or improve our own professional learning? 9 times out of 10 the main barrier to teachers doing what they really want to do is ‘time’. I think that we could transform teacher time and energy by crowdsourcing some of our most mundane duties.

Ewan McIntosh | Digital Media & Education

via Teacher Productivity – what if we harnessed Mechanical Turk?.

Post-Primary Schools nationwide to receive High-Speed Broadband

June 26th, 2009

A 100mpbs Post Primary Schools Project which will deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to second level schools across the country has been launched by  Communications Minister Eamon Ryan TD.  The project is the result of cooperation between the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Department of Education and Science, the National Centre for Technology in Education, HEAnet, and the  Higher Education Authority. The first seventy-eight schools taking part in the Project were announced at the launch in the Digital Hub Learning Studio.

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Under the existing Schools Broadband Programme, primary and post-primary schools in Ireland can access a basic level of broadband connectivity. The 100mpbs Post Primary Schools Project marks the next phase in the Government’s ambition to develop our schools as world-class centres of e-learning and to educate the next generation of knowledge workers and digital entrepreneurs.

Launching the new Programme, Minister Ryan said, “We must equip our students with the skills and creativity they need to thrive in the new digital world we are entering. There is no surer way of preparing them than by bringing the Internet right into their place of learning and allowing them to experiment and interact online. Today’s announcement opens a door to them, to take part in Ireland’s digital future.”

This programme will provide world class infrastructure to enable our teachers and students access and exploit media rich online digital content and collaborate with colleagues on a world wide basis.  Schools will now be able to enrich and enliven their teaching and learning across all subjects on the post-primary curricula via these digital tools and online resources.

Schools have been selected against multiple criteria including geographical location, and an adequate mix of schools to ensure broad social inclusion. The speeds available are similar to those that are being offered to high-end national and multinational companies that operate in Ireland. They allow for the quick upload and download of material, instant connection to websites, and the increased and varied use of online applications.

The NCTE will  work with the 78 school to ensure the full benefits of this high speed broadband connection is availed of for learning and teaching. The NCTE will provide a range of support services including e-learning planning, continuing professional development, Scoilnet, online digital content, and technical advice and guidelines.

The Schools which will initially receive 100mpbs Broadband connections are:

Carlow Vocational School Kilkenny Road Carlow Carlow
St. Leo’s College Convent Of Mercy Dublin Road Carlow
St Caimin’s Community School Tullyvarraga Shannon Clare
St Flannan’s College Ennis Co Clare Clare
Cork College Of Commerce Morrison’s Island Cork Cork
Coláiste Choilm Ballincollig Co. Cork Cork
Christ King Girls’ Secondary School Half Moon Lane South Douglas Road Cork
Carrigaline Community School Waterpark Road Carrigaline Cork
Loreto Convent Letterkenny Co Donegal Donegal
Carndonagh Community School Carndonagh Lifford Donegal
St Eunan’s College Letterkenny Co Donegal Donegal
St Columbas College Stranorlar Co. Donegal Donegal
Loreto Community School Milford Co Donegal Donegal
Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola An Fálcarrach Leitir Ceanainn Donegal
Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmada An Leadhbgarbh Árainn Mhór Donegal
Coláiste Phobail Cholmcille Baile Úr Oileán Thoraí Donegal
Ballyfermot College of Further Education Ballyfermot Road Dublin 10 Dublin
Malahide Community School Broomfield Malahide Dublin
Loreto Secondary School Balbriggan Co Dublin Dublin
Castleknock Community College Carpenterstown Road Castleknock Dublin
Scoil Phobail Chuil Mhin Cluain Saileach Baile Atha Cliath 15 Dublin
Hartstown Community School Hartstown Dublin 15 Dublin
St Dominics College Cabra Dublin 7 Dublin
Mount Temple Comprehensive School Malahide Road Dublin 3 Dublin
St Josephs College Lucan Co Dublin Dublin
Coláiste Bríde New Road Clondalkin Dublin
St Mac Dara’s Community College Wellington Lane Templeogue Dublin
St Marks Community School Cookstown Rd Tallaght Dublin
St Benildus College Upper Kilmacud Rd Stillorgan Dublin
St Aidan’s Community School Brookfield Tallaght Dublin
Collinstown Park Community College Neilstown Rd. Rowlagh Dublin
St Pauls Secondary School Greenhills Dublin 12 Dublin
Rosmini Community School Grace Park Road Drumcondra Dublin
Presentation College Warrenmount Dublin 8 Dublin
St. Colmcille’s Community School Scholarstown Rd Knocklyon Dublin
St Joseph’s College Nun’s Island Galway Galway
Gort Community School Gort Co. Galway Galway
Presentation College Headford Co. Galway Galway
Calasanctius College Oranmore Co Galway Galway
Gairmscoil Éinne Oileain Arann Cill Rónain Inis Mór Galway
Coláiste Ghobnait Inis Oírr Oileáin Arann Galway
Coláiste Naomh Mhuire Convent Of Mercy Sallins Rd. Kildare
Salesian College Celbridge Co. Kildare Kildare
Maynooth Post Primary School Moyglare Rd Maynooth Kildare
St Kieran’s College Secondary School College Rd Kilkenny
Coláiste Íosagáin Portarlington Co. Laois Laoighis
Community School Carrick-On-Shannon Leitrim Leitrim
Castletroy College Newtown Castletroy Limerick
Crescent College Comprehensive Dooradoyle Rd Dooradoyle Limerick
Colaiste Chiarain Croom Co. Limerick Limerick
Presentation Secondary School Sexton Street Limerick Limerick
Mercy Secondary School Ballymahon Co Longford Longford
St Oliver’s Community College Drogheda Co. Louth Louth
Ó Fiaich College Dublin Road Dundalk Louth
St Vincent’s Secondary School Seatown Place Dundalk Louth
St Mary’s Diocesan School Beamore Road Drogheda Louth
St Louis Community School Kiltimagh Co Mayo Mayo
Davitt College Springfield Castlebar Mayo
St Peter’s College Dunboyne Co. Meath Meath
Community College Dunshaughlin Dunshaughlin Co Meath Meath
Beech Hill College Monaghan Co. Monaghan Monaghan
Killina Presentation Secondary School Rahan Tullamore Offaly
St Nathy’s College Ballaghaderreen Co Roscommon Roscommon
Summerhill College Sligo Co. Sligo Sligo
Cashel Community School Dualla Road Cashel Tipperary
St Paul’s Community College Browne’s Road Waterford City Waterford
St Angela’s Ursuline Convent Waterford Waterford
St Declan’s Community College Kilmacthomas Co Waterford Waterford
Moate Community School Church Street Moate Westmeath
Athlone Community College Retreat Road Athlone Westmeath
Our Lady’s Bower Retreat Rd. Athlone Westmeath
Good Counsel College New Ross Co Wexford Wexford
Mary Ward Railway Road Gorey Wexford
Vocational College Enniscorthy Co Wexford Wexford
Loreto Secondary School Vevay Rd Bray Wicklow

UK Universities plan to become world leaders in on-line distance learning

June 24th, 2009

A new task force to ensure our universities become the first choice across the world for on-line distance learning was announced yesterday by Higher Education Minister, David Lammy.

The task force chaired by Lynne Brindley, the Chief Executive of the British Library will advise on a wider strategy to build on our past and present successes and ensure we do not lose pace on increased demand in expanding and new markets.

It will be backed by a new Open Learning Innovation Fund aimed at helping universities build on their existing world class reputations to access and engage future markets that are expected to value around £15bn in the future.

This is a competitive match funding initiative, with up to £10m from HEFCE and therefore worth up to £20m in total, aims to encourage universities to work collaboratively with each other and the private and third sectors, to bid for money to develop projects to help transform the way people can get a degree.

David Lammy said;
“Advances such as 3G, webcasts and web 2.0, will allow UK universities to reach out to communities as far flung as Africa and Hong Kong and to deliver high quality, student-centred higher education across the globe.

“The use of mobile technologies such as PDAs and MP3 players means this can be done at a time and place that is convenient for the student wherever they are in the world.

“This Open Learning Innovation Fund will help institutions develop new initiatives and exploit new opportunities to ensure we remain at the forefront of online distance learning as the international market develops.

“I am particularly pleased that Lynne Brindley, Steve Beswick from Microsoft and Martin Bean have agreed to be part of the task force that will guide the way as this important work is taken forward.”

Dame Lynne Brindley, CEO British Library said:
“I am delighted to have been asked to chair the Task Force, and to consider the many opportunities for UK higher education to excel in online learning and meet the changing demands of students. The British Library is itself committed to innovative, high quality digital services, including public and commercial partnerships, and I look forward to making recommendations for action to stimulate growth in this important area.”

The Taskforce will include senior representatives from Microsoft [and Apple], who will join Martin Bean, the next Vice Chancellor of the Open University, the British Council, HEFCE, JISC and Universities UK. The BBC has agreed to advise the task force as and when appropriate.

The Online Learning Innovation Fund, established by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), could help groups of institutions to pursue new business opportunities and promote online learning including using open resources funded as part of the e-learning programme. Universities will also be able to develop greater expertise in on-line teaching and create centres of excellence for the delivery of online learning.

The wider strategy will broadly;
> Develop new plans for international marketing of on-line distance UK HE;
> Continue to promote the development of e-learning across the breadth of HE;
> Work to increase the quantity of learning resources freely available for all institutions to use; and
> Continue to develop the role of the Open University (OU) as a national resource, so that all universities can benefit from the OU’s specialist expertise, developed through public funding.

HEFCE will develop the Open Learning Innovation Fund in the light of the task force’s advice and then consult the sector on the practical details.

Britain is a world leader in distance learning currently attracting more than 100,000 students from around the globe and earning the sector some £200m in fees.

Source: PublicTechnology.Net

Hanafin urges unemployed to upskill

May 18th, 2009

More than 50,000 young people signing on the Live Register are being urged to improve their education, skills and qualifications during the recession.

Over the coming week the Department of Social and Family Affairs will post a letter to all 18 to 25-year-olds on jobseeker’s allowance advising them to look at the options available through their local VEC and adult education access programmes.

Minister Mary Hanafin said improving skills will be the key to economic recovery.

She said: “Young people should not see signing on the Live Register as their future — they should look to see what supports and opportunities are available for them throughout the country.

“We know that people of all skill levels are losing their jobs.

“Young people who may have opted out of the formal education and training opportunities, when the draw of high wages during the boom years was irresistible, are now more likely to remain unemployed if they are not actively upskilling and gaining new expertise.”

Ms Hanafin said the Government is now providing, through Fás, a total of 128,000 training and activation places for unemployed people this year, in addition to some 147,000 places available in further education programmes.

A cut in jobseeker’s allowance payment rates for 18 and 19-year-olds is also aimed at motivating them into taking up full-time training, she said.

“This measure was specifically introduced from this month to help young people gain skills which will give them a route into employment and so help them avoid becoming welfare-dependent from a young age,” Ms Hanafin added.

Source: Irish Times

Nottinghamshire County Council engages adult learners with interactive quizzes

April 30th, 2009

Adult Learners Week: 9-15 May 2009
Inspiring adults from diverse backgrounds to give learning a go, the Adult and Community Learning Service (ACLS), part of Nottinghamshire County Council, is engaging adult learners through game-show style quizzes.

Adult learning providers across the county are using Qwizdom (www.qwizdom.co.uk), an interactive voting system, to encourage learners to participate anonymously with confidence, removing the embarrassment or fear of speaking in front of peers.

A major skills shortage is costing the UK economy up to £10 billion a year according to a recent estimate by The CBI (Confederation of British Industry). By improving adult learning through new technology, the ACLS aims to help adults regardless of their background to continue their education through numerous projects. It has trialled the voting system with three of its learning providers: Advocacy 2 Engagement (A2E), The Positive Action through Learning Support Project and The Personal Learning Consultancy. Due to huge demand, it has now rolled out the kit to numerous other learning providers in Nottinghamshire.

A2E, which delivers tailor-made courses for adults with learning difficulties and disabilities, is using quizzes to improve their basic life skills. Questions such as: ‘Have I put a safe amount of water in this kettle?’ are posed to the class whilst the facilitator shows them a kettle filled with water exceeding the maximum limit. Learners press their keypads to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and responses are anonymously displayed on an interactive whiteboard, open for discussion. The system can also record achievement and progression by inputting the quiz results into a spreadsheet against each learner. This instantly shows how well learners are progressing, indicating which learners and topics need more attention.

Alan Clark, Service Development Manager at ACLS, commented: “Learners have been able to identify the link between using Qwizdom and popular television shows such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The feedback from learners and staff has been overwhelmingly positive because of the interactivity and healthy competition it brings to sessions. Sometimes adults’ perception of learning is a stereotypical one of being seated in rows and lectured, whereas voting technology is bringing learning to life for them.”

Comments from A2E learners include: “I liked seeing it on the screen so I know what I am doing”, “I liked it very much, it was easy” and “now I feel more independent.”

The Positive Action through Learning Support Project – a partnership between Nottingham Dyslexia Action and Nottinghamshire Probation Service – also uses Qwizdom for basic skills training. For example, when a probation officer identifies a literacy or numeracy weakness in one of their clients they can put them forward for a place on the programme. The Personal Learning Consultancy uses Qwizdom for family learning programmes to enable parents and carers to become more involved in their children’s education by understanding the literacy and numeracy curriculum whilst improving their own skills.

Gary Morrison, Director of Qwizdom, concluded: “The ACLS appreciates the benefits of using interactive technology to engage adult learners. If education providers are to successfully motivate adults to continue learning, it is vital that they implement innovative technology so that all learners feel confident to participate.”

Retail training package to aid business

April 22nd, 2009

The South Australian Government says a new $2.2 million retail training package will help businesses develop a skilled workforce to weather the economic storm.

The package, funded by the State and Federal Governments and the retail industry, will upgrade the skills of up to 220 existing retail managers.

The Training Minister, Michael O’Brien, says the smartest move that businesses can make is to keep their most talented staff.

“We will come out of this recession and generally the path that is followed in coming out of a recession is a fairly ferocious upswing and there’s an enormous demand for staff and skilled staff in a very short period of time,” he said.

“What we will achieve through this program is allow particularly young people to move through the ranks in the retail sector up to management positions.”

eLearning Partnership announced with City of Galway VEC

April 16th, 2009

City of Galway Vocational Education Committee, (CGVEC), has engaged with a global elearning provider Learn Skills in a strategic partnership to create and implement a strategy to develop and establish a lifelong learning culture in Galway City. Learn Skills will provide its significant technical and pedagogical assets, with the CGVEC leading the engagement of the local education community, encouraging the embracing of the lifelong learning programme offering through its own teaching network and via its various involvements through the wider community. Learn Skills is an innovative learning solutions provider, founded by an experienced group of on-line learning specialists, and driven by a mission to deliver the best technology-based solutions for learning. Learn Skills is headquartered in Ireland and is building on the experience and successes of the Irish e-learning industry to develop a commanding global presence.

It is a company founded on the belief that at the heart of any successful organization, you’ll find a unique combination of excellence, openness and innovation; and most importantly, people that are passionate about learning and delivering value to the end-user. At Learn Skills you will find dedicated and talented individuals that are steadfastly building a leading learning technology solutions provider.

Learn Skills was born out of the belief that in a Knowledge Society, organisational and individual effectiveness depends on the consistent application of learning and a committment to continuous personal development and lifelong learning. We believe our most valuable asset is our people and our goal is to help everyone learn better, faster and smarter through the use of technology enhanced learning tools and products.

The challenges presented by the Knowledge Society demand even greater collaboration between academia and industry. Consequently, Learn Skills is based at the National University of Ireland in Galway, at the heart of a technology innovation hub. There, the  company benefits from the research & development capacity of a leading international University and research institution.

Hospitality Training Programs will help fill 1m vacancies

April 5th, 2009

An extensive initiative is underway to prepare the hospitality industry for an upcoming one million vacancies.

The initiative, run by the National Skills Academy for Hospitality, will endorse hospitality training programmes that meet specific standards and criteria.

It is hoped training programmes that receive a stamp of approval from the Academy will stimulate and develop new skills needed in the hospitality industry.

The National Skills Academy for Hospitality, a not for profit organisation, said they are responding to a demand for skills in the industry that will escalate in the coming months. The hospitality sector, which has escaped from the economic downturn relatively unscathed, will continue to grow and recruit, according to the Academy’s Chairman Bob Cotton.

The increase in the demand for hospitality skills, they said, will be spurred by seasonal demand, people retiring and those leaving the industry. Despite the recession, the Academy has predicted around one million vacancies in the industry in the next 12 months.

The industry is already affected by skills shortages in management and leadership, customer service and chefs.

If a course is approved by the Academy, they will “reap the reward of being recognised as excellent,” according to the Academy’s chief executive, David McHattie.

He said the initiative would raise standards and increase the availability of training programmes.

Shining a light on the excellence found and increasing the availability of these programmes will not only raise the standards of training throughout the hospitality industry but enhance our reputation with the talent of the future,” said Mr McHattie.

Several programmes have been identified, approved and recognised so far.

They are a New Advanced Apprenticeship to provide students with skills to run a successful pub, restaurant or bar; Diplomas in Professional Cookery; Diplomas in Professional Cookery intended to set a new standard of delivery in chef qualifications; Chef Master Classes for those who want to develop their existing skills; and Junior Chefs Academies, a 10-week Saturday morning college programme that provides 14-16 year olds with basic cooking skills.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) will be working with the Academy and partners to establish several Junior Chefs Academies in the Northwest.

Douglas Gyte,tourism development manager at NWDA, said the programme will act as a vehicle for talented individuals who want to further a career as a chef.

This programme provides fantastic opportunities for our potential chefs to develop their interest in the profession and gain expertise. The programme aims to stimulate interest and encourage more talented young chefs to pursue a career in the industry,” said Mr Douglas.

He called the development of chefs important and integral to the overall success of the hospitality industry.