Friday, 26 October 2012
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
I believe there is a need for a complete system overview to decide what information is required for each individual report. If the information is inserted (live from the database) in the report template then the evaluation and impact could easily be written with reference to the information contained. However, the current practice is to spend time finding information from paper based records and on-line databases which in many cases require training from the administrator on how to obtain my own data. Bonkers!!, why should anyone have to learn someone else's job.
I have spoken about the 'Hidden Factory' in the past, well this is an example of one. Consider the following... if it takes say, 15 hours (conservative estimate) to produce information from the various data available for one report. If the on-costs of a member of staff is £40, then the cost will be £600. If there are 12 managers doing the same than the cost rise to £7200. Now consider that most tutors are spending a number of hours finding their part of the information; 200 tutors spending 3 hours each could easily add an extra £24000. Therefore each report approximately costs £31,200.
The solution... closer communication between business support and teachers/managers to focus on streamlining the report process and making every aspect electronic.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
The processes are working, especially for the staff who have used them for a number of years. The difficulty for me is that it is very paper based and information is not necessarily in sync with the central college data systems. Paper is not the problem (except for cost), it is the transparency that is my challenge. As information is mainly paper based it can only be located in a particular folder, draw or cupboard.
The effectiveness of the administration system(s) have a direct impact on the quality of teaching and learning. Effective administration allows trends to be identified, predict possible problems in financial terms as well as highlighting possible errors. At a simple level, good administration release time which can then be used to focus on the delivery of the learning content. The college has many systems and databases and a team of support staff to maintain it all.
The question I pose myself is... why is there such a need to hold local information and data in staff rooms? I will explore this interesting aspect from a personal perspective in part two.
Friday, 4 March 2011
I am reflecting on a session I attended at a local university which focused on engaging mature students. Our table had the case study 'Claire' to explore. The table agreed that the scenario is well known and applies to quite a number of mature students.
Claire was the first person in her family to go to university. My table immediately started to discuss that aspect before reading on. It became clear that there can be quite serious pressures from the family to question why Claire wishes to go to university. “We never went and we did alright”; “do you think you are better than the rest of us” and “you are putting your family at risk if you don't earn money” were comments made by the table. Clearly, enrolling onto an university course can have additional pressures on some students even before starting. In addition, the logistics of traveling, balancing home/family life with study, issues such as traveling to university for one lecture is both costly in both time and money.
The case study described Claire as feeling isolated as she has been unable to attend social events or meet many other mature students to share the experience of balancing demanding aspects of their student life. Clearly, Claire does not appear to have strong support framework at university and home. Phil Race explores “What keeps learners going when the going gets tough?” (Race, 2007) identifies that 1 out of 10 are kept going by strong support and encouragement; 3 out of 10 by 'not wanting to be found lacking' and 6 out of 10 gave 'need' , e.g. “it was a necessary step” and “I need to be able to do it”. These interesting facts does confirm that support is one aspect that an educational organisation can help make a positive difference to the success of the student. The next activity explored how support could be provided.
Each table was provided with the 'What Works?' grid to identify how each aspect of the students' life cycle at university can be supported. The life cycle started from pre-entry to post graduation (or exiting). Opportunities for each target life cycle was provided by the 'system' i.e. Academic, Social, Professional and organisational.
The entries identify for the grid by my table had a social networking theme and identified a need for improved information provided by new communication conduits. The aim of the communication conduits are to help join students, tutors and the organisation together. A strong communication conduit based on research was presented at the end of the session. The research focused on a local university which identified that the communication conduits need to start at pre-entry via the website which revolves around a new and developing mature student section. This section provides information focused on mature students needs and offers the opportunity to connect with other mature students to aid a feeling of inclusiveness.
My own research suggests that barriers can be overcome by providing clear and transparent communication conduits, which leads me to consider... how can all the current communication conduits in an educational organisation be identified and even more importantly be assessed for effectiveness and efficiency?
Race, P. (2007) Making Learning Happen, SagePublication, London
Monday, 7 February 2011
If they do succeed I am wondering what effect this will have on any future session I teach. I am wondering if I should provide the learning material and then use forums for the students to discuss the topic and any questions posed. The class time can then be spent exploring what the students have learned from the material and discuss the issues it raises.
This turns my normal sessions on it's head. I normally provide homework/questions on the subject explained in class for the student to consider at home. The distance learning model I am using appears to require the student to learn the topic away from the class and bring questions and issues to the session. This can be used as a discussion opportunity for all.
I am in deep thought... is this the natural way courses should be delivered whether the student can attend the session or learn at distance.
I am reconsidering my learning and teaching methodology. Time for more reading on the subject.
Saturday, 1 January 2011
My reflection is on a workshop that I attended at a university. I suggest that technology could provide an increase in class size for Further Education (FE) colleges and reduce barriers to learning by providing access to a 'live' lecture from various locations. I would be very interested in comments on this reflection, especially those that address quality in terms of presentation, interaction, bi-directional feedback and post lecture support.
The workshop session “In conversation with... Personal experiences of teaching at [name withheld]” was a very informative session which allowed me to hear first-hand what it is like to teach at an university. I found that the very large increase in class size and the method of providing a Graduate Training Assistance (GTA) to provide small group tutorials or follow up laboratory work to be a major difference between FE and Higher Education (HE) methods of learning and teaching. While reflecting on this method of learning and teaching I posed myself the question... could this be provided by a FE college?
I do believe it is possible to have large classes of students learning core subjects such as mathematics and to provide the opportunity to have tutorials that will contextualize the subject to the students' own specialism. And this does happen in some curriculum areas but the class numbers will be in the tens, not the hundred or so (in some cases hundreds) that can be found in universities. To reach the numbers mentioned, curriculum areas will need to work closer together to obtain the class sizes in the hundreds. If this was achieved there could be an infrastructure design issue... many colleges do not have rooms designed for that number of students.
On further reflection there may be a technology solution... the lecture could be streamed to a number of classrooms and displayed on a screen at the front of the room. Student feedback could be obtained through the use of services such as Twitter or Textwall and displayed for the tutor and students to see and respond as appropriate. This could be taken one step further by streaming it to students' at home and therefore making a truly (inter)national course. The video stream could be recorded and made available to the students for revision or to provide an opportunity for learning if they were unable to attend the live session.
Thank you in advance for your comments.
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
I suspect the majority of teachers and other professionals do the same.
For me the act of blogging even if no one reads it, is like making a line in the sand which basically says... I have thought about it and my conclusions are... and I think I will change this or that upon my experiences.
Since I have resumed blogging I realize it is really satisfying and allows me to "put the day to rest". I now think I have a little more understanding of why people spend time entering their thoughts for the day in a diary. Yet again, technology has helped me on a humanistic level as I would have never thought of using a paper diary, but quite happy (increasingly so) writing this blog.
A large part of the day was spent experiencing the on-line conference
Innovating e-Learning 2010 Online Conference
Bringing innovation to life: From adversity comes opportunityhttp://www.jisc.ac.uk/elpconference10
This was a new experience for me and right from the first presentation I was really enjoying the high quality of the presentations and the massive amount of interaction between all the attendees. I started to consider how I could use our college interactive video conferencing system to produce a similar experience for our tutors. However the more I thought about it during the day the more barriers I saw. In fact I may have become a little depressed because I am so aware of the challenge this would present. However, I have been a Change Agent for many years and finding ways around problems is second nature to me. The way around this problem has come to me while I was writing this blog. Read on...
I just remembered that a part-time engineering lecturer came up to me tonight and said, please will you video my session on Thursday as you are right... the video you took of me last week is very useful for my students. As I went straight into teaching after that conversation I had not thought about it until I started reflecting while writing this blog. A little positive comment like that managed to immediately re-ignite my enthusiasm and I now know that I must organize an on-line conference in the New Year. The way to reduce the barriers is to involve as many PDAs and tutors as possible in the presentations. It would be fantastic if I can encourage the part-time engineering lecturer to present a short session on the use of recording sessions for students to view via Moodle.
It is all about enhancing the fledgling Community of Practice - TEL. I would consider the on-line conference a success even if only one tutor uses the system after participating. That one tutor could be a case study which can be used to share good practice. I now believe that blogging is another tool for me to use to identify possible ways around barriers.
Last thought: small steps are much better than none at all.
Reminder to self... show the part-time engineering lecturer how to video his own sessions to release him from needing me.