Tag Archives: RSC NewsFeed

Continuing the migration of work I’ve done in the last 3 years at JISC RSC Scotland North & East I’ve imported posts which I’ve authored for our fortnightly electronic newsletter RSC NewsFeed. In total there are just over 100 posts, which focus more on the practical things in life rather than some of my more exploratory posts you usually find here.

A couple of words on import/export. Thanks to WordPress it was easy to export posts by me and import them here. On import I wish I’d assigned the imported posts to a new user account, which would have made batch tagging RSC NewsFeed posts a lot easier. So here they are (and no I didn’t manually create the list below fortunately there was some code to do it ;)  

March 2011

February 2011

January 2011

December 2010

November 2010

October 2010

June 2010

May 2010

March 2010

February 2010

January 2010

December 2009

November 2009

October 2009

September 2009

June 2009

May 2009

April 2009

March 2009

February 2009

December 2008

November 2008

October 2008

September 2008

June 2008

May 2008

With continued question-marks about the financial sustainability of tertiary education it is interesting to see how the educational landscape continues to change. As the tectonic plates of funders and providers continue to move apart, a new landscape is emerging. This new territory has not yet been tarnished with the impurities of profit or politics but instead is rich in the fundamental element of what we do, learning.

You only need look at ideas like the "Alternative Art College" which has seen art student Paul Stewart hold seminars in his own living room, backed by university staff prepared to donate their own time. Alternatively why not participate in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in mobile learning.  MOOCs are designed to let people of all abilities engage is a semi-structured course, participating in online activities, constructing and sharing learning.

You could argue none of this is really new, learning has always and will continue to happen despite our attempts to subsume it into the 'establishment', but for me it is interestingly to see how technology is being used to empower learners.

image02imageDate: Monday 21st February 2011
Venue:  National e-Science Centre, 15 South College Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AA
Time: 09:30 – 16:00
Cost: Free

Both Higher and Further Education institutions are actively engaged in a wide variety of initiatives to enhance Business Performance through the development of Skills and Knowledge.  This event will be of interest to anyone in FE/HE with an interest in increasing employer engagement and knowledge exchange.

This free one-day conference is organised by the JISC RSCs in Scotland in partnership with The Higher Education Academy Scotland team to explore how institutions are turning increasingly to technology to provide Business and Employer Engagement solutions. The conference will include a variety of sessions exploring current issues, practical resources and advice in the areas of Business and Employer Engagement. Some of the themes to be explored in the conference include:

  • Technological solutions: opportunities and challenges
  • Developing the internal strategy: communication, culture, recognition and buy-in
  • Relationship management: what are the benefits/the costs?
  • People and processes: professional development and skills for engagement
  • Student Employability: skills and attributes learners should expect to develop

The conference will provide an opportunity to explore key findings, resources and issues which have arisen during a range of initiatives that both JISC and the Academy have been supporting.

Click here for Event programme

Click here to register for this event

Please do not make any travel bookings until your application has been formally accepted.  Please note that online applications will not be accepted after the 15 February 2011. Enquiries should be made directly to our Conference Administrator


Electronic voting (clickers) in the classroom have been used to engage students in learning for a number of years. As well as potentially being a fun way to learn there are great opportunities for tutors to identify misconceptions in knowledge and ‘close the gap’.  However, one issue with many voting systems is that results often get lost in the vendor's voting software. Although a number provide ways to bridge the gap with plugins it can often be problematic to synchronise user details. 

One manufacture, Optivote, has taken a different approach, to integrate their voting solution into Moodle. Using the Moodle Quizzes module instructors can author their questions and pose them to their class, collecting responses via the Optivote handset, the results being collated for presentation back to the class and stored in Moodle. The video below demonstrates Optivote:

If you are a Moodle user and you would like to try the Optivote system they have a partnership programme. In return for helping Optivote refine their solution you will receive £3,000 worth of kit and support. This includes:

  • 32 Optivote handsets
  • The Optivote/Moodle plugin
  • Full training for 10 members of staff
  • Three years support and maintenance

Deadlines for applications are the 20th Feb.

Click here for more details about the Optivote Partner Programme

There has been a lot of talk recently with education funding models and the four letter word ‘fees’. An emigrant area is the rise of the massively open online courses (MOOCs).  The origins of MOOCs can be traced to September 2008 when over 1,200 people signed up for  George Siemens and Stephen Downes Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course. The basic concept of MOOCs is to establish some structured learning which might include weeks reading/tasks or online seminars, providing a mechanism for individuals to connect and learn together.

Jim Groom from University of Mary Washington is one of the latest academics dipping his toe into the world of MOOCs. Jim has already been teaching a face-to-face version of his Digital Storytelling course (ds106) for a number of semesters and in January he is opening ds106 for the world to participate in.

For more information about the course visit http://ds106.us/. Even if you are not interested in learning about Digital Storytelling I still recommend you follow Jim’s development of this course on his bavatuesdays blog for an insight into what it takes to make a MOOC.

And from Jim’s blog below is a video produced by Dave Cormier et al. on how to be successful in a MOOC:

In the last edition of RSC NewsFeed we posted Farewell Lectures? Donald Clark Stirs it Up which highlighted Donald Clark’s “Don’t lecture me” keynote from ALT-C 2010. In this post we directed you to a related post on the Learning Conversations blog which mentioned that there was a lot of backchannel dialogue during Donald’s presentation by delegates in the room and those remotely watching via Elluminate. The use of Twitter at educational conferences has really taken off in the last couple of years allowing an individual find a voice in a format which is usually dominated by whoever is standing at the front.

The tweets from Twitter are potentially not only just a valuable historic record of the audience reaction but can potentially improve the navigation and searchability of video resources. This is explained in more detail in Martin Hawksey’s (RSC Scotland North & East) guest post on the FOTE website Making ripples in a big pond: Optimising FOTE10 videos with an iTitle Twitter track, in which he describes how and why he was able to combine conference videos with subtitles of the audiences tweets.

The same technology has now been used with some of the video from ALT-C 2010. So you now can see what the audience ‘tweeted’ during Donald and Sugata Mitra’s  keynotes.

Click to see "Don't lecture me" - Donald Clark at ALT-C 2010 w/h Twitter track on YouTube
“Don’t lecture me” – Donald Clark at ALT-C 2010 w/h Twitter track on YouTube
Click to view "The hole in the wall: self organising systems in education" - Sugata Mitra at ALT-C 2010 w/h Twitter Track on YouTube
“The hole in the wall: self organising systems in education” – Sugata Mitra at ALT-C 2010 w/h Twitter Track on YouTube

For more details on how this was done you can read Martin’s post on iTitle: Full circle with Twitter subtitle playback in YouTube (ALT-C 2010 Keynotes)


The US Department of Education have recently published a report which analysed the findings of over 1000 empirical studies of online learning published between 1996 and July 2008.  The report has concluded that

In recent experimental and quasi-experimental studies contrasting blends of online and face-to-face instruction with conventional face-to-face classes, blended instruction has been more effective, providing a rationale for the effort required to design and implement blended approaches. When used by itself, online learning appears to be as effective as conventional classroom instruction, but not more so.

Or as Joe Wilson tweeted:

Joe Wilson@joecar: US Department of Education Evaluation of Evidence Based Practices in On-Line Education http://tinyurl.com/yz2pk56 it works #ediff [view tweet]

Click here to download Evaluation of Evidence Based Practices in On-Line Education

Regular reader of RSC NewsFeed will probably know that we have a fondness towards mind mapping. Recently we came across SpicyNodes which lets you create and present nice ‘floaty’ interactive mind maps. Whilst SpicyNodes doesn’t have the same level of online editing as the likes of Mindmeister, it more than makes up with its visual appeal. That just might   make it an ideal addition to your course homepage or even on your VLE.

I mention VLE because unlike most of the other mind mapping tools, SpicyNodes can be created programmatically, that is you can create diagrams by formatting existing data like sitemap or information from your own database. Here is more information on data visualisation using SpicyNodes.

Below is an example SpicyNode explaining the service:

Click here to visit the SpicyNodes site

imageNUS Scotland have published a report researching the student financial support system.  The Still in the Red report surveyed over 7,400 Scottish further and higher education students exploring the effectiveness and impact of student finances. Headline findings from the report include:

  • 61% of students worry frequently or all of the time about finances
  • 62% said that not receiving enough money was having a negative impact on their studies
  • 50% had been forced to access commercial credit (credit cards and the like) to get by
  • 68% were working more than the Cubie-recommended 10 hours per week with 47% of these said that combining work with study was having a negative impact on their studies
  • 36% considered dropping out due to financial worries, with 89% of these saying “not having enough financial support” was a key reason for considering this

The report breaks down findings highlighting issues for: further education; higher education; postgraduate students; student parents; part-time students; and mature students.

The report highlights the following student views of FE support:


  • Students value face‑to‑face advice and local support from college bursary officers
  • Students are confident their courses will improve their prospects
  • EMA funding provides the poorest young students with a guaranteed sum on a regular basis



  • The discretionary system for college bursaries allows inequalities between
  • The possibility of funding being reduced or withdrawn during studies is causing anxiety and stress to students, which is impacting negatively on their studies
  • Actual reduction and withdrawal of funding is creating further student hardship
  • Requiring high levels of attendance from students as a prerequisite for receipt of funding fails to take into account the range of living situations of today’s students and may disadvantage some of the most vulnerable students
  • Differences between FE and HE funding systems may be preventing some students from progressing from one stage to the next

Click here to read the full NUS Scotland press release and download the report

On the 19th March 2010 the Higher Education Academy and Universities Scotland held a one-day workshop titled 'Tackling plagiarism through policy and practice'. The aim of the event was to “help enhance understanding of the issues relating to plagiarism; stimulate debate in this area; share good practice and policies; and facilitate change in practice.”

If you were unable to attend this event resources including workshop presentations are now available from the Academy website (towards the bottom of the page). More information and guidance is also available from the Academic Integrity Service wiki.