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Tag Archives: e-learning

Teaching in the 21st Century

As part of my job role, I’ve been doing a lot of research on technology in teaching. Two concepts that I really feel are important are SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environment, from Sugata Mitra) and the Flipped Classroom. After suffering a broken leg I have been recovering with 6 months off work.  Upon my return these key concepts seem to have exploded into the college as something staff should be engaging with.

This feels like an exciting time in teaching, the key concept about teaching that really struck me was in Sugata Mitra’s winning Ted 2013 key note speech: Teaching is the same as it has been for decades, but the workplace has changed dramatically, we are teaching students for jobs that are obsolete.

We need to change the way we teach for a generation that can find any information at any time at the touch of a button, but at the same time do not have the skills to filter, evaluate or analyse what they have found. I was pondering this. How easy is this going to be? Just how engrained is the traditional classroom teaching in our culture?

I’m a bit of a geek and love science fiction. I used to love watching Star Trek and was a real Trekker in my younger years. The show has been hailed as predicting/inspiring technological advances with communicators (mobile phones), automatic doors to name just two. So how did Start Trek universe predict teaching would look like in the 24th century?


Looks a bit familiar! Teacher standing at the front whilst the students sit at individual desks listening. They may have technology on the desks, but they are still learning from listening to a teacher. With a classroom like this there is no easy to for the students to collaborate or work in groups. This episode was probably recorded around 1993 so the classroom layout looks dated by today’s standards. But I feel it shows just how engrained teaching is, that despite all the technical advances writers think up about the future, teaching is still the same.

The Flipped Classroom

I really like this concept, and think it helps give students skills they need in an engaging way. This video describes this concept well.

I’ve been doing lots of reading and there are some really great YouTube videos of practitioners sharing what they have done, how successful it was and the problems they have faced. The one thing that has struck me is that:

  • Most are American
  • All are based in schools

The Flipped Classroom in FE

As a learning technologist at a F.E./H.E. college I am looking at how the concepts can be applied in this setting. In school most of the assessment is exam based, and with Government changes this is only going to increase. Watching a video of the content and applying this in class is a great way to move up Bloom’s taxonomy to the higher learning which will be beneficial when assessment is exams. In college’s and sixth forms, A levels are also mostly exam based.

However, in FE a large amount of assessment is course work, particular vocational courses such as BTEC. Teaching a vocational course can vary depending on the subject.

The question I was asking myself was: Can the flipped classroom approach be applied in FE or does it need to be modified?

As I’m writing this, I feel like I’m answering my own question. Some practical courses would definitely benefit for this approach, for example in catering: Watching a video about preparing meat and then coming to college and applying those skills in a workshop would be beneficial for both teacher and student. Courses where there is little writing and more practical and observational assessment, the flipped classroom would make class time more efficient and more engaging.

As an I.T. teacher myself previously, I was thinking of other subjects, such as business and IT, where the majority of the assessment is written (writing reports, posters, leaflets etc) and done mostly in class time. I think in this case you would have a mix.

  1. There is still all the content to deliver, having this as videos gives students flexibility, as they don’t always write the best notes, and the videos can be re-visted at any time to recap.
  2. For each video, class time can be used with practical activities to reinforce the content.
  3. Once the content has been delivered, the students would be writing their assignments, so most of their time is spent on this, both in class and out.

Once the students reach 3, the videos are still available to help them if they forget key concepts, but the lesson is not as engaging, particular towards the end of the unit, as it’s important for them to get their assignments done.

One approach would be for students to work in groups, collaborating as you would in the workplace, but at the end of the day, it is an assessment. It has to be the students’ own work.

The Flipped Classroom in the UK

There is a perception that the flipped classroom is happening in schools now. In a few years time, we will receive students how have been taught in this way, and will not be prepared to learn at college in a traditional setting. However, as most of the information I have found has been American, is this true in the UK?

As I work in a college, I have no answer. It could be that this information is not being shared or it’s just early days for the concept here. I was also wondering if teachers are under so much pressure from Government targets and Ofsted that it doesn’t leave much room for experimentation with their teaching.

I am also interested to know if colleges have tried changing the way they teach using this approach and if it works. I can feel a project brewing but as I am no longer a practitioner myself I have no classes to try this.

Starter for 10

I do deliver staff development training and have decided to use an e-learning session I deliver new staff to try this out. I’ve set up a mini flipped classroom lesson as part of this session.

The training is two days long, so on day one I’m going to give them all this:

10 minute task

The link is to a TedEd lesson I created using a video on Flipped Classroom.

On day two, they will have my session. It will be interesting to see if the staff members actually watch the video or even do the quiz or discussion. Either way, it is a good illustration of what a flipped classroom is.

So watch this space.

Comments and Questions

I would love to hear from other schools and colleges about my thoughts and what they are doing. To repeat myself, it feels like an exciting time in education, but it could just be my perception rather than actual practice.


MOOCs – Feeling Inspired

I’m currently have way through a 3 day online conference run by Jisc RSC North Yorkshire on Moocs which looks at everything from OER, accessibility, open badges to designing and creating a successful mooc. It’s been really interesting and inspiring.

This has linked well as I’ve been asked to join a steering group at the college looking at frameworks for teaching from the way we do it now to completely online. This has been great opportunity to use my knowledge as a learning technologist and collaborate with staff.

As I really should ‘practice what I preach’, I’ve signed up for 2 Moocs, the first being January and run by The University of Nottingham called Sustainability, society and you with a focus on Education for Sustainable Development. It is an interesting topic, but I’m also interested in how it runs and I how I find being a student on a Mooc course.

The focus is on research and critical thinking, and resources have been made available before hand to encourage deeper learning once the course starts. There are free e-books available and can be downloaded to e-readers, so I’ve downloaded them all to my iPad and started reading one.  It’s fired up my interest and given me a knowledge of what I will be learning. I am a keen, proactive learning, so whether other students on the course will do the same I will have to wait and see. I’m also hoping that I continue to look through the resources before the course.

My aim to do this particular course is to see if I can re-think sustainability and I am hoping it will inspire change as a result of more knowledge.

I will blog about my journey and lessons learned. I’m feeling a real passion for education and e-learning particularly and hope this becomes a real way of making education accessible to those who seek it. I am looking forward to honing my skills and using them to support staff and help to create e-learning content and courses.

E-Safety Course – Creating the Theme

Well I’ve had lots of fun in Photoshop and Captivate looking at different looks.  I have a colour scheme which I’m using based on the college logo and have so far created 2 different themes.

The Square Theme is quiet formal:


The bubbles theme is less so:


I quiet like the bubbles theme, however when I added some content to the first screen, I think the squares theme looks better.

ImageThese are just some first thoughts, and I may end up doing something entirely different.  It’s been good to try out the Master Slides in Captivate, they are are so versatile and easy to update.

E-Safety Course – Mapping the Mind

I’ve been thinking about the type of content I will want on my course, and have created the following mind map:


The important part of this course it is must appeal to 16-19 year olds.  Having read an article I found on Twitter I added in poll/survey branch. The University of Sussex looked at ways of making their Moodle more engaging by looking at the way in which Facebook displays information ( I need to make the content appealing and recognisable so it is easy to use through directed study. Making my course look familiar and modern will help towards this goal.

Using a Poll/Survey activity is something which is used on Facebook, and could be a good way of engaging with students. Embedding videos and interactive content using Adobe Captivate is another tool which can create interactive material.

Another tool which I want to use is the Moodle Lesson. I love the Moodle Lesson activity, having seen a video using this activity to create a role playing assessment (@moodlefairy it lends itself to some great scenarios for e-safety which the student can decide which route to go down.

Overall, I have the tools to create an engaging course, but all this depends on the content.

I’m next going to look at potential themes as I continue to learn Adobe Captivate. I watched a great training video by @poojajaisingh ( which gave some useful tips I didn’t know.

E-Safety Course – Learning the Tools

When I first started to think about the e-safety course, I was concerned with the skills I needed to create it.  A colleague had created a blended learning course in Moodle using information and quizzes created in this Adobe Captivate, so I set about learning this software.

I found some great tutorial videos by VHOT (Virtual Hands On Training Inc). The videos demonstrate step by step how to create an e-learning course called Safari Sam, and as I’ve used Adobe products in the past, (Photoshop, Fireworks, Flash and Illustrator) I was familiar enough with Adobe to following the videos easily.

I’ve really enjoyed using Captivate, and the project I’ve created works well.  I’ve added this as a SCORM package into Moodle and it works and adds the quiz scores to the grade book so this is looking good.

I then started to think about my e-safety course and how I could use Captivate. I’ve created a couple of templates with ideas of content, but it’s becoming apparent that I need to look at the content before I do anything more. I also want to look at the screen capture features of Captivate as this will be useful for demonstration.

So far so good, but the more I think about the content, the more I need to research about this. I will pick up the tools easily, but it’s important that the course content is spot on, otherwise there is no point to the course.  Will blog more on this later. For now it’s time to mind map and then think of the next step.

New Job!

I’ve currently taken on a new role as a learning technologist.  My background is IT as I was a computer programmer for 6 years working with Investment Banks, the past 5 years I’ve been in education teaching IT to 16-19 year olds, and more recently as a Higher Education Learning Mentor supporting HE students.

As a learning technologist all the different types experience I have has been really helpful. I’ve used Moodle throughout my career as a teacher and was always proactive in trying new technology with students, such as iPads, Wallwisher (now Padlet), Smartboards etc. My experience of using and teaching Adobe Photoshop and Flash has been invaluable as I am currently learning how to use Adobe Captivate in order to create e-learning course content.

This is particular important as I’m looking at producing an online course on e-safety. I’m reluctant to call it a mooc, as it is not going to be that big. I am going to blog about the process, ideas etc on this course in the hope that I can collaborate with others who have done something similar, or am thinking of doing something similar.

I’ll keep you posted with updates on how it is going, and I hope that I can share ideas as well learn and find out more information!