Partly in preparation for a CPD webinar about Xerte for the Learning Futures programme but also for use during other sessions and conferences I put together the video below providing an overview of the Xerte story so far…
Time flies and the 2014 festive season has been and gone and because it was late in December when these training resources were completed and released by Jisc Legal I don’t think the resources have been as widely publicised as they might have been. So I thought it would be a good idea to help publicise the free training resources and also add some additional info and context not covered elsewhere.
Firstly it was a pleasure to support the Jisc Legal team in the development of these resources and I think great testament to their dedication in working so hard on this amidst all the JISC restructuring etc. The free training for both FE and HE staff is available for previewing via the links below but also available for download from Jorum too (whilst Jorum is still available) in both standard zip and SCORM formats.
Self-access and Flipped CPD
With all the talk about flipped classroom and flipped learning in recent months and years I thought it would be useful to add some comments about how I think these resources might be used for self-access and/or perhaps ‘flipped CPD’. Forgetting the hype involved in all the flipped learning talk (and apologies for referring to flipped CPD too) importantly I’d like to comment on how I think these resources might be used together with f2f training, or perhaps other online guidance, to not only facilitate understanding but ideally inform and achieve change in behaviour too.
If you access the materials you’ll read and hear that data protecton training is regarded as a requirement now and as such you might conclude that by working through the materials yourself, or making them available to colleagues if that’s your role, ticks the boxes regarding that requirement. I guess that type of access/use falls into the category of what is often referred to as ‘compliance training’ and by adding the SCORM versions to your vle you can track completion and evidence who has accessed the training. A lot of time and effort by the Jisc legal team was put into making this training practical, clear and concise and directly relevant to staff working in Colleges and Universities. Hopefully the resulting material is engaging and makes it easy to understand the key messages about data protection considerations and requirements through a series of directly relevant scenarios. So in this respect I think it’s reasonable to expect anyone working through the material to gain a reasonable understanding of the key topics covered. Boxes ticked!
However will that increased awareness and understanding result in change in behaviour or indeed change in organisational policy and strategy too. A change in policy/strategy isn’t really a specific objective of the training but clearly increased understanding should ideally result in fewer occurrences of breaches of data protection or at least improved decision making and practice and to change or support that arguably might require assessment of, if not change in, policy, strategy or appropriate resource provision. As a simple example one of the scenarios talks about a member of staff with good intentions taking personal data home on both an encrypted laptop and a usb stick and the guidance talks about minimising risk and only using the encrypted laptop. All makes sense and easy to follow and understand. However what if there aren’t any encrypted laptops available? Or what if some members of staff are unaware of how to use such an encryption system and need support at that particular point in time to be able to do so? Is the local guidance and access to policies, procedures and relevant resources available to match the theory to reality and to compliment the messages provided by the training? This is just one simple example and obviously not any kind of criticism of the training material but in my experience I do think additional online support and guidance and possibly even f2f training might also be required if the self-access training is to result in a real and sustained change in behaviour and to make that change possible.
The training provides opportunity throughout to make reflective notes and to print or email those notes at the end. If your role is to provide and support this training and to promote and support good practice in terms of data protection I would encourage you to make notes about wherever additional local guidance, resources or other changes in provision and support might be required to help facilitate what ideally should be change in behaviour as well as just increased understanding.
Common Craft & Common Craft Style
If you’re familiar with the work of Common Craft and Common Craft Style animations and explainer videos you might notice some clear similarities with the scenarios and style used in this data protection material. I subscribe to use the Common Craft cut-out library but also over the years have built up my own original cut-outs in similar style where the library doesn’t include exactly what I need e.g. like the UK police image shown here.
I can heartily recommend their Art of Explanation book and as an organisation you might also find it useful to subscribe to some or all of their excellent video library. More importantly establishing Common Craft style projects with your students can be a very engaging and productive T&L strategy. A search for “Common Craft style” should result in lots of examples of others dong this as well as various tutorials.
I hope you find the data protection materials and these additional comments useful!
I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Jisc Legal team recently to update their copyright training for University Lecturers in light of new legislation and also to create a new and updated copy aimed at College Lecturers. You can preview both the HE and FE versions via the links below and also access the modules on Jorum (whilst it’s still available) where you can download plain or SCORM versions of the resource for uploading to your VLE/LMS.
*Minor updates Aug 2016
Now that the version for college lecturers is available I used the resource as part of a training session last week as a vehicle for discussing a few separate topics:
1. Copyright considerations
The training resource contains very pragmatic advice and guidance which is much needed in an area which is often complex and as a consequence often completely ignored!
2. An example of scenario based e-learning content
These days it is well known amongst professional developers just how effective scenario based e-learning can be especially when compared with the old tell test metaphor that was the norm previously. Arguably this Jisc legal training could go further in this respect but there’s obviously a balance to be had when the training is aimed at ‘short of time’ lecturers and self-contained access with 60 minutes or less completion time. There are opportunities for reflection and note taking throughout and although some of the individual topics seem very similar and possibly repetitive it’s these individual notes and reflections and the ability to email or print the collated results that could prove the difference between the informational and performance objectives underpinning the training.
3. An example of mobile compatible content created with a rapid e-learning tool
Many visitors here will be familiar with my involvement with Xerte but in this case Articulate Storyline was the tool of choice. This was for a number of reasons, not least of which updating the previous module created with Articulate Presenter, but also some of the improvements and additions in this case would have been difficult and more time consuming to start from scratch in Xerte. With the latest version of Articulate Storyline there are apps for use on iPads and Android tablets providing optimised access on those devices as well as HTML 5 and Flash output for other platforms. As well as optimised playback an additional benefit of using the free Articulate app on your iPad or Android tablet is the option to download to your device for offline use e.g. download while on institution wifi and then learn from the material while on the move without needing a connection.
4. Finished content showing the result of a mix of tools and techniques
It seems to me that too often there is a notion that one size/tool fits all e.g. a single authoring tool will provide all that is required. Apart from the fact that it’s not the tool that creates effective learning content but the planning, authoring skills and learning design that goes into the development, it’s rarely the case that a single tool will suffice these days. When I think about the array of tools and techniques used in developing this material the list is almost endless including PowerPoint, Photoshop, Articulate Presenter, Articulate Storyline, Audacity, VideoScribe, Inkscape, Google Drive, DropBox, Trello, Word, FormatFactory etc etc etc.
It was useful to be able to discuss some of this in the context of a real world example during a training session that wasn’t really about copyright but quickly highlighted how much this role based and pragmatic guidance about copyright is certainly needed!
Xerte, Apereo Incubation and the Jisc Invitation for project submissions for Interactive Learning Resources
Julian Tenney from University of Nottingham posted the news at the foot of this post about Xerte beginning the Apereo Incubation process to the Xerte mailing lists yesterday (22nd Sept) and it seemed appropriate to post and add to that news here too for a few reasons…
- For those using Xerte please regard this as very good news! Myself and other members of the small but dedicated Xerte developer community have been and will be directly part of these developments and will ensure that the tools remain free and open source and more importantly continue to focus on core values like enabling teachers and learners to create and share interactive and accessible materials easily, efficiently and collaboratively. Even at this very beginning of incubation there are signs that this will result in an increase in those contributing to development of the tools.
- There have also been some very exciting on-going improvements and additions which we have been working on over the summer – some of which were demonstrated at the Xerte AGM in Belgium in June this year and will form part of a new release by the end of the year if not sooner. For an example I showed the new wysiwyg editor to a few people at the Jisc RSC-Eastern efair in the summer and recorded some reactions. More background and one of the video clips in this LO https://mitchellmedia.co.uk/xot/play_134
- I notice the news from Jisc re the Invitation for project submissions for Interactive Learning Resources. I know there are sometimes political or policy barriers for sector organisations to be seen to be directly promoting particular tools but as I’m self-employed these days I have no such barrier – it seems to me planning to use Xerte as part of these projects would be a perfect match! The ability to easily share for both consumption and repurposing, the collaborative features built-in and the unparalleled accessibility make Xerte an obvious choice even if you then use other tools with it too. Indeed you undoubtedly will use multiple tools whatever core tool you choose.
- Also amongst all the positive examples and comments about Xerte there are sometimes quite negative comments about limitations etc particularly aesthetics and comparisons to other tools. So here’s the reason I mention all this: I use a wide range of other tools regularly too but that misses the point. More specialised tools (often costly) can be used together with Xerte so the specialists or those who have the budget and time to learn and use the more complex tools can use those tools and other staff (and students – indeed ALL staff and students) can use Xerte and benefit from being able to quickly create interactive content themselves, add the additional material or assets created by the specialists and benefit from the multi-platform highly accessible content Xerte facilitates. Here’s a link shared by Terry McAndrew from the HEAcademy to where the £40k of Digital Literacy in the Disciplines projects (using Xerte) were uploaded. This is a resource wiki so comments and ideas can be posted in the ‘discussion tab’ if you wish to do so. See http://dlind.referata.com/wiki/Digital_Literacy_in_the_Disciplines for the outputs and outcomes. Also for those who haven’t seen these resources a link to examples of use of Articulate Storyline and Xerte together at http://learningmathsonline.ac.uk
- For those who comment negatively on the look of Xerte output I’d make the following comments:
Firstly we’ve long had HTML 5 functionality now so anyone with the time and skills can make Xerte content look very different both in terms of the interface and the actual content. I’ve done many customisations and have working examples of different themes that can be applies to a Xerte install or individual LO’s. This is similar to applying themes to something like Moodle where it can be made to look very different according to requirements. Secondly and more importantly…
If you see examples created with any authoring tool that you regard as not engaging either aesthetically or pedagogically a simple fact applies – those involved in developing those materials have not put in the effort required to make that material engaging – it’s rarely the fault of the tool!
Indeed the ease of use with Xerte often exposes that very lack of imagination, creatively and good learning design because there’s no longer a time or technical excuse for those involved! Actually that sounds harsh – what it really reflects is that it takes time and effort to learn how to develop effective learning content and that’s far more to do with appropriate pedagogy than the technicalities and an easy to use tool leads to greater focus on the intricacies of good learning design. I’ve delivered many Xerte training sessions over the years and it’s true to say that in the early days of the tool and what you might call e-learning maturity the main focus had to be on the technical skills. In more recent years and months that takes up far less of the time and there is much more focus and benefit from a focus on effective learning design.
Suffice to say if you are looking to improve your use of Xerte or planning to submit a bid for the Jisc funding I’d be happy to help!
I hope this is useful additional comment to the news below.
Mailing list post by Julian Tenney:
I am really excited to be able to announce that The Xerte Project has been accepted as an incubating project at The Apereo Foundation (https://www.apereo.org/). This is a fantastic opportunity for the project – as you know, The University of Nottingham has led the developments over the years. Over the last few years, with increasing contributions from a growing community of developers it is fair to say that Nottingham’s contribution is now a much smaller percentage of the total than it once was. This reflects the growing volume of work, rather than a dwindling commitment on our part, and we remain dedicated to the project as an important platform for innovation, and for the creation and delivery of high quality content to learners here at the University.
As the project has grown, we have turned to questions around its sustainability. We have spent a lot of time over the last eighteen months or so exploring various options: we know that sustainability is a key issue for those looking to adopt the technology in other organisations and we understand that the current situation raises some questions for potential adopters: there is a sense that the project has a single point of failure. As priorities have changed here at the University, and the shape of my team has changed over the years, we do have fewer resources to put into the project than we used to have. We also appreciate that the current situation makes it hard for the project to achieve its full potential. As the only open source tool in its class it really deserves to increase its reach into new sectors and to find ways to generate and use revenue. Also, as the developer community has grown, it is increasingly important to ensure that the project continues to develop within a rigorous framework.
Over the last 18 months we have carefully explored all the options available to us, and we have chosen Apereo for its solid presence in educational technology and its excellent cultural fit with The Xerte Project. I’m really excited about this opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to working with Apereo through the incubation process.
My thanks go to all our users, contributors and developers, without whom the project could not have reached this significant milestone.
There is some further information from Apereo here: