The Xerte story so far

March 24, 2015 at 11:51 am

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…

Free data protection training including downloads for in-house and vle use

January 21, 2015 at 11:16 am

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.

Screenshots from the training resource

View Data Protection for University Staff | Download via Jorum

View Data Protection for College Staff | Download via Jorum


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!

Adding Sync points in Xerte Online Toolkits

June 30, 2014 at 10:58 am

During the Xerte training sessions I deliver I usually share a few undocumented tips and tricks and sometimes these can be a surprise and often time-saving tips even for those who have been using Xerte for years. Indeed during a recent informal chat over a glass of wine with Tom and Inge from the Xerte Developer community it transpired that Tom and Inge weren’t using this efficient and built-in way to generate the sync points for an audio slideshow page. So embedded below you’ll find an extract from a wider training resources that I use during f2f sessions and of course an example of a bootstrap project embedded in a blog post too…


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Slideshow/Presentation tools – Example 1 Haiku Deck

February 23, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Over the last few months I’ve been using a number of different tools for creating and delivering presentations – partly to introduce training sessions and partly to demonstrate a range of tools and support those attending the training to consider when and how they might use the tools themselves. I plan to add a range of examples here over then next few blog posts beginning with these examples created with which is now both a mobile app and a web app. The great thing about the tool is how easy it is for non-specialists to create extremely professional looking presentations and either deliver those via or embed in a blog or vle etc or indeed export in various formats including PDF or PowerPoint for continued editing. Here’s a couple of simple examples that I’ve used recently:

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Of course as you may know I’m a regular Xerte user and like most online tools Haiku Deck presentations can easily be embedded within your Xerte LO’s.

More examples to follow.

Xerte training for Health Science students

October 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm

ron-smI delivered a very short Xerte Training session for some Health Science students at Newman University in Birmingham yesterday. (1st Oct 2013)

@BobRidgeStearn tweeted during the session and took the photo opposite. You can view related blog postings via their blog, including a post about what we covered yesterday and a previous post about the project.

Although we also scheduled an afternoon session with some of the staff at Newman, including Bob and some of his team, my main prep was to update some of my existing Xerte LO’s and some new LO’s to provide a wide range of guidance which I could use during the sessions but also which would work as self-access resources after the sessions and for the students in particular. As the student session was so short (and even shorter after one or two technical issues) I wanted to share some short but clear and important tips that I think are essential in creating effective learning resources and activities with Xerte. You can view one of the LO’s I used via the screenshot below. Please note the copyright info.