Archive for March, 2012

Mike Toyn on Prezicasts

Mike Toyn, MA DTCE student

As part of my dissertation study for my MA in Digital Technology, Communication and Education I have created a series of ‘Prezicasts’. These are online learning resources which combine video, speech, text and images. I have submitted a proposal to present a short seminar about the Prezicasts at our Research Institute for Professional Learning in Education (RIPLE) event.

During the seminar, I will explain how student views of podcasts informed the design and creation of the Prezicasts. I will then go on to offer a brief guide to the creation of these resources. Finally, I will provide a summary of how students who have used them value them. (This includes students who are studying face to face as well as distance learners)


An example Prezicast can be viewed here:

Categories: Uncategorized

Developing a training toolkit to support teachers of modern foreign languages

image of the group

Nola Marshall, Curriculum Manager Languages, Adult Community Learning Essex, has produced, as temporary project manager of a small team, a training toolkit to support teachers of modern foreign languages to develop blended/online language modules.   Funded by an LSIS (Learning & Skills Improvement Service) bid of £28,800, the project was as a direct result of completing the MA DTCE as a distance learner in 2011 and seeing how distance/online learning could be effective in supporting learners as a realistic alternative and flexible method of accessing learning in a field where traditional teaching is still very much the norm.

Nola says “Although funding cuts, which had led to fee increases and reduced enrolments, had been a driver, the two main aims for the project were to upskill our language teaching staff (many ‘techno-reluctant’!) in the use of teaching and learning technologies as well as provide a more flexible vehicle for learners who face barriers to learning eg family and work commitments, geographical distances, disability, and financial considerations.”

The training pack, made up of 11 tutorials in .pdf format on the use of widely available (mostly free) technologies for creating audio, visual, text and communication resources include Posterous, Flashmeeting, Audacity and Speakonia.  Thirteen language tutors attended, speaking French, German, Italian or Spanish, with partners from Norfolk, West Suffolk and Thurrock ACL, an intensive 3-day training course based on the toolkit.  The bid funding also financed access to external expertise in the form of language/ICT specialist, Joe Dale, who has worked for organisations such as the BBC, the OU and the British Council.

Nola adds “The first benefit was rather unexpected – the rigour of academic reading and writing gave me the motivation to persevere with the complex art of bid writing; bids as a source of funding are relatively new in ACL.   With bid funding, we were able to draw together a good mix of expertise within and outside Essex.  Most importantly the knowledge and experience gained on the MA in instructional design, rationale behind choice of technologies, pedagogical considerations, notion of learner autonomy and synchronous/asynchronous communication as well as a confidence to give something a go was essential to the completion of the pack.  Additionally, I was able to use the project work to make a comparison for my dissertation between traditional, face-2-face training and the experience of tutors learning online on a CPD programme.  The findings continue to inform our staff training programme today.”

Nola now sits on the newly created Curriculum Review Innovation and Funding (CRIF) group set up at Essex which includes the role of e-learning, as well as a new bid writing consortium covering Eastern Region UK.  Further bid success had led to a new project on developing self-help guidance including the use of specialist software for those, recently diagnosed with hearing loss, wishing to gain lip reading skills but unable to find a lip reading class.

Nola adds “Above all I gained the personal skills (patience, perseverance, refusal to give up…) to cope with any negative response to teaching and learning technologies, including my own, especially when it fails and feel that I have been able to dispel some of the myths about why adults are hesitant about using them.”

Although designed for language tutors, other curriculum areas are using it for other subjects such as construction, numeracy and science.  The toolkit is available on CD-Rom and can be made available to those who shared my experiences on the MA DTCE.

Categories: Uncategorized

Rylands library movie available

On 13/2/12 the Media and Information Literacy students visited the historic Rylands library in Manchester, and the day was recorded in order to make a film that is now available at (hopefully this will be public soon but at the moment, only University of Manchester students and staff can view the film).

There is also a new Media & IL blog post which discusses the point of the film and also reflects on attendance at a recent IL conference.