Another feature of a SharePoint Learning Platform is the integration of a VLE. The most common and best integrated solution for SharePoint is the SLK or SharePoint Learning Kit. This is currently being upgraded by the SLK co-coordinator Richard Willis for SharePoint 2010 and should be available in August.
At Twynham School we use an authoring tool called Author Expert which I will be covering in greater detail next week but here are some screenshots of what is possible. The first shows the ability to integrate images into the scorm resource. As well as this you can embed flash files, audio and video files as well as word and PowerPoint files for a rich media experience.
In addition to creating instructional elements to deliver to learners it is possible to compile a range of quizzes and tests which can be delivered, completed, marked and reviewed. The image below shows a Multiple Choice and Multiple Selection example.
As a final example, with high quality authoring tools it is possible to create a wide range of question types to vary assessment and reflection. Below the image shows a drag and drop exercise which is completed at the end of a unit to demonstrate understanding.
There is of course much more to say about the VLE potential within a SharePoint Learning Platform and I intend the devote most of next week to covering the SLK and particularly authoring tools.
This evening I decided I would do something I have not done in a while and write a blog post. I had realised it has been a while since I last wrote a piece due to the sheer madness of the last term but two and a half months was a bit longer than I realised! I thought it might be useful to write a review of what on earth I have been up to given that 73 days have gone past as we have had some interesting times.
SharePoint 2010 is launched
The real focus for the month was the worldwide launch of SharePoint 2010. This happened on May 14th and I am pleased to say we were able to be part of it at Twynham School. As we were on the TAP programme (for more on what a TAP programme is click here) for SharePoint 2010 between December 2008 and May 2010 I was delighted when we were asked to become a case study client. After a few long calls and changes of copy on the actual launch day we were included as a Microsoft Worldwide case study. If you haven’t had time to read the case study you can find a link to the site here or download a handy pdf here.
An Introduction to SharePoint 2010- growing the ‘by schools, for schools’ model
As we were coming to the end of the SharePoint TAP programme I thought it might be useful to share what was happening with the launch of SharePoint 2010 and the benefits to schools. After a little mild arm twisting I managed to persuade Ray Fleming to host an event at Microsoft HQ for 50 schools. With 7 high quality speakers from schools who had been using SharePoint 2010 for at least 6 months we announced 50 spaces…. and promptly had 232 requests! Clearly there was a lot of interest in SharePoint 2010. Our first event on May 14th was a huge success and has led me to think about how we grow the school SharePoint community in the UK.
The main reason for my absence from blogging
Of course the above events are the sort of things I do most weeks as my school has kindly released me to work with other schools across the country. So why have I been so quiet? During the month of May my wife became very ill and ended up in hospital a number of times. The reason for this is she was 12 weeks pregnant and her body was not reacting to well during the sickness phase. 8 weeks of trauma ensued during which it was hard to think of blogging and even working but I am pleased to say she is now 22 weeks along and has recently been given the ‘all clear’.
SharePoint 2010 Roadshow
By the beginning of June we had over 300 requests for the ‘An Introduction to SharePoint 2010′ events and so we took to the road to put on events in Manchester and Warwickshire as well as a fourth event in Reading. The waiting list is much smaller now but we will still look to put on one or two events in Reading in the new year. Look out for bigger events later in 2010 and throughout 2011 which build on the initial concept and allow schools to look at specific SharePoint products and techniques.
The Independants Commeth
One of the trends I have been meaning to comment on for some time is the increasing interest shown by Independent Schools in Learning Platforms. Back in 2007 when we started our online learning work we had no contact in the first two years from Independent Schools. In the last year we have spoken to over 100 who are interested in using SharePoint as a Learning Platform with over 20 enquiries in the last 6 weeks alone.
I have finally become convinced we should use a VLE!
As many of you will know I have been a firm advocate of ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning through open and accessible rich resources over the concept of a VLE. The main reason for my views on this is actually the poor quality of VLE’s I have seen over the years. In the last few months I have found an authoring tool which makes good use of the SLK with SharePoint and I am pleased to say Twynham are now using a VLE! More about this in the autumn term when I will be showing of our work.
The Learning Gateway Conference
As we head towards the end of the school year there is still one high quality event to attend before we all head of for a well earned break. The Learning Gateway Conference is taking place this Wednesday 14th July in London. It promises to be a great time meeting up with schools and there are some excellent speakers and topics to attend. There are still a few places left so if you can get out of school on Wednesday fill in the form here and get yourself along
One of the last changes we have made to our Twynham Learning Gateway focuses on the design of the sites. The original sites were almost entirely undeveloped and an example of these is shown below.
In February this year we decided it was time to take a serious look at the overall design to create a more professional and blended look across all the sites. This is the first time we have outsourced any work for our internal gateway and the best investment we have made in the three years. For this work we went to the undisputed king of SharePoint design, Sam Dolan who is also known in SharePoint land as Pink Petrol. The end product can be seen below with a unified and engaging look:
The overall change is very clear and at the same time there are more subtle changes with the use of the same 4 colours from the banner and navigation bars throughout the page. This particularly makes a difference in blending the written elements into the colour scheme to give a very professional look. I would happily recommend Pink Petrol based on the work we have done and he can be contacted on twitter as @pinkpetrol or by email through email@example.com Sam’s website with examples of his work and service can be found at http://www.pinkpetrol.com/ I will also be joint blogging a more detailed explanation of Sam’s work in a joint post later this month.
One of the key engines of our Twynham School Learning Gateway is the student learning areas. These began on March 22nd 2007 with the development of our Revision Gateways based on the structure shown below.
Our Revision Gateways took off very quickly and led to us building full subject sites later in 2007 so that students could easily navigate across all subjects and within all areas. The top level of our subjects sites can be see below with our Technology home page.
Having navigated one click to the subject site above students have just one more click to get to any area of the subject sub sites. An example is shown below with the Biology sub site.
Students running or taking part in the Student Council can also communicate their current work with all students through the Learning Gateway. The Student Council has three sub-committees which focus on Teaching and Learning. Technology and Culture.
Student Council Teaching and Learning site.
One of the key areas of student support work at Twynham School is our SOS or Stamp Out Substances programme. This aims to support and advice students who have any concerns about substance misuse. The team and site below was entirely designed and created by the student team working with staff on the SOS project.
Student Access to the Library
Students can directly access the school library system through the student page of the Learning Gateway. The library site contains recommendations through a ‘Book of the Week’ system along with a current summary of the student’s current and previous lending. Students automatically receive updates informing them of when their books are overdue. Students can search for books online and reserve them through the system so that they can be collected at their convenience.