Question and answer

If you have a question based on the articles on this website please use the contact page.

Here are some questions I have already received, as well as a shortened version of my answers.

Question: Technology Review : We are a medium size college, how long would you need staff for and what would be a typical cost.

To minimise impact on the college, staff are interviewed individually or in groups, such as teachers, assessors, curriculum heads etc. each interview taking 30 to 50 minutes contact time. Where appropriate, some interviews can be completed on-line on the day or near to the date. Therefore as far as the college is concerned, we can usually complete that part of the review in one day whilst the team collates,and discusses the information elsewhere. The purpose of the ‘free’ scoping meeting is to gain an understanding of your organisation, what it delivers, methods of delivery, numbers of staff and learners etc. from which we are can provide an explanation of our process, benefits and cost. Typically it would range between £1850 and £2600, dependent mostly on size and complexity of the organisation.  The initial meeting with no commitment at all, is free.

See our video: Incentive8 Technology Review

Question: We need to ‘get away from paper’ particularly with enrollments which we write up on the road, scan and email to the centre. Would online forms be a solution?

Certainly the right direction and could be deliverable quite quickly as there is at least one stand-alone system, possibly two and others usually linked to management systems. There are of course a number of free applications such as Google Docs but I would suggest that these require a high degree of ‘buy in’ by staff in particular, a common barrier to implementing a new process. I recommend that you arrange demonstrations with the suppliers identified and talk to other learning providers already using their systems to learn from their experience when planning a roll out. I have no doubt you will see the cost savings and efficiency benefits almost immediately.

Question: How do you make a 32 page document interactive?

A learning provider, well ahead in the use of technology was frustrated that their 32 page induction booklet could only be shown on their VLE as a PDF and asked for suggestions. A typical A4 document full of text, web addresses to essential information and enhanced with some cartoon drawings on the cover and inside in an effort to break up the text.

The solution is simple. We showed them how to convert the PDF into an e-Book which also made the web addresses ‘live’ as did links to on-line information such as videos on essential information, advice and guidance, H & S  etc. We showed one of their staff how to animate the cartoon drawings using Powtoon. Spent a little time showing how to use the tools and they now have a fully interactive and engaging induction package made available 24/7 through their VLE, they haven’t had to print any more booklets and I imagine the learners might actually use the on-line version.  Oh yes and the staff member knows even more about enhancing resources than he did before, which should come in handy.

See: Tools to enhance learning resources

Question: I am trying to create a walk through for staff to show them how to follow processes on screen.  This would need to be able to jump from a document and a database to show how what is on the paperwork needs to go onto the system.

Screen Capture: I recommend this very simple to use but very effective tool, which captures whatever is live on screen, include your webcam or just voice over. Can add text, arrows and stuff on a time-line, saving all to a video.

Question: Which ePortfolio to choose?

Make a  short list by researching other learning providers, treat with suspicion any suggestion of an MIS ‘add-on’, home-made, or one made by an awarding body for a specific function. Choose 3 suppliers and have them demonstrate to a group of your assessors, verifiers, administrators as well as the appropriate management.
In this way, not only will the key stakeholders have had a say in the choice but they will put questions that you may not have thought of (unless you are an assessor/verifier/manager in every sector).  Create a strategy to implement the choice, but please don’t just ‘trial’ 20 learners in one department. Trial 4 learners in 5 departments.
Choosing is the relatively easy part.
See: What is an ePortfolio?

Question: Can we use the ePortfolio as a VLE?

That rather depends on what is wanted from a VLE.
Some ePortfolios allow for a generous amount of storage space, others have ‘libraries’ of resource learning materials, all will have the means to drop in a URL link to a YouTube Channel or Cloud storage.  Whereas a good VLE will have built in tools to ‘create’ learning resources, embed interactive materials, drip-feed lessons, grade assignments and so on.I am unaware of any ePortfolio that can match the best examples of VLE, but few VLEs are being used to its potential.  So, what do you want from a VLE and what is stopping you having both?
See: Tell me more about…Virtual Learning Environments

Question: Some of the staff are resistant to using technology, what can I do?

The technology available for educational purpose is unlikely to be more complex than the technology used in everyday domestic or social use, regardless of age or skill set.
One of the many reasons to choose software such as an ‘ePortfolio or VLE that is ‘user friendly’ and has better than adequate supporting tutorials etc.  Demonstrate to teaching staff, software which will transform their own learning materials, software that is well within the skills set of most individuals and takes very little time to create something ‘engaging’. It usually has the desired effect with at least 9 out of 10.
I strongly recommend that as part of a CPD programme (IT strategy) an organisation runs a skills audit to establish a an individuals IT knowledge, set it against a level of  skills ‘required’ and focus staff development on the shortfall.
See: Tools to enhance learning resources and Days of Staff Development, are they effective?

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