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Drupal: Learning Links

July 28, 2011

The following links may require logging on as a drupal user at

Theming Guide

Quick Start Tutorials

Adding external databases

Create your own theme

Installing modules and themes

Moodle with Drupal


Snippet from Elliot B Assessment 2.0

June 14, 2011

Web 2.0

Meanwhile, the Internet is evolving. ‘Web 2.0’ is the name given to the current state of development. Anderson (2006) describes “six big ideas behind Web 2.0”. These are:

1. user-generated content

2. the power of the crowd

3. data on an epic scale

4. architecture of participation

5. network effects

6. openness.

For the purposes of this paper, four of these ideas are of particular relevance.

User-generated content refers to the ease of creating content. Web services such as Bebo, WordPress and YouTube have made it easy to create content – and more and more young people are doing so, with social networking sites becoming a significant part of contemporary culture.

The power of the crowd refers to the collective intelligence that can be harnessed from large groups of people. The basic premise is that, subject to certain conditions, a large group of knowledgeable (but non-expert) users can make better decisions that any individual expert. Web services such as Digg and Wikipedia are cited as examples of this collective intelligence.

Architecture of participation is based on the twin ideas that Web services must be easy to use (thereby encouraging participation) and organised in such a way as to improve as more people use them. Google Search is a good example since it is very straight-forward to use and its search algorithms learn from the results of previous searches. An aspect of ease-of-use is the idea that not only is new content easy to create but it should be easily created from pre-existing content or easily combined with the contents of other web services (“mash-ups”).

Openness not only refers to the use of open source software for many Web 2.0 services but also the philosophy of the free sharing of information and resources among users, making it relatively straight-forward to capture and share information or resources, such as embedding a YouTube video in a blog. The generous copyright terms of Creative Commons licenses illustrate this philosophy.

H807 – e-tivities

June 13, 2011

Muirhead, B. (2002) ‘Salmon’s e-tivities: the key to active online learning’, USDLA Journal, vol.16, no.8 [online]

Pavey, J. and Garland, S.W. (2004) ‘The integration and implementation of a range of “e-tivities” to enhance students’ interaction and learning’, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, vol.41, no.3, pp.305–15. This article is available in the OU Library electronic journals archive.

Jones, N. and Peachey, P. (2004) ‘The development of socialisation in an on-line learning environment’, paper given at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting in 2004 [online]

Laurillard, D. (undated) ‘Design process for teaching conceptual knowledge’ in H802 Applications of Information Technology in Open and Distance Education, Milton Keynes, The Open University.



Web 2.0: Tools and assessment practices

April 21, 2011



RSS Feeds

RSS: Quickstart


Social Bookmarking

SB Tools

The SB Faceoff

Social Networking

Web 2.0 Social Software

Gaurdian: MySpace

Assessment Practices and Web 2.0


Assessment 2.0


Jakob Nielsen

Report on Innovative e-Learning

March 26, 2011


This report is compiled from JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) e-Learning case studies. They have been selected to illustrate four potential key areas of e-Learning innovation enhancements to  current product offerings including:

  • e-Assessment authoring
  • Adaptive learning
  • Evidence of competence
  • Social learning networks

In considering each innovation this report will demonstrate:

  • Influence on vocational skills
  • Effect on resources
  • Influence on policy
  • Student satisfaction

e-Assessment Authoring

The Edinburgh Universities’ College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine’s Learning Technology Section developed OSCA (Online System for Clinical Assessment) as a direct means to:

  • Reduce costs and administration through automated marking
  • Reduce the potential for student collusion
  • Set standards
  • Build better reporting methods of student ability

A typical OSCA examination requires the student to consider 20 different clinical assessments each lasting approximately 5 minutes and at the time of print, OSCA had been applied in 40 formal examinations. Through consulting with learning technologists and observing student responses under mock examinations, content authors where able to learn techniques for writing effective questions. This led to a web based content management system comprising of an expansive range of question templates that soon became popular amongst staff.

Positive evidence of effectiveness was informally gathered through student feedback sessions. This feedback suggested that delivery was clear, concise and offered a good range of assessment types. Importantly the students considered OSCA to be an “appropriate and ‘professional’ way of conducting exams”

The success of the initial deployment contributed to the continued evolution of OSCA by means of new assessment templates and re-use of the expanding question bank. It has also been a driver to develop staff skills further in designing quality assessments. OSCA is now moving beyond its original focus and is replacing dedicated commercial systems utilised in other faculties.


Adaptive Learning


Edinburgh Universities’ College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine’s Learning Technology Section developed a unique form of selective branching entitled Labyrinth. This solution was applied by students to create virtual patient scenarios allowing them to contextualise their learning in a manner not previously applied. After learning the basics of Labyrinth, scenarios can be developed at an individual depth and pace without need for further tools or software. Furthermore the online portal allows collaboration to author scenarios. The scenarios themselves once developed could then be re-used as learning objects.

Feedback confirmed a positive result to the technology, forcing students to think professionally. There was a significant improvement in staff acceptance of e-Learning as a means of educational delivery and demonstrable savings in time, cost and resources. The development team continue to improve the Labyrinth process and enhance the student learning experience.


Evidence of competence

Newcastle Universities’ use of e-portfolios to develop a reflective approach in medicine was applied to gather evidence of learning as well as cutting down on physical paperwork. Important design considerations included easy delivery and flexibility under different contexts.

Developed in–house, a one year trial was evaluated and demonstrated the e-Portfolio efficiency by showing benefits to student learning with 80% of students claiming it to be a useful learning experience and 72% saying that it had influenced their approach to education. It also easily met the sector requirements for Personal Development Planning (PDP) as 93% of students declared that it had led to reflective reporting following a placement. As well as the key improvements in student performance, there has been tangible savings in administration and resources.  From the wider institution positive results have been received where the e-Portfolio has been contextually tailored to support other curricula thus demonstrating its “flexible nature”.

Patience, tenacity and “clarity of purpose” have all played a role in the success of the system. Rather than being a solution “driven” for technologies sake it has required ten years of iterative design and pedagogical refinement.


Social learning networks

At Glasgow University the implementation of a Moodle VLE (Virtual learning environment) for Scottish History courses has offered a way to increase the depth of learning for more advanced students. Further levels of specialised information were provided for these students, including study timelines and supplementary materials. The goal of the implementation was “modest” therefore after limited staff training it also proved “straightforward”.

Significantly it has transformed student results. The proportion of students who were awarded an A grade jumped from 1% to 15% while the number of student failures fell from 12% to 5%.

Feedback questionnaires and focus groups were all equally positive. The availability of lecture notes online meant that students could review prior to attendance. This led to more dynamic and engaging lectures. Interestingly it was found that if the notes went into too much detail then attendance at the lecture itself went down from 2/3 to 3/5 or even ½ the class.

H807 – Wk3 – Moore’s Chasm Theory

February 27, 2011

Moore’s Chasm Theory:

In terms of my own context Moore’s chasm theory is a concept that lies in the realms of business development and directors who formulate strategies as to how to market an innovation. This is where the process of getting an innovation to market moves outside of my own comfort zone.

If however I consider the implementation of innovative tools in order to allow faster delivery of innovative product orders then I would focus my energies on trialling new toolsets to construct innovative products with a designated team of early adopters. This team can help develop and improve the tool before it is rolled out to the entire development team.

Through experience this helps to demonstrate that an innovative tool:

  • Has a relative advantage
  • Is compatible within the development environment
  • Reduces complexity
  • Has word of mouth recommendations through trials
  • Can have an observed advantage through comparison of reduced project development time (those trialling the tool) vs standard development process (those using the current means of development)

H807 – Wk3 – Rogers’ Five Criteria of Innovation

February 27, 2011

My thoughts on the five criteria that can be applied to innovation within my own context:

Relative advantage: Born out of a client requirement or conultation

Compatibility: To achieve compatibility requires that the original concept is simplified. There is always room for improvement or later version releases.

Complexity: Ironically the end user sees simplification in comparison to the developers who can suffer from expensive complexity resulting in further more complex innovation to make manufacture cost effective.

Trialability: If it is demonstrated too work it sells.

Observability: Further innovation required to track usage including recording of data and exporting reports.