Thursday, December 16, 2004

Get moving!

For some time now I have used a cheap and cheerful piece of software to capture screen shots to incorporate in e-learning materials. Snag-It from is one of the best known and will only set you back about £30 for a single licence, but (just like the Radio Times) there are others on the market that do the job equally well. Where Snag-It scores, though, is its ability to capture a sequence of screen shots as a video clip.

Provided that you are careful to restrict the size of the video (ie don't get carried away and try to store more than a 1 minute clip) then you will find this facility exciting to use. Yesterday in Birmingham we thought of capturing process rather than just the end result - think how that would impress the inspectorate!

You could invest in the same organisation's Camtasia Suite for about £250 or Macromedia's Captivate (formerly Robo Demo) for about £270. There is no denying that the advantage of buying in to these products is their ability to store using Flash technology, thus saving considerable space over the normal avi type of video file.

Start off with Snag-it and try it out for the screen shot capture before moving on to video capture. Then download the trial versions of both Camtasia and Captivate before making your own decision as to which one to invest in.

To see more

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Only go here if you have an odd hour to spare!

Keeping up to date with the exploding e-learning field is not easy. One of the best sites I have come across is Jane Knight’s e-Learning Centre at

I visit this site a few times each week and always find something that will set me on a learning path. If you do nothing else today then follow the link and then click on
A-Z of e-Learning.

My favourite letters are:

D …….. Choose the “Using online interaction to break your addiction to classroom teaching” and then scroll down to the Sales Presentation Exercise. There are other exercises – all related to the Distribution Industry.

K………Keeping up to date. Choose “Guide to e-Learning”.

X………Examples. Follow the link to “Showcase”. If you haven’t the time to go anywhere else then go to “College and University e-Learning Showcase” and then try the “Physics Flashlets”. I’m not much of a planetary expert, but even I could see the effect of a Jupiter Slingshot! Pythagoras is good as well.

The only problem is that you will probably spend too much time in this site. But none of it will be wasted!


Monday, November 29, 2004

Read on!


There are times when I want to incorporate speech in a document or presentation. This means setting up the microphone recording my dulcet tones. An alternative is to use a text to speech converter. You can download a free version of Natural Voice Reader software from and, although the voices available are limited to the standard Microsoft voices, they are certainly acceptable for experimenting with using speech. Of the three voices available “Michelle” is probably the most acceptable, but this will depend upon your own taste. Apart from reading text the software will let you create a WAV file that you can then incorporate in a document or presentation.

And this software is fun for learners to use as well. They can try typing a few words into the window and listen to the results!

A word of warning though! The first time you open up the software make sure that your clipboard is empty and then uncheck the Read Clipboard Automatically box. You can imagine what would happen if you had a substantial amount on your clipboard!

Finally try clicking on Website in the Menu. You will discover that Natural Voice Reader acts as a Browser and will let you type in any website for reading. This is useful for Module 9.

Have fun!


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Google comes home!

Have you ever had that moment of panic when you can't find a file or source of information on your desktop. Panic sets in as you realise that, once again, you are going to have to admit that you have "lost" a file. Or perhaps you can remember reading the information that has come from the LSDA, but which of the many received files is it in? And, of course, you need it straight away!

Google have introduced a search engine that will index your desktop and allow immediate searching of resources on your computer in much the same way as it searches the web. I downloaded the free software yesterday (less than 1 minute on a 64K ISDN link) and installed it without difficulty. Since then Google has been quietly beavering away indexing the entire contents of the hard drives, including web history, documents, chats and emails. Even though it hasn't finished this task I am getting some amazing results when I search for words or phrases.

Unlike windows explorer, which delivers a list of files in response to a search, Google presents the location and context just like it does from a web search. So finding the exact file required is now a doddle.

To test it I searched for "LSDA Handbook". Not only was I presented with the original e-mail (which frankly I have been unable to find for some time) but no less than 10 word documents referring to it, including the handbook itself. And it gave me the web history Elnet page.

So, if like me, you are not the best organised person in the world, and you need help making sense of your desktop, then you won't regret installing this particular gem. for more information

Thursday, November 18, 2004

E-learning becoming embedded, but more work needed on implementation

18/11/2004 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

E-learning is now accepted as an essential feature of training delivery, but more practical work needs to be done on the implementation side if it is to be successful, according to a new survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the professional body for all those involved in people management and development. The survey was carried out to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the term e-learning being adopted.

Read the full story here.....................

I guess that many of us will be able to relate to the findings of this survey - particularly with the quotes from employees.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A definition of e-learning?

A definition of e-learning?

I am always amused by the way in which definitions are conceived. Organisations all over the world seem to be devoting valuable resources to the creation of their understanding of e-learning. Of course, it means different things in different contexts, but how far are we along the road to uniformity?

Closer than you think, perhaps.

With a certain amount of trepidation I tried getting a definition from Google.

You can explore these definitions yourself by simply typing

define: e-learning

into the Google search window

I think there may be a consensus appearing slowly!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Photo Editor, Photo Editor, wherefore art thou, Photo Editor?

If, like me, you are a devotee of Microsoft Photo Editor then you will be sad to learn that it's been dropped from the 2003 version of Microsoft Office. This neat and user friendly picture editor worked well for the teams in ELNET, especially for those who were somewhat fazed by the idea of using Photoshop. We have had some fun using "Effects" to change photos into unrecognizable, but creatively stimulating resources.

But now it's gone! It has been replaced by Microsoft Picture Manager which does exactly what it says on the tin, but not a lot else. So we will have to go elsewhere for our fix of photo dabbling.

Or perhaps not. For anyone thinking of upgrading to Office 2003 it's worth choosing to keep the original version of Office. That way you know that you will always have access to Microsoft Photo Editor. You can if you wish uninstall the main components at a later date, but there will be no conflict. Alternatively, if you have already dumped XP in favour of 2003, then just go back to the original disk and navigate to the installation of Photo Editor listed under Office Tools. After all, you paid for it - so why have it taken away from you!

Then when you right click on the picture file in future you can choose OPEN WITH to use Photo Editor and play to your heart's content.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Welcome to Nigel's blog for the Exploring E-Learning Project

First of all for those who are wondering what on earth a blog is, we have a definition:

"A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is "blogging" and someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger." Blogs are typically updated daily or weekly using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog. Postings on a blog are almost always arranged in cronological order with the most recent additions featured most prominently."

This blog is hosted on one of the most popular free blogging services,, so you might want to investigate creating one as a means of communicating with your tutors, trainees and other colleagues. The process is incredibly simple and, it's free.

Enough from us at BTL. This is Nigel's blog so lets hand it over to him.