Wednesday, January 12, 2005

At the turn of the year

Now the Christmas and New Year break is over perhaps this is a good time for us to take stock of where we are with e-learning in the centres. What follows is a very brief and personal view. I welcome your own comments in response – either directly on this blog site, or as a response to the related topic on the forum.

Colleges of Further Education have been battling to implement ILT strategies for at least 5 years. Owing to the complexity and size of these organisations I am not surprised that there are still substantial barriers to development. College networks seem to be among the most securely guarded environments in the industry, and having had responsibility for a college network in the past I understand the need for this. However, teams have encountered problems downloading and running software from the web or accessing sites which include any form of embedded program. Even downloading from a memory stick or digital camera will sometimes cause a problem. There has to be a middle way which removes the frustration for curriculum staff trying to find their way through the minefield!

That said, colleges have at least vastly improved the access to PCs both for staff and student use. And this perhaps is the major problem for Adult and Community centres. This sector is now coming to terms with the development of ILT strategies, but the provision of kit is always going to be more of a problem for this sector because of the peripatetic nature of the delivery. Team members are excited by the developments, but currently have major difficulties in getting reliable access to kit in permanent centres and there are many horror stories about the use of laptops in the community.

For our teams in non-statutory training centres the difficulties are just the same as outlined above. These centres often deal with the most difficult to motivate groups in large numbers. They need access to good material quickly. But this is the sector that does not have access to the repository of material through NLN. And they desperately need it.

One last thought for all the sectors. Access to suitable kit for learners is improving. But staff need to be able to gain confidence and develop material themselves. Staff access is still a major issue to be addressed.

If your organisation has got over any of these hurdles or has good practice to share then I would like to see this reflected in the discussion board. Certainly I would like to hear more about the difficulties you encounter and the solutions you have employed.

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