Wii Are All Active Learners!

June 18, 2010

For those of you who attended my workshop, Wii Are All Active Learners, at the JISC Regional Support Centre (Yorkshire & Humber) summer conference last week, you’ll remember I promised to write up the details of the five case studies I covered on the day.

The workshop brief was to explore how the Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit Plus are currently being used in education and we looked at how gaming has the potential to engage learners in such a way that adds fun to learning and creates a dynamic environment that challenges the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ approach to learning.

One quote I often liked to use in teacher training, taken from Petty’s website, was “What the learner does is more important than what the teacher does.”  I couldn’t agree more.  I won’t presume to bore you with all of the educational theories on social and active learning, but another good and often used quote from the American psychiatrist Glasser is appropriate here:

“We learn…

  • 10% of what we read
  • 20% of what we hear
  • 30% of what we see
  • 50% of what we se and hear
  • 70% of what we discuss
  • 80% of what we experience
  • 95% of what we teach others.”

Now in a 45 minute workshop there wasn’t time to get the learners teaching each other how to use the Wii in an educational context, but the sadist in me knew that I did have the perfect opportunity to give delegates the Wii experience by putting them through their paces by attempting to ski, do yoga and even run a mini marathon in front of their peers!  Thankfully, we had plenty of willing volunteers (victims?) on the day who were really good sports and were keen to get up and have a go.

Here’s a snapshot of the battle of the sexes team race, kindly lead by e-learning advisors Kathy Boyer and Kevin Campbell-Wright:

And they’re off!

Anyway, back to the five practical examples demonstrating how the Wii is being used to personalise learning, encourage teamwork and support functional skills I mentioned earlier!

1. Creating Fun Interactive Puzzles Using the Wii as an Interactive Whiteboard

An SD memory card can be used to store images (JPEGs) that can then be turned into fun interactive puzzles for learners using the Photo Channel.  Learners can use the multi-coloured pens using the Wii remote to ‘doodle’ on the images (e.g. spot the safety hazards in the salon, identify the artists of famous portraits, etc) or even create jigsaw puzzles using the ‘fun’ option. This helps to develop problem solving skills as well as adding a kinaesthetic aspect to learning that helps learners with mobility problems (Wyke College case study).  In addition to JPEGs you can also view AVI video files through the Wii and if you have an internet connection you can even access the BBC i-player.

2. Promoting Healthy Eating

The Wii Fit has become the first game to be endorsed by the Department of Health and is being used for physiotherapy in UK hospitals and schools to tackle obesity and show people with prosthetic limbs how to balance, with their shift in weight being accurately shown on the screen. You could also use it as an ideal discussion point for addressing topics such as Body Mass Index (BMI), centre of gravity (COG) and posture and could easily incorporate fun Wii activities into a PSHE or similar course. 

3. Competitions For Learners

IT students at Leeds City College, Park Lane Campus, raised money for Children in Need by setting Nintendo Wii Ski Jump competitions for learners.  The Sports Team at Leeds City College have also used the Wii Fit extensively to support Key Skills.

I’ve seen normally placid laid back adults turn into fiercely competitive psychopaths after taking up a challenge that sets them up against their peers.  Great for motivatiing learners.

4.  Supporting Functional Skills

The Wii Fit Plus specifically (as opposed to the older Wii Fit) incorporates more games that test your mental arithmetic as well as bodily exercise, which has been exploited by some colleges to support functional skills.  Bradford College have been using the Wii’s wi-fi connection to access a number of free web-based games that can be used with learners as well to help support functional skills

5. Encouraging Physical Education and Team Work

Joseph Priestly College have used the Wii equipment and games to improve co-ordination, team work and physical activity.  For example, the two player jogging shown above is a great way to encourage a bit of healthy competition amongst learners.

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iTunes U – Are Libraries Missing a Trick?

May 20, 2010

For those new to iTunes U here’s a brief overview:

iTunes U works in much the same way as music downloads on the iTunes store, but instead you can download bitesize educational content such as tutorials, guides, video clips, etc, straight to your computer, i-pod or i-phone thus enabling learners the flexibility to learn whenever and wherever they choose.

A demo of iTunes U is available on the Apple website here.

Apple can provide any college or university with a customized portion of the iTunes Store to distribute course content and other audio and video material. The files themselves are stored on servers run by Apple, but college administrators have control over whether they limit viewing access to certain people (i.e. their own learners) or make them publicly available to everyone.

The learning material, accessed using the free iTunes software, can even be customized with the institution’s colours, logos, and photographs.

So, who’s using it and, more importantly, why should libraries use it?

According to the Apple site, over 600 universities, many in the USA, now have iTunes U accounts and about half of these institutions make their content available via the iTunes Store. Granted, the vast majority of the content is HE focussed and produced by universities, but the FE sector are starting to get on board with the likes of Preston College, Adam Smith College and Aberdeen College leading the way in the UK.

(Image available under the Creative Commons licence on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jazzmodeus/3180506396/)

There are a number of reasons why we should explore the idea of creating content that learners can access flexibly via mobile devices. Let’s face it, most learners today own a mobile phone and current estimates of internet access via mobile devices range between 7.2 million and 17.4 million users in the UK alone. Not only do we tend to take such devices with us practically everywhere we go and always have them on (when they’re not charging), they’re also an incredibly personal, as well as social, tool that is likely to be around for some time.

There’s already alot of good work being developed across the region utilising mobile phones as tools to engage learners in the library with text services, video tutorials and QR Codes. If you’d like to find out more see Andrew Walsh’s article “They all have them – why not use them? Introducing mobile learning at the University of Huddersfield Library” in the SCONUL Newsletter 47 or catch up with his blog.

Another reason to get on board with iTunes U is to take advantage of the vast range of open educational resources produced by many of the users, that are classified by subject on the iTunes Store.

The OU in particular has produced a number of quality resources that are free to download from the iTunes Store (I was amazed to find some great video footage of the colosseum in Rome, but enough about my next holiday!). You can also follow the OU on Twitter and receive regular updates about new OU iTunes U content.

There are a few whispers of libraries in the USA that are starting to explore iTunes U as a platform for delivering library information already, but there’s a surprising dearth of take up here in the UK.

So, are libraries missing a trick? If you’d like to find out more about iTunes U and how it can be used for delivering educational content we’ll be providing a workshop on this at our forthcoming summer conference.

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What new technologies are libraries currently exploring to engage users?

May 13, 2010

That was the question a colleague asked me the other day who was moving towards a new build library and was keen to kit out their library with the latest tech.  Interestingly, when I canvassed library staff across the region to find out what they were using they also wanted to find out what tech everyone else was exploring.

Here’s a sample of some of the responses I received from library staff and a few ideas on how the technology can be used to improve the library service:

  • e-Readers are becoming increasingly of interest to libraries but there’s still some debate over there level of accessibility and which model to go for.  My colleague, Chrissie Turkington, has blogged on the issues for library staff which is available here.   Many librarians are also eagerly awaiting the imminent launch of the i-pad in the UK (28th May 2010)  to see what it has to offer.  Watch this space…
  • Bluetooth proximity marketing is being explored by some libraries as a way of communicating  with users by sending adverts, promotions and general information about resources.
  • Voting software, especially Optivote and Qwizdom, are popular amongst students and staff at some libraries.  They are typically used as a fun assessment activity in inductions / information skills and/or staff development sessions.
  • Some FE and Public libraries have made use of the Nintendo Wii at set events for staff development and to enhance student engagement in ‘social learning areas’ in the library.  Further examples of using the Wii are available here.
  • Staff and students are using Vado cameras in one library.  These can be used for recording learner feedback on the library services or by learners who might need to produce audio-visual evidence for their coursework.
  • Regent College in Leicester are using Nintendo DS’s with educational games at certain times of the year to occupy learners and minimise disruption in the library.  The case study is available here.  Plus more and more authors are making their books available on the DSi.

(Image available under the Creative Commons licence on Flickr available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/juanpol/31420100/)

  • One Sixth Form library has experimented with the i-pod Touch to deliver library inductions.  This case study can be viewed on Mole TV here.
  • Exeter College are using digital photo frames on the library counter to promote different resources and services (e.g. eBooks).
  • A number of libraries operate a loan scheme for the Asus EEE mini computers so that when IT Suites are fully booked library staff still have the capacity to offer students internet access (or to work on their assignments, etc).
  • Bradford College has introduced RFID (radio-frequency identification) in the library to empower learners to control their own lending.  It has provided many organisational benefits, including enhanced security and stock control.  More importantly though, RFID has enabled staff to support learners in a more effective way.  This case study can be viewed on the Excellence Gateway here.   This option is clearly a longer term project though and requires more planning compared to the smaller kit options above.

Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I hope it has provided a few new things for you to try out at your library and if there’s something I’ve missed feel free to let me know byadding a comment below.
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Untangling Web 2

April 27, 2010

First of all, a big thank you to all the librarians at the cofhe lasec event I attended at Westminster Kingsway College in London last Friday, Untangling Web 2, delivered by Phil Bradley.  The library staff at Westminster Kingsway College made us all feel very welcome and it was a great modern library to have the event.  The event was attended by a broad range of library staff from across a number of sectors, all of whom were enthusiastic towards the world of Web 2 and keen to explore Phil’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject.

The day began with a comprehensive and entertaining overview of Web 2 from Phil and raised some important issues, such as:

  • Although it’s important to consider your digital identity carefully when using Web 2 and the implications it has for your organisation, don’t let this stop you experimenting.  Fear stifles innovation.
  • Can Web 2 be trusted?  Before dabbling with an Web 2 site do some research by canvassing friends to see who is using it and what they think.  Does it have an entry on Wikipedia?  Is there a video tutorial for it on Youtube?  Search Twitter and blog search engines like Technorati to find out what other people are saying.
  • Don’t focus too much on the tool, but on what you get from the tool.  Many Web 2 sites can have a limited shelf life, but don’t worry too much if they disappear, you can guarantee another will spring up in its place that does a similar job!
  • Many Web 2 sites tend to be permanently in beta.  Web 2 is constantly evolving – go with it.
  • Web 2 doesn’t mean that there is no place for librarians anymore!  In fact, there is now a lot more work for librarians as there is even more information to organise, evaluate and share than ever before.
  • Many librarians are enthusiastic about using Web 2, but unfortunately their organisation sees Web 2 as a threat and it’s blocked on the network.  Phil has written a useful blog post, 25 barriers to using Web 2.0 technology: solutions, that addresses this and provides librarians with arguments to emancipate Web 2.

Okay, there was a lot more than just the above, but as I spent most of the day tweeting about Phil’s pearls of Web 2 wisdom you can get a flavour by searching Twitter under the hashtag #lasec.  Ewa Wraga, the E-Resources Co-ordinator at South Thames College, has also written a blog posting too about the event which can be viewed here.

Right, enough blogging for one day, time to check my Twitter…

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Promoting e-Books: Getting It Right.

March 10, 2010

This post has been moved to http://scotthibberson.co.uk/eLearningLibrary/?p=435

The Library Induction Maze: Some examples and ideas from across the region

March 5, 2010

This post has moved to http://scotthibberson.co.uk/eLearningLibrary/?p=334

Is your library getting into the festive spirit?

December 7, 2009

This time of year is always very busy, particularly for libraries, and I’ve been having a look at what librarians are doing to celebrate the festive period.  If you want some inspiration for things to try out at your library, why not consider some of the ideas below?

  • Dress the librarians up as famous festive characters – imagine having to pay an overdue book fine to Scrooge?
  • Finally – a pratical use for that dusty old Reference section!  Give the library a festive makeover by having your own tree made of books!

  • This time of year is a great opportunity for story telling sessions on a festive theme and also a good way to raise awareness of different countries and cultures by having displays on how the festive period is celebrated around the world.  See Leeds Libraries for some great ideas.
  • Arts & crafts sessions on how to make your own Christmas cards, with lots of inspiration from books in the library of course!
  • Run a festive photography competition amongst your library users and make a book of all the entries for circulation after the competition.
  • Work in a library with a large cookery section?  Why not do a display with some great festive recipes? (just go easy on the mulled wine if you have to staff the enquiry desk)
  • Coffee mornings with mince pies etc to gain valuable feedback in an informal way from your library users.

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