New College, New Information Learning Technology

Date/Time:
Wednesday 14 November 2007

Description:

The format of the evening was new - to match the new college. There were two introductory presentations followed by six short presentations and each person could choose to attend three of the six. We were spoilt for choice! As it was such a full evening, the notes that follow are very brief. Please see our web site for more details.

Anne Tyrrell, the Deputy Principal, gave an overview of the new college, from the process starting in 2003 through to the handing over of the keys on 23/7/07. Everything from IT to plumbing is in one building and Information Learning Technology (ILT) is in all classrooms and learning areas.

Martin Harmer, ILT Manager, continued by explaining why they chose tablet PCs and wireless projectors. The benefits include greater flexibility during teaching, as the tablet pc can be moved around the learning area / classroom, and the fact that staff have their own tablet PC so they can do their work anywhere.

The college also uses online lesson planning and has upgraded Blackboard from the Basic to Enterprise version so it now links into the MIS. The new equipment is being well used – but more equipment has stimulated further demand. The support load was huge initially and there was a lot of setup needed – but now they can check projectors remotely etc.

The presentations

The six presentations were:

  • Introduction to VJing! by Nick Schneider
  • Using mind mapping software to produce PowerPoint presentations by Mel Fish
  • Using 3-D modelling software by Ed Poxon
  • Blended teaching with Blackboard by Rob Gardiner
  • Producing training videos for online tutorials by Graham Hollingsworth
  • Using virtual machines to simulate a corporate network by Richard Hind

Notes on three of these follow:

VJing

VJing is the video equivalent of disc-jockeying. A DJ has two decks with a fader; a VJ takes two video images (e.g. someone dancing and war footage) and uses a slider. Media students can mix and manipulate the stored videos in the “collection” live. Some VJing software can take input from other sources e.g. webcam or text. With LED walls the effects can be spectacular.

Mind mapping

Mind mapping is one IT tool to produce output (course work). Mind mapping software can display a map in several different ways - traditional “map”, linearly or hierarchically. The map can be exported into Word (with or without the diagram) and will apply “Heading” styles to the map. It will also export into PowerPoint - and both of these were demonstrated with a map the group built.

It is an alternative way to think and plan - thinking isn’t linear but notes are! Using this technique, ideas can be merged or dropped. You can brainstorm then organise, sequence and expand the ideas later. It is good in a group setting e.g. one student could be developing a point when an idea occurs to another student. That idea can be noted down and fitted into place later.

Using virtual machines to simulate a corporate network

Richard Hind explained that this was done using software called VMWare which allows you to create virtual machines on individual desktops running XP. (There is also a version that can be run on a server.)

Richard explained how this is a good tool for teaching. IT students can practice setting up a variety of environments from scratch without risk of causing any problems to others. They can have full administrative controls, again without the risk of causing problems.

Students can practice again and again until they are happy that they know what they are doing. For IT support the VMWare software is useful for setting up virtual environments using different specific versions of applications as required. It is also useful for setting up test environments.

Summary

Feedback was very positive with several people saying that “their” topics would fill an entire evening - and the facilities were excellent. Our thanks go to all those who presented and to Richard Hind for putting the evening together.