Friday, 25 April 2014


I've been back nearly 2 weeks from the Teacher's Aids Creating Content for Learning Environments (TACCLE) in Urbino Italy.

The course took place over 5 days in a school in the town of Urbino.  It was very intensive and by the end of the 5 days I was exhausted!

I had applied for the course because I wanted to
  • become more confident in using online tools
  • develop an understanding of the role of e-learning in the teaching pedagogy
  • find out what was happening in this area in other parts of Europe - is the grass greener in Sweden, Belgium or anywhere else?
  • identify how the school library can play an active role in supporting teaching and learning in this area
We started off by looking at a range of tools: using Audacity to create a podcast and Soundcloud to store them, Screenr to build a video tutorial, Edpuzzle to  add questions to a YouTube video, blogging options and learning apps to build some basic games such a hangman, racing games and many more as well as looking at different social media that could be used to disseminate information..

These practical tools allowed us to develop skills and play around with them, knowing that there was always someone on had to help and sort out any messes that you made! I was happy to realise that I was making good use of some of these resources already. I write a blog for myself and for my school library, use Diigo to share useful websites and Evernote to organise information.

Three days in and the focus of the course shifted to developing an understanding of the pedagogy, the course designers have experimented with the placing of this element. Last year it was at the end of the course and the previous year at the beginning but it had never sat right. I feel that this year it worked to a degree. The trainer came from a business background and though she had a good grasp of the of the pedagogy her presentation of a business training model did not sit quite right, it needed more of an education slant in my view.

Having spent 2 days experimenting with various tools we were able to start building our own online tutorials in a programme called EXE-learning (Xerte was also mentioned) which are free to use. For  me I felt that this was really useful as I could see ways of building some tutorials for post-16 users to develop independent study skills; it offers greater flexibility and freedom to build a taster course, students could learn at their own pace and go over things they don't understand. I admit it would be time consuming to build initially and maybe, if you are single-staffed, the task would appear to be daunting but I really believe that in these times of school library cuts and the need to justify our role, being proficient in e-learning is a very good string to have to your bow.

Interestingly one of the tutors asked me later why no teachers came from the UK but that every year school librarians from the UK could be found on the course. Why do you think?

Reflecting on this I felt that the pressure on teaching staff to meet deadlines, the timing of the course - just as exam season is about to kick off, and the fact that being allowed to spend 5 days on a course is seen as a luxury and not a necessity is hampering our development in this area.

Funding for courses like this is now changing and the onus is on the organisation not the individual to apply for the funding. I really feel that this will have a detrimental effect on UK attendance on courses like this and make us even more isolated and insular. This course was brilliant for bringing people together, sharing experience and knowledge and well worth the 13 hours it took to get there!.

My next post will be on the portfolio aspect!

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