Thursday, May 24, 2007

Functional Skills

I had no sooner added a link to Totally Skilled's embedded learning models, for example in IT and Health, where the embedded skills are functional rather than basic, than I came across them in a meeting, where part of this document was circulated. It's a few months old, but I had never realised that functional skills were going to take over from Basic Skills and Key Skills. August 2012 is currently the final date for Skills for Life awards.

It will be interesting to see how the Core Curriculum fares in this brave new world.

New Links: City and Guilds Format End Tests

Maybe they've been there for ages, but I've only just discovered the links for City and Guild style end tests (linked on this page). At this time of the year especially, it is useful to be able to give people an idea of what the tests will actually look like when they are done on computers. We use City and Guilds, and it has often not been easy to show this to learners, as most of the samples are in a different format. The City and Guilds format can be confusing when first encountered - some dyslexic learners get confused with the way documents can be shown in a pop-up window, and some older monitors do not handle this very well. Practice helps.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Elearning for Literacy

Preparing staff training for Web 2.0 has of course made me think about the purpose of it all. Why use elearning? And in elearning why use Web 2.0? If you follow the arguments through, one of the strongest reasons given why elearning works and especially Web 2.0 works is that it passes control to the learner and takes control away from the teacher.

The elearning enthusiasts tell us that we must prepare for this change - we as teachers cannot stay in control of learning.

In literacy teaching I spent a lot of time in the nineties trying to give learners control of their own learning through an open learning centre, with written packs and elearning at its heart. A lot of that seems to have gone out of the window with the arrival of Skills for Life. We have the agenda of a national core curriculum, and achievement to be assessed against portfolios and tests aligned to that. We assess needs against the curriculum and code all activities to the curriculum in our lesson plans to meet quality requirements. Of course there is plenty of space to use Web 2.0 with this. However it is easy to see why busy tutors, who have received their training in this setup, let the needs of the curriculum drive the learning rather than the wants of the learner. Too many of us are happy to take our learning materials of a shelf or off a link on a website.

This thread of thought was inspired by a quote from David Warlick from here:
"We are a generation who was taught how to be taught — not how to teach ourselves."
Will Richardson refers to it in this blog entry, and Will's argument is just as relevant to Skills for Life as it is to school teaching in the UK or USA.

Friday, May 4, 2007

More on Blogs

Because I'm preparing a session on Web 2.0 tools for the college - not Skills for Life specific, blogs have come up a lot in the past week. I've put a new page on the website (linked off the teachers page to collect all the blog resources. This will allow me to structure the headings more usefully, and so organise the content by student or teacher, and by numeracy, dylexia and so on.

One of the new links was for Larry Ferlazzo's daily list of resources for ESOL/EFL. He is interested in Web 2.0 tools as well as traditional approaches and I haven't begun to explore it yet. I'm sure more links and thoughts will come in the next couple of weeks.