A Noteworthy Tool!

Do you use video (Youtube, Vimeo, Khan Academy) with your learners? If so you’ll be interested in this very useful tool VideoNot.es which provides a way to captures notes synched to the video. It works in conjunction with GoogleDrive, great for any Google Apps for Education users. You sign in with your in with your Gmail account.

VideoNot.es allows you to select a video from YouTube, Vimeo, Khan Academy and Coursera. As you watch the video inside the tool, you type notes or bookmarks time-stamped to specific points in the video.

Using the videonot.es tool

Once the video has finished, you give the video-note a title and this generates an automatic save of to GoogleDrive.

You can keep you NideoNot.es private or you can opt to share them – publically, with those that have the URL or with individuals whose email addresses you supply. You can opt to give individuals editing rights to your notes too.
sharing video notes
Your saved Video Note is watched back from your GoogleDrive account. You can quickly skip to any place within the video using the timed notes.

This tool provides so many possibilities for teaching and learning. For some learners it becomes a study aid. For teachers it could support flipped learning. It also opens up new ways to deliver activities:

  • watch the video and write down the key points
  • watch your filmed presentation and make notes on areas you think you could improve further
  • watch this job interview bookmark all the things you think the candidate did well or could have done better

Written for HOLEX by Ideas4Learning Limited

Combining Moodle, Skype and mailVU for a Virtual Learning Programme

Cat Bisland delivers a virtual language programme for Hillingdon Adult and Community Learning. She makes use of three tools:

  • Moodle
  • Skype and
  • Mailvu

The course, Spanish Culture and Conversation, blends together the three tools to provide a fully online course that utilises flipped learning. Each week learners access Moodle for study instructions, resources and activities. Here’s an example of what learners might be asked to do on Moodle:

Self study:

I’d like you to take an aspect of Spanish/South American culture and prepare a written piece on it but also prepare a mini presentation for our Skype lesson.

The students are provided with links to websites so that they can find out more about Spanish Culture. Cat provides a choice of websites; English and Spanish. This provides a way of encouraging learners to use Spanish sites and to practise their reading skills.

As well as the self-study activity, Cat makes use of the theme of the week for the grammar activities. This week she highlighted a Spanish festival, La Tomatina, a food fight festival held in the last week of August. The students find out about the festival by watching a Spanish news clip and whilst watching they are tasked with listening for specific information and they are asked to specific questions to make them really think about differences and similarities between our cultures. A gap-fill activity requiring them to turn the news report from present into past tense completes the grammar tasks. Cat also includes an activity each week which get the learners to really consider their opinion on the highlighted topic, in this case the food fight festival, ready for discussion during the Skype session.

Tasks on a Moodle course
As with Flipped Learning it is essential that learners complete the self-study element in order to fully participate in the Skype session. The learner’s play an important part in contributing to the learning within the session, their research into Spanish culture helps to broaden their peers’ knowledge too. Having undertaken the grammar exercises in advance, Cat can focus on the areas where her learners feel they needed more support and learners come prepared for the conversational element of the course having already formed opinions on certain aspects of La Tomatina.
During the course the students are asked to consider a topic and produce a audio/video presentation on the subject which they do as homework and share with their teacher and/or peers using a tool called mailVU. This provides a means of capturing her learners progress throughout the course.

“Children in Spain have many duties and should play more.”
For mailVU next week, can you present your views on this topic? Do you think the situation is the same in the UK? Are our children any better off starting school at such a young age? What is the political view here on it? Can you see if you can add an imperfect subjunctive or a present subjunctive in this mailVU?

mailVU is an online tool that allows you to record short video clips, up to 10 minutes which you then email a link to. It can be used without signing up for an account but there are benefits of signing up for the free account, as you can then download videos, upload videos and delete them after a set period of time. mailVU works from an App on a mobile device too.

These three tools have been used in an imaginative and engaging way by Cat to develop her virtual Spanish course. Many of her ideas could be adopted n face-to-face courses and across different subject areas.

Using Widgets – Dictionary Support

If you are using a VLE then one way to support learners is through the use of widgets. A widget is a small piece of software that can be installed on a web page or VLE course page.

Care must be taken on what widgets are introduced to the course page as some may contain malicious code, if at all unsure take advice from your IT Services department.

An example of a useful support widget for learners is the Cambridge Dictionaries Online widget. Every course has its own terminology or words that may be new to a learner. This widget enables a teacher to provide an embedded dictionary search tool, the learner types the word they need help with and they look it up whilst on your VLE course page. Once they hit the Look it Up area within the widget, the Cambridge Dictionaries Online website will open and they can listen to the word being spoken and read the definition. Cambridge Dictionary search widget

Cambrige Dictionary Online website

The widget is downloaded from their website in the form of HTML code.

To add it to a Moodle VLE course page you:

select HTML from the drop-down menu in the Add A Block section

Select Configure the Block Settings and provide a Block Title.

From the toolbars select the HTML editor (<> icon) and paste in the widget’s HTML code.

Adding a widget to a Moodle block

To get the website to open in a new tab/window, you need to add the code

target=”_blank” as seen in the image above (select the image to see it in full size) before the <table style=…… instruction.

Written for HOLEX by Ideas4Learning Limited

Posts and Memory

Do you ever find that you start following a blog site such as this one and some of the posts you want to come back and read again so you print it off or add them to your favourites/ bookmark them? The fact that we have taken action at that point, seems to tell our brains that we can tick that one of our to-do lists and we then forget all about it! It’s not until something happens, perhaps you have a conversation with someone, that triggers a connection in your memory to something you’ve read – so you start to scour your inbox, your computer, your bookmarks (folders, sub-folders) before you give up and search Google. Sound familiar?

That’s why we’ve done two things, to celebrate our first 20 HOLEXTechLearn Blogs we’ve created a document, Quick Guide to Our First 20 HOLEXTechLearn Posts,  and created a category Post Summaries, so that you can quickly scan through summaries of all of them.

We’ve done something else too, we’ve created a HOLEXTechLearn Pinterest board.  Some people like a visual prompt so we’ve used Pinterest to pin an image relating to each blog, together with a direct link to the post. Pinterest is a great way to gather online resources onto a visual noticeboard. You can use it to help your own memory and build collections of resources or to support your learners with relevant websites to their course and/or a topic within their course.

HOLEXTechLearn Pinterest Board

Written for Holex by Ideas4Learning Limited.

Interactive Learning Resources for Skills

This year Jisc commissioned 22 providers to produce interactive learning resources for skills with their support. Each resource is badged an Open Educational Resource(OER) which means that it can be taken and used freely by Community Learning and Skills providers.

In this first video Lisa Barnes, an Account Manager for Jisc North, talks about some of the interactive learning resource projects. To find out more about all of the projects, you will find information on the Jiscinvolve website.  The actual resources themselves are stored in the Jorum Repository, search using the keyword ILRforSkills for the 163 OERs.

Having access to OERs takes away the need to create materials yourself. If you have a VLE or website then the materials can be uploaded to it. Here Elisabetta Lando, an Account Manager for Jisc London, shows an alternative approach to using one of the interactive learning resources by accessing it through Padlet.

Jisc re-structured and rebranded itself this year and in our final video Jane Edwards, an Account Manager for Jisc South West and Midlands, explains the services Jisc offers and how Community Learning and Skills providers can tap into their services.

If you are using these or any other OERs let us know what you are using and how.

Embedding Equality and Diversity

Diane Cooper-Ramsden, Skills and Qualifications Manager at Barnsley MBC, says they have been developing ways to help tutors embed equality and diversity into their schemes of work. One of the ideas they had was to produce a Moodle Book containing a month by month celebration of diversity full of useful resources.

The Celebration of Diversity Book starts with support and suggestions for tutors on how to use the ideas within the book to embed diversity using a celebration topic into schemes of work and lessons. Each month is contained within a separate chapter of the book, so that tutors can easily access it from the book’s navigation menu. So for example, within October a tutor would find Black History Month with links to useful website pages, as well as links for resources they could download and use.

The use of a tool such as Moodle Book means that it can be updated easily. When members of staff produce their resources these could then be included for others to use the following year.

To help staff with their planning they include a Celebration of Diversity Calendar. Here is a link to the Staff Diversity Diary produced for providers of FE and Skills for the academic year 2014-15.

NIACE’s Equalities Toolkit website holds 6 years’ worth of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion case studies from projects run by different organisations. Morley College ran a project Educate out Prejudice which focussed on the protected characteristic LGBT and how to support staff in embedding LGBT into their curriculum areas. As a result of the project, staff became very creative in their lesson planning, making use of social media like blogs and Twitter to draw inspiration from. For example, Catherine O’Shea drew on Stephen Fry’s blog post, An Open Letter to David Cameron and the IOC,  for a GCSE English class. The students explored how the language used within the post expressed Stephen’s thoughts and feelings and at the same time opened up the opportunity for a class based discussion on the topic itself. EqualitiesToolkit
Tutors at Morley College shared all aspects of their project, how they trained staff, what the staff then went on to do and the impact the project had. Participating staff shared their lesson plans, resources and evaluations so that others could see their approach and gain ideas and inspiration from it. The tutors covered a range of curriculum areas including ESOL, Literacy, Childcare and English.  Morley College resources

This year 29 EDI Skills Funding Agency projects were run by the Equalities Challenge Unit. The project’s case studies will be added to the NIACE Equalities Toolkit and be available this October. Northern College’s Case Study is already available its focus was to change the way that educators talk about diversity, intersectionality and identity so that individual participants and their students could express their identities safely without prejudice.

Written for HOLEX by Ideas4Learning Limited

Teaching Modern Foreign Languages Online

Rafael Canet, Adult Skills Coordinator for Quality and E-learning at Newcastle City Learning uses different online activities to engage and support learners on Spanish Courses.

Rafael explained that on the Virtual Learning Environment he includes pictures to bring context to the new vocabulary – it also helps learners to correctly navigate to the right place.

Image of MFL Moodle course

To ensure that learners are taught the language skills that they want to learn he asks them on a forum to let him know what topics whether cultural or grammatical or a combination of both they would like to study. He asks them in Spanish and the learners respond likewise. Click on the image to see the contents more clearly.

Forum posts in Spanish

To support learners with pronunciation Rafael makes use of the OddCast Text to Speech tool.

This tool allows learners to type in words or sentences and then to listen to them being spoken.

It has a range of different languages, and as it includes English could be used by ESOL learners for English pronunciations and for dyslexic learners to find out what a word they are struggling to read says.

The tool also provides a number of different voices for each language being spoken.

Oddcast text to speech tool

Rafael has created a HTML block on the side of the Moodle page so that learners always have quick access to the website.
Link to Oddcast TTS from Moodle Block
Learning technologies and tools open up all sorts of possibilities for teaching languages. What are you doing with your learners?

Moodle Mindmap Module

Mindmaps provide a visual representation of information which can help learners to:

  • see the whole picture
  • develop understanding of ideas and concepts
  • plan work
  • organise their thinking
  • problem solve
  • remember things
  • collaborate on tasks – sharing thoughts and ideas, plan together
  • present their ideas

Mindmaps are a useful way to quickly store thoughts, ideas, challenges so that each can be returned to, reflected on and expanded. There are many mindmap tools freely available online like bubbl.us . For organisations who use Moodle they may wish to explore the Mindmap module plugin.

Rafael Canet, Adult Skills Coordinator for Quality and E-learning at Newcastle City Learning, has been using MindMap in Moodle on teacher training courses as a form of collaborative assignment. Click on the image to see the contents more clearly.

An example of a mindmap being used on teacher training courses

As teachers we could create mindmaps but leave out the connections between areas on the map for learners to complete. Here is an example activity for Functional Skills or ESOL learners. Click on the image to see the contents more clearly.

Mindmaps in Functional English and ESOL

The Mindmap module functionality within Moodle is very basic; this video how to guide will show you how it works.

Moodle does have other Mindmap plugins, there is an Advanced Mindmap plugin which would allow learners to have their own individual mindmap. There is also a Mindmap Format plugin, enabling your whole course page to be viewed in mindmap form, with activities and resources being accessed via the mindmap itself.

If you are interested in other mindmap posts read: Teachers need support too!

Written for HOLEX by Ideas4Learning Ltd

Free Resources and CPD Modules

The Learning Futures programme , involves 17 projects which complete on the 30th September 2015. The projects cover a wide range of different topics aimed at practitioners, managers and governors. Each project is producing resources and these will be available as the projects finish.

To support the projects, the Learning Futures team developed a series of CPD modules, covering 11 different topics. Each module is made up of a recorded webinar, suggested CPD activities, links to further useful resources and to any of the associated projects.

In the video below Sue Owen-Evans, Learning Futures Programme Director, talks about some of the projects that are specific to Community Learning and Skills and what the programme has to offer HOLEX members.

In the video Sue mention’s the Gateshead NetPass Project for more information on this watch Kevin Pearson talk about their project.

One thing the projects have in common is that the CPD skills they have been building with their own staff are transferrable to practitioners teaching not only other subjects but across the different types of provision too. This link provides you with an overview of the projects, so that you can plan for when the resources become available.

Written for HOLEX by Ideas4Learning Limited

Fifteen uses for video-conferencing Software

Do you have or are you considering using video-conferencing/webinar software to create a virtual classrooms? If so, how are you considering using it? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Deliver workshops

  • Staff development
  • Marketing – taster sessions for up and coming courses
  • Master classes

Deliver online courses

  • Design short online courses that are held entirely in the virtual classroom
  • Deliver virtual classroom staff development courses
  • Deliver learning straight into people’s homes e.g. online cookery and MFL courses

Deliver blended courses

  • Create courses that are a mix of face-to-face and virtual classroom
  • Create courses that mix online VLE input with class discussions in the virtual classroom

Hold classes across community locations

  • Bring a teacher to learners who meet regularly in community groups
  • Join groups to a tutor across community locations. Laurance Elliot and Tim Taylor from Morley College have enabled Performing Arts learners to connect through a webinar project called Remote Exchange.

Deliver tutorials

  • Swap face-to-face tutorials with appointments in the virtual classroom – save learners travel time for very short appointments
  • Deliver support tutorials for learners
  • Re-engage learner who are at risk of dropping out.

Apprenticeship programmes

  • Save travel and time and hold professional discussion meetings with apprentices
  • Deliver training to apprentices
  • Provide support to apprentices


  • Stop staff travelling from different sites, save time and money by using the virtual classrooms
  • Do you belong to external groups, invite them to use your software to cut travel costs


  • Hold first interviews for new staff
  • Provide opportunities for students on job search to practise online interview skills

Hold revision sessions

  • Hold revision session in the run up to exams as an optional extra for students

Deliver classes in adverse weather conditions

  • Continue to deliver classes when it snows!

Deliver (drop-in) support sessions

  • Allow learners across a range of classes to drop in and ask questions during support session. Sessions could be held where any student on a maths or English course can drop-in to ask a question.

Bring in outside speakers

  • An expert from industry could inspire learners, being busy people they may be more likely to agree to give 30 minutes of their day for free via webinar software then a half day or day to travel to you.
  • International speakers could be invited

Deliver student voice sessions

  • invite learners across programmes to join a student feedback session online

Develop online teacher networks

  • Encourage internal staff to hold CPD meetings
  • Develop networks of practitioners across providers.


  • Support the writing of collaborative bids, through online meetings
  • Hold project meetings online
  • Hold update meetings online


Things to think about – questions for you to consider from Morley’s experience:

  • Is connecting through a virtual classroom the same as being face-to-face?
  • What are the constraints when using video-conferencing software?
  • How user friendly is it? How easy is it for learners and teachers to use?
  • What does it cost? What are the cost savings/benefits?
  • Does it require any resources – equipment, software?
  • How can you test your ideas, prior to implementing them?
  • How to you make new delivery options manageable?
  • What happens if the Internet connection fails you? Do you have a backup plan?

Software used at Morley College

  • Visimeet
  • Skype

Written for HOLEX by Ideas4Learning Limited