The real value of networking events is the wider picture; the chance to compare progress and ideas, find solutions and get confirmation that you’re doing ok. I came back from the regional Bb event with a list of software to investigate – they all contained the same issues – accessibility. Echo 360 is a lecture recording/videoing system – not so different to Boxmind – but I’m not convinced that tranferring the traditional mode of delivery to an online environment is the answer. It seems fraught with potential download issues and there were no obvious transcripts – even on the example from Galloudet – a university for the deaf where only one of the speakers signed. Video lectures are only as good as the lecturer and the demonstrations didn’t convince me this was the way forward.

The key to learning online is interaction so I was interested to hear about Engage. Part of the Articulate software package it claims to create ‘dazzling interactions’ but is fundamentally a watch and listen experience. The Quizmaker looked good but being Flash based it rang warning bells. The blurb says it is accessible to virtually anyone. Mmm…. bit of a get out clause there. Apart from being able to customise the appearance with some jazzy buttons and backgrounds, it didn’t seem to offer a great deal more than the Blackboard assessment tools – which reinforces my philosophy of look at alternative ways of using what you already have.

There were some fans of Wimba software; Course Genie converts Word documents into websites. I have a copy and it was reassuring to hear that the code it produces is functional. It also plugs into Bb – we should be investigating this further – in the scheme of VLE skills the next step on from uploading a Word Document is to convert it into web pages and incorporate the activities features.

It’s less about how you present the content – it’s what you ask the students to do with it. Creating online resources is time consuming because existing f2f materials need to be dismembered and restructured. So for me the event helped reinforce my ideas and investigating the software didn’t do a great deal to change my mind – I always thought Course Genie had value anyway!

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