Periodic Fable

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HelenWhitehead.com
creative digital writing

Reach Further
Consultancy and professional services in online content, community and e-learning

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creative uses of ICT for teaching writing and literacy in school

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Website for children to publish their writing, plus digital writing projects for schools

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Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Saving time and managing information flow

Saving time - vital... Here are some of the ways I'm saving time and managing information flow at the moment:
  • Creating shortcuts on my desktop to my most-used folders - a no-brainer I think. To keep track of multiple projects effectively I like to keep my files in neatly organised folder hierarchies. But then I find myself taking time browsing through layers of folders to find what I want. So I have created shortcuts to the folders I'm using the most at this moment - key project folders, the Camtasia video I'm working on, the course materials I'm developing, etc.

  • First thing in the morning I log into the VPN if not in the office, then I don't have to interrupt the flow when I need something from the server, and it's easy to store things on the server rather than leaving them on my hard drives.

  • First thing I also open a Firefox window with several tabs for my most-used web apps - at the moment typically:

    • My Google calendar
    • Wrike task and project management
    • Sugar CRM
    • Twitter (or Twitterfox or Betwittered in my iGoogle page when they're working!)
    • The community I am working on today
    • Any course I am teaching at the moment
    • Any course I am taking at the moment (currently digifolios.ning.com)
    • My blog admin pages
    • The forum I use most - a small supportive community of fellow elearning specialists

  • I use two computers at the same time when possible, a desktop and a laptop, then if one is doing something slowly, eg, while a backup is running or a Camtasia video is rendering, I can turn to the other.

  • I keep up with Twitter and RSS feeds on my smartphone in any odd moments - even in the kitchen stirring dinner...

  • Now I just need to crack my terrible typing - correcting my typos takes up FAR to much time!

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posted by Helen Whitehead 9:58 AM

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Monday, 19 November 2007

Risk analysis of e-learning projects

I have recently been doing risk assessments of some e-learning projects we have in train. There are some risks that seem to cross all types of projects in a variety of contexts.

When assessing risks of e-learning projects I consider:

* Likelihood (high, medium, low)
* Potential impact (high, medium, low)
* Speed of onset (fast, slow)

Some of the main risks I have found to be important include:

Unclear roles of individuals and partners in the project

Likelihood: low Impact: high Onset: slow

To avoid/mitigate:
  • Be very clear about roles of individuals and partners at the beginning and at every meeting.
  • Hold regular meetings where progress and actions are checked.
  • Be clear about institution’s organisational structures and the key organisational issues
  • Basic stakeholder analysis – brainstorm all stakeholders: internal and external. Make time for stakeholders with high impact and high interest and continually monitor stakeholder relationships.
  • Get in writing, with agreement from all, what the expectations are of each partner in clear and simple terms.
  • Have a single dedicated project manager
Lack of buy-in from some stakeholders

Likelihood: high Impact: high Onset: slow

To avoid/mitigate:
  • As early as possible engage and maintain a high level of commitment and engagement needed at senior and operational levels.
  • Get recognition of the strategic importance of the project relating to key strategies
  • Get early adopters, champions and enthusiasts involved.
  • Make realistic and applicable templates for others to follow.
Failure to meet project objectives

Likelihood: medium Impact: high Onset: slow

To avoid/mitigate:
  • Have clear aims and objectives.
  • Have a clear project plan and timescale
  • Set milestones - and meet them
  • Know “best solution” and “acceptable” outcome
Staff resourcing, changes and sustainability

Likelihood: high Impact: high Onset: fast

To avoid/mitigate:
  • This one is particularly relevant to HE and FE. Consider motivation and clarity.
  • Involve personnel at risk at the start. Know where to turn if the worst happens.
  • Clearly assign resource time from all partners. Agree that schedules will slip if this is not stuck to.
  • Keep track of other e-learning opportunities and funding
  • Prioritise user-centred design - practical and relevant to the people involved
  • Make sure there is sufficient time for testing and evaluation
IT and policy issues

Likelihood: medium Impact: high Onset: fast

To avoid/mitigate:
  • Include decision makers early on
  • Do a technical audit with the IT department at the start and find out exactly what is available and possible
  • It may be necessary to adapt the project if the infrastructure is not going to support it in the timescale of the project.

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posted by Helen Whitehead 7:51 AM

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Helen Whitehead's blog of e-learning, digital literacy, online writing, and digital creativity.

Which methods and techniques using new technologies are of real use?

Writing in the digital age is so much more than delivering information, or traditional stories and poems electronically. Digital forms of literature can include text, hyperlinks, multi-linear plots, superlinear narrative, graphics, interactivity, animation... and so much more.

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