There’s been plenty going on here in the northwest over the last fortnight, including two popular conferences I’ve attended. The Quality Improvement Agency Skills for Life Quality Initiative event at Wigan provided a good introduction to the Whole Organisation Approach to Quality Improvement. An interesting worskshop on e-learning led by Susanne Johnson left me with the strong feeling that with some training and support, tutors could make far more use of new technologies in their teaching.

There’s a big change taking place now with the Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) being taken over by the LSC and Skills for Life will be a key area. Talking to Sally Thomas, Education Manager at HM Prison Risley, I was impressed by her grasp of how online materials on activities like reading bus timetables, using ATM cash dispensers, food budgetting and preparing a simple CV would be a boon for many offenders approaching release. There are some interesting opportunities here, especially if the DfES is able to find ways of providing internet access for offenders inside prisons. This is already the case in other countries and is being advocated by CILIP and others.

The other event was the JISC Northwest Regional Support Centre’s annual conference at Kendal. John Stone the new CEO of the Learning and Skills Network talked of his experience of e-Learning as Principal of Ealing and Hammersmith College and had some comments about the role of the LSN. He also picked up Bill Rammell’s recent theme about the need for combination and cross sectoral partnerships – which I suggest in my Digital nations in the making book is a hallmark characteristic of the e-enabled organisation.

[DNiM Update Page 3-4 – Learning and Skills Development Agency].

The other keynote speaker was Paul Gerhardt who gave a fascinating account of the BBC’s new Creative Archive scheme. A projected 10 year programme, it will be releasing 1000 hours of BBC film and audio material every year, which can be used for non-profit activities and by educational bodies free of charge. This is a great use of the tax payers’ money for opening up public access rights in the digital age and potentially a huge boost for any organisation seeking to enhance its online learning offer. There’s some limited material already available for which you need to obtain a license.