Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Blogging and supporting blogging

February 26th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Not so many posts on this blog lately.

Well – for one thing I have been traveling a lot and I find it difficult to blog whilst on the road.

For another thing the API for my ecto client is broken which means I have to use a web interface – this always takes longer.

But more significant is that I am doing quite a lot of things to support blogging. We have set up a MOSEP blog site using elgg spaces so that project participants can develop their own e-Portfolios. I am trying to support that process. Supporting and facilitating others in blogging is hugely rewarding. But it is difficult to be providing regular feedback and thinking up new tasks whilst keeping up the blogging on the main site at the same time. I guess its just another skill to learn.

Social software and web 2: a challenge to the future of schooling?

February 25th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

As part of my work for the the European Bazaar project I am  running a seminar entitled Social Software and Web 2.0: a challenge to the future of schooling. You can find details about the seminar and how you can take part below. But first here is the topic of the seminar.

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‘In a recent blog post Rita Kop says: “There is currently a vast array of communications options available on the Internet. Especially young people have grasped the potential offered to them by blogs, web pages and increasingly personal spaces such as ‘My Space’ and ‘youtube’ to make links with like minded people and to invite comments and messages to their postings. The speed in which communities are being formed has surprised most observers. Participants in these developments, though, take them for granted as expressing themselves to the wider world has increasingly become part of their life style.

The education world has not grasped yet the revolution that is taking place outside the class room. The discrepancy in the way technology is being used inside and outside the class room seems to be growing.

The availability of blog and web authoring tools and their ease of use have made that a vast number of people are now engaged in interacting on the Internet. It has created a huge leap forward in moving people on from being consumers to becoming producers of information.

As educators know, the pace of change within institutions is a lot slower than outside the brick walls, which raises questions about the ability of formal education institutions to keep engaged the generation that lives in a technology saturated world and has grown up with technology.”

At the same time researchers have begun to explore the idea of Personal Learning environments or PLEs. Rather than access a single learning application or a walled institutional learning area, the idea of a PLE is that learners can configure different services and tools to develop their own learning environment, bringing together informal learning from the home, the workplace as well as more formal provision by education institutions. The PLE is controlled by the learner and as well as offering an environment for accessing different information and knowledge allows access to web based publishing and other opportunities for creating content and expressing and exchanging ideas.

The idea behind the PLE is to harness the power and potential of social software and web 2.0 applications for learning.

As Graham Attwell has pointed out PLEs may be a seriously disruptive development, challenging the present model of schooling. The seminar is intended to examine the changing ways in which we are using technology for learning, to look at the potential of Personal Learning Environments and to discuss the implications for the future of our education systems.

This could include (but is not limited to) the following issues:

  • Young people are increasingly using social networking sites and social software applications – but are they learning?
  • What does the new uses of technology for learning imply for pedagogy and the future role of teachers
  • What is the role of school in the future of more and more learning takes place over the internet
  • How can technology supported informal learning be recognised
  • How disruptive are the new technologies to the education system – is it just a bubble?
  • How can Personal Learning Environments be reconciled with the social nature of learning?
  • What are the implications of technology supported learning and PLEs for social equity within education?
  • What sort of technological infrastructure should the education system be providing for learning?
  • If content is increasingly created by teachers an learners and is open for access, how will we guarantee quality?
  • Does increasing learner control and autonomy spell the end of centralised curricula?

and

  • How dude, where’s my data?’

Click ‘more’ to find out how you can take part.

(more…)

e-Portfolios – how do we get the learners involved?

February 20th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

waiting for the eportfolio ‘pull’:

As part of the MOSEP e-Portfolio project we have created our own portfolios in ELGG Spaces. As always it is difficult getting people started but there are three of us there now and I hope the other project partners will get involved in the next ten days.

But one of our colleagues, John Pallister, who is an IT teacher at Wolsingham School in Durham has posted a brilliant series posts based on his personal experiences in introducing e-Portfolios in his school.

I am reposting his entry from yesterday in its entirety in the hope it will inspire others of you to go read his blog.

Why are our students prepared to work with their eportfolios? Acknowledging that some students, especially some of the older students, are a little reluctant to develop their eportfolios- the vast majority will work on them with very little ‘push’ from staff. The older students, who are not as ‘interested’ in their eportfolios, are tending to fit into the waiting for the ‘pull’ from the universities and employers category. Of course it is always easier to sit back and wait until the big picture is clear, rather than to do something, but we are dealing with students – we need to sort out the ‘big picture’ and declare the drivers now. – Quite a job! For ??

The creative environment provided by the multimedia authoring packaged has helped to motivate our students. It could be argued that, without evidence of reflection, the eportfolio is simply a creative product. Well, I see every day, evidence that students are proud of the product and want to develop it. We have won the first battle, we have sorted out the software/hardware and have given students a multimedia authoring tool that they want to use. As a by-product, the ICT multimedia skills level in the school has risen significantly.

The majority of my recent posts have focussed on reflection and audience. Historically, although as Gerlinde suggests, reflection is a natural part of what students do, students have not wanted to explicitly reflect. The ‘write about your holidays’ prompt was always a hassle and even ‘writing up science experiments’ and reflecting on whether it proved or disproved the original hypothesis tended to became a mechanical process without a lot of meaning/value for the student. Students tended to develop the set responses that they thought teachers wanted, they regurgitated these responses and thought very little about the process and how the might tackle it in the future/ what they ad learnt etc.

Again, picking up on Gerlinde point about student reluctance to record reflections in a written form, they might have gone through a very useful reflective process, and then not wanted to record their reflections in writing, or, they might have rushed-off some stock written reflections, devaluing the whole process.

Can Technology do it, (help), of course it can. Students might be more prepared to record audio reflections – why should a students reluctance to write, or their poor literacy skills stop them from reflecting, might the microphone liberate the learner?

How, as teachers, we encourage students to reflect and record their reflections is the next challenge, closely followed by how we contrive/provide/engineer ‘audience’ to support the process. I suspect that we need to encourage and link recorded reflections against the evidence of the original learning/activity. A general Blogg would probably be very awkward for the audience. – The calculations, if every learner in the UK created a blogg, who would be doing the reading? Ah – audience again!

waiting for the eportfolio ‘pull’, John Pallister :: Blog, February 19

Are you using ELGG

February 15th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Are you using ELGG as a portfolio in your school? If so I would be very grateful to hear from you. I am working on a project called MOSEP which is piloting e-Portfolios in six European countries, specifically for the 14 – 18 year old age group and with a  focus on socially disadvantaged learners (whatever that means).

We would very much like some case studies / information on how others are doing it. You an email me on graham10 at mac.com.

Blackberry and Apple Crumblies

February 9th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Featured this on the Sounds of the Bazaar last week and a number of people have asked me if they could have a print version. OK, here it is.

I got an email from my mate Jenny in Pontypridd.

“Thought you might like to know what the e-generation (of about Owen’s age funnily enough!!) call the people of your generation  (puddings) who they grudgingly accept as nearly ICT literate (and therefore worth talking to occasionally) and are geeky about widgets and gizmos and boys toys (could even have been talking about you) (well, ok was actually talking about you)….

= Blackberry and Apple crumblies.

You’ve been called a lot of things in your time, thought this was one of the better ones – maybe you should admit to it in your blog at some point – or use it elsewhere.

I, on the other hand, don’t qualify. I am apparently an Apple tart – as is everyone with a white Barbie Mac, irrespective of gender.

Jen

PS There are more ….

    Dull but posey or posh bastards with the latest go faster gadgets they don’t understand are Toff E-puddings.

    Those wot pontificate at length about computers,  especially those avant garde types who shout from the rooftops about what the technology of the future is etc are I-screamers.

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Gooseberries (as in gooseberry fool) are those that have cheap tacky versions of Blackberries and think they are the real thing. By extension, anyone who has an MP3 player not an i-pod)

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A chocolate is someone who lives on his phone but has never progressed past texting and phone games and thinks technology stops there. Its also someone who is obsessed with updating to the latest model. (chocolate orange – keep up)

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The also-rans, wedded to Windows, are just Cakes. (PC’s-a-cake if you really want to know!!)

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Noisy anti-apple Windows champions, on the other hand, are ‘Eckles (cakes)

So I ‘spose you are a blackberry and apple crumbly with a dollop of i-scream who hangs around with a past-the-sell-by-date apple tart and hates cakes.

Adventures in the UK

February 8th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Preface. I’m in London – going to Birmingham, then on to Coventry and up to Darlington. Can I have a ticket for this, I ask the sales person. Sorry mate he says, no way. See… Coventry is on the west coast route and Darlington’s on the east . But cant I switch from one to the other, I ask, perplexed. Of course, he says, no problem. But they are run by different companies so I cant issue you one ticket. In fact you need three different tickets. Oh well , should have guessed.

And we’re off. for another fun packed adventure away a day of Britain’s creaking rail network.

the first leg – an early morning trip form Birmingham to Coventry. Not much can go wrong surely – its not very far. And in fact in starts well? We get an earlier train than expected due to the previous train running 19 minutes late.

Beautiful morning Cold and sunny, with a bit of frost on the ground. What. Oh dear. ‘We apologise for the late running of the train, says the attendant on the loudspeaker. This is due to the cold weather freezing the points. Yes, well. But is only around zero degrees out there. But OK – we were only ten minutes or so late into Coventry.

Later in the day (about two in the afternoon, Coventry to Birmingham. Cold but beautiful sunny day. We apologise for the late running of this train, says the attendant. This is due to there being icicles in the tunnel requiring the need for restricted running. Hm, not an attack of the killer three foot icicles. Oh well ony 10 or so minutes late.

And then a spot of luck. The Glasgow east coast train which I though I had missed is twenty five  minutes late so I get it. And they even switch the platform to where I am to make it easy for me.

We apologise says the attedant for the late running of this train due to an early fatality in Leamington. When, where, who, why, we will never know. But I suppose a fatality is a fatality, even in Leamington. ‘And we apologise, he says (I think the main training for train attendants in the UK is in apologizing_ for the overcrowding on this train. This is because we are three coaches short. Um, yes.

He’s trying hard. In fact later, when repeating the apologies for the benefits of new passengers, he adds. And I’ve just heard there was a problem with the gas in Oxford earlier, which may have contributed to our delay. Despite the fact that Oxford in over 100 miles away and the train has not gone near Oxford. Oh well.But he is optimistic. Its a good stretch past York, he says. We’ll have a go at making some of the time back.

Well we are getting there., At least I’ve got a seat, unlike the poor buggers standing in a row in the aisle. And I guess if this ever gets posted on my blog I must have finally arrived somewhere!

Top of the League!

February 5th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Its long been my desire to get this blog to number one on a search for Wales Wide Web in Google. A pretty trivial ambition you might say. But there has to be something to keep you posting  on those cold tired winter nights when the pub is so inviting.

I got to number three ages ago. But there were two sites above me – a network of Wales local government and would you believe it a siet providing Welsh recipes. Anyway today we finally made it, leapfrogging above both contenders. And I can genuinely say – its all down to you – the readers!

E-learning, Social Software and Competence Development

February 3rd, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I’m increasing interested in exploring the use of social software for competence development. Of course i know of the problem in developing and agreeing on definitions. I like Sebastian Fiedler’s and Barbara Kieslinger’s assertion that:

…the concept of competence is a theoretical construct that refers to a human potentiality for action or its underlying dispositions.

Competencies acquisition and advancement

Why is this discussion so important? We are increasingly using social software for learning and knowledge development in dispersed communities if practice. But we have problems in understanding the relationship between ‘subject’ based knowledge and competence as applied knowledge and between collective knowledge inherent within the communities if practice and the abilities or capabilities of individuals to use and apply such knowledge.

And I have written before of my worry that techies will see this as a trivial issue only requiring the construction of a simple (probably learning objective based) taxonomy.

Anyway I have developed a proposal for a symposium at the European Conference on Educational research in Ghent this September. The overview for the proposal follows.

Learners are discovering new uses of the technology for learning including instant messaging, file sharing, social networking and  blogging. A growing number of reports have documented how the so called net generation use computers in their everyday life.  As so often happens when confronted with something new, the reaction of the education systems is to control and to restrict it. Young people are told to turn off their mobile phones to go into their lessons on communication! The US government is debating a law banning access to social networking sites in educational establishments.

Of course it could be asked what this has to do with learning? To a large extent it depend on definitions of learning. If we say that learning is an activity which takes place within an institution and guided by qualified teachers, then of course it has little relationship. But if we take a wider definition of learning as purposeful activity which leads to changes if behaviour, then a great deal of learning is taking place.

But it is not just the appeal of communication which is drawing young people to these technologies. It is the ability to create, to share ideas,  to join groups, to publish – to create their own identities which constitute the power and the attraction of the Internet for young people.

The symposium will examine the use of social software for competence development.  Social software is used here in the meaning of software that lets people rendezvous, connect or collaborate by use of a computer network. It supports networks of people, content and services that are more adaptable and responsive to changing needs and goals. Social Software adapts to its environment, instead of requiring its environment to adapt to software. In this way social software is seen as overcoming “the absurd distinction between e-learning and knowledge management software” (Bryant, 2003).

Research  undertaken into the use of e-Learning in Small and Medium Enterprises has found little take up of formal courses. But there was widespread use of the Internet for informal learning, through searching, joining on-line groups and using email and bulletin boards. Google was the most popular application for learning. Age was not a factor.

The symposium which is based on work undertaken in different European projects is focused on research into practice int the use of social software in different contexts. The aim is to provide a rich picture of the different and changing ways in which people are using technology for learning with the aim of developing longer term implications of how new technologies can be used for competence development.

The paper by Graham Attwell and Ray Elferink present research into how social software can bring together different forms of learning for lifelong competence development. Sebastion Fiedler and Barbara Kiesinger look at the relation between domain specific teaching and comptencies in self directed learning. Alexandra Toedt examines how games based learning can develop competencies. Veronika Hornung explores the relevance of traditional educational research methods and concepts of didactical quality and whether they can be applied to the evaluation of technology enhanced learning scenarios. All the contributers will focus on different research methods and approaches for technology enhanced elearning.

Vienna Rocks

February 1st, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I/ve never really got on with feed readers. Yes, I know, everyone says that on the Mac Net Newswire is brilliant. Well, I will accept its a very fine piece of software. But to me the user interface looks like an old email client and I never really got the hang of managing my feeds. They ended up a total mess with too many duplications and dead feeds et.

I had a go at using Flock but it really is too slow. I bought an account for Shrook. Oh and `I even started aggregating feeds in my ELGG account. So you see I have been trying.

For the last four weeks I have been thinking about sorting out all these feeds. then three days ago Mike sent me a link to Vienna. Man – this rocks. It looks good, it is intuitive to use and best of all is Open Source. Sadly it is only available for the Mac at the moment.

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