Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Developing an Open Participatory Learning Infrastructure

March 26th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I am in Houston, Texas for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 2007 Open Educational resources Grantees meeting.

Central to the event is a presentation by Daniel Atkins, John Seely Brown, and Allen Hammond, of their 

Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities.

It is a substantial report with many interesting asides and well worth a read.

They identify the following ‘key enablers’ as driving the OER movement:

  • “open source code, open multimedia content and the community or institutional structures that produce or enable them;
  • the growth of what we are calling participatory systems architecture; Our notion of architecture includes both technical and social dimensions.
  • the continuing improvement in performance and access to the underlying information and communication technology (ICT);
  • increasing availability and use of rich media, virtual environments, and gaming; and
  • the emerging deeper basic insights into human learning (both individual and community) that can informed and validated by pilot projects and action-based research.”

Central to the report is the call for the development of an Open Participatory Learning Infrastructure (OPLI) (which is not a long way form what Ray Elferink and I have been advocating in the form of an Architecture of Participation. The authors “believe that the Hewlett Foundation can play a leadership role in weaving the threads of an expanded OER movement; the e-science movement; the e-humanities movement; new forms of participation around Web 2.0; social software; virtualization; and multimode, multimedia documents into a transformative open participatory learning infrastructure—the platform for a culture of learning.”

They go on to say that “the proposed OPLI seeks to enable a decentralized learning environment that:  (1) permits distributed participatory learning; (2) provides incentives for participation (provisioning of open resources, creating specific learning environments, evaluation) at all levels; and (3) encourages cross-boundary and cross cultural learning.” The OPLI can be envisaged as “a dream space for participatory learning that enables students anywhere to engage in experimenting, exploring, building, tinkering and reflecting in a way that makes learning by doing and productive inquiry a seamless process.”

This is good stuff indeed – visionary but not beyond the realms of what can be achieved. Particularly welcome is the weving together of technical and social objectives. My only reservation is the continued stress on the role of higher education institutions – but maybe this is a reflection of the objectives of the Hewlett Foundation.

More tomorrow – I’ll try and post a couple of live blogs from the conference. In the meantime I’m off to the Longneck Reception and the Good Company Barbecue Dinner.

Developing an Open Participatory Learning Infrastructure

March 26th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I am in Houston, Texas for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 2007 Open Educational resources Grantees meeting.

Central to the event is a presentation by Daniel Atkins, John Seely Brown, and Allen Hammond, of their 

Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities.


It is a substantial report with many interesting asides and well worth a read.

They identify the following ‘key enablers’ as driving the OER movement:

  • “open source code, open multimedia content and the community or institutional structures that produce or enable them;
  • the growth of what we are calling participatory systems architecture; Our notion of architecture includes both technical and social dimensions.
  • the continuing improvement in performance and access to the underlying information and communication technology (ICT);
  • increasing availability and use of rich media, virtual environments, and gaming; and
  • the emerging deeper basic insights into human learning (both individual and community) that can informed and validated by pilot projects and action-based research.”

Central to the report is the call for the development of an Open Participatory Learning Infrastructure (OPLI) (which is not a long way form what Ray Elferink and I have been advocating in the form of an Architecture of Participation. The authors “believe that the Hewlett Foundation can play a leadership role in weaving the threads of an expanded OER movement; the e-science movement; the e-humanities movement; new forms of participation around Web 2.0; social software; virtualization; and multimode, multimedia documents into a transformative open participatory learning infrastructure—the platform for a culture of learning.”

They go on to say that “the proposed OPLI seeks to enable a decentralized learning environment that:  (1) permits distributed participatory learning; (2) provides incentives for participation (provisioning of open resources, creating specific learning environments, evaluation) at all levels; and (3) encourages cross-boundary and cross cultural learning.” The OPLI can be envisaged as “a dream space for participatory learning that enables students anywhere to engage in experimenting, exploring, building, tinkering and reflecting in a way that makes learning by doing and productive inquiry a seamless process.”

This is good stuff indeed – visionary but not beyond the realms of what can be achieved. Particularly welcome is the weving together of technical and social objectives. My only reservation is the continued stress on the role of higher education institutions – but maybe this is a reflection of the objectives of the Hewlett Foundation.

More tomorrow – I’ll try and post a couple of live blogs from the conference. In the meantime I’m off to the Longneck Reception and the Good Company Barbecue Dinner.

Questions and Answers on Peronal Learning Environments

March 19th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

In January I published an artcile entitled ‘Personal Learning Environments – the future of eLearning?‘ in the second edition of e-Learning Papers, a new journal published by elearningeuropa.

The online journal subsequently invited readers to ask me questions about the paper. Very fine questions they were too. I have just got round to answering the answers will no doubt appear on the elearningeuropa portal shortly.

But if you impatient here are the questions and the answers. Seriously – I think some of the issues are worthy of further discussion – although I am not quite sure of the best forum for this. Anyway – feel free to add your comments here.

Question: Michael Feldstein, author of eLiterate weblog, writes about e-learning predictions for this year 2007 and says: “…despite a ton of buzz in the edu-blogosphere and some merit, ‘e-Learning 2.0’ will only see limited success in terms of widespread diffusion.” Do you think this is realistic or pessimistic? Do you agree or disagree with him?

ma_moreau (France)

 

Answer: I’m not really sure what e-Learning 2.0 is or indeed if it a useful concept. But if he is referring to the use of social networking and social software applications for learning then I think he is most certainly wrong.

2007 will see increased adoption, experimentation and implementation of all manner of different software applications – most not designed for learning – to enable creativity and sharing. This includes the use of blogs, wikis, e-portfolios and social networking software.

True – the diffusion will probably be limited at institutional level. Institutions have invested a great deal of resource in Virtual Learning Environments. But we increasingly see not only students but teacher as well bypassing institutional systems to experiment with new applications for learning.

 

 

Question: You say “PLEs are not an application”. So, how can we actually set up our own PLE? And you, do you have your own PLE? If yes, could you explain how is it organized?

antonf (Italy)

 

Answer: As Jan Lai says in the question below: “PLEs are more a methodology or an approach to technology enhanced learning than an application.” However they do imply a movement away from seeing e-learning taking place within external spaces – e.g. institutional Virtual Learning Environments – to an understanding of learning taking place in wider contexts – both on and off line – and including the home and work as well as institutional courses. So rather than go to institutionally controlled spaces to record and reflect on learning, the learner will establish and manage their own space. Access to that space and interchanges that take place will be under the control of the learner rather than the institution.

Yes, I do have my own PLE, comprised of a ‘mash up’ of different desktop and web based applications I use for my everyday work and increasingly reliant on local and web based services. It isn’t particularly efficient and it has some pretty big gaps at the moment – but I hope to develop it further over the next year. Central to my PLE is the people I work with and the applications I use for communication with those people.

Question: Hello Graham. I’m involved in company training and in one of your presentations you claimed that social software can be used in workplaces for informal learning. Could you tell about this more in detail? What application you would recommend and how this kind of learning could be integrated to the formal training that the company carries out? Many thanks for your time!

jennyli (Norway)

 

 Answer: There are two approaches to this. One is to use social software attempt to encourage and facilitate informal learning in the workplace. regardless of curricula. The second is to use social software to extend the present formal training. And of course both approaches could be combined. Which approach is adopted does have implications for pedagogy and learning arrangements. If employees are encouraged to take part in informal learning – outside the context of formal programmes – and if the company wishes to recognise or certify that learning – then some form of Accreditation of Prior Learning will be needed.

Anyway, coming back to the software, wikis are being extensively used for collaborative documentation and exchange of ideas. My favourite is MediaWiki. Many companies are introducing social networking software for developing communication and facilitating the formation of Communities of Practice.  ELGG is a great application for this.

Web logs are another applications which can be used for individual to reflect on their learning from everyday experience. Web logs can also be extended to develop an e-portfolio, although this will require some support.

I read somewhere that IBM are encouraging employees to make podcasts and are excited by the wealth of informal knowledge being shared through the podcasts.

Question: Hi Graham, I would like to have your point of view on the effort by Bolton University to create a “all inclusive” PLE software. I have personally a very skeptical position towards the desire to transform an informal approach to e-learning (that’s how I see PLE: a methodology and not a software) into a “platform”. Do you see any future for such kinds of “formalization” of PLE?

Thanks a lot, Jan

Jan Lai (Italy)

 

Answer: Hi Jan, there is always a space for innovative, well thought out experiments in developing new applications. And who knows, PLEX may turn out to be a great tool. I suspect, though, it is more a proof of concept and research tool, than an application designed for mass use. As such I think this is fine, as long as it is seen as an application developed to support the idea of the PLE, rather than a tool which is the PLE.

Question: Dear Prof. Attwell, we are using a PLE (a mash up of ELGG, wiki and social bookmarking) for sharing knowledge inside my organization (a research center).  Do you think that PLE could be considered suitable in every context (schools, universities, workplace) and for all kind of competences? In which way do you think that PLE will affect the learning and training evaluation?

epanto (Italy)

Answer: It is interesting that you say you are using such a mash up for sharing knowledge. I think one of the developments which is inherent in my concept of the Personal Learning Environment is to close the gap between Knowledge Management and learning. It seems a little absurd that such a big gap has been allowed to develop in the first place. But as to your question – could a PLE be considered suitable for every context – I think that the key ideas behind the PLE – of user controlled learning – is suitable for every context. Of course how it is introduced, the form and organisation of the PLE and the amount fo help that learners will require will differ greatly. And yes, I think it is suitable for all kinds of competences. However, once more, we have to recognise that the pedagogic approach and the form of the PLE may well differ according to subject or competence. A PLE could be used very differently for studying history or for learning to become a carpenter. But the principles are the same.

Question: Hi Graham. Today many elearning experts are talking about Immersive Learning Simulations, Rapid Interactivity tools,  Games, learning interactions, etc. How would you relate these with Personal Learning Environment?

sarus (Germany)

 

Answer: In much the same way as I see anything else working as part of a Personal Learning Environment. I don’t really understand why people are getting so excited about the use of games. After all we have always used games in learning – quizzes and competitions are hardly new. true – we are only just beginning to develop the use of on-line games and environments. But that is just because we have been very slow in developing new pedagogic approaches to e-learning. I have said before that I think the introduction of e-learning led to a reverse in pedagogic innovation. We are just getting back on track now. As for immersive environments, I think there is considerable potential. But if I look at much of what is being developed in Second Life, it is not very inspiring. We are in danger of recreating the traditional lecture theatre – the only difference being that our avatar attends instead of us in person. I also worry a little about who is managing these environments and for what purpose. I do not think that MTV, for example, has a great interest in learning. And many of these environments require considerable bandwidth and modern computers with a  fast graphic card. Nevertheless the developments here are definitely worth following.

Question: Dear professor Attwell, I’m involved in the “Personal EU” organisation concept: www.personaleu.eu. How do you see the challenges of the initiative as a step towards an European “dream team” society?

takapiru (Finland)

 

Answer: Hi – I certainly like your ideas around developing intercultural networks and I appreciate the variety of different social software tools that you are using to do it. However, I am not quite sure I understand the idea of the Personal EU.  

I tend to think that knowledge is best shared and developed through communities of practice. Communities of practice as Etienne Wenger says are based on a shared repertoire of communal resources (routines, sensibilities, artefacts, vocabulary, styles, etc.) that members have developed over time.

Whilst the EU may style itself as a community it most certainly is not a community of practice. As such I am slightly sceptical about developing the kind of people based portal you appear to envisage. Of course it may be that I have misunderstood your ideas.

For me a dream team society would be one that rather than seeking the highest levels of implementation of information technology sought to eradicate poverty and inequality. But perhaps I am just old fashioned!

Meetings

March 17th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Bit quiet on this blog at the moment. That is because I am in wall to wall meetings. And, even worse, endless travel to meetings.

Its preety exhausting. It is not the time youy are in the meetings but the endless activity. True, the best bit of any meeting is in the pub in the evening. That is where the ideas get flowing. But it means you don’t stop from half past seven in the morning until eleven at night. And I’ve been doing it for ten days now with another 14 days to go.

So I got wondering if all these meetings are necessary. Surely there must be some ways in which we can use technology to help. Yes, Skype is being used for audio and there is a slow trend towards more use of video conferencing. But this tends to be in addition to the meetings.

The problem – I think – is the lack of thinking about the purpose of meetings and the forms in which collaboration take.  What are we trying to achieve? How do we need to work to achieve this? How can that best be done. Even with the increasing use of wikis and wiki type environments we have not really worked out how to develop collaborative writing. So called workshop sessions are all too often presentations with questions.

Much of this could be done with technology – given a little imagination and planning. II think one problem is that many of the meetinsg I attend are bing frun by researchers. Researchers are not trained in how to plan and moderate workshops. the best meetings are often those planned by trainers. They are experienced in how to moderate collaboration. They worry about what the aims and objectives of the meeting are.

One last thing, before I finish this moan (and I am well aware of how many people are envious of all this travel). The endless air travel involved in international project is not sustainable. I hate to think of what my carbon footprint would look like. And perosnally I think there is much to be said for on-line conferences. They are not the same – but they bring a different quality to conference type events. As the AKA Specials once said: “Different, but Equal”.

So OK, just for the record – next week I am in Pontypridd in wales, the first part of the next week I am in Houston, Texas, and the second half am in Bucharest, Romania. If you’re around and fancy a pint just drop me an email.

412 Error

March 10th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

It was a reader request. Honest. Could you make Sounds of the Bazaar available through iTunes. I had been meaning to do this for ages but had never got round to it.

So logged in to the iTunes store and wasted a bit of time whilst it refused to recognise my credit card (not very important seeing as I did not want to buy anything).

And then we found the page to upload feeds. Messed around for a bit working  out just what the feed was. And then…412 error.  Spent two hours messing around – the feed validates (although it did not initially).  But iTunes still refuses it. If anyone  has any ideas how to solve this I will be very grateful.

Meetings

March 8th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Bit quiet on this blog at the moment. That is because I am in wall to wall meetings. And, even worse, endless travel to meetings.

Its preety exhausting. It is not the time youy are in the meetings but the endless activity. True, the best bit of any meeting is in the pub in the evening. That is where the ideas get flowing. But it means you don’t stop from half past seven in the morning until eleven at night. And I’ve been doing it for ten days now with another 14 days to go.

So I got wondering if all these meetings are necessary. Surely there must be some ways in which we can use technology to help. Yes, Skype is being used for audio and there is a slow trend towards more use of video conferencing. But this tends to be in addition to the meetings.

The problem – I think – is the lack of thinking about the purpose of meetings and the forms in which collaboration take. What are we trying to achieve? How do we need to work to achieve this? How can that best be done. Even with the increasing use of wikis and wiki type environments we have not really worked out how to develop collaborative writing. So called workshop sessions are all too often presentations with questions.

Much of this could be done with technology – given a little imagination and planning. II think one problem is that many of the meetinsg I attend are bing frun by researchers. Researchers are not trained in how to plan and moderate workshops. the best meetings are often those planned by trainers. They are experienced in how to moderate collaboration. They worry about what the aims and objectives of the meeting are.

One last thing, before I finish this moan (and I am well aware of how many people are envious of all this travel). The endless air travel involved in international project is not sustainable. I hate to think of what my carbon footprint would look like. And perosnally I think there is much to be said for on-line conferences. They are not the same – but they bring a different quality to conference type events. As the AKA Specials once said: “Different, but Equal”.

So OK, just for the record – next week I am in Pontypridd in wales, the first part of the next week I am in Houston, Texas, and the second half am in Bucharest, Romania. If you’re around and fancy a pint just drop me an email.

Open Source business models in education

March 7th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I’m trying to write a funding bid but keep getting diverted by the discussions going on on the blogs. Anyway I will write a quick entry now and then get my head down to business.

Dave has written a sad tale on the problems of open source business models. I don’t agree with him that open source is broken – far from it. I have little problem in persuading potential clients to use open source (in my experience they really don’t understand or care).

But I used to work for Knownet, and know from my bitter experience the problems of developing an income stream for a company developing open source applications for education.

Our business model was based on developing instances on use in mainly European funded projects. It worked – to an extent. But we still ended up working way to many hours and with recurrent cash flow problems. It was essentially a voluntarist model.

And of course there is money to be made out of customisation, support, training etc. But this does not fund mainstream development. The open source model is based on the benefit form many developers working together around the same code. But – in reality there needs to be someone organising, driving and inspiring such an effort. ELGG would not exist without the vision and drive form Ben and Dave.

Education is (or should be) a public good. I have written before about how the development and use of proprietory e-learning applications is effectively privatising education and is crippling innovation in pedagogy – in developing new ways and understandings of teaching and learning.

If we value open source in education – not just because it is better code – but because of the values it brings to education and learning – and if education is a public good – then open source development in education should be supported by those who support (ie fund) education. In the UK there is a great deal of money beings pent of educational technology. At least some of that money should be ring-fenced for open source development. This could be through an agency or might involve the creation of a trust or foundation to manage the development.

I think we should start a campaigning and lobbying for this. Because without such a fund I fear the issues Dave talks about will not go away.

Connected Media and Competence

March 5th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I am much taken by a comment by Scott last week: “…we have entered an era of connected media. Connected media does not contain interaction; instead content items are nodes in a network of connections that are the focus of interaction. The content is inside-out. The hot content today is not interactive – Flickr/Photobucket, YouTube, iTunes, RSS feeds all feature non-interactive content, yet the content is highly connected via layers of interlinked metadata (del.icio.us, technorati, recommendations, hyperlinks, comments…).”

Of course he is right. And it is pretty easy to understand the implications in terms of how we work and learn and in how we develop e-learning content. It is less easy to work out how it effects how we report on our work. On the one hand our work will not be in one place – it will be scattered across different media and on different web sites. Last year we started looking at some of the implications of this in a seminar called ‘How Dude, where’s my Data‘. NB I have finally got together a wiki documenting at least some of the outcomes of that seminar.

But students are still assessed largely on the outcome of their learning and in terms of their competence. Not – here are my connections – but here is something I have done and here is something I claim I can do. This is far less easy to document in terms of network nodes.

It may be that the e-Portfolios of the future will have to be based far more on process than merely outcomes – more here is something I claim I am competent to do and here is the interactions I have made which allows me to say this – rather than here is a thing I have made which allows me to claim I am competent.

I still feel that competence is a difficult concept pedagogically and am worried that educational technologists will see competence as a mere unproblematic taxonomy. This matters. If we are to develop and implement e-Portfolios – let alone Personal Learning environments – we have to get clear on these issues.

In the discussions I am having over e-Portfolios there is increasing agreement of the use of blogging type applications as a way of recording learning progress. There is also an awareness of the power of personal networks for peer feedback as an aid to reflection. BUT – and it is a big but – institutions and e-Portfolio providers still (naturally) want some way of representing achievement. How can we do this dynamically? Perhaps competence looks more like a tag cloud or a mind map than a ‘skills journal’.

Connected Media and Competence

March 5th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I am much taken by a comment by Scott last week: “…we have entered an era of connected media. Connected media does not contain interaction; instead content items are nodes in a network of connections that are the focus of interaction. The content is inside-out. The hot content today is not interactive – Flickr/Photobucket, YouTube, iTunes, RSS feeds all feature non-interactive content, yet the content is highly connected via layers of interlinked metadata (del.icio.us, technorati, recommendations, hyperlinks, comments…).”

Of course he is right. And it is pretty easy to understand the implications in terms of how we work and learn and in how we develop e-learning content. It is less easy to work out how it effects how we report on our work. On the one hand our work will not be in one place – it will be scattered across different media and on different web sites. Last year we started looking at some of the implications of this in a seminar called ‘How Dude, where’s my Data‘. NB I have finally got together a wiki documenting at least some of the outcomes of that seminar.

But students are still assessed largely on the outcome of their learning and in terms of their competence. Not – here are my connections – but here is something I have done and here is something I claim I can do. This is far less easy to document in terms of network nodes.

It may be that the e-Portfolios of the future will have to be based far more on process than merely outcomes – more here is something I claim I am competent to do and here is the interactions I have made which allows me to say this – rather than here is a thing I have made which allows me to claim I am competent.

I still feel that competence is a difficult concept pedagogically and am worried that educational technologists will see competence as a mere unproblematic taxonomy. This matters. If we are to develop and implement e-Portfolios – let alone Personal Learning environments – we have to get clear on these issues.

In the discussions I am having over e-Portfolios there is increasing agreement of the use of blogging type applications as a way of recording learning progress. There is also an awareness of the power of personal networks for peer feedback as an aid to reflection. BUT – and it is a big but – institutions and e-Portfolio providers still (naturally) want some way of representing achievement. How can we do this dynamically? Perhaps competence looks more like a tag cloud or a mind map than a ‘skills journal’.

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    Learning about technology

    According to the University Technical Colleges web site, new research released of 11 to 17-year-olds, commissioned by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity which promotes and supports University Technical Colleges (UTCs), reveals that over a third (36%) have no opportunity to learn about the latest technology in the classroom and over two thirds (67%) admit that they have not had the opportunity even to discuss a new tech or app idea with a teacher.

    When asked about the tech skills they would like to learn the top five were:

    Building apps (45%)
    Creating Games (43%)
    Virtual reality (38%)
    Coding computer languages (34%)
    Artificial intelligence (28%)


    MOOC providers in 2016

    According to Class Central a quarter of the new MOOC users  in 2016 came from regional MOOC providers such as  XuetangX (China) and Miríada X (Latin America).

    They list the top five MOOC providers by registered users:

    1. Coursera – 23 million
    2. edX – 10 million
    3. XuetangX – 6 million
    4. FutureLearn – 5.3 million
    5. Udacity – 4 million

    XuetangX burst onto this list making it the only non-English MOOC platform in top five.

    In 2016, 2,600+ new courses (vs. 1800 last year) were announced, taking the total number of courses to 6,850 from over 700 universities.


    Jobs in cyber security

    In a new fact sheet the Tech Partnership reveals that UK cyber workforce has grown by 160% in the five years to 2016. 58,000 people now work in cyber security, up from 22,000 in 2011, and they command an average salary of over £57,000 a year – 15% higher than tech specialists as a whole, and up 7% on last year. Just under half of the cyber workforce is employed in the digital industries, while banking accounts for one in five, and the public sector for 12%.


    Number students outside EU falls in UK

    Times Higher Education reports the number of first-year students from outside the European Union enrolling at UK universities fell by 1 per cent from 2014-15 to 2015-16, according to data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

    Data from the past five years show which countries are sending fewer students to study in the UK.

    Despite a large increase in the number of students enrolling from China, a cohort that has grown by 12,500 since 2011-12, enrolments by students from India fell by 13,150 over the same period.

    Other notable changes include an increase in students from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and a fall in students from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.


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