Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Online Style

July 30th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

In my writing I am increasingly finding myself referring to on-line sources – and more lately to multimedia sources. This afternoon I had an email form a colleague who is laboriously sub-edicting a book on e-Portfolios. “Hey Graham”, Martin asks, “again I need a reference. You wrote in the docs.google document, about Jenny Hughes and Graham Attwell (2006) but it isnt listed in the references. Now I found the copied text in a study I have to have look through until today evening.

So can you send me the complete reference, please. Or is the text “Pedagogical Process” alredy published? If yes, where? Hope for your help.”

Hm, I thought, and had to search in the draft for the reference. There it was – it was a video on Teacher Styles.

But then the problem – how to reference videos. I did a quick Google search and came up with the excellent Columbia Guide to Online Style.

The guide provides a comprehensive list of different on-line sources and the way to reference them. Well worth a look.

Public sector targets to be scrapped | Society | SocietyGuardian.co.uk

July 22nd, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I am increasingly interested in issues of quality in teaching and learning. So this announcement of the scrapping of public sector targets reported in the Guardian has to be welcomed. It is very clear that targets do not work as a measure of quality…….has the UK government finally realised it?

Mr Burnham said: “We will avoid wherever possible the more crude approach of setting a one-size-fits-all target that is dropped down from on high … The direction of travel is for public services to look and feel differently in different parts of the country. We want them to face downwards and outwards, having a dialogue with their local communities rather than with the centre.”

Thats fine but I’m not in the least but sure what looking downwards and outwards mean. Does this mean being imposed top-down? And what form does such a dialogue mean. I fear this may be just more focus groups. And that equally does not guarantee quality

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Facebook, privacy and the university police

July 17th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Students’ trial by Facebook | Media | MediaGuardian.co.uk:

I haven’t much time for rowdy, middle class, over-proveledged Oxford students. But I have even less time for the University internal police, archaically called proctors.

And now it looks as if the proctors are hacking Facebook to cause a bit of grief for the students.

But it is going to take some time before we sort out what can and should be shared through social networking sites and what rights of privacy – if any – we should be entitled too. And – I’m not paranoid, honestly – but if a few dozy Oxford proctors can hack their way through Facebook access controls, I sort of think that security services are not going to find it tricky. Are we all monitoring ourselves these days?

“Oxford University staff are logging on to Facebook and using evidence they find on student profiles to discipline students.

Photos on the social networking website of undergraduates celebrating the end of their exams have been emailed to students by the proctors, Oxford’s disciplinary body, as evidence of breaches of the University’s code of conduct.

Students now face fines of up to £100 after proctors collected evidence of students celebrating the end of exams by “trashing” their friends, covering them with champagne, confetti, flour, and even foodstuffs including raw meat and octopus.”

Students may be unable to graduate until the disciplinary hearings are resolved.

Facebook is a closed platform

July 16th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I’ve been enjoying the the IWMW 2007 Innovation
Competition
, run by the ever tireless Brian Kelly (I’ll post my entry tomorrow!). And I’ve been watching the Facebook phenomenon with some interest.

Given how I keep banging on about breaking out of institutional walled gardens and using social software for learning there is much to be welcomed in “MyNewport – MyLearning Essentials for
Facebook
” – Michael Webb’s submission to the competition

Brian Kelly says “MyNewport is the VLE/portal used by staff and students at Newport
College, which includes access to course material, news, blogs, forums,
library access etc. MyNewport is a Facebook application that allows
students to access to MyLearning Essentials resources from Facebook. In
effect this allows students to start creating their own personal
learning environment in a platform other than the one provided by the
University. Newport College have targeted Facebook at the moment as
it’s the fastest growing community, but if the users like the idea but
want to work in another environment then that is fine –
as applications can be created applications for them as well.”

Apparently it took about a day and half from conception of the idea and joining the Facebook developer community on 10th July to launching it as a viable application for our students to use (or comment on) on the 11th
July. It was straight forward as the college’s VLE is built from
components that can easily be repurposed and uses open standards such
as RSS to allow information to be passed to the Facebook application.

And this is where I start worrying. Yes the college VLE uses open standards. But Facebook does not. It is one thing providing access ot a developers kit to write applications to get data in to Facebook. But what about the other way round. How can learners get their data from Facebook into their Portfolio. As far as I can see they can’t. And that is what distinguishes social software applications like Facebook, privately owned with closed standards, from applications like Elgg – with open standards and the functionality and support for moving data both in and out of Elgg and to using whatever tools the users choose for their interface.

Or am I wrong – if so please write and tell me because I think this is a critical debate.

Transliteracy, social software and learning

July 13th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Tuesday (10 July 2007) I was a co-faciliator of an ‘unconference’ session at a JISC Emerge meeting which aimed at helping to consolidate the Emerge community of practice.

Wikipedia  provides a definition of an unconference: “An unconference is a conference where the content of the sessions is driven and created by the participants, generally day-by-day during the course of the event, rather than by a single organizer, or small group of organizers, in advance.“

So my co-facilitator, Brian Kelly (I have ‘borrowed some of his report for this blog entry) and I had to prepare for an event driven by the participants and not by ourselves. The approach we took was to prepare for a number of ways of stimulating discussion, if this was needed. However on the day it turned out that this was not needed as two interesting discussions took place in our two sessions: one on transliteracy and one on the ethical aspects of use of social networks.

Professor Sue Thomas of De Montford University introduced the ‘transliteracy’ topic. Again looking at Wikipedia I find the definition of Transliteracy given as “The ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.“. (This has been taken from the PART (Production and Research in Transliteracy) Group Web site).

Whilst we were downstairs having an ongoing and evolving discussion around these issues, upstairs  a series of round table discussions (once more participant driven) were being held. Participants in the JISC Emerge community are preparing a series of bids for project under the JISCX Users and Innovation programme.  Most of these nascent projects focus on the use of Web 2.0 technologies for learning – including simulations, games and tagging.

But it seemed to me that many of the issues we were discussing – social practices in the use of technologies, skills and competencies required by users – both learners and teachers, ethical issues and  issues of ownership and control – are the real issues which  underpin the use of Web 2.0 and social  software.

Here is a list of key words I jotted down during the discussion:

  • Ethics

    privacy

    permissions

    acceptable use

    accessibility

    socialbility

    usability

Cool apps are great – but it is the social environment and practices which will define their use and their usefulness in practice. So it may be that if we want to start developing some great (social) learning applications we need to think through all these issues at the same time.

Why I blog and other issues

July 9th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I got offered a job blogging a few weeks ago.

It was a good offer – to contribute some 10-15 items a week to a blog about Open Educational resources. The items did not have to be long. And the pat was quite reasonable.

I thought long and hard – and finally rather reluctantly turned it down. Reluctant – because it seems a bit of a dream to be paid for doing something I enjoy writing about something which interests me.

But there seem two drawbacks. The first is that I find blogging on the road to be difficult. When I am involved in a run of intensive meetings and workshops I don’t always have the headspace for blogging. And the second is that I am afraid it would destroy the fun of blogging. Along with others, I have always wondered how Stephen Downes keeps writing OL Daily, day in, day out. Sometimes I just don’t want to blog – I don’t feel I have anything to say. And at other times I have a lot to say. For me my blog is part of my everyday work and everyday life – and the blog has to fit in – not the other way round of me having to write the blog.

I am interested in these issues because of an emerging discourse in the Emerge community about the possibility of a project on using Web 2.0 and social software for supporting academic writing.

It is an interesting idea and an important one. Often, if I am working on an academic paper or a contribution to a book, I do not blog. The style of expression is just too different to quickly switch formats.

So, I suspect we may have to reconsider just what is academic writing. I have been involved in a number of projects trying to use Wikis for co-development and collective writing of research papers and training materials. It is not easy and requires a great deal of planning. I suspect this will be the way we work in the future – especially in the context of European projects involving collaboration between researchers in different countries. But we have a lot to learn about how to do it.

I’d be interested in anyone else’s thoughts (and experiences) on this subject.

Searching, Lurking and the Zone of Proximal Development

July 8th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Too busy to blog. Sad isn’t it. I have been on the road for almost all of the last three weeks. And we are also going through a busy time producing things. New software, videos, papers and all the rest. I’ll be rolling out the different products over the next two weeks. And you will hear about them first on this blog.

So here is the first. It is a book on e-learning in Small and Medium Enterprises. Regular readers of this blog may remember I worked on a European Research project called ICT and SMEs. We undertook 105 case studies in seven different European countries. And we made four four thematic studies. The project ended in 2005. But I thought th results were to good not to publish. It has taken ages. But the book is now out.

You can buy the book from Amazon. But here is a special offer to Wales Wide Web readers. I have 50 copies to give away for free. If you would like a copy just email me at grahamattwell [at] gmail [dot] com and I will send you one out.

Why study

July 8th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I was in Swindon a couple of weeks ago visiting my elderly parents. They took me off for a meal with one of their equally aged friends.

I went through the usual difficulties of trying to explain to her what I actually do for a living (not sure myself really).

And then she presented me with a fridge magnet (yes, that is not a type).

The fridge magnet is entitled ‘Why Study?’

And the text runs:

‘The more I study

The more I know

The more I know

The more I forget

The more I forget

The less I know

So why study?

Sums up how I feel about formal learning sometimes.

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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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