Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Private and public conversations at work

August 30th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Interesting article in the Guardian about a new guide by the UK Trade Union Congress on using social networks in work.

The guide points out that employers can legally ban the use of social networks and take action against employees who break such a ban. It also says that employers are entitled to consider social networking content if an employee has applied for promotion.

The General Secretary of the TUC appeals to employers to be reasonable pointing out employees should be able to have a life outside work. The guide goes on to give some sensible advice on the use of social networkls.

But it is this paragraph that I find most interesting:

“Work is a major part of our lives, and staff have always discussed aspects of their jobs in private. Now that online social networking is becoming mainstream, many of these private conversations are searchable by the public.”

The use of social networking is redefining conventions around private and public discourses. Many of these conventions are implicit and tacit and of course are heavily culturally defined. In Germany people are much more ‘private’ than in Wales where we quite freely share information about our personal lives – and gossip happily about friends and acquaintances – with relative strangers.

It may well be that to move forward the debate we need to take what has previously been tacit and implicit and transform to explicit knowledge. Handbooks like the TUCs are part of this process.

Postscript: Just a short moan. News web sites like the Guardian are getting very lax about citations. Whereas once they always linked to original source material now they next to never do. I spent a good few minutes searching for the handbook. If news organisations are going to quote extensively form such a source I think they must provide a direct link. End of moan/

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Facebook questions

August 29th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I am underwhelmed by most of the Facebook plug-ins (although overwhelmed by the number available. And I totally fail to understand the attraction of applications like Zombies

But the one application which I think is really useful – as opposed to decorative – is my questions. I have tried asking questions a few times on my blog – and have got a reasonable response – but the blog display is in no way as useful as the plug-in for this sort of discourse. My questions is really handy for quickly gathering different people’s views on key issues.

And – 9f you do have a Facebook account – my question is “How can we support informal earning?”. For those of you without an account I will publish the relies on this blog some time in the future.

New report shows increased use of internet by women and older people

August 23rd, 2007 by Graham Attwell

The UK telecommunication regulatory body, Ofcom, have just published their annual report.

It is a substantial body of work and I have to admit I haven’t read it myself – relying rather on press and radio reports.

There seems to be much of interest in the report. For the first time women webusers have taken the lead in key age groups. At the same time an army of silver surfers has emerged and the over 65s are spending more hours online than any other age group, according to the Guardian.

Predictablyyoung people are spending more time on line, with growing use of social networking sites. This time spent appears to be at the expense of watching television.

Much of the BBC radio coverage was taken to the emergence of older people at heavier internet users than youth. Commentators speculated that this was due to the rise of internet commerce and to women using the web for social networking.

However, the preponderance of older users bares out the survey we carried out of the use of ICT for learning in Small and Medium Enterprises. We found older workers far more likely to use the web for learning than younger employees (albeit for informal learning rather than pursuing formal e-Learning courses). We speculated at the time this might be due to wider web access for more senior employees.

However, we felt, although could not proof, that older workers felt more at home using the internet for informal learning. Tomorrow I will have a look at the Ofcom report to see if it has anything to say about learning. But it remains my feeling that educational technologists have over-focused on developing learning applications and content for younger students and have failed to see the potential for extending and supporting lifelong learning and continuing professional development through the internet.

The term social networking also covers a multitude of activities. the radio reports tended to assume social networking as a leisure time activity – a replacement or chatting on the phone. Women do more of this than men, the reasoning went. I am unsure of this is true. But I would certainly suggest that much of the so called social networking is actually the use of social software for informal learning.

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Social networks are safe – official!

August 22nd, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Back from holiday (I didn’t look at a computer for a week!) and back to the blog. And what better start to the autumn season than this new report from the US National School Boards Association — a not-for-profit organization representing 95,000 school board members.

The study, funded by Microsoft, News Corporation, and Verizon, found the internet isn’t as dangerous as people think, and teachers should let students use social networks at school.

Tech. Blorge.com say the report warns that many fears about the internet are just overblown. “School district leaders seem to believe that negative experiences with social networking are more common than students and parents report,” the study reports. For example, more than half the districts think sharing personal information has been “a significant problem” in their schools — “yet only 3% of students say they’ve ever given out their email addresses, instant messaging screen names or other personal information to strangers.”

This chimes with my long held belief that in a risk adverse society educational institutions spend far more time worrying about potential dangers and ‘what if’ scenarios than they do in helping students learn how to use the internet safely and creatively.

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A bold experiment

August 10th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

In the last four years the longest I have been off line is three days. And boy, that seemed strange. Now in the interests of science I am going off line for nine days. Yes – you read that right – no internet, no emails, no web, no skype for ten days.

In order to cope with the inevitable withdrawal effects, I will be investing in a quantity of red wine to overcome sensory deprivation.

I did think about turning the mobile off to but that seemed a step to far. Be back on line Monday 20th.

The problematic of e-learning

August 10th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

This blog post from George Roberts fascinates me. I think we need to explore the relations and contradictions George raises far more carefully than we have to now.

“Oliver and Trigwell (2005) raise the Freirian question: education as the practice of freedom. The overt curriculum of the industrial era, the “3 Rs” was reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic. The covert curriculum, inculcated by early modern schooling was punctuality, tolerance of repetition and subordination: compliance with which was important for the functioning of capital intensive industry. Overt curricula are presented as being beneficial for all. Covert curricula benefit particular positions: dominant elites or their powerful oppositional forces. From this perspective the key affordances of e- learning, flexibility, community and individualisation are problematic. Against flexibility might be set a return to piecework and insecurity. Against community and team working might be set normalisation and a re-expression of hierarchies. And, against individualisation or personalisation might be set an increased tolerance to surveillance and a willingness to surrender personal information to anonymous, autonomous agents offering only predatory reciprocity. (Roberts 2004).”

Reflecting on Reflection

August 9th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I had an interesting exchange of emails this morning with Ben Scoble from Staffordshire University.

Ben had picked up on my list of different skills / competencies for reflection

• Forming an opinion

• Expressing an opinion

• Articulating an opinion

• Justifying an opinion

• Defending an opinion

• Supporting the opinions of others

• Challenging others opinions

• Questioning others opinions

• Seeking clarification of others opinions

• Representing other opinions

• Building on others opinions

• Sorting fact from fiction

Ben says: “Reflection is a particular concern – as it often plays a crucial role in eLearning and developing higher level (deeper) learning – is this an inherent ‘feminine’ skill [or a skill that is easier to hone]?”

He goes on to ask: “So would the lack of knowledge of and/or the inclusion of a framework for engaging in reflection activities – adversely affect male students engaging in eLearning?”

I’m not sure of the answer to this – but suspect that gender does make a difference. But of course it is not just gender. Many individuals do not take easily to reflection (my daughter would be a prime example!). Given the importance of reflection in learning (or at least I think it is) then the inclusion of a framework for reflection would benefit those learners who may be at a disadvantage in this form of learning.

Yesterday I was in Leicester for a training day for the launch of our new e-Portfolio system – Freefolio (lots more about that soon – it is fabulous).

In the morning we ran a hands on session for the e-Portfolio and in the afternoon I ran a workshop on reflection. It was a bit like being hoist with my own petard. For some time I have been berating e-Portfolio ‘experts’ who say how important reflection is in the e-Portfoliod development process – but then have nothing more to say on the subject. I was a little nervous about ‘teaching’ refection. But the workshop was a lot of fun and the participants seemed to enjoy it – and said, at least, they found it useful.

Now I would like to take this forward in tow ways:

a) To develop the framework Ben talks about

b) To develop on line tools / activities to develop competences in reflection.

The only problem is I need some funding – anyone any ideas?

How much should we spend on computers?

August 7th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

There’s an interesting (sort of) and confusing discussion going on on one of the Becta mailing lists.

Ray Tolley asked of anyone could tell him the total spend On ICT in education in the UK.

The most useful of the responses, he says, “came from Richard Selwyn, Project Manager, Becta … which, when adding all the separate figures together points up a total spend this next year of £860m for 2007-2008. As a proportion of the

£34bn total education budget reported in the Guardian that makes a 2.53% spend on ICT. This compares with the US in 1998 when the figure was identified by Anderson and Becker as 2.7% ..”.

It has been suggested in later posts that the Becta figures may only be spend in england and so for the UK as a whole the percentage would be higher.

My question is what does it mean? How important is the total (and percentage) invested in ICT? Of course computers are useful for computer supported learning. But investment in professional development for teachers may pay a higher dividend for learning than investment in more machines.

How much should we spend on computers?

August 7th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

There’s an interesting (sort of) and confusing discussion going on on one of the Becta mailing lists.

Ray Tolley asked of anyone could tell him the total spend On ICT in education in the UK.

The most useful of the responses, he says, “came from Richard Selwyn, Project Manager, Becta … which, when adding all the separate figures together points up a total spend this next year of £860m for 2007-2008. As a proportion of the

£34bn total education budget reported in the Guardian that makes a 2.53% spend on ICT. This compares with the US in 1998 when the figure was identified by Anderson and Becker as 2.7% ..”.

It has been suggested in later posts that the Becta figures may only be spend in england and so for the UK as a whole the percentage would be higher.

My question is what does it mean? How important is the total (and percentage) invested in ICT? Of course computers are useful for computer supported learning. But investment in professional development for teachers may pay a higher dividend for learning than investment in more machines.

German railway rescues soccer fans from beerless journey – International Herald Tribune

August 6th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I’m mot sure whether this is true. But it is a great story in the dead news space of August when it is even hard to find much to say about educational technology. From the International Herald Tribune

“Germany’s national railway wasn’t about to risk sending a trainload of soccer fans to a German Cup match without beer.

Federal police said Monday that the beer tap failed aboard a special train carrying Bayer Leverkusen fans to Hamburg on Saturday. The fault was discovered half an hour into the journey.

“In order not to endanger the good mood” of the passengers, railway officials halted the train in Wuppertal for 25 minutes and had a replacement part delivered by taxi, a police statement said. It added that there was no trouble among the fans.”

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    News Bites

    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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