Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

A coda, or an unfinished symphony: debating e-portfolios

October 30th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

An interesting bit of discussion below provoked by a list serve post by Martin Owen citing a post by me on e-Portfolios. I am not in the least sure what Ray in trying to say in his musical metaphors. I think I will take it as a complement.
But his list is interesting. I agree with most of what he says. However I am not so sure of the practicality of the portfolio being housed in an external repository – or for that matter the desirability. MySpace is outside educational institutions but that does not make it a desirable place to host an e-Portfolio. The key is that the owner owns the data and that the owner can export, save and manipulate the data (and if necessary, transfer the data to another system).

And whist I might be sympathetic to controlling inappropriate content, I also think this is ultimately unfeasible. Better to teach students how to use everyday controls like spam filters. If something becomes forbidden it becomes desirable.On closed fora, I think sometimes fora (horrible word – forums sounds better though grammatically wrong) may be closed but sometimes should be open. And who should choose – that is the big control question.

Of course not all of the learner’s work will be stored on the e-Portfolio. But I think it is more than just a showcase. It can and will be most valuable where the work accumulates and progresses over time – the ability to review is part of the reflection process. That is why we try to keep our back catalogue of blog posts. A blog is more than a showcase of where I am now. It represents the development of my ideas over time.

But many thanks Ray for your comments and may the debate continue.

Martin Owen wrote:

>A positive coda to recent discussion.

Graham Attwell of Pont y Dysgu has written a long (7000 word) blog post on E-portfolios: “the dna of the Personal Learning Environment?”

“Facilitating reflection is not simple within a largely ‘input based’ curriculum where the main goal is to pass a series of prescribed examinations. The danger is that reflection is simply seen as irrelevant to the qualification driven motivation of many students within their school based learning (as opposed to outside school).”

In response, Ray Tolley writes:

Not so much a coda, rather a symphony?

I remember some 50 years ago studying ‘sonata form’ and marvelling at the repeated patterns of statement A followed by statement B and then the various interplays, inversions and underlying themes with the occasional unrecognisable additional pattern.

All this is so similar to the e-Portfolio discussion, being impressed by the various themes and undercurrents, inversions and occasional red-herrings. Graham’s paper is admittedly a well rehearsed statement, almost as polished as his live presentations – but perhaps more a symphony than a coda? Not quite a Beethovean symphony but more like Schubert’s Unfinished – nice music as far as it goes, but, as I have often thought, what did Schubert leave out and why? Did he give up because he couldn’t resolve the third movement? Did he really run out of time? or, Did he not feel comfortable with the obvious conclusion he was coming to?

Graham asks the right questions and manages to get about enough to make sure that people in high places understand the problems, but what about solutions?

I repeat a few of my conclusions:

1. The e-Portfolio must be portable, both vertically and horizontally – this suggests that it should be institution free and thus housed in an external repository. This will also resolve the massive complexities of having embedded e-Portfolios within a VLE and the obvious complications of ensuring that every proprietary e-Portfolio is interoperable.

2. It must be owned by the user and capable of cosmetic treatment appropriate to the learner’s age, stage and style. This interface will mature with the student, KeyStage by KeyStage and on through CPD and Lifelong Learning and Leisure.

3. It must be ‘generic’ in that it is not modelled on any one curriculum delivery pattern nor loaded with curriculum content. – Content is already well managed by each school’s VLE.

4. It must free of any direct MIS intrusion – it is the private workspace of the student – and not to be tapped into by socio-political data mining as has been suggested in European circles.

5. The ‘permissions’ for others to view should be under the control of the user – even named teachers should be allowed to see some parts (but perhaps not other areas?).

6. It must provide access for appropriate web2.0 tools. However, concerning inappropriate content, I do not think that an AUP is sufficient – there must be significant controls in order to protect the vulnerable teacher as well as the child!

7. In order to allow e-safe collaboration closed fora or blogging tools, survey and feedback forms should be inbuilt – this will allow true reflection based upon responses by both peers and other adults.

8. Not all of the learner’s work is stored on the e-Portfolio – it is a ‘snapshot’ or short-term showcase of what is relevant for a period of time.

I could go on, but for the sake of some, I’ll stop here. But for those interested in the musical allusions, think on:

– The last part of a piece, usually added to a standard form to bring it to a close.
– A portion of a tune which seems like a tail, or extra measures, added to the last A section. It is repeated for every chorus, however. (2) An ending for a tune, used only once after the final chorus. …
– A “tail” or short closing section added at the end of a piece of music.
– The Coda is a series of emphatic cadences that create a sense of finality in the movement. In Beethoven’s Ninth, Codas also act as “Second Developments” whose lengths sometimes rival or even exceed the other sections.
– A few measures or a section added to the end of a piece of music to make a more effective ending.

A coda, or an unfinished symphony?

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On-line Research Methods

October 29th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I have written before of the importance of lurking as a method of informal on-line learning. One of my favourite lurking sites is the Becta ICT Research network.

There has been a recent discussion of resources on on-line questionnaires. And one of the recommended resources is the University of Leicester Exploring online Research Methods on-line site. Resources like this give me faith in what we are doing. sadly all rights are reserved. But it is freely available regardless of whether you are an enrolled student.

I greatly liked the section on sampling which says

“Accessing respondents is a key concern in online questionnaires. As Coomber (1997) has highlighted, there is little point in setting up an online questionnaire and passively ‘waiting’ for eligible respondents to find the site: more active enrolment is needed to encourage users to complete an online survey….As the use of the internet increases in the general population, and the novelty of responding to online questionnaires is wearing off, getting online users to complete online questionnaires is becoming more problematic. Online users are becoming wise to the fact that they are paying for the privilege of being ‘over-surveyed’ (McDonald and Adam 2003). The result is that online users are intolerant of unsolicited communications and invitations to participate in research are increasingly considered ‘spamming’ (Harris 1997), resulting in online surveys often having lower response rates than onsite surveys. Witmer et al. (1999), for instance, report response rates of 10% or lower being common for online surveys.”

10% response rates seem good to me. More and more international projects are utlising on-line questionnaires. But questionnaire design and proper sampling seem to be a victim of the increasing ease of getting a questionnaire on line. I think we need a serious discussion about this. Maybe we should develop a European project on methods of research in distributed international project environments.

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The Wales Wide Web has moved

October 26th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

On 2 December 2003 I wrote “Blogs should have a significant starting point. Mike Malloch from Knownet set me up this blog over a week ago. And I have spent a week trying to think of something significant to start with. What could be better than Werder Bremen going into the winter break top of the Bundesliga.”

Some 560 blog posts on Werder Bremen are alas only in second place in the Bundesliga. But we beat Lazio Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday. And that, I think, is significant event enough for launching the Wales Wide Web at its new home on the Pontydysgu web site.

Why the move? When I started the blog I was working part time for Knownet. However some two years later we parted tracks. I wanted to refocus my work on the pedagogic application of new technologies. I left the blog on the Knownet site. And indeed Mike and the others from the Knownet crew have been good to me over the years, sorting out the occasional bug and fixinfg the site when I have pasted goobledygook code into my posts. A big thanks to them all.

But the time has come to move on. Pontydysgu – for whom I now work full time – have a new and exciting web site. And moving over to this site will allow me more room to experiment with the design and functionality of the blog. Plus, over the last six months, I have become increasingly fond of WordPress. So here we are. If you have not already done so please chnage your feedreader to link to this page.

I will be adding those 560 or so back posts to this site. But it may take a couple of weeks. So please be patient. And next week I promise you a positive flurry of goodies.

Anyone up for a beer

October 11th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I am on the road for much of the next two weeks.

Sunday, I go to Lisbon where I am taking part in a panel discussion at the e-Learning Lisboa Conference. And Tuesday evening I move on to Barcelona where I am speaking at the UOC UNESCO Chair in eLearning IV International Seminar being organised by the Open University of Catalonia.

Early Friday morning I travel back up north to the European e-Portfolio conference at Maastricht where – together with Serge Revet – I am organising a workshop on Personal and Organisational Learning Environments.

Then a couple of days break. On October 24th and 25th I will be speaking at a meeting on ‘Trainers in Europe’ in Leiden, The Netherlands.

Will try and make as much of the papers, slides and the rest available here. In truth its not all new – quite a bit of stuff will be remixed – though with some new takes I hope. So for each event i will try to put up a post providing links to different resources about the presentation – if only for those new to this blog.

In the meantime, if any of you are attending any of these events and would like to meet up for a beer, just drop me a line.

Culture, sharing and content production

October 11th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I ma in Vilnius for a meeting of the Fe-ConF project – Framework for elearning Contents Evalauation.

Despite the name it is a good project – a lot of thoughtful contributions.

I particularly liked the contribution from Minna Lakkala from the University of Helsinki who talked about the pedagogical design of technology enhanced collective e-learning. She referred to the sociolodical and epistomological infratstructures necessary for content sharing.

And – by serendipity – whilst listening to Minna a couple of emails arrived on the Becta list talking about cultures of sharing.

The first was from John Potter who said: “In a strand recently about web 2.0 it became apparent that in a culture where league tables are no longer published there are greater opportunities for sharing and innovation. Ewan McIntosh and the experience in Scotland seems to bear this out. Having schools in competition publicly in this way seems to inhibit all sorts of potentially useful collaboration and innovation. Tricia’s story seems to bear this out. Perhaps this and other pressures on teachers within the system really do make it difficult to share and to innovate and to examine what it means to be a teacher or a learner in 2007. ”

Nick Morgan suggested the additional factors regarding a willingness of share learning materials in Scotland:

“Professional shyness – many teachers arent confident enough of the quality of the resources they produce, and are happy to use their produce but reluctant to share it publically and thereby invite critical comment.


Earning – A minority of teachers are at the other end of the spectrum, so confident about their own product that they won’t share it without payment being involved.


Copyright – uncertainty about who owns the rights on the resources, or an instruction from their authority employers not to distribute. A common view: If a resource is produced on local authority equipment and in employers time, ‘it’ belongs to the authority and some authorities don’t see why they should let anyone else use those resources for free.”

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Innovate and Microsoft – this cannot be true

October 5th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I found it hard to believe this email which arrived this afternoon. I’ve always rated Innovate as one of the best of the on line educational technology mags. And I’ve got no problems with seeking sponsorship (anyone want to sponsor Sounds of the Bazaar?). But some sort of independence is critical. And inviting the submission of “manuscripts describing uses of Microsoft technology (e.g., Office, SharePoint, WL@EDU) that enhance, extend, or in some cases replace traditional pedagogical or research methods” is just …I am lost for words.

Just so you know I am not making this up see text below from editor James Morrison:

“We are delighted to announce that Microsoft is the first charter sponsor of Innovate under a new program designed to build alliances with corporate participants in the educational technology community. The sponsorship program will widen Innovate’s scope while ensuring that Innovate will continue to be available as an open access e-journal……

The sponsorship program affords technology providers the opportunity to partner with Innovate to help spread the word about creative new uses of technology that will enhance educational effectiveness. In concert with this effort, we are offering sponsors a voice on our Web site via a new section, “From Our Sponsors.” As described in the “About this Journal” link, we will publish articles in this section that focus on (1) how educators use our sponsors’ products to enhance teaching, learning, and administration, (2) the services our sponsors have provided or intend to provide to enhance educational effectiveness, and (3) how our sponsors view the future of education and the role information technology tools will play in addressing educational problems and issues. These articles will

meet Innovates high editorial standards; they will be rigorously reviewed and edited to enhance their value to the global community.

As part of the sponsorship arrangement with Microsoft, we invite you to submit manuscripts describing uses of Microsoft technology (e.g., Office, SharePoint, WL@EDU) that enhance, extend, or in some cases replace traditional pedagogical or research methods. Interested authors should contact me with a brief description of the proposed article and an approximate date of submission. ”

Oh my – whatever next – project placement, dog-food adverts?

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    News Bites

    Innovation is male dominated?

    Times Higher Education reports that in the UK only one in 10 university spin-out companies has a female founder, analysis suggests. And these companies are much less likely to attract investment too, raising concerns that innovation is becoming too male-dominated.

    Open Educational Resources

    BYU researcher John Hilton has published a new study on OER, student efficacy, and user perceptions – a synthesis of research published between 2015 and 2018. Looking at sixteen efficacy and twenty perception studies involving over 120,000 students or faculty, the study’s results suggest that students achieve the same or better learning outcomes when using OER while saving a significant amount of money, and that the majority of faculty and students who’ve used OER had a positive experience and would do so again.

    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information

    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.

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