Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Searching, Lurking and the Zone of Proximal Development

November 30th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I’m very gratified at the interest in ‘Searching and Lurking and the Zone of Proximal Development’, the book I edited on the use of ICT for learning in Small and Medium Enterprises.

We brought two boxes of the books to Berlin – they have all gone. So if you still would like a copy here is a link to a PDF version.

News from Berlin

November 30th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

A quick post from the Online Educa conference in Berlin.

The experiment working with students from Koblenz producing podcasts from the conference is great fun – will report more on it later.

And yesterday I did a stand in key note presentation – Web 2.0, Social Software and Personal Learning Environments. A copy of that will also appear here soon.

And of course we are getting those podcasts out. Here is Sounds of the Bazaar 17 – a special edition on podcasting in education. This is a link to the full edition – if you want to access the individual items in the programme head over to the Bazaar site and listen there.

Scottish Standard for Chartered Teacher

November 26th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Been meaning to blog about this for some time. Jenny Hughes forwarded me the link today so I have finally got round to it.

Why is the Scottish Chartered Teacher scheme so interesting.

Firstly it recognises that teachers can develop their career without leaving the classroom. In other words it values the activities of being a teacher, rather than in most systems where career advancement is based on becoming a manager.

Secondly it introduces a framework for Continuing Professional Development, based on professional values and personal commitments.

Perhaps most important is the the Chartered Teacher qualification is based largely on reflective learning and self evaluation.

The Standard has four key components:

a. professional values and personal commitments;
b. professional knowledge and understanding;
c. professional and personal attributes;
d. professional action.

The basic assumption is that the Chartered Teacher is characterised by four central professional values and personal commitments:

a. effectiveness in promoting learning in the classroom;
b. critical self-evaluation and development;
c. collaboration and influence;
d. educational and social values.

You can find out more about the Chartered Teacher Scheme on the Scottish Government’s Standard for Chartered Teachers web site.

Evaluating e-Learning

November 26th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

We still have a substantial backlog of material to be published on this site. And we have a backlog of paper publications to go out. It will all sort out in time. But for the moment I am just trying to get things out in any way I can. So I have attached a PDF (1.1MB) version of a Guide to the Evaluation of e-Learning to this post.

This guide has been produced as a report on the work of the Models and Instruments for the evaluation of e-learning
and ICT supported learning (E-VAL) project. The project took place between 2002 and 2005 and was sponsored by the European Commission Leonardo da Vinci programme. The project was coordinated by Pontydysgu.

The following text is taken from the introduction to the guide.

The development of e-learning products and the provision of e-learning opportunities is one of the most rapidly expanding
areas of education and training.

Whether this is through an intranet, the internet, multimedia, interactive TV or computer based training, the growth of e-learning is accelerating. However, what is known about these innovative approaches to training has been limited by the shortage of scientifically credible evaluation. Is e-learning effective? In what contexts? For what groups of learners? How do different learners respond? Are there marked differences between different ICT platforms? Does the socio-cultural environment make a difference? Considering the costs of implementing ICT based training, is there a positive return on investment? What are the perceptions of VET professionals? What problems has it created for them?

E-learning is also one of the areas that attracts the most research and development funding. If this investment is to be maximised, it is imperative that we generate robust models for the evaluation of e-learning and tools which are flexible in use but consistent in results.

“Although recent attention has increased e-learning evaluation, the current research base for evaluating e-learning is inadequate … Due to the initial cost of implementing e-learning programs, it is important to conduct evaluation
(American Society for Training and Development, 2001).

The Capitalisation report on the Leonardo da Vinci 1 programme, one of the biggest sponsors of innovative e-learning projects in European VET, also identified the lack of systematic evaluation as being the major weakness in e-learning projects.

However, whilst some have been desperately seeking answers to the question ‘What works and what doesn’t work?’ and looking for ways of improving the quality of e-learning, the response by a large sector of the community of e-learning developers and practitioners has been a growing preoccupation with software and platforms. There has been only limited
attention to pedagogy and learning. The development of models and tools for the evaluation of e-learning can help in improving the quality of e-learning and in informing and shaping future development in policy and practice.

The guide contains eleven sections:

  1. Introduction – why do we need new models and tools for the evaluation of e-learning
  2. Evaluating e-learning – what does the literature tell us?
  3. A Framework for the evaluation of e-learning
  4. Models and theories of evaluation
  5. Models and tools for the evaluation of e-learning – an overview
  6. The SPEAK Model and Tool
  7. Tool for the evaluation of the effectiveness of e-learning programmes in small- and medium sized
    enterprises (SMEs)
  8. Models and tools for evaluation of e-learning in higher vocational education
  9. Policy model and tool
  10. A management oriented approach to the evaluation of e-learning
  11. Individual learning model and tool

You can download the guide here: eval3

Show that you share!

November 24th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

new bazaar pins

Creative Commons changed its pictogram for Attribution and adjusted the pictogram for Noncommercial to European needs, so Bazaar has been updating their Bazaar Pins set too! See also: Show that you Share.

For those who are not familiar with these pins: to stimulate the sharing and reuse of content, the Bazaar project supports Creative Commons and came up with the idea to wear pins to Show that we Share to conferences, seminars, our Show-me days and every other (non-)Bazaar event. Pinning the ones we find important on our rugsacks and jackets makes showing that we share an everyday thing. And we wear them proudly.

The old set has now really become a collectors item. The new set will be available at the Bazaar Stand at the Online Educa in Berlin, Germany, next week (November 28-30, 2007).

Every attendee to the free Bazaar Conference on December 14 2007 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, will receive their own Bazaar Pins set, to Show that they Share. For more information on the Bazaar conference, see: Networks, Communities & Learning: Show that you Share!.

We hope to see you there, we hope to see you wear.

Sounds of the Bazaar podcast – No. 16

November 24th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

bazaar sounds iconIt is already time for another edition of Sounds of the Bazaar.

This issue features a round table discussion with Jaan Netzow, from IBM Germany, Gareth Greenwood, IBM UK, and Bert de Coutere, IBM Belgium. All are involved in one way or another with the development, sales and support of software for collaboration – particularly in the workplace. Can IBM applications replace Facebook as a ‘managed social network?’ Should managers have the right to change employees’ personal profiles. All this and more in this round table.

The Sound of the Bazaar interview is with Rebecca Stromeyer. Rebecca has been involved with organising Online Educa Berlin since the start – in 1994. In the interview she tells of the origins of the conference and talks about what she enjoys about it all.

Website of the Month features the European Collaboration for Innovation project. And – this is a little embarassing – just at the moment we don’t have the url for the project to hand. But if you do want the url please visit us again when we have updated this page.

As ever thanks to Dirk Stieglitz – from stray hints in emails I gather that I made a mess of recording this issue and he had a bit of a technical struggle. And thanks to Beate Kleessen from ICWE for help in planning SoB this autumn and to Agnes Breitkopf from IBM for setting up the round table

Sounds of Bazaar 16

November 23rd, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Not quite sure if it is 16 or 17 – and no time to post it here now. But if you can’t wait for the next edition of Sounds of the Bazaar head over to the Bazaar web site – and listen to the latest edition of our podcasting goodness.

Podcasting, pedagogy and informal learning

November 19th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I’m in a bar in Sofia – grabbing a bit of bandwidth. And in comes this interesting email.

“Dear Dr. Attwell,” it says, (thanks for the Doctorate, I am a sucker for flattery), “I am a producer for the Spanish Americas Section of the BBC World Service. I am writing an article about Online Educa Berlin and I would like to have a telephone interview with you about Podcasting.

The idea is to talk about Podcasting as a tool for learning, what is the potential and the future of the tool, the plus and the minus points.”

Well how could I refuse. But I thought it might be time to do a little research about podcasts, as opposed to just making them. I remembered the excellent Impala project – I have an interview with one of the project researchers, Ming Nie, due out next week. The IMPALA project, funded by the UK Higher Education Academy, is investigating the impact of podcasting on student learning and how the beneficial effects can positively be enhanced.

Perhaps more interestingly, the IMPALA partners are experimenting with a range of pedagogical models to address specific challenges in teaching and learning.

I searched around the various project web sites, wikis, blogs and presentations. I am not sure about their first attempt at a model – it seems to me overly media / technology prescriptive. But some of the work looking at the pedagogic use of podcasts is very useful.

In a paper presented at a JISC Workshop on Innovative E‐Learning with Mobile and Wireless Technologies, they say podcasts can be used:To support online learning and to integrate other e‐learning activities – a profcast model

  • As extensions to lectures: summaries, additional learning resources, further reading and research
  • To enhance student learning in location‐based studies
  • To bring topical issues and informal content into the formal curriculum
  • To develop reflective and active learning skills
  • To develop students’ study skills during the first year at the university
  • In a presentation at Alt C, 2007 Ming Nie says podcasting can “facilitate collaborative learning and skills development through dialogue (Allen, 2005; Laurillard, 2002;Wenger, 1998).
    Ming Nie goes on to say podcasting can be used to “Capture Informal Knowledge, Experience, feelings, viewpoints through conversation, discussion, debate. Podcasting is Personal, interesting and engaging.”

    From conversations with e-learning researchers and practitioners in the corporate sector, I think education is behind in this. Many large companies are already using podcasting to develop and capture informal learning. the problem with education is it isn’t quite sure about informal learning. Yes it is there. yes, it is probably a good thing. But do we really want to sanction knowledge acquisition which takes place outside of the classroom or the VLE and outside the approved sanction of the official curriculum.

    Developing an i-Curriculum

    November 18th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

    The issue of digital literacy will not go away. And it reappears in strange forms. Every six months or so there is a surge of posts on teh Becata research list serve suggesting all kids should be taught to touch type. Fair enough – if I could type properly it would save me a lot of time in correcting errors. But I don’t really see the keyboard lasting much longer as the main form of talking to a computer.

    Anyway, it has always seemed to me that one of the big challenges arising from the idea of digital literacy is the curriculum. I am quite bemused by curricula in general. Whatever research we undertake, whatever needs we show, the development of curricula seems to go on in a seperate and parallel universe. There was one project that I evaluated which greatly impressed me. Martin Owen was one of the project partners and his guest blog on this page earlier this week reminded me of the project. It was called i-Curriculum and it set out to research and develop guidelines for curricula for developing digital literacy. At least that is what I think the project was about. The official European project blurb says:

    “The I-Curriculum framework is a set of guidelines that can be used by policy makers, teachers and other educators, the producers of digital resources, and students to check whether a project or lesson achieves the goal of enabling active participation in lifelong learning practices. This framework could help in the examination of current curriculum and learning design, locating the process within the demands of changing cultures and mapping educational provision onto the new demands of new contexts in which life, work and education interact.”

    Central to the project is the framework.

    “The framework represents a shift away from the notion of key skills. It looks at an activity as developing various skills related to digital literacies, the areas are:

    • exchanging and sharing information; communication and collaboration
    • researching: finding things out
    • modelling
    • working practices and attitudes.

    Across each of these skill areas are three levels of curriculum activity:

    The Operational Curriculum is learning to use the tools and technology effectively. Knowing how to word-process, how to edit a picture, enter data and make simple queries of an information system, save and load files and so on.

    The Integrating Curriculum is where the uses of technology are applied to current curricula and organisation of teaching and learning. This might be using an online library of visual material, using a virtual learning environment to deliver a course or part of a
    course. The nature of the subject and institution of learning is essentially the same, but technology is used for efficiency, motivation and effectiveness.

    The Transformational Curriculum is based on the notion that what we might know, and how and when we come to know it has changed by the existence of the technologies we use and therefore the curriculum and organisation of teaching and learning needs to change
    to reflect those changes.

    There is implied inclusion of levels along the axis, but it is not the case that you need to study in an operational way before you become transformational. There is a real danger in making that assumption. If you start from the position that you are going to be transformational or integrative then you do not approach the acquisition of operational skills in the same way. If the curriculum is viewed in such a way that competence operations in themselves are the learning outcomes then teaching can be fairly mechanical – however, if the curriculum is designed to be transformational, the acquisition of the operational skills is needs driven,
    intrinsic, secure in a model of transferability and almost taken-for-granted.”

    If you are interested, FutureLab have a web page giving access to the final report. The report contains the following sections
    Background – this section defines what is meant by digital literacy skills in this document, and how we can distinguish between levels of competency.

    The framework – discusses the theoretical underpinnings of the matrix as well as presenting the matrix.

    Case studies – three illustrative case studies taken from some of the partner countries that demonstrate how current practice can be considered using the framework as an assessment tool.

    Conclusions and recommendations – this summarises the findings and recommendations for the EU with respect to the development of digital literacy skills.

    The project web site also provides access to many of the projects working documents. Some of these are avaiable in Greek, Spanish and German, as well as English.

    Drive, Curiosity, Ethics, Collaboration and Competence Development

    November 16th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

    I have been trying to reorganize my feedreader and picked up this post from June from Jeremy Herbert’s Headspace blog. It quotes a post by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen about what he seeks in new hires:

    DRIVE: “First, drive. I define drive as self-motivation — people who will walk right through brick walls, on their own power, without having to be asked, to achieve whatever goal is in front of them. People with drive push and push and push and push and push until they succeed.”

    CURIOSITY: “Second criterion: curiosity. Curiosity is a proxy for, do you love what you do? Anyone who loves what they do is inherently intensely curious about their field, their profession, their craft. They read about it, study it, talk to other people about it… immerse themselves in it, continuously. And work like hell to stay current in it. Not because they have to. But because they love to.

    ETHICS: “Third and final criterion: ethics. Ethics are hard to test for. But watch for any whiff of less than stellar ethics in any candidate’s background or references. And avoid, avoid, avoid. Unethical people are unethical by nature, and the odds of a metaphorical jailhouse conversion are quite low.”

    I think this is interesting and would agree with much of it but it raises some questions. Firstly, I would add a fourth category:

    “COLLABORATION. The fourth criteria is collaboration. The ability to work with others is a critical source of learning. Even more so the ability to collaborate is central to developing and sharing knowledge. Collaboration leads to informal learning, innovation and productivity. Collaboration includes listening and valuing other peoples opinions as much as putting forward one’s own.”

    The problem is that even if new pedagogic approaches involve curiosity and collaboration for learning, when we seek to assess and certificate competences, these are not qualities we value.

    Is it possible to develop new forms of assessment that value drive, curiosity, ethics and collaboration? Is it even desirable that we seek to measure such things? What is the relation between our measurement of general educational learning or vocational skills and knowledge and what might be called the soft skills highlighted by Marc Andreessen.

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      News Bites

      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.

      Resistance decreases over time

      Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time

      Postgrad pressure

      Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

      “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

      Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”

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