Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Sounds of the Bazaar (edition 15)

November 7th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Another great edition of Sounds of the Bazaar – brought to you in conjunction with online-Educa Berlin.

First up is my introduction to the show, where I tell you about the fabulous up coming Bazaar conference.

This is followed by Graham Attwell’s periodic rant. This months rant is about the tyranny of assessment and I look at alternatives based on Assessment for learning as opposed to the assessment of learning. If you enjoy this and would like to hear more you can watch my video on E-learning 2.0 and Quality.

Our interview is with Jay Cross who talks about informal learning. Jay’s web site describes him as a “champion of informal learning, web 2.0, and systems thinking. He puts breakthrough business results ahead of business as usual. His calling is to change the world by helping people improve their performance on the job and satisfaction in life.” In the interview he talks about what he means by informal learning, the difference between training and learning, what organisations can do to promote informal learning and how education systems might change in the future.

Ulf Daniel Ehlers tells us about his idea for Science without Borders. Ulf is an Assistant Professor of Business Information Systems, at the University of Duisberg-Essen in Germany. He is Coordinator of the European Foundation for Quality in e-Learning and coordinator of the European Quality Observatory.

One of his main research interests is education for sustainable development and in this interview he talks about how we can facilitate researchers from different countries working together

Blog site features Ismael Pena Lopez’s brilliant ICTlogy blog. Talking about his blog he says:

  • this site serves my purposes of keeping all my knowledge under control
  • having all content open, it helps interesting people coming by
  • having all content open makes me findable not by myself, by thanks to the content gathered around me
  • interesting people leave their tracks behind them, tracks I can explore and find them, their institutions, their resources
  • the more you know, and share it, the more these issues repeat along time… and the more you can reach new people to learn more and more.

Claire Belisle talks about her research on information and digital media. Claire Bélisle est ingénieure de recherche CNRS en sciences humaines et sociales. Elle a un doctorat en psychologie cognitive, et un diplôme en formation en ligne. Ces centres d’intérêt en recherche sont la navigation et les méta-compétences des formateurs, enseignants et chercheurs dans l’intégration des technologies de l’information et de la communication en éducation et en recherche. Elle pilote actuellement des travaux sur le livre électronique et sur les corpus numériques, en se focalisant sur la navigation dans les hypermédias, le travail collaboratif et la lecture numérique.

But don’t worry if your French isn’t too good – the interview is in English!

Finally I talk us out of this issue. Phew – that is a lot. I know the full edition is long. But the music is just brilliant. As ever many thanks to Dirk Stieglitz who produced this issue.

Another view of Freefolio

November 7th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Some people seem best with text, some with diagrammes. Me, I am a text person. I find it hard to understand the graphic representations. But, when I was working on a progress report on the development of Freefolio, I did adapt (or repurpose) an activity diagramme (originally produced by George Roberts for the Emerge project) to show the ideas behind Freefolio. If you are a visual kind of person, this may make sense to you.

Announcing Freefolio – a social e-Portfolio

November 6th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

FreeFolio-LogoAs regular readers of this blog will know, I have spent a lot of time over the last year working on e-Portfolios and Personal Learning Environments. And I get bored just talking about things, I like to do them.

So I jumped at the chance to develop and test an e-Portfolio system. This is the result – Freefolio. The development work has been undertaken by my friend Ray Elferink from Raycom in partnership with Pontydysgu.

Why didn’t we work with an existing system? We thought very hard about it. It seemed that many of the dedicated e-Portfolio systems were too restrictive. They started from an institutional definitions of what learning would be represents through the e-Portfolio. Others – like Mahara – seemed geared towards particular sectors in education. On the other hand many people were using blogging and social networking systems for e-Portfolio development. that was nearer my idea. However, we were concerned that the basic structure of a blog entry did not provide another support for reflecting on learning.

And so we came up with Freefolio. Freefolio is based on WordPress. Within this we have implemented structured blogging, allowing XML templates to be added to the dashboard for particular kinds of post.

The system also features:

a) A space of aggregating community posts – ‘Community Central’
b) An integrated discussion forum
c) A resource area – based on integration of media wiki
d) A learner profile area
e) Learner based access controls
f) User based sidebars through widgets
g) A standards compliant (Europass) CV with different formats for export

There is more work to do – isn’t there always – and we know this version may not support everything you want of an e-Portfolio. But it is Open Source and easily extendable.

Want to have a look? Go to http://demo.freefolio.net and set yourself up with an account (don’t worry if you get a rather strange name on the from field on the confirmation email – we will sort that as soon as Ray gets access to the server).

I have tried to populate the site with a little content. Please add some of your own. And tell us what you think.

We are planning to host Freefolio installations in the future for organisations who want this. And of course, we can build new features and customised versions.

But, if you want to install Freefolio yourself, we will be releasing the code in the very near future. And we will be developing a web site around the demo install. I will write more about Freefolio over the coming days. But now is the time to put it out, I think. Release often, they say.

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Government criminalises those who don’t learn

November 6th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I like learning. I am in favour of learning. I am in favour of young people getting the best possible qualifications and opportunities.

But the latest UK government moves to raise the school leaving age to 18 is not helpful. Once more they have confused institutional attendance with learning. Just because a young person is signed up for a regular course does not mean they will learn.

And if they are not attending school or college it does not mean they are not learning.

One of the stated concerns of the government is that the number of jobs for unskilled (their word for not possessing a formal qualification) will fall dramatically in coming years. I am not sure this is right. It is based on the rhetoric of the information society. Is there real evidence this is likely to happen?

But the worst proposal, announced in todays Queen’s speech is the proposal to criminalise those who do not participate. Those who do not stay on in school or work-related training, reports the Guardian, will be served with an “attendance order”, which has been dubbed “the education Asbo”. If they breach this order and refuse to study for a recognised qualification, 16- and 17-year-olds will be guilty of a criminal offence. They will then face a £50 spot fine or a £200 fine in court. But they will not be sent to prison.

So learning or education is something we force people to do at the risk of a large fine (with presumably more sanctions for those unwilling or unable to pay). This provides all the wrong messages.

Instead of forcing young people into a system which is failing so many of them, why not turn the focus on learning opportunities. Instead of a Qualifications Framework why not a Learning Framework. Why not ensure every job, skilled or otherwise, offers rich learning opportunities to everyone and with a choice of learning modes. This would entail a new view of learning – as learning inherent in human activity – rather than being segregated as something which takes place in institutions. And it would entail a new role for work – seeing learning as something as natural to the workplace as working. Ah well – dream on.

IBM Second Life protest successful

November 5th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

IbmThis is a pretty remarkable story and shows the potential of Multi User virtual Environments for doing some good! I was there! Sadly I can’t find the snapshots. But here is a (rather small) picture of my avatar, Graham Lightfoot, proudly wearing the trade union t-shirt.

From a press release from the IBM Italy trade untion: “One month after a virtual protest staged in Second Life with almost 2’000 avatars demonstrating on IBM islands, a new contract with IBM Italy has been signed.

The new agreement, which still needs to be approved by the IBM Italy workforce, reinstates the performance bonus that was cut unilaterally by IBM Italy management.

The agreement signed by IBM Italy and the trade union Rappresentanze Sindacali Unitarie (R.S.U.) not only includes the performance bonuses from 2007 up until 2010 but also payments by IBM into a national health insurance fund and also states that negotiations will continue with respect to IBM industrial and business strategies in Italy and the improvement of internal communication policies.

The situation abruptly improved and negotiation resumed after the former country manager left IBM in the mid of October, who had signed responsible for the pay cuts in the first place. His departure cleared the air and facilitated constructive negotiations between social partners as this could be expected from a professional management of a high-tech company.

The virtual demonstration organized on 27 September for a whole day has certainly had an impact on the positive development. Almost 2000 virtual protesters from 30 countries populating IBM premises in Second Life solicited an unprecedented media echo from all over the world, including TV and radio stations, daily news papers, computer and business magazines. The virtual protest had been supported by global unions such as the International and European Metalworkers Federations (IMF and EMF) and UNI Global Union.”

Grab your future with an e-Portfolio

November 5th, 2007 by Graham Attwell


With all the work of developing the Pontydysgu web site and moving my blog, I have slipped behind with the content.

‘Grab the future with your e-Portfolio‘ (PDF download) is a study I have co-authored for the EU funded Mosep project. The foreword explains the background to the study.

“The willingness to put one’s self esteem on the line may be one of the key factors for self determined learning. Once adolescents are comfortable with determining their own destiny with respect to learning they will become open-minded to new ways of organising their learning. This appears to be a prerequisite for the kind of life-long learning which should become the foundation of the knowledge based society. And the need for change applies to teachers as well: they too, will need new skills and competencies in order to be suitable companions for the self-determined young learners they will be faced with.

The MOSEP project – more self-esteem with my e-portfolio – aimed at providing a study, course materials and on-line information to acquire these competencies.

The study you are reading provides some of the theoretical background and practical guidelines for teachers and vocational counsellors in order to equip them for the challenges that they will face as roles change from “teacher” to “learning companion”.

Chapter two describes the theoretical background for supporting adolescent learners. It then describes the novel concept of e-portfolio and demonstrates its uses in life-long learning for this particular group. Chapter three looks at e-portfolio from an institutional and organisational perspective and points at some of the critical success factors in implementing the methods and tools in a formal educational context. Chapter four specifies new competencies and skills for teachers when their role changes towards supporting the learners in an e-portfolio environment. Chapter five gives a survey of current software tools for e-portfolio work with special emphasis on the functionality expected from such tools. The study also looks at the suitability of these solutions for e-portfolio beginners.

In addition to the study the MOSEP consortium also developed course material for teachers, trainers and vocational counsellors. The course is organised in an open Wiki software containing practical modules on how to implement and support e-portfolio processes. The course is available in English, German, Polish, Lithuanian, and Bulgarian language and can be accessed via http://www.mosep.org.”

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Networks, Communities & Learning: Show that you Share!

November 2nd, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Pontydydysu is a partner in the European funded Bazaar project and I will be speaking at the project conference in Utrecht in December. This looks like a great event. I am really happy that people are getting more imaginative in how they organise these type of events. The conference is free. Please do try and come along. The conference flyer is attached with this post.

The conference will take place on 14 December 2007, Utrecht, the Netherlands from 9:30 – 16:00, at Boothzaal, Utrecht University Library on the University Campus de Uithof, Heidelberglaan 3. It is jointly rganised by the Bazaar project and IVLOS, the Institute of Education of Utrecht University

The Conference Objectives are:

• To provide a space for participant-driven discussion and debate
• To promote critical enquiry and discourse
• To allow for the presentation of ideas in progress
• To provide access to peer expertise and opinion

The five main themes are based on key and emergent issues identified by Bazaar:

• Hey Dude, Where’s my Data? On data security, privacy
and sustainability
• Social Software, Tools and Content Creation
• OERs and the Culture of Sharing
• Interoperability and Metadata and OERs
• PLEs, ePortfolio’s and Informal Learning

The major aim of the conference is to promote dialogue and exchange between ‘experts’,researchers, developers, practitioners and learners. We are particularly keen that learners and junior researchers are given an opportunity to discuss and exchange their ideas. We aim that the content of the sessions is driven and created by the participants rather than the traditional ‘presentation and five minutes questions’ format with content determined in advance by a single organiser, or a small group of organisers.

Workshops and Round Tables include:

– Social networking services & social search – led by Josie Fraser, EdTechUK, UK
– THINKing and UNDERSTANDing the internet – led by Helen Keegan, Salford University, UK
– Building an infrastructure for lifelong competence development – led by Wolgang Greller, Open University, NL
– Developing Open Educational Resources – led by Marco Kalz, Open University, NL
– The use of wikis and open architecture spaces to promote a culture of sharing – led by Steve Wheeler, University of Plymouth, UK
– Creating and sharing Open Educational resources – led by Veronika Hornung, Salzburg Research, AT
– Personal Learning Environments – led by Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu, UK
– How can we use IMS Learning Design? – led by Raymond Elferink, RayCom BV, NL
– The future of Learning Management Systems – led by Geoge Bekiaridis, Ergon KEK, GR

The Conference is free but we would ask you to inform Raymond Elferink if you intend coming (not least of all because we are providing a free lunch).

Details of accommodation in Utrecht etc will be posted on the Bazaar Web site.

Networks, Communities & Learning: Show that you Share!

Test results for third of primary students wrong, says study

November 2nd, 2007 by Graham Attwell

There is nothing surprising in the report in the Guardian on a study by Cambridge University on standards in primary school. Perhaps most shocking is that it has taken so long fro someone to say this. And that in the face of all the evidence the UK government still refuses to acknowledge that the test and target regime introduced in English schools is a failure: a failure in raising standards, a failure in imposing unreasonable stress on students, a failure in terms of constraining pedagogic approaches and a failure to trust in imagination and learning.

“As many as one in three primary school children is given the wrong marks in national tests, according to a report on standards in primary schools.

Sats for seven- and 11-year-olds, which are used to assess their progress and feed into national school league tables, are unreliable, put pupils under psychological pressure and have had little impact, the report says.

The researchers accuse the government of ignoring academic evidence, backed by the then Statistics Commission, that the dramatic rises in results in the run-up to 2000 were “exaggerated”.

The report commissioned for Cambridge University’s review of primary education comes after the prime minister pledged to put testing at the heart of the next phase of the government’s plan to eradicate failure. Ministers believe that without nationally comparable tests teachers are not able to target pupils who are falling behind.

The reports document research showing that up to one in three pupils is given the wrong mark at the end of the tests. Short papers with questions that have a narrow range of possible answers mean that pupils’ skills are not rigorously tested, leaving a wide margin of error.”

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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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