Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Learning about e-Portfolios

January 12th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

It is a long time since I have featured the MOSEP project on this blog. MOSEP is a European Commission funded project, developing and testing materials and programmes for teachers learning about the development and implementation of e-Portfolios. European projects are not always easy. For readers from outside Europe, they typically involve a partnership of five or more organisations from different countries who work toegther over a period of two years to research and develop innovative approaches in education and training. Developing a common understanding and approach is difficult, especially given that fuinding only allows five or so face to face meetings in the period of the project. Co-ordination can be a problem. And of course we have to overcome langauge barriers.

MOSEP is a very good project – not least due to the excellent coordination by Wolf Hilzensauer from Salzburg Research. In the first year of the project we wrote a handbook – Grab your future with an e-Portfolio. The handbook can be downloaded in PDF from the link above and there is now a printed copy which can be obtained from Salzburg Research. We have also developed on-line learning materials on the MOSEP wiki. The materials have been designed to be used flexibly – users are free to remix to suit particualr needs and contexts. And Salzburg Research has worked closely with the Mahara project who are developing an Open Source e-Portfolio product.

At present the project is piloting the MOSEP ‘course’ in different contexts and countries. Yesterday John Pallister ran the programme for tecahers at Wolsingham School in the north of England. On his blog John says: “I felt that the course concept was understood and well received. A lot of work still needs to be done with the wiki.

 

I have begun to think that if other trainers used the same approach, creating sequences of activities for a specific training purpose, and save them as ‘courses’ – the wiki, as a resource will grow.”

 

I know for many of the people who read Wales Wide Web introducing e-Portfolios and developing learning materials on a wiki will be nothing new. But for me this project is particularly satisfying – we are moving the use of Web 2 tools for learning outside the Edubloggers circle and into the mainstream of education and training and that can only be for the good.

How to make a slidecast

January 10th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

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On Tuesday I made a presentation in London called Learning and Knowldge Maturing at an information day for the EU Seventh Framework for Research. The previous Thursday the organisers had asked me for a copy of the presentation. I use a lot of pictures in my presentations and files are big – too big for email. So I uploaded it to Slideshare as a quick way of getting it to them. Friday, I had a message from AmitRanjan who said: “any chance this could be converted into a slidecast…the audio will add context.”

I groaned at the thought of the work but of course Amin was right: if you use mainly pictures and few words (and no bullet points) the audio is very important.

I have made a number of slidecasts before and the workflow was tricky. Send the slides to iPhoto, import into iMovie, record soundtrack in GarageBand. Import Soundtrack into iMovie, sync sound with slides, export to preferred format, upload to blib.tv, Google or utube. Phew. Takes a day to do it.

This time I thought I’d give Slidecast a try. Slidecast is on-line software developed by Slideshare. The workflow is relatuvely easy. the slides were already on Slideshare. I recorded the audio on Garageband (if you are on a PC you can use audacity) as before. Uploaded it to my blog Slideshare does not host audio. Gave Slidecast the url and then used an online tool to sync up the audio and the slide transitions. The whole process took about 2 hours to produce a 25 minute slidecast. That is pretty OK for me. And slidecasts do get watched – we’ve had some 600 views already – with only about 20 of them coming from this web site.

Transumers in MySpace – research, marketing or hype?

January 7th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

The Guardian covers an interesting report: “MySpace 08: People. Content. Culture”.

Future Laboratory, who produced the report identified six types of MySpace user, say the Guardian, classifying 38% as “essentialists”, who primarily use social networking sites to stay in touch with friends.

“Just under a third, 28%, are “transumers” – those who follow new trends rather than make them.

Around 10% are “connectors”, who specialise in identifying and linking to cool content; and 5% are “collaborators”, who create events and projects online by teaming up with other users.

One in 20 MySpace users get their thrills from “scene breaking” – hunting down new bands and talent online and sharing that through the site; and 4% classify themselves as “netrepreneurs”, who use social networking sites to make money.”

I thought this was pretty cool stuff so tried to get hold of the report. No link to the original in the Guardian (they are very bad at that). Surprisingly few references on Google. Finally found a reference to the project on MySpace. Very strange – a sort of mash up between MySpace and a research site – I think they are trying to look trendy. But nowhere can I find the original report. The Guardian covers it in a blog article. But – unless I missed something – I suspect they have just rewritten a press release. No is it research, is it marketing or is it just hype.

Anyway this is what the “Future Laboratory” say about their rsearch on MySpace. Now at least they have put up something about what they are doing. And I suppose I am naive in wanting to see such work in the public domain. But it saddens me that important work on culture is now the preserve of the marketing people – not research.

“1) The research for PROJECT:CREATIVE LAB is due for completion by November 30th 2007
2) Any submissions can be made through the PROJECT:CREATIVE LAB MySpace page in the comments section or by mail
3) PROJECT:CREATIVE LAB is searching for 10 case studies only, and will make a shortlist of possible candidates before deciding on the final 10
4) PROJECT:CREATIVE LAB’s team of researchers will be responsible for choosing the final 10 case studies and hold the right to change or remove case studies from its report at any time
5) PROJECT:CREATIVE LAB holds the right to approach and choose case studies even if they have not submitted themselves or been submitted by others
6) Chosen case studies will be asked to:
a) Answer a series of questions via email;
b) Take part in a short telephone interview with a PROJECT:CREATIVE LAB researcher;
c) Submit photographs, imagery, video files, MP3 files and examples of work to support the case study,
and d) Provide further contact details for possible future research
7) All successful candidates will have to sign a media release form to confirm permission that their name, work and imagery can be used in future media and press coverage for/by MySpace UK and Lexis PR
8) Candidates will receive £200 for their participation. This will be given to the case study upon the final delivery of the report and dependent on candidates complying with all terms & conditions
9) PROJECT:CREATIVE LAB is part of trend research, insight and brand strategy consultancy The Future Laboratory, who have been tasked to create a bespoke report called ‘The voice of a generation’ on behalf of MySpace UK
10) MySpace will own the rights to the final report delivered by The Future Laboratory
11) MySpace and Lexis PR will use the report for internal and external use within their marketing, strategy and press departments.”

Learning and Knowledge Maturing

January 5th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I’m doing a presentation on Tuesday on Learning and Knowledge Maturing. It is a bit of a mash up – some older slides from me plus some slides from Steven Downes. And it comes with full audio – I used slidecast for the first time. So trun up your speakers and press the green button (warning – about 20 minutes long). A longer post about making this will follow.

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Developing communities

January 4th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Before Christmas, I commented at some length on the problems over Eduspace and about how communities can and should be organised. There is much to learn from the Eduspaces issue and I have spent much of the last couple of days pondering on it. The reason – a new project with very small funding from the Jisc Emerge programme.

The following abridged version of the funding application explains the aims of the project:

“1. develop an international Community of Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning Research);

2. promote a two way discourse between member of the Emerge community (and in particular Emerge projects) with members of the wider international research community;

3. provide a forum for dissemination of Users and Innovation programme funded projects;

4. develop international research teams in conjunction with User and Innovation funded projects;

5. establish a discourse between researchers and developers in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL);

6. a mutual commitment to warranting causality and exploration of international notions concepts of impact and effect of technologies on learning.

What we will do

4.1 Stage 1
Stage 1 of the project will involve a deep analysis of user needs. Given the dispersed nature of the community this will be undertaken through:

a) A web based survey of potential users.

b) Follow up in depth interviews using Skype.

The data will be subject to a user analysis focusing on gathering information in the following areas:

  • what kind of people the users represent;
  • the tasks and activities of users;
  • understanding and insights into the user context.

This data will in turn be used to generate a scenario based User Needs Analysis. The scenario will take into account both infrastructure requirements in terms of community platforms and tools and requirements for activities.

4.2 Stage 2
Stage 2 of the project will involve the rapid prototyping of a community platform. This will be based on the existing beta Freefolio collaboration software which is already at an advance stage of maturity and being tested with three user groups.

4.3 Stage 3
Stage 3 is based on facilitating the emergence of the community.

This will include:

1. testing and evaluation of the Community platform and tools;

2. facilitation of community events. Whilst the form of the events depends to a considerable extent on the results of the User Needs Analysis it may include: on-line seminars and presentations, on-line poster sessions, on-line conferencing, research fora and the formation of virtual international work teams. .

Stage 4
Stage four will comprise the ongoing evaluation of the project activities. This will be carried out using a creative slant by adopting the collaborative community based tools as the vehicles for building the evaluation which itself will become a reflective exercise engaging both project members and the community itself.”

I will write another post over the weekend about some of the issues in implementing the project.  In the meantime if you are intersted in taking part in the project just get in touch.

Analogue projects and digital technology

January 3rd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I have used many different systems in the various projects I am involved in. I have used Plone, Jumbla, Elgg, Post Nuke and now am working with WordPress. But it is still difficult to sustain communities and even more so to get members of projects to communicate effectively through different platforms.

Too often we are using the wrong tool. Why insist that people log in to a platform when all tehyw ant to do is exchange occasional emails to a list of 5 or 6 people.  On the other hand email list servers are not particualry effective in developing a pool of shared knowledge. One project I work with commissioned me to develop a ‘communication platform’. We have built a relatively lightweight platofrm for teh project using WordPress. Yet they do not use it. One of the problems is they do not know how, I suspect. WordPress is very easy IF you are used to using social sofwtare or blogging applications. If email and word are your main experince of using computers for communciation itis a whole new world.

And then again, I sat down this afternoon to write some ‘easy to use’ instruction on how to use teh site and for what. The how to use is difficult enough – it might be easy to shwo someone but it is quite hard to write. But the for what question was much harder. When should project partners write a blog – and why? What should they – or might they want to share? What is the forum for – and how is it difficult from the blog?

Of course the one thing they probably want most – to share files – is not particularly well supported in wordpress.  Yes, they can make a new page or blog post and add them to this. But what if they want to link to a file in the forum? Of course they can upload a file in the new post section – not publish a post and then link. But that is not so easy to explain. Ah well -will keep thinking. I am well puzzled at the moment about teh best way to support projects – anyone any ideas?

PLEs and the institution

January 3rd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Plesscott

Don’t know how I missed this one. This is a great diagramme by Scott Wilson. It overcomes a whole series of issues in the relations between the Personal Learning Environment and institutional provision and systems. By proposing a lightweight coordination space, separated from the ‘regulatory space’ Scott allows institutions to manage their course enrollments and provisions whilst till allowing learners to use their own tools in their own environment. More fundamentally students do not have to have their own PLE – a worry that I have bothered about for some time.

Now we just need to try the system out!!

Talking about practice

January 2nd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

The first post of the year. And practice seems as good as any a subject for short entry. For the last couple of hours I have been searching the internet for examples of appropriate and effective (or good, but I never liked that term) practice in blended learning. It is for a European funded project producing a guide for teachers on blended learning. And although the subject may seem a little old fashioned for UK based e-learning researchers, in many European countries this is a new concept. I also like the project because of its focus on pedagogy and pedagogic practice rather than on technology and platforms as is all too common.

It should be easy, I thought. Most e-learning in the UK is, in reality, a mix of different modes and forms of learning. But it was to prove not so – or perhaps my search strategies were uninspired. Whilst it is relatively easy to find research articles about blended learning – and tehir are a number of handbooks etc. these tend to focus on rubriucs of curriculum and technology design. It is much haredr to find anything which really dives into the practice of deisgn and delivery of blended learning.

I started wondering why. Perhaps it is because we still seem to have problems in evaluating effective and approariate learning using technologies. Is it because we do not know what we are really looking for? Is it because we have inadequate understanding of what makes for effective learning? Or is it because we do not understand the processes of inetraction in teaching and learning.

I was talking about this with my friend and colleague Jenny Hughes. Jenny has worked for many years in training teachers and trainers. We were discussing the difficulty in recognising and researching effective teaching practices. In truth we know little about what actually happens behind the closed classroom door. Of course teachers and trainers exchange experiences – mostly, I suspect, through telling stories. Some teachers and trainers exchange materaisl they have found to be useful. We have some pretty good programmes for school managers. Yet we still have great difficulty in explaining what makes for effective teaching – even more so in passing that on to others. Indeed it sometimes seems that teacher training colleges teach everything else except how to teach. Jen and I went on to talk about how we might design a research project to identify effective teaching practice based on observation and developing shared metadata for describing practice.

More on this next week. And I will give you my list of examples of effective and appropriate practice when I finish it. In the meantime, if you have any examples, I would be very happy to hear from you.

Happy new year.

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