Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Layered Learning

April 30th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I am working with Jenny Hughes on some research for the Mature project. And in the course of developing a few research proposals Jenny asked me what Layered learning is. I had to admit I didn’t know. So it was off to Google. And up came an abstract of a paper by Kumar, Torr and Zisserman which contained the wonderful phrase “efficent, loopy belief propagation.” Wow!. I wish I had written that.

Layered learning seem to have been developed by researchers working to program robots to play football. And basically it refers to breaking down skills and knowledge into a series of hierarchically defined layers. So you might teach a robot to kick the ball and to run. And you might teach them to watch what the other team is doing and to be aware of where their own team robots are and so on. And at the end of the the day you synthesis the different layers of learning to develop a football playing robot. Jenny questions whether people learn in this way. Of course sometimes we do synthesize chunks of learning to carry out a task. But just as often we may analyse a whole chunk of learning to derive the different skills and knowledge from it. In that way we can distinguish analytic learning from synthetic learning. And layered learning appears to focus solely on the synthetic learning process.

Be glad to hear from anyone who knows more than me about this.

Behaviour management, lesson preparation and the importance of confidentiality – all you need to be a teacher in Gerrards Cross

April 29th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Here is a curious story from the Guardian web site.

“A school is employing sixth formers as supply teachers because of a shortage of qualified staff. Chalfonts community college in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, pays its 16-, 17- and 18-year-old sixth formers £5 for each 50-minute class they take. The 24 teenagers follow teachers’ lesson plans, instructing 11- to 16-year-olds in subjects they may no longer take themselves.

The school trains them in behaviour management, lesson preparation and the importance of confidentiality. An older adult is with them in the classroom, but may not be a trained teacher and does not take the lesson. The school is thought to be the only one in the UK to have taken this approach to supply teacher shortages.

…..John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said there was “every argument for older pupils to mentor younger ones”, but they should not be used as “quasi-supply staff”.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said the system was acceptable “as long as the sixth former is under the direction and supervision of a qualified person and is adhering to the lesson plan devised by the class teacher”.”

As regular readers of this blog will know I have no problem with the idea of peer learning. But if the students are doing the work of teachers why should they not be paid the going rate for the job. 5 pound an hour is a rip off. And still more curious is the schools idea of what training the students need to teach – behaviour management, lesson preparation and the importance of confidentiality. Nothing about teaching and learning. Or rather ‘teaching by numbers’. Is this really what makes a good teacher?

WordPress upgrade is good news

April 28th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

We have upgraded the Pontydysgu web site to WordPress 2.5.1. I have had only a limited time to look at it but it seems both a big and welcome upgrade. Particularly nice is the new dashboard – for non WordPress users, this is the back end where you do things. In the past the default view provided far too many options, many of which most users would seldom acccess. Now many of these features have been hidden, meaning you do not see them unless you need them.

This is important for me. I know my way round the old Dashboard. But we are using WordPress MU for our Freefolio e-portfolio application. Not only do I worry at the barrier the dashboard design offers to new users, but in focusing on navigating the Dashboard users may be distracted from the primary use of the sofware – to develop their portfolios. It would appear that an update to WordPress MU to incorporate the new features of the WordPress single user version is planned int he near future. This is good news for us.

Sounds of the Bazaar LIVE

April 25th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

The last in our one week series of live webcasts sponsored by the Jisc Emerge programme.

If you missed the Emerging Sounds of the Bazaar at the Benefits Realisation day of the Emerge Conference, here is your second chance. The one hour live webcast was recorded and is now available as an MP3 podcast.

You can listen in line or download the programme to your MP3 player of choice.

The programme features:

  • Steven Warbuton and Paul Bailey on the Emerge Bazaar
  • Jai Muhkerjee on the Moose project
  • The Sounds of the Bazaar competition
  • A live phone in on the future of Technology Enhanced Learning
  • Mike Wald on the MacFob project
  • George Roberts – the last poet in Oxford.

Music is from the Exotica album by Les Juanitos from the Jamendo Creative Commons supported web site –

Thanks to everyone who helped produce the programme and especially to the producer, Dirk Stieglitz.

More LIVE web goodness

April 23rd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

After yesterdays brilliant 24 hour Earthcast, we are happy to invite you to the next LIVE web cast from Sounds of the Bazaar.

We will be broadcasting an hour long programme beginning tomorrow, Thursday 24 April at 1600 UK Summer Time, 1700 Central European Summer Time.

The programme is part of the three day Jisc Emerge on-line conference.

We will be featuring a number of the Emerge projects, launching the new Emerge Bazaar and hosting a phone in on the future of technology enhanced learning. And, as ever, spinning a few tunes from the Creative Commons supported Jamendo web site.

We extend an invitation to all Wales Wide Web readers to join the show. Just go to te following address in oyur browser and a stream shoudl open in your MP3 application:

Look forward to talking with you tomorrow.

Earthcast was just so cool

April 22nd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I’ve spent most of the day listening to the Earthday 24 hour webcast, Earthcast. The webcast was hosted by the World Bridges Edtechtalk. And it was so cool. I think this account from John Pallister on the e-Portfolios and PLTs list serve summarises perfectly the event.

“A strange thing happened today, ordinary people from around our world collaborated to do the extraordinary. They adopted a philosophy that if they were not breaking the tools and technology, they were not
trying hard enough – they tried pretty hard, for 24 hours! A few things hung up on them, and a few things did not like working with each other, but what an amazing achievement. I listened to children,
of all ages, and teachers from around the world talking to one another and broadcasting to anyone in the world that had an internet connection……….

I found myself listening to eartcast08 this morning, I was rapidly drawn in to what was happening, the enthusiasm of the students from around the world was addictive and energising. I soon had a Year 12
student contributing, asking some of the presenters why they were flying around the world to attend so many conferences, he was answering questions from people somewhere the USA and was being listened to by people all over the world. He went on to initiate a quite a heated discussion about national energy policies. He was a
student who 5 minutes earlier was simply having a conversation with friends in the common room – then he found himself talking to the world! From an ordinary class room in County Durham, at no cost.

What is in this type of activity for our learners – well, just about everything that you would need to develop learners as ‘Effective participators ‘ — “Young people actively engage with issues that affect them and those around them. They play a full part in the life of their school, college, workplace or wider community by taking
responsible action to bring improvements for others as well as themselves.” AND a bucket-full of communication and citizenship skills.

Life long learning, I learnt from a 6 Year old that by using rather that using Google I would save energy because the screen is black!

Eartfcast08 involved students from around the world talking about the Health of our planet and what they were doing to make a difference – I will make sure that we integrate earthcast09 in to our curriculum.”

I agree with John. It was a truly remarkable event. If you missed it the archives can be found here.

Sounds of the Bazaar – the ups and downs of new technology

April 22nd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

The broadcasting fest of the weekend was a little stressful but lots of fun. And whilst podcasting is now pretty simple – and video is not a big problem – live radio is something else. Firstly presenting a live show is a completely different experience to podcasting. There is no chance to remix – it is going out live. You have to think on your feet. And it has a buzz to it which isn’t there in the podcast.

The tech mix is still a little tricky. Saturday went pretty well. A few glitches but on the whole not a bad programme. Sunday was a disaster. Twenty minutes before we were due to broadcast something went wrong with our settings. I have a few ideas but am still not quite sure what it was. We reset our machine to overcome problems with the skype feed. And in so doing we totally messed up the feeds. Something was looping in one of the two machines we use to broadcast the programme. The result – dreadful sound quality. And whilst Pekka and John gallantly talked on through an near impossible echo, Dirk and me scrambled round trying to work out where the fault lay. Sadly it was to no avail. We ended the show disconecting the Mac Pro from he feed and with me taking into a Powerbook in built Microphone. After the show we tore apart the whole system and worked out a new set up. And yesterday it all worked.

Thanks to everyone for their feedback. And thanks to all our guests. You can listen to the recording of the show here. I need to add a lot of links. No time now. However do check out the live Earthcast 24 horu show which is presently underway. Matt Montagne explains what it is all about in the first guest spot in this edition of Sounds of the Bazaar. You can access the Earthday web cast on And check out Cristina’s blog on her work in the project.
Many thanks are also due to Dirk Stieglitz who has bravely struggled with the technology. We are working on a how-to publication for those wanting to learn more about live webcasting.

Sounds LIVE

April 21st, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Monday 21 is the third of our LIVE Sounds of the Bazaar broadcasts. Todays show goes out at 1900 CEST, 1800 UK summer Time. We hope we have eradicated the bug which badly reduced the quality of yesterdays broadcast.

Todays broadcast

April 20th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Don’t forget todays LIVE edition of the Sounds of the Bazaar show. We will be broadcasting at 2000 Central European Summer Time, 1900 UK summer time. For other time zones just check the tiny urls in the news item below. Todays show features interviews with John Pallister form Wolsingham School on e-Portfolios and with Annika Matilda Bergstroem from Sweden. Our special guest is Matt Montgane who is going to be telling us about the forthcoming 24 hour Earthcast.
And for todays show we will also have a chatroom running in parallel. Just click on this link to enter the chat.
Don’t forget – you can listen to the programme by clicking here. This should open as a stream in your default MP3 player.
And if you missed yesterdays broadcast, an archive version is now on line..

Emergng Sounds of the Bazaar LIVE – the archive

April 19th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Well it worked! I was pretty nervous about the first LIVE broadcast of Sounds of the Bazaar. And for the first two minutes I talked too fast until Dirk, the producer held up a sheet of paper saying ‘slow down’. But it all went pretty well. Many thanks to Jan Lai who talked to us form a beach in Italy over a skype phone and also to Sigi Jakob from Germany who didn’t complain too much when I said she was from Austria!

The software tells us we had about 50 listeners from around the world. If you missed the programme – or enjoyed it so much you want to hear it again – here is a recording.

And don’t forget tomorrows broadcast at 2000 hours with John Pallister and Annika Matilda Bergstroem. And we will also have Pekka Kamareinen as a studio guest and hope to be talking to Matt Montagne about the forthcoming Earthcast. Just put the following link in your browser and it should strat streaming through your default MP3 application:

Cristina is trying to set up a chat board to accompany the show. More details tomorrow.

  • Search

    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.”

    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

    • Pontydysgu on the Web

      Our Wikispace for teaching and learning
      Sounds of the Bazaar Radio LIVE
      Join our Sounds of the Bazaar Facebook goup. Just click on the logo above.

      We will be at Online Educa Berlin 2015. See the info above. The stream URL to play in your application is Stream URL or go to our new stream webpage here SoB Stream Page.

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