Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Managing information or maturing knowledge?

November 19th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

There have been a number of reports in the wake of the failure of public services to prevent the tragic death of child in London. The story below from the Guardian looks at the impact of the introduction of Management Information Services in social services in the UK. What it reveals is that professional workers are forced to spend increasing amounts of time completing tick box tracking report forms on computers. The result is not increased efficiency and effectivenesss but a failure to sharing information with those that need it. The MIS becmes the centre of attention, not the task – in this case the protecion of vulnerable children.

This is not limited to social wok. Studies we have carried out in the eduction sphere reveal the same tendency. Professional wokers are being diverted away from what they see as their job in the requirement to fill in tracking reports on ill designed Management Information Systems. The inormation held by the MIS is seen as primarily for tracking and funding pruposes. raher than helping with the work. Littlle attention is paid to how an MIS might assist in developing and maturing knowledge. Natural knowledge sharing and development processes, through dialogue and networking are left behind. Often staff develop their own informal systems, to exchange the knowledge that they need, in parallel to official procedures.

We need to review the purpose of such systems. Do we develop systems to help professional wokrers in their job or merely to collect infomation? What is the purpose of the information being collected? Who is it for and why? How can we design systems based on the abilities of ‘knowledge workers’, rather than relying on the number crunching outputs of the machine? And what approaches are need to the design of such human oriented systems? These are not just academic questions, as the report below tragically reveals.

“A government computer system intended to improve the handling of child abuse cases has led to social workers having to spend more than 100 hours for every case filling out forms, cutting the time they have to make visits.

Reports by two universities have revealed that the Integrated Children’s System (ICS), launched in 2005 following the death of Victoria Climbié, is so laborious it typically takes more than 10 hours to fill in initial assessment forms for a child considered to be at risk. A “core assessment” takes a further 48 hours on average, according to government-commissioned research by York University. The system, which cost £30m to implement, creates deadlines that further restrict the time available for family visits.”

“But the pressure on social workers, effectively tied to their desks by bureaucracy, reveals systemic problems in child protection. “Workers report being more worried about missed deadlines than missed visits,” said Professor Sue White, who is studying five child protection departments for the University of Lancaster. “The [computer] system regularly takes up 80% of their day.”

ICS replaced a system where social workers wrote case notes in narrative form, which many argue made it easier for different officials to quickly pick up the details of complex cases.

In the review by the University of York of the first authorities to adopt the system, the use of tick boxes was criticised because of “a lack of precision that could lead to inaccuracy”. It added that the system “obscured the family context”.

The level of detail demanded by ticking boxes “sacrificed the clarity that is needed to make documentation useful,” it concluded.

“If you go into a social work office today there’s no chatter, nobody is talking about the cases, it is just people tapping at computers,” said White.

One social worker interviewed by White’s team said: “I spend my day click- clicking and then I’ll get an email from someone else – say a fostering agency- asking for a bit more information on a child: ‘Could we please have a pen picture of the three children’. It’s horrendous.

“It’s impossible to get a picture of the child,” said another. “It’s all over the place on the computer system … That coupled with the number of people involved in the case makes my life very difficult.”

Eileen Monroe, an expert on child protection at the London School of Economics, said some local authorities are petitioning the government to allow them to drop the system. “The programme is set up to continually nag you, and the child’s misery just doesn’t nag as loudly.””

Integrating personal learning and working environments

November 14th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I have been working with Cristina Costa to write a review paper on Personal Learning and Working Environments. The paper is now avaiable online on the Research section of this web site.

This review paper part of a series of papers commissioned by the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick under the title of ‘Beyond Current Horizons – Working and Employment Challenge’. In turn, in forms part of a larger programme of work under the banner of Beyond Current Horizons that is being managed by FutureLab on behalf of the UK Department for Schools, Children and Families. The brief was to cover:

  • The main trends and issues in the area concerned;
  • Any possible discontinuities looking forward to 2025 and beyond;
  • Uncertainties and any big tensions;
  • Conclusions on what the key issues will be in the future and initial reflections on any general implications for education.

We had also agreed that we would produce such a paper to inform the work of the European Union Mature project which is looking at knowldge maturing and developing Personal and Organisational Learning and Management Environments.

It is a longish paper and covers such issues as:

  • new ways of learning using Web 2.0 schools
  • deschooling society
  • workbased learning and the social shaping of work and technology
  • organisational networks and communities of practice
  • Personal Learning Emvironments
  • the future of universties
  • informal learning
  • knowledge development and sharing

We were given a wide brief to look at what might happen up to 2025 and what developments we thought were likely and what were desireable. We have used the opportunity to think a little more freely than is often possible within the scope of traditional academic papers.

Annotate this paper

We would be very interested in your views on the ideas in this paper. We invite you to use Diigo tools to annotae the paper. If you have not used Diigo before for annotating and leaving comments here is a short introductory video. We invite you also to join the Diigo e-learning 2.0 group and to share your bookmarks through the group.

But we knw some people still prefer paper publications. So you can download an Open Office and a PDF version of the paper below.

workandlearning – PDF vesrion

workandlearning – Open Office version

Training teachers and technology enhanced learning in Bejing

November 12th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Photo: Yeweni

As promised a new podcast in our Sounds of the Bazaar series. Dr Jile and Mr. Tian from the Institute of Vocational and Adult Education in Bejing dropped in yesterday to talk about technology enhanced learning.

I couldn’t miss the opportunity to get them in front of the microphone. And it is truly an interesting talk. Many thanks to both of them,

Intro and extro music New Generation by  ‘Souled Out

MOOCs might prove a practical answer?

November 12th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I had a fascinating meeting with two representatives of a Bejing school district last night. They are in Bremen as part of a European programme which including other things is developing a programme for the Continuing Professional Development of vocational teachers in the city.
They came to visit us to discuss e-learning and how the use of new technologies might help in their project.
The big issue that emerged was that of the scale of they challenge they face. Most of the teachers in vocational schools have received no pedagogic training at all, gong straight from university to become a teacher. Because of pressures on the system, the CPD programme is being organised out of school hoursd. Attendance is voluntary. And the teachers are keen. A recent seminar held on a Sunday attracted more than 800 particpants! The biggest issue is that there are not enough resources to organise a tradtional CPD programme. There are simply too many teachers who want to participate and not enough trainers. And that is when we started thinking about Massively Open On-line Courses (MOOCs). The infrastructure and access to networks and computers is relatively good in Bejing. Teachers are open to new ideas. Could we organise a programme that combined face to face events with on-line provision open to all who wished to attend? How could support be organised? What kind of platforms and tools would be required?
I started out as a sceptic about MOOCs but the meeting last night has changed my thinking.
If you are interested in hearing more about the project, we recorded a quick podcast with the Chinese colleagues and we will try to get this online in the next couple of days.

Training teachers and trainers

November 12th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Lsy week I helped organise the on-line conference on the training of teachers and trainers. And thanks to hard work from Dirk Stieglitz and cristina Costa the proceedings of the conference are now all on line on the Network of Trainers in Europe website. It is well worth checking out the web site and especially looking at the online exhibition which accompanied the conference.

We have been doing an online surevy to help in the evaluation of the conference and I will post some of the results this weekend.

In the meantime, if you missed the conference here is your second chance to see what happened.

5 November 2008

Theme: The changing role of trainers in learning

Morning sessions (for Elluminate sessions click here) featuring:

  • Professor Alan Brown, Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick
    • Employees supporting the learning, training and development of other employees while working in groups: examples drawn from aerospace, health and accountancy (mp3, ppt, paper)
  • George Roberts, Oxford Brooks University, UK
    • Education, training and employment (mp3, ppt)
  • Barry Nyhan, Ireland
    • Lifelong learning and the role of trainers (mp3, ppt, paper)
  • Lorna Unwin, Professor Alan Felstead and Nick Jewson, Professor Alison Fuller
    • Can anyone be a trainer?: towards a more embedded role for vocational trainers (ppt)

Theme: Support for the professional development of trainers

Afternoon sessions (for Elluminate sessions click here) featuring:

  • Seija Mahlamäki-Kultanen and Anita Eskola-Kronqvist, HAMK, Finland
    • New Innovations into trainers’ training: Documenting and analyzing work processes with digital photos (mp3, ppt)
  • Prof. Eduardo Figueira, University of Évora Portugal

    • Developing competence for trainers in Portugal (mp3, ppt)
  • Simone Kirpal, University f Bremen, Germany
    • The Eurotrainer network survey (mp3, ppt)
  • Eileen Luebcke, Pontydysgu, Germany

    • A framework for continuing professional development of trainers (mp3, ppt)
  • Summary of the first day By Graham Attwell (mp3)

6 November 2008

Theme: E-learning for trainers

Morning sessions (for Elluminate sessions click here) featuring:

  • Cristina Costa, University of Salford / Pontydysgu, UK
    • Using social software tools for supporting the online training of trainers (mp3, ppt)
  • Doris Beer, Lohberger Unternehmerinnenzentrum e.V., Germany

    • e-learning for medical healthcare assisstants in Germany (mp3, ppt)
  • John Pallister, Wolsingham School, UK
    • The ePortfolio process, supporting the Trainer and Training (mp3, ppt)
  • Vance Stevens, Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi
    • Teacher professional development in groups, communities, and networks (mp3, ppt)

Afternoon sessions (for Elluminate sessions click here) featuring:

  • Carla Arena & Mary Hillis, USA and Japan
    • Professional Development in Online Circles of Learning (mp3, ppt, wiki)
  • Anne Fox, CV2, Denmark
    • VITAE – introducing 21st century skills through mentoring (mp3, ppt)
  • Regina Lamscheck Nielsen, DEL, Denmark

    • TrainerGuide – made in Denmark (mp3, ppt)
  • Linda Castañeda, University of Murcia, Spain

    • On-line Collaboration to teach and learn with each other (mp3, ppt, wiki)

MOOCs, Connectivism, Humpty Dumpty and more – with Dave Cormier

November 9th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Last weeks Emerging Mondays seminar was on the topic of MOOCs and Open Course Models. The speaker was Dave Cormier from the University of Prince Edward Island.

Dave spoke about his experiences, so far, of the CCK MOOC on Connectivism and Connected Knowledge, the technological platforms being used to support participants, the tensions that exist within the course design and the peer support models that are being embraced.  Dave’s introduction led to a wide ranging discussion including the nature and furture of courses and communities, issues of scale, how to support learners, open accreditation and the future of open education – and …Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Wonderland!

If you missed the session – or would like to hear it again – we are providing you with three different versions. You can watch a replay of the event in Elluminate. This provides you with access to the sidebar chat discussion as well as to the audio.

Or – if you are short of time you can listen to an MP3 podcast of Dave’s introduction.

Or you can listen to the full session inline or on your MP3 player.

This is the link to the Elluminate version.

More on hairdressing and serious games

November 8th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Some time ago I wrote a post entitled ‘Hairdressing, Serious Games and Learning‘. It was not because I knew anything about it but because I was live blogging a conference presentation. Frederic Aunis who works for L’Oriel presented a game they had developed for teaching business skills to hairdressers. t was a good presnentation and a good game. The problem is that he game is owned by L’Oriel and access is retsricted to those with a  contract to the company.

The post is – somehwat embrarrsingly, one of the most popular I have ever written. Yet, I am afraid, it gives no help to those who are hitting it – presumably becauase they are searching for games to help them in teaching hairdressers.

I don’t know a lot about hairdressing but I have gleamed a little from research colleagues at the University of Warwick. Hairdressng is a very polular vocational training course. In part it is a course chosen by those who do not know what to do. But in part it is because people envisage owning and running their own business. The sad factor is most do not make it and whilst hairdressing businesses can be very profitable the reality fo rmany emloyees is lng hours and low pay (OK – if you don’t agree please feel free ot comment!). And whilst most trainees take well to the practical elements of the course, they struggle more with the theort – especially science – and have little interest in learninga bout how to run a business.

Hence the idea of a game. And according to Frederic it works. But, back to the problem. We need open source games which can be used by all. I am not a hairdresser or a games designer. But I know a little about both. The European Lifelng Learning programme is now on call. Is there anyone interested in a project to design an open souce game for teaching hairdrssers about running a business. I am looking for hairdressers, hairdressing teachers and trainers and educational games deisgners. Just leave a comment or email me if you would be interested in such a project.

Trade unions are fun!

November 7th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I love this photo. From the excellent LabourStart Web site.

“Robert Day, a branch secretary with the British public sector PCS in Birmingham, is the winner of the first-ever Labour Photo of the Year competition organized by LabourStart, the news and campaigning website of the international trade union movement.

Day’s photo — entitled ‘Trade Unions are Fun!’ — shows trade unionists marching through Birmingham, led by banners and drummers, on 24 April 2008. Here it is:

The power of learning

November 6th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

We have just finished the two day online Conference on the training of teachers and trainers organised by the Networork for the Training of Traners in Europe and Evolve.

It was – at least I felt – an inspiring event. Although I don’t have accurate figures I guess at least 70 people attended at some art of the conference – including particpants from more than 20 countries. Despite the usual technical annoyances, the technology never got in the way of the exchange of ideas. In fact, rather the reverse. The discussion was more interactive and reflective than in most face to face events I have attended. We had 15 presentation in four two hour sessions – allowing about 15 minutes presentation and 15 minutes discussion for each presentater. As we had hoped, bringing together researchers and practitioners in the training of teachers and trainers and e-learning practitioners allowed for a productive interchange of ideas and practice.

We will be provding access to the outcomes of the confernece in a variety of different media over the next seven days. Here are just a few of my impressions about the themes of the discussions.

One theme was the increasing prevalence of work based learning. This is expecially so as the divide between initial training and continuing training becomes blurred. As learning becomes embedded in work processes then it becomes increasingly bound by context. Technology can help greatly in capturing learnng from practice in the context it occurs. But this does not really fit with the idea of predeterminded outcomes specified in qualifications. Furthermore the competences required today are changing with a focus on collaboration, working in teams and the ability to support others in their learning and work. Two different approaches were put forward to deal with this. One was to support more community based learning with facilitalors to support enquiry based learning. Another was to move from seeing learning as primarily a question of individual qualification to see it as an integral aspect of innovation. An inovation approach would lead to a focus on learning rich work.

The role of teachers and trainers is also changing with a move from didactic teaching to supporting learners especially in scaffolding learning and developing learning pathways. In many ways we are all beoming teachers and learners. The best teachers, it was said, are learners. It is no longer possible to merely absorb a body of knowledge, especially given increasing job flexibility. But how much employees need to acquire basic competences before being able to learn from work and what those competences are was an issue around which there was no agreement.

Given that more and more people are having responsibility for supporting the learnering of others, the issue of how they are supported in that role becomes an issue. Traditional training the trainers courses are not enough. Rather there is a switch to encouraging peer group support and facilitating the development of communities of pracice. The many web 2.0 tools are valuable in this repect. However, many teachers and trainers are not confident in the use of such tools. There are different approaches to how to deal with this, ranging from targeted courses, the provision of interactive web based resources and fostering self directed learning networks. For all this motivation, the willingness to invest time and effort and above all self-reflection are critical. There is an issue about in whose time learning should take place and to what extent we should be personally reposnsible for our learning and employability. Web 2.0 tools can allow us to link self directed and networked learning to practice. Especially important are the wide range of open learning opportunties being developed through the web.

Three buzzwords emerged from the conference – sharing, collaboration and openess.

Sorry for all I have missed. But please feel free to comment below and add to what I have said – or correct me if I misrepresented what people said.

Open Online Conferencing

November 5th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

It was the first day of the on-line conference on the Training of Trainers, sponsored by the Network to Support Trainers in Europe and Evolve.

Not bad. Particpation in the different sessions varied between 25 and 45 people. This compares to the 110 who have registered for the conference which is about in line with other free and open online events I have organised. People either choose whch session interests them most or work around various meetings and other work activites. And of course, some people register but then find something else has come up.

We had some technical problems with firewalls but that is par for the course. A few people got lost in the sandbox but we managed to dig them out and get them to the right place.

We had the usual problems with sound levels and microphones not working. But – once more as usual – these settled down as the day went on. And – most interestingly for me – the techncial barriers seemed no worse with the conference particpants who were for the main part researchers in education and training – and not educational technologists – thean we have had with techy online conferences in the past.

The presentations were good and the discussion even better. I would go as far as to say the discussion was better than at many face ot face conferences I have been to. Once again the use of the back channel provoked lively exchange.

We are presently editing the audio and creating slidecastsso that the conference proceedings will become Open Educational Resources.

So my conclusions – online and open learning using video conferecing is mainsteaming. Lets build on it!!

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    News Bites

    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.


    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


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