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What we are doing

October 2nd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

It has been a busy autumn here at Pontydysgu. Conferences, project meetings and so on. At the moment we are focusing on three or four main issues.

On the research side we are continuing to develop our ideas around the WOMBLE – Work Oriented MoBile Learning Environment. In particular we are thinking about the pedagogic approaches ot learning using mobile devices – especially issues of collaboration and context. We are particularly interested in what we can learn from the work of Vygotsky on the Zone of Proximal Development and Boundary Objects in scaffolding learning and developing knowledge.

On an organisational level we have relaunched the Evolve seminar series in conjunction with Educamp. the next seminar is on Personal Learning Environments with Ralf Klamma and / Erik Duval. It takes place on October 8 at 19.00 (BST) / 20.00 (CEST) (check your local time). To join the seminar just click here: Elluminate.

And on the 9th and 10th of November, we are helping to organise the second international on-line conference on the teaching of teachers and trainers. the Conference is entitled ;Innovation in Training Practice’ and is free to attend. Click here for more details and for free enrolment.

Last but not least, earlier this week we attended the annual ECER conference which was held in Vienna. Pontydysgu worked on a project seeking to show the use of audio and video to enhance the conference and to make some of the key ideas and themes accessible to a wider audience. We are editing the videos at the moment and hope to get them on-line next week.

And on

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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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