Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

The future of the university?

November 26th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I’ve been participating in the Jisc on-line e-Learning conference this week, based on my video on ‘Do Institutions have a future‘. I’ will post later on the organisation and use of technology at  the conference – although just to say here that I think it a great pity Jisc did not make this an open conference.

Anyway the discussion has swung back and forth looking at such issues as drivers and barriers to change, models of governance and democracy, resilience and change and the design of physical and on-line learning spaces. One interesting feature is the influence of the ecology movement both in raising the issue of energy resources as a driver for change and in borrowing ideas from the wider environmental movement as the basis for change in educational institutions.

I am particularly taken by idea sput forward by Fred Garnett on participatory education in a participatory democracy and the work of London Learning Lab on an Open Context Model of Learning – Transformational Pedagogy.

Here’s a quick contribution I have just made on one of the conference threads on ‘Are the barriers still too high for change?’
“Been in meetings all day so only just catching up on discussions. But issues seem to be a continuation of yesterday. A few thoughts – the student ‘voice’ hasn’t appeared here. and in driving change students will be important. Are the barriers too high. Well – not if we are talking about barriers to learning. those are coming down everyday as more and more high quality learning materials appear on the internet. I was at a friends house lat night where she had to kindness to let me watch the football on television. Being bored herself, she was playing or so I thought on her ipod touch. When I looked at what she was doing she was following a tutorial on Exel. However she was frustrated that Flash videos will not play on the ipod so I showed her ITunes U which has 200000 videos and podcasts freely available on line. That is not counting of course all the OERs appearing daily. And there are increasing numbers of free courses.

The question then is what is the role of the university. Is iTunes U and OERs a barrier to change in universities? A threat?  If we have abundance of free resources how do universities react. Do they promote peer group learning using OERs? Or emphasise their role in accreditation. And if we move towards outcomes based learning will the traditional course model any longer hold sway. Or do we see universities as spaces for learning in the community linked organically to other community learning spaces in the way Fred seems to suggest.”

Mixed modality learning with mobiles – 20 things to do in the classroom with Wiffiti

November 25th, 2009 by Graham Attwell


Are wiffys tweets with attitude?

Following on from 25 ways of using mobile phones for learning, I thought I might blogsquat on Graham’s blog and look at some of my favourite mobile apps.

Today I am being excited about Wiffiti.  You can get yourself a free account (just Google it) then create a screen, load a picture, publish it and (subject to the permissions you have created) anyone can text a message or load an image (from phone or lap top which will appear on your screen.  It’s a bit like Twittering in Cinemascope…

You can go to http://wiffiti.com/screens/12568 and add your own message to the screen above in real time through your browser or just Text @wif12568 + your message to 87884.

I like….

  • The non linear format – no more threaded conversations, just synchronous comment
  • The anonymity (if you want)
  • The shared visibility
  • The “Lean Back” experience of viewing user-generated content from a distance (in a class, a public location or a conference) as well as the “Lean Forward” experience online or via text messaging.
  • Interactivity is multi-modal – it can happen at the location via mobile phones, or online via embeddable website widgets
  • New Wiffiti messages are instantly displayed centre screen and are easily viewable from a distance. Older messages then fade back and move as an animated cloud, providing enough ambient activity to continually stimulate audience attention and encourage engagement.’ (wiffiti)

20 things you could use Wiffys for….

  • Unconferencing
  • Taking questions during a plenary

(is good because you have permanent record, and you can take questions in any order or group questions together to reply)

  • Allowing students to ask for explanations, clarifications without feeling stupid
  • Getting messages to ‘strangers’ –

“will the person who put that great poster up on m-learning come and find Jen Hughes cos she’s really interested in a chat”

  • Finding people at events

“Jen Hughes is outside the main door having a cigarette – will Graham come and find me”

  • Asking for help

“Jen Hughes is desperate to borrow a Mac adaptor for the projector”

  • Conducting straw polls on the fly and giving everyone a voice

“How many of you agree that….”

  • Running a ‘background debate’ on a topic

It’s anonymous so can increase confidence in contributing

  • Brainstorming

You can run a brainstorm over an extended period not just for 10 mins in the classroom.

  • Feedback and evaluation

“one thing you liked about today’s lesson and one thing you didn’t”

  • Big screen Twittering

It’s just like big screen public Twittering so wiffys are like tweets with attitude

  • Photo competitions

“Post a photo by the end of the day representing ‘learning’ and vote on the best ones”

  • Communal storytelling

Tell a story, get kids to write their own endings….or build up a story from scratch. I’m currently loving the idea of non-sequential narrative ie synchronous rather than linear stories. Wiffiti is excellent as the posts fade in and out and are backgrounded and foregrounded constantly. Also helps kids get used to writing for web pages rater than ‘essays’.

  • Reflection and revision

“One key point from today’s lesson
“Post up an emoticon that tells me how you felt about school today”

  • Oral history / collective reminiscence

“Tell me one thing you remember from the 60s or your favourite sporting moment”
(it has to be the Scott Gibbs try at Wembley when Wales beat England 32-31 in injury time)

  • Making collections

“We are going to make a collection of screens on shapes / colours etc. This week use your phones to take pics of things which have 4 sides /red things etc”

  • In class research

“Use your computers to find some images of food that gives you energy and post them up”

  • Museums

On any subject under the sun – text anecdotes / memories, pictures – how about something easy like ‘our village’ to start off.

  • Sentence completion / cloze exercises

“If I were prime minister I would….”

  • Posting back messages from a visit or field trip about what they are doing to other classes

Oops – almost forgot Graham’s contribution, which I really liked

  • Would be good to run along side Sounds of the Bazaar radio so that comments could come in live.

Handbook for teachers on practical use of Web 2.0 and social software

November 24th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

tacclebooktagcloud

Some of you may remember that in May I posted an order form for the EU Taccle project handbook on e-Learning – snappily entitled “Teachers Aids on Creating Content for Learning Environments.” Don’t be put off by the title – in my mind this is the best practical handbook I have seen yet about using Web @.0 and social software for teaching and learning. For those of you who did pre-order paper copies they should be with you shortly, although we may have to reduce some of the numbers on bulk orders. for those of you who did not order a copy – do not despair. the handbook is now available for free download from the Taccle site (although you will have to register on the site first). The handbook is available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Italian and German languages! It is also licensed under a Creative Commons licence and you are free to adapt and remix the materials if you so wish. If you need any more persuasion before rushing to download your copy, the following excerpt is from the foreword.

“Information and Communication Technologies are being increasingly used to create richer learning environments. In all sectors of education from primary schools to adult education, in schools for pupils with special education needs and in colleges and universities, technologies are being used across the curriculum to enhance students’ experiences.

However, technology is not enough. The creation of high quality content is essential if the potential of ‘e-learning’ is to be realised in a way that stimulates and fosters Life Long Learning. It is important to train teachers how to design and develop their own content and generate learning materials that can help their own students and
can also be freely exchanged with others.

The European Commission Comenius programme funded Taccle project  aims through  training teachers to create e-learning materials and raising their awareness of e-learning in general, to help establish a culture of innovation in the schools in which they work.

This handbook has been produced by the Taccle project partners in five different European countries. It has been written by teachers for teachers and caters for those with only basic computer skills and limited technical support.

The handbook is geared to the needs of the classroom teacher but teacher trainers, ICT support staff and resource centre staff may find it useful too! It provides both practical support for
teachers who want a ‘hands on experience and also help and information for teachers who just want to find out about e-learning.

The handbook is designed to provide practical support for teachers to:

  • create content for electronic learning environments in the context of an e-learning course
  • identify and decide which ICT tools and content are most useful for particular purposes.
  • create learning objects taking into account information design, web standards, usability criteria and reusability (text, images, animations, audio, video) and which enable active, interactive and cooperative learning processes.
  • use learning environments effectively in order enhance quality and create resources to help them do so.
  • share the developed content with their peers using existing repositories.

If you do not understand some of these terms do not worry. The handbook provides friendly step by step guidance about how to do it and explains the different terms along the way.

Of course it might seem a little strange and old fashioned producing a printed handbook about the use of new technologies. But, as Jenny Hughes says in her introduction to the handbook, we felt that the very teachers for whom this book is written are probably the group least likely to use or feel confident about using web-based materials. A book is comfortable and familiar and that is exactly how we would like teachers to feel about e-learning.

Technologies are changing very fast. When we originally applied for a grant from the European Commission, we anticipated the main focus of the handbook would be the use of Learning Management Systems – systems that help to organize  and administer learning programs for students and store and organize learning materials. At the time, this seemed to be the most important technology for creating and managing content. But since then , we have seen an explosion in the use of social networking applications like blogs and wikis, as part of what has been called Web 2.0. These are tools which make it very easy for people to create and publish their own content in different forms – text, pictures, audio and video.

These technologies make it easy not just for teachers, but for students to produce materials themselves and are increasingly being used in the classroom mixing traditional teaching methods with some e-learning methods in what is called Blended Learning.

Therefore, we have shifted the main focus of the handbook to provide a hands on guide to the use of such tools in the classroom.”

Sounds of the Bazaar – Live from Online Educa Berlin

November 23rd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Its that time of the year again and its the ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN conference on 2-4 December. Over 2000 educational technologists in one conference. Presentations, demonstrations, exhibitions, parties and more. Can’t afford the conference fee? Can’t get away from the classroom? Don’t worry – we will be there to bring you three special live interent radio programmes from Sounds of the Bazaar. We will be doing our very best to bring you the views of leadings peakers, refelctions on the latest trends and of course we will be speaking to particpants.

The programmes will go out at the following times:

  • Wednesday  2 December 1600 – 1640 Central European time, 1500 – 1540 UK
  • Thursday 3 December 1100 – 11.40 Central European time, 1000 – 1040 UK
  • Friday 4 December 1100 – 11.40 Central European time, 1000 – 1040 UK

To listen to the programmes go to http://radio.jiscemerge.org.uk:80/Emerge.m3u This will open the LIVE radio stream in your MP3 player of choice. And Cristina Costa will be waiting in our chatroom – address  to be abbounced for your ideas and comments.

If you do have the good luck to be at Educa Online Berlin, then come and join in. We will be broadcasting from next to the main bar (where else!). And we would like to invite all our friends – new and old – to meet up with us on Wednesday 2nd in the bar of the SORAT Hotel Ambassador Berlin (Bayreuther Straße 42) – just ten minutes from the conference centre – map here.

Are you interested in the potential of LIVE internet radio? Would you like to find out how we produce the programme? Want to know more about our equipment? Would you like to start your own channel sharing our bandwidth? Or would you be interested in working with us on a project? Then come and join us in the main bar of the Hotel Intercontinental (the conference venue) at 1900 on Thursday 3 December. We’d love to meet you.

The New Media School

November 23rd, 2009 by Graham Attwell


Last Wednesday I was honoured to speak (via skype) at the launch of the New Media School in Bucharest. The launch took place in the Modern Art Museum who are a partner in the project. The New Media School is a fascinating initiative by the students union to promote social and collaborative learning. For me the most encouraging thing is how they plan to use social media for teaching and learning. Anyway, whilst we were waiting for the start of the meeting, I made a short interview with Gabi Solomon and Vlas Atansui who have been two of the prime movers behind the project. Congratulations to them and everyone else associated with this project. Below is a text Gabi sent me about the project.

New Media School

What?

The New Media School project is an initiative to support a community of practice of young students, responsible with communication in their organizations. The members of the community will be chosen for their interest and passion for web 2.0 and communication, and for the willingness to develop their skills in this regard. Their learning experiences, as far as the project is concerned, start with the real-life challenges they encounter while trying to develop communication and dialogue within and outside the organization, and ends with the changes they manage to implement while interacting with the New Media School community. Along the way, the project will facilitate a learning environment both on-line and offline, making use of a variety of tools like: wikis, a google group, googledocs, a social platform, twitter.

The project aims to empower 30 students who study in Bucharest to create multimedia content about their projects and their organizations and to promote it using new media tools in experimental/inovative ways. Our assumption is that today’s literacy goes beyond being able to read and write. Nowadays it’s all about being able to effectively communicate your ideas by crafting powerful messages using text, sound, music, image and graphics and then promoting your message using web2.0 platforms. We are also interested in better engaging students in the conversation about education by helping them to deliver high impact messages about the way they are learning and the learning opportunities that they value.

How?

For the next month we planned three meetings:

• the launching meeting (where we will have a discussion about the project and a “get-to-know” session for the members)

• a Web 2.0 workshop (where we will explain the tools we want to use and what you can achieve by using them)

• a video workshop (where we will have an expert on social campaigns talking about the concept of a video, how you film, how you cut a short movie)

Working in small teams over the course of the project, the participants will develop the skills needed for shooting, editing and publishing video clips related to their projects, their organization, education, non-formal and informal learning. In addition to the hands-on approach the participants will explore, together with trainers and guests (bloggers, communication experts, video editors and directors) new practical ways of delivering their mesages to other young people and to the world. They will be encouraged to link up with other educational initiatives – which include anything, from campaigns, conferences, trainings, other youth projects etc. – and use their new media skills to promote these types of non-formal education. The content produced will be also published on the project website and promoted on-line through the use of social media and established on-line publications.

The project is both a learning experiment in the innovative use of digital technologies as a form of self-expression, as well as a contribution to the creation of a free online resource of content generated by the learners themselves.

Which methods we plan to use?

Sharing Meetings

We believe that the motivation for learning comes firstly from our real needs and desires. During these meetings, the members will share their experiences and the challenges they’ve met in the organizations, looking up new ways of solving them and integrating their individual experiences in a broader context.

Training

The community will also grow with the help of experts who have a lot of knowledge about this domain and are willing to share it with us. We will invite trainers to facilitate the process of learning and by doing this we will add value to the process of sharing and collaborative learning.

Collaborative workshops

Sometimes we can learn something only by doing. The workshops we plan are learning events, where we learn by experimenting together communication techniques, where we develop challenges and we obtain unexpected results.

Social experiences

We learn best from and with our friends. We will include in the New Media School experience Time for knowing each other, for relaxing and having fun together. We like watching movies, seeing a theater play, cooking together or playing sports.

Access to mentoring and coaching experiences

Each and everyone of us enjoys meeting special persons, who are able to inspire and guide us, who help us find our own path and answer our questions. We invite those people to join our community and help us in the process of learning.

Learning log

Learning is something that we experience all the time, not only in the classroom or in training workshops. Sometimes we have no time to process the lessons learned from our experiences and that leaves room for forgetting. We will encourage the use of a learning log or of an individual portfolio for all our members. For example, they can use a blog where they would write about their experiences, they would reflect upon them, so they would enhance the learning process and they will have the record of their achievements

Blended learning

Usually, the answers that we find during our meetings spark new other questions. Because of that we will keep these ideas and questions alive after the meetings, on an online platform made of many social and collaborative tools.

25 practical ideas for using Mobile Phones in the Classroom

November 20th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

We have been writing a lot about ideas on how mobile devices, and particularly phones might be used to support learning. But most of this work has been from a somewhat theoretical angle. Now Jenny Hughes has written a great guest blog on the practical work she has been doing on the use of mobiles in schools.

“I’ve been working with (primary and secondary teachers) on e-learning in the classroom – particularly the use of web 2.0 applications – as the roll out and dissemination of the TACCLE project. Part of this has been looking at the use of mobile phones as learning tools in schools.

There seems to be a lot of debate around the technology, the theoretical perspectives, the social dimension and so on but just at the moment the ‘doing’ is engaging me far more than the research. And as I’m always the first to complain about the practitioner – researcher divide, I thought maybe we should contribute by sharing some stuff we are experimenting with in the classroom.

What follows is some of the output from teachers. Firstly there has been a debate around the feasibility of using mobile telephones in schools; teachers from schools that have banned them outright, teachers from schools where they are allowed and teachers who are actually using them for learning generated a list of For-and-Against arguments. Secondly, there are some practical suggestions for using mobile devices (mainly phones), tried and tested and either contributed by teachers or trialed on the TACCLE course.

Arguments against allowing mobile phones in schools – for learning or social purposes

  • Loss and theft and potential bullying
  • Distraction and interruption
  • Taking photos of tests and instantly passing them on to other pupils
  • Texting answers of tests to other students
  • Taking photos of pupils in changing rooms, toilets
  • Spreading rumours fast
  • Sex texting and cyber-bullying
  • Non-filtered web access that can be used to spread content that some parents do not want their children exposed to.
  • Recording teachers and pupils in the classroom – can be detrimental to teacher and student reputation and proper consent to publish not asked for or given. Even bigger problem with younger children vis a vis Child Protection issues
  • Privacy issues with teachers having personal phone numbers of pupils and vice versa.

About using phones as learning tools –

  • Have and have not situation – some pupils will not have them, some will not. Some will support less applications than others – need to work at level of common denominator.
  • Cost implications for pupils and their parents – not just the cost of the hardware but the cost of use. Many pupils on ‘Pay-as-you-go’.

Arguments in favour of allowing them and using them for learning

(We excluded I-Phones, Blackberries etc as teachers in this area said most pupils do not have them) –

  • Is cost effective for schools
  • Reduces the need for all students to have access to computers in classroom
  • Need less equipment like digital cameras, camcorders, mics etc
  • If pupils are going to have them in schools anyway, irrespective of whether it is officially allowed, they may as well be exploited for learning. Overcomes some of the problems of ‘distraction’ etc.
  • Uses cheap and familiar technology
  • They are a good vehicle for teaching about ‘use-and-abuse’ issues such as digital identities, protocols, bullying, net safety etc
  • Can be used as data collection and recording devices – audio, pics and video – for recording experiments, field work, voice memos etc
  • Can be used as creative tool – making podcasts, picture blogs, twittering etc
  • Can use the phone itself as learning aid – creating ringtones, wallpaper etc (more on this later)
  • Pupils can ask questions of the teacher they may be too embarrassed to ask publicly.
  • Encourages engagement e.g SMS polling can ensure every pupils  voice is heard.
  • SMS polling (e.g using Wiffiti or PollEverywhere) can be used for formative assessment
  • Can be used for collaborative learning and communication (see below)
  • Pupils are encouraged to use general reference books so why not phones – as dictionary, spell checker, thesaurus, encyclopaedia etc
  • As specific research tool via web access

Practical ideas for using phones for learning that teachers tried out

(NB these are ideas generated by teachers working in a formal learning environment. We are aware of the huge potential of mobile devices for informal learning but this was not in our brief!)

Firstly, a few ideas about using the phone itself – rather than using it as a communication device.

  • Pupils can customize the wallpaper on their phones using something like pix2fone or pixdrop.
  • Either the teacher can ask them to take a picture with their phone around a particular theme or can send everyone in the class a picture she wants them to study / talk about to use as wall paper. This could be a photograph or a key message or reminder of some learning point.
  • Pupils can create ring tones using e.g  phonezoo. They create the ‘tone’ in Audacity, Garageband etc and export to phonezoo which then sends it back to mobile phone where it is saved as a ringtone.

We tried making up jingles for a particular topic, key dates for a history test, a poem to be learned for a literature test, a foreign language phrase and lists of chemical elements in a particular group in the Periodic Table!

Some more general applications:

  • Use sites like gabcast or evoca to make ‘instant’ podcasts straight from a mobile that can be accessed from a mobile (and you only have to be over 13 to use them) without having to use podcasting software. We did a geography quiz on local landmarks and geographical features “From where I’m standing I can see….where am I?”
  • Setting up audio tours e.g one group is working on a guide to places of interest in their town where at each point of interest there is a notice “to hear the story ring this number”
  • Using their phones to access podcasts. Some mobile phones can already subscribe to podcasts and a fair few can listen to streaming MP3s from the Internet. Even if these features are missing, pretty much every mobile phone you can buy nowadays can be hooked up to a computer and have MP3s sent to it to listen to on the go.
  • creating mini-documentaries using the camera in their phone. We did ‘food preparation hygiene’
  • recording field trips – using photos or voice or texting back observations to other pupils.  We did a nature walk where leaves / flowers / trees were observed by one group and identified by another group back in the classroom. We experimented by sending text only descriptions, pictures or voice calls and combinations of those to see which was the most effective. (Also posting back pictures to their blog / wiki whilst they are actually on the walk.)
  • be in different places working on the same project and be talking via instant-messaging.  Our example was a history  ‘Treasure Hunt’ where groups were competing to find objects and information. The groups split up and group members updated each other on progress using mobile phones.
  • recording science experiments and including the pictures /video with their written reports.
  • Using twitter. History teachers chose a period in history (was the second world war) and had groups of evacuees, host families, parents of evacuees back in bombed cities sending messages to each other about their feelings.
  • Use twiddeo to upload video made on mobile phone to twitter.
  • Make a tee-shirt using Reactee on twitter that you can wear in the classroom. Ours was a line to ring to get homework assignments and deadlines.
  • Photoblogging using telephones. (Blogger is particularly good for phones). We did local landmarks and geographical features. Also a vocabulary exercise where each person was given a word to illustrate with three photographs by the end of the day. (If you are going to use blogs use one that is mobile-friendly – like WordPress where you can get a plug-in called WP-Mobile so that students can access them from their mobiles)
  • Making slideshows for mobile phones You can make slideshows for mobile phones. It’s easy but you need a few basic techniques (which we can share if people are really interested.)  We made ‘revision’ slideshows which each teacher could produce for their subject area to be viewed on mobile phones.
  • Brainstorming using wiffiti. We found wiffiti is a wonderful way of getting pupils to create a communal, real time visual brainstorm, on a screen, from their cell phones.
  • Accessing Voicethread. You can use mobile phones to comment on Voicethread, which is a ‘digital conversation’ application. (We used some pictures of geometrical patterns and shapes and asked people to comment using mobile phones on where they could see those shapes and patterns in their townscape or in nature.)
  • Making simple Stop Motion animations. Take lots of photos on a mounted mobile phone e.g of a Plasticene model or bendy toy then import them into a slideshow presentation and set the show to change slides on the fastest (e.g 1 second) autochange. We did pictures of a the notes of a simple tune drawn with felt pen on an A1 sheet then ‘moved’ an arrow to each note in turn so that the pupils could see which note was being sung.
  • To save the cost of texting, use freebiesms on your computer
  • For those students with Bluetooth, a natural progression from students e-mailing homework or assignments might be to get them to send it by phone to your laptop at the beginning of a lesson.

Plans for future events

  • Experimenting with QR codes into which you can embed text, url, phone numbers and sms. (Camera phones can have software freely installed on them to recognise these codes and decipher them into meaningful text/links/images. This could be useful for homework or for embedding a ‘live’ link on a paper-based worksheet.)
  • Experimenting with 12seconds.tv for asynchronous debates, for synthesising work, commenting on Voicethread, making composite class documentaries, as a reflection tool for e-portfolios, as an ideas box, exemplifying good practice
  • Thinking about how we are going to use Google Wave

Thanks Mr Belshaw http://teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk for these great ideas – he should be on everyone’s RSS together with his blog http://dougbelshaw.com/blog .”

User-generated content, User-generated contexts and Learning

November 18th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

This is a short video – the first in a new series of Sounds of the Bazaar videos – made as a contribution to a workshop on ‘Technology-enhanced learning in the context of technological, societal and cultural transformation’ being held on November 30 to December 1 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria.

This workshop is organised by Norbert Pachler, the convenor of the London Mobile Learning Group (LMLG) and is being hosted by the EU funded Stellar network. The workshop is looking at the following questions:

  • What relationship is there between user-generated content, user-generated contexts and learning? How can educational institutions cope with the more informal communicative approaches to digital interactions that new generations of learners possess?
  • Learning as a process of meaning-making for us occurs through acts of communication, which take place within rapidly changing socio-cultural, mass communication and technological structures. Does the notion of learner-generated cultural resources represent a sustainable paradigm shift for formal education in which learning is viewed in categories of context and not content? What are the issues in terms of ‘text’ production in terms of modes of representation, (re)contextualisation and conceptions of literacy? Who decides/redefines what it means to have coherence in contemporary interaction?
  • What synergies are there between the socio-cultural ecological approach to mobile learning, which the group has developed through its work to date, with paradigms developed by different TEL communities in Europe?
  • What pedagogical parameters are there in response to the significant transformation of society, culture and education currently taking place alongside technological innovation?

The LMLG sees learning using mobile devices governed by a triangular relationship between socio-cultural structures, cultural practices and the agency of media users / learners, represented in the three domains. The interrelationship of these three components: agency, the user’s capacity to act on the world, cultural practices, the routines users engage in their everyday lives, and the socio-cultural and technological structures that govern their being in the world, we see as an ecology, which in turn manifests itself in the form of an emerging cultural transformation.

I have created a Cloudworks site to support the workshop and you are all invited to participate in the discussions. The site features key questions from a series of background papers, all available on the site and you are invited not only to comment but to add your own links, academic references and additional materials. The discussion is being organised around the following themes:

Look forward to your comments on this site or in the clouds.

Young people associate on-line innovation with cutbacks to face-to-face services

November 16th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

On Friday, I wrote up a report based on notes from a focus group which i led on the possible uses of technology for supporting Careers Guidance, Advice and counselling. The session was with a group of young people, aged between 12 and 16 and forms part of a project in which I am participating.

There was little of surprise in most of the findings. All the participants used mobile devices (phones) for voice and text and half of them to access the internet. Most had at least one games console, all had access to he internet and home.

It was interesting to note that all had unmonitored access to the internet at home, yet in general supported restrictions on access at school, because they feared unregulated surfing would distract them for learning.

For on-line careers advice they all just used Google to find out details of different jobs. None accessed official careers services on-line. And they were sceptical about an extension of on-line services. They were very quick to say that any such services should not be at the cost of existing face to face service provision. That seems to be a problem to me. They instantly associated any extension of on-line services with cut backs in face to face provision. In other words, innovation is seen as a move to reduce services. Perhaps this is not surprising if you look at what has happened with industries like banks. But it is troubling that such young people should be so cynical.

Oh and yes, they were not keen on the idea of careers advice via Facebook. That is our space, they said.

Institutional pragmatics

November 12th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

This weeks meme has been change. Monday and Tuesday, we helped organise the Network of Trainers in Europe International On-line conference on Innovation in Training Practice. And today we have been working with the Create support programme in hosting a one day on-line conference, entitled Institutional Pragmatics, for the Jisc Institutional Innovation programme.

What does Institutional Pragmatics mean? The theme of the day was how can projects produce sustainable change at an institutional level and wider. What are the drivers of change and what are the barriers? How can these barriers be overcome. Who are the people who are important in a change process. Doe change occur from the top down or the bottom up or does it involve both.

The morning break out session heard presentations by different projects of their work. I was particularly impressed with the Erewhon and STEEPLE projects, both, if my memory serves be right, based in Oxford. Erewhon is an investigation into the deployment of existing university computing resources to mobile platforms, coupled with the implementation of relevant location based services and access to the Oxford VLE. The vision for the Steeple project is to streamline enterprise level podcasting and support a viable community around scalable, enterprise-level solutions, in the areas of automated video/audio capture, processing and delivery. But these are only two of more than 50 projects being funded by the UK Jisc. Details of all the projects, including the project blogs and access to outputs, can be found on the Support, Synthesis and Benefits Realisation (don’t be put off by the name!) web site.

The afternoon was largely given over to exploring issues around change. I was particularly interested in the question of whether we should be seeking to change thinking or practice. Whilst there obviously is a link between them, and thinking is important, for me it is changing practice which determines the way we teach and learn. It was also encouraging to note the importance given to engagement with students as both drivers but also as agents of change.

Our main role in the conference was to broadcast an internet radio programme, Sounds of the Bazaar, linking the different sessions, held on the Elluminate platform. Although the programmes were mainly music and chat, we made a number of interviews, which we are publishing here as podcasts.

They are well worth listening too. Two of the interviews, with Leo Care  from the  WeCAMP project and Mike Neary from the Learning Landscapes project, are both concerned with linking the physical design of university buildings to infrastructures for technology enhanced learning and about how design can promote learning networks. Wecamp has developed a Web-based interactive campus visualisation modelling platform to effect participation and collaboration. A major benefit, they say, is the ability to visualize scenarios being considered, aiding the communication with senior management and informing the decision making process. The e-modelling platform is designed to enable the University of Sheffield (UoS) to acquire and preserve over time its own organizational memory and knowledge in effective planning and uses of future learning spaces.Learning Landscapes is a research project looking at the ways in which academics work with colleagues in Estates to develop and manage innovation in the design of teaching and learning spaces in Higher Education.

The third interview was with James Wisdom about a consultancy report he has produced for SEDA in the UK on the Higher Education Framework proposals, unveiled by UK Business Minister, Peter Mandelson last week. These proposals may have far reaching consequences for the future of higher education in the UK, and in the thinking, for universities elsewhere. Thanks to all of them for agreeing to come on the Sounds of the Bazaar programme.

Music Playlist of the show:

  1. “Put The World On Stop” (Piano Version) by Sean Fournier
  2. “WalkOnFlames” by Markus Schmitt
  3. “Fusion” by Cool Cavemen
  4. “Anything But You” by Fresh Body Shop
  5. “Still Und Schön” by Tom Oswald
  6. “L’Odore della Morte” by Talco
  7. “When Will It End” by Erica Shine
  8. “The Great Deceiver” by Dennis Logan
  9. “These Days” by Robin Grey
  10. “50’s Life” by The Wookies
  11. “Miss is a sea fish” by Ehma
  12. “My Misfit Ways” by Christophe Marc
  13. “reggae and unity” by Jahmac
  14. “Broken Stereo” (Acoustic Version) by Sean Fournier
  15. “Pain” by LA OLLA EXPRESS
  16. “The Symphony” by Chris Skinner
  17. “Incoherent” by Josh Woodward
  18. “Roots” by Galdson

Innovation in Training practice

November 11th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

For the last two days I have been moderating at the second on-line international confernce on innovation in training Practice. the conference, organised by the EU funded Network of Trainers in Europe, took place on the Elluminate platform and attracted some 70 participants from twenty or so countries.

The conference was seen as an experiment: whilst on-line conferences are becoming more common in the educational technology community, they are rare in wider professional areas like teaching and training. For many who attended it was their first experience of such an event and despite the occasional bandwidth glitch, most seemed happy with the event.

In contrast to the first conference, held last November and largely organised and moderated by Pontydysgu, other members of the network took an active role in organising this years conference and also moderated the different sessions. This was exemplified by the second day bilingual session from Spain, with a link up with a live audience from Madrid.

There were four main themes for the conference:

  • Innovations in Work-based Learning for VET Teachers and Trainers
  • Equality and Diversity – Innovations in training practice for socially disadvantaged group
  • Technology Enhanced Learning / ICT for innovation and training practice
  • Innovations in company-based training

In his presentation on Creativity as a starting point of Innovation process, Stanislav Nemerzitski, from Estonia expored the idea of innovation and what it means within our society. Individual creativity, he said, was linked to societal ideas of innovation.

throughout the conference, presenters provided exampales of innovation. What made this conference special for me was the strong focus on practice, rather than systems. however, most of the examples were based on projects or initiatives, giving rise to the question of how such innovation could be sustained and how it could be mainstreamed through institutions. One presenter,  Anna Grabner from Austria suggested that it was through conferences such as this that innovations in practice could be shared and thus transferred and adopted to new working situations. She saw processes of institutional change as coming from a boottom up direction, based on innovatory practice.

The conference once more highlighted the importance of teachers and trainers. Not only were more and more people involved in training as some part of their work practice, but the roles of trainers were becoming broader and in many cases involved some degree of specialisation. This poses questions about the initial training of teachers and trainers and about opportunities for professional development.

Although the first afternoon of the conference was devoted to innovation in the use of Information and communication technology, the theme of technology and learning ran through the conference. It seemed apparent that the use of technology is now impacting on training practice – particularly through social networking and Web 2.0 technologies.

In parallel many contributions focused on the move towards more work based learning. Work based learning was often being driven by the rate of change in  products and processes and in work organisation. Within such a focus informal learning was also receiving more attention. However, work based learning also required attention to be paid to the design of work and of the workplace in order to facilitate learning.

The role of research was another ongoing point of discussion. Research was seen as important in theorising innovation in practice in order to allow their sustainability and transfer. This required new tools to help practitioners and researchers gain a deeper understanding of processes and outcomes of innovation.

In terms of the skills and knowledge required by trainers pedagogic skills (in tecahing and learning) and a knowledge of the labour market were highlighted. many of the presentations highlighted the need for professional development and the training of trainers, especially in the area of new technology. this raises the issue of who such professional development can be organised. it was suggested that networking is important in this regard through the development of Personal Learning Networks. Indeed going further, it might be that involvement in innovation and projects might be the basis for Professional Development. In her keynote presentation, Lilia Efimova from the Netherlands looked at how blogging could support reflection and learning. Reflection in innovation could possibly provide support for teachers and trainers to take part in further innovation, thus developing an ecology of sustainable innovation in practice.

If you missed the confernce and would like to catch up on the sessions, the first day recordings are already available on the Network of Trainers in Europe website. And the slides from the seventeen presentations can be found on the slideshare embed at the top of this post. Check them out – there is some good stuff there.

The

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    Learning about technology

    According to the University Technical Colleges web site, new research released of 11 to 17-year-olds, commissioned by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity which promotes and supports University Technical Colleges (UTCs), reveals that over a third (36%) have no opportunity to learn about the latest technology in the classroom and over two thirds (67%) admit that they have not had the opportunity even to discuss a new tech or app idea with a teacher.

    When asked about the tech skills they would like to learn the top five were:

    Building apps (45%)
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    MOOC providers in 2016

    According to Class Central a quarter of the new MOOC users  in 2016 came from regional MOOC providers such as  XuetangX (China) and Miríada X (Latin America).

    They list the top five MOOC providers by registered users:

    1. Coursera – 23 million
    2. edX – 10 million
    3. XuetangX – 6 million
    4. FutureLearn – 5.3 million
    5. Udacity – 4 million

    XuetangX burst onto this list making it the only non-English MOOC platform in top five.

    In 2016, 2,600+ new courses (vs. 1800 last year) were announced, taking the total number of courses to 6,850 from over 700 universities.


    Jobs in cyber security

    In a new fact sheet the Tech Partnership reveals that UK cyber workforce has grown by 160% in the five years to 2016. 58,000 people now work in cyber security, up from 22,000 in 2011, and they command an average salary of over £57,000 a year – 15% higher than tech specialists as a whole, and up 7% on last year. Just under half of the cyber workforce is employed in the digital industries, while banking accounts for one in five, and the public sector for 12%.


    Number students outside EU falls in UK

    Times Higher Education reports the number of first-year students from outside the European Union enrolling at UK universities fell by 1 per cent from 2014-15 to 2015-16, according to data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

    Data from the past five years show which countries are sending fewer students to study in the UK.

    Despite a large increase in the number of students enrolling from China, a cohort that has grown by 12,500 since 2011-12, enrolments by students from India fell by 13,150 over the same period.

    Other notable changes include an increase in students from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and a fall in students from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.


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