Archive for the ‘Jo Blog’ Category

Blackberrys- this years most popular Christmas gift for teenagers?

December 18th, 2009 by Jo Turner-Attwell

Ellen is currently a Y10 student in Secondary school in England and recently called me telling me she wanted a Blackberry for Christmas. I personally couldn’t understand the attraction as to me the Blackberry had always been a business phone for people that wanted to read emails on the go. So I was even more surprised when she told me she wasn’t the only one and that they were extremely popular in her school. When I spoke to her further about this, it seemed this was connected with a move away from camera and music phones towards only wanting a phone to text, call and as ‘an added bonus’ use the internet. Personally I think this is most likely connected to the new Facebook culture in schools where people constantly share photos and want to look at their best, and therefore want higher quality pictures and an easy method of connecting to the computer. As a result young people have begun to use their actual cameras more regularly and the quality of cameras on phones is less important, with high quality camera phones usually being out of price range. In fact I spoke to two students about why they wanted Blackberry’s one in secondary school and one in university, and neither even knew if the Blackberry had a camera. On the music side, nothing comes close to the the iPod and short of buying the iPhone having a separate device is in general thought to be considered the best option. In comparison Internet is becoming an increasingly important function. With social networking becoming as regular as texting, ease of use for both functions is a massive advantage. Therefore the blackberry media messaging system, as blackberries increase in popularity, becomes an increasingly popular way to keep in contact.
Another factor is simply that they are high quality phones, which are actually affordable. People are becoming ‘bored’ of the standard phones and want something new, but most of the top range phones are too expensive for people in school on a low monthly allowance. Blackberry’s allow for an iPhone apps type format, which is the latest and best in phone technology, whilst just remaining in an affordable price range.
However even with their current popularity with mobile technology progressing so fast who knows what phones will be fashionable for Christmas next year.

The value of being an intern

December 5th, 2009 by Jo Turner-Attwell

For me my internship with Pontydysgu has been more than just work experience, it has also been about gaining valuable life experience through learning to communicate in another language and living away from home. And so far my time with Pontydysgu has taught me more than I ever could have imagined, which was partly because I had no idea what to expect as I struggled to fully understand what Pontydysgu do, something that now I understand but struggle to explain because of the wide range of areas Ponydysgu covers. This diversity of the company has worked in my favour as it has allowed me to develop professional interests I didn’t know I had, such as working with Multimedia or social networking in education.

The most important thing I have learnt from my internship is to reflect on the things I learn and do. This isn’t really something I feel I experienced in school, particularly at the higher levels as my aim was to pass my exams and to jump through the necessary hoops to do so. Graham Attwell’s very different ideas on PLEs, social learning and reflective learning have led me in a completely different direction and in the process of learning about these things I feel I have begun to use them without even realising.

Now one of the things discussed in the very official Pontydysgu ‘meetings’ in the local pub was how I would compare my learning in Pontydysgu with the way I learnt in school. After much reflection I think the lack of official assessment contributes a great deal. My motivation to learn has changed. I am not trying to learn the necessary facts and methods to pass a certain exam, I am trying to best use the opportunity I have been given to expand my knowledge and experience. Much of the work I find I do in Pontydysgu is more valuable to me than the company. For example I am encouraged to blog and share my ideas so people can add and contribute to them or even upgrade my video editing competences from iMovie to Final Cut. It certainly improves the quality of my work for Pontydysgu but it has a far deeper value for me as an individual in the longer term.

This in my opinion is what is so essential about internships or the German Praktikum. It teaches you how to cope with that change of motivation from passing single exams to personal development.

My latest task within Pontydysgu was to attend a two day meeting on a current European project, as the other members of Pontydysgu were away doing internet radio at Online Educa Berlin. This project was on the development of toolbox to help with the process of a Praktikum for university students. This inadvertedly made me assess the value of my own internship experience, and the value that it holds for me. I think what makes these practical work experiences so important is that taste of the real world. All the support levels that the universities wanted to provide to make this transition easier showed me that this transition from pure learning to work can be a very big step whatever age the student is and work experience if properly managed can help bridge this gap.

It also provides an opportunity to bridge age gaps. Often students have a fresh perspective, particularly within the area of education. Having student interns work on projects for students seems so logical. They add a new but essential view point to the table for such projects. At the social of this meeting it was said to me how pleasant but unusual it was to have someone of such a young age socialising with the project members as an equal, and that many adults are afraid to take a gamble on young people. However I think internships do have the potential to provide valuable contributions not just for the student but for companies as well, if not just because we are cheap labour.

This expectation of very little from students can also work in our favour. I in particular find that working with under the name ‘intern’ makes my life far easier, because of my lack of experience people provide me more room to make mistakes and if I do or say something intelligent people are always incredibly impressed, when these sorts of comments are expected from full time more experienced employees. I am not trying to claim that this is necessarily a good title to hide behind, but rather it for me has held less pressure and will mean I feel more prepared when entering a full time job after I finish my studies, whatever area this may be in.

Internships can vary a great deal and I feel very lucky that mine has turned out so well and that I am learning so much.

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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.”

    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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