Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Rethinking school: Ivan Illich and Learning Pathways

March 8th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

The first of a new series of articles on rethinking education. This one – on rethinking schools – is a quick review of an excellent article by Ivan Illich, published in The New York Review of Books, Volume 15in 1971, and entitled ‘A Special supplement: Education without School: How it Can Be Done‘. Illich, best known for his groundbreaking book, Deschooling Society, remains as relevant today as he was 40 years ago. And in many ways he anticipated the use of computers for social networking and collaborative learning.Many thanks to Barry Nyhan for sending me the link to the article.

Illich starts the article by contrasting the function of school with how people really learn.

In school registered students submit to certified teachers in order to obtain certificates of their own; both are frustrated and both blame insufficient resources—money, time, or buildings—for their mutual frustration.

Such criticism leads many people to ask whether it is possible to conceive of a different style of learning. The same people, paradoxically, when pressed to specify how they acquired what they know and value, will readily admit that they learned it more often outside than inside school. Their knowledge of facts, their understanding of life and work came to them from friendship or love, while viewing TV, or while reading, from examples of peers or the challenge of a street encounter. Or they may have learned what they know through the apprenticeship ritual for admission to a street gang or the initiation to a hospital, newspaper city room, plumber’s shop, or insurance office. The alternative to dependence on schools is not the use of public resources for some new device which “makes” people learn; rather it is the creation of a new style of educational relationship between man and his environment. To foster this style, attitudes toward growing up, the tools available for learning, and the quality and structure of daily life will have to change concurrently.

illich saw the schooling system as a product of consumer society.

School, ….. is the major component of the system of consumer production which is becoming more complex and specialized and bureaucratized. Schooling is necessary to produce the habits and expectations of the managed consumer society. Inevitably it produces institutional dependence and ranking in spite of any effort by the teacher to teach the contrary. It is an illusion that schools are only a dependent variable, an illusion which, moreover, provides them, the reproductive organs of a consumer society, with their immunity.

In contrast to the consumer driven schooling system Illich proposed developing learning networks.

I believe that no more than four—possibly even three—distinct “channels” or learning exchanges could contain all the resources needed for real learning. The child grows up in a world of things, surrounded by people who serve as models for skills and values. He finds peers who challenge him to argue, to compete, to cooperate, and to understand; and if the child is lucky, he is exposed to confrontation or criticism by an experienced elder who really cares. Things, models, peers, and elders are four resources each of which requires a different type of arrangement to ensure that everybody has ample access to them.

I will use the word “network” to designate specific ways to provide access to each of four sets of resources. …. What are needed are new networks, readily available to the public and designed to spread equal opportunity for learning and teaching.

Illich was particularly concerned over open access to educational resources. her put forward four different approaches for enabling access.

1.) Reference Services to Educational Objects—which facilitate access to things or processes used for formal learning. Some of these things can be reserved for this purpose, stored in libraries, rental agencies, laboratories, and showrooms like museums and theaters; others can be in daily use in factories, airports, or on farms, but made available to students as apprentices or on off-hours.

2.) Skill Exchanges—which permit persons to list their skills, the conditions under which they are willing to serve as models for others who want to learn these skills, and the addresses at which they can be reached.

3.) Peer Matching—a communication network which permits persons to describe the learning activity in which they wish to engage, in the hope of finding a partner for the inquiry.

4.) Reference Services to Educators-at-large—who can be listed in a directory giving the addresses and self-descriptions of professionals, para-professionals, and free-lancers, along with conditions of access to their services. Such educators, as we will see, could be chosen by polling or consulting their former clients.

Illich was concerned that modern industrial design was preventing access to the world of ‘things’ or ‘educational objects’ which are critical for learning.

Industrial design creates a world of things that resist insight into their nature, and schools shut the learner out of the world of things in their meaningful setting……At the same time, educational materials have been monopolized by school. Simple educational objects have been expensively packaged by the knowledge industry. They have become specialized tools for professional educators, and their cost has been inflated by forcing them to stimulate either environments or teachers.

Skill exchanges would be central to networked learning in a deschooled society and despite the uses of new technology face to face communication would remain important.

A “skill model” is a person who possesses a skill and is willing to demonstrate its practice. A demonstration of this kind is frequently a necessary resource for a potential learner. Modern inventions permit us to incorporate demonstration into tape, film, or chart; yet one would hope personal demonstration will remain in wide demand, especially in communication skills.

The schooling system was leading to a skills scarcity.

What makes skills scarce on the present educational market is the institutional requirement that those who can demonstrate them may not do so unless they are given public trust, through a certificate. We insist that those who help others acquire a skill should also know how to diagnose learning difficulties and be able to motivate people to aspire to learn skills. In short, we demand that they be pedagogues. People who can demonstrate skills will be plentiful as soon as we learn to recognize them outside the teaching profession.

Illich put forward the idea of a ‘skills bank’ for exchanging tecahing and learning.

Each citizen would be given a basic credit with which to acquire fundamental skills. Beyond that minimum, further credits would go to those who earn them by teaching, whether they serve as models in organized skill centers or do so privately at home or on the playground. Only those who have taught others for an equivalent amount of time would have a claim on the time of more advanced teachers. An entirely new elite would be promoted, an elite of those who earn their education by sharing it.

As well as access to skills models peer learning would lie at the centre of a new learning society, with computers allowing peer matching.

The operation of a peer-matching network would be simple. The user would identify himself by name and address and describe the activity for which he seeks a peer. A computer would send him back the names and addresses of all those who have inserted the same description. It is amazing that such a simple utility has never been used on a broad scale for publicly valued activity.

In its most rudimentary form, communication between client and computer could be done by return mail. In big cities, typewriter terminals could provide instantaneous responses. The only way to retrieve a name and address from the computer would be to list an activity for which a peer is sought. People using the system would become known only to their potential peers.

A complement to the computer could be a network of bulletin boards and classified newspaper ads, listing the activities for which the computer could not produce a match. No names would have to be given. Interested readers would then introduce their names into the system.

School buildings would become neighbourhood learning centres.

One way to provide for their continued use would be to give over the space to people from the neighborhood. Each could state what he would do in the classroom and when—and a bulletin board would bring the available programs to the attention of the inquirers. Access to “class” would be free—or purchased with educational vouchers. …..The same approach could be taken toward higher education. Students could be furnished with educational vouchers which entitle them for ten hours yearly private consultation with the teacher of their choice—and, for the rest of their learning, depend on the library, the peer-matching network, and apprenticeships.

Whilst traditional teachers would no longer be required there would be need for a new ‘professional educators.’

Parents need guidance in guiding their children on the road that leads to responsible educational independence. Learners need experienced leadership when they encounter rough terrain. These two needs are quite distinct: the first is a need for pedagogy, the second for intellectual leadership in all other fields of knowledge. The first calls for knowledge of human learning and of educational resources, the second for wisdom based on experience in any kind of exploration. Both kinds of experience are indispensable for effective educational endeavor. Schools package these functions into one role—and render the independent exercise of any of them if not disreputable at least suspect.

Finally, students would develop individual learning pathways through networked learning.

If the networks I have described can emerge, the educational path of each student would be his own to follow, and only in retrospect would it take on the features of a recognizable program. The wise student would periodically seek professional advice: assistance to set a new goal, insight into difficulties encountered, choice between possible methods. Even now, most persons would admit that the important services their teachers have rendered them are such advice or counsel, given at a chance meeting or in a tutorial.

Using mobile devices for learning in the workplace

March 4th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I’ve written a lot recently about the potential of the use of mobile devices in the workplace. Last summer, together with my colleagues John Cook and Andrew Ravenscroft, we coined the term Work Oriented Mobile learning Environment or WoMbLE to try to explain what we were trying to create. And we have written about the design idea and about work based learning. But it seems hard to people to ‘get it’. Can you give us some concrete examples, they ask. We need some use cases, they say. As did the reviewer of a recent paper I submitted for the International Journal of Mobile Learning who was concerned my paper was too abstract (and he or she was right, I suspect). So in revising the paper, I have tried to add some possible examples, all based on funding proposals we have been developing. They are not great, but I guess they are a step in the direction of explaining what we mean and I will try to develop them further in the next few weeks (thanks to all who have contributed in one way or another to developing these ideas).

Use Cases for a Work based Mobile Learning Environment

These use cases have been developed as both as part of our research into designing a WoMbLE and in pursuit of funding possibilities. In all of the use cases context is critical factor, although the nature of context varies form case to case.

1. Use case for computer students on work placement programmes

Time is precious for students on short work placements and experience has shown that these students need immediate help when they are stuck with a problem, for example debugging a Java / C++ program or using Google’s SMTP server for setting up test e-mail systems and setting up paypal payment systems. They normally try to seek help from people at the work place and the university tutors, however they prefer interacting with fellow placement students for trouble shooting and learning from each other’s experience before seeking help from company / academic staff. In the past, they have used Google groups.

The WoMbLE is designed to provide multi-user and multi-media spaces where learners can meet up with co-learners, to allow students to tag fellow students, academic staff and work colleagues (contacts); when a problem arises this service will enable collaborative problem solving. A ‘dialogue game’ service, that can be linked to the tagging of personal competencies, will be available to scaffold students in their active collaboration and ‘on the spot’ problem solving.

2. Use case for the continuing professional development of printers

Despite rapid technological change there are low rates of participation of printers in Continuing Vocational Education and Training (CVET), including traditional e-learning.

The aim is to enhance printers’ participation in CVET though self-directed, work-integrated and community-embedded mobile learning. Innovative pedagogical concepts, technical applications and implementation strategies are designed to provide flexible access to learning and authentic and enjoyable learning experience at work.

The use case addresses the emerging need for on-demand and on-the-job training in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The integration of work context, mobile learning and online communities enables authentic and immediate learning whenever needed. Combined with relevant, appealing content and services it motivates “non-learners”, intensifies interaction between peers and experts within and outside of the SME, and exploits small amounts of time and space for learning at work. Printers will use mobile devices to engage in discussion forums, blogs and wikis, document demonstrations of individual skills and activities undertaken in work-settings (e.g. video captures of technical trouble-shooting) and share digital artifacts in online communities in relation to real work-specific needs. The “pick and mix” of learning objects enhances both participation and learning outcomes maximizing choices in terms of method, content, place and time. This approach recognizes the diversity and individuality of learning, facilitates meaningful, authentic social learning and enhances motivation to learn.

3. Use case for knowledge services for Careers Information, Advice and Guidance workers

Careers Information, Advice and Guidance workers in the UK work from district offices but are often required to provide guidance for students’ future careers options in dispersed school settings.  They do not always have access to appropriate labour market information and may need to gain information about particular career and education opportunities. In this use case a range of services will be provided through mobile devices to support careers workers finding and collecting appropriate information. The system provides access to specialist databases and to previous work undertaken by colleagues and allows structuring and ranking of resources and artifacts including people and social networks. The system allows users to contribute their own results to the system and support the creation of tags and recommendations, thus developing a shared common knowledge and learning base.

All these use cases involve individuals in learning in a range of different occupations and work based settings. However, they have a number of similar features:

  • The need for continuing learning as part of the work process;
  • The need to solve problems as and when they occur;
  • A requirement for information and knowledge resources;
  • The need for access to people, through social and peer networks;
  • The need to capture contextual learning and share as part of a process of developing a common knowledge and learning resource;
  • The importance of context, including activities and tasks being undertaken, work roles, and location

In initial considerations of technical design for a WoMbLE, discussion centred around the development of a generic learning environment. This was driven by desire to produce a cost effective test bed application and to ensure use of as wide a range of different mobile platforms as possible. The latest thinking has moved towards developing what has been called a Mash Up Personal Learning Environment (MUPPLE) (Wild F. Mödritscher F. and Sigurdarson S., 2008) using widgets and provided through specific applications for different mobile platforms. The widget approach could allow services to be easily tailored for particular use cases, user groups and contexts, whilst still retaining generic service applications.

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Using Web 2.0 tools for learning

March 4th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

The EU funded Politics project is using a web based story telling process to encourage ypoung people to explore politcial involvement and develop their own ideas around politica;l issues and events.

The project intends to use social software and Web 2.0 software to develop learning pathways for participants in six different European countries.  One of the first tasks for the project has been to produce a report on Web 2.0 tools for learning. The report has been  written by Pontydysgu intern student Jo Turner Attwell, and and is based on previous work by Jenny Hughes in the handbook on Teachers Aids on Creating Content for Learning Environments (available for free download on the Taccle website) together with more recent materials posted on the Chalkface section of this web site.

You can read the introduction to the report below and download the full (14 page) version of the paper in ODT and Doc format at the bottom of this page.

Technologies are changing very fast. Up until recently Learning Management Systems – systems that help to organise and administer learning programmes for students and store and organise learning materials 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 that make it very easy for people to create their own content in different forms – text, pictures, audio and video. POLITICS aims to provide Web 2.0 tools to enhance the learning experience achieved within the development of the participants own Politics story. The project hopes to improve the participants knowledge of Politics in their country of residence by leading them through a Webquest type pathway.  Embedding these tools into a platform designed to allow communication between participants and collection of resources helps to create opportunities for tasks inspiring creativity within these pathways.

There are currently a wide range of web2.0 tools and programmes, particularly those that are useful in a pedagogical way. Many of these tools are already widely used, such as the microblogging tool twitter, or the video sharing tool youtube. Some systems are simply designed for the sharing of content such as Flickr or Slideshare, however some social networking sites go a step further. Videothreads or PB wiki allows deeper interaction as people can add and contribute to the information or work already there. This means content can be created and edited collaboratively online.

Some of the applications listed below are specifically for creating content, for example, authoring tools, or for storing and sharing materials you and your students have created. Others, like online messaging tools, are essentially designed as tools for communication. Some can serve both purposes, for example blogs. However, it is increasingly difficult to draw a line between them. A Skype text message about the weather may be no more than a simple social exchange between two people but group text chats on Skype by members of a community of practice discussing their ideas can create a rich learning resource. It seems a fairly pointless academic exercise to try and differentiate between them. They are all useful tools and applications for teachers so we are including both.

odt version

Review of existing web20 tools25-1

Doc version

Review of existing web20 tools25-1

Pedagogy Frameworks, tools and representations

March 2nd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

More on the work in progress. Yesterday I wrote about pedagogy framework for the development of web 2.0 learning environment we are developing for European G8WAY project which aims to support learners in transitions between school and work, school and university and university and work.

In the framework we look at different pedagogic theories. We the look at Conole, Dyke, Oliver and Seale’s model for mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design. Based on Activity Theory models of transition process and on a Vygotskian pedagogic approach we aim to try to identify mini learning activities for supporting transitions and to identify social software tools that can support such learning.

The paper by Grainne Conole et al is worth reading in full. But here is a synopsis  of their framework and its representation.

Conole, Dyke, Oliver and Seale (2004), have proposed a toolkit and model for mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design. They say “Toolkits are model-based resources that offer a way of structuring users’ engagement that encourages reflection on theoretical concerns as well as supporting the development of practical plans for action (Conole & Oliver, 2002). The models that form the heart of each toolkit consist of representations of a ‘space’, described in terms of qualities, in which theories or approaches can be described.” They emphasise that “the descriptions of these approaches reflect the beliefs of describer. These models are thus best understood as sharable representations of beliefs and of practice, rather than as definitive account of the area (cf. Beetham et al., 2001).”

The framework they propose consists of the following six components:

  • “Individual – Where the individual is the focus of learning.
  • Social – learning is explained through interaction with others (such as a tutor or fellow students), through discourse and collaboration and the wider social context within which the learning takes place.
  • Reflection – Where conscious reflection on experience is the basis by which experience is transformed into learning.
  • Non-reflection – Where learning is explained with reference to processes such as conditioning,preconscious learning, skills learning and memorisation (Jarvis, Holford, & Griffin, 1998).
  • Information – Where an external body of information such as text, artefacts and bodies of knowledge form the basis of experience and the raw material for learning.
  • Experience – Where learning arises through direct experience, activity and practical application.”

They put forward three ways of representing the framework.

The first is as a series of continua:

The second is a three dimensional representation with a cube:

The third emphasises the relationships between the ends of the spectrum in the form of a octahedron:

The affordances of Web 2.0 and the development of Personal Learning Environments

March 1st, 2010 by Graham Attwell

This is work in progress. It is part of a report I am writing for the European G8WAY project which aims to support learners in transitions between school and work, school and university and university and work. The report is focused on the development of  a common pedagogy framework for the development of web 2.0 learning environments, based on clearly defined pedagogy criteria. The aim is to conclude a framework, which enables us to map onto digital media and e-tools with regard to their learning characteristics, such as thinking & reflection, conversation & interaction, experience & activity or evidence & demonstration. This can then be used as the basis against which to benchmark pedagogical principles for any particular learning scenario developed within G8WAY.

I am writing the report in a wiki and attempting to develop a coherent framework for the report. The first section, a draft of which follows below looks at the affordances of Web 2.0 applications and the development of Personal Learning Environment. The next section will briefly summarise pedagogic theories and see how web 2.0 tools can be used to support learning according to different pedagogic approaches. A further section will look at the issue of educational transitions and in particular use Activity Theory to examine the contexts in which learning takes place within transitions. I then want to try using Grainne Conole’s model for mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design to map the tools against these contexts and illustrate this with mini learning activities. I will then take my own favourite learning theorist, Vygotsky, and see how his ideas can be used for supporting learners in transitions and how the model can allow the selection of different tools (at least that is the plan 🙂 ).

Anyway here is a very rough draft of the section on Affordances and Personal Learning Environments.

There are changing ideas of how technologies can be used for learning, in part inspired by the emergence of Web 2.0 services and tools, but in part due to a critique of previous generations of learning software. Oliver (2002) points out that although many described instances of elearning claim to draw upon theoretical positions, such as constructivism, few explain how they embody the principles and values of that approach. Attwell has pointed to the difference between espoused pedagogies and the reality of the learning designs.

In part this may be due to lack of confidence and knowledge by teachers in pedagogic approaches to Technology Enhanced Learning. But it may also reflect the affordances in practice of Learning management systems and Virtual Learning Environments. Socio-cultural theories of knowledge acquisition stress the importance of collaborative learning and ‘learning communities’ but Agostini et al. (2003) complain about the lack of support offered by many virtual learning environments (VLEs) for emerging communities of interest and the need to link with official organisational structures within which individuals are working. Ideally, VLEs should link knowledge assets with people, communities and informal knowledge (Agostini et al, 2003) and support the development of social networks for learning (Fischer, 1995). The idea of a personal learning space is taken further by Razavi and Iverson (2006) who suggest integrating weblogs, ePortfolios, and social networking functionality in this environment both for enhanced e-learning and knowledge management, and for developing communities of practice.

Based on these ideas of collaborative learning and social networks within communities of practice, the notion of Personal Learning Environments is being put forward as a new approach to the development of e-learning tools (Wilson et al, 2006)  that are no longer focused on integrated learning platforms such as VLEs. In contrast, these PLEs are made-up of a collection of loosely coupled tools, including Web 2.0 technologies, used for working, learning, reflection and collaboration with others. PLEs can be seen as the spaces in which people interact and communicate and whose ultimate result is learning and the development of collective know-how. A PLE can use social software for informal learning which is learner driven, problem-based and motivated by interest – not as a process triggered by a single learning provider, but as a continuing activity. The ‘Learning in Process’ project (Schmidt, 2005) and the APOSDLE project (Lindstaedt, and Mayer, 2006) have attempted to develop embedded, or work-integrated, learning support where learning opportunities (learning objects, documents, checklists and also colleagues) are recommended based on a virtual understanding of the learner’s context.

However, while these development activities acknowledge the importance of collaboration, community engagement and of embedding learning into working and living processes, they have not so far addressed the linkage of individual learning processes and the further development of both individual and collective understanding as the knowledge and learning processes mature (Attwell. Barnes, Bimrose and Brown, 2008). In order to achieve that transition (to what we term a ‘community of innovation’), processes of reflection and formative assessment have a critical role to play.

Personal Learning Environments are by definition individual. However it is possible to provide tools and services to support individuals in developing their own environment. In looking at the needs of careers guidance advisors for learning Attwell. Barnes, Bimrose and Brown, (2008) say a PLE should be based on a set of tools to allow personal access to resources from multiple sources, and to support knowledge creation and communication. Based on an initial scoping of knowledge development needs, an initial list of possible functions for a PLE have been suggested, including: access/search for information and knowledge; aggregate and scaffold by combining information and knowledge; manipulate, rearrange and repurpose knowledge artefacts; analyse information to develop knowledge; reflect, question, challenge, seek clarification, form and defend opinions; present ideas, learning and knowledge in different ways and for different purposes; represent the underpinning knowledge structures of different artefacts and support the dynamic re-rendering of such structures; share by supporting individuals in their learning and knowledge; networking by creating a collaborative learning environment.

Whilst PLEs may be represented as technology, including applications and services, more important is the idea of supporting individual and group based learning in multiple contexts  and of promoting learner autonomy and control.

Personal Learning Environments offer both the framework and the technologies to integrate personal learning and working and to support learners in transitions. Coneole (2008) suggests a personal working environment and mixture of institutional and self selected tools are increasingly becoming the norm. She says: “Research looking at how students are appropriating technologies points to similar changes in practice: students are mixing and matching different tools to meet their personal needs and preferences, not just relying on institutionally provided tools and indeed in some instances shunning them in favour of their own personal tools.”

Auch a development would appear to reflect the changing ways in which young people are using web 2.0 tools and social software for social and entertainment purposes as well as for learning.

Web 2.0 applications and social software mark a change in our use of computers from consumption to creation. Young people are increasingly using technology for creating and sharing multi media objects and for social networking. A Pew Research study (Lenhart and Madden, 2005) found that 56 per cent of young people in America were using computers for ‘creative activities, writing and posting of the internet, mixing and constructing multimedia and developing their own content. Twelve to 17-year-olds look to web tools to share what they think and do online. One in five who use the net said they used other people’s images, audio or text to help make their own creations. According to Raine (BBC, 2005), “These teens were born into a digital world where they expect to be able to create, consume, remix, and share material with each other and lots of strangers.” VLEs and LMS systems were designed as ‘walled gardens’, to isolate learners within institutional, class and subject bound groups and precisely to prevent the open social networking which characterises the ways in which we are using computers to communicate today.

It is not only that learners are using personal tools to meet their own needs and preferences, but teachers also. Whilst in the past, teachers would need technical support for software applications, the widespread availability of online environments and tools has allowed teachers to move outside of institutional VLEs. A wide range of different social software applications are being used for learning including blogs and wikis, social networks such as ELGG or Buddypress, mico blogging applications, shared presentations and social bookmarking tools. Some teachers have experimented with popular social networks such as Facebook for supporting learning. Many of these were not designed for learning and have simply been appropriated for that purpose. Other software vendors for instance Apple have developed learning specific areas such as iTuneU.

Recent research suggests that students are moving away form desktop applications such as Word to use Cloud applications like Google Documents to save money. These applications also tend to offer enhanced opportunities for collaboration.

Furthermore the development of Open APis allows applications to be embedded – thus it is possible to view Utube videos, to access Twitter and to present slideshows all within a personal blog.

However these developments are not unproblematic. Not all institutional provision can be accessed through a PLE. using multiple tools often means logging in separately to different accounts. There are issues around privacy, online safety and digital identities.

Data created in one application may be difficult to move to another. Online cloud providers may go out of business arising issues of data preservation.

Above all there remain pedagogical issues. With a wide array of potential tools available how do teachers and students choose the best tool for a particular task? Is it possible to look at the affordances for learning of different types of social software and group them? One major issue is the context in which such tools are being used. Later in this report we will suggest ways of understanding the contexts in which learning for transitions is taking place and look at a framework for matching groups of tools to such contexts to facilitate the development of Personal Learning Environments.

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    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.”


    Teenagers online in the USA

    According to Pew Internet 95% of teenagers in the USA now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.

    Roughly half (51%) of 13 to 17 year olds say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.

    The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.


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