Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Class, pay and students

April 15th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Coming from Pontypridd in South Wales. the reported salary expectations of Conservative Party supporting students comes as something of a shock.

The Guardian newspaper reports that “one in five Tory-voting students expects to command more than £100,000 by the age of 30, compared to just one in ten student Labour supporters. Conservative backers also have the most optimistic starting salary expectations, expecting an average of £22,900 in their first job.”

I have never earned 10000 pounds a year, and do not think I know anyone who has. Clearly class is still the most important factor in determining earnings potential and in likely voting patterns by students.

The Giardian goes on to say “Labour voters were less assured of their earning potential, predicting an average salary of £20,900.”

And, surprise, surprise: “Tory voters were also more likely to attend fee-paying schools. They expect to work in investment banking and management consulting jobs more so than their left-leaning counterparts.”

It is depressing to see that those working in the least useful jobs, in employment areas which have brought the world economy to its knees, remain those aasosicted with sucessful, well remunerated careers.

Reflection and people central to developing knowledge

April 14th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

A quick report from the European Commission funded Mature project. I am in Vienna this week at a meeting of the project consortium. The project is researching how knowledge matures in organisations and aims to develop and test software tools to support both individual knowledge development and organisational learning.

One of the activities undertaken over the last year was a ‘representative study’ based on interviewing individuals from 125 companies in Europe and look at how knowledge was developed and shared in their enterprise. The results of the survey will be published in the near future on the project web site.

One of the most interesting findings is what processes people perceived as important for knowledge maturing within their organisation and how ell they though these processes were important. The two processes perceived as most important were ‘reflection’ and ‘building relationships’ between people. These were also the two processes seen as amongst the least supported.

This could be seen as offering a strong steer for the development of new software tools. mature is already testing the prototype of a ‘people funding’ tool, designed to make more transparent the skills, competences and interests of employees in an organisation. The issue of ‘reflection’ is more complex. e-Portfolio researchers have always emphasised the centrality of reflection to learning, yet it is hard to see concrete examples of how this can be supported. Your comments on this would be most welcome.

Daily Twitter

April 14th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

dailytwitter

This is a bit of fun. Paper.li allows you to view Twitter streams as a daily newspaper. How does it do this? It takes your tweets and the tweets of those you follow, analyses them and organises them as sections of a newspaper. The newspaper is updated daily and you can subscribe to receive notification of new editions by email.

And although I was initially cynical, I rather like it. You can view my daily twitter paper at http://paper.li/GrahamAttwell

Not going to uni?

April 13th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

It is not often that I quote the Strathclyde Telegraph. But Jo has pointed out to me this interesting article about how young people in the Uk are pressurised into going to univeristy when it may not be the bext option for them.

The article quotes research conducted by Notgoingtouni.co.uk which “has found that nearly 40% of school leavers feel pressured into attending university by teachers, and 28% said that their parents expected them to take the academic route while a further 20% felt that university was the only career option being made available to them.”

It goes on to cite the Edge foundation who report “1 in 4 students are dropping out of university, with bad advice from careers services being held as one of the reasons: “It is clear that many people are not being advised on the best option for them and their future”.

A Yougov poll has also found that 65% of teachers feel that there is no clear progression for vocational qualifications, unlike the 85% who feel that there is such development for academic ones.

Sarah Clover, of Notgoingtouni.co.uk commented on the findings:

“Despite the name we are in no way against university but sadly experience has shown that many careers advisors are ill equipped to provide guidance on vocational opportunities, leaving young people feeling that university is the only option available to them… careers advisors must be made to learn about the options outside of the traditional university route.”

This research shows the need for both an improvement in careers advice in the UK to include options other than univeristy but also the necessity to raise the prestige of apprenticeships. Ironically labour market data suggests that apprentices find it far easier to find employment than graduates. However the long term pay prospects for graduates remains better than that of apprentices. More flexible work based learning provision could allow progression routes from apprenticeship to higher qualifications. Alternatively, an extension of apprenticeship for graduates could both allow the development of work based skills and knowledge and develop more parity between the different routes.

Designing our learning spaces

April 12th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Over the next three months I will be blogging about our experiences in organising the PLE2010 conference.

First the background. Last September during a pleasant conference stay in Crete a group of us decided, somewhat audaciously, to organise a conference on Personal Learning Environments, PLE2010. We duly formed a small organising committee, of which I am a member, and invited leading researchers and practitioners to join an academic committee.

We spent a long time designing a detailed call for contributions, aided by the template for guidelines for authors from AltC which they had helpfully licensed under Creative Commons.

Whilst we wished to encourage academic contributions in the form of ‘proceedings papers’ and ‘short papers’ we wished to develop the conference as a community learning space and to facilitate communication and exchange of ideas. This, we felt, could be through encouraging more innovative forms of contributions to the conference through for instance the use of unconferencing spaces, Bring Your Own Laptop sessions, posters, Pecha Kucha, debates and so on.

The original deadline for contributions was March 24, which we later extended to April 7th. We ended up with 82 submission – far is excess of what we had expected. However, despite us stressing our willingness for innovative formats, 41 of these are for proceedings paper and 19 for short papers. We were happy that we had 8 submissions for workshops, although with only 2 submissions, the response to the call for papers was disappointing.

Wht to make of this? I do not think it is because researchers in the PLE community are wedded to traditional conference formats, but more likely because they are expected to deliver an academic paper in order to get funding from their institution or project to attcnd the conference.

We discussed these issues at a meeting of the project organising committee today. Clearly, we have to wait for the result of the reviewing process before we will know how many papers are finally accepted. But it is likely that if we schedule all the proceedings papers in the normal way – with 20 minutes for a presentation and 8 minutes for discussion – we will have to run a large number of parallel sessions, thus resulting potentially in a small audience for many presentations. A useful proposal today is that we write to those authors whose proposals are successful, offering them a variety of potential presentation formats (including a traditional paper session). That then leaves us a challenge – which I am passing on to blog readers. What kind of formats could be best to develop discussion round papers produced for a conference. can we think of more innovative approaches than the traditional 20 minute slide and tell session? How can we use technology before the conference to encourage an exchange around ideas? Please add nay ideas you had in the comments below.

I will keep you posted on what is decided.

We were delig

Skills do not become obsolescent

April 9th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I wrote a blog post earlier this week abut how much of our present training system is based on a deficit model – of looking at what skills and knowledge we think workers in particular occupation should have, at measuring what skills and knowledge they do have and then providing training to match the gap. I suggested this was an inefficient and reductionist approach, instead suggesting we should build from the skills an knowledge people have now to that which they could have with support for learning.

Today a call for tender dropped into my email box from the European Centre for  Vocational Education and Training (CEDEFOP). The tender is for data collection for skills obsolescence for older workers. And to my mind it illustrates just what we should not be doing. The tender says:

“Parallel and in close connection to its skill demand and skill supply activities, Cedefop is also analysing skill mismatch at various levels. To guide such analysis, five priorities for research have been identified. These priorities are: 1) improve measurement of skills and skill mismatch; 2) examine the persistence of skill mismatch and its impacts; 3) improve understanding of skill mismatch processes, its dynamics and the consequences of skill mismatch; 4) focus on skill mismatch for vulnerable groups on the labour market; and 5) improve data availability and use. The work carried out in the context of this tender and subsequent analysis by Cedefop aims to address aspects present in all research priorities simultaneously.

Attention among policy makers for skill obsolescence as an explanation for mismatch has increased significantly as a result of increasing changes in work and organisations. Cedefop (2009) concluded that from a lifelong learning policy perspective, the question of how and how fast skills become obsolete is crucial. However, this preoccupation has not been endorsed by current research, with most empirical studies dating back to the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Current research on skills obsolescence tends to focus on its impact on wages. Apart from some insights dating back to classical studies among engineers (for an overview, see Cedefop, 2009 and De Grip et al, 2002), little is known about how fast different types of skills become obsolete, how skill obsolescence interacts with training and skill development and how skills obsolescence processes work.”

The idea of matching the skills of individuals and the skills needed in an economy is a futile dream. Skills needs and usage are dynamic and constantly changing. Even more critical is that such approaches ignore the potential of skilled workers to shape production and work processes – and thus to develop innovation. The skills matching approach assumes a pseudo semi scientific, econometric formula for measuring skills. But lets look at the wording again. Much depends on how we interpret skills and I suspect this tender is very much based on a narrow Anglo Saxon understanding of skills and competences. But it is not the skills of the worker (or the worker themselves) who become obsolescent. rather it is that changing work processes and changing forms of production require new skills and knowledge – skills and knowledge that build on past learning. And older workers are often those with the experience to teach others – to be a Significantly Knowledgeable Other to use Vygotsky’s term.

A policy of innovation should be based on using to the full the skills and competences and workers and on developing workplaces to facilitate learning through meaningful work tasks – rather than using tools to measure how obsolescent older workers skills are.

Supporting Learning in the Workplace

April 9th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Today is the last day for submissions to the Personal Learning Environments Conference being held in July in Barcelona. Here is my abstract for the conference, based on work Pontydysgu are developing through the EU funded Mature project. I will try to post a longer version in the next week or so.

Central to the idea of the Personal Learning Environment is it can assist learners in bringing together and reflecting on all their learning be it form formal education programmes, from work or from home. This would include both formal and informal learning.

According to Jay Cross, around 80 per cent of learning in work is informal. Yet much of the focus for work based learning is on courses, rather than practice. Apprenticeship systems usually combine learning in vocational schools with practice in the workplace but there are often problems in linking up theoretical school based learning with work based practice.

Researchers into organisational learning have focused on how workplaces can be designed to facilitate learning. Barry Nyhan (Nyhan et al, 2003) states “one of the keys to promoting learning organisations is to organise work in such a way that it is promotes human development. In other words it is about building workplace environments in which people are motivated to think for themselves so that through their everyday work experiences, they develop new competences and gain new understanding and insights.”

Yet without support for learning, organizational change may not be sufficient. Vygotsky (1978) has pointed to the importance of support from a More Knowledgable Other to support learning in a Zone of Proximal Development which which is the gap between the “actual developmental level” which a person can accomplish independently and the “potential developmental level” which person can accomplish when they are interacting with others who are more capable peers or adults.

The paper will report on work being undertaken through the EU IST programme to develop a Personal Learning & Maturing Environment (PLME), embedded into the working environment, enabling individuals to engage in maturing activities within the organisation and in wider communities of practice beyond organisational boundaries. The work centres on the design a ‘mini learning activities (Conole, 2008) utilising Technology Enhanced Learning to support learners in a Zone of Proximal Development. These activities will utilise multi media including infographics and Technology Enhanced Boundary Objects (Hoyles at al). Although the mediation of a MKO may be seen as being embodied within the technology, learners will also have access to support through an organisational people tagging service. The PLE applications will be available to learners both through desktop and mobile devices.

References

Barnes S.A., Bimrose J., Brown A., Hoyles C., de Hoyos M., Kent P., Magoulas G., Marris L., Noss R., Poulovassilis A. (undated) Workplace personalised learning environments for the development of employees’ technical communicative skills, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Conole G., Dyke M., Oliver M., Seale J (2004) Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design, Computers & Education, Volume 43, Issues 1-2, August-September 2004, Pages 17-33 21st Century Learning: Selected Contributions from the CAL 03 Conference

Nyhan, B. Cressey, P. Tomassini, M. Kelleher, M., Poell, R. (2003). Facing up to the learning organisation challenge. Vol. I. Thessaloniki, CEDEFOP

Vygotsky L.(1978) Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.

You’ve seen the Taccle Handbook – now here is the course

April 7th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Many of you have ordered copies of the Taccle handbook which should have been delivered to you by now. The handbook was produced as part of the Taccle project. TACCLE or Teachers’ Aids on Creating Content for Learning Environments, is a project funded by the EU under its Lifelong Learning Programme. Its aim is to help teachers to develop state of the art content for e-learning in general and for learning environments in particular. It tries to achieve this by training teachers to create e-learning materials and raising their awareness of e-learning in general.  According to the project application “TACCLE will help to establish a culture of innovation in the schools in which they work.”

What exactly does TACCLE do?

  • Train teachers to create content for electronic learning environments in the context of an e-learning course.
  • Enable teachers to identify and decide which ICT tools and content are most useful for particular purposes.
  • Teach teachers how to create learning objects taking into account information design, web standards, usability criteria and reusability (text, images, animations, audio, video). This will enable (inter)active and cooperative learning processes.
  • Enhance the quality of e-learning environments in education by training teachers how to use them effectively and by creating resources to help them do so.

The Taccle course

In October this year we are organising a one week course in Belgium. The tutors will be Graham Attwell and Jenny Hughes. The course will focus on the use of Web 2.0 and social software for learning. It will be learner centred and hands on, developing and building on participants existing and future practice in this area. Although teh day to day programme will be negotiated with participants the EU requires us to provide an outline programme in advance. This programme may provide you with some flavour of what the course is about 🙂

Sunday, 17 October 2010

  • Arrival, welcome, dinner

Monday, 18 October 2010

  • Introduction to programme and working methods
  • Design of personal and group workspace
  • Introduction and design of online working spaces
  • Online session with local schools—discussion on use of technology for learning in schools
  • Group work: establishing base line of competence in group
  • Group work: identification of group learning needs
  • Market place and skills swap shop—sharing skills and knowledge in using technology for learning

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

  • How to use social software in the classroom
  • Identification of issues, application or problems in participants’ own practice
  • Practical workshops to include Developing and using cartoons, Podcasting, Video and videocasting, Blogging, Microblogging, Web quests, Wikis and Digital Repositories
  • Guided tour in Oostende
  • Interactive online sessions with students from local schools to explore how they are using web 2.0 and social software in their own learning
  • Developing and maintaining Digital identities—input, exploration of issues plus group work session
  • Teaching online safety -Plenary session: identification of problems in participants practice + developing solutions of the problems identified
  • Preparation + exhibition of posters based on personal experience

Thursday, 21 October 2010

  • Parallel sessions: using mobile devices in education, using games in education
  • Using social software in practice

Friday, 22 October 2010

  • Presentation of real learning experience for local experience students using either blended learning or online
  • Change management, introducing new ideas
  • Open forum with school managers and advisors

Saturday, 23 October 2010

  • Day trip to Bruges
  • Course evaluation

Sunday, 24 October 2010

  • Departure

The course costs 1300 Euro (675 Euro for full board accomodation + 625 Euro for tuition and course materials). However for both participation fee and travel expenses to Belgium participants from Europe can request a grant from the Life Long Learnming programme National Agency in your country, which will cover all costs.
You can find the address of your national agency here. You can also find out more details about the course on the Socrates course database – address to follow shortly. The deadline for applications is 30 April.

Or you can get more information from Jens Vermeersch Tel.: +32 2 7909598 jens [dot] vermeersch [at] g-o [dot] be

Are technical schools such a bad idea?

April 6th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I am old enough to have done an 11 plus examination in the UK. This was an examination taken as the name implies at the age of 11 and which determined whether you would progress to a grammar school, which was academically focussed, or go on to a secondary modern school, with a curriculum aiming at technical skills. Whilst it was theoretically possible to switch schools this was rare. And, prior to the raising of the school leaving age many pupils attending secondary modern schools left school at the age of 14 or 15.
In the 1960s most UK education authorities moved to comprehensive schools, catering for all students between the ages of 11 and 18, although at the age of 16 there was the option of going to further education colleges which offered both general and vocational education. Successive increases in the school leaving age posed an issue of how to develop a relevant and appropriate curriculum for non academically oriented students. And whilst, in theory the comprehensive system offers equal opportunities for all students, in reality there is a heavy class bias in terms of formal achievement.
Furthermore the recent policy of increasing the percentage of the age cohort attending university – the target I think is 50 per cent – has increased the divide in prestige between academic and vocational courses.
In contrast, in Germany the majority of school students progress to a three year apprenticeship. It is very noticeable that whilst in the UK company boards tend to be dominated by directors with business or accounting qualifications in Germany companies are often headed by engineers. The German system is impressive in providing quality training for an occupational career. However, there remain issues. There is a big difference in the quality – and prestige – attached to apprenticeship in different companies and between different occupations. And, just like in the old UK 11 plus times, students are allocated to different school routes at an early age – 11 or 12 according to which Lander (region) they live in.
The UK has made a number of efforts to increase the prestige of vocational education, introducing new qualifications and attempting to revive apprenticeship training through the New Modern Apprenticeships. Now both the Labour and Tory parties have come up with the idea of bringing back vocational schools, a measure which has been condemned by the tecahing trade unions.
The Guardian newspaper reports teachers as warning that “The poorest pupils will be segregated from their wealthier peers under Labour and Tory plans for scores of 1950s-style vocational schools to train the next generation of plumbers and engineers…..
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) passed a motion today at its annual conference in Liverpool expressing “deep concern” that the most disadvantaged young people would be coerced into technical schools, triggering another class divide in the education system. Poor pupils and those who spoke little English or had special needs would be steered into such schools because they typically performed less well in exams and lowered state schools’ league table rankings.
Teachers said pupils would be given an “empty promise” that once trained in a trade they would be able to secure a job. They added that the schools would widen the divide between academic and vocational qualifications.”
I share the concern of the National Union of Teachers around early selection of school routes and that students from poorer families will be pushed into attending what might be seen as second class schools. But I fail to see what is wrong in providing a choice of technical education and different forms of learning. Furthermore the quote about the next generation of plumbers and engineers sounds patronising at best. In fact this displays the root of the problem – the low prestige attached to becoming a plumber or engineer rather than taking a course in business studies at university. The provision of high quality technical schools could do something to change this.

Informal learning and why the training model does not work

April 4th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Back to the mini series of informal learning.
First the background to all this. Training is taken increasingly seriously, at least in Europe. Although, I am not sure the causal link has ever been proved, it is generally accepted by economist and politicians that there is a link between the competences of the workforce and productivity and innovation.  Although some researchers have pointed to the continuing existence and even increase in low skilled jobs, for instance within the food and hospitality sector, there is a general assumption that changing production processes and particularly the integration of new technologies within production and in the economy more widely are leading to higher skills and knowledge requirements for work. This, in turn has two political implications: one the danger fo skills shortages especially in high technology sectors and secondly the risk of social exclusion for those with low levels of education and training.

In Europe there have been a number of policy initiatives to address this issue:

  • Some countries, such as the UK have attempted to radically increase the percentage of young people going to university
  • In other countries, such as Germany, there has been an attempt to modernise traditional training programmes such as apprenticeships
  • At a policy level there has been an emphasis placed on lifelong learning, although how this has been implemented at a strategic level is less clear. This has included attempts to increase the volume of training – especially continuing professional development – and the provision of more flexible training
  • There has been encouragement for the expansion of elearning as a means of both extending training provision and providing easier access to training
  • There have been measures ot increase the supply of training, for instance through subsidies and special programmes for the unemployed
  • There have been measures to increase demand for training through incentives
  • There have been measures to increase participation in training both through ‘coercion’ for those unemployed and a more general move to move responsibility for ’employability’ in terms of updating of skills and knowledge to the individual

All these measures have obviously taken a considerable investment, with the cost being shared between employers, individuals and the state. As to how effective they have been in another matter. Some work we did earlier this year, for a tender which we failed to get, revealed there is little reliable data at a macro level. Even that data which does exist, for instance the statistics on training collated by Eurostat should be regarded as highly dubious. Although Eurostat routinely collates statistics for training from different European countries, the definitions of training vary in the different countries. Hence the UK appears highly proactive and engaged and Germany to be a low training provider, despite all common sense evidence to the contrary.

At a micro economic level, we rely on Return on Investment Analyses, about which I am frankly dubious.

But my major point to make here is that we have invested in a particular model of education and learning, with little measure of its effectiveness. Of course we do have evaluation studies and learner assessment.

Evaluation can be formative or summative (or both although I think this is more problematic). Even where sohisticated it does not provide us with any measure of what could have been achieved if learning was undertaken in another way (apart from in rare comparative studies).

Assessment is increasable based on outcomes – on measuring what learners know or able to do at a particular point in a course or at the end of a course. And in setting course objectives or outcomes we are stipulating what we say people should be able to achieve. Now this is all very well as a course planning tool, but is it an effective tool for motivating and stimulating learning at an individual or organisational level?

Essentially present models of training needs analysis, based on a ‘standardised industrial paradigm’ and a schooling model seek to measure a deficit between what skills and knowledge industry needs and what skills and knowledge learners possess. We have various tools for doing this – most based on bringing experts together to work out the partner needs for identified occupational profiles. Once we have identified teh profiles we can design courses to match those profiles.

This process has a number of flaws – flaws which are becoming ever more apparent in a period of rapid technological change.

  • Occupational profiles tend to be based on present occupations – not future occupations
  • Training outcomes tend to be based on that which it is easy to assess (and thus ignore affective learning)
  • Training programmes tend to be based on what is easy to teach in a traditional way
  • We tend to ignore the previous experiences of learners
  • We tend to ignore the particular opportunities for learning which can be present in different contexts
  • Occupational profiles are inevitably generalised, missing the specific needs of particular workplaces
  • Processes are based on standardisation rather than standards
  • We fail to account for the ability of people to shape or change work processes through learning

But mots importantly the present training course driven, schooling paradigm, fails to recognise the intrinsic curiosity, creativity of human beings to learn from the environment around them. such learning does take place through informal learning. But it is largely discounted by our present systems.

Jay Cross says that be it formal, informal or in between, people learn best when they:

  • Know what’s in it for them and deem it relevant
  • Understand what is expected of them
  • Connect with other people
  • Are challenged to take choices
  • Feel safe about showing what they do not know
  • Receive information in small packets
  • Get frequent progress reports
  • Learn things close to the time they need them
  • Are encouraged by coaches or mentors
  • Learn from a variety of modalities (for example, discussion followed by a simulation)
  • Confront maybes instead of certainties
  • Teach others
  • Get positive reinforcement for small victories
  • Make and correct mistakes
  • Try, try and try again
  • Reflect on their learning and apply its lessons

The present training system provides little opportunity for learning  from mistakes. All to frequently learners are not challenged to take choices. Outcomes tend to prescribe a ‘correct way of doing things. Learners often have limited opportunities to practice what they learn. And although there is some evidence of a move towards coaching and mentoring, far too often approaches to training are overly didactic.

A study I undertook a few years ago on the use of Information and Communication Technology for learning in Small and Medium Enterprises found little evidence of formal e-learning (or indeed of any formal learning programmes. But in the 106 case studies we undertook in six different European countries we found teh widespread use of business and social software for informal learning though everyday work activities. Such activities ranged from emailing a friend of colleague to participating in on-line communities. such activities we found, were:

a)    Purposeful
b)    Heavily influenced by context
c)    Often resulted in changes in behaviour
d)    Were sequenced in terms of developing a personal knowledge base
e)    Problem driven or driven by personal interest
f)    Social – in that they often involved recourse to shared community knowledge bases through the internet and / or shared with others in the workplaces.

In the enterprises we studied the greatest incidence of ICT based learning tended to take place in enterprises:
Where employees had greatest freedom in the organisation of their work

  • Where employees had the greatest opportunities for proposing and implementing changes in the way work was organised
  • Where the nature and technologies being used were changing fastest
  • Where ICT was most involved in the work process
  • Where employees had most responsibility for the outcomes of their work
  • Where team work was most important
  • Where employees were integrated in communities of practice
  • Where employees had opportunities to develop their own occupational profiles
  • With networks with other enterprises
  • Where ICT was used for Business to Business (B2B) processes
  • Which were involved in e-commerce

All this suggests to me there is an alternative to our present policies focused on formal training. It is possible to develop strategies for encouraging and facilitating informal learning in the workplace and in the wider community. In other words we can move beyond an era in which education and training has been overly associated with and prescribed by a schooling system This would of course, require a redirection of resources. Moreover it would require a new focus on learning opportunities, rather than deficit training needs analyses. And of course, it would require re-examining how we support teaching and learning, at realigning pedagogical models. Yet I also think the pieces of the jigsaw are there. They merely need to be put together.

In the next in this series I will re-examine the work we undertook though the European TTplus project on professional development for trainers and look at how the Framework we developed in that project could be more generalised to support wider approaches to learning.

References

Attwell  G.(ed) 2007, Searching, Lurking and the Zone of Proximal Development, e-learning in Small and Medium enterprises in Europe, Vienna, Navreme

Croos J (2006)  Informal Learning: rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance, Jossey Bass

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    News Bites

    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information


    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.


    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time


    Postgrad pressure

    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”


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