Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Technology WILL NOT save education

August 31st, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Another article reporting from the European Conference on Educational Research held in Helsinki last week.

Most of my time at the conference was spent working on our Amplified project, using multi media and social software to turn the conference outwards and improve the experience for face to face delegates. More reports on this work later in the week.

But I did get to go to two sessions. The first was a symposium entitled ‘Technology WILL NOT save education – views on teaching learning and researching in the Digital Age’ .

Here is the abstract:

Deeply immersed in the Society of Knowledge great efforts, including the use of educational technology have been carried out in order to improve education. Changes in the cultural contexts where education takes place have posed new questions both in educational practice and research. Very often changes in educational practices are subject to factors within the context where they are  pursued and it is probable that the results vary depending on different cultural factors.  Within the field of Educational Technology it becomes essential to manage cultural change in order to make technology happen.

Educational institutions have to provide answers to all agents involved in the educational field: a change of methodology is needed and, in many instances, this will depend upon cultural factors. Thus, cultural contexts have to be taken into consideration in their policies and activities.  Cultural change does not come with technology but with the transformation of educational practices and the revision of  traditional  methodologies. The role of educators is key the same as the position of educational institutions which have to provide the means to facilitate cultural change.

The emergent social networks and Web 2.0 applications have given way to a great variety of educational possibilities which may help consider students, not under traditional categories of race, class and gender but instead taking into account local and global contexts and diversity. Web 2.0 applications are powerful socialization and communication tools that support the process of construction of knowledge and can have an incredible educational potential for instruction.

This symposium seeks to provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of research in different fields which provides an outlook from different points of view of teaching, learning and researching in the Digital Age. Its departing point is the assumption that technology will NOT save Education unless cultural change takes place.

The different papers  in this simposium try to account from different viewpoints for aspects which aim at improving education. Thus,  the first paper discusses the need of  networking culture in different disciplines regarding approaches and practices of researchers which have made use of web technologies.   The importante of networking is also revised as a catalyst of social and educational change. The second paper deals with the construction of a new model of curriculum more in relation to new learning needs and approaches  and the eminent role that educators play on it, especially considering their adaptation to change and their practices within teaching and learning processes. The third  paper deals with the use of Personal learning Environments as systems that help learners be in control of their own learning process by setting goals sharing ideas and  managing learning content in both individual and group basis. The last of the papers faces the educational potentialities of Web 2.0 applications as powerful socialization and communication tools that can support processes of knowledge construction and can have an incredible educational potential for Foreign Language instruction.

I chaired the symposium, with my good friends Linda Casteneda, Ricardo Torres and Maria Perifanou presenting and Mar Camacho acting as discussant.

We spent a lot of time thinking about the format, not wishing to do the usual 3 25 minutes presnetations with a short time for questions and discussion. Instead we reverted the usual order, with Mar opening by presenting a brief overview of the ideas behind the symposium and then inviting delegates to provide a brief opinion about our approach.

We then had three ten minute presentations from Linda, Ricardo and Maria. Linda presented research she had undertaken at the University of Murcia in Spain. Basically, despite efforts to introduce technology into the curriculum for student teachers at the university, she concluded little had changed in terms of teaching and learning practice. Her conclusion was that technology on its own will not change anything. To make effective use of new technologies requires fundamental curriculum reform and the development and adoption of new pedagogies for teaching and learning. Ricardo and Maria both reflected on instances of effective practice, drawn from their own work. Ricardo looked at the development of Personal Learning Environments in a programme he teaches in Barcelona. And Maria reported on the development and use of webquests for teaching Italien in Thessaloniki. It had been our intention to group the different issues raised by delegates and speakers and use them to break into smaller discussion groups. However in the end the range of issues and the different levels of experience of participants led us to move towards a single group discussion.

The discussion was successful in terms of the active involvement of nearly all the participants. However it tended to be unfocused. A series of different issues were raised. One prevalent concern was that the rigidity of assessment regimes prevented innovation in pedagogic approaches. Another was the resistance of school and institutional management to change. A third was the attitudes of students, who while expecting the use of technology in teaching and learning, were still reluctant to take control of their own learning processes in the way required for effective use of new pedagogic approaches.

Other issues included digital literacies and teachers dispositions towards using technology for teaching. Whilst they were happy to use it for preparing lessons, for presentations and for administrations, they were less comfortable to use it for teaching and learning in practice.

One interesting issue was who should “set the agenda” for change. One participant was concerned that the way technology was being introduced in education was taking away ‘agency’ from teachers in the classroom.

It was a enjoyable session. But whilst most seemed open to and supportive of our hypothesis, there was little consensus on a way forward.

Third and final radio programme from ECER 2010

August 29th, 2010 by Dirk Stieglitz

Very busy last day on the ECER 2010 Conference in Helsinki on Friday and travelling on Saturday made it a bit difficulty to upload the podcast version of the last of our radio programmes. Further details will follow.

ECER 2010 Conference LIVE Radio Day 2

August 26th, 2010 by Dirk Stieglitz

Here is the podcast of our todays Sounds of the Bazaar LIVE internet radio show from the ECER 2010 conference in Helsinki. More details will follow soon.

Amplifying #ECER2010 – a progress report

August 26th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

The Pontydsygu team is hard at work in Helsinki working on multimedia at the European Conference on Educational Research. The idea is three fold – firstly to start a process of turning the conference, which attracts over 200 delegates every year, outwards to those unable to attend face to face. Secondly we aim to enhance the conference experience through the use of social software and multimedia and thirdly to produce a rich record of ideas and discourses surrounding the conference.

ECER is a traditional research conference, organised through a series of different disciplinary and topic networks. It will take more than a year to change such a culture but we have made a modest beginning.

We now have a shared flickr group and a Twitter account. Both of those are integrated into the ECER web site. Compared to an educational technology conference, the us eof Twitter is limited but some delegates are beginning to ‘get the point’ and are using the conference #ECER2010 hash tag.

We are producing twelve videos based on interviews with the link conveners who coordinate different networks. Video is a new medium for many of these researchers, used to expressing tehir ideas through research papers, books and symposia. But I am happy with the interveiws we have undertaken so far and think hey will add a new dimension to explaining and sharing ideas.

I have mixed feelings about the video streaming. At a technical level we have learnt a lot. One of the things we wanted to do was provide high quality video. This is very different from the adhoc streaming from a webcam to ustream or Justin.tv. For one thing we felt that the advertising on these channels would be unacceptable to many of our potential audience. And the quality is simply not good enough. After a lot of investigations, we bought in streaming services from a Canadian company, Netromedia. Netromedia is not a portal, but instead provide a feed which can be embedded within a web site. And we have embedded Flash viewers in the ECER conference web site. We agreed to stream the keynotes from the conference. We patched the stream from the audio system in the rooms the keynotes were held, and mixed that with our video feed. The quality was on the whole extremely good. I am less convinced with the content. that is not to detract from the scholarly content of the keynote speeches themselves. I am just not sure that a 45 minute academic keynote is the best content for streaming from a  conference. Better may be to focus on more interactive sessions, in which we can involve remote participants. More reflections on this in a future blog.

But now for the next interview…

ECER 2010 Conference LIVE Radio Day 1

August 25th, 2010 by Dirk Stieglitz

We had today the first of our three live internet radio shows from the ECER 2010 Conference in Helsinki, FInland. Here is the podcast version of this 30 minute programmes.

#ECER2010 Amplified – the build up

August 23rd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Some four or so weeks ago I wrote about the work Pontydysgu are doing with the European Educational Research Association, EERA, around their annual conference, The European Conference on Educational Research (ECER). The conference starts this Wednesday in Helsinki and will involve hundreds of sessions with some 2000 delegates organised through 26 different networks.

ECER has an extensive web site but has until now not ventured into the Web 2.0 field. We are supporting them with the use of social software and video to enhance the conference experience for delegates, to promote knowledge sharing between delegates from different research areas in education, to produce a multimedia record of the conference and to help those unable to attend in person to participate in at least some of the conference events.

We have already agreed and publicised a conference hash tag – #ECER2010. We have set up a twitter account – ECER_EERA and have slowly gathered 42 followers. We have a Flickr group. We have installed plug-ins to the ECER web site which is run on the Open Source Typo3 Content management system to integrate the flickr and twitter streams.

And now it is time for the live conference. We are planning three main activities this week.

Video streaming

We are streaming the opening ceremony and the four keynote sessions. Because the keynotes are being held in parallel sessions, we have set up two different streaming channels. You can access the video channels here.

Channel 1

Wednesday 25 August

08:30 – 09:00 (Finnish time) 07:30 – 10:30 (CET) – Opening Ceremony

17:45 – 18:45 (Finnish time) 18:45 – 19:45 (CET) Keynote 1 – Floya Anthias Floya Anthias is Professor of Sociology and Social Justice at Roehampton University, London.

Friday 27 August

13:30 – 14:30 (Finnish time) 14:30 – 15:30 (CET) – Keynote 2 – Lisbeth Lundahl Professor at the Department of Child and Youth Education, Special Education and Counselling, Teacher Education Faculty at Umeå.

Channel 2

Wednesday 25 August

17:45 – 18:45 (Finnish time) 18:45 – 19:45 (CET) Keynote 2 – Marie Verhoeven Marie Verhoeven is Professor at the Université catholique de Louvain. At ECER 2010, she will analyse how cultural domination through schooling process has to be rethought, in a context which combines cultural and normative pluralism, globalized international policies and normative discourses, and “post-massification” equality of opportunity policies (often articulated with educational “quasi-market” mechanisms).

Friday 27 August

13:30 – 14:30 (Finnish time) 14:30 – 15:30 (CET) – Keynote 4 – Fazal Rizvi Fazal Riszvi will discuss issues of diversity in education, and how the various transnational processes require them to be conceptualized in radically new ways The title of his lecture is “Re-thinking Issues of Diversity within the Context of an Emergent Transnationalism”.

Conference Internet radio

We will be producing three LIVE internet radio broadcasts from our radio station, Sounds of the Bazaar.. The shows will be broadcast from 1200 – 1230 Central European Time on Wednesday 25 August and Thursday 26 August and from 1100 – 1130 Central European Time on Friday 27 August (Don’t forget, if you are listening from the UK it is one hour earlier). You can access the shows by pointing to http://radio.jiscemerge.org.uk:80/Emerge.m3u in your browser. This will open the LIVE radio stream in your MP3 player of choice.

Videos and iTunes U

We will be making some thirteen videos at the conference – twelve interviewing conveners from the different networks and the thirteenth a mash up of vox pops from delegates. And we are setting up an iTunes U site to access all the different outputs.

It is going to be a busy week. We hope you will be able to join us for at least part of the fun.

Teachers Dispositions

August 20th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

One of the most cited reasons for the limited success in introducing new pedagogies for the use of technology for teaching and learning – and indeed for the lack of technology use on education – is resistance by teachers. Various reasons are cited for this – most often it is their own lack of ability and confidence is using technology. however, much of the evidence for this appears to be anecdotal In the last few years there has been more systematic research under the banner of ‘teacher dispositions’.
In her study, In-service Initial Teacher Education in the Learning and Skills Sector in England: Integrating Course and Workplace Learning (2010) Bronwen Maxwell says “dispositions, which ‘develop and evolve through the experiences and interactions within the learner’s life course’ (Hodkinson and Hodkinson 2003), are influential in teacher learning (Hodkinson and Hodkinson 2005). They are largely held unconsciously and ‘are embodied, involving emotions and practice, as well as thoughts’. : She points out that teachers in the sector have different “prior experiences of education, life and work, begin teaching at different ages and stages in their careers, and hold differing beliefs about education and training, so bring differing dispositions to participation in their course and workplace.”
Maxwell (ibid) point to a well established research base evidencing the significance of prior knowledge, skills and dispositions towards work and career on engagement in workplace learning including for example Eraut (2007) and Hodkinson (2004) and a strong evidence base that “attests to the strength and resilience of school trainees’ beliefs, which together with prior experiences strongly influences their approaches to practice and their ITE course (Wideen et al. 1998).”
Haydon, (2008) why with the same ‘input’ in Initial Teacher Education courses, do some students make much more progress than others in their use of ICT? “Is it about teacher dispositions towards technology or learning styles and approaches?”
Haydyn suggests there is evidence of changing attitudes by teachers to the use of ICT in the UK Citing surveys that several years ago suggested negative attitudes and teacher resistance to ICT he says “more recently, research has suggested that the majority of teachers have positive views about the potential of ICT to improve teaching and learning outcomes; one of their main concerns was finding time to fully explore this potential (See, for instance, Haydn and Barton, 2006). (Haydon, 2008).”
One of the issues is why teachers appear to use for their personal use but less so for teaching and learning (OECD, 2009). This is born out by UK reports that teacher use ICT widely for lesson planning but far less so for teaching and learning (Twidle, Sorensen, Childs, Godwin, & Dussart, 2006).
The OECD (2009) report similar findings with new teachers in America, confident with the technology and using it for lesson preparation but less for teaching and learning than more experienced colleagues.
Twidle, Sorensen, Childs, Godwin, and Dussart (2008) found that student teachers in the UK feel relatively unprepared to use ICT for pedagogical practices and ascribe this to their lack of operational skills with computers.  One of the reasons for this was the students‘ lack of
But this is contradicted by Bétrancourt (2007) who claims that there is no correlation between student teachers‘ technological competencies and their pedagogical use of ICT. (OECD, 2010)
Vogel (2010) talks about the need for :engagement “conceived as motivation – enthusiasm, interest and ongoing commitment – on the part of an academic teacher to explore the potential of technologies in their practice.”
Vogel quotes Land (2001) who summarised these kinds of person-oriented approach as:

  • romantic (ecological humanist): concerned with personal development, growth and well-being of individual academics within the organisation
  • interpretive-hermeneutic: working towards new shared insights and practice through a dialectic approach of intelligent conversation
  • reflective practitioner: fostering a culture of self- or mutually critical reflection on the part of colleagues in order to achieve continuous improvement

Vogel says “good practice in e-learning is context-specific and impossible to define.” She is concerned that professional development practices have been driven by institutional and technological concerns. Instead she would prefer Argyis and Schon’s (1974) approach to overcoming the divide between espoused theories or beliefs and theories in use or practice:
“Educating students under the conditions that we are suggesting requires competent teachers at the forefront of their field – teachers who are secure enough to recognize and not be threatened by the lack of consensus about competent practice.”
Vogel refers to Browne (2008) who undertook a survey of technology enhanced elearning in Higher Education in the UK. They found that where there was “less extensive use of technology-enhanced learning tools than [the] institutional norm”, this was often because of the perceived irrelevance of TEL to the learning and teaching approach.
Interestingly, where there was more extensive use than the norm, this was primarily attributed to the presence of a champion, who could represent the value of TEL to colleagues..
One of the issues related to teachers disposition appears to be that of time. As long ago as 1998,  Conole and Oliver (1998) said that the demands of technology enhanced learning on time had already been recognised for many years.
Another issue may be the way in which technology is introduced into schools and colleges. Often this is through projects. However the Jisc funded Flourish project suggested that a ‘project’ is not necessarily the best method for introducing a change on this scale. “Staff perceptions of a project mean that they are cautious and unwilling to be the test case, especially when they are taking time to document their own development. There have to be tangible and immediate benefits to engaging in this new way of working.”

References to Follow

Introducing e-learning – getting started

August 17th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

The introduction of technology Enhanced Learning into institutions or the workplace implies change. This can be difficult to manage. senior and middle managers complain of resistance by staff to change. Many teachers I talk to would like to use more technology for tecahing and learning, but are frustrated by what they see as organisational inertia or the lack of management backing for change.

My colleague Jenny Hughes, has recently written a chapter called ‘Introducing e-Learning – getting started’ to be published in a forthcoming e-book series. The chapter looks at practical steps to introducing e-learning from the position of a senior manager, a junior manager and classroom teacher. As ever we would be grateful for your feedback on this first draft. Does it make sense to you?.

Introducing e-learning – getting started

If you want to introduce e-learning methods into your organisation the way you go about it will be largely determined by the position you hold. We have considered how you may approach it firstly as a senior manager (e.g Head of HRD or a VET school principal) then as a middle manager (e.g a training officer or section leader) and finally as a classroom teacher or trainer.

Senior manager

Before you even consider introducing e-learning, ask yourself why you are doing it – what problem are you trying to solve with it and what do you want to achieve?  Just as important, how will you know that it has been achieved? What are your targets? Over what time period?  Change needs to be measurable.  ‘Introducing e-learning’ is just not specific enough! Do you want to install a complete learning management system including computerized student / trainee tracking, a repository of materials and course content or would you be happy if a handful of creative teachers or trainers got together and started experimenting with social software tools?

  • Consult early and consult often – if you force change on people, problems normally arise.  You need to ask yourself which groups of people will be affected by your planned changes and involve them as early as possible. Check that these people agree with it, or at least understand the need for change and have a chance to decide how the change will be managed and to be involved in the planning and implementation. Use face-to-face communications wherever possible.
  • Try to see the picture from the perspective of each group and ask yourself how they are likely to react. For example, older staff may feel threatened and have no interest in adopting new technologies.  The staff who teach IT often consider that e-learning is really under their remit and resent the involvement of other staff in their ‘territory’.   Another very sensitive group will be your IT technicians. They can make or break your plans by claiming they ‘cannot support’ this or that and raising all sorts of security issues and other obstacles.
  • Although you may be enthusiastic about e-learning try not to be too zealous – this is not sustainable in the long term. The idea is to convey your enthusiasm and stimulate theirs rather than hard selling e-learning. If you do, people will nod their acceptance then completely disregard it thinking this is yet another of those initiatives that will go away in time. Change is usually unsettling, so the manager, logically, needs to be a settling influence not someone who wants to fire people up with his own passion thinking this will motivate them.
  • Think carefully about the time frame. If you think that you need to introduce e-learning quickly, probe the reasons – is the urgency real? Will the effects of agreeing a more sensible time-frame really be more disastrous than presiding over a disastrous change? Quick change prevents proper consultation and involvement, which leads to difficulties that take time to resolve.
  • Think about the scale. Are you going for a top down approach which may be standard across the institution and include a Learning Management System and a Learning Content Management System? Or are you going to stimulate small scale explorations in the classroom with a few interested teachers and try to grow e-learning organically?
  • Avoid expressions like ‘mindset change’, and ‘changing people’s mindsets’ or ‘changing attitudes’, because this language often indicates a tendency towards imposed or enforced change and it implies strongly that the organization believes that its people currently have the ‘wrong’ mindset.
  • Workshops, rather than mass presentations, are very useful processes to develop collective understanding, approaches, policies, methods, systems, ideas, etc.
  • Staff surveys are a helpful way to repair damage and mistrust among staff – provided you allow people to complete them anonymously, and provided you publish and act on the findings.
  • You cannot easily impose change – people and teams need to be empowered to find their own solutions and responses, with facilitation and support from managers. Management and leadership style and behaviour are more important than policy and sophisticated implementation  processes and. Employees need to be able to trust the organization.
  • Lead by example – set up a Facebook group as part of the consultation process, use a page on the organization website to keep people up to date with planned changes, use different media to communicate with staff, make a podcast of your key messages and publish it on YouTube

John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School has designed the following eight step model, which we think is really useful so we have included it in full.

  • Increase urgency – inspire people to move, make objectives real and relevant.
  • Build the guiding team – get the right people in place with the right emotional commitment, and the right mix of skills and levels.
  • Get the vision right – get the team to establish a simple vision and strategy, focus on emotional and creative aspects necessary to drive service and efficiency.
  • Communicate for buy-in – Involve as many people as possible, communicate the essentials, simply, and to appeal and respond to people’s needs. De-clutter communications – make technology work for you rather than against.
  • Empower action – Remove obstacles, enable constructive feedback and lots of support from leaders – reward and recognise progress and achievements.
  • Create short-term wins – Set aims that are easy to achieve – in bite-size chunks. Manageable numbers of initiatives. Finish current stages before starting new ones.
  • Don’t let up – Foster and encourage determination and persistence – ongoing change – encourage ongoing progress reporting – highlight achieved and future milestones.
  • Make change stick – Reinforce the value of successful change via recruitment, promotion, new change leaders. Weave change into culture.

Middle managers

As a middle manager, in some ways you are in the most difficult position if you want to introduce e-learning methods in your classrooms or workplace as you have to convince both those above you and below you. Convincing senior managers is usually fairly easy to start with if you present them with some concrete benefits of using e-learning in a specific context and tell them that in the first instance it will not cost anything. For example, telling management that you are going to get your first year building apprentices to set up a wiki around new materials or record their work experience on a blog and that there are no cost implications is very unthreatening whereas announcing that you are going to introduce e-learning across your department is going to raise all sorts of concerns.

The important thing is that once you have done something, share the success stories with your senior managers – get them to listen to the podcast your apprentices made or invite then to join your engineering students’ Facebook group.  This reassures them they made the right decision in allowing you to get on with it and actively engages them in the process. It is then much easier asking for extra money for a vid cam to improve on the audio podcasting than it would have been without any concrete outcomes.

A lot depends on how familiar your senior managers are with e-learning technologies and pedagogies and whether they are promoting it, indifferent or actively against the ideas.

If they are lacking in knowledge, one of your jobs is to educate them and the best way of doing this is to do some small scale stuff (such as the things suggested above) and show them the results. Make a clear, simple but well produced slide presentation explaining what you want to do and the benefits it will bring. Don’t send it to them as an email attachment – upload it to Slideshare and send them the link. In this way you are ‘training’ your managers in the use of e-learning –  don’t miss an opportunity!

If you do need extra resources, set out a clear proposal showing what is capital cost (such as hardware) and what is recurring revenue cost (such as broadband connection). Make sure you cost in EVERYTHING (see list above) – there is nothing designed to infuriate senior management as much as a proposal that is deliberately under-costed to increase its chances of approval then to find out after implementation has started there are extra costs which, if not met, waste the rest of the investment. Of course, this is true of any proposal but investment in e-learning seems particularly prone to escalating and ‘hidden’ costs.

When it comes to dealing with the people below you, the same rules apply as those set out for senior managers. To these we would add one or two specific ideas.

  • Begin with a grass roots approach
  • Start where you have most chance of success. – Find out who in your section or department is interested in e-learning or is confident about using ICT. Encourage and ‘grow’ these people and make sure you reward them in some way. (This could be a few hours non-contact time to develop some e-learning materials or chance to go to a training course, conference or visit. )
  • Talk about the successes at staff meetings.  Most people will see e-learning as yet more work for which there is no payback – you have to motivate them in some way.
  • Find a vocal group of beta testers
  • Don’t set strict rules – encourage exploration and experiment
  • Create opportunities for staff to look at e-learning being used effectively. This could be visits to other VET schools or training centres, (real or on-line), YouTube videos or practical training sessions – the best are those where they leave with e-learning ideas or materials or other products that they can use immediately in their classroom or work place.
  • Encourage staff to join in on-line forums or open meetings about e-learning. If they are not confident to start with, it is perfectly OK to ‘lurk’ in the background occasionally. www.pontydysgu.org is a good site for finding out about on-line events for trainers
  • Hold informal training sessions and encourage the use of microblogging as a back channel during training
  • Constantly monitor feedback and make changes as needed
  • Communicate the stories behind e-learning e.g How did social software start? What made Twitter happen? Will Facebook survive?

Teachers / trainers

If you are an individual teacher or trainer it can be very daunting trying to introduce e-learning into your teaching if you are working in an organisation where there is no experience or culture of e-learning. You cannot change this easily from your position. The best way of influencing things is to just try something out in your own classroom. You are definitely better starting off with some simple web 2.0 based activities as these have no cost implications. Choose this activity carefully – think of any objections that could be raised, however ridiculous. For example –

A Facebook group? – Facebook is banned or even firewalled because staff and trainees waste too much time on it.

A skype video interview between a group of apprentices and a skilled craftsman? – IT support section will not let you access Skype, (which uses a different port, which they will have closed and will not open for ‘security reasons’)

Sharing bookmarks using del.icio.us ? – the students will use it to share porn sites.

An audio podcast may be a good start if you have enough computers with built in mics and speakers or access to a mic and a recording device like an i-pod. Setting up a group wiki around a particular theme is also difficult to object to. Another possibility is to get trainees blogging (For detailed instructions on how to do all this, look at the Taccle handbook)

If you are lucky, you may find that your managers are just glad that someone is interested and give you the freedom to operate. There are very few who will actively prevent you as long as it does not cost them time or money, although you may find that some other staff have a negative attitude.

From this base you can gradually build up a small informal group of like-minded teachers to share ideas or swap materials.  A group of teachers will also have more influence. Make sure any positive outcomes are disseminated, preferably show casing trainees’ work.

One good way of doing this is to print out a list of guest log-ins and passwords to anything you are working on (e.g a wiki) or the url to web pages where your trainees are publishing work. Add a brief explanation and stick it on the wall as well as routinely sending it by email to other staff in your section ‘for information’. This has the double benefit of keeping what you are doing transparent and also makes some people curious enough to click on the hyperlink.

Invite other teachers along to your classroom when you know you will be using e-learning or invite them to drop in to your group meetings.

You will also need to introduce the idea of e-learning to your trainees.  Although many of the younger students will need no convincing, it can be difficult with older workers who may have a very fixed idea of what constitutes ‘training’ or ‘learning’.  Make sure that the first time you introduce a new application to a group that you allow enough time to explain how the technology works and time for them to familiarize themselves with it using a ‘test’ example before you start. For example…”let’s all try setting up a wiki about things to do with Christmas  / the World Cup / the best pubs in …” before you get onto the serious stuff.

Digital literacies and new pedagogies for learning with technology

August 13th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

This post continues this weeks mini series on new pedagogies for tecahing and learning. This is based on work I am doing for a literature review.

I have been particularly interested in some of the work on digital literacies. The notion of digital literacies has been around for some time, but, at least in an Anglo Saxon context, has tended to be dominated by narrow skill set definitions. Such thinking has not gone away – Learn Direct offer a entry level Digital Literacy certificate based on

  • Computer Basics
  • The Internet and World Wide Web
  • Productivity Programmes
  • Computer Security and Privacy
  • Digital Lifestyles

And Microsoft’s First Course Toward Digital Literacy claims to  teach absolute beginners to computing about what a valuable tool computers can be in society today, and the basics of using the mouse and the keyboard. The interactive, hands-on lessons will help novices feel comfortable manipulating the mouse and typing on the keyboard (is this what Bill Gates is referring to when he says the Internet will displace the traditional University in 5 years).

But at the same time there has been some more advanced thinking on the meaning of digital literacy, based in part on new understandings of the mulitmodality affordances of Web 2.0 and in part on research into the way young people are using the web.  There is growing evidence that young people have difficulties in interpreting and making judgements and meanings about online materials, be they text, hypertext or multi media. A third influence on this wok is the expanded idea of the importance of design as a means of communication in the wider social environment of Web 2.0.

The wider understandings of Digital Literacies is leading in terms to a move away from narrowly defined skills training towards an exploration of pedagogies in teaching and learning using technologies. I am particularly interested in a pedagogic model developed by the New London Group as long ago as 2000 and represented in the UK Teaching and Learning Programme’s recent publication entitled Digital Literacies (although sometimes a little dense this is well worth reading). The New London Group put forward four components of pedagogy:

  • Situated Practice, which draws on the experience of meaning-making in everyday life, the public realm and workplaces;
  • Overt Instruction, through which students develop an explicit metalanguage of design;
  • Critical Framing, which interprets the social context and purpose of Designs of meaning; and
  • Transformed Practice, in which students, as meaning -makers, become designers of social futures.

(Cope and Kalantzis, 2000, p. 7)

What is missing from this model is a social dimension around collaboration. But the model is strong in  its focus on the new social realities engendered by technologies. It is the need to be able to understand and critique those social realities which should inform the development of new pedagogies.

Training teachers in effective pedagogic practices of use of technologies for learning

August 10th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I am doing a literature review at the moment focused primarily on pedagogic processes for using technology for learning in vocational education and training and in adult education. In particular I am interested in how we can provide both initial training and continuing professional development for teachers and trainers in teaching and learning with technology. I think such a study is apposite – whilst previously teachers have been often seen as a barrier to the introduction of Technology Enhanced Learning because of their perceived lack of skills in using such technologies, we are now coming to realise that the need for new pedagogic approaches is perhaps the biggest challenge, especially since most new teachers are confident in their own use of computers.

Here are some of the issues I am looking at:

  • Teacher training and continuing professional development
  • eLearning and pedagogic approaches to the use of technology for learning
  • The development and use of social software and web 2.0 technologies and its impact on education and learning
  • Future technologies and trends and their possible impact within education

Specific issues to be examined may include (but will not be limited to):

  • Pedagogic theories of use of technologies for learning and implications
  • Effective Pedagogic practices of use of technologies for learning and implications
  • Effective Practices in different sectors / subject areas
  • Use of technology for initial training of teachers and CPD
  • Impact of technologies on pedagogy in practice
  • Digital literacies and digital identities for teachers
  • Present qualifications for teachers and approaches to pedagogy and use of technology for learning
  • Effective practices in initial teacher training and CPD in use of technology for learning
  • e-Assessment and evaluation

I would be very grateful for any references, reports or other materials you think I should include in such a review. I would be particularly grateful for references to studies or reports on the training of teachers in other countries than the UK. All help will be gratefully acknowledged and in due course I will publish the results of the review on the Pontydysgu web site.

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    News Bites

    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%)
    Creating Games (43%)
    Virtual reality (38%)
    Coding computer languages (34%)
    Artificial intelligence (28%)


    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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