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From Current to Emerging Technologies for Learning – issues for the training of teachers

October 31st, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Here is the second part as promised of my post “From Current to Emerging Technologies for Learning”. In this part I raise the issues for the training of teachers.

Moving from a technical to a socio-technical approach

Although research has often focused on the impact of new technologies per se on teaching and learning it may be that it is the socio technical developments that will have more impact on education in the longer term. In a more diverse landscape of learning opportunities, there are different options for how to develop curricula and institutional arrangements. However, this implies a need for all members of the education community to develop understandings of the potential of such socio technical change and increased creativity to explore such potential. How should initial teacher training and Continuing Professional Development be designed to develop such understandings and practice? How can we design programmes that allow a focus on innovation in process, rather than a reliance of prescribed outcomes?

Overcoming the initiative fatigue

Education has been subject to a long series of reforms over the past ten years, with new initiatives and targets being released on a regular basis. Teacher complain of ‘initiative fatigue’.How can we respond creatively to socio-technical change and promote novel approaches to curriculum, to assessment, to the workforce and governance, as well as to pedagogy whilst promoting confidence and security in the LLL workforce? What does this imply for institutional management? Is it possible to we bring together Continuing Professional Development with continuing development of curricula and pedagogic processes?

Valuing and promoting creativity

Creativity and and the willingness to explore, model and experiment with new pedagogic approaches may be seen as critical to developing the effective use of technologies for teaching  and learning. How can we foster such competences within ITT and CPD? Do we need more flexible Initial teacher training programmes to allow the development of such creativity? How can we measure, value and recognise creativity? Do present teacher training programmes allow sufficient spaces for exploring new pedagogic approaches and if not how could these be developed?

Promoting an informed debate about educational futures and involving trainee teachers in that debate

The development of new pedagogic approaches and more creativity is predicated on an informed debate of educational futures and educational values. Do present teacher training programmes support such an informed debate? What should the contribution of teacher trainers and student teachers be to such a debate? How can we ensure their voices are heard?

From Current to Emerging Technologies for Learning

October 29th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

This is the first of a two part blog looking at future and emergent technologies and their implications for learning and teaching and the training of teachers. In this part we look at emergent technologies, in the second we will examine a number of key issues arising from these trends.

Technologies are rapidly evolving and although there is evidence to suggest education lags behind in its adoption of new technologies for teaching and learning  emerging technologies will inevitably impact on education.

This raises a whole series of issues, including how we can train teachers for the emerging technologies they will use in the future rather than those technologies presently in common use. Furthermore, as new technologies are implemented in work processes, this will change curricula demands. We have already commented on changing ideas of digital literacy and the possible impact on pedagogy and student expectations.

The emergence of new technologies cannot be separated from wider issues impacting on education and training. The present economic crisis is leading to new demands in terms of education and at the same time is likely to lead to financial restrictions for institutions.

Emergent technologies also have implications for future infrastructure requirements and may be expected to impact on institutional organisation.

Rather than focus on technology alone, it is more useful to examine the possible social effects of technologies – the socio-technical trends.

Given the fast changing evolution of technologies there is difficulty in predicting future trends and developments within the education sector. This is exacerbated by an increasing tendency to appropriate technologies developed for other purposes for teaching and learning, rather than develop bespoke educational technology. There are many possible future trends and in the literature review accompanying this study we provide an extensive overview. Here we mention but a few.

Each year since 2003, the New Media Consortium, in conjunction with the Educause Learning Initiative, has published an annual report 2002 identifying and describing emerging technologies “likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry on college and university campuses within the next five years.”

In the 2010 report (Johnson, Levine, Smith, and Stone, 2010) they identify four trends as key drivers of technology adoptions for the period 2010 to 2015:

  • The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense-making, coaching, and credentialing.
  • People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.
  • The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based, and our notions of IT support are decentralized.
  • The work of students is increasingly seen as collaborative by nature, and there is more cross campus collaboration between departments.

As well as trends they also report on key challenges:

  • The role of the academy — and the way we prepare students for their future lives — is changing.
  • New scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching continue to emerge but appropriate metrics for evaluating them increasingly and far too often lag behind.
  • Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.
  • Institutions increasingly focus more narrowly on key goals, as a result of shrinking budgets in the present economic climate.

They look at three adoption horizons for new technologies in education “that indicate likely time frames for their entrance into mainstream use for teaching, learning, or creative inquiry.”

On their near term for the next twelve months are are mobile computing and open content.

They predict that in the next two to three years out, we will begin to see widespread adoptions of electronic books and simple augmented reality.

In the longer term future, set at four to five years away for widespread adoption are gesture-based computing and visual data analysis.

Steve Wheeler (2010) says we are moving from Web 1 where the web connects information web 1 to social software connecting people with Web 2 and to the semantic web connecting knowledge with Web 3. He predicts the metaweb will connect intelligence in what he names as ‘Web x’.

The technologies which will enable this include

  • distributed cloud computing
  • extended smart mobile technology
  • collaborative, intelligent filtering
  • 3D visualisation and interaction (Wheeler, 2010)

In this vision learning content is not as important as knowing where or who to connect to to find it. Such a move is facilitated by the growing trend towards federated repositories of Open Educational Resources (OERs), which can be freely reused and re-purposed.

A further trend, in part based on these emergent technologies, is the possible move away from Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) towards Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). 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 (Attwell, 2010). 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.

It is notable that predictions of emergent trends for education tend to be more focused towards schools and higher education. There is limited analysis of their potential impact in vocational education. In reality, emerging, socio-technical developments could be mobilised to create widely divergent education systems.

Ceri Facer (2009) says “The developments in remote interactions and in disaggregation of content from institution; the rise of the personal ‘cloud‘; the diagnostic potential of genetic and neuro-science; the ageing population; all of these, when combined with different social, political and cultural values lead to very different pedagogies, curriculum, institutional arrangements and cultural dispositions towards learners.”
Facer (ibid) suggests that “the coming two decades may see a significant shift away from the equation of ‘learning‘ with ‘educational institutions‘ that emerged with industrialisation, toward a more mixed, diverse and complex learning landscape which sees formal and informal learning taking place across a wide range of different sites and institutions.”

Facer (ibid) says that rather than try to develop a single blueprint for dealing with change we should rather develop a resilient education system based on diversity to deal with the different challenges of an uncertain future. But such diversity “will emerge only if educators, researchers and communities are empowered to develop localised or novel responses to socio-technical change – including developing new approaches to curriculum, to assessment, to the workforce and governance, as well as to pedagogy.”

This approach, if adopted, would have major implications for the training of teachers in the use of new technologies for teaching and learning. Firstly it means a move towards an understanding of the social impact of technologies and of socio-technical developments, rather than a focus on technology per se.
Secondly it places a high value on creativity and and willingness to explore, model and experiment with new pedagogic approaches. In this respect competences cannot be based on prescribed outcomes but rather in innovation in process. Furthermore it implies a movement towards creativity and innovation in the training of teachers and trainers and freedom to develop more localised and novel responses to the socio technical change, rather than a standardised curricula response.

The approach also is predicated on an informed debate of educational futures and educational values. Teachers and trainee teachers need to be part of that debate.

References

Facer, K. (2009) Beyond Current Horizons: for DCSFBristol: Futurelab www.beyondcurrenthorizons.org.uk

Johnson, L., Levine, A., Smith, R., & Stone, S. (2010). The Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Wheeler, S. (2010). Web 3.0: The Way Forward? http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/07/web-30-way-forward.html.

Radio from “Trainers in Europe” Conference in Kostelec

October 27th, 2010 by Dirk Stieglitz

“Crossing Boundaries: The multiple roles of trainers and teachers in vocational education and training” Trainers in Europe Network Conference

This conference took place from the 14th – 15th of October in Kostelec near Prague. On the first day we had a Sounds of the Bazaar LIVE radio programme from the conference venue in the “Big Knight Hall” in the Castle of Kostelec. Now you can listen here to the podcast of the live programme.

More information about the conference you find here: www.trainersineurope.org.

The music at the begining and the end is from the song “pixel song1” by The Dada Weatherman of his album “The Green Waltz” to be found on the great music site Jamendo.com.

Critical Success Factors for Continuing Professional Development

October 27th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Together with Jenny Hughes, I have been looking at models and practices in Continuing Professional Development for Teachers in using technologies for teaching and learning. Although our work was mainly focused on the UK, we also examined practices in other countries including Germany and Canada, We were also looking mainly at vocational and adult education, rather than general schools or universities, although I suspect most of the findings would also apply in these contexts. This is our summary of the key factors critical to effective Continuing Professional Development in this area

Peer learning / skill sharing

Teachers who have more experience are given structured opportunities to share with those who have less and there are no hierarchical divisions between ‘experts’ and ‘non-experts’. Most importantly, this sharing process is valued and legitimated. This depends on the institution having a strong sense of community and a shared ethos of peer learning. This has to be built rather than imposed.

Small group learning

As noted above, there has been a trend away from mass ‘Inset’ sessions towards group work as a valid form of CPD activity. Groups may be based around skill levels, different software interests, subject specialities or different target groups (e.g Women returners, Special Educational Needs etc).  There were many positive reports on the effectiveness of this approach as a vehicle for discussing practice and planning new approaches.

Informal learning

Informal leaning may be more important than formal courses.

“Informal conversations are vital, as is dedicated time to allow teachers to talk together and plan for new approaches in terms of their use of ICT in learning and teaching.” (Daly, Pachler and Pelletier, 2009)

Informal learning, by definition, cannot be planned but can be facilitated by creating time and space for networking, inclusive leadership styles, democratic staff relationships and the development of staff as a learning community.

Clear links between CPD and practice

The additional benefits of using ICT must be very clear. CPD activities have to be immediately relevant to the individual teacher and applicable in the classroom.

As teachers become more familiar with the technology, there is an increasing demand for subject specialist CPD, an area which is not well developed and frequently not a priority. It is also likely to be one in which there is least in-house expertise available.

A sound pedagogic base and reflexivity

There should be a shared of understanding of how learning occurs, how it can be planned and facilitated and what constitutes effective teaching and learning.  This may be stating the obvious but there criticisms of some commercial providers who were perceived as having a different baseline.

The design of the ICT CPD should incorporate effective use of ICT for learning. That is, it should practice what it preaches. Teachers need to experience and participate in e-learning activities as part of their professional development.

“The incorporation of group work, collaborative problem-solving, independent thinking, articulation of thought and creative presentation of ideas are examples of the ways in which teachers’ CPD might focus on pedagogy, with a view to how technologies can support these processes.”  (Daly, Pachler and Pelletier, 2009).

Leadership

A clear vision for ICT CPD focused on pedagogy and teacher development was seen as a prime factor by staff and providers.

If the overall objectives and a coherent strategy are in place this can help avoid or overcome operational problems of time and funding.  Effective leaders can build capacity by maximising the range of expertise that staff already have and drawing them together as part of a co-ordinated approach to CPD. This could include, for example,  identifying excellent practitioners who use creative approaches in the classroom (using traditional pedagogies), staff with ICT skills, staff with experience of facilitating peer learning groups, staff with staff training and communication skills.

Working with newly qualified and trainee teachers

New teachers, particularly younger ones, may be able to make a valuable contribution to the ICT CPD of established staff and this should not be over-looked.

Ownership of equipment

Teachers and lecturers need to feel that they can ‘play’ with their own kit in order to develop familiarity and confidence , that they can use it for learning outside working hours and that they can customise it in a way which reflects their particular needs. This was a big issue for teachers but often at odds with institutional policy despite the fact that the preparedness of teachers to use their own time for learning actually saves money!

Time useage

Teachers resented time wasted on a lot of formal CPD, especially if it was not directly related to classroom practice, but valued time they could spend with colleagues to generate ideas and plan activities that could be implemented in the classroom.

“It has been shown that teachers need regular time during the standard working week in order to discuss Teaching and Learning. They need both knowledge of the research base and continuing ‘structured opportunities for new learning, practice, reflection and adjustment’  (Coffield, 2008)

Involvement of non-teaching staff

Senior management felt that this was important but perceived as less so by teachers.

Use of mentors or learning coaches

Apprenticeship and support are very important for in-service teachers in acquiring knowledge and adopting innovatory approaches in their classrooms.

Observation of practice

According to Daly, Pachler and Pelletier (2009), watching colleagues use ICT in the classroom was seen by the majority of teachers as one of the most valuable forms of CPD. However, very few had had the opportunity to do so.  Another strategy which was popular was chance to observe and work with external experts who visit classrooms to teach CPD by working with students.

Networks and communities of practice

Kirsti Ala-Mutka et al (2008) recognise the usefulness of social software in ICT CPD. They argue that establishing and participating in teacher networks and following innovative practice development in the field is a crucial part of effective CPD

“Initial and in-service teacher training should disseminate insights and best practices with new innovative approaches, encouraging teachers to experiment with digital and media technologies and to reflect on the learning impacts of their own teaching practices.”

The use of E-portfolios as a tool in ICT CPD

Enochsson, and Rizza (2009) recommend that all teachers develop an e-portfolio to support, record and reflect  their CPD. This serves three purposes. Firstly, it encourages teachers to use ICT regularly and systematically to support learning. Secondly, they will understand the potential of using e-portfolios with their students and will have first hand experiences of the issues, problems and benefits they offer. Thirdly, it will serve as a model to encourage student teachers to use ICT during their ITT.

References

Ala-Mutka, K., Punie, Y., & Redecker, C. (2008). ICT for Learning, Innovation and Creativity. Seville: IPTS.

Coffield, F. (2008). Just suppose teaching and learning became the first priority.London: Learning and Skills Network.

Daly, C., Pachler, N., & Pelletier, C. (2009). Continuing Professional Development in ICT for teachers. London: WLE Centre, Institute of Education, University of London.

Enochsson, A., & Rizza, C. (2009). ICT in Initial Teacher Training: Research Review (38). OECD Publishing.

Blankenberge Radio Day

October 26th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I’ve been quiet on the blog lately. The last two days I have been rushing to finish a long – and behind schedule – report on pedagogic approaches to the use of technology for teaching and learning and the initial traini9ng and continuing professional development of teachers and trainers. And all last week I was in Blankenberge in Belgium, where together with jenny Hughes I taught on a course on the use of social software in the classroom.

The group on the course were great and I enjoyed myself greatly. More on that in a  later post. Thursday last week was Radio Day. I am more and more convinced of the use of internet radio for teaching and learning. Internet radio involves so many different skills and competences – from technical skills to interviewing, from researching to presentation, from planning competences to multi media skills. And above all it requires team work. We presented the day as a sort of role play. We were role playing researching, planning and broadcasting a 40 minute radio programme. Only we were doing it – for real. Producing a radio programme is authentic learning and is fun.

In the morning we split into three groups. The radio- heads went off with me where we started planning the programme, allocated different roles – floor manager, producer, anchor people, music producer, audio techy etc. We set up and tested the equipment and liaised with the other two groups who were developing content. One group was exploring the ideas around digital literacies, the other about digital identities. Each agreed to come up with 10 minutes worth of programme as a result of their workshops.

As the day went on the tension increased. Would we get it all together, would the programme really go out. The last hour before the broadcast was mad. And at 1600, right on queue Sounds of the Bazaar – Live from Blankenberge went on air. People were nervous but I think you will agree they all seemed to enjoy themselves. And afterwards we discussed how participants could use internet radio in their own teaching and learning.

Give it a listen. If you are interested in us running a  workshop or if you would like to give internet radio a go get in touch. Its great for pedagogy, its fun and it isn’t so expensive or difficult as you think.

In the meantime thanks to all of you who produced the show – too many to name. Thanks too to Audrey’s son whose music we played. If someone can remind me of the name of the band and the url we will give it a plug on this blog.

Teaching and learning in practice

October 17th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I am in Blankenberge (somewhere on the north coast of Belgium) all this week where. together with Jenny Hughes, I am running a European funded course on using social software in the classroom. The course is based on the excellent Taccle handbook, which Jenny wrote and promises to be a lot of fun.  We have torn up the original Taccle course format, which was in my view overly lecture based, and instead are planning to run it through experiential learning. Sadly the weather forecast is not too great which may interfere with our plans for some outside multi media activities.

But now for a little moan. Our friends from Belgium who coordinate the Taccle project have done a great job in handling all the course administration. Without them the course would not have taken place – there is no way that me or Jenny would have filled in all the forms the European Commission require for funding courses of this nature. But we have been unable to communicate to them two of what I regard as key features of the learning environment you need for this sort of teaching and learning. The first is ubiquitous internet connectivity. We have wireless in the school where the course takes place but our hotel only has wireless in the basement where they have two training rooms. Needless to say we are negotiating to try to get access to those rooms in the evening.

The second is an informal space that we can organise for working in. And whenever I run courses like this organisers try to hire computer suites for us to work in. I find these rooms one of the worst teaching and learning environments i have ever known – rows of people sitting on their own behind computers. The reality is most teachers do not teach in such rooms – which tend to be reserved for specialist IT or science based subjects. Increasingly teachers use their own laptops – and for this course I think all but one participant has brought their laptop.

Indeed the most important point of the spreading use of mobile devices in education is to free up learning from being tied to sitting behind a computer – even in those institutions where some thought has been put into how to design the learning spaces to incorporate PCs and to encourage collaboration and communication.

The third area where I find it hard to explain what I am trying to do is in the distinction between ‘formal’ learning which takes place in the planned course programme and the learning which takes place outside those times. the social spaces in the evenings are as rich a period for potential learning as the formal period.

And here is Jen’s moan. The European Commission demands a detailed course programme in advance. But – in line with much of what the education directorate of the EU say – we wish to negotiate the programme with the learners. surely that is central to learner centred learning. And that does not fit with a rigidly pre-ordained programme. The EU needs to practice what they preach!

Anyway enough of the moaning. I am looking forward to the course and will be reporting back on it over the next week.

#PLE2010 That unkeynote with Alec Couros, Graham Attwell and Friends

October 13th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

In June, together with Alec Couros, I presented the opening Keynote at the #PLE2010 Conference in Barcelona. Only it wasn’t a Keynote, it was an Unkeynote. The organising committee had asked me and Alec, who had never met face to face, to ‘do something different. And after a couple of skype talks we came up with an idea. We would set up an open Google document and ask people for their ideas. After a week we hacked together  format based ion a series of questions drawn from the Google docs and asked the community to contribute slides, messages or even videos. We edited it all tither and chatted our way through the presentation in Barcelona. Hence the attribution – Alec Couros, Graham Attwell and friends. It worked pretty well. Of course we promised to make the presentation available online. And I promised we would. Except I forgot. But enough people have nagged me into feeling guilty about not doing it.

So here it is. There is a video embed part way through and I have uploaded that separately. It is worth listening too – George Roberts almost raps lyrically on a healthy PLE. There is a Presi missing I think. I will try to find it. there is also a rumour that a video of the whole show exists somewhere. I will try to find it. But meantime I hope you enjoy the slidehare and video.

UK report on Higher Education funding – another step towards privatising education

October 12th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

The UK government enquiry into the future funding of higher education, headed by Lord Browne, former Chief Executive of BP, has delivered its report.

At the moment, the government pays students’ fees while they are university. Once they graduate, and are earning £15,000 or more, they start to pay back £3,290 for each year of their degree.

Browne has proposed lifting the cap on fees with universities free to choose what they wish, with students repaying fees when they start earning £23000. It is unclear how the system would work and what interest rates would accrue on the loans for the fees.

The main motivation of the proposed reform  is to switch responsibility for university funding from the state to students and their families; for every £100 a student borrows to defer the payment until after graduation, the government pays about £35.

The elite universities like Oxford and Cambridge have welcomed the report, as have the research intensive universities. Interestingly the Open University has also supported the report, mainly because it extends loan support to part time students, who are excluded under the present scheme. But the report has been condemned by both the National Union of Students and the University and College Union which represent lecturers.

So much for the technicalities – if readers are interested in finding out more about the proposals, which have yet to be approved by Parliament, see the Guardian newspaper’s reports.

What does it all mean? Essentially it is a further (large) step forward in the privatisation of the education system in the UK. Browne says: “Under these plans universities can start to vary what they charge but it will be up to students whether they choose the university. The money will follow the student who will follow the quality. The student is no longer taken for granted, the student is in charge.” Or rather the students with money (or their parents with money) are in charge.  Higher Education is no longer seen as a right, but rather as part of a market mechanism. University courses become a market driven commodity. The arbiter of quality becomes the ability to monetarise on investment in taking a course. Academic quality counts for nothing. The university system has traditionally been class based, this reform will tweak the system to ensure new money is as good as old.

It is interesting to note too, that universities will be free to charge differential fees for different subjects and courses. But Browne also says the government may remove public funding from all but “priority” subjects, such as medicine, science and engineering in pursuing a”closer fit between what is taught and the skills needed in the economy”.

Browne calls for an overhaul of the careers advice and guidance system to ensure that students receive adequate advice as he says happens in the (private, fee paying) public schools. I know nothing about how careers advice is organised in public schools. But the truth is that for most working class students a spreadsheet of comparative fees will become the most important aid in choosing universities. And how Browne expects better careers advice at a time when careers services are facing cutbacks of up to 40 per cent is hard to see.

Essentially people are now being expected to pay for their own higher education. But why should the government stop there? Already there is talk that individuals may be expected to pay for vocational education. And despite the lack of take off of the so called free schools (free in that they are run by businesses not local government) we can expect to see further moves to cut school spending and privatise the school sector in coming years.

Education and Training and the Economic Crisis

October 7th, 2010 by Graham Attwell


There has been a lot of discussion about the impact of the economic crisis on the future of education and training. Sadly much of this discussion has led nowhere. In this video Nikitas Patiniotis, from Athens, explains the impact of the crisis on education and training in Greece and reflects on the future in an uncertain post recession world. The video was produced for the Network of Trainers in Europe,

More on Open Educational Resources

October 6th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

There is an interesting new discussion recently started on the Open Education Resources discussion list, now being run out of the University of Athabasca. To join the discussion go to https://deimos.cs.athabascau.ca/mailman/listinfo/oer-community

Two  contributions have particularly caught my attention.

The first was from Paul Lefrere talking about the sustainability of Open Educational Resources,. Paul says:

Think of sustainability not in terms of money, but rather in terms of impact that is wholly positive (eg, new forms of wealth creation, compatible with the public-interest). Take action in an integrated way: link OER and OCW to forms of Open Innovation and Open Knowledge Sharing that benefit society as a whole (eg, socially-focused exploitation of publicly-funded intellectual property, to create new sources of wealth for the world) and that can lead to socially-desirable outcomes (eg, creating new types of job, and making students more employable by helping them to apply what they learn via OER and OCW, to bridge the “knowledge-action gap”).

And Paul later agreed with the suggestion from Rory McGreal to change that first line to “not just in terms of money.”

The second was a post from Stephen Carson who identifies multiple visions of OERs:

OER as substitute:  This is the idea that OER can be used to substitute for copywritten materials, generally text books and journal articles.  Here the interest seems to be primarily about cost savings, and the concern about whether the quality of the materials is equivalent to the for-fee versions.

OER as reusable resource:  This is the learning object vision married with open licenses, the idea that we can come up with definitive version of granular learning materials appropriate to wide audiences that can be flexibly localized and recombined.  Interest in this area seems to be focused on gains in efficiency in the creation of course materials, scalability in automated learning and to some extent cost savings.

OER as transparency:  This is the vision that I believe gets the least attention, but the one that is most important to models like OCW and to institutions.  Most of the benefit for schools publishing OCW and other curricular materials is both the quality improvements prompted but the increased scrutiny the materials are subjected to, and in the transparency across curriculum that OER project provide.  In publishing curriculum openly, communities of educators at institutions know more about what they collectively teach and how the subjects are related.  Student sin these communities have more information about what they will learn and how.

I wonder also if we could add to this something like OER as digital creativity. Of course OERs do not have to be digital – but most are. And the idea of OER fits very well with the creative use of technology for developing and sharing digital content in dispersed communities.

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    Learning about technology

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

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

    Building apps (45%)
    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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