Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Greece, innovation and the European Union

June 28th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

As long ago as 2001, I was contracted to undertake a study of private- public partnership in Greece. This was not into PPPs as then being implemented by the UK Blair government, but rather at looking at partnerships between private sector organisations, academic and research institutions and the State for research and development and innovation.

My conclusions were fairly stark. Far from helping boost research and development in Greece, EU policies as designed to support R and D in the rich north European economies were distorting R and D in Greece and actually inhibiting innovation.

I was looking again at the report yesterday and much of it seems to be still relevant today, especially for those seeking to understand the Greek economic collapse.

Below I provide the conclusion to the report. The whole report can be downloaded from the link at the bottom of the page.

“That there are problems in developing collaborative research and development in Greece is without question. At a policy level these are summed up by the evaluation report on Structural Funds in Greece for the period 1994-1999:

  • Lack of co-ordination between the bodies in charge of public research and those in charge of private research
  • Gap between Universities and enterprises
  • In  many regions there seems to be a lack of co-ordination of the science and technology policy between departments of industry and departments of education
  • In some regions there is overlap and inadequate co-ordination between national and regional measures
  • There is little involvement of the regional RTDI actors, private sector in particular, in policy planning.

Morgan draws attention to the issue of  the quality of the institutional setting as one of the main reason for  regional underdevelopment. Certainly there are problems in co-ordinating policy and in bureaucratisation of government in Greece. The development of science parks has been held up for a number of years due to lack of poli9tcvical agreement. The politicising of policy advisors and of the civil serviced militates against continuity in policy and development, and to an ensuing lack of the confidence required for investment. Whilst it would appear to be true that there is a lack of competence and know-how amongst regional administrations, the centralisation of the Greek system does not allow the development of such pools of competence and experience.

Equally it is easy to blame the lack of private sector investment from Greek companies on the failure to develop an entrepreneurial and research culture.

However, this overlooks a number of basic issues. The structure of Greek industry is atypical within the EU and much more akin to that of the southern Mediterranean countries – such as Turkey, Cyprus, Tunisia and Morocco see Table 2).

Table 2 Size-class structure of European enterprises by Country, 1995.

Country Enterprises

(1,000)

Average

enterprise size

Size-class

dominance

Austria 145 13 SME
Belgium 410 7 Large
Denmark 150 9 SME
Finland 340 3 Large
France 1,965 7 Large
Germany 2,670 9 Large
Greece 690 3 Micro
Ireland 130 9 SME
Italy 3,365 4 Micro
Luxembourg 15 11 SME
The Netherlands 390 11 SME
Portugal 580 5 SME
Spain 2,200 5 Micro
Sweden 415 5 SME
UK 2,565 8 Large
Iceland 15 4 SME
Norway 210 5 SME
Switzerland 190 13 SME

Source: EIM Small Business Research and Consultancy, European Observatory for SMEs, 1996

The small number of large companies are largely inward investments. Research and development for these companies is usually located in their ‘home’ state, rather than in Greece. Neither do they build up networks for research with local small and medium enterprises. The Greek economy is predominantly agriculture and services based and is dominated by micro enterprises. However, the structure of EU funding is designed to support industry and commerce in north Europe with a completely different industrial and economic structure. This would not be so serious a problem if it was not for the almost total reliance on structural funds to support research and development activities. One of the most surprising policy issues is that all the major Greek political parties have allowed the EC to dominate policy so completely.

There has been considerable discussion of the problems of what are somewhat euphuistically referred to as the “Less Favoured Regions”. The outcomes of those discussion are summarised in the Table below.

Table 3. Ten structural factors affecting the Regional Innovation Systems in LFRs
1.   Shortcomings relating to the capacity of firms in the regions to identify their needs for innovation (and the technical knowledge required to assess them) and lack of structured expression of the latent demand for innovation together with lower quality and quantity of scientific and technological infrastructure.
2.  Scarcity or lack of technological intermediaries capable of identifying and ‘federating’ local business demand for innovation (and R&TD) and channelling it towards regional/national/international sources of innovation (and R&DT) which may give response to these demands.
3.  Poorly developed financial systems (traditional banking practices) with few funds available for risk or seed capital (and poorly adapted to the terms and risks of the process of innovation in firms) to finance innovation, defined as ‘long-term intangible industrial investments with an associated high financial risk’ (Muldur 1992).
4.  Lack of a dynamic business services sector offering services to firms to promote the dissemination of technology in areas where firms have, as a rule, only weak internal resources for the independent development of technological innovation (Capellin 1989/ 9).
5.  Weak co-operation links between the public and private sectors, and the lack of an entrepreneurial culture prone to inter-firm co-operation (absence of economies of scale and business critical masses which may make profitable certain local innovation efforts).
6. Sectoral specialisation in traditional industries with little inclination for innovation and predominance of small family firms with weak links to the international market.
7.  Small and relatively closed markets with unsophisticated demand, which do not encourage innovation.
8.  Little participation in international R&TDI networks, scarcely developed communications networks, difficulties in attracting skilled labour and accessing external know-how.
9.   Few large (multinationals) firms undertaking R&D with poor links with the local economy.
10. Low levels of public assistance for innovation and aid schemes poorly adapted to local SMEs innovation needs

Source: Landabaso, 1997.

Most of these problems apply in Greece – although it is notable that venture capital appears to be relatively easily obtainable.

The question is how to overcome these problems and whether the present European structural policies are adequate and suited to the needs of the Greek economy.

Morgan (1999) points out how university departments from relatively new universities, for example, which do not have a long tradition of university-industry collaboration, use new funding to strengthen research activities which do not always reflect the needs of the regional firms.

He also says that the regional firms, often small, family-owned and competing among themselves in relatively closed markets, do not have a tradition of co-operation and trust either among themselves or with the regional R&TD infrastructure, particularly universities, In short, the regional innovation system in these regions does not have either the necessary interfaces and co-operation mechanisms for the supply-demand matching to happen, or the appropriate conditions for the exploitation of synergies and co-operation among the scarce regional R&TD actors which could eventually fill gaps and avoid duplications. In this situation, investing more money in the creation of new technology centres, for example, without previously co-ordinating and adapting the work of existing ones, risks further distorting the system.

In this situation reliance on state funding is almost inevitable and should not necessarily be seen as a bad thing. However the critical issue is whether public funding is being used towards a strategy of sustainable and indigenous development and how that funding is planned, administered and evaluated.

Sofouli points out the contradictions in the use of European funding and the rigid guidelines which appear to be designed for the industrial systems of north Europe. There are frequent conflicts between the development aims and funding and the rulings on competition. Even where it is agreed that the granting of funding will not break competition rules, the need for official approval causes long bureaucratic delays.

More fundamentally micro enterprises are unable to raise the match funding required by many of the structural funds, whilst the infrastructure and skills for new networks does not always exist.

It could also be argued that the EU funding through development projects is focused towards technological and industrial  development, rather than enhancing the service sector which is far more important in Greece. Patiniotis (2001) is critical of what he sees as the technological determinism inherent in European funding and development policies.

The underlying justification for present policies lies in a direct link between research and development activities within the industrial economy and the innovation which is seen as critical to future economic growth and to unemployment. Yet it can be argued that Greek companies are nothing if not innovative. However, research and development tends to be brought in from abroad utilising the extensive Greek Diaspora. However, the emphasis in the structural programmes on demonstration projects  prevents the use of many funds to support accessing technology from abroad.

It is interesting to note that Greek universities do have very extensive links with other European and international institutions. The relatively high education levels are also an issue as is the very high levels of business start ups and company creation, linked to the availability of finance capital.

One sector which has been acknowledged for innovation in Greece is the Information technology industry. However, what is interesting here is that most companies in this industry throughout Europe are small or micro industries (European IT Observatory, 2001) and that in Greece this sector is almost entirely focused on software services rather than production. However even here new programme for the development of the new economy which aims to provide seed capital for the establishment of small companies in the ICT sector is being impeded because the programme regulations require those very same companies to provide match funding – in other words to provide the capital that they lack in the first place (Sofouli, 2001). Sofouli goes on to say that the need for approval of new research projects by EPAN – the Greek office for competition is holding up innovation.

A further issue is that of geographical location. Greece is often referred to as being a peripheral economy. This raises the question of peripheral to what. Certainly the structure of the economy is peripheral in terms of the north European industrial economy. Equally Greece is geographically peripheral within the European Union. However within its own traditional spheres of influence and trade – in the Mediterranean and as the gateway to the Bosphorus, Greece is anything but peripheral.

More thoughtful research is need to develop policies which can promote research and development and innovation through PPPs in Greece and as to how European policy is formulated and implemented. This is not just a question for Greece – or the other so-called ‘Less Favoured Regions’. With the planned expansion of the EU the Greek economic structures will cease to be isolated and may well represent a model for the new Member States in The European Union.  However, in order to undertake this task a major policy weakness needs to be addressed. This is the issue of evaluation. Our research suggests that present evaluation polices and practice – based on the requirements of the European funding programmes and focused on summative systems evaluation – are inadequate. This is not to denigrate the purpose and intent of the present evaluation regime in ensuring public value for money and contract compliance – nor to question the methods being used. But the data presently being collected and the tools for analysis do not provide policymakers – in Greece and in the EU – with sufficient  information or knowledge to develop the policies so evidently need to support innovation with the Greek economic and social system. Neither do they provide researchers with the basic information needed to undertake more fundamental research into development processes in an economy and society such as Greece. Finally the present evaluation regime is not providing the formative evaluation and feedback so desperately required by project promoters and developers and fails to provide the arena to capitalise on present development and experiences.

In conclusion why does Greece have a flourishing culture of start up enterprises and economic activity despite all the problems outlined above? Nikitas Patiniotis (2001) suggests it lays with the people themselves:

“The Greek people are innovative and take risks – especially in terms of time. Money is always short and is controlled by the government. Most companies are started by one or two people. Greek SMEs use family  resources. The biggest indigenous company in Greece is Intracom which was started 15 years ago by one person. Risk taking in Greece is a survival technique.” “

You can download the full report here.

Where is social networking going?

June 27th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The latest figures for Facebook are interesting. Facebook appears to have had fewer monthly active users at the start of June than at the start of May in the US, UK and Canada — at least according to one data source — even as it has grown bigger than ever worldwide. this could suggest that the market is by now saturated or even that people are moving on.

My own take is that whilst Facebook has alienated significant numbers of people with rampant commercialism and a cavalier attitude to privacy this is probably only amongst early adopters and the tech community. More important is the growth of more niche social networking applications.

Although Linkedin can hardly be described as niche, it is interesting to see the growth of Linkedin Groups and the high level of activity – at least in the groups of which I am a member.

I suspect people are increasingly separating out their presence (and digital identities) in different social networking applications and communities. And whilst size may be good, in terms of income the ‘professional’ social networks may turn out to be more sustainable and profitable tin the long term.

Interesting then to see the launch of a professional networking application for Facebook. In the last few weeks i have had some tens of messages saying:

“I’d like you to join my professional network on Facebook.

Graham – it’s professional networking with friends and friends of friends on Facebook. Feels like it can be very valuable to us.”

The messages come from a Facebook app called BranchOut. Given they all had the same wording I ignored them, but thinking about this blog post I did have a look. But once more I was put off by the privacy or lack of it. Although the video from BranchOut makes a big point that they will not access your photos, it asks for permissions to your wall, to all of your friends and demands an email address to send mail.

I guess once they have your friends list, they are auto spamming with messages such as above. Although once more this may result in rapid growth, I doubt it will do much for their reputation.

Linkedin may be a little staid and boring. But at least it seems to have evolved sensible privacy rules.

I think this will be critical for anyone trying to break into the social networking market.

Open Educational Resources, Reuse and Sharing

June 26th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I participated in a workshop on Open Educational Resources at the EDEN2011 conference in Dublin last week. OER was high on the agenda at the conference, referred to by a number of the keynote speakers and also the subject of several papers and workshops.

the workshop I attended was organised by the OPAL project. OPAL – the Open Education Quality Initiative – funded by the EU and supported by UNESCO – is attempting to develop a guide and benchmarks on open educational practices. It is focused on institutional change and the guideline is designed as a maturity model which allows organisations to position themselves according to the degree of maturity for each of a number o individual dimensions of open educational practices identified by the project.

The discussion at the workshop was lively and interesting. One focus was the language of the guide with participants feeling that more still needed to be done to explain what OERs and open educational practices were.

Grainne Conole in her introduction to the workshop had posed a series of questions including why there appears to be so limited reuse of resources and secondly how we can guarantee quality.

I am not so convinced by the assumptions here. the idea that there is limited reuse of resources is based on the lack of posting of amended resources to OER repositories. But that doesn’t mean they are not being used. I suspect many, many teachers do use OERs and naturally edit and change them to suit their own practice (although the prevalent PDF file format does not make that easy). However it is not part of their culture to repost the changed version to a repository. Does this matter? On the one hand not if OERs are being created and used – although obviously institutions, authors and funders would like to know what impact their work is having. One the other hand one of the ideas behind OERs was to create an ecology of learning materials with use, reuse and sharing playing a key role,. But I suspect benchmarks will not help us in this. The main issue is the culture of sharing. Even here I don’t think there are major obstacles. However we need workflows and spaces which make the sharing as easy and natural as sharing music.

And here is the rub. Whilst I guess most people share music it is often illegal. And one participant in the workshop raised the issue we never dare talk about. The problem, he said, is that teachers constantly download, change and reuse educational resources. they rarely check the license conditions. If it is on the web it is fair gain. And in telling people they should only use resources licensed for free use, we are in danger of being seen as the internet cops – telling people what they cannot do rather than helping them use resources for learning.

That is a big question. I like the approach of OPAL to open educational practices. But I am not so sure about benchmarking and maturity models (what senior manager is going to admit that their organisation lags behind?). Instead I think we need to continue very basic work on making it easier for teachers to produce OERs and share them. It will take time, but even over the last five years there has been massive progress.

And I wonder if we need to open a wider political debate on the efficacy or educational resources which are not open and who benefits form such practices.

Is it time to get rid of the ‘e’ from e-learning?

June 21st, 2011 by Graham Attwell

This morning I delivered a keynote speech (or more like a keynote storytelling session) at the European Distance Education Network (EDEN) conference in Dublin. And a lot of fun it was too (particularly chair Sally Reynolds desperate attempts to turn off her mobile phone which went off half way through my talk). The keynote was followed by a panel session with fellow speakers Paul Kim from Stanford University and Clare Dillon from Microsoft, along with Jim device and Alfredo Soeiro and chaired by Gilly Salmon.

Gilly ran the panel session as an unconferencing session with ample opportunities for participation by conference delegates.

The emergent themes shaping the discussion (and indeed the overall conference) were interesting. Also what was not discussed if of some interest. VLEs seem not longer an issue, with an acceptance that learners will appropriate all kinds of technologies for learning. And indeed there was little discussion about technologies themselves. However, emergent themes focused on the soci0-technical uses of technology for learning, its impact on education systems and institutions and indeed the future of education, particularly universities. There were a number of sessions looking at Open education and Open Education Resources, but with a lack of clarity of what these terms mean. Quality is seen as a major issue, especially in terms of the perceived variable quality of online programmes. However approaches to this issue vary. Most delegates seemed to favour some kind of quality benchmarking or approval, although there seemed little idea of how this might work. Equally the issue of accreditation of learning was a major issue but with little consensus on how this should be organised, particularly with relation to ‘open education’.

And whilst there seemed general agreement of the need to extend learning, particularly to those presently without access to formal education or training, there were considerable differences on how this might be achieved and the role of the private sector in such provision.

In some ways the discussions may be seen as a response to the present economic crisis. But in another wayit may refelct the mainstreaming of technology enhanced learning. Maybe we will soon be able to get rid of the e from e-learning.

OERs, communities and openness: A Paradox?

June 17th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I am intrigued by this abstract is for a Symposium that will be presented at ALT-C 2011 by Frances Bell, Cristina da Costa, Josie Fraser, Richard Hall and Helen Keegan and is published on Frances Bell’s blog. I am reproducing it in full below.

This symposium will examine the paradoxes of giving and receiving online in education in a changing economic climate.  Each of the panelists will briefly address topic areas within the symposium theme, followed by an opportunity for present and at distance audiences to contribute, concluding with a 25 minute plenary discussion.

Symposium delegates will be provoked to reconsider the costs of participation online by paid and unpaid participants in ‘open’ discussion and sharing of resources.

Open Educational Resources exist within communities that create, use and sustain them (Downes 2007). When ‘communities’ in Higher Education break down due to redundancy and casualisation of labour what happens to OERs? Are they sustained? Can they reach out to other contexts?

All areas of education, including the school sector, currently face significant financial challenges and uncertainties. Institutions are increasingly reviewing the provision of devices and services, and looking at learner owned devices and commercially owned ‘free’ cloud-based services. What is the real price of an education system supported and transformed by embedded learning technologies?

Ownership in the age of openness calls for clarity about mutual expectations between learners, communities and ourselves. Ideas and content are shared easily through open platforms, and yet attributions can be masked in the flow of dissemination: does credit always go where it is due?

Openness in the production, sharing and reuse of education/resources is meaningless in the face of neoliberalism. Where coercive competition forms a treadmill for the production of value, openness/OERs are commodified. Control of the educational means of production determines power to frame how open are the relations for the production or consumption of educational goods or services, in order to realise value. The totality of this need, elicited by the state for capital, rather than the rights of feepayers, parents, communities or academics, shapes how human values like openness are revealed and enabled within HE.

Scarce research monies focus attention on impact factors, arguably stagnating practice. For publications, Open Access can increase wider societal impact but at the expense of career progression.We explore the tensions, paradoxes and professional costs on societal benefits, individual agency and academic progression.

Obviously this is a bit of a mash up proposal but it does raise a lot of questions. I think there is a tension between the idea of communities and institutions. Communities of practice, and for that matter the communities in which Open education Resources are being produced and shared, cross institutional boundaries. Furthermore the use of OERs may be within an institutional setting but may also be outside.

This again is reflected in recognition and reward structures. Whilst reward structures within institutions are based on either monetary compensation or in terms of progression, rewards within the community may reflect a wider understanding of recognition, especially respect or standing within that community. Does credit always go to who it should? Probably not, but this is taking a very individualistic view of research. Surely credit should be shared in the community rather than in the closed door offices of academic researchers.

Are OERs being commodified? Presumably the term “coercive competition” refers to the growing practice to require academics and researchers to publish their work as OERs. I don’t really understand what the authors mean in saying “The totality of this need, elicited by the state for capital, rather than the rights of feepayers, parents, communities or academics, shapes how human values like openness are revealed and enabled within HE.” Of course the idea of openness is being hijacked by institutions. But at the same time the movement towards openness is contradictory and I am not sure this is reflected in the abstract. Especially missing is a discussion of the nature of OERs in allowing reuse and modification and the impact this has on (commodified) relations of production and intellectual property. And at the same time, the spread of OERs is allowing new open forms of learning and knowledge production outside the confines of the institution. thus whilst the movement towards OERs may be becoming commodified the use of OERs is challenging traditional understandings of those very commodities.

I don’t think this reveals a paradox but a dialectical contradiction. Present schooling models of education are being found to be wanting. The discussion about open education is important in that it could provide an alternative to privatisation. The discussion over OERs forms an important part of this debate and to this extent the debate over this symposium is extremely interesting.

Rich and immersive learning environments

June 15th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Earlier this week I was at an international project meeting in Pontypridd in Wales. As is common with such meetings, and indeed many training events, it was held in a hotel. The hotel meeting room was perfectly adequate with plenty of space and natural light. Indeed I would not have given it two minutes thought normally. I have been in many much worse venues.

However only three days earlier I had been lucky to visit a Welsh medium primary school in Pontypridd. And the contrast was stunning. The school is housed in an old building and perhaps lacks many of the design features we would wish for in a school today (it is notable that windows were positioned high up in the room to stop children looking out during lessons!). Yet as an environment for learning the classroom I went into wads stunning. Every wall was covered in different themed displays with much of the work being by the children themselves. The tables were covered, seemingly at random – although I am sure it was not, with different tactile learning materials. There were different spaces and corners for different activities. Games littered the floor.

I couldn’t help comparing this primary school with the learning environment we had developed for our meeting. And for that matter, with the sterility of many online learning environments. Why if primary school teachers (and teaching assistants) are able to produce such rich learning environments, do we have such learning-poor environments for grown ups? Why can’t we develop such creative spaces for learning in universities, in workplaces and in public spaces? Is it a question of teacher training? Is it a question of curriculum? Or is it a societal attitude towards learning?

I’d be interested in your comments

Teaching math

June 12th, 2011 by Graham Attwell


I spent an evening this week diiscussing semantic and computational search engines with my friend Jenny Hughes. Jenny is convinced of the potential of computational search engines and was showing me the outcomes of searches using the Wolfram Alpha search engine.

Conrad Wolfram has recently did a TED talk where he suggests that we consider changing the math teaching model, to teach kids to conceptualize problems and use computerized tools to apply solutions, as opposed to the present model of spending inordinate amounts of time teaching how to perform calculations “by hand”. He methodically addresses many misperceived ideas behind today’s approach to math education.

Keeping busy

June 12th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

A quick update. I have been slow posting lately due to travelling around and a series of project meetings.

We are moving forward on a series of ideas and developments.

Firstly we are working with The Univeristy of East London, the Hackeny Education – Business Partnership and a Yoiuth Organisation called Go! to launch Radiocative, an internet radion station run by young people for young people.

Secondly we are developing a new application for online story telling.

Thirdly I have been doing demos of our new open and linked data application for supporting young people in planning careers and providing information for careers advisors. Early feedback has been very positive and I am hopeful we will be able to roll this out for an extended trial after the summer. Before that though, I want to develop a social layer, allowing data outputs to be discussed  and incorporated in wider social discourses.

Technology and Careers Education

June 7th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I am ever more interested in how we can use technology for supporting young people (and not just young people) in making future careers choices. Talking to a focus group of young people last year, they  make use of the internet, particuarly using Google to search for details about possible future education choices, jobs and careers. I also asked them how far they explored the results of a Google search and not surpisingly they told me that they usually looked at the first three or four results. Try doing this yourself – type in your job of choice and see what comes up. All too often the results can be highly misleading.

Anyway we are working on new tools to asisst young people in choosing their future careers (more details to follow quite soon, I hope). And here is a conference paper, prepared by my colleague Sally Anne Barnes from the University of Warwick and describing the emprirical research we undertook on the use of technology in careers education in the UK (requires html5 compliant browser to view). Comments welcome – I would especially like to know what is happening in other countries than the UK.

The Potential Role of Technology in Careers Education in the UK

TEDxKids – making and doing with technology

June 4th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of being part of a team of guest bloggers on the TEDxKids event in Brussels. Sadly I was not there in person, but followed the video stream. Here are a few quick reflections on the event.

Firstly this was not really one event, but two events running in parallel. Firstly was the grown ups conference, following the by now familiar TED format of ‘inspirational’ guest speakers making short presentations. And second was the kids event, which followed a workshop format. There were periodic report backs on the progress of the kids workshop and a final round up session presenting their work.

Despite many interesting talks, I can’t help thinking the kids event would have been the one I would have liked to be at!

Be that as it may, the grown ups event was certainly interesting. Taken overall, the theme was about learning by doing, enabled by technology. And this involves giving young people more space to play, to experiment, to make things and to fail (“mistaking your way to success”) : all things the present educational system is not very good at. And of course allowing young people access to play with and shape the tools needed for this. There was a big emphasis on making things – from 3D printing to toothbrush robots. The kids seemed to particularly enjoy playing with soldering irons (to the extent where I am tempted to go out and buy one). And the event confirmed the positive connotations now being attributed to the word “hacking”.

My favourite speaker was Mark Frauenfeder from MAKE magazine – if you have no time for anything else I would recommend watching the video of his presentation when it comes out.  I also liked the discussion around the Sugar software (can’t remember who the speaker was) with an emphasis on kids being able to reprogramme and repurpose applications as part of the learning process.

I must say though, I am not so convinced by the TED format. It works well for video. But I am not sure of the learning and creativity in passively watching an event – be it live or streamed. OK – the Twitter feed was lively. But there is no ability to ask questions or interact with the speakers. there seems little advantage to me in attending a TED event (apart from meeting friends) over watching on YouTube in the comfort of your home.

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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%)
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    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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