Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Developing Collaborative Blended Learning and Knowledge Development in SMEs through Webquest 2.0

January 29th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I haven’t been posting as much as I would like lately. This is due to the European project bidding season (more on that soon) and due to a lot of work on the Webquest 2.0 project (about which I have been intending to write). Anyway, here for starters is an abstract written by Maria Pedrifanou and myself for the ECER 2012 conference.

Developing Collaborative Blended Learning and Knowledge Development in SMEs through Webquest 2.0

Whilst educational technology has been adopted for use in large enterprises, research suggests there is little use of ICT for learning in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) (Attwell, 2007). One reason for this may be the limited provision of Continuing Professional Training opportunities in SMEs. Yet SMEs are seen as critical for economic growth and the creation of employment and rapid technological change and changes in materials, ecological and quality requirements and changes in the organisation of work require the development and deployment of new competences.

Through a European Commission funded Transfer of Innovation project, Webquest 2.0, the authors have developed and are piloting a new pedagogic approach to CPD in SMEs.

The name ‘webquest’ is comprised of two parts: a) ‘Web’ – to indicate that the World Wide Web is used as the primary resource in applying, analysing, synthesising and evaluating information, and b) ‘Quest’ – to indicate that a question is presented within the webquest, which encourages learners to search for new meaning and deeper understanding (Pelliccione L. and Craggs G.J., 2007).

Webquest 2.0 activities stake advantage of the possibilities that current Web 2.0 technologies offer and are based on a revised Webquest framework created for teachers and trainers.

The aim is to develop effective, complex, authentic learning and training environments. Trainers should be able to design and develop their own content and generate learning materials that can help their trainees and can also be shared with others.

The development of the Webquest 2.0 approach is based on the Collaborative Blended Learning Model (CBML) (Perifanou, 2011). There are four key elements to the model. Firstly the model is based on the idea that Webquest activities can be undertaken face to face, in a blended model of face-to-face and online learning, or purely on line. Secondly it is based on a mix of individual and small group activities which collectively allow participants to explore a larger question or theme. Thirdly the Webquest should generate outcomes which can form an organisational learning resource for a community of practice beyond the initial learning activities. Finally the webquests are based on a seven-stage model – Learning Circles – which both scaffolds learning and provides templates for trainers to create webquests.

The model and the webquests are being piloted with SMEs in Poland, the UK and Sweden.

Methodology

In the first phase of the project the Collaborative Blended Learning model was elaborated resulting in the publication of a research handbook. Based on this model twenty initial webquests were developed in close collaboration between trainers and project partners. Following this, a handbook for trainers was produced and a evaluation framework developed.

The webquests and handbook are currently being piloted in workshops with SMEs in Poland and The UK. This includes workshops piloting the webquests developed in the initial phase of the project and workshops for trainers to produce webquest themselves for use in their organisations.

The outcomes of these workshops will be evaluated, and the research handbook and handbook for trainers revised.

This, in turn, will lead to another round of piloting in SMEs in the late spring of 2012.

The initial webquests utilise a commercial wiki, PB works, as the main technical platform. It is intended to transfer the webquests to an Open Source wiki to minimise costs for deployment by SMEs.

Conclusions / Expected Outcomes / Findings

There are a series of hypotheses which are being tested through the project.

Firstly, the project is developing an updated Web 2.0 approach to webquests seeking to scaffold learning in a Web 2.0–enhanced, social and interactive open learning environment.

Secondly the project is transferring an approach and methodology for learning in a Web 2.0–enhanced, social and interactive open learning environment previously develop din a school based and language learning context for training in SMEs.

Thirdly the project is seeking to develop a flexible approach to learning in a Web 2.0–enhanced, social and interactive open learning environment, facilitating a mixture of Face to face Blended and online learning.

Fourthly the project is seeking to facilitate the development of wiki based learning materials by trainers themselves.

Fifthly the project is seeking to develop an approach to developing organisational knowledge resources for communities of practice though training activities.

The evaluation of the initial workshops are extremely positive. The paper will be based on a full evaluation of the project activities and will explore the success or otherwise of our initial hypotheses.

References

Attwell, G. (2007) Searching, Lurking and the Zone of Proximinal Development: e-learning in Small and Medium Enterprises, Vienna: Navreme

Pelliccione, D. L., & Craggs, G. J. (2007). WebQuests: an online learning strategy to promote cooperative learning and higher-level thinking. Paper presented at AARE Conference, 2007.

Perifanou M. (2011) Web 2.0 – New era of Internet tools in learning and teaching Italian as a foreign language – WebQuest 2.0 activities and  Collaborative Blended Learning Model. Proposals of blended learning. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Athens.

Researching MOOCs

January 21st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Massive Open Online Courses are still very new and it is important to conduct research to try to understand how they support different types of learning. The Caledonian Academy, in Scotland,  are looking at self-regulated learning outside formal learning contexts and  have designed a study, they say, “which aims to surface, describe and systematise the activities and strategies that adult learners use to self-regulate their learning in the context of the Change 2011 massive open online course (MOOC). Our interest is specifically in professionals’ actions – practices and strategies that they use to plan and attain their learning goals.”

They are looking for volunteers to participate in this study. Participation in the study will involve completion of an online questionnaire (in January/February 2012) and participation in a telephone or Skype interview (in or around March 2012).

You can find out more and sign up to participate in the study on Colin Milligan’s blog – Learning in the Workplace.

Health warning: trade shows and whiteboards can give you a headache

January 21st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Last Saturday, I visited the British Education Technology Exhibition at Olympia in London. I have never been to BETT before and was curious as to what it would be like.

I can’t say I was impressed and three hours left me with a headache and a marked aversion to interactive whiteboards.

I can’t really complain – BETT delivers what it promises on the label – an exhibition of educational technology. Perhaps naively, what I was looking for was something about the use of technology for learning and that I struggled to find.

There were lots and lots of stands showing the latest in shiny gadgets. Most were interactive whiteboards – a throwback I guess to the previous English government’s programme of funding a whiteboard for every classroom.

Being a bit of a nerd myself I like gadgets. But the few that impressed me were those NOT specifically designed for education. I liked HPs 3D printer (although it is not cheap).  And I loved the kit from animationsuupplies.net for stop motion photography and for developing plasticine modeling (shame the software they are using is PC only).

The Hepeel.net stand had the virtue of actually having some kids on it using computers for learning (a radical idea for BETT). And it seemed a little edupunky with print outs of how to use Google docs in education.

Despite all the hype form the ed-tech community about ‘mobile’, there was surprisingly little mobile on display. OK, there were stands showing off different handsets and a few tablets. But there has little on show that you would not find on any city high street.

Although most of the big companies had large glossy stands – including Google, Microsoft and Dell – Apple didn’t have an official stand. But there was a smallish stand sponsored by UK Apple reseller, AT Computers. And they lined up a rolling programme of demos / short workshops by teachers on how they were using the iPad for teaching and learning. These were pretty awesome. I especially liked the demo of how to use the GarageBand (one of my favourite programs) for teaching music. These presentations were full – every seat was taken.

And three seems to be a lesson in that. If you want to attract teachers and trainers to look at your product show how it can be used for teaching and training. But perhaps I am just being naïve again. Are trade shows like BETT aimed at teachers and trainers or are they really for the people with the money who buy the glossy toys for schools and colleges? And how much say do teachers and trainers have in what tech they end up with?

Postnote: Just when I was thinking I have done my duty and been to one of these trade shows I remembered that I had agreed to staff the Mature-Ip project stand at Learntec in Karlsruhe in ten days time. Have to start working on a survival strategy – any ideas welcome.

 

UK education minister calls for open source curriculum!

January 11th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The fundamental model of school education is still a teacher talking to a group of pupils. It has barely changed over the centuries, even since Plato established the earliest “akademia” in a shady olive grove in ancient Athens.

A Victorian schoolteacher could enter a 21st century classroom and feel completely at home. Whiteboards may have eliminated chalk dust, chairs may have migrated from rows to groups, but a teacher still stands in front of the class, talking, testing and questioning.

But that model won’t be the same in twenty years’ time. It may well be extinct in ten.

Technology is already bringing about a profound transformation in education, in ways that we can see before our very eyes and in others that we haven’t even dreamt of yet.

Nothing too remarkable here, and any regular reader of this blog will recognise similar ideas spouted on these pages. What is remarkable is the person who said it – the unpopular Minster of Education for England, Michael Gove, in a speech at the opening of BETT, the UK education technology exhibition.

This was a long awaited speech, given that Give has said little about educational technology since the Con-Dem coalition government came to power. In a speech which seemed to go down well with the ed-tech community on twitter but was criticised by teachers union leaders, Gove went on to say:

  • The present IT national curriculum for schools would be abolished leaving schools freedom to design their own curriculum. From September this year schools will be free to use the “amazing resources” that already exist and will exist on the web.
  • Games and interactive software can help pupils acquire complicated skills
  • He wants to see the introduction new courses of study in computer science
  • We should “look at the school curriculum in a new way, and consider how new technological platforms can help to create new curriculum materials in a much creative and collaborative way than in the past
  • Rather than concentrate on hardware procurement we should focus on improving initial teacher training and continual professional development for teachers in educational technology

Gove said three main things that technology can do for learning:

  • Disseminate knowledge incredibly widely.
  • Change the way teachers teach, with adaptive software personalising learning.
  • Allow teachers to assess pupils in more complex and sophisticated ways.

Gove went on to talk about an open-source curriculum saying:

Advances in technology should also make us think about the broader school curriculum in a new way.

In an open-source world, why should we accept that a curriculum is a single, static document? A statement of priorities frozen in time; a blunt instrument landing with a thunk on teachers’ desks and updated only centrally and only infrequently?

It all seems a bit too good to be true. And of course a lot depends on how these chnages mucght be implemented and vitally what support and funding is avaiable to schools.

A website – schooltech..org.uk – has been launched to discuss the new proposals. Bernadette Brooks
General Manager of Naace and Seb Schmoller Chief Executive, Association for Learning Technology (ALT) explained the reasons for the consultation:

The effective use of technology has great potential to support better teaching and learning, but there are important questions arising from the opportunities presented by new technologies. For example: how teachers can best develop the right skills; how learning is organised and delivered; and how education can be agile in adapting to new technology developments. This is an important opportunity to discuss and understand the implications.

The site contains, initially, some “stimulus questions” suggested by DFE, which can be discussed by the posting of comments. During March Naace and ALT will work together to produce a report which we will share with DFE that draws on the discussion that we hope will now ensue.

We hope that parents, teachers, technology developers and practitioners, policy people, researchers, students, people from industry and any others with an interest in and experience of this field will join the conversation.

You can add your ideas on the conusltation web site. Or of course you can just add a comment here 🙂  I will be coming back to some of the issues raised by Give’s announcement in further blog posts over the next week.

Universities in the UK set to become the preserve of big business and the wealthy

January 5th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), blogs on a report released this morning by the University and College Union (UCU) which “has revealed annual public spending on university teaching and research in England will fall to its lowest proportion in over a century, as a result of the government’s new higher education reforms.”

Sally goes on to say that: “Our study also highlights how as spending on teaching and research falls, the burden on students to fund higher education will increase. By 2013/2014 the proportion students contribute to university funding (through higher tuition fees) will be 47.2% – the highest since the 1890s when university was the preserve of the wealthiest.”…..

These plans will put at risk decades of progress in opening up access to education and will endanger the health of the sector. You cannot maintain a world-class university system in the 21st century by turning the clock back to the 1900s and before.”

For the last year universities in England have been cutting back on expenditure and making teachers and researchers redundant. Research is to a large extent now dependent on external funding, meaning the research agenda is essentially being driven by big business.

The first effects of the increase in fees were seen in figures released by the Higher Education Funding Authority as reported in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper.

Whilst the number of UK-born students applying to start university this autumn has slumped by almost 8%,  applications from students aged 40 and over (who in the past have had lower incomes) have fallen by 15.4% compared with last year. Those aged 20 have dropped by 15%.

The Guardian also points out that “the number of applicants from England has dropped more sharply than those from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. This is not surprising since institutions in those countries will be able to charge up to £9,000, but devolved governments will provide generous financial support to their own students.”

As research gets taken over by big business, university education will, as in the 19th Century, become a preserve of the wealthy.


Reflections on Personal Learning Environments

January 5th, 2012 by Graham Attwell


I got a great email from Rui Páscoa, Sérgio Lagoa and João Greno Brogueira, Masters students at the Open University in Portugal. One of their teachers, they say, Professor José Mota, “asked us to interview someone who is a reference in online teaching and, based on thisinterview, write a 2000-word paper as one of the compulsory activities for the subject ‘Elearning Pedagogical Processes’.”

They sent me the questions and rather than write a long text I agreed to reply by video. The questions – see below – are excellent – in focusing on the key issues around Personal Learning Environments. I struggled with some of my answers – it would be great if anyone else could add their ideas by video or in the reply box to this blog entry.

Questions:

  1. What is the pedagogical model you follow as an online teacher and why?
  2. You have been developing some serious thinking on PLEs. How important are they in the learning process?
  3. Do you advise your students to follow a specific  “model” or do you give them full freedom in building their PLE?
  4. Ever since the concept of PLE appeared there have been several discussions about this issue and the concept itself has been evolving. In what way has the PLE interfered in the change of elearning pedagogical models? Or is the PLE merely “a tool” that you can use and take some benefit from in the already existing practices, without real influence in changing them?
  5. Many Universities and Colleges offering online courses tend to adopt pedagogical models quite close to traditional teaching and learning, centred on transmitting contents in closed environments (LMS/VLE) controlled by the institution. How shall we overcome this traditional approach and persuade the universities to change their practices?
  6. Elearning is becoming more and more relevant, both in formal and informal education, and it is seen as essential in lifelong learning processes. How do you see the future of elearning, bearing in mind the technological development and the social and economical changes that will come along with the evolution of society?

Changing the Language of Learning

January 2nd, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I am not going to provide any list of posts / apps or anything else to mark the new year. The lists are getting on my nerves. What constitutes ‘best’ anyway? I rather wonder if making lists has become a substitute for thinking? I would provide some thoughts on trends for 2012 except I not really sure what will happen. Technology is changing too fast and too unpredictably. Education economy and politics seem wrapped in a slow waltz which is also totally unpredictable in its outcomes. Indeed it may be that people and the actions of people will be more important than technology in determining the course of educational development over the next period. Or lets hope so.

But I will add a wish (not a wish list 🙂 ) for 2012. My wish is that we can get rid of all those letters in from of ‘learning’. ‘e’ ,’i’, ‘m’, ‘b’ and all the rest of them. I even wonder if the term ‘informal learning’ (one I am probably overly fond of using) is of much use any more.

I suspect these terms came about because we wished to signify learning by the technologies being deployed – and to a lesser extent the design of learning with technology. Yet as technology has become increasingly ubiquitous the terms have ceased to have any meaning. We don’t talk about ‘b-learning’ to refer to reading a book nor ‘c-learning’ to refer to learning in a classroom.

So lets just return to that old word – ‘learning’ – and use it to mean all the different ways in which people learn and all the different artefacts that they use in the learning process. Lest move from instructional design to designing for learning. Lets try and support learning in all the contexts in which it takes place. And lets try and support learning for everyone – not just those privileged to be enrolled on a programme in an educational institution.

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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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