Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Raspberry Pi released

February 27th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

There seems to be a real buzz developing about the release of the Raspberry Pi computer. This  QR code poster nwas developed by Jonas Butz, a high school student from Germany. But before I go on to look at what the Raspberry Pi is, lest explain why I think it is so important.

There has been a long debate in the UK on what kids should be taught about computers. fairly obviously the ‘old’ curriculum which all too often focused on the ability to use things like spreadsheets or worse still Powerpoint was inadequate and failed to interest many students.

I don’t think the latest government policy of introducing a GCSE (the single subject qualifications students take at around 16 years old) in computing science is really the answer (even with a focus on programming).

I am still worried about how we can move from the idea of digital literacies to critical literacies (although I guess this depend a little on how you define these terms.

And I increasingly feel we should be able to teach kids how not just to hack software and to have a critical understanding of the role of digital technologies in society but also to be able to hack the hardware itself. Steve Jobs always talked about Apple’s aim to be at the interface of engineering and the liberal arts. But in many ways Apple’s closed infrastructure and its obsession with locking down devices (to the extent of even using special screws which cannot be removed without Apple tools) has stopped young people being able to explore hardware and try out their own hardware solutions. Surely hacking hardware is the best way of learning engineering and at the same time thinking about what role technology might play in our societies.

So I am excited by the launch of the credit card sized Raspberry Pi computer which it seems is now shipping at a price of 25 dollars for model A and 35 dollars for model B. OK this is without a keyboard, mouse, monitor or case. But, in my experience, the first thing geek kids do is remove the case from their computer!

This video talks about the Fedora Linux release which is being recommended for the Raspberry Pi.

The ‘About us‘ section of the Raspberry Pi website is modest (take note Apple – and, for that matter, OLPC) in explaining their ambition:

We don’t claim to have all the answers. We don’t think that the Raspberry Pi is a fix to all of the world’s computing issues; we do believe that we can be a catalyst. We want to see cheap, accessible, programmable computers everywhere; we actively encourage other companies to clone what we’re doing. We want to break the paradigm where without spending hundreds of pounds on a PC, families can’t use the internet. We want owning a truly personal computer to be normal for children. We think that 2012 is going to be a very exciting year.

Imaginarium – changing the DNA of education

February 20th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The backlog of work has not been helped by me having flu. But I am back at my desk today. And late Thursday I fly to Romania to speak at a conference organised by the ever inventive CROS

Traian Bruma emailed me to explain the purpose and format of the conference.

“The project’s public name is Restart in Education and the Launch Event it’s called Imaginarium. It’s only 20% a conference, it’s 30% an un-conference because the participants will generate ideas and self-organize around ones that attract them. And it is 50% a creative workshop. We put up a website in romanian: www.restartedu.ro but you can check out you pictures here: http://www.restartedu.ro/cine-vine/

Our aim with imaginarium (the event) is to change the DNA of education in Romania and as George Bernard Shaw put it “The imagination is the begining of creation”. This is why the event is called Imaginarium – because it’s a place devoted to the imagination of the future of education in Romania.

The event is set up like a Game with 4 levels. We thought to have a presentation at the beginning of each Level. If it ok with you, we arranged them this way:

Level 1. Discovering the opportunities

Opened by Leonard – about democratic education; This will help them disconnect the notions of education and industrial schooling model. I think that the Summerhill philosophy about education will inspire them and free their minds to think in a different way about learning and education and to discover that there are opportunities in doing things differently.

Level 2. Creating the Imaginarium – the teams connect oportunities discovered and generate 100 ideas of online platforms
Opened by – Fred; – helping them understand how you can connect new ideas about how people learn with opportunities like technology, laws, demographics or other things similar

Level 3. Idea marketplace – Choosing 20 ideas and 20 leaders with their teams

Opened by Cosmin – about why champion an idea and what the business world needs

Level 4. Shaping Ideas – preparing the ideas so they can be submitted on the restartedu.ro platform and a Pitch Fest at the end with SMS voting and feedback

Opened by Graham – help them start shaping the ideas focusing on the interaction of technology, community, educational philosophy, thinking about the opportunities of different technologies and mashups to create new ways for people to organize themselves, interact and learn.

What we said above are only guidelines. It is not so important to link the talk to the game level as it is to provide inspiration and food for thought. We need them to think as far out of the box as possible.”

This sounds like a lot of fun and a brilliant format that could be adopted elsewhere. I shall report on how it all, goes.

Thinking about MOOCs

February 12th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

As I wrote only a couple of weeks ago Massive Open Online Courses are here to say. Almost everyday I stumble on notifications for a new MOOC.

Jenny Mackness reports she has “been invited to work with the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development to develop a short MOOC (4-6 weeks) for Educational Developers and all those interested in teaching and learning in Further and Higher Education.”

She goes on to put forward a list of issues in developing the MOOC which may be relevant to others:

  • How will an already established and successful face-to-face ’closed’ course translate into a MOOC? What will we be able to keep? What will have to go?
  • More importantly how might traditional ways of working/thinking have to change to accommodate MOOC principles – autonomy, diversity, openness and connectedness?
  • What technologies/platforms will we use/promote and how will our choices affect our and participants’ abilities to aggregate, remix, re-purpose, feed/forward?
  • What assessment opportunities will be offered? How will we manage ‘for credit’ participants?
  • Most MOOCs I have been involved in have been at least 10 weeks long. This will be a short MOOC.  What are the issues specific to short MOOCs?

 

 

 

Open Learning Analytics or Architectures for Open Curricula?

February 12th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

George Siemen’s latest post, based on his talk at TEDxEdmonton, makes for interesting reading.

George says:

Classrooms were a wonderful technological invention. They enabled learning to scale so that education was not only the domain of society’s elites. Classrooms made it (economically) possible to educate all citizens. And it is a model that worked quite well.

(Un)fortunately things change. Technological advancement, coupled with rapid growth of information, global connectedness, and new opportunities for people to self-organized without a mediating organization, reveals the fatal flaw of classrooms: slow-developing knowledge can be captured and rendered as curriculum, then be taught, and then be assessed. Things breakdown when knowledge growth is explosive. Rapidly developing knowledge and context requires equally adaptive knowledge institutions. Today’s educational institutions serve a context that no longer exists and its (the institution’s) legacy is restricting innovation.

George calls for the development of an open learning analytics architecture based on the idea that: “Knowing how schools and universities are spinning the dials and levers of content and learning – an activity that ripples decades into the future – is an ethical and more imperative for educators, parents, and students.”

I am not opposed to what he is saying, although I note Frances Bell’s comment about privacy of personal data. But I am unsure that such an architecture really would improve teaching and learning – and especially learning.

As George himself notes, the driving force behind the changes in teaching and learning that we are seeing today is the access afforded by new technology to learning outside the institution. Such access has largely rendered irrelevant the old distinctions between formal, non formal and informal learning. OK – there is still an issue in that accreditation is largely controlled by institutions who naturally place much emphasis on learning which takes place within their (controlled and sanctioned) domain. yet even this is being challenged by developments such as Mozilla’s Open Badges project.

Educational technology has played only a limited role in extending learning. In reality we have provided access to educational technology to those already within the system. But the adoption of social and business software for learning – as recognised in the idea of the Personal Learning Environment – and the similar adaption of these technologies for teaching and learning through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – have moved us beyond the practice of merely replicating traditional classroom architectures and processes in technology.

However there remain a series of problematic issues. Perhaps foremost is the failure to develop open curricula – or, better put, to rethink the role of curricula for self-organized learning.

For better or worse, curricula traditionally played a role in scaffolding learning – guiding learners through a series of activities to develop skills and knowledge. These activities were graded, building on previously acquired knowledge in developing a personal knowledge base which could link constituent parts, determining how the parts relate to one another and to an overall structure or purpose.

As Peter Pappas points out in his blog on ‘A Taxonomy of Reflection’, this in turn allows the development of what Bloom calls ‘Higher Order Reflection’ – enabling learners to combine or reorganize elements into a new pattern or structure.

Vygostsky recognised the importance of a ‘More Knowledgeable Other’ in supporting reflection in learning through a Zone of Peripheral Development. Such an idea is reflected in the development of Personal Learning Networks, often utilising social software.

Yet the curricula issue remains – and especially the issue of how we combine and reorganise elements of learning into new patterns and structure without the support of formal curricula. This is the more so since traditional subject boundaries are breaking down. Present technology support for this process is very limited. Traditional hierarchical folder structures have been supplemented by keywords and with some effort learners may be able to develop their own taxonomies based on metadata. But the process remains difficult.

So – if we are to go down the path of developing new open architectures – my priority would be for an open architecture of curricula. Such a curricula would play a dual role in supporting self organised learning for individuals but also at the same time supporting emergent rhizomatic curricula at a social level.

 

MOOCs are here to stay

February 6th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

John Naughton is one of the most thoughtful of mainstream newspaper writers on new media. Although aa academic at the UK Open University, his regular Guardian newspaper column covers a wide range of different issues.

His article yesterday, entitled Welcome to the desktop degree…, predicted the end of the road for the universities in sitting back and hoping their monopoly on accreditation would guarantee an unending throughput of students.

If all the world’s stored knowledge can be accessed from any networked device, and if the teaching materials and lectures of the best scholars are likewise available online, why should students pay fees and incur debts to live in cramped accommodation for three years?

John goes on to say:

Some things have happened recently that make one think that perhaps the water might be reaching boiling point for traditional universities. The key development is a set of three courses created by Stanford University academics and colleagues in three subject areas: machine learning, database design and artificial intelligence. What makes these significant is that they are: intellectually demanding; free; presented entirely online; taught by world-class academics; and inclusive of assessment as well as tuition.

160000 students from 190 countries signed up to Stanford’s “Introduction to AI” course” , with 23000 reportedly completing.

Only three years ago there was a debate at the F-ALT fringe event at ALT-C on whether MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) were merely a passing fad. I can’t remember the results of the vote at the end of the debate but can remember that there was considerable scepticism. The truth seems to be that the MOOC model has taken hold. My only concern is that in adopting such a model for large scale commercial application by large and often private American universities, the values and dedication of people like Stephen Downes and George Siemens who pioneered the early MOOCs will be lost and such courses will just become an industrial treadmill for students.

Collaborative research and learning using everyday productivity and social software tools

February 6th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The main reason I have been so quiet on this blog in recent weeks has been the European bidding season.

Pontydysgu receives no regular funding and although we have some small consultancy contracts and do some teaching, the majority of our income is from project work. In the past, we had considerable funding from various UK agencies, this largely dried up with the onset of the recession and government cutbacks. This, we have become more reliant on funding from the European Union.

There are two main programmes for education and training in Europe, the European 7th Framework research programme and the Lifelong Learning Programme. The Research Framework funds larger projects than the LLL, but has historically been more competitive.

For both programmes, the application process is not straightforward, requiring completion of long forms and documents. In general both programmes are targeted towards innovation, however defined, and both tend to set priorities based on current EU policy directives. Both also require multinational project partnerships. Both have been on call recently – involving many hours of work to develop proposals.

In the past, the reality was that one or perhaps two partners would prepare the project requiring only limit input from other project members. And whilst this is still sometimes the case things are changing fast. For large and c0mplex projects especially in the Technology Enhanced Learning field expertise is needed from different disciplines and from people with different knowledge and skills.

Technology for distance communication and for research has allowed the dispersed and collaborative development of project proposals to become a reality. We have recently submitted a large scale proposal to the Research Framework IST  programme on learning in Small and Medium Enterprises. This project has some 16 partners drawn from I guess around ten countries. And whilst the input and hard work of the coordinator was central to the proposal, the work was undertaken collaboratively with many of the partners making a major input.

What tools did we use? Google docs were used for collaboratively producing earlier versions of our ideas. Doodle was important for setting dates for meetings. Flashmeeting was used extensively for fortnightly meetings of partners (in the latter stages of the proposal weekly or even daily meetings became the norm). Skype was also used for bilateral meetings. And Dropbox was used as a shared file repository. Dropbox proved to be a little problematic in producing somewhat confusing conflicted copies which then has to be edited together. But overall the system worked well. I think what is important is that the tools do exist. And we do not need any big research infrastructure, rather what is needed is the imagination to share through the use of everyday productivity and social software tools.

And it seems to me that if we are able to use such tools to develop a complex and collaboratively produced research proposal, the same tools can be used for collaboration between learners or for small businesses. The barrier is not so much usability fo the applications themselves, but a willingness, understanding and appreciation of how to collaborate!

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    News Bites

    Learning about technology

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

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

    Building apps (45%)
    Creating Games (43%)
    Virtual reality (38%)
    Coding computer languages (34%)
    Artificial intelligence (28%)


    MOOC providers in 2016

    According to Class Central a quarter of the new MOOC users  in 2016 came from regional MOOC providers such as  XuetangX (China) and Miríada X (Latin America).

    They list the top five MOOC providers by registered users:

    1. Coursera – 23 million
    2. edX – 10 million
    3. XuetangX – 6 million
    4. FutureLearn – 5.3 million
    5. Udacity – 4 million

    XuetangX burst onto this list making it the only non-English MOOC platform in top five.

    In 2016, 2,600+ new courses (vs. 1800 last year) were announced, taking the total number of courses to 6,850 from over 700 universities.


    Jobs in cyber security

    In a new fact sheet the Tech Partnership reveals that UK cyber workforce has grown by 160% in the five years to 2016. 58,000 people now work in cyber security, up from 22,000 in 2011, and they command an average salary of over £57,000 a year – 15% higher than tech specialists as a whole, and up 7% on last year. Just under half of the cyber workforce is employed in the digital industries, while banking accounts for one in five, and the public sector for 12%.


    Number students outside EU falls in UK

    Times Higher Education reports the number of first-year students from outside the European Union enrolling at UK universities fell by 1 per cent from 2014-15 to 2015-16, according to data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

    Data from the past five years show which countries are sending fewer students to study in the UK.

    Despite a large increase in the number of students enrolling from China, a cohort that has grown by 12,500 since 2011-12, enrolments by students from India fell by 13,150 over the same period.

    Other notable changes include an increase in students from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and a fall in students from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.


    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

    • Pontydysgu on the Web

      pbwiki
      Our Wikispace for teaching and learning
      Sounds of the Bazaar Radio LIVE
      Join our Sounds of the Bazaar Facebook goup. Just click on the logo above.

      We will be at Online Educa Berlin 2015. See the info above. The stream URL to play in your application is Stream URL or go to our new stream webpage here SoB Stream Page.

  • Twitter

    Critical reading if you are interested in LMS systems twitter.com/audreywatters/…

    About 40 minutes ago from Graham Attwell's Twitter via Twitter for Mac

  • RT @LTHEchat We're really looking forward to our 99th #LTHEchat tonight 8-9pm GMT - hope you can join us! lthechat.com/2017/12/10/lth…

    About 3 hours ago from Cristina Costa's Twitter via Twitter for iPhone

  • Sounds of the Bazaar AudioBoo

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Upcoming Events

      There are no events.
  • Categories