Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

No ‘Team GB’ for education!

September 30th, 2012 by Jenny Hughes

The Wales Government has announced its plans to implement the recommendations of a report it commissioned earlier this year “Find it, make it, use it, share it: learning in Digital Wales.”  We are quite excited that Wales is one of the pioneers in developing a whole-country strategy for the promotion of digital technologies in school classrooms – including advocating the widespread use of mobile devices, a shift to a PLE rather than MLE focus and the use of social software for learning.  There are one or two things we disagree with, such as the heavy emphasis on a ‘national’ collection of resources, but the rest of the report is exciting, forward thinking and realistic.  There is a serious commitment to mass staff development at all levels – surely the biggest barrier to take up of new technologies in the classroom – including defining a set of digital competences for teachers. This report also recommends that these competences (personal AND pedagogic) be compulsory in ITT courses.

The other section of the report which will cause major ripples is the chunk entitled “External conditions for success” which seem to us to identify all of the brick walls which teachers come up against and suggests that they should be dismantled. I am going to quote the report in full because it is music to the ears of most of us involved with e-learning in schools.

Universal take-up of digital opportunities assumes that:

  • all learning providers, and indeed all classrooms, can connect to the internet at sufficient speeds to enable efficient use of digital resources
  • interface equipment – whiteboards, PCs, tablets, mobile devices, etc. – are available widely enough within learning providers to give quick and easy access to resources. ‘Bring your own device’ solutions may be appropriate here
  • learners and teachers are not prevented from using resources by general restrictions imposed by local authorities or learning providers on certain types of hardware (e.g. smart phones), software (e.g. ‘apps’) or web resources (e.g. Facebook, YouTube or Twitter)
  • learners and their parents/carers have adequate access at home (and increasingly on mobile devices) to ensure that technology-enhanced learning in the classroom can be replicated and deepened outside the learning provider. 

LEAs, take note!!

The main vehicle for turning the report into reality will be an organisation called the ‘Hwb’ (no, not a funny way of spelling Hub, ‘hwb’ means to promote, push or inspire). Its remit will be to lead, promote and support the use of digital resources and technologies by learners and teachers across Wales and create and develop a national digital collection for learning and teaching in English and Welsh.  Both Pontydysgu and the Taccle2 project in Wales are committed to doing what we can to support the Hwb and will make sure that all our resources and experience in the field are freely available.

The driving force behind it all is Leighton Andrews, the Minister for Education in Wales – with whose politics I usually disagree – but I am very happy to admit that he has come up trumps with this one!  He is knowledgable, committed and comes across as a genuinely enthusiastic technophile with an understanding of what education could look like in the future and a clear vision of how, in Wales, we are going to get there.  (“Just like Michael Gove!”, I hear my English colleagues say….).  I must admit, that even as a card-carrying member of a different party (byddwch chi’n dyfalu!), devolution has been all good in terms of education and we have had two excellent Ministers.   Look at the image on the top of this post and you may understand why we are looking forward to an increasing divergence and autonomy.  Team GB? No thanks!

 

 


 

European Conference on Educational Research: the Podcast (Episode 1)

September 25th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Last week we broadcast three live internet radio programmes from the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) in Cadiz. Here is the first of the programmes.

ECER is a huge conference, this year attracted some 2700 participants. It is run by 27  networks who each put together their own programme. The networks cover a wide range of topics – from Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations to Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures to  Social Justice and Intercultural Education.

We wanted to reflect the diversity of the networks in our programmes and at the same time try to capture something of the feel of the conference. I don;t know if we succeeded but it was a lot of fun and also hard work.

Many thanks to the Pontydysgu crew: Nic, Jen, Dirk and Maria.

Programme participants (in running order)

  • Jennifer Collins – From the EERA office talks about her role in the conference
  • Tina Besley & Michael Peters – University of Waikato, New Zealand talk about their network’s research into Intercultural Education and Dialogue
  • Danny Durant – From the Institute of Education, London, talks about ECER London 2014
  • Kerry Facer, Helen Manchester & Howard Baker – Discuss their research into Open Learning
  • Phil Mudd – From Routledge Press talks about e-publishing and the threats and opportunities it poses to traditional modes of publishing
  • Vox Pops – Roving reporter Jen Hughes pounces on unsuspecting delegates to find out what they think about the conference

Programme length: 30 minutes

Scaffolding learning with and about technology

September 24th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Last week we were in Cadiz at the European Conference on Educational Research. Amongst other things, we produced three live half hour radio programmes and I will upload the podcast copies in the next two days.

Today we had an online meeting of the UK Nominet Trust funded RadioActive project. This is a great new project, using Internet radio to work with young people in Hackney in London. the idea is for them to produce their own programmes, about whatever topics interest them. And in the course of the project we hope they will learn a series of different skills and competences, including interviewing, multimedia, producing and editing music etc.

The grant included funding for equipment, which we bought at the start of the work. Of course, we wanted to make sure we had all the equipment we might need in the course of the two year project (we will post this up soon in case anyone is interested). We adopted a cascade model for training, with Pontydysgu running a two day workshop for youth workers who would be working with the young people. Of course we wanted to show the best that could be done wit such equipment, using wireless microphones, a portable mixing deck and an Apple computer to broadcast a half hour radi0 programme. Although I was not there, by all accounts the workshop was a great success.

The idea was the youth workers would follow up by running their own workshops with young people. But as sometimes happens, contracting issues crept in to delay the live launch. And by the time we were ready for working directly with young people, the youth workers were not confident about using our advanced ‘outside broadcast’ radio set up.

Although we had taken a lot of trouble to design the workshop to scaffold the learning process around skills and competences such as interviewing and designing and producing media, in the course of today’s meeting it became apparent that we had failed to scaffold the learning around the technology.

This afternoon I did a one hour on line training session (using Skype) for one of the project staff. Instead of setting up the mixing deck and wireless microphones, we started simple, using just a USB microphone plugged directly into a computer and focusing on a number of simple first steps:

We did 3 things:

  1. We used GarageBand to record and edit a short voice input (if there had been more people this could have been an interview)
  2. We made a simple jingle mixing a GarageBand loop with a voice over
  3. We downloaded a Creative Commons licensed track from jamendo.com and edited it in Garageband to make our intro music for a programme.

We exported all of these to iTunes and then dragged them onto Soundboard. Sadly we did not have the server settings for Nicecast but if we did we could have then instantly broadcast a programme.

Now I am thinking how we can build a series of activities which both scaffold the content of what we are doing but also scaffold the technology which we use.

Of course I should have done this when we started, but I think it is indicative of a wider problem. We have been working in several projects using Web2.0 technology and social software with teachers and trainers. I think we can get over excited about the possibilities such applications offer. Then instead of focusing on the subject or topic of the learning, learning about the technology overwhelms everything else. I had a conversation with Jenny Hughes some time ago about this and she suggested (if I remember correctly) that we have a develop a dual system of scaffolding – one for the subject and a second for the technology. Of course these two scaffolds will overlap at some point.

I have seen a number of attempts to develop schema or even applications which suggest the best software or apps for any particular learning task but am unconvinced they work or even that this approach is possible. In most cases there will be many different technologies which could be used. I am far more impressed by the format and structure adapted by the Taccle2 project, in which Pontydysgu are a partner. This project focuses directly on teaching and learning and the technology is an enabling factor, rather than the ’50 great apps for learning’ approach so prevalent today.

i will write more on this but would be interested in any feedback / ideas.

 

 

Learning Analytics

September 17th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Hi Graham, writes Tess Pajaron from the Australian Open Colleges, “My name is Tess and I am an avid reader of your blog. I read an article you did about online learning and Technology Integration in the Classroom and I thought that you can make use of this infographic that we just developed.  You can check it out here: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/learning-analytics-infographic/.

Please do let me know what you think. And if you can feature it on your blog, I’d be really thrilled! :D”

Its a good infographic and I am happy to feature it. Personally I am somewhat sceptical about learning analytics, but others in Pontydsygu are keener and we certainly want to find out more. And we are always happy to feature reader submitted content (as long as you are not a bot!).

Live from the European Conference on Educational Research

September 12th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) starts next Tuesday in Cadiz in Spain. Some 2000 delegates will take part, organised through 28 networks covering different areas and themes in education.

Not able to attend yourself? Pontydysgu are working with EERA, who run the conference, to provide alive stream of the four keynote speeches. We will be also broadcasting three live half hour internet radio programmes from the conference. The details are below (all times are Central European summer Time).

The live video can be accessed through the conference web site (full details will be on the site in the next 48 hours).

The radio programmes can be accessed at http://uk2.internet-radio.com:31022/live.m3u. Click on the link and the stream will open in your MP3 player of choice (e.g. iTunes).

Wednesday 19 September
14:00 – 15:00 Keynote 1 – What is ‘the Human’ about the Humanities today?  – Rosi Braidotti
14:00 – 15:00 Keynote 2  – Two different realms. Politics and Educational Knowledge in European history – Marcelo Caruso

Thursday 20 September

10:30 – 11:00 Conference radio programme 1
14:00 – 15:00 Keynote 3 – What is Wrong with the What-Went-Right Approach in Educational Policy? – Gita Steiner-Khamsi
14:00 – 15:00 Keynote 4 – Constitution, Education and Research – Fuensanta Hernandez Pina

Friday 21 September
10:30 – 11:00 Conference radio programme 2
15:00 – 15:30 Conference radio programme 3

 

The Great Disruption?

September 12th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

This years meme at ed-tech conferences is disruption. There seems to be two opposing discourses. One says that education is not in a period of disruption – rather that the system is evolving to take account of the possibilities that technology offers for teaching and learning.

The other says we are entering a period of disruption with the existing system fundamentally unable to respond to needs and that the take up of technology will lead to fundamental change. The rush to deliver and accredit MOOCs is seen as the tipping point.

I think both sides are wrong. Firstly there are massive differences in different countries. Whilst there is little doubt of the speed of change, uncertainty and even disruption in the US and UK higher education sectors, in Germany and the Netherlands, for example, life seems to be going on as before.

What this suggest to me is that it is not technology as such that is the major factor in disruption. Rather it is social and ideological drivers which are leading to the more apocalyptic scenarios. We probably have reached a tipping point in that the use of technology for learning is becoming mainstream. And the availability of high quality learning opportunities outside the classroom means that educational institutions can know longer claim a monopoly on learning or knowledge. Equally the power of smart phones is opening up new contexts for learning. Of course these developments will lead to changes – particularly in pedagogy – within institutions.

But the promise of such developments is to extend education to all who wish to learn, rather t5han the present minority who are able to access higher education.

But this i9s a political and social decision. Technology can be used in many different ways – for good and for bad, In the US and in the UK the technology argument is being used as part of an ideological drive to extend the remit of capital to include education – in other words to privatise education. And of course the new private institutions will be  driven primarily by the need to make a profit – rather than by pedagogical imperatives.

Lets look again at MOOCs. the early MOOCs – now known as c-MOOCs – were developed by people like Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Dave Cormier and Jim Groom. The idea of massive open online courses was not to make money. Quite the reverse : they were struggling to find models to sustain the programmes. They were motivated by the idea of new pedagogical approaches to using technology for learning.

Now MOOCs have been picked up by the mainstream system. Coursera is an international consortium of elite universities using a proprietary platform to deliver free online courses. Apart from their use of video these courses are somewhat traditional in their pedagogic approach. At last weeks EFQUEL conference, Jeff Haywood, Vice Principal of Knowledge Management at Edinburgh university, a founder member of the Coursera consortium, was quite explicit about their interest in MOOCs. We are there to make money, he said. And if we do not make money within four years we will close the MOOCs down (it is worth reading Audrey Watters extremely amusing account of the education session at the TECHCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco earlier this week).

Same technology – but very different pedagogic approach and motivation. So it is not technology per se which is the driving force behind the great disruption. Rather it is the economic crisis and political and ideological responses to that crisis. As a society should we be retaining free education and investing in education as a response to the fall in productivity and high levels of unemployment. Or should be be seeking to cut back by privatising education? That is the real debate.

 

Project Tin Can promises to recognise informal learning

September 11th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I have never been a fan of SCORM.It is claimed that the SCORM standard has reduced the cost of elearning through ensuring that all e-learning content and LMSs can work with each other. However, it has always seemed to me that SCORM was built around a funnel idea of learning, rendering problematic more ambitious and constructivist pedagogies. Thus I have paid little attention to what ADL – who ‘own’ the SCORM standard are up to. Wrongly it seems.

Together with Rustici Software, ADL have released Project Tin Drum, which they say is a successor to SCORM. Critically they appear to be recognising that learning takes place in different contexts and want to recognise all learning, including informal learning. The Tin Can project web site says “The Tin Can API offers up methods to integrate real-world activities with digital learning.” They also make much of the fact that learning no longer has to take place in an LMS nor even in a browser. The centre of Tin Can is an open APi, allowing the capture of learning actions:

  • People learn from interactions with other people, content, and beyond. These actions can happen anywhere and signal an event where learning could occur. All of these can be recorded with the Tin Can API.
  • When an activity needs to be recorded, the application sends secure statements in the form of “Noun, verb, object” or “I did this” to a Learning Record Store (LRS.)
  • Learning Record Stores record all of the statements made. An LRS can share these statements with other LRSs. An LRS can exist on its own, or inside an LMS.

The basis of the APi is a simple Actor, verb, object syntax. the web site provides the following examples: “Jack completed safety training.” “Christie experienced the Berlin Wall in Second Life.”  The go on to say: “These statements can be simple or complex. The actors, verbs, and objects can vary widely, and can be described with varying levels of detail. Actors/learners can also be described in various different ways.”

Sequencing is based on the activities.

Whilst much is made of the simplicity of the standard, there is a danger that it will get more complex in implementation. At the moment there is only a limited infrastructure to support Tin Can. Rustici offer a cloud implementation, including a free low volume account. There is also a book marklet and should shortly be a plug in for WordPress. That WordPress may be one of the first workable implementation speaks volumes in itself of the difference from SCORM which was designed for heavyweight Learning Management Systems.

Project Tin Can looks fascinating. I would be intere4setd in hearing what others think.

Links via Stephen Downes and

Who owns the e-Portfolio?

September 4th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Over the years I have had a fair bit of interest, in this diagramme, produced in a paper for the the e-Portfolio conference in Cambridge in 2005.

I has some discussion about it with Gemma Tur at the PLE2012 Conference in Aveiro. And now Gemma, who is writing her doctoral dissertation in ePortfolios, has written to me to remind me of our discussion. Gemma says:

I thought I could add that eportfolios built with web 2.0 tools may have another process which is based on networking. Cambridge (2009, 2010) argues about the construction of two selves, the networked self and the symphonic self. The first is about documenting learning quickly, in everyday life, taking brief notes with short and quick reflection, sharing and networking. The second is about presenting learning, reorganizing learning, linking learning evidence, with longer and more profound reflection… no networking in this final stage, as it is an inner process

As I am working with learning eportfolios, with web 2.0 tools, networking is a learning process for my students. Therefore, they are building their networked self.

So, if I argue networking is an eportofolio process of web 2.0 eportfolios, who owns the process? Looking at your article and your illustration, I thought it could be a process owned by both the learner and the external world. If networking is a process of sharing, visiting, linking, connecting, commenting, does it mean that it involves both the learner and the audience? this is what I thought before you told me that it is the learner’s process for sure.

So do you think that definitely I should argue that it is only owned by the learner? Then although it could need someone else to comment and connect, in fact, the act of networking is the student’s responsibility? is this the reason why you think that?, do you think I should argue it is owned by the learner?

These are interesting discussion impacting on wider areas than ePortfolios. In particular I think the issue of control is important to the emerging MOOC discussion.

Returning to Gemma’s questions – although I have not read the paper – I don’t think I agree with Cambridge’s idea of he networked self and the symphonic self – at least in this context. I think that networking becomes more important when presenting learning, reorganizing learning, linking learning evidence, and longer and more profound reflection. these processes are inherently social and therefore take place in a social environment.

However it is interesting that social networking was hardly on the radar as a learning process in 2005. And when I referred to the ‘external world’ I was thinking about external organisations – qualification and governmental bodies, trade unions and employers rather than broad social networks. Probably the diagramme needs completely redrawing to reflect the advent and importance of Personal Learning Networks.

However, despite the fact that personal social networks exist in the external world (the ‘audience’), I think the owner of the process is the learner. AZnd I would return again to Ilona Buchems study of the psychological ownership of Personal learning Environments. Ilona says:

One of most interesting outcomes of the study was the relation between control and ownership. The results show that while perceived control of intangible aspects of a learning environment (such as being able to determine the subject matter or access rights) has a much larger impact on the feeling of ownership of a learning environment than perceived control of tangible aspects (such as being able to choose the technology).

Personal Learning Networks are possibly the most important of the intangible aspects of a learning environment. The development of PLEs (which I would argue come out of the ePortfolio debate) and the connectivist MOOCs are shifting control from the educational institutions to the elearners and possibly more important from institutions to wider communities of practice and learning. Whilst up to now, institutions have been able to keep some elements of control (and monopoly through verifying, moderating, accrediting and certifying learning, that is now being challenged by a range of factors including open online courses, new organisations such as the Social Science Centre in Lincoln in the UK and Open Badges.

Such a trend will almost inevitably continue as technology affords ever wider access to resources and learning. The issue of power and control is however unlikely to go away but will appear in different forms in the future.

How to classify and search careers resources?

September 4th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

More news from the excellent icould web site which “gives you the inside story of how careers work. The icould storytellers relate, in their own words, their real life career journeys. There are over a thousand easy to search,varied and unique career videos as well as hundreds of written articles. From telecoms engineers to police officers, from landscape gardeners to web designers, from engine drivers to zookeepers; they talk about what they do, what it’s like, how they came to be where are and their hopes for the future.”

the problem with any such site is how to classify information and even more so how to make it searchable. Yes tag clouds help. And of course you can search by keywords. But when we are talking about careers (and many other topics – for example Open Educational Resources) it is not so easy. On the one hand there is the need to make specific information easily accessible, on the other hand the aim to let people explore options they might not have thought of. And of course much depends on qualification requirements. My own very limited research found that most young people do not go to official careers resources but just enter search words into Google – with very variable results.Furthermore, they seemed to have a limited ability to judge the varci8ty or authority of search returns.

A press release from icould Director, David Arnold says:

In response to a major piece of user testing and feedback earlier in the year, conducted for us by the International Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby, we have completely revised our homepage, changed the structure of our content and made our functionality more explicit.  This will make it easier for our users to personalise icould content, search out what is important to them and find what they need to inspire the next step on their career journey.  As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions for further improvements and are grateful for your links, tweets, likes and recommendations.

I tested their new search wizard which asks users

  1. What types of job are you interested in?
  2. What subjects do you study, or enjoy most?
  3. What type of company would you like to work for?
  4. What kind of working lifestyle would suit you best?
  5. What qualifications do you have?

It came up with probably too many results. but they were genuinely career directions I might have been interested in. And I far prefer this broader exploratory approach to many of the very dubious psychometric tools on the market, which seem to provide all kinds of strange results based on algorithms which make a lot of assumptions around our lives and interests which might or might not be true.

 

 

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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.


    Peer Review

    According to the Guardian, research conducted with more than 6,300 authors of journal articles, peer reviewers and journal editors revealed that over two-thirds of researchers who have never peer reviewed a paper would like to. Of that group (drawn from the full range of subject areas) more than 60% said they would like the option to attend a workshop or formal training on peer reviewing. At the same time, over two-thirds of journal editors told the researchers that it is difficult to find reviewers


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