Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Sounds of the Bazaar live from Online EDUCA Berlin 2012 (1)

November 29th, 2012 by Dirk Stieglitz

Here is the podcast version of our first live internet radio show from Online EDUCA Berlin 2012. Details about people and programme will follow.

The music we played come from the album “Elixir” by “The TenGooz“. This and more you find on the great music website Jamendo.com.

PLE Conference 2013

November 27th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The Call for Papers for the PLE Conference 2013 is out!  The PLE Conference 2013 will be held in Berlin & Melbourne 10-12 July 2013 around the theme of: Personal Learning Environments: Learning and Diversity in Cities of the Future.

According to the PLE website: “The PLE Conference intends to create a space for researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas, experiences and research around the development and implementation of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) – including the design of environments and the sociological and educational issues that they raise.

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) are an approach to Technology- Enhanced Learning based on the principles of learner autonomy and empowerment. PLEs include methods, tools, communities, and services constituting individual learning infrastructures or ecosystems which learners use to direct their own learning and pursue their educational goals. This represents a shift away from the traditional model of learning based on knowledge transfer towards a model of learning based on knowledge construction where learners draw connections from a growing pool of online and offline resources to plan, organise, engage in, reflect on and evaluate their learning and development. By focusing on the enhancing learning of individual, yet interconnected learners, the PLE approach encompasses a diversity of learners, tools, perspectives and knowledge.

So far Personal Learning Environments have been designed and implemented in formal and informal learning contexts, such as school and higher education, work-based learning and in-company training, and in continuing education. The potential of Personal Learning Environments for crossing the boundaries of traditional learning contexts, connecting diverse communities and infrastructures has not been fully realised. Therefore, the 4th PLE Conference in 2013 aims at taking the discussion on Personal Learning Environments a step forward, providing a new impulse for PLE research and development.

The theme for the conference is learning and diversity in cities of the future. In view of the “Smart City” concept and the key priorities for research and innovation expressed in the EU Horizon 2020 framework, innovative, sustainable and inclusive solutions become crucial not only in terms of future and emerging technologies but first and foremost in terms of (i) human knowledge and skills, (ii) diverse and inclusive communities, as well as (iii) learning and knowledge networks. Hence, new forms of connected, interdisciplinary learning and cross-boundary cooperation are seen to play a critical role in the development of creative solutions and in the intelligent exploitation of networked urban infrastructures. In smart urban spaces, people, organisations and objects become interconnected by means of new technologies and media, forging new patterns of cooperation, production, research and innovation.

As smart cities we understand smart urban spaces in the sense of Michael de Certeau, i.e. “practiced places”, places which are transformed and constituted by dynamic and diverse elements (“a tour is different than a map”). From this perspective the following questions emerge:

What shapes can Personal Learning Environments take to support diversity, cross-boundary learning and interdisciplinary transformation of urban spaces? How can we design and implement Personal Learning Environments as part of highly interconnected social and technological infrastructures of smart cities? What technology-enhanced scenarios can be envisaged to enhance learning and diversity in cities of the future?

For more information about the Call for Papers including submission themes, formats, important dates and guidelines for submissions, go the the PLE conference web site pages: ‘Call for Papers‘ and ‘Important Dates‘.”

Where are we going with Peronal Learning Environments?

November 26th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Linda Castaneda emailed me. “As I have already told you,  Jordi Adell and myself, are editing a book about PLEs in Spanish. It is not a commercial book, we are going to edit some hard copies for free and an open ebook in the Web. The idea is to offer an overview of PLE for teachers (as complete as possible), in plain, trying to explain what PLE means in general but, specially, what PLEs mean for formal education.

The idea is how understand better PLE and how PLE could transform education and the teachers practice…. in order to give a wider perspective, we would love to include a kind of “chapter of basics around the world” which include some “basic” texts (preferible blogposts), regarding some topics around pedagogical things around PLEs and emergent pedagogies from international relevant authors, even if those texts has been already published in English…

We think sometimes our teachers don’t have access to those texts because of the language, or because of the format (from our experience, school teachers are not usual blogsphere readers), or because of the context (they don’t understand  how include those texts ¡n their day to day needs. So we want to include some texts like this, translated into Spanish in order to  complete the PLE perspective we want to offer.

The question is we would love to include one of your texts (blogposts) on it. Something already published in a non problematic format (no journal papers  for Copy Right problems) that could give some light on the PLEs topic or better, on the Pedagogies around PLEs. In your case the “link with all the informal part would be great and crucial).”

And she offered me a beer and a good meal. How could I resist? I couldn’t find anything suitable that I had already written so I wrote this short text on Sunday.

PLEs and Hype cycles

Gartner has used hype cycles to characterize the over-enthusiasm or “hype” and subsequent disappointment that typically happens with the introduction of new technologies. Hype cycles apply as much to educational technologies as they do to consumer products.

Yet the discussion and development of Personal Learning environments does not follow the normal hype cycle pattern. Although the idea has been in widespread use since 2004, there is a steady increase in research and development and in initiatives to implement PLEs in practice.

Perhaps this is because although the idea of PLEs can lead to the development of new technology applications, it is predominantly an approach to using technology for teaching and learning, rather than an educational technology per se. As such the developments of PLEs interact with both wider societal discussions around the future and purpose of education and with different pedagogical initiatives around Technology Enhanced Learning. This short article will look at these interactions.

The purpose and future of education

The debate over the purpose and future of education has spread beyond the educational community to enter mainstream political and social discourses. In part this is a product of the economic crisis and pressure for fiscal savings by national governments. It is also due to attempts by capitalism to open new markets through commodification and marketisation. This in turn has led to both movements to defend state funded education and to open access to learning. At a more fundamental level, the debate may reflect the growing dysfunctionality of education systems which were developed to meet the needs of an earlier form of industrial capitalism and no longer meet the perceived needs of late capitalism. And whilst in the past education systems, curricula and pedagogy were able to balance the needs of industry with the ideas and aspirations of educators, there is a growing tension as to the very purpose of education today.

Interestingly, Personal Learning Environments offer something to all sides in this debate. On the one hand they offer a tool to recognise learning from all contexts and to allow new and open approaches to pedagogy to develop the potential of every learner. On the other hand they can be used for lifelong and continuing learning to develop and improve employability, regardless of institutional arrangements.

Technology and learning
Of course, the rapid development and implementation of new technologies is impacting on education, as it is on all other sectors of society. Technology Enhanced Learning is not a new phenomenon. Both radio and television were extensively used for learning and web 1.0 offered widespread access to information. But these were essentially push technologies. Web 2.0 has opened up discourse and interactivity further blurring the roles of teacher and learner.  At the same time improved bandwidth has facilitated the production and sharing of multimedia challenging the primacy of print as a paradigm of education. Near ubiquitous access to the internet and the development of mobile devices means learning can take place almost anywhere. And social software has allowed the development of dispersed personal networks outside the school and the creative application of technology for learning in the classroom.

Research and development of PLEs

Given such developments, PLE research could almost be seen as a description and analysis of how people are using technology for learning, rather than as an idea as to how they might. Of course many young people use their personal networks on facebook to discuss their homework. Wikipedia is an increasingly universal reference point for information and knowledge and thousands of teachers, amongst other, contribute to it. And when we want to find out how to do something we often turn to crowdsourced video sites.

However PLE thinking goes further than this. The PLE movement is not based on a single artefact or thing or a simple pedagogic approach but represents diverse ways and perspectives on how we can change process and form of education and in particular as to how we can facilitate learning in multiple contexts.

As such the development of PLEs interacts with many different experiments, projects and initiatives with using technology for teaching and learning.

These include:

The design of new schools and learning spaces
The Telefonplan School, in Stockholm has been designed so children could work independently in opened-spaces while lounging, or go to “the village” to work on group-projects.Such open environments facilitate flexible learning and personal learning pathways. Other spaces such as libraries, museums and cultural centres are increasingly seen as learning environments.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
The fast growth in provision of Massive (and not so massive) Open Online Courses has been enabled by the use of Personal Learning Environments and even if some of the more institutionally driven MOOCs are quite traditional in form it is likely that students are using their online personal networks as a support for learning

Learning analytics
Although in its infancy, learning analytics could pathways for navigating and structuring learning through a Personal Learning Environment

The recognition of informal learning
The spread of Personal Learning Environments is leading to new initiatives to recognise informal learning and learning in different contexts. Such initiatives include the Mozilla Foundation’s Open Badges project

New Standards
The ADL sponsored Experience API is designed to allow learners to track and record their personal learning.

The use of social software and multimedia in the classroom
Teachers are increasingly bypassing the restrictions of Virtual Learning Environments to integrate social software and multimedia for creative and explorative learning in the classroom (see for example the work of the EU funded Taccle 2 project).

Shaping our Learning

Marshall McLuhan said “we shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” As a community we need to consciously shape our tools for learning, just as those tools shape the forms and learning which plays such a key role in our personal lives and in our society.

And of course the shape of those tools will inform the future design of our educational institutions and schools. PLEs are not just a tool but are an approach to how we develop and shape those tools.

This in turn will increasingly impact on the role of teachers as supporters and facilitators of learning. PLEs, along with other developments represent a move towards learners taking more responsibility for their learning. However for this to happen they will need support. It also raises the issue of what literacies learners need not just to access and evaluate information but to themselves shape their tools.

At the same time, the contexts in which we are learning are widening. Whilst we are developing an understanding of context in terms of location, through the use of mobile devices, we have still to fully understand different aspects of context including, perhaps critically, what we are trying to learn.

The debate over the role of educational institutions will continue. Our increasing understanding of the role of PLEs in learning can contribute to this debate. PLEs do not invalidate or diminish the role of institutions but can inform how we view institutionally based learning within wider communities, be they online or geographically based. PLEs may also help to overcome some of the tensions between the different purposes and directions for education in the coming years.

 

Open data and Careers Choices

November 21st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

A number of readers have asked me about our ongoing work on using data for careers guidance. I am happy to say that after our initial ‘proof of process’ or prototype project undertaken for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), we have been awarded a new contract as part of a consortium to develop a database and open APi. The project is called LMI4All and we will work with colleagues from the University of Warwick and Raycom.

The database will draw on various sources of labour market data including the Office of National Statistics (ONS) Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Annual survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). Although we will be developing some sample clients and will be organising a hackday and a modding day with external developers, it is hoped that the availability of an open API will encourage other organisations and developers to design and develop their own apps.

Despite the support for open data at a policy level in the UK and the launch of a series of measures to support the development of an open data community, projects such as this face a number of barriers. In the coming weeks, I will write a short series of articles looking at some of these issues.

In the meantime, here is an extract from the UKCES Briefing Paper about the project. You can download the full press release (PDF) at the bottom of this post. And if you would like to be informed about progress with the project, or better still are interested in being involved as a tester or early adapter, please get in touch.

What is LMI for All?

LMI for All is a data tool that the UK Commission for Employment and Skills is developing to bring together existing sources of labour market information (LMI) that can inform people’s decisions about their careers.

The outcome won’t be a new website for individuals to access but a tool that seeks to make the data freely available and to encourage open use by applications and websites which can bring the data to life for varying audiences.

At heart this is an open data project, which will support the wider government agenda to encourage use and re-use of government data sets.

What will the benefits be?

The data tool will put people in touch with some of the most robust LMI from our national surveys/sources therefore providing a common and consistent baseline for people to use alongside wider intelligence.

The data tool will have an access layer which will include guidance for developers about what the different data sources mean and how they can be used without compromising quality or confidentiality. This will help ensure that data is used appropriately and encourage the use of data in a form that suits a non-technical audience.

What LMI sources will be included?

The data tool will include LMI that can answer the questions people commonly ask when thinking about their careers, including ‘what do people get paid?’ and ‘what type of person does that job?’. It will include data about characteristics of people who work in different occupations, what qualifications they have, how much they get paid, and allow people to make comparisons across different jobs.

The first release of the data tool will include information from the Labour Force Survey and the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. We will be consulting with other organisations that own data during the project to extend the range of LMI available through the data tool.

LMI for All Briefing Paper

Join us in Berlin

November 15th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Pontydysgu staff are busy planning their annual outing to Online Educa Berlin. And as well as our usual radio shows, we have organised a symposium for the recently launched Learning Layers project. If you are coming to Berlin we would love to meet up with you. Better still, come and discuss your ideas on one of our radio programmes. And if you can’t make it to Berlin you can still catch a flavour of the conference through our daily Sounds of the Bazaar magazine programmes and our Question Time panel show.

Here are the details.

Thursday November 29

Time: 16:30 to 17:30 CET

Location: Charlottenburg III

Question Time

Join Graham Attwell in a topical debate which follows the popular BBC Radio 4 format for sharp analysis, up-to-date knowledge, insight and a fresh view on education 2.0. Please send your questions to these speakers in advance to QuestionTime [at] OEB [dot] com

The panel for this session is:

  • Paul Glader – Wiredacademic.com and European Journalism Fellow at Frei Universitat in Berlin.
  • Kirsten Winkler – educational blogger
  • Melanie Campbell – Bau ABC
  • Nick Kearny – Andamio Education and Technology

You can listen to this session live on Internet radio from 1645 CET at http://uk2.internet-radio.com:31022/live.m3u

The stream will open in your MP3 player of choice

Sounds of the Bazaar

“Sounds of the Bazaar” broadcaster Graham Attwell will host a forty minute show live from OEB on Thursday and Friday at 11:00. Each show will feature a mix of interviews with speakers and live debates on issues emerging from the conference. The programmes will be streamed live and can be tuned into using any MP3 application at http://uk2.internet-radio.com:31022/live.m3u

They will also be available after the conference as a podcast at www.online-educa/audio-video

Friday 30 November

Time: 11.45 – 1300

Location: Tegel

Symposium

Using Technology for Informal Learning and knowledge Sharing in Small and Medium Enterprises

This session, around the EU Learning layers project, will challenge our existing thinking about building the skills which are critical for small business success. It will uncover ideas to engage busy business managers and improve performance.

Speakers:

  • Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu
  • Ludger Deitmer, ITB, University of Bremen
  • Melanie Campbell, Bau ABC
  • Tobias Funke, Agentur für nachhaltiges Bauen

If you would like to come on one of the radio shows – or just meet up for a chat and a beer – email or skype Graham Attwell – graham10 [at] mac [dot] com

 

The Learning Layers project scales up informal learning at the workplace

November 12th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Last week Dirk, Jenny and I attended the first meeting of the European Commission IST programme Learning layers project. You are going to be hearing much more about the project on this blog, but here is a quick summary in the project’s first press release.

“With significant co-funding from the European Community, the Learning Layers project has recently started to research the role of information technologies in informal learning at the workplace. “It has been known for a long time that most learning that happens at the workplace is informal in nature”, says Tobias Ley, Professor at Tallinn University and scientific coordinator of the project, “but if we look at the learning technologies that are employed today, then most follow a very traditional model that mirrors course-based classroom learning.”

At the same time, mobile and social information and communication technologies have entered all parts of our lives. Nowadays we use them naturally to keep in contact with our friends, to seek information, to buy things and to work. There is now a realization that these emerging technologies are a key enabler to refocus efforts on informal learning, but  few companies have taken these technologies up in a systematic way to include them into their learning strategy.

So why is this? “One of the reasons is that, although informal interactions, like asking your colleague across the room for help, are very effective, they don’t scale very well beyond the immediate context”, says Tobias Ley. While the help is effective, not many others can benefit from it. Could our personal technologies provide a key for scaling up these interactions? This is what the project has set out to discover, and a number of technological solutions will be developed that should help to make this endeavor a reality. First of all, technologies need to be where informal learning really takes place. “In many prior projects, we have concentrated on people sitting at their computer desktops. In contrast, the Learning Layers Project will look at workplaces that are inherently mobile,” says Stefanie Lindstaedt, Professor at Graz University of Technology in Austria, who will be one of the main project partners for developing technologies for these settings.

The European Commission has specifically asked for proposals that benefit Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in sectors that have been less inclined in the past to take up technologies for learning. The Learning Layers project has therefore selected two very challenging application areas, the building and construction industry and the healthcare sector. Informal learning has traditionally played an important role in these sectors, but both have been hesitant to embrace learning technologies for different reasons. “With people using their personal devices, we now see a great opportunity in the building industry to connect our course offering much more directly with what people are experiencing at the workplace”, says Melanie Campbell who is representing a regional training center for the building and construction industry in Northern Germany. “Doctors work in interprofessional teams and have often learned from colleagues, technology could provide us with a way of sharing, enhancing and recording this informal learning”, says Tamsin Treasure-Jones from the Leeds Institute of Medical Education at the University of Leeds.

“Understanding the current situation in these two sectors, how they work, learn and share their knowledge, is a key priority in the project”, says Ronald Maier, Professor at the University of Innsbruck, “we will therefore conduct in-depth studies and use our findings to help improve the way people work and learn.” Based on these insights, the project will design interaction technologies to ensure that they are firmly embedded in the daily work practices, and to create new knowledge, learning and work practices that fit to the existing ones.

Apart from direct person to person interactions, such as asking colleagues, the Learning Layers project will also look at how learning materials are created informally and then increasingly shared, improved and used on a wider scale. And because people’s experiences with physical objects, like machines or materials, is crucial in the two sectors, the project will also consider how these experiences can be better exploited for learning purposes. For example, it is nowadays quite easy to make short video sequences and share them to explain how to use a certain tool.

“In order to scale up the use of these technologies, we really need to show take up in large user groups”, says Graham Attwell, Director of Pontydysgu and responsible for the project’s outreach strategy. One of the key measures the project will take is to make use of existing regional economic clusters in which enterprises are already collaborating on a whole range of activities. The project has proposed a roll-out strategy through which technologies would become part of the regional innovation and learning system, thereby reaching out to 1000 end users within the lifetime of the project.

The Learning Layers project started on 01 November 2012 with a total budget of over 12 million Euros over a four-year lifetime. Seventeen partners from Austria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Norway, Spain, and the UK have teamed up for what will be an intense research collaboration. The project is jointly coordinated by CIMNE, a research institute in Barcelona/Spain and Tallinn University in Estonia. More information is available at http://www.learning-layers.eu.”

Seven things we have learned about MOOCs

November 11th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

With the explosion of interest in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), both in numbers of courses and students, and in press reporting on the rise of MOOCs, it is worth thinking about the significance of all this. Here is a short version of five things that we have learned – a longer version (possibly) to follow.

  1. There is a huge pent up demand for education. MOOCs provide free and flexible access tot hose who could not previously take part in education. That includes not only from poorer countries with a limited education infrastructure but also from rich countries. And whilst some of the demand my be due to people wishing to improve their qualification, for many others the main motivation is personal interest.
  2. After a long period when Technology Enhanced Learning was seen as a supplement to traditional systems or as only for more technologically confident learners, Technology Enhanced Learning is now part of the mainstream and for many learners may be the mode or context of learning of choice.
  3. Education is now a global industry. National borders are no longer a barrier to participation in on-line courses and universities are being forced into international alliances to deliver courses to a global student body. At the same time, investors see Technology Enhanced Learning as an opportunity to develop new markets and are pumping money in accordingly.
  4. There does not seem to be any confidence about what the future financial market is for MOOCs. Some institutional managers see it as an way of recruiting more paying students to their university, others talk of a future market in selling accreditation.
  5. The new so called X-MOOCs such as Udacity or Coursera offer little in terms of new or radical pedagogies. Instead they rely on relatively well established approaches to online learning. However, they may reflect the growing experience in developing online courses and the reduced cost and ease of production of videos and, for students, the ease of access through ubiquitous connectivity.
  6. MOOCs are disruptive to the traditional university model. However such disruption may be more from globalisation and the financial crisis than from the introduction of new technologies per se.
  7. Innovation comes from outside the institutions. Despite being ignored in the popular press, MOOCs were developed and pioneered by people such as Stephen Downes, George Siemens and Dave Cormier (See Stephen Downes’ MOOC blog for more). The so called c (connectivist) MOOCs were far more innovative in pedagogic approaches but the idea was taken over and adapted by the mainstream institutions once they had proved their viability and attraction.

 

 

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    News Bites

    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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